Happy anniversary - Leeds United celebrating the day the Whites officially returned
LEEDS UNITED have many important anniversaries in the club’s proud history.
And July 17 is another date that will always be etched in Whites history as the day Leeds United were finally back - thanks to their Yorkshire ‘rivals’.
Leeds, though, had already performed heroics in amassing 87 points from 44 games, and then sat back to see a 16-year exile from the Premier League finally ended as promotion rivals West Brom slipped just down the road at Huddersfield Town one year ago today.
For Leeds, the result was the second instalment of a dream long weekend that began with Thursday night’s incredibly tense 1-0 victory at home to Barnsley.
With just two games remaining, the triumph left Marcelo Bielsa’s table toppers five points clear of second-placed West Brom and with a six-point cushion ahead of third-placed Brentford.
It meant just one more point from United’s final two games would guarantee a return to the Premier League, even if West Brom and Brentford won both of their remaining games.
Leeds would also be guaranteed promotion if either the Baggies or Bees dropped a point from their remaining fixtures.
As it happened, they both dropped three points each over the next 48 hours meaning Leeds were first guaranteed promotion and then the dream scenario of going up as champions.
It meant Leeds were promoted without kicking a ball, having already been forced to comprehend celebration without fans.
In the country’s fight against coronavirus, United’s supporters had been unable to watch their side play in the flesh since March 7, when Huddersfield were the visitors to Elland Road.
A 2-0 victory had left top of the table and seven points clear in the automatic promotion spots.
Four months later, Huddersfield completed the job for Leeds with their 2-1 victory against West Brom which meant United could not be overhauled in the top two.
And promotion sparked jubilation and sheer relief given the doubts that had existed about the Championship season even being completed and talk of the campaign being declared null and void.
The English football season was halted for 15-weeks due to coronavirus and there were all sorts of suggestions over what might happen next.
End the season now and keep placings as they are, settle the table via points per game, or, in the worst case scenario for Leeds, declare the thing null and void.
But the Championship campaign was finally resumed over the weekend of June 21 in front of empty stands due to the strict social distancing measures.
Yet those measures were not going to stop United’s fans from partying at Elland Road after promotion was sealed, not after a 16-year wait, and legions of fans headed down to Leeds United’s famous home after the Terriers stunned West Brom on Friday night.
United’s fans were celebrating after just four minutes of the contest as former West Brom loanee Chris Willock gave Huddersfield a fourth-minute lead.
It all looked too good to be true and the Baggies rallied to draw level three minutes before the break via Dara O’Shea.
But the visitors were undone for a second time in the 86th minute when Emile Smith Rowe struck to send Whites fans wild.
Hoards of Whites fans gathered at Elland Road to party and Leeds were eventually treated to the sighting of the squad who could not resist coming out to greet them from afar.
And yet more celebrations followed 24 hours later as Brentford also came a cropper via a 1-0 defeat at Stoke City which meant Leeds were not just going up but going up as champions.
Carlsberg don’t do weekends, but if they did, they would have done this one.
A weekend that erupted on Friday night when, for once, Huddersfield were also the toast of the town.
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Thank you Laura Collins