Going into the game, our expectation was pretty low.
We were still a League one team at this point and although we led the table comfortably, the inevitable feeling of doom that has surrounded us for the last 10 years never goes away. We didn’t dare dream we go there and win…
Talking to Leeds fans before, we just wanted to give Man U a game, get a goal if possible and leave with our pride in tact. We knew we’d own the terraces, we always do away from home and United fans really didn’t show up that day, with the “Theatre of Golden Silence” being apt. It came as little surprise that we barely heard a murmur from the Red sections.
Looking at our team that day, with the terrible Jason Crowe at Right back & Richard Naylor at CB, it really puts the result into context. We were a 3rd division team at that point. With Rooney, Berbatov, Neville, Brown & the premier league’s biggest Ornament Michael Owen all taking part for them, it remains one of the greatest results of any Leeds team.
The opening minutes were scrappy, with our MF players getting stuck in from the off. In Beckford we knew we had a player that had a knack of scoring, so when Johnny (Howson) knocked that ball long & he got onto it, we all knew it was possible. His last touch was weak & it crawled over the line in what felt like minutes.
Cue close to 8k Leeds fans giving the prawn sandwich brigade an insight into what passionate football fans look like. Not since Batty scored against Man City in the early 90’s have I seen a Leeds crowd celebrate that hard. I can’t remember the next 10 minutes of the game, as I was being hugged and jumped on by total strangers. To our left, Leigh Bromby (current Leeds player) was in the stand going mad with his dad & brother.
Man U missed some good chances, I remember the Michael “The ornament” Owen scuffing a clear chance from 10 yards out, with Berbatov putting in his usual “what a waste of money” performance. Late on Snodgrass hit the woodwork with a free kick & in the MF we held our own given the gulf in class between the sides. As with all the Leeds teams Grayson puts out, we seem to have real
momentum around Christmas, and looking back we were playing very well leading into the game.
At the final whistle, the feeling was incredible. We exploded into the loudest version of “ WE’RE NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” knowing the whole country was watching us turn over the empire on their own turf. After 10 years of the team being on a downward spiral, it finally felt like the tide had turned & the Leeds were finally going forward again. The fact it was at Old Trafford just made it more amazing. We were kept in for an hour, while Grayson & Eddie Gray appeared in the stand to our left to do radio interviews.
We sang constantly, and you could see the delight on their faces as they celebrated with us. As we left, we all felt as long suffering fans we deserved the result, it truly was a day for the hardcore Leeds fans who’d endured the horrors of League one, but kept the faith. All football fans live for these moments, moments you won’t get sat in an armchair, listening to Keys & Gray. It was the best game in 10 years.
We pretty much floated back to the car, past hoards of very unhappy Man U fans, trying not to break-dance down the road! In 29 years as a Leeds fan, it’s in my top 3 games, with AC Milan in the CL at home & the Bournemouth away game of 89.
Perversely, that was our peak performance of the year. We slowly got more ragged & lost that momentum, finally limping over the promotion line on the last day of the season. Many fans over the last few months of the season said “The Man U game ruined our season”. Whilst not entirely true, it was our peak result of the year.
As for tonight, we don’t expect the same. Man U look incredible this year, a good young side playing with confidence. We’ve been very patchy so far this year. The momentum we took to Old Trafford last year certainly isn’t there this time. Again, we’ll take a performance & result that leaves our pride in tact.But in all honesty, no serious Leeds fan expects a victory tonight. Great opportunity for some of the younger Leeds fans who haven’t seen a Leeds Man U game at Elland road before.
For those Man U fans who will make the journey (not the mass TV audience who buy shirts and themselves supporters) you’ll get the famous West Yorkshire welcome. Our teams maybe poles apart, but the venom we hold for the empire has not diminished one single bit.
This was written by a pal of mine Guy, who as you can tell supports Leeds. Whilst essentially talking down United, I think we can all agree it is a very interesting read and I’d like to thank him for taking the time to do this for us.