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Ridsdale and I Part 11- Bairdy, "Zico" and farewell 80's
Friday, 14th May 2021 10:54 by Mark Monk

The tale of my early years following Leeds United continues through 1989/90, and in this episode I get to the vital game against promotion rivals Newcastle United.

I was spoilt rotten for the Leeds United v Newcastle United game on December 2nd 1989, picked up just 8 miles from home in a luxury-coach, by 1980's standards anyway, I think it had a telly too and someone had bought the "180 Goals video". We always seemed to get Mike, the driver, a West Brom fan.

The coach was occupied by a hunch of friendly Brummies/West Midlanders in Leeds shirts, including Leeds RL (I wanted one and got one!) so they looked every bit Yorkshiremen and women, until they opened their mouths of course! Just a side note on the Leeds RL thing, I know they aren't universally loved amongst Leeds United fans, a good few preferring Castleford and no doubt some of the other clubs.

I'd even got a ticket pre-match, a first for me in the South Stand. I held it tight in my pocket as I marched up Elland Road, along with near 32,000 others. The gobby Geordies were housed in the pre,-Cheese wedge corner and the 1st pen on Lowfields, just 1700 or so of them due to the post Hillsborough stadium regulations.

It was a fiery atmosphere on a typically drab December day, but it was never going to be as open or have as many goals in it than the 5-2 on the opening day of the season. We were in 2nd on 38 points, a point behind surprise leaders Sheffield United. Newcastle were third on 36 points.

In the end, the head of Ian Baird settled it and the place erupted. Baird could count Newcastle as one of his many ex-clubs and we weren't to know it at the time, but it was pretty much a farewell gift as his second spell was drawing to an end and Middlesbrough were calling-ironically our next destination. I think the win took us top.

Our next home was against Brighton and my ticket was in the Kop. This was the day Brighton braved the mid-winter Yorkshire elements and sported rather unusual away kit. I'll say no more. It didn't do them any favours as we eased to a 3-0 win- all goals coming at the Kop End in the 1st half, the pick of the goals was Vinnie Jones scoring an amazing volley from the edge of the area. I did think that Gordon Strachan scored an even better goal in the 2nd half, but it was ruled-out for offside.

It would be the final action of the 1980's at Elland Road as we had the dubious misfortune to end the decade playing in South Yorkshire. Boxing Day at Bramall Lane shall always be remembered for Mel Sterland’s screamer of a free kick which earned him the tag Zico, it was more enjoyable for him being in his home city and favouring the other team in the city.

However the 1980's which began with a 1-0 win over Derby County would end with a 1-0 defeat at Barnsley. Another day, another dodgy kit, as The Square Ball put it "Barnsley- a team of stars!".

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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