THE MIGHTY BEAN

Sheffield United Biography

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In the book, there is a section talking about Sean in Chapter 13 (Sons of the Soil 2001-2006).

100% Blade: Sean Bean
Joining the United board in 2002 was United’s most globally recognized fan and cinema idol Sean Bean. Born in the south east of Sheffield in 1959, Bean came from a dynasty of Blades followers and had watched his team from the Shoreham End since the age of six. His commitment to the club is indelible by virtue of a 1990 tattoo on this left shoulder proclaiming 100% Blade which cost him five quid for 2 in Sheffield’s Attercliffe district. After a brief stint as a welder, Bean entered art school in Rotherham where he was fascinated by drama classes to the extent that he swapped courses and proved a natural thespian. He left Sheffield aged 21 to accept a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in central London, where he was one of 32 entrants out of 11,000 aspirants. He made his professional theatre debut in Glasgow in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and made screen appearances in Stormy Monday, Shopping, The Field and Patriot Games. His role of 006 in the James Bond movie Goldeneye brought him global acclaim and led to further appearances in TV specials with huge audiences, most memorable of which was his role of gamekeeper, Mellors, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The Sunday evening military drama Sharpe, made Bean a household name in the UK and, surprisingly, parts of Europe and Australia. This was followed by acclaimed roles in Essex Boys, Lord of the Rings and National Treasure with Nicolas Cage (in the latter a close up of the crossed swords Blade’s insgnia which had been felt-tipped onto his arm was captured on celluloid.)

A controversy ensued around Bean when, in October 1989, he sent his musings on Sheffield football fandom to a wider audience. United’s fanzine, Flashing Blade, reproduced a cartoon drawn by Bean. His artistic effort depicted an Owl & Piggy Jack’s being kicked outside a pub by a group called Bassetts Allsorts, after the name of the United manager, which ends with the pig being taken away for butchery by a knife-carrying United player. Beanfs scribblings and imagination caused consternation in some quarters. A Sheffield Star reporter claimed that Bassetts Allsorts was a ethinly disguised reference to United’s troublemakers and quoted a Police Superintendent describing the cartoon as “despicable”. If it in any way contributes towards violence then this man has done both clubs a big disservice. The secretary of the Wednesday Supporters Club described it as ”sick humour”. The story was repeated in the Daily Mirror and an Irish national daily where Bean was filming. There was nothing more to this cartoon than a bored actor and witty pen and Bean phoned the Star and announced that he would from now on refuse them interviews. The Star reported apologized.

More cerebral pursuits saw Bean realize a long-held ambition to play the role of a footballer. In 1996 Bean played the lead in the feature film, When Saturday Comes. Shot entirely in Sheffield, the film contained extensive footage shot in and around Bramall Lane. One scene saw Bean in full United kit score a penalty in front of the Kop in the half-time interval during a United v Manchester United match. The film did not reveal the full circumstances of Bean’s repeated inability to score, “I was trying to put it in the top right hand corner” was his proferred explanation, but the moment was a credit to the thousands of Blades who played their part in simulating the crowd scene. Whilst a resident of London since 1981, Bean never severed his Sheffield connections and is often seen amongst the fans at both home and away games.

Bean was always forthright in his philosophy of football fandom. Dismissive of the post-1990’s nouveau fans, who appeared to cling to the glories of successful clubs, he stated his hope that the game never turns into a “fairy middle-class puffball game.” His on-screen persona was invariably action hero, darkly threatening but always seductive to women viewers. For Bean, this was a hazard of the job but the roles and associated images brought him global acclaim and, as he explained, “I’d rather be an employed sex-symbol than an out of work actor”. Bean’s six-figure investment in the club brought United a global profile. Whilst unable to attend many board meetings due to filming commitments, when Bean did attend he was probably the first director in the clubfs history familiar with the writings of Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzche. Bean is most certainly the only director in the history of the club to attend board meetings in torn tracksuit bottoms, Stone Island labeled jumper and battered training shoes showing evidence of the efforts of the previous dayfs gardening.

Forword

Typed out by Everbean.. thank you so much !

Foreword by Sean Bean

Like most football fans. I have vivid memories of my introduction to the game and the club I follow. It was the mid-60's and I would have been five or six when my dad, Brian, and my grandad, Harold, first took me to Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United. It was an evening kick-off and a chilly February night. A cracking crowd made for an awesome atmosphere. The night sky was bathed in the eerie illumination provided by the floodlights, acting like beacons in the night to Blades followers, leading them to Sheffield's great football theatre. As we hurried down the street with other latecomers, a huge roar went up from inside the ground...Alan Woodard had just put United in front and we'd missed it. Over the years, missing early goals became a bit of a theme. From my late teens it was usually in the company of mates wanting to spend a bit longer in the pub.

