Sheffield United Hall of Fame

Last Update: 01 March 2002

Click here for one fan's experience, meeting Sean at the Hall of Fame opening.




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Top: Screen caps from Lynn at
The Faces and Voices of Sean Bean
Bottom: Photos by Karen Herbert




Click on the thumbnail to read the story in the Sheffield Star.

SUFC Official Website

Sean Bean opens United's Hall of Fame
22 December 2001

Celebrity fan Sean Bean jetted in from America to open Sheffield United's Hall of Fame on Friday.
Fresh from his success in the blockbuster film Lord of the Rings, the '100% Blade' officially unveiled the venue on Friday afternoon which will bring alive the history of the Blades.

Bean, a lifelong United supporter, is a trustee of the Hall of Fame, a superb collection of United memorabilia from since the club was formed in 1889.

"This will be an opening night with a difference for me," said Bean. "As a true Blade this is a terrific honour to open a special attraction which brings alive the history of one of the country's best-known football clubs."

Bean was joined at the opening by a host of familiar faces from United's past. Alan Hodgkinson, Len Badger, Ted Hemsley and Keith Edwards were present, as well as the families of earlier greats such as Bill Foulke and Jimmy Hagan.

The magnificent collection is available to view by the public from Saturday - when the Blades take on Rotherham.

Yorkshire Post
20 December 2001

Sean's the Lord of the Blades for club's big day
Ian Waugh

THE biggest private collection of football memorabilia in the North of England will go on show to the public for the first time tomorrow. About £1m-worth of history associated with Sheffield United has been assembled at the club's Bramall Lane ground. And Lord of the Rings star and United fanatic Sean Bean has flown back from Los Angeles – where he is promoting the blockbuster film – just to open the "Hall of Fame".

Highlights include the ball used in United's first FA Cup Final victory against Derby County at Crystal Palace in 1899 and one of the enormous jerseys worn by the legendary 24-stone goalkeeper Billy "Fatty" Foulkes .

Hall of Fame manager John Garrett has worked for two years to track down the items from a range of sources.

He said: "It has been seven days a week travelling the length and breadth of England meeting families and going to auctions. I feel humble at times that people have put such faith in me and trust us with these things.

"We want the collection to be maintained and grow for future generations and keep the history of this great club where it should be."

Visitors will be able to see Billy Gillespie's Ireland international shirts, caps, and 1925 FA Cup winners' medal and medals from the only time United won the top-flight championship in 1898. Walter "Cocky" Bennett's 1900 England shirt is on show along with memorabilia of the great Jimmy Hagan who refused to sign for Sheffield Wednesday in what would have been a record transfer fee. More recent items include Tony Currie's first and last England shirts, Keith Edwards's "Golden Boots" and current Cameroon star Patrick Suffo's Olympic gold medal.

There is also a display for former Sheffield United striker of the 1960s Mick Jones who went on to become equally popular at Elland Road.

A trust is being formed to protect the collection and to raise funds and access grants to enlarge the Hall of Fame.

Mr Garrett added: "Sean Bean saw the chance of putting something back in to the club that has given him so much pleasure and pain and he has agreed to be a trustee and he is flying back from America especially to be with us.

"We hope the trust will be able to introduce IT systems for schoolchildren to make it more hands-on with audio tape of some of the great names.

"One thing you realise putting this together is that we haven't won anything for over 70 years but we are a great club with a great history and proud tradition."

The club is still gathering more artifacts and it is desperately trying to trace the balls used in the 1915 and 1925 FA Cup finals – both won by United.

Sean Bean, renowned for his "100 per cent Blade" tattoo, will use his sword from the TV series Sharpe to cut the ribbon to officially open the centre. He will be joined by invited guests, including the families of a host of former United greats.

Blades fanatic cuts short US trip

Yorkshire Post
25 November 2001

LORD of the Rings star and Sheffield United fanatic Sean Bean is to fly back to Yorkshire straight after the film's American premiere to open the football club's new Hall of Fame next month.

