Tag Archives: Hillsborough

Hillsborough 30 Years On, Tribute to Liverpool From a Leeds Fan   –   by Rob Atkinson

Hillsborough: 30 Years On

The bodies laid out on the hard wooden floor
Motionless all, side by side
Robbed of their lives and let down by the law
Give us justice, they silently cried

They came for the football, their heroes in red
Part of a jubilant tide
Who guessed such a day could end up with them dead?
Give us justice, they silently cried

In loud expectation, with glory the goal
They’d sung and they’d shouted their pride
Now shrouded in silence, each newly-fled soul
Give us justice, they silently cried

Betrayed by their guardians, those officers high
While the hacks and the suits squirmed and lied
With family and friends left to ask how and why
Give us justice, they silently cried

Inquest proceedings, foul slurs in the press
The guilty with so much to hide
These innocent victims with naught to confess
Give us justice, they silently cried

And what of the mothers and dads left behind
The sisters and brothers beside
Though months and years passed they were never resigned
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Through decades of struggle, they kept up the fight
Their arguments oft set aside
Yet they never lost hope nor extinguished the light
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Pouring scorn on the tabloids, exposing the Sun
Sharing real Truth far and wide
Politicians and journos and chiefs on the run
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Banners and flags on the Kop all those years
Venting the fury inside
Pressing their point through the veil of their tears
Give us justice! they angrily cried

At last the truth spoken, the guilty revealed
The living and dead unified
In one voice as they ask for their scars to be healed
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Seven and twenty the years that had passed
A lifetime of justice denied
The ones who were lost could be peaceful at last
With the families who stood by their side.

RIP – You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Rob Atkinson

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For Liverpool FC, The 96, The Families and the Friends   –   by Rob Atkinson

Hillsborough

Hillsborough: Justice at Last

The bodies laid out on the hard wooden floor
Motionless all, side by side
Robbed of their lives and let down by the law
Give us justice, they silently cried

They came for the football, their heroes in red
Part of a jubilant tide
Who knew such a day could end up with them dead?
Give us justice, they silently cried

In loud expectation, with glory the goal
They’d sung and they’d shouted their pride
Now shrouded in silence, each newly-fled soul
Give us justice, they silently cried

Betrayed by their guardians, those officers high
While the hacks and the suits squirmed and lied
With family and friends left to ask how and why
Give us justice, they silently cried

Inquest proceedings, foul slurs in the press
The guilty with so much to hide
These innocent victims with naught to confess
Give us justice, they silently cried

And what of the mothers and dads left behind
The sisters and brothers beside
As months and years passed they were not left resigned
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Through decades of struggle, they kept up the fight
Their arguments oft undermined
Yet they never lost hope nor extinguished the light
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Pouring scorn on the tabloids, exposing the Sun
Sharing the Truth far and wide
Politicians and journos and chiefs on the run
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Banners and flags on the Kop all these years
Venting the fury inside
Pressing the point through the veil of their tears
Give us justice! they angrily cried

At last the truth spoken, the guilty revealed
The living and dead unified
In one voice as they ask for their scars to be healed
Give us justice! they angrily cried

Seven and twenty the years that have passed
A lifetime of justice denied
The ones who were lost can be peaceful at last
And the families, who stood by their side.

RIP – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Rob Atkinson

The Hillsborough Disaster Warnings That Weren’t Heeded – by Rob Atkinson

Hillsborough - an Anfield tribute

Hillsborough – an Anfield tribute

Incredibly, 27 years have flashed past already, since that awful spring day in 1989, when 96 football fans turned up to follow their team towards Wembley – and never came home again. I was one of a paltry 14,915 at Elland Road that day, watching Leeds United eke out a 1-0 home win over Brighton as Sgt. Wilko’s first half-season meandered to an uneventful close. When the news filtered through that there had been “trouble” in the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, the initial reaction was as predictable as it was wide of the mark: “the scousers are at it again.” Heysel was still fresh in the memory, English clubs were still banned from Europe – and nobody judges football fans quite like other football fans (or, at least, so we thought until the Sun got going). We were tolerably certain, as a bunch of Leeds supporters, that the Liverpool fans had caused more bother, and we glumly predicted another indiscriminate backlash that would envelop us all.

