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Ridsdale and I Part 8- Whaley and the second summer of LUv? The tale of my early years of following
Monday, 26th Apr 2021 21:46 by Mark Monk

The tale of my early years of following Leeds United reaches the summer of 1989, as Howard Wilkinson puts the finishing touches to the squad that was to take Leeds United back to the first division after eight long years away.

According to my research, the second summer of love spanned both summers of 1988 and 1989. Obviously in '88, Acid House parties, Raves etc were getting middle-England all hot and bothered. Personally, I couldn't give a shit, I thought it was a load of old wank and if I was going to travel miles then it wouldn't be to pop pills in some field near the M25 but at least the comfort of my own seat on an InterCity Train to watch Leeds United

Maybe I did sound like I was 17 going on 70? But if I was the latter then surely this was the most eagerly anticipated campaign for many a summer, if ever? Leeds were spending money like it was going out of fashion.

My devotion to the city of Leeds extended to something called "The James Whale Radio Show" which went out late on ITV on a Friday night. Whale was what you'd call a "shock Jock" on Radio Aire e.g. an outspoken DJ who'd come out with controversial often explicit content rather than someone like Gary Davies who'd just be all nicey and play nice music.

In conjunction with Yorkshire TV, Radio Aire and the ITV network his near to the knuckle content and style was simulcast to an unsuspecting nation. The phone-in bit was the best I thought, just basically lads like me who'd been down the pub all night got hammered and staggered home slumped in front of the box and against their better judgement picked up the phone and dialled "Whaley" who would mercilessly savage them.

Although he wasn't from Leeds and didn't have any particular interest in football, he did predict that Leeds would get promoted and nipped down to Elland Road to record an interview with undoubtedly the most controversial signing we made that summer - Leeds signed Vinnie Jones of Wimbledon for £650,000.

Jones was firmly etched on the minds-eye as the grabber of Paul Gascoigne's goolies, the incident took place in February '88 when Newcastle United travelled to Wimbledon. Gascoigne had since signed for Tottenham and was regarded as one of England's most gifted players. Jones, a former hod-carrier who graduated from non-league Wealdstone was seen as the antithesis of cultured football, nothing more than a clogger who'd stop at no means to hinder the opposition.

He was undoubtedly a divisive figure and indeed I think it was Allan Clarke who spoke out against his arrival, saying that in Don Revie's day such a poor player would not get through the door. The newspapers diverted their angst from illicit raves and acid house parties to proclaim that Jones would become an "ugly cult hero" for the unruly element of the Leeds fanbase and the attempt to sanitise them from the fabric of the club was doomed to fail by bringing in somebody with such a poor disciplinary record.

The journalists had even more of a field day when Wilkinson cashed in on John Sheridan, who joined Nottingham Forest did an ill-fated stint under Brian Clough but was swiftly moved on to Sheffield Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the enterprising merchandising pirates were busy at work as "Vinnie' s Victims" t-shirts soon were on sale featuring a menacing-looking bulldog on the front beneath a blue, white and yellow Union flag and the Leeds fixtures on the back.

I'd say the arrival of Vinnie Jones was probably the most talked about transfer of the summer of 1989, except for maybe Rangers signing the former Celtic striker and devout Roman Catholic Mo Johnson. Howard Wilkinson raided Ibrox for Mel Sterland, his old Sheffield Wednesday charge.

He brought in veteran defender John McClelland from Watford, another defender Chris O'Donnell from Ipswich who never kicked a ball in anger and Irish left-back Jim Beglin from Liverpool, whose later years had been beset with injury problems.

Winger John Hendrie arrived at Leeds from Newcastle, Leeds had been interested in him for some time but his then side Bradford City's Board were reluctant to sell to Leeds. Finally, journeyman Mickey Thomas made Leeds his 11th club, joining for a nominal fee from Shrewsbury.

The new talent was put on display on 20th July 1989 for a pre-season showdown against Anderlecht at Elland Road. Leeds turned out in their 1986 away kit and the Belgian' s ran riot, drubbing us 5-1. Vinnie Jones nearly started a riot, much to the disgust of newly appointed skipper Gordon Strachan, as the Londoner chinned one of the visitors but it escaped the referee's attention. Big Noel Blake was not so lucky as he was sent off as the Whites crashed.

Don't read too much into pre-season friendlies, so we thought as Leeds headed to Newcastle United, newly relegated, on August 19th 1989. Despite leading 2-1 at half time through goals from Bobby Davison and Ian Baird, Newcastle eased home to a 5-2 win with Mick Quinn getting four of their goals.

If you can’t wait for the next episode to appear on toellandback, you can sneak a peek at my blog by clicking on this link.

Photo: Action Images

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