Seven years ago they played Valencia in the semi-final of the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and two years ago were thrashed 4-0 by Watford in the the play-off final in Cardiff to get back in the Premier League. Last season they were relegated to the third tier. This week LEEDS UNITED have reached Wembley after winning 2-0 at Carlisle United's Brunton Park to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Both goals were from local Leeds boy, 19 year old Jonny Howson, the second one 2 minutes into injury time and a date with destiny next Sunday for a place in The Championship against Yorkshire rivals 35 miles away,Doncaster Rovers(5-1 winners over Southend United).. This despite being penalized 15 points prior to the season by the Ulster Mafia, the Football League. They charged away at the beginning of the season despite the penalty and when Guss Poyet went to Spurs and Dennis Wise off to Newcastle, they stuttered before coming back fighting with former Liverpool and Leeds stand-out Gary McAllister in charge. The highest attendance outside the Premier League show the potential, and there is quite a history.
Back in the 70's, the team was legendary under manager Don Revie who took off to manage England -not very well. In came THE MOST STUPID, expensive and disastrous appointment EVER. Brian Clough, a superb striker with Middlesbrough - 197 goals in 213 matches, and 54 in 61 matches for Sunderland, plus 2 England caps. He managed Hartlepools at 30 years old and then took Derby County to glory. He was brought to Leeds United, who he hated, after a brief spell at Brighton to follow in Revie's footsteps,and lasted just 44 days. Most of it is chronicled in a great book by author David Peace, who now lives in Japan, THE DAMNED UNITED, which is now to be made into a movie, by SONY PICTURES and directed by Stephen Fears. David writes in a day by day diary style and never interviewed Clough, who died age 69.
Peace was a 7 year old when he went with his dad to a pre-season friendly at Huddersfield Town, 20 miles from Elland Road, Clough's first in charge. Harvey, Reaney, Cherry, Bremner, Lorimer,McQueen, Hunter, Giles, Yorath, Madeley, Cooper.... In his first team meeting he told his players, "Chuck your medals into the biggest dustbin you can find, because you won them by bloody cheating", and had all the legendary photos in the board room and on the walls of the entrance staircase removed.
This week at nearby Garforth Town FC, soccer guru Simon Clifford is scripting the soccer playing scenes as he did for BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, and they are having casting at his stadium. Already selected are the actor who will play Cloughie, Michael Sheen,who played Tony Blair opposite Dame Helen Mirran in 'THE QUEEN'. Also cast is Jim Broadbent,as Don Revie and they are looking for Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, and others. The book is gripping with what happened or might have been said during that six weeks period. I had a run in with Cloughie over a group stadium visit, in which he lost the arguement in the press and on local television. On May 20th in Leeds and 21st in Chesterfield you can try and get a job as an extra. firstname.lastname@example.org. You must look '70's style. long hair is in, and no crew-cuts please.
He was a brilliant coach who when asked who was the best coach in the country said, "Well, I am not sure, but I am in the top one !!". He took an enormous pay-off at Elland Road to leave, and went to fame and more fortune at Nottingham Forest where he won 2 European titles. He had an enormous alcohol problem from which he eventually died, and could be abusive to players who feared but loved him, and was accused of taking 'bungs' .He desperately wanted to manage England, but was never given the chance. His son Nigel Clough played for Nottingham Forest and England and for the last decade has managed Burton Albion.