Ridsdale and I Part 17- Owen Archdeacon and Brendan O'Connell
Thursday, 18th Nov 2021 10:16 by Mark Monk
The tale of my early years following Leeds United reaches squeaky bum time at the end of the 1989/90 season as Leeds chase promotion. This episode features a disappointing result in a vital game at home to Barnsley.
Wednesday 25th April 1990. It was a nice, warm Spring afternoon. One of the advantages I had then was finishing work at 4pm and speeding off in my little white Ford Fiesta to Burton to meet the Go Whittle Coaches off the A38.
The sun was shining, the traffic flowed freely and as I hit Burton I noticed that someone had stuck a load of bill-stickers on a derelict wall advertising the Leeds-based Indie group The Wedding Presents single "Brassneck"-surely a good omen and a signal, to quote Tom Schofield the Leeds PA announcer that we were indeed "going places"? although I don't recall him spinning many "Weddoes" discs!
Dusk was looming as we arrived at Elland Road, I nipped into the club shop and bought my first ever Leeds home bar scarf- I still have it to this day. I bought the programme for £1 and paid particular attention to the article on page 18 by Mr David Clarkson QPM, who was West Yorkshire Police's Divisional Commander for Leeds South Division and ultimately in charge of policing at Elland Road.
Mr Clarkson spoke of the "many problems" increased attendances had brought but thanks to the co-operation of the fans the police had coped with them well. He did however wish to draw attention to the evils of "slam dancing-pushing people about and the (unacceptable) abuse of stewards", this was directed at patrons in the "South and East terraces".
My ticket that evening was for Lowfields, the 1st time id been in there in above a year, not including my infiltration of the away-end against Blackburn. With this in mind, I shuffled right up to the north-east corner so I was almost in the Kop!
The atmosphere was electric inside Elland Road. Despite "defending like Dumplings" at Brighton, Howard Wilkinson's words not mine, we were still top with three games to play, just a point above Sheffield United, in the play-off places only Newcastle in 3rd on 76 posed any real threat to the top-two.
Barnsley meanwhile languished fourth from bottom, they'd began the season with Allan Sniffer Clarke in charge, swopping him mid-season with ex Man City boss Mel Machin,in fact Machin's first game in charge had been that win over us in December the previous year, our final game of the 80's.
Barnsley, who changed from their ludicrous "stars" kit into a more sober all-navy number were under the cosh from the start but they held out until Chris Fairclough, who'd gone off to have a head wound stitched headed minutes earlier powered home a header past Clive Baker in the Barnsley goal, 1-0 half time maybe could have been a couple more.
In the second half, it was a similar pattern but Machin made a double-substitution and whether by luck or judgement within 10 minutes, largely thanks to some erratic goalkeeping by the usually dependable Mervyn Day, Leeds trailed 2-1 and that's how it finished.
Dejectedly like 30,000 others, I slumped away back towards Elland Road and was nearly sent flying by a fellow sufferer who caught me square on shoulder-to-shoulder. All you could hear was the half-witted Barnsley fans singing their heads off in the away end, no doubt David Clarkson QPM ordering that they stay behind for their own safety.
Sheffield United weren't in action until the following Saturday. Meanwhile we were slightly cheered by the news that Newcastle had been held at home by Swindon.
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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