Leeds United: Leeds need end to home sickness says Trevor Cherry

Trevor Cherry, Leeds United
Trevor Cherry, Leeds United
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FOR A Leeds United great such as Trevor Cherry, the fact that the Whites have not won a home game in over seven months is a scarcely believable one.

In those heady days at Elland Road when Cherry was carving out a niche as a high-class defender during the pomp of the Don Revie era, charity for visiting sides was thin on the ground, apart from the odd aberration such as the Ray Tinkler-inspired loss to West Brom in April 1971 and the Burnley romp in March 1974.

Those two results were very much in isolation. Between August 1968 and May 1974, Leeds played 126 league games at Elland Road over six seasons. They won 93 games and lost eight.

Cherry played in a fair few of those at a time when home victories were par for the course with many visiting sides pretty much beaten before they stepped out in the imposing citadel that was Elland Road.

It was a time when southern sides in particular used to head north with considerable trepidation with Elland Road, Anfield, Goodison Park and the Baseball Ground being venues where the likes of West Ham, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal were regularly handed chastening afternoons and nights. And plenty of other sides besides.

Leeds did not lose a home game in their championship winning campaign of 1968-69 or in 1971-72 when they were runners-up to Derby County by a single point when only the idiosyncrasies of the fixture calendar and the power-wielding of Football League overlords Alan Hardaker et al – denied them silverware.

Meanwhile, only Burnley triumphed at Leeds during the club’s procession to the Division One title in 1973-74, producing a freakish result – a 4-1 win – that stunned football and not just United followers.

It’s all a far cry from today, with the Whites having equalled a club record of 10 league matches without a home win following their recent 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City, with their last victory on Leeds soil coming back on March 4.

It is the sort of sequence that has many supporters shaking their heads with incredulity and you suspect a host of the club’s greats too. Cherry told the YEP: “We did pride ourselves on our home form, but more on not losing games to be honest. It was certainly different times then.

“We had a reputation for our home form and playing in front of our fans made it so much easier. They were great as long as they knew we were having a go. We certainly won a lot more than we lost, didn’t we..?

“We used to talk about it (home form) and Elland Road was like a fortress and we were such a competitive team and it wasn’t the nicest place to come.

“Some visiting teams used to battle, but we knew what to expect and knew that Elland Road was such a difficult place to come.

“We used to get two or three goals up regularly and you could get the cigar out and we just kept the ball in those days.

“As Johnny Giles used to say, if teams wanted to play football, we’d play football and teams wanted to kick, we could do that. But we were pretty good at both.

“When I was there, I always remember once when we lost two games on the bounce and we went down to a meeting in the lounge and I remember saying to Mick Jones: ‘What is this about? and he said: ‘I don’t know, we’ve only lost two games.’ But it was different times then.

“Leeds just weren’t expected to lose two games back then.”

Cherry admits to being quietly confident regarding Leeds’ hopes at the start of the season and believes it is imperative that results need to arrive quickly in order for the club to get back on track.

To do that, players need to be assertive and proactive, in his view, to make things happen and enable supporters to fully engage and get them fully back onside.

Do that and results will arrive as a by-product, in his view, for Leeds, who resume action after the international break in 16th place in the Championship table with just two wins from 10 league games thus far.

Cherry said: “Leeds supporters just want to see players earning their money, don’t they?

“Personally, I am not bothered what the current players get, but I don’t want to see them standing out on the wing catching cold.

“But in the modern game, I think it is very difficult to get 11 players to go out and fight.

“When you are on a downer and losing games, it is not easy, but Leeds really need to get some wins together and get the fans up. Leeds should be aiming for the play-offs at least.

“It’s a shame as I was optimistic at the start of the season of doing well. But Leeds really now need to get a few wins as they have had a few draws and obviously lost at home to Birmingham.

“I don’t know the manager personally, but was optimistic when I heard him speak (at his unveiling) and he was saying all the right things. They just haven’t had the results yet and the next four or five games are going to be important.

“I think the whole current situation at Leeds is very sad. The fanbase is fantastic and it’s a one-club city. But the club seem to just goes around in circles.

“It is simply vital that in the next few games Leeds get some results.

“They have got to start winning games, simple as that.”