As we were on our way out of Elland Road, though, the full, awful impact started to hit home. There were deaths – people had actually died at an English football stadium – something that hadn’t happened on anything like this scale before. Apart from the Bradford fire – a very different disaster – the only comparable event in England had been the Burnden Park tragedy at Bolton, when 33 had lost their lives in a crush at a hopelessly inadequate ground with over 85,000 attending an FA Cup quarter final. That had been well over a generation before, in 1946. Surely, it couldn’t really be happening again, on an even greater scale, in the shiny bright late eighties?

But as we looked on in horror, the TV and radio news brought increasingly sombre statistics while the death toll steadily mounted – and later the sheer ghastliness of the event would be magnified as the tale of criminal incompetence and official negligence was revealed – and as the filthy end of the press, abetted by weaselling functionaries in Government and the Civil Service, jumped on the “blame the fans” bandwagon that other football supporters had vacated as soon as the scale and nature of the catastrophe became apparent.

If you were a Leeds United fan, a chill ran through you when you thought about what had happened; when you realised that this had, indeed, been a disaster waiting to happen. The Hillsborough Stadium was so oriented that the organising authorities found it easier, more convenient, to allocate stands to the fans of opposing semi-finalists based on where the bulk of those fans were travelling from. So, in 1989, Forest got the large Kop End, while the much larger Liverpool contingent were shovelled into the Leppings Lane End behind the opposite goal. It was the same the year before, when the same two teams contested the 1988 semi-final. And, similarly, in 1987, when Coventry of the Midlands faced Leeds United of the North, the greater Leeds numbers found themselves packed tight in Leppings Lane, while the smaller Coventry band enjoyed the wide open spaces on the Hillsborough Kop.

So two years prior to the Hillsborough Disaster, I and thousands of others were packed into the smaller Leppings Lane End on that April the 12th of 1987. The atmosphere was electric; it was United’s first FA Cup semi for ten years and Billy Bremner‘s men had been in terrific form as they challenged for a double of the Cup and promotion to the old Division One. We were jammed in like sardines on that terrace; looking up you could see fans climbing out of the back of the crowd, up over the wall and into the upper tier of the stand where space was more freely available.

Down on the packed terrace, it was swaying, singing fever pitch from before the kick-off right through to the heart-breaking climax of extra time. You weren’t an individual, you were part of a seething mass that moved as one, shouted and sang as one and breathed – when it could – as one. When Leeds scored their two goals, it was mayhem in there – you couldn’t move, you couldn’t breathe, you just bobbed about like a cork on stormy waters, battered by the ecstasy of the crowd, loving it and, at the same time, just a bit worried about where your next gulp of oxygen was coming from. Leeds took the lead early, David Rennie scoring down at the far end. That shattering celebration was topped when, having gone 2-1 behind, Leeds clawed it back right in front of us as Keith Edwards headed an equaliser and the United army exploded with joy. It was the single most jubilant and yet terrifying moment of my life to that point.

Later, after the match was over, as we trailed away despondently from the scene of an heroic defeat, there was time to reflect on what had been an afternoon of highs and lows, with the physical reaction of that epic few hours inside a pressure cooker swiftly setting in. With the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, it’s easy enough now to look back over twenty-nine years and think: “Yes, we were lucky.” Lucky that the incompetence threshold wasn’t passed that day when we were there. Lucky that enough of the terrace fans got into the upper tier to relieve the pressure ever so slightly – was that a factor?  So lucky that it wasn’t us, when it easily could have been. Lucky, ultimately, to be alive and kicking still. The warning signs were there – they just weren’t perceived by those of us – the fans – for whom it had just been another somewhat uncomfortable but thrilling spectator experience. That those signs weren’t recognised or heeded by the people responsible for public safety is a far more damning fact.

