One year of lockdown and Leeds United's fans still waiting for party in Elland Road stands

WOULD Leeds United ever get back to the promised land?

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:45 am

It was taking so long that you began to have your doubts.

One thing was for sure, if and when Leeds did finally secure promotion back to the Premier League it would be one hell of a party in the Elland Road stands and well worth the wait.

Yet life at Leeds is rarely straight-forward and United’s fans are still waiting for that party with promotion falling in the midst of the country on lockdown in a global pandemic.

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SURREAL: Leeds United celebrate with the Championship trophy in front of the empty Elland Road stands aside from the cardboard cut out crowdies following the season finale against Charlton Athletic last July. Picture by Tony Johnson.

There appeared no real sign of what was just around the corner as Leeds saw off Huddersfield Town in front of 36,514 fans at Elland Road on Saturday, March 7.

Yet the extremity of the situation began to truly dawn somewhat the following weekend when United’s clash at Cardiff City was eventually scratched as football was placed on hold and within another ten days the country was on lockdown.

Throughout everything the bigger picture came first.

Health and life general.

Covid-19 hit Leeds United extremely hard in eventually taking the life of club legend Norman Hunter who passed on April 17.

With the country on lockdown and ordered to adhere to strict social distancing measures, United’s fans were not even able to give Hunter the send off he deserved.

There were also fears that the entire football season could be scratched and even declared null and void. Surely the pandemic could not rob Leeds United of promotion too?

In the end, even Covid-19 could not stop the club’s return to the promised land as recently fallen greats such as Hunter, Jack Charlton and Trevor Cherry looked down from the sky.

Yet sadly nobody was able to look on from the stands when football finally resumed or when promotion was finally secured over the third weekend in July.

Even the government’s social distancing measures were not going to stop hordes of Whites fans from celebrating outside Elland Road on Friday, July 17 as United’s return to the Premier League was sealed with Huddersfield Town’s 2-1 victory at West Brom.

Same again the following day as the title was secured when Brentford also came a cropper in a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City.

But the ongoing restrictions meant no parties in the away end at Derby County the following day and United playing out their final game of the season at Elland Road in front of empty stands against Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic on Wednesday, July 22.

Fans still gathered outside to see their heroes with the Championship trophy and the Whites were going up in style, up as champions.

Crack open the bubbly. The wait was over.

After 16 years, Leeds United were back.

But not with the party in the Elland Road stands that the occasion deserved, and for that the champagne still remains on ice.

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Thank you Laura Collins