Leeds United heading to same neck of woods of famous triumph of yesteryear

Leeds United are heading to the south coast, the scene of a title-sealing Whites triumph.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Sunday, 10th October 2021, 4:56 pm

Marcelo Bielsa’s side will be on their way to Southampton next weekend in their return to Premier League action after the international break.

A one-hour drive west, Bournemouth provided the opposition and venue back in May 1990 as a 1-0 win put Leeds back in the top flight as champions after nearly a decade away.

The contest was marred by trouble in the seaside resort town as United sealed their return to the big time after eight consecutive seasons in the old Division Two.

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GOING UP: Vinnie Jones, left, and Chris Fairclough celebrate Leeds United's promotion as Division Two champions after the 1-0 victory at Bournemouth of May 1990. Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images.

Leeds had finished the previous season in 10th place at the end of a campaign during which Howard Wilkinson had been appointed the club’s new boss following the sacking of club legend Billy Bremner.

Wilkinson had taken over in October having departed top-flight outfit Sheffield Wednesday, whom he had guided to a fifth-placed finish in 1985-86 as part of a campaign in which Lee Chapman was joint top scorer.

Chapman was eventually brought to Elland Road in January 1990 from Nottingham Forest as Wilkinson recruited another of his former stars in a bid to take Leeds up.

The move worked a treat, not just in taking Leeds back to the country’s top flight, but as champions – and then champions of England two years later.

But getting out of Division Two was the first step, and the 1-0 win at Bournemouth completed that objective in style, Wilkinson’s Whites finishing top of the pile after edging out Sheffield United for the title on goal difference.

The Whites, Blades and third-placed Newcastle United all approached the final day chasing one of the division’s two automatic promotion spots.

Leeds left for Bournemouth knowing victory would guarantee promotion except for an amazing effort from Dave Bassett’s second-placed Blades, who began the day level on points with Leeds but with a 10-goal inferior goal difference as they lined up at Leicester City.

What really mattered was that United kept their promotion destiny in their own hands by winning as Newcastle began the day just two points behind in third ahead of a north-east derby against Middlesbrough.

Chapman’s winner meant matters concerning the Magpies were irrelevant – although Leeds would have gone up even with a defeat at Dean Court as Newcastle were beaten 4-1 at Boro.

But United’s win at Bournemouth proved crucial in sealing the title with the Blades running amok at Leicester, running out 5-2 winners.

United were given 4,000 tickets for the clash at Dean Court and those tickets sold out within two hours after queues began at 5am on the day of them going on sale.

Aware of the huge number of Whites fans unable to get tickets, Leeds club officials arranged for the game to be screened live to more than 5,000 supporters at venues across the city.

But, desperate to see their side end an eight-year exile from the top flight, an estimated 10,000 Whites fans travelled down to Bournemouth over a Bank Holiday weekend, taking over the seaside town in sweltering weather.

Chapman ensured those travelling Whites fans got the result they wanted to see when he headed home the only goal of the game in the 41st minute.

United broke down the right-hand side and Chris Kamara delivered a perfect cross which Chapman finished in style.

Having only joined in January, Chapman did not finish the season as United’s top scorer, a mantle that belonged to Gordon Strachan, who had arrived the previous season from Manchester United, an integral piece in the promotion-winning jigsaw that Wilkinson was building.

Events off the field marred the weekend but, on the pitch, victory at Bournemouth made that jigsaw complete.

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Thank you Laura Collins