Game 9: Saturday 27 September 1997
Leeds United 1 - 0 Manchester United
(Half-time: 1 - 0)
Referee: M J Bodenham (East Looe)
|Bristol City »
|Martyn, Kelly, Robertson, Haaland, Radebe, Wetherall, Wallace, Ribeiro, Hopkin (Molenaar 79), Halle, Kewell
|Hasselbaink, Bowyer, Lilley, Beeney
|Schmeichel, G. Neville (P. Neville 73), Irwin, Pallister, Beckham, Sheringham, Poborsky (Thornley 73), Keane, Scholes (Johnsen 57), Solskjaer, Berg
|McClair, Van Der Gouw
|Haaland, Kelly, Wetherall
|Scholes, Keane, P Neville
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers
|Voice of Football
|In Toilet Dreamland
|The sweet scent of success
|Posh Spice takes it up the arse
|In Toilet Dreamland (2)
|4.35, Saturday afternoon
|Graham up to his old nick knack
|Keane fails to tackle problem of recklessness
|The Sunday Times
|Leeds dent crown of champions
|The Electronic Telegraph
|Wetherall exposes United's fragility
|Links to Reports on the net
|Soccernet match report
|Carlingnet match report
A broken toilet at Voice Mansions, cowboy plumbers, Mrs Voice in tears, and being stuck in fucking horrendous traffic, made it look like the best I might manage was the second half of our "cup final" - Leeds v Scum. Probably a blessing in disguise I thought.
As I had Simon Tobias' ticket in my pocket, I phoned Betty at the Adolphi. A rousing chorus of "Voice of Football, is a wanker, is a wanker" echoed in my ear!!! Thanks ya bastards, you cheered me up no end. But, to the fury of many other drivers and thanks to an absence of traffic police I somehow made it inside SOTG after missing only 3 minutes of the action.
BUT WHAT A FIRST HALF........Unbefuckinlievable!!!!! Was this the team that played so badly against Leicester & Palace??? No. Leeds have two teams. A bloody lazy arsed awful one, and a class, committed, attacking one that is wheeled out for big occasions. The share of the play may have been even, but by thunder did we look threatening going forward. Kelly & Halle looked like Strachan & Sterland, Wallace a menacing, jinking thorn in Pallister's side. Alfi & Hopkin, tackling & passing outplayed Keane & Scholes. Inevitably we scored. Scenes of joyous rapture. Fans on the pitch. A wonder to behold. I looked towards the referee, sure there must have been some infringement. But no, Weatherall's diving header stood. 1-0.
Beckham moaned and berated the referee continually all game. "Posh Spice takes it up the arse" was the Kop's answer to him. The Scum fans sat silently, Keane chopped and pushed, Scholes & Butt scythed players down. We could have scored more. Super Rod nearly made it 2. At the other end, Martyn had little to do, bar a fine save from Beckham.
Second half, we sent on the team that played against Leicester & Palace. We were dour. We sat back and defended. We had no ambition up front. We couldn't pass,. We hoofed it long. BUT IT DIDN'T BLOODY MATTER!!!! We were ahead v the Scum.
They struggled to break us down. Fergie sent on more subs than Pearl Harbour. Occasionally they went close. Martyn a good save from Sheringham and a scramble from a corner.
Keane lashed out at Alfi, got booked & injured in the process and hobbled off. I think it looks bad. Top. Loads of bookings. Loads of tasty tackles. Loads of pride & passion. The clock ticked slowly on.....90 mins were up.
GG & Fergie prowled on the touchline as five minutes of extra time seemed like twenty.
The whistle blew. We all clapped politely and went home.
Scores on Doors -
Martyn - 8 (fine game, good
Halle - 8 (much better)
Wethers - 11 (because he scored)
Radebe - 9 (the best centre half I've ever seen at Leeds - and that includes Carlton)
Robertson - 7 (truly a solid game)
Kelly - 8 (10 for the first half, 6 for the second)
Alfi - 7
Hopkin - 8 (replaced by Molenaar - good tactical substitution believe it or not)
Bruno - 7 (was not quite upto the speed of the game)
Kewell - 6 (not a centre forward)
Wallace - 8 (hardly saw the ball second half)
GG - 9
Crowd - 10
Ellie - 9
Even Chumbawumba and the half time entertainment seemed good today!
No time to post a long report. But if the Observer's bitter report was typical, please discount anything you read about this game in the press. We had 12 shots to their 4, we had more corners than they did, we had the two best chances of the game. They had little idea how to get past Lucas, Wetherall and Martyn. We went bloody bonkers. I think even the West Standers spent much of the game actually on their feet. Everyone else was up for the full 97 minutes. It was excellent, bloody marvellous.