Looking down from the Kop that night on my heroes in the red, white and black, the magical glow of a night match in the company of hordes of Blades munching pies and downing Bovril was something I will never forget. I was hooked. In a great city like Sheffield, an equal to any place in the world that calls itself a football hotbed, the club you support is rarely a matter of choice. Support is passed from generation to generation. My grandad was a Blade...there was no way I was going to end up at Hillsborough, was there?

As a teenager in the 70's I became a regular on the Kop. I loved the pushing and swaying the terraces provided. I was never frightened or alarmed; why should I be? Surrounded by family, friends and Bladesmen any unwelcome visitors would be cleared off. When United scored, a young man could end up tossed around in the frenzy; finding himself miles from his original spot. When the joy died down we all looked around to see where we'd come from. Sometimes it was yards and yards away...but what a beautiful journey. Sheffield United had a good side in the early 1970's. Like many Blades I loved Tony Currie...his flair, his vision and his amazing talent. When able to grow my hair long and get my sideburns going, I wasn't a bad Currie look-alike. Alan Hodgkinson was a big favourite of mine, as were many other United keepers through the decades; Mel Rees, Simon Tracey, Alan kellly, John Burridge and now Paddy Kenny. Great keepers and great characters all of them.

Local rivalry has always been a big part of being a Blade. In the 60's and 70's Leeds United was a prestigious club with money to buy our best players. Their fans had the strange idea they were the top team in Yorkshire. But they were formed 40 years after United and are just one club in a city the size of Sheffield. After their years of picking off our best players, the boot is now on the other foot. Sheffield Wednesday are of course, our nearest and dearest rivals. Respect where it is due, they do have tremendous support. Sheffield derbies are fierce and vociferous; such occasions are a credit to our city. The authorites rarely permit the clubs and fans to engage at 3 o'clock on a Saturday these days. A new correctness around the game allied with Thatcherite legislation has ended some of the rivalry between Sheffield's two great clubs. What we're left with will be never-ending arguments over status. But i do know that, statistically, games won between the two weigh heavily in our favour. Anyway, what my granddad called 'The Parsons Cross Rangers' are usually out-sung at derby matches and have generally been unable to compete with Blades in terms of charisma and coolness. We are different to them.

 

Over the years filming has taken me all over the world. I have missed more United games than I would have liked. I have found myself making long distance calls in odd locations seeking the Blades' fortunes. A memorable match day for me was in Rajasthan, India, when I had to buy four pairs of sandal from a bloke in a cobbler's shop before he would switch on his internet access and let me listen to the Radio Sheffield match commentary. Radio Sheffield was also received down the telephone line when I was in the Crimea...somehow this makes these matches all the more memorable.

Whenever united play, a Blades presence is evident, be it a boozer in Millwall or a Working Men's Club in Barnsley. Such a meeting of minds is a joy to behold for me. Blade away days are occasionally bizarre and always unscripted. I remember (as a young 31-year-old) swinging on the crossbar at Plough lane, Wimbledon, scarpering off the pitch, then getting into a chauffeured car that took me to Heathrow before flying to Los Angeles to finish filming 'Patriot Games' with Harrison Ford. They were good times. The film wasn't bad either.

My grandad passed away a few years ago. His ashes were scattered on the pitch at Bramall Lane. My dad still stands with my nephew near the young Blades at the back of the Kop. These youngsters ae spirited and alive, they sing and dance. They make me proud. Their presence bodes well for the club's future. I will never forget the turnout when filming 'When Saturday Comes' in 1995 at Bramall Lane, and the heart-splitting reception tens of thousands of Blades gave me when filming on the pitch. For that I am eternally thankful...I drank a double gallon of lager that night to bring me back down to earth.

It was an honour for me to be asked in 2001 to join the board of directors at Sheffield United. I have since enjoyed the comfort of padded seats in the Director's Box. But status brings responsibility and club President Derek Dooley has had to tell me off for swearing, and occasionally causing a scene, so I tend to mix my seating arrangements up a bit these days...that way I can annoy a variety of people! I love the company of Blades followers, from the strongholds of Handsworth, Woodhouse, Darnall and Manor, amongst others. Even today when I socialize in Sheffield, the pubs and clubs I go to are always Blade dominated. Such places and people will be part of my life forever.

I've attended United games with Gary Armstrong for the past 16 years. A lifelong Blade and like me a Handsworth lad, he moved to London in the same month and year as me some 26 years ago. He is a prolific author and has contributed to a number of books that examine football, its nuances and what keeps us addicted to this thing. He is also one of my dearest friends.

There are some great stories and fascinating insights into the history of our club in this book.

Enjoy his story.

Keep the faith.

THE END

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