The Sheffield-born actor will use his sword from the TV series Sharpe to cut the ribbon to open officially the Bramall Lane venue which is set to bring alive the history of the Blades.

Bean, a lifelong United supporter, is a trustee of the Hall of Fame, which is a collection of United memorabilia including articles whichdate back to when the club was formed in 1889.

"This will be a opening night with a difference for me," said Bean. "As a true Blade this is a terrific honour to open a special attraction which brings alive the history of one of the country's best-known football clubs."

At the opening on Friday, December 21, Bean will be joined by specially invited guests, including the families of former United greats Billy Foulkes, Billy Gillespie and Jimmy Hagan.

Others will include Alan Hodgkinson, Tony Currie and Cec Coldwell.

Donations to the South Stand-based Hall of Fame, which will be open to the public the following day, include Billy Gillespie's international shirts, caps, and Blades 1925 FA Cup winners' medal, shirts belonging to the legendary 22-stone giant goalkeeper Billy "Fatty" Foulkes plus the ball used in United's first FA Cup Final victory against Derby County at Crystal in 1899.

Hall of Fame manager John Garrett said: "The support we have received from so many former players and their families has been tremendous.

"The result is a Premiership collection of footballing history and memories which will delight anyone with an interest in soccer."

All monies raised by the Hall of Fame are ploughed back into increasing the size of the collection and maintaining it for years to come.

SUFC Official Website

Sean Bean opens the Hall of Fame

The long history of Sheffield United began in 1889 but on the evening of Friday 21 December 2001 it was finally put on public view as the Club's much anticipated Hall of Fame was opened in the South Stand.

An invited audience of players and contributors was thrilled to see the former Social Club transformed into a wonderland in which the Blades' journey is charted though a vast collection of memorabilia and photographs.

Museum and Archive Manager, John Garrett, Football Club Chairman Derek Dooley, historian Denis Clarebrough, and Hall of Fame Trustee Gary Armstrong, all gave their thoughts on what is reckoned to be only the fifth such club facility in the country - after Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Aston Villa.

Then, with the region's media also anxious to record the moment, United's own superstar celebrity 100% Blade, Sean Bean, marked the occasion by performing the official opening (picture courtesy of Sheffield Newspapers).

The doors were opened to the public on the following day when the Blades played Rotherham United, and a very healthy number of supporters made a first day visit.

The Hall of Fame idea was first seriously mooted around 1999 with John Garrett and Club Accountant, Dominic Field, the prime movers. Although the Board sanctioned the idea in principle the scale, speed and success of the search was to take everyone by surprise.

Once the first appeal for items to be donated was made and publicity generated, a never ending trail of detective work began. Family trees were explored and long lost contacts found as treasured or even forgotten items of memorabilia were unearthed from carrier bags in attics and front room mantelpieces.

Billy Foulke's gigantic shirt, 'Nudger' Needham's medals, and Jimmy Hagan's boots are now all on display, along with life-size photographs of legends from over a century of United history.

"It has been a labour of love for me to get all this stuff together for the team I have supported since I was five years old," says Garrett.

"We are hoping when people read about it and come to visit it will bring in even more memorabilia. We know there is a lot of stuff still out there."

"We want to extend what we have done and get in some interactive stuff so kids can type in the name of a player and see pictures, information and, where available, video clips."

There will be no trouble portraying the players from the modern era, of course, but some of stories of the heroes from long ago are long on tragedy and real heroism.

England star Walter Bennett won a First Division Championship medal with United in 1898 and went back to life as a miner after he finished, only to be killed in Denaby pit at the age of 34.

Families of ex-United players went hungry in the depression of the thirties rather than sell their dads' and grandads' medals.

The process of finding some of those precious items brought to light long-standing family splits, quarrels and grudges, and owed much to the tenacity and persuasive nature of John Garrett.

