Leeds United never do things the easy way
03 Jul 2020 07:48 am, by YorkshireSquare
As we head into the final six games of the season, nerves are getting twitchy. Of course they are, this is Leeds United we are talking about, we never do things the easy way! Loss to Cardiff saw everyone reaching for the Valium and fearing the play-offs, whilst a victory over Fulham had everyone believing we were going to win the league again. The draw with struggling Luton on Tuesday brought fans down to earth again, nervously peering over their shoulders at Brentford. It’s been a rollercoaster so far, but any promotion will have those ups and downs, we only have to look to the last time Leeds were promoted to the top flight, 1989-1990, to see that.
In 1989 after losing the first game away to Newcastle, a 15 game undefeated run including 10 victories saw Leeds well up with the leaders, and a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough in early December saw Leeds proudly top of the table. The arrival of Lee Chapman and Chris Kamara proved to be the final pieces in the promotion jigsaw for United as a three-way fight developed for the two promotion places between Leeds United, Sheffield United and Newcastle United. Quick exits from the Cups left Leeds with no distractions able to concentrate on the Second Division title race.
But there were a few signs of nerves to come. Having lost only three times in the first half of the season Leeds had a bit of a wobble in the new year. Ahead of the crucial the Easter Monday local derby with rivals Sheffield United Leeds had lost five times (Against Barnsley, Swindon, Watford, Wolves and Oldham). But Leeds blew away the Blades 4-0 with two goals from Gordon Strachan, one from Lee Chapman and another from the young Gary Speed. United’s strength had been the way they dominated sides at Elland Road and so it came as a total surprise when Barnsley became the first team to beat Leeds on home territory with a 2-1 win. This left Leeds needing to win both their remaining matches to be sure of promotion.
32,597 crammed into Elland Road for the visit of Leicester City, who had brought Leeds 15 game unbeaten run to an end earlier in the season by winning 4-3 at Filbert Street. Mel Sterland thumped United into an early lead but the second goal just would not come and there was despair when Gary McAllister (Who played for Leicester) scored with a spectacular long range shot to make the scores level. With nerves of the crowd showing, Gordon Strachan saved the day with his 16th League goal of the season to send the fans home in raptures with a 2-1 victory. The win did not ensure promotion, but left United in the box seat. A win at relegation threatened Bournemouth would bring not only promotion but also the championship.
On the final matchday of the season with Middlesbrough already beating Newcastle, a point would have been enough to secure promotion, but Sheffield United's early goals at Leicester put them in command in the title race. Then with 41 minutes of the season remaining Chris Kamara crossed for Lee Chapman to rise and head the winner, and United had little difficulty in hanging on to their lead to win the championship with 85 points and with it promotion to the first division.
Promotions are nerve-wracking, even the faint prospect of winning promotion ups the stakes producing extreme highs and lows of emotions. Heck, anyone who was at Elland Road on Saturday 8th May 2010 to see Leeds beat Bristol Rovers to secure promotion to the Championship will tell you what a roller-coaster 90 minutes can be, never mind 9 games. Between now and 22nd July will not be easy, there will be highs and there will be lows. But whatever they put us through, it will be absolutely worth it if we are back in the Premier League next season.