With this season drawing to an all too familiar close for Leeds United, the 2013/14 campaign is set to be the Whites’ tenth year outside of the top-fight since relegation in 2004.
Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Ipswich made it five games without a win for Neil Warnock’s side and they now find themselves nearer to the relegation zone than the top-six, with just seven games remaining.
Since the Whites were condemned to Premier League relegation just short of nine years ago, the Elland Road faithful have endured two Play-Off final defeats, relegation to League One, administration, two points deductions (10 and 15), five managerial changes and the inevitable everyday heartaches with come with the territory of supporting Leeds.
However, despite a majorly disappointing last couple of years, the prospect of a new manager and chairman for the forthcoming season means that the changes needed to bring the good-times back to West Yorkshire could be just around the corner.
True to the words of Marching on Together, “ups and downs” offers the perfect summary of Leeds’ time in the Football League, but here is a look at some of those “ups”, with the first part of Leeds United’s top ten moments outside of the top-flight.
10. Leeds United 1-0 Derby County, Elland Road, 7th August 2004.
After the mass-exodus which followed relegation, Leeds’ first game in the newly named Championship was always going to be a tricky affair. With only Gary Kelly, Frazer Richardson, Matthew Kilgallon and Michael Duberry making the starting line-up from the squad which faced the drop just three months prior, it was a team pieced together by Kevin Blackwell in the few weeks which led up to the game. This reflected in the performance as certain players understandably lacked fitness and any sort of cohesion was absent for the majority of the game. But the players dug-in, some playing for their careers, and with the help of the 30,000 strong Elland Road crowd, they were redeemed with a rare strike from Richardson in the second-half, sealing a remarkable win considering the circumstances.
Starting line-up: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Duberry, Kilgallon, Richardson, Wright, Walton (Radebe), Pugh, Joachim, Ricketts (Deane). Unused: Carson, Crainey, Guppy.
Did you know? Due to the early kick-off, this was the first game to be played in the Championship since its rebranding.
9. Leeds United 2-1 Norwich, Elland Road, 19th October 2009
In the Whites’ third and final season in League One, one of the campaign’s undoubted highlights came in the shape of a dramatic 2-1 win over fellow promotion chasers Norwich. Bradley Johnson had given Leeds the lead with a close-range header from a Robert Snodgrass corner in the first half, before their future team-mate, Grant Holt, managed to level things up just before the break. The second-half saw Max Gradel make his United debut and he looked lively in his late cameo, almost teeing up Jermaine Beckford for what should have been the winner. A draw seemed to be the inevitable outcome with both teams ruing missed chances. That was until Fraser Forster made a hash of his goal-kick and Beckford was first to it, racing in on goal at a perilous speed to slot home a 93rd minute winner in front of the Kop, sparking pandemonium in the stands and sending Simon Grayson’s side to the top of League One in typical Leeds United fashion.
Starting line-up: Higgs (Ankergren), Crowe, Naylor, Bromby, Hughes, Snodgrass (Gradel), Howson, Doyle, Johnson, Vokes (Kandol), Beckford. Unused: Michalik, Prutton, Kilkenny, Grella.
Did you know? Max Gradel and Sam Vokes made their Leeds debuts in this game, with their signings from Leicester and Wolves respectively being announced just an hour before kick-off.
8. Leeds United 2-0 QPR, Elland Road, 18th December 2010
In their first season back in the Championship, high-flying Leeds turned in one of their most impressive performances in recent years, with a 2-0 win over league-leaders QPR. The Whites were on the charge having come from two goals down to win at Burnley the week before and when Neil Warnock brought his side to a rocking Elland Road, there was only ever going to be one winner. The R’s nineteen game unbeaten run which had propelled them to the top of the table had come to a halt the weekend prior, with a first defeat of the season coming at the hands of Watford, and they appeared to be still licking their wounds when Max Gradel fired Leeds in front after 25 minutes. It was a real show of dominance from the Whites and Man of the Match Gradel added his second to double their lead with a fine solo effort, twisting his way through the QPR defence before beating a helpless Paddy Kenny. By this point Elland Road was bouncing, and there was a sense of belief around the ground that an unthinkable back-to-back promotion could well be on the cards when other results meant that Leeds would spend Christmas day in second place.