"Tracking down relatives of past players has been a real eye-opener for me. Sometimes I have just had a name and an area and started ploughing through the telephone book. It has worked on a few occasions and has brought in some wonderful stuff," he says.

"I found the Walter Bennett collection after a relative of a former reserve player told me his family
were still in Mexborough.

"There are hundreds of Bennetts in Mexbrough but I managed to find a relation who had his championship medal and his England shirt.

"There aren't a lot of England shirts around from that era. They were made of good quality cotton and people used to cut them up for dusters.

"But the Bennett family had Walter's things and they would have been poor people. He was working at the pit and left four kids but his family kept all his things.

"It's a very touching and humbling experience to be trusted with medals, caps, and other precious items that have been cherished by families for 80 or 90 years. The good name of Sheffield United stands for a lot. People love this club."

Billy Gillespie's Ireland shirt, Keith Edwards' three golden boot awards, Patrick Suffo's shirt and Olympic gold medal, Mick Jones' England cap, the patched up segments of the 1899 FA Cup Final ball and faded pictures of long forgotten FA Cup winners.

They are all there, along with special sections on the likes of Alf Ringstead, Joe Shaw, Graham Shaw, Dane Whitehouse and Alan Kelly. The hope now is that United players continue to make their own contributions, although special achievement is only one part of the Sheffield United story - the quirky and routine can also be recognised.

All contributions, donated or loaned, will be gratefully accepted, leads followed up, and stories told in
order that Blades' fans the world over can celebrate their club.

This is just the start, and the collection will be built and changed so that the Hall of Fame will be a
constantly evolving record of our Club. Come and see it - opening times and admission details can be checked by ringing direct on 0114 2213153.

What they say about the Hall of Fame

Sean Bean: "The Hall of Fame is brilliant. It is an honour and privilege for me to open it in an official capacity, very different from the opening night for the 'Lord of the Rings', but this is my club's history - I was delighted to be asked to be here."

John Garrett: "Thanks to the club, I've had the time to go out and trace people who have been able to help our quest to make this one of the best museums in the country. A sincere thank you to everyone who has helped progress this project to what it is. Every player who has played for Sheffield United has a right to be in the Hall of Fame. We want this collection to grow and grow."

David Hagan - son of Jimmy: "I'm flabbergasted, and so impressed with how it looks. The items assembled are unbelievable, far better than I envisaged. It may have only just opened but I am confident that this is one of the best in the country."

Jock Dodds - Blades striker and oldest surviving FA Cup Final player: "It couldn't be better. Just looking at all the medals, shirts and memorabilia assembled is unbelievable. It is a credit to the club and everyone who has been involved should take a lot of credit."

Alan Hodgkinson - former Blades goalkeeper and England International: "Obviously, on my travels, I have seen many museums but this compares. I compliment John Garrett on all the outstanding work he has done. I am delighted to see it for myself and I think the public will be impressed too. Remembering the past is great and all this brings back a lot of memories for me."

Derek Dooley: "I've watched it grow from the start and it looks magnificent. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, and to Sean Bean for giving his time in what must be a very busy schedule."

Denis Clarebrough - Club historian: "As a Unitedite since birth you can imagine my feelings tonight. I would like to thank the Directors, staff and families of players that have made this possible. It is occasions like this that make a Football Club more than just a business. Sheffield has played a part in football history and, hopefully, that will also draw people to United's Hall of Fame."

Gary Armstrong - author and trustee: "There are very many emotions evident tonight. One of which is surprise - who would have thought that this was possible?"

Mick Jones - ex player
"It looks fantastic and is a must for Sheffield
United fans. Everything looks great, depicting this club from
1889 until the present day."

Ted Hemsley - ex player: "To me it looks brilliant. The response has been brilliant and all the hard work that has been put in has been rewarded. The lads from our era who will see the display will think that it sums us up completely."


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