Sheffield United Hall of Fame
|Last Update: 23 December 2001|
100% GENUINE by Karen Herbert
I'd heard that on December 21st 2001, there would be a grand opening of the Hall Of Fame at Bramall Lane, home ground of Sheffield United. And there was to be a special guest - Sean Bean! (He is, arguably, the most famous supporter of thefootball team ..after all he has a tattoo which reads 100% Blade).
I realised I had two days holiday left to use at work, and the following day I looked at the staff holiday planner and found that December 20th and 21st were free. I wondered.... "Shall I take these two days off, or the Thursday & Friday after Christmas?".
It took a nanosecond to decide that I would rather spend time in Sheffield and try to see Sean, than spend two more days at home, bored out of my mind.
Once I'd booked the 20th and 21st off work and had it confirmed by my boss, I emailed my Australian friend Carolyn. She's been living in Sheffield for the past eight months, on a working holiday. She returns home in January 2002, so I figured I could spend some quality time with her. I'd told her about the opening of the Hall Of Fame and she sounded as curious as I was about it.
On December 10th I was at Leicester Square to watch the stars arrive for the world premiere of The Fellowship Of The Ring. This was such a great day for me. Nothing can ever take away the thrill I had of finally meeting other Bean Buffs, getting an autograph from one of England's acting legends (Sir Ian McKellen), watching myself on national TV - and seeing Sean Bean, standing only a few feet away from me!
When I left, everybody wished me luck in Sheffield and hoped that I would see Sean. I realized how lucky I was to be able to go - many of the others had husbands and boyfriends and partners, children and jobs to consider, and couldn't just drop everything and go to Sheffield on such short notice.
I said that I would try my best. If I did manage to see Sean, it would obviously be a bonus...and if I didn't, then it wasn't meant to be
My journey began on December 20th. The night before, I'd been to see The Fellowship Of The Ring at my local cinema. I was stunned by the scenery and the magnificent acting from all of the cast. Needless to say, that there were tears shed when Boromir died! Sean acts so well in this scene, that it was so hard NOT to cry.
It was a late night, and I needed to get as much sleep as I could, because the drive from Hemel Hempstead (where I live) is roughly 2 ½ hours on the M1. There was a lot of traffic, but no major hold ups, which was very good, considering how close to Christmas it was. I managed to meet Carolyn at her workplace and we drove home to her flat. We had a relaxing night, watching TV and discussing what we would do the next day.
The next day (the 21st), we went down to Sheffield's City Centre, where there is a Sheffield United shop which sells club merchandise. Inside, we asked the cashier how we could get to Bramall Lane, and whether she knew anything about the Hall of Fame.
The cashier was extremely helpful, and told us how to get there by bus. She wasn't sure if the Hall of Fame was open, so she rang Bramall Lane and checked for us. She told us that the grand opening was that night.
We then went to the Meadowhall Centre, which is Sheffield's main shopping centre. We took a tram. I'd never used a tram on my previous visits to Sheffield, so I was looking forward to it. Once we arrived at Meadowhall, we popped into the Warner Brothers shop, where. I bought a a Boromir drinking glass (I couldn't resist!). We also stopped off at Burger King for a meal and a chance to collect a Boromir figure. Alas, they had only Galadriel....
We took another tram back to Carolyn's flat and dropped off all of our shopping. During our journey, it began to snow! Carolyn was excited, as she had only seen snow in Germany, when she was there earlier in the year. Then it was time to make our way to Bramall Lane. I decided to take along my copy of the Laura Jackson biography that I'd waved around at Leicester Square. Well, it proved to be useful then, so maybe ?
By now it was 4 pm and rush hour was about to start. The bus journey to the city centre seemed to take forever! I kept thinking "blasted traffic! Hurry up!"
At last we arrived at our bus stop, and we walked to Bramall Lane. It only took us about ten minutes. On the way I said: "I hope this is worth it! I can't believe I'm doing this!"
We arrived at the stadium and walked around the perimeter until we reached the entrance (the same entrance you see in When Saturday Comes, when Jimmy Muir goes for his trial). Our first stop was the shop. I bought a long sleeved Sheffield United top as a souvenir of my visit (and we had tickets for the Sheffield United v Rotherham United match the following day).
Carolyn found a long sleeved top as well. While we were paying for our goods, we asked about the opening of the Hall Of Fame, but the cashier told us it was only for the directors.
We walked out of the shop, turned right and spotted two ladies waiting at a barrier beside the Hall Of Fame. As we got closer, we saw some officials. The next thing I knew, Carolyn was looking in the doorway and shouting, "There he is! That's him!"
And all of a sudden...Sean Bean, my favourite actor...was right there...in front of me!
He looked as gorgeous as ever! Thinking back, I can't really remember what he was wearing, as I was looking too much at his face and pinching myself (surely I MUST be dreaming?).
I don't know how...but I managed to tell Sean that I had seen The Fellowship Of The Ring, and I thought it was awesome and that I had cried like a good'un.
He said, "It is good, isn't it?"
This was not in an arrogant way, but in a way as if to say, "Yes, it is a good film. I'm glad that you liked it.".
He has such a dazzling smile! Pictures really don't do this gorgeous man justice!
The other two ladies asked Sean for an autograph and a photo. While this was going on, I got out my Laura Jackson book and Carolyn grabbed her camera. When Sean had finished with the other two ladies, I asked him, "Could you sign the book, please? To Karen" - which he did. (It says in silver pen: "To Karen love Sean Bean xx").
I told him that I had been standing in Leicester Square for the premiere and that he was two people away from me .and that he'd been taken away to talk to the media.
He said, "Damn.". I think he must have felt a bit sad that there was a fan who had gone to London to see him and hadn't managed to get an autograph.
This was more than making up for it, believe me!! I mentioned that I had travelled up from Hertfordshire for this occasion, and Carolyn said, "I'm on holidays."
Sean said, "Really. Where are you from?"
Carolyn told him that she was from Adelaide. She took a picture of me with Sean and I took a photo of her and Sean.
I said "I hope this turns out, because I have no idea how this camera works!" I believe Sean chuckled.
Carolyn says that she was stood rigid and that Sean had put his arm round her. I put my left arm around his waist. I'll never wash that hand again!
And with that, he was gone! It seemed all too brief, but I finally met him!
As we walked back to the city centre, all I could say was "Wow!"
I kept gushing that I had met Sean. I regret that I hadn't told him that we were going to the match at Bramall Lane the following day. I'd also wanted to ask if he'd show us his new tattoo, but I was too chicken!
What struck me was just how nice he was! I've read accounts from a variety of people who have all said, time and again, just how nice and down to earth Sean is. Well, take it from me, it's true. The man may be currently starring in what is set to be one of the biggest films of this year, but he hasn't let this go to his head. His tattoo may read 100% Blade...but for me, he is 100% Genuine.
We then wondered how we could commemorate the event? Easy! We went to see The Fellowship Of The Ring, as Carolyn hadn't seen it. Needless to say, I cried at Boromir's death again! I promised myself that I wouldn't cry and I thought, "You stupid idiot! Sean is alive and well! You met him five hours ago!" But again, it's his acting that moved me.
Well, all I can say is, that Christmas Day may well be December 25th, but for me Christmas Day was December 21st 2001, the day that I met Sean Bean for the first time. Thank you Sean for being so nice and taking the time to talk to a very excited fan. You've no idea what this meant to me.