Vinnie Jones - Fans memories of a Leeds United cult hero

He will forever be a cult hero to a generation of the Elland Road faithful.

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 4:30 pm
Vinnie Jones celebrates with the Kop after scoring against Ipswich Town at Elland Road in September 1989. The game finished 1-1. PIC: Varley Picture Agency
Vinnie Jones celebrates with the Kop after scoring against Ipswich Town at Elland Road in September 1989. The game finished 1-1. PIC: Varley Picture Agency

Vinnie Jones managed to connect with supporters in a way few have managed down the years.

You could point to his distinctive 'V' coiffure - once described by radio commentator Stuart Hall as being “an Alcatraz haircut, with a hedgehog on top” - that spawned a thousand imitations and led to countless suspensions for pupils across the city who copied his style.

Or how about the fist-pumping ‘Leeds Salute’ that would elicit a similarly frenzied response from the terraces.

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Vinnie Jones raises aloft the Division 2 championship trophy during a civic reception in May 1990. PIC: Gary Longbottom

And this from a tough tackling, no-nonsense, hard man, who only made 46 appearances for Leeds.

Yet it proved a season to remember as Jones played in all but one league games as the Whites finished as champions of the Second Division, winning promotion to the First Division in 1990.

And he proved he could thrive under the stewardship of manager Howard Wilkinson receiving only three yellow cards during the entire season.

Having sat on the bench for the opening day hammering at Newcastle United by the time he made his debut against Middlesbrough at Elland Road the faithful were baying for him.

Vinnie Jones sings with the Kop during Lucas Radebe's testimonial match at Elland Road in May 2005. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“The welcome I got from the Leeds fans on my debut made me feel immortal,” said Vinnie at the time who came on as an 87th minute s

He ran, hassled and harried. And with only a minute left to play, he burst forward and attempted a through ball. It was a misplaced pass, but it bobbled off the turf, hit Gary Parkinson and trickled past Kevin Poole. The response? Pandemonium.

With the final whistle blowing only seconds later, Vinnie charged to the Kop and climbed the fence. The resultant photo would be one of the most iconic of the season.

The next game - Ipswich Town at Elland Road - saw him score his first of five goals for the Whites. Against West Ham United in October 1989 he settled a crunch clash to prove Leeds’ title credentials. And there was also the looping volley against Hull, part of his best game in a Leeds shirt.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share their stand out moments of a charasmatic hardman who remains the only Leeds United player (caught on camera at least) to tackle the mascot in a pre-match warm up.

Responses included:

Steve Foster - "His goal ago Hull City is still the best goal I’ve seen at Elland Road. For someone who most people said couldn’t play football, it was absolutely fantastic. Loved him at Leeds, Wilko really got the best out of him."

Martin Lee - "First off the team bus when it returned to Elland Road after the away game at Bournemouth., taking leeds back to the top flight. The crowd surrounded the bus, and the doors opened to Vinnie singing Leeds songs. My overriding memory was, although he was reckless at times he also showed great commitment to the team and was a leader. He also played some great football and although known to be the enforcer, could play with subtlety, skill and class. He was also a very genuine, humble man, would always take time to sign autographs and was often the last player to leave the pitch. Countless times he would make his way to chat with fans in the disabled section. We loved him and still do, a true gentleman and one of our own."

Lee Bolland - "Hull City volley. What a game that was."

Dave Morris - "Many memories on the pitch best one is off it Bournemouth promotion night Gary Speed driving him round City Square in an open top sports car. Vinnie, no seat belt on, stood up waving. Great sight."

John Beard - "Was very surprised how good he was."

Liam Chapman - "Before every home match an hour before game he would go into the stands and shake hands with all disabled fans first then as many fans as possible. Top man."

Sean Duddy - "He wasn't feared to tackle. Hard as nails."

Darren Baker - "Scoring the winner West Ham away. Cracking away day. MOT forever."

Paul Martin - "Tackling the mascot from behind priceless."

David Shilton - "Goal at West ham defining moment in our promotion season and me and a few others were in their end!"

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