Liverpool may have had the original super-sub in flame-haired seventies assassin David Fairclough, but Leeds United also once possessed their very own – for the ‘nearly’ season of 1986-87 at any rate.
The man in question being a Teessider by the name of Keith Edwards and while his stint at Elland Road was brief, he at least managed to provide a few unforgettable moments as United flirted with glory on the big stage again in the spring of 1987 after some dark wilderness years in the hitherto miserable eighties.
After moving from Bramall Lane to Elland Road in August 1986 in a £125,000 deal brokered by Whites chief Billy Bremner, Edwards decamped to the outpost of Aberdeen for £60,000 just 13 months later, with the goals that flowed during spells in the Broad Acres with first Hull City and the Blades turning into a comparative trickle during his spell with the Whites.
Nine in 34 starts and 19 substitute appearances represented a modest haul, although three of those strikes will forever be remembered by Whites fans of a certain age.
His first arrived on the grand stage of an FA Cup semi-final on a sweltering Sunday at Hillsborough in April 1987, with sub Edwards netting with almost his first touch on 83 minutes in front of delirious United fans in the Leppings End to send the game into extra-time, only for Sky Blues winger Dave Bennett to have the final say in a 3-2 win after extra-time.
Another dramatic strike towards the end of another huge occasion, the first leg of a play-off semi-final – in the first year of its conception – gave United a narrow advantage during a 1-0 Elland Road victory over Roses rivals Oldham.
Goals from Gary Williams and Mike Cecere in the tense return at Boundary Park threatened to make Edwards’ goal insignificant, only for the Stockton-born forward, on as sub again, to almost instantaneously score seemingly seconds after the Latics’ second – to take the visitors through on away goals –and a fateful final against Charlton, Peter Shirtliff et al.
Cometh the start of that autumn and Edwards was en route to Pittodrie, but his time in West Yorkshire, albeit fleeting, remains precious all the same.
He said: “Leeds were always very close to my heart.
“I actually disliked them immensely as a kid, as a lot of people did, but having been at the club, I absolutely loved my time there.
“There are very fine lines in football and it was a ‘nearly season’, wasn’t it? It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Billy was one of the all-time greats and he nearly got the club back to where it should be. He was just a fraction away, going back to the club he loved like no other.”