by Steve Mackan (NVQ)
Born in Norwich to “geographically unhappy” parents, Trudy Madely moved to Sheffield as a 12-year-old in 1953. She attended her first Sheffield United game in 1954 after her boyfriend, Young Darren, decided Bramall Lane would make a romantic setting.
In many ways Young Darren was right. Over the years, The Lane has been a forum for tears of joy, despair and jeans. (Though tears of jeans only really became popular over the few years.) Trudy made a lifelong commitment to Sheffield United Football Club that day, “I’ll not miss a game at home again.” She made no such commitment to Young Darren, who did not become a Librarian in Wath in 1972. Trudy did.
People in their eighties are often described as frail. She was never frail and would “shush” you out-loud as soon as she would shout at Nick Montgomery for being “bloody inept.” If you glanced at Trudy’s wrinkles they could accuse bitterness, aggression even. However, if you took a good look at the creases under her eyes they actually spelt out ‘fuck off’ in calm, clear letters. Many moons ago it took me a whole fifteen minutes of a first half to work that out. She clocked that I had been reading her wrinklegram and she said, “you’re quiet enough to not fall foul of my agitated ageing” – and we’ve been firm acquaintances ever since.
Trudy had much to say about Norwich after last years home game, little of which can be printed. She had a truncated history with the Canaries that spanned decades and a love for the place of her birth which did not.
Trudy thought of her hometown with unambiguous contempt. Although (again) most of it unprintable, I do remember her describing her Norwich-beset childhood as, “existence only insofar as the green part of a sponge exists and, if you’ve jumped headlong into this metaphor, imagine that green part of a sponge has two eyes firmly and eternally trained upon rust-shitted
Wednesday ground.” She had an acid tongue, which I believe was self-diagnosed and a horrible cough, which wasn’t diagnosed at all.
Trudy wasn’t around for our defeat on the opening day to Swansea and she wasn’t around for the Norwich game either. She missed my pre-match Smints which I shared and my half time Double Decker, which I didn’t. She missed the first league start for Oliver Norwood who delivered a corner onto the head of John Egan, resulting in the first goal scored from a corner in bloody ages.
She missed an opening spell of pure dominance that was only tempered by conceding a goal to Jordan Rhodes – a tap-in – during Norwich’s first attack after neat work by Onel Hernandez to square the ball across the face of goal. She missed Rhodes’ celebration in front of the Kop, which I imagine would’ve coaxed chastening cries from Trudy toward the oddly unbooked striker: “Rhodes, I’ll drive you bloody elsewhere!”
She missed the second part of the first half descending into scrappiness and she missed – although she would be pleased about missing it – swathes of fans running into the concourse early for a hot chocolate and/or other beverages.
She missed the second half kicking off and Norwood spraying passes as freely as a teenager with Lynx Africa and a crush. She missed the wild, frenetic freedom of that half, with the chances, half chances and downright non-chances.
She missed Jack O’Connell and his syllabic advantage over Norwich’s Onel and his disadvantage when he became the point around which Norwich’s best chance of going ahead swang: a deflection from JoCs tackle onto the leg of a Norwich man that fell in the path of an OFFSIDE striker who carried the ball forward as far as onrushing, Schmeichel-esque Dean Henderson. She missed both Henderson’s save and his celebration. She missed Norwich hitting the post and long, nervy stretches of the game whilst it remained level at 1-1.
She missed Basham picking up the ball in centre field and dinking it over the Norwich defence to the waiting David McGoldrick who squared a cross to Billy who nodded the ball home for a win that I never felt was coming. She missed the wild celebrations and the roar of the Kop, the likes of which only happen when the clock is unstopped in the 90s.
And I missed her. I missed her giant Blades sombrero, her foul-tongued rants and her childish V towards the away fans that she did at every match without fail. A woman truly missed.
Trudy would’ve been delighted to see a badge-slapping victory like this one. The last-minute nature of it all. More delighted still to see the silky skills of Oliver Norwood tempering this Couttsless Sheffield United side with his passing, long and short. She would’ve liked to get one over her former hometown and she would’ve loved the Fruit Pastilles I offered around my fellow Streetwise revellers after the game.
I cannot here tell every story of a life so well lived, but I can at the very least offer my warm thanks to Young Darren (who cannot be young now) for bringing Trudy to her first Sheffield United game and, whilst she didn’t truly fall for him, she did truly fall for SUFC.
I presume Trudy’s passing was poor, she never claimed to play the game. But in her death – for that is the only conclusion I can draw from her non-attendance this season – we should not waste time discussing her eighty-year-old skills with a ball, or lack of.
If my suspicions are confirmed, I imagine her funeral will go-ahead later this month, she’ll be cremated on some pretty hill surrounded by family, friends and non-friends, her ashes will likely be scattered somewhere near her ancestral home, a sharp left off the M1, J22. She was a character. A veritable legend and I can only hope she’s gone to a better place…like Flamborough.
“…love her like all my fellow Blades, Truly, Madly, Deeply.
Man of the Match
Coutts. It’s what she would’ve wanted.
I have learnt that Trudy has not died. She missed the first game to watch her second husband get re-married in Harrogate, and the second game only to attend the same second husband’s third funeral. A HAPPY ENDING.