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Ridsdale and I Part 16 - Easter Fall and get one yourself Gary Speed
Wednesday, 17th Nov 2021 09:16 by Mark Monk

The tale of my early years following Leeds United continues, as Leeds stumble towards promotion in 1989/90 with some mixed results.

For a nanosecond at least, Oldham was officially the coolest place on the planet circa April 1990. Yep despite those dark satanic mills looming on the skyline, their women folk referred to uncomplimentary as "Yonners" and their main train station sharing the same suffix as an unpleasant virus e.g. Oldham Mumps, it was probably as much to do with the Indie group Inspiral Carpets, who hailed from the town and employed a certain Noel Gallagher as a roadie than Joe Royle's perpetual play-off team.

Royle's men were potentially victims of their own success, as well as hovering in the play-off places they'd had two amazing cup runs, reaching the final of the League Cup losing to Forest and the semis of the FA Cup, in fact they'd lost the replay at Maine Road to Manchester United on the Wednesday evening prior to us playing them on the Friday lunchtime, less than 30 hours rest! - it was Good Friday, Friday April 13th so what could possibly go wrong?

It was an early start for me and I had to take a day’s holiday off work as the company I worked for didn't recognise Good Friday as a Bank Holiday. Obviously I was indebted greatly to Barry for all his help in getting me into the matches following the loss of my season ticket. When Leeds were playing away unless it was in the east, the coaches would run from somewhere near Cannock, so I agreed to pick him and Taff, who didn't sound in the slightest bit Welsh, from Burton at 8:00am and drive them to this spit-n-sawdust near Cannock where the Landlord discreetly had opened his side door to let the WM branch quench their thirst prior to the trip to Greater Manchester. I steered clear of the M&B and Brew X1 as I was driving.

Boundary Park was a small, outdated stadium on the north western tip of the town. We packed into an open terrace behind the goal Leeds defended in the first half, the rest of the stadium was dark and dated, looking a century old but the most sparking bit about it was the plastic pitch, Oldham, who included a certain Neil Redfearn looked invigorated despite their heartache at Maine Road and stormed to a 3-0 lead, a Mike Milligan penalty in the first half and second half goals from Yorkshireman Rick Holden and Frankie Bunn, Bobby Davison pulled back a consolation with a header late on.

However we still clung to top spot and Monday April 16th saw 1st versus 2nd go head to head. Arguably Leeds biggest Second Division game in years, decades even, Barry was pessimistic about getting me a ticket. He advised me to travel and there was even talk of me borrowing the coach drivers jacket! Coach drivers apparently could flash their PSV badge and get in for free, unfortunately Mick the regular driver was having some well-deserved time off and his stand in was seven stone dripping wet through and id doubt I'd have fitted into his jacket! Luckily Barry was able to network me a spare for the South Stand paddock to spare my embarrassment.

Wilko's programme notes were brief and to the point. Although he was a close friend of his opposite number, Dave Bassett, there was no room for sentiment and it was one of those Leeds United performances, (think Stuttgart in the European Cup, all the wins against Scum and West Brom in 18/19) where everything came off.

Leeds teased the Blades, Simon Tracey the long-haired Sheffield United 'keeper who was taunted by high pitched girlie screeches of "Tracey! Tracey!" by the Kop lost his rag and hauled down Bobby D, then it was "Go on Gary Speed get one yersen son!" He did! Magical, utterly magical. I must make a passing reference to Chris Kamara, who came in to take David Batty's place, Wilko going for experience over youth and it sure paid off that afternoon. Surely now promotion was secured?

The journey home was memorable too. I'd sat near the back of the coach with some of our more gung-ho, partial to an alcoholic beverage members of the West Midlands LUSC. Obviously drinking on football coaches was illegal, but these lads had filled their hollow legs before getting on the coach. Alas midway through their card games, they needed to relieve themselves and Go Whittle being a decent coach company provided little plastic litter bags on the back of the seats.

This complimentary touch intended to dispose of crisp packets, sweet wrappers et al was extended to empty full bladders! So the beer monsters happily pissed away into the bags, opened the skylight and casually tossed the makeshift urinals out onto the southbound carriageway of the M1. Barry was soon hurrying up the isle ordering the culprits to stop!

However it was far from the most offensive behaviour on the M1 that Bank Holiday afternoon. As we passed J32 of the M1, the M18 intersection there were literally thousands of Wolves fans heading home from Boothferry Park, Hull and they were delighted to see us again barely a fortnight after they'd beaten us 1-0 at Molyneux.

I remember spotting this red saloon car with Dad driving, presumably mum in the front and two kids in the back, id guess aged 6 and 8 at the very most wearing those daft foam bull horns in tribute to Steve Bull, the legendary Wolves striker. Much to our astonishment, the mother undoes her seat belt, slips down her jeans and bares her big, fat, black country arse to a coach load of Leeds fans! Something no doubt she could tell her Grandchildren about in years to come!

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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