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Why Do Sheffield United Fans Think They're a Big Club When They're Not Even The Biggest in Sheffield?

The delusion of Yorkshire based football fans knows no bounds

Sheffield United v Newcastle United - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

So this weekend Bolton Wanderers welcome Sheffield United to the Reebok in a Second Round FA Cup tie.

One common feature of a game against any club in this day and age is the debate 'which club is bigger?'.

It's tedious enough to have to trawl social media at the best of times, but it's rarely worse than when Yorkshire football fans are involved.

So I thought it would be interesting to find out where Sheffield United rank in terms of quantifiable size.

Take league titles. Surely that's a good indicator of where a club lies in the grand tale of English football. Sheffield United have been champions of the Football League just the once, and that was in 1897. To compare - Sheffield Wednesday have four.

Attendance is another barometer.

Sheffield is a city of some 563,749 according to Wikipedia. According to the excellent European Football Statistics website, their average attendance in the last five years has been 18,798, which sounds good in isolation, but compares poorly against city neighbours Wednesday, who can boast a five year average of 22,245.

So that's two out of two for Wednesday.

Unfortunately, United also compare unfavourably when it comes to the two clubs' respective stadiums.

Hillsborough, a famous old ground, holds 39,732 spectators and previously played host to World Cup and European Championship football in 1966 and 1996 respectively. Pretty impressive stuff.

Bramall Lane, which is an old stadium too (and looks like one), only holds 32,702. The only claim to fame that I could find there was a pair of rock concerts by Bruce Springsteen in 1988.

Make that three out of three for Wednesday.

Taking the debate into the online world, United again come up short.

According to twitter, Sheffield Wednesday have 173,000 followers, smashing United's mere 132,000.

They fare no better on Facebook either, with Wednesday having almost double the amount of followers with 276,000 to United's 143,000.

Four out of four.

So in conclusion, there isn't really a great deal for Sheffield United fans to crow about. Yet they still do. They love their 'big fish in a small pond' schtick - I suspect that is more to do with feeling inadequate when compared to their bitterest rivals, who smash them into the sea on virtually every conceivable category.

It's one thing being a big team in League One, when you think that your rivals are the likes of Fleetwood Town, or Bury, but when the above categories are considered, my message to United fans would be 'wind your necks in'.

So it is with great anticipation that I look forward to the weekend's game, though I do not doubt that the pre-match back-and-forth will be as tedious as ever.

Big club? My arse.