Highlights of highlights:
Martyn at his best with three superb
Keane got hurt trying a bad foul on Haaland, Who was excellent - quick, decisive and everywhere he should be.
Gary Kelly was superb.
The two Centre Backs were even better.
The best: 30 mins. A load of suited scummers were asked to leave the NE corner and were given directions by helpful locals sitting nearby. One or two of the exiting types seemed less than enthusiastic about the situation. Just after the corporate types got out of sight of the pitch they must have heard the biggest cheer of the afternoon as their lot conceded the goal. He he he he.
So, I hear all the potty noodles grumble, that bastard Sewell surely can't find anything to moan about this time. Well, maybe not a moan, but ......... We shouldn't get carried away by one result in what is our biggest League game of the year. We were really up for it, they weren't. We got at them and they lost their composure. I still think we lack the creativity and skill going forward to break down sides that are less attack minded than scum were. Newcastle may give us a sterner test in this regard. I do wonder, however, if the better attacking display by Hopkin and Haaland, who worked really well together, might be the first sign of the new reserve team coach's impact on the first team squad. Our movement was better than for a long time. Wallace was lively and looked pretty good - he gave Pallister a torrid time in the first half. He also missed arguably the best chance of the game just before half time. We still need a top quality forward.
GG still doesn't convince me. The players and the fans went at this game from the moment they came out of the tunnel and we did really well. We succeeded by making _them_ defend in the first half. I don't think the decision to sit back on the lead and defend deep in the second half was necessarily the right one. OK we got away with it, but had they equalized I'm not sure there was any way back to a deserved win and we might well have lost it. GG's (non)use of substitutes remains a mystery to me - as the last 10 minutes ticked away he didn't follow the first change (a good one as Lucas shored up the midfield and Molenaar did well at the back when Pallister went forward) by two more. Kewell had been withdrawn into midfield and was about dead on his feet - bringing in Bowyer for a few minutes would surely have been a good move. Ditto Jimmy for Wallace. Neither move would have disrupted the team, both would have taken time off the clock. Both might have given us more potency on the break.
A final point. If anyone claims that Saturday proves that the team plays well when the fans get behind them and, thus, that poor home performances are fans' fault - they are wrong. Fans got behind the team partly because of who we were playing. They also roused themselves because the team played with fire in its belly. The relationship is circular and the spiral can be vicious or virtuous. On Saturday the occasion, the team and the fans all contributed to the atmosphere. If we get future brainless displays where they seem less than up for it against big, defensive, well-organised sides the spiral will turn the other way.
Stars on the day - the fans, Martyn, Wetherall, Lucas. Honourable mentions to Kelly, Ribeiro, Kewell, Haaland, and the stewards in the NE corner.
Now you're probably going to need 2 match reports for this one : it all depends which sources you derive your knowledge from.
No.1 Leeds vs Man Utd as seen by the nation on Match Of The Day. plucky, game, daring Manchester Utd were today robbed of their unbeaten record by a dour and lucky Leeds who only had one shot on goal and it went in. Whereas the brave reds peppered the Leeds goal from start to finish, and everyone, Nigel Martyn, the referee, God himself conspired to keep the ball out of the charmed goal of the home team. Alex Fergusson is considering filing a petition for this fixture to be played on a neutral ground next year, at least 300 miles from Leeds, as he felt that the crowd were intimidating his team.
For once this season we had the spirit, the imagination (1st half), and the grit(2nd half), to say that we deserved to beat someone at home. We played like a team, covered for each other, battled and ran, and yes had more than one decent effort on goal. We seem to have decided to play this as an "away" match psychologically at least. We soaked up their pressure and broke quickly, moving the ball around at speed and running at them.
The defence for most of the game had our best CHalf pairing of Wetherall and Lucas, and they dealt with Ole, and Teddy with ease. Robertson was hopeless the few times he was exposed to the spice shagger, but this wasn't very often thankfully cos Bruno kept him pinned back well away from our box. This also served to stop Neville getting to our byline.
The midfield had probably their best game for us Hopkin and Alfie ran themselves stupid in the first 60 mins. and faded after that, Kelly and Bruno were up and down the touchline swinging in crosses, and covering back. If we'd have had a big CForward for the first half hour we'd have scored 3 or 4 the crossing was beautiful, there just wasn't anyone on the end of it.
