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Ridsdale and I Part 12- Hello 90's and Chappy
Monday, 17th May 2021 09:54 by Mark Monk

The tale of my early years following Leeds United continues through 1989/90, as we said goodbye to one centre forward and welcomed another.

The first day of the 1990's dawned, a Monday and in-keeping with my social mobility and desires to be accepted into middle-England, I was up earlier and went for a browse around the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Antiques Fair, which still run's every Bank Holiday at the local Leisure Centre.

Bar my mullet hairstyle and leather-jacket, I most certainly was no Lovejoy and left the Antiques Fair empty handed. I got on the WM branch coach at Burton, it was a subdued journey no doubt 99% of the occupants nursing a hangover. But hair of the dog was the preferred remedy as the usual suspects piled out at the Woodman and Drysalters pubs.

Oldham had their own precious relic of yesteryear in Roger Palmer, as well as a sprinkling of ex-Leeds players like Linighan, Wright, Ritchie and Irwin. I remember collecting Palmer' s panini sticker when he was a Manchester City player. He was a wonderful servant for Oldham and was entering his 10th year we the club.

Maybe relic is a bit unkind, his 31st birthday wasn't until the end of January but he opened the scoring just before half-time at the Kop End. It left Leeds to huff, puff and finally grab an 87th equaliser courtesy of John Hendrie. Watching on from the Kop it was hardly convincing stuff from Leeds in front of 30,217 which was the second highest crowd so far that season.

I was back at Elland Road five days later for the visit of Ipswich Town who we'd drawn in the FA Cup 3rd round. They were on a decent 13-match unbeaten run, it really was a dire performance by Leeds and Town built on their 1-1 draw at ER earlier in the season winning 1-0, in spite of Gordon Strachan's captain's column where he rubbished suggestions Leeds would try less in the completion (the glittering prize being promotion out of Division Two) and recalled his 1985 winners medal with Manchester United.

I think obviously to younger supporters like me, we weren't really aware of the intensity of the hatred that was felt amongst the older Leeds supporters towards them-Strachan felt comfortable to speakeasy about them in his programme notes.

Then Sergeant Wilko pulled off a masterstroke old Lovejoy would have been proud of. He packed Ian Baird off to Middlesbrough for £500,000 and signed his old charge from Sheffield Wednesday Lee Chapman from Forest with £100,000 change to spare. Remarkable also that Forest were well established in Division One and Brian Clough, not noted for his affection towards Leeds or Wilkinson for that matter, reluctantly let Chapman go.

Less than two years earlier, Chapman had been involved in a "tug-of-war" between East Midlands rivals Derby and Forest; but it was billed as a "battle of the ego's" between Big Ed Clough and Robert Maxwell, who was Derby' s pension-pilfering Chairman at the time.

Chappy made a scoring debut in the mud at Blackburn on January 13th, I'm sure this might have been the game the team bus broke down on the way back? Anyhow with Go Whittle and the trusted Mike at the wheel, the West Midlands branch had no such worries the following Saturday and as well as Chapman's home debut to look forward to against struggling Stoke, one of his old sides, I had bought a Leeds United half-season ticket for the Kop. I think it cost me £35, something like that.

Anyway it had a brown cardboard cover with stubs to tear out. I held it to my nose and smelt in the freshness of the print. When Barry brought the ticket booking slips around for our next home game against Hull City three-weeks later, I wrote on it proudly "no thanks-Kop season ticket holder now!".

I entered the Kop and on glancing around I spotted this lad I'd chatted to in the George pub Ashby a few weeks earlier, it was a rocker/bikers pub and he'd spotted my Leeds shirt. We'd discussed the Norway striker Goran Sorloth coming on trial but obviously Wilkinson had latterly signed Chapman. I can't remember his name but he remembered me.

Him and about half-a-dozen of his mates, a couple of them sexy rock-chick type girls had come up for the day by car. I invited myself to stay with them and was stood underneath the scoreboard. With the ladies and my new-found friend strutting out the Rock image, it resembled a mosh pit and throughout the afternoon I experienced the feeling of being surged forward into a crush barrier7 frequently with my feet off the ground. I suppose I looked the part in my own leather jacket although it was more Lovejoy than Lemmy who of course hailed from Stoke.

Obviously I was not in the habit of watching Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest on TV much, so I hadn't seen much of Chapman live but in the mud, against Stoke with the Leeds players (and us) yet to realise his strengths were holding the ball up, bringing others into play and getting his head on the end of direct crosses.

He looked gangly and out of sorts against Stoke, who I believe were bottom. Eventually he won a penalty, I was convinced he'd lost his footing in the mud and fallen over, Strachan scored and John Hendrie made it 2-0. A scrappy game.

Sadly there was no room in the car for me to get a lift home with my new found friends. So I walked back to the coach park on Elland Road, pretty much where the Park and Ride is now and I don't know what made me check but I fumbled in my inside pocket to check my season ticket was safe and it had gone.

I checked my other pockets, not there. Shit double Shit! I was in two minds whether or not to retrace my steps but the coach always left at 5:20pm prompt, so I found Barry. He said not to worry, he'd speak to Eric Carlile on Monday, Eric was the overall secretary of the branches for many years.

But yep. I was the pillock who lost his season-ticket after one game! It honestly felt like Stoke had won 2-0 or coming home and finding your wife in bed with the milkman who was a Manchester United Supporter.

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.

13-May-2021 20:54:00

Photo: Action Images

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