Former Leeds boss Simon Grayson reveals 'mind games' in dramatic 2010 final day promotion victory

Simon Grayson has shared a story detailing how he spooked full-back Daniel Jones during Leeds United’s crucial final day victory over Bristol Rovers in 2010.
Simon Grayson (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)Simon Grayson (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Simon Grayson (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The Whites secured promotion back to the Championship from League One after overturning a one-goal deficit to run out 2-1 winners, with Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford bagging the vital strikes.

But Grayson’s men didn’t have all their own way at Elland Road that day, with Max Gradel being dismissed partway through the first half for a stamp on Rovers loanee Jones.

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With Leeds needing to win to guarantee their spot in the second tier the following season, Jones looked to be in danger of becoming a hugely unpopular figure among the home support, and Grayson decided to use that air of menace to his advantage.

Reflecting on the match during an interview with the EFL, he said: “One or two players were injured. I left Jonny Howson out of the team, I think [Robert] Snodgrass might have been out of the team, and we went with a team the games before that we thought might get us promoted.

"There were a few decisions to make about who was going to play, who was going to captain the team – [Patrick] Kisnorbo, another influential signing, has done his achilles in the early part of the season.

"We were pretty much down to, not the bare bones, but a lot of our group, the main players, were not playing to the best of their abilities or were injured or unavailable.

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"We go into that game thinking, let’s do whatever we can to win the game, but then Max just makes a decision where you’re thinking ‘What?!’. The pressure did tell on Max that he just made that irrational decision by stamping on Daniel Jones and left us.

"It was quite strange that at half-time I ended up walking down the tunnel with Daniel Jones who was obviously laid on the floor when Max stamped on him.

"Some things just come into your head, or it just happens without thinking about it that I just turned to him and said: ‘Don’t forget in the second half where you’re going to be playing’. He said: ‘What do you mean?’. I said: ‘Well you’re playing left-back, you’re going to be in the far north east corner, which is the furthest part of the pitch from the tunnel, and if we lose this game, all the best getting off this pitch!’.

"Anyway, the game obviously happens, and with two minutes before the end, we’re winning 2-1. Who’s playing right wing with two minutes to go instead of left-back? Daniel Jones. He's stood next to the dugouts ready for the whistle to go to run down the tunnel.

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"Whether my mind games or anything played a part in that, but obviously there were a lot of other incidents happened before we got to that stage.”

Grayson guided the Whites back to the Championship after a three-year absence that had twice seen them finish in the play-offs before coming up short in their bid for promotion.