Upfront SuperRod ran them ragged. In the first 5 mins. a ball was pumped up to him on the halfway, with Pallister at his back, as he went to control it he went down in a crumpled heap holding his back, just about where the kidneys(?) are. That of course was tactical defensive play, and not intimidation of the opponents leading goalscorer at all. Kewell ran, hustled and sweated, but he isn't a natural forward, and I don't think that the instincts are there, to make the runs or to hold the ball etc.
The goal was a carbon copy of a move that had almost brought Kelly a goal at the far post, 5 mins. earlier. Free kick on the left swung into the back post Wetherall diving header past a stranded Rudolf. If they're dumb enough to fall for the same move twice...
Rod slid a Kelly cross just wide, Bruno sent in a couple of 20yarders that had Rudolf scrambling down round his posts, Kewell blasted a couple of very long rangers into the south stand.
They did have some chances, and the longer the game went on the closer they got. But for most of the game we kept them to shooting / heading from the edge of the box. The few times they did get nearer Martyn kept them out superbly.
Atmosphere was superb, didn't sit down all game, sang myself hoarse. There did look to be some trouble outside the ground before the game, but I kept well away so I can't tell you what went off.
2 funniest moments of the game;
81 min. Keane and Haaland go charging into the box together - all this happened right in front of me - it was 50-50, and Keane just swung his left leg across his own body to boot Alfie, he missed, kicked himself, brought himself and Alfie down, appealed for a penalty, got booked, and had to go off injured. Alfie got up and shouted at the cheating scum bastard.
The look on the face of a scum supporting mate of mine, who was in the kop a few rows from me, as he realised the he would have to stand up " cos he hates Man Utd", or die. So he stood up. YESSSIR.
POINTS - bearing in mind that they all deserve 10
MARTYN -9- magnificent display, wiped
away any lingering concerns about a dip in form.
HALLE -6- steady
ROBERTSON -5- a charlatan in footballers clothing
WETHERALL -9- goalscoringscumstoppingdeputycaptaindefensivegiantHERO
RADEBE -9- the others come from Boston Spa, he descends from Mount Olympus. Stepped up into midfield for the last 10 mins as Molenaar came on at the back, a move that I believe may have won us the match, as he helped stem their advancing tide.
KELLY -8- Superb running, always a threat. Covered for Halle several times
HOPKIN -8- best 70 mins. I've seen him play. Held midfield with Alfie. Dead on his feet as he went off.
HAALAND -8- see above
RIBERIO -8- rose to the big game challenge superbly, threaded the ball around sensibly, beat a few men here and there. Forced Beckham infield to search for room by the second half.
WALLACE -9- tireless, menace... deserved a goal
KEWELL -8- again selfless running
subs MOLENAAR brought on to counter them moving Pallister up front, added steel, still shaky when marking Teddy.
A GREAT GREAT DAY, and a very pissed evening.
What a day!!!!! I'd been waiting 6 months for pie 'n peas and a decent pint, and it was well worth the wait. I was getting a bit panicky when Bets told me that Voicey was running late cos his bog broke. Fortunately he showed just after kick off, so we only missed 4 or 5 minutes.
I couldn't believe how well we played. Having heard all the bad reports about our home form, I was expecting us to smegged, but I was pleasantly surprised. Rodders was amazing, Radebe was a rock at the back, and Martyn made some spectacular saves.
The sc*mmers were dirty whinging bastards. Neville, Keane, Beckham and Poborsky were the worst offenders. Any one of them could - and possibly should have walked. Poborsky's dives cost us a couple of bookings. Dunno how they got away with it. At least Keane got booked for his attempted scythe in our box, made even funnier when Fergie dragged him off (after having made 3 changes already!).
I couldn't believe how much stoppage time the ref added. It was getting pretty tense towards the end (though Voice didn't really let it show!).
After a swift beer in the Imperial (where we found a scum fan tied up with rope and a 'Man Utd Scum' sign!), Bets gave me a whole load of the BDTR car stickers (Mike Bellwood/Mark - I'll bring them back with me).
For a worrying moment I thought my hire car had been nicked. I wasn't too worried - more the other 3 that had 10 minutes to get to the train. Fortunately I was looking down the wrong road. Ooops.
Thanks again to Voicey for the ticket - much appreciated. See yuz again at Chrimbo.
Martyn - that save he made from Sheringham's header was bloody astonishing. Back to his very, very best except for one brief wander outside his box.
Haaland - I'm converted!! Thought he was a pointlrss buy prior to Saturday, but ghe was magnificent. He covered every blade of grass at least 4 times and never seemed to lose a challenge.
Kelly - God, God, God, God, God. How much energy does this man have?? He always seemed to be there to support Halle when needed, yet every single time we borke in the match it was Wallace, Kewell and Kelly up front. Great free-kick for the goal. Please, please, please get him on a 10 year contract and don't let Scum near him.