Starting line-up: Schmeichel, Connolly, Bruce (Bromby), Collins, McCartney, Snodgrass, Doyle, Howson, Johnson, Gradel (Sam), Becchio (Paynter). Unused: Higgs, Faye, Somma, McCormack.
Did you know? As if the day couldn’t get any better for the Leeds fans, leading goal scorer Luciano Becchio put doubts about his future to bed, penning a new five-year contract after the game.
7. Leeds United v Spurs FA Cup ties
Leeds’ FA Cup run in the 2009/10 season is often stated as one of the factors which almost derailed their promotion push and with league form stuttering, a trip to White Hart Lane looked like it would be a step too far for Simon Grayson’s side. Having already caused a third round upset at Old Trafford, Leeds were full of belief and when the heroic Casper Ankergren saved Jermaine Defoe’s penalty after waves of first half attacks, that air of optimism was starting to return. That was until Peter Crouch stabbed Spurs into lead just minutes before the break, giving Leeds a mountain to climb in the second half. Whatever Grayson had said to his players during the interval seemed to be doing the trick as they came out all guns blazing, with Jermaine Beckford scrambling home an equaliser from a corner. Roman Pavlyuchenko had put Spurs back in front but this Leeds team just didn’t know when they were beaten. After a long ball from Jonny Howson deep into stoppage-time, the superb Beckford was brought down in the box by Michael Dawson and referee Mike Riley didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. The talismanic dusted himself down to dispatch an unstoppable 94th minute strike into the roof of the net, sending the travelling army into raptures and forcing a replay at Elland Road the following week. The Premier League class of Harry Redknapp’s side showed in the return game when they were 3-1 winners despite another bold Leeds performance. The Whites did manage to inflict revenge three years later however, with a 2-1 win at Elland Road proving to be one of this season’s highlights.
Starting line-up: Ankergren, Crowe, Kisnorbo, Bromby, Hughes, Snodgrass, Doyle (Becchio), Kilkenny, Howson, Johnson (White), Beckford. Unused: Martin, Michalik, Prutton, Robinson, Grella.
Did you know? Before the win in January, Leeds hadn’t managed to beat Spurs in any of their previous seven meetings, the last victory being a 2-1 win at Elland Road in November 2001.
6. Preston North End play-off semi-final games 2006
After Billy Davies announced that the 1-1 draw in the first leg at Elland Road was “job done” for his Preston side, Kevin Blackwell’s men needed no added incentives when they travelled to Deepdale for the return game the week later. An Eddie Lewis free-kick had cancelled out David Nugent’s opener in the Elland Road tie and despite Preston having the home advantage; Leeds remained uncharacteristically unfazed by the big occasion, clinching a 2-0 win after a professional performance. The Leeds defence managed to withstand numerous first half attacks from the home side but the game was firmly in the balance going into half-time at 0-0. Bizarrely, the floodlights suffered a power failure as the teams were waiting to come back out, meaning that the restart was delayed for a further 25 minutes. The extended break seemed to benefit Leeds and shortly after proceedings had resumed, Rob Hulse opened the scoring with a header from a Gary Kelly corner before setting up Frazer Richardson to double the lead and leave the Whites just 90 minutes away from a top-flight return. The dismissals of Stephen Crainey and Richard Cresswell had little impact on the outcome for Leeds and they ended the game in celebratory mood, with a trip to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium awaiting.
Starting line-up: Sullivan, Kelly, Gregan, Kilgallon, Crainey, Richardson, Derry, Miller, Douglas, Lewis (Stone), Hulse (Cresswell). Unused: Bakke, Blake, Healy.
Did you know? On top of the two red cards, Leeds picked up a whopping eight yellow cards during the game with Derry, Kilgallon, Crainey, Gregan, Miller, Cresswell, Kelly and Douglas all going into the book. Dirty Leeds.
The top 10 mapped out
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment over the coming week.