Leeds United nostalgia: Long wait is ended as Whites sink rivals

Brian Deane.
Brian Deane.
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Most Leeds United fans can remember the significance of the date of September 11, 1994 instantly.

Events at Elland Road on that memorable autumn afternoon – twenty years ago on Thursday – were the precursor to mass joy in the city and for the uninitiated, it was a truly historic day; Leeds’ first win over bitter rivals Manchester United in nine attempts since Brian Flynn netted the only goal of the game at Old Trafford on February 28, 1981.

You had to go back to May 3, 1980 for United’s last previous success over the Red Devils on home soil; a sweet 2-0 triumph in front of 39,625 mostly ecstatic punters with Derek Parlane and Kevin Hird (penalty) finding the net as the hosts signed off a disappointing season in style.

In the next nine games at LS11, United could not get the better of their foes from across the Pennines and that sequence was starting to represent a festering sore for Leeds supporters.

Then, it all gloriously changed.

Victory was particularly delicious given the sight of one Eric Cantona in a red jersey, with the Frenchman unceremoniously booed at every juncture by home fans.

And despite Cantona scoring a hotly-disputed penalty 12 minutes from time, the day belonged to Leeds.

It was an occasion when centre-half David Wetherall and Leeds lad Brian Deane entered Leeds folklore with the pair scoring the goals that saw Alex Ferguson’s visitors downed 2-1.

In the case of Wetherall’s stirke, never has a mishit been celebrated as wildly after Gary McAllister’s corner found its way to him as he gave Leeds the lead.

Just over three years later, Wetherall famously stole the limelight all on his own, raising above Gary Pallister in the 34th minute before thumping a header past the hesitant Peter Schmeichel to seal a 1-0 success on September 27, 1997.

That September day just over three years earlier, Wetherall shared equal billing with substitute Deane, who poked home the second for the hosts after being set up by the tireless Noel Whelan in front of the south stand – the cue to pandemonium among home supporters.

Not that it came at a canter, with the visitors offered a lifeline 12 minutes from time when schoolmaster David Elleray pointed to the spot after Deane fouled Paul Ince, with home fans incredulous with the offence appearing to take place outside of the box.

Cantona ignored the hysteria to convert, the prelude to the most nervy of finishes with home fans’ nails soon bitten to the quick.

Ask most United supporters and it was probably the longest ten minutes of their lives, with ‘Fergie time’ also extending the pain.

But with the incessant backing from the Leeds ranks, the hosts were not to be denied.

The United side that famous day saw John Lukic in goal, with a back four consisting of Gary Kelly, Nigel Worthington and Carlton Palmer, alongside Wetherall with David White, McAllister and Gary Speed lining up in midfield. Leeds’ attacking options consisted of Rod Wallace, Phil Masinga and Whelan, with Deane and Chris Fairclough coming on as subs.

Matthew Pennington.

Leeds United move was ‘perfect’ for me, says Matthew Pennington