Leeds United Change

Leeds United Dave Simpson


Dave Simpson, Guardian music critic and author

One sunny lunchtime in April 1992, four of us piled into a motor to get to Elland Road.

Leeds United were second in the league and after a 4-0 hammering at Man. City Man. U. were hot favourites to land the title. Still, three and a half years before, the once mighty club languished at the bottom of the old Div. 2, before new manager Howard Wilkinson (“Sergeant Wilko”) started a whirlwind rise towards the domestic summit using nutrition, punishing fitness regimes, shrewd but cheap signings and, in Carl Shutt and Mick Whitlow, players recruited from non-league football.

To win a title like this would be unthinkable today.

His last signing of the 1991-2 season was nomadic Frenchman Eric Cantona, who’d arrived at Elland Road after a chequered career and trial at Sheffield Wednesday. In his first game for Leeds – a little-remembered friendly against Gothenburg in January 1992 - he looked awful, but within weeks, the French striker was LUFC’s new cult hero and “Ooh Aah Cantona!” rang around the ground.

He made most impact as sub, and against Chelsea on 11 April 1992 Cantona came on, received the ball on the edge of the box, and just juggled it past the defenders with three touches of his right foot, before a fourth sent it screaming into the top corner, and Elland Road erupted. It was the best individual goal I have ever seen.

Within a few months, Cantona was sold and the money-soaked new Premiership meant the end of the Shuttys and Mickey Whitlows winning the league. But in that moment, I remember the sunshine bursting in, and the sudden belief that Sergeant Wilko's troops could achieve mission impossible: the domestic title, just two years after promotion.

* Dave Simpson’s new book The Last Champions – Leeds United And The Year That Football Changed Forever is out now on Bantam Press.

You can buy it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Last-Champions-Dave-Simpson/dp/0593069269/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334996673&sr=1-1


1 Comment

Great times - i was too young to appreciate the first two titles but that one was sweet and one to treasure. After the 4.0 defeat at city i wrote to sergeant wilko and said keepn the faith "they" have 4 games in 12 days (as fergie cancelled a game ahead of league cup final) and they wont win all of those. Most painful night of my life listening to their game at West Ham wave after wave of attack but the hammers held on after an early goal and secured the game 1.0 On the way to a meeting down south i also blagged my way into a Forest game vrs them and cheered louder than all the Forest fams when Nigel Clough bagged the winner. 1992 - fantastic season.

– Dave Rowson, October 12 2012 at 07:22

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