Wetherall - Have always been a Wetherall fan. It is performances like these that remind me why. If he could play like this every week, and cut out moments of madness he'd be international class. There was one telliong moment in the second half when scum has a free-kick in the indentical spot to where we had scored from. Some scummer swung it in well and who headed it? Wetherall - straight back up the pitch!
Radebe was stunning as usual,, Robertson has improved defensively, not back tracking awat from attackers as badly as he did against McManaman. Ribeiro will score 10 this season if kept in.
Crowd were great. Sat in the West Stand. I couldn't be believe it when the prat next to me chasitised me for leaning forward in my seat!!
Scum Fans - bloody silent. All this 'no more important than playing Bolton' crap has beenm shoved back up 'em now. I just pray for the day when we finally do 'em at their place (which could be this season given our away form).
GG got it just right with selection and bringing Terminator on. I'd have probably brought someone else on for last 10 mins as we were dead on feet. But who cares? We held on.
Ellie had a blinder. I actually got a match prediction right for first time since opening day. Didn't make it to Adelphi tho' as I was a lazy git and missed the earlier coach.
Oh happy, happy world. I remember a previous victory over scum was then followed by humilation by non-entities (Mansfield) followed by defeat at Coventry. Let's keep this run going, and not go throught that again......
Then, something extraordinary happens. Another cross comes in. For once, the defence are nowhere and Sheringham is unmarked. An unstoppable header flies towards the top corner of the goal. Martyn is caught flat-footed, and the ball is already behind him before he starts to move. He moves. Later analysis will prove that his speed of reaction and the power of his leap are beyond the physical limits of the human nervous system: somehow he reaches the ball, somehow he catches the ball.
This is not yet the extraordinary bit.
My heart leaps too, but only for the briefest moment: it is still a certain goal. Martyn is in mid air, flying backwards with the ball in his hands. His momentum looks sure to carry him and the ball into the net. His body twists. Jacknife. Like a diver, he turns in the air. His arms stretch downwards, he presses the ball into the ground, still one inch from the line. Thus anchored, the momentum seems to drain from him: the laws of physics no longer apply. He falls, gathering the ball to his chest, and the scene dissolves in a sea of jumping bodies and waving arms. Safe. Rourke's Drift has held again, and the good people of Elland Road have seen one of the finest saves in the history of the game.
For a few minutes, the team pick up again. The miracle save restores fading hearts, and from deep within, the players find some trace memory of their first half domination. Maybe we can nick this after all! But the referee has other ideas...
Up to now, he has done a reasonable job, but suddenly it is as if the enormity of his predicament hits him like a hammer. He cannot officiate in a defeat of Manchester United! And so, he begins to cheat. Strange free kicks are awarded, the pressure begins to build again. Time. Time. Goalmouth clearance. Shots blocked. Corner. TIME YOU BASTARD TIME! Five minutes of injury time, and still playing. He hasn't even looked at his watch. I'm pessimistic again, but this time there is no feeling of dread, or doubt, or resignation. This is pure anger. I'm screaming TIME! TIME! If they score now I will kill somebody. I'm having a two-year-old's temper tantrum: I stamp my feet, I'm thinking This is just NOT FAIR!
Finally the whistle blows, after seven minutes of unnecessary agony. I'm totally drained. Fucking hell. Fuck me. What a wonderful, wonderful fucking wonderful match. It takes a long time to sink in, and when it does I think how bad I felt after the Leicester game, and how I feel now. Jesus. Football is a horrible, horrible game. It builds you up and then it rubs your face in the shit, and of course there will be pains still to come this season. But sometimes, sometimes, football gives you the greatest feeling in the world. I have won Olympic gold, I have cured all known diseases, I have slept with supermodels, I have ended wars, I have stood on the peak of Everest. Thank you, thank you, Leeds United.
There is a bloke at work who claims to be a Leeds fan. Yesterday he tells me how pleased he was when he read the score in the paper on Sunday afternoon. I say Hah! HAH!
Whatever George Graham might have lost when he fell from grace at Arsenal over irregular payments on transfers, he has retained the knack of organising teams to win difficult games against apparently superior opposition. It was this knack that helped to end Manchester United's unbeaten record on Saturday as Leeds United achieved their season's first home victory.
For Leeds fans, beating the Red Devils incarnate from the other side of the Pennines is roughly equivalent to Turk defeating Greek, although the sense of enmity is, if anything, a mite more intimidating. And whether the fixture is won or lost, the consequences can be far-reaching.
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