Poignantly enough, the luck we’d had that day wasn’t shared by 96 Liverpool supporters two years later. They set off happily, to support their heroes – and, tragically, they never returned. Twenty-seven years on, the wait for justice has been torturous for all concerned. The families and friends left behind, veterans of over a quarter of a century of grief and loss, have never given up their courageous fight, despite cover-ups and official brick walls, despite scurrilous press coverage which reached an obscene and disgusting low point with the Sun – that vanguard of the gutter press – and its sickening lies. 

Now, there is an inquest verdict at last. We have the official findings of unlawful killing and, surely there is finally justice for The 96. And indeed for all of the friends and family they left behind. Yet, even now, with the South Yorkshire Police Force unreservedly accepting the inquest findings, we still have the likes of Thatcher aide Bernard Ingham refusing to apologise for his own scandalous remarks in the wake of the disaster, now utterly discredited as he himself has been. There is no remorse or regret from Ingham, who stands as a symbol of official ignorance and deceit. All he is good for now, this bitter, bigoted old man, is sitting at home and growing his comedy eyebrows.

Twenty-seven years is far too long for anyone bereaved of their loved ones to wait – but justice is worth waiting for, if only so that the dead can sleep more peacefully and the living can have closure of a sort – and move on with the business of being alive. And – as a footnote – how appropriate it would now be if Liverpool FC could go on to win the Europa League after that thrilling victory over Borussia Dortmund – just for the families, the friends and those that were lost on that fateful day and in its aftermath..

There could be no finer or more fitting tribute to The 96, surely, than this long-awaited justice that has been served today – and the return of the Champions League football to Anfield.

Let it be.

It’s a Twitter Bad Taste Jamboree for Millwall Fans as Leeds are in Town – by Rob Atkinson

Millwall Beauty Queens Parade for Police Five

Millwall Beauty Queens Parade for Police Five

Twitter is a good place to avoid today for Leeds fans – or indeed for anyone whose idea of good taste precludes taunting rival supporters over two bloody murders thirteen years ago. Millwall fans are generally the exception to the rules of taste though, as they are to most rules – not excluding those governing grammar, basic hygiene and indeed evolution.

It’s not hard to find Millwall fans on Twitter today. Those of this dismal fraternity who are able to find their way around a computer are there in the ether, in force, to celebrate the first of Millwall’s two cup finals this season.  Their team face Leeds United, the cause of all those chips on rival fans’ shoulders everywhere.  The effect is accentuated with Millwall fans, for whom the chip on the shoulder invariably possesses a higher IQ than the diseased organ inside the skull.

It’s pointless to regale you here with the output of the South Bermondsey twitterati.  It’s all there, for those who might want to source it.  Hashtag #sickeningbile might be a useful route to go.  Strong stomachs are required; this is no place for the queasy. Youngsters who weren’t even born when Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight met their awful fate in Taksim Square Istanbul, are gleefully evident, aping their elders, glorying in the blood spilled by two lads who went overseas to watch a football match – and never came home.

Most football clubs suffer from a minority of this sort, people who genuinely seek approval for dragging their very souls through the gutter as they seek to out-do each other in aiming jibes at the misfortunes of others.  It’s been a blight on football for over 50 years, certainly since the time of the Munich Air Disaster.  Man U fans are only too well aware of the fashion down the years for tasteless chants and songs on that sad subject.  My own Leeds United have shameful form for it; Liverpool too and various other clubs.  Man U fans will climb on their high horse a few times every year over this, but they are not without sin, reveling in their own sick celebration over Hillsborough and Istanbul, plumbing the depths over the Heysel tragedy.  It’s hard to find a club that doesn’t attract a lunatic fringe of this kind of “support” – but it’s usually a minority and it’s been greatly reduced in recent years.  Only Millwall buck this trend.  There it’s most of them, most of the time.  There, civilised behaviour and rules of taste and respect seemingly don’t apply.

Millwall fans, rather than condemning the examples of pond-life in their midst, tend to glory in them.  “No-one likes us, we don’t care” they sing defiantly, happy with their grisly reputation, proud of a record that would sicken a psychopath.  They’re more famous of course for their tendency towards violence, usually in gangs of herd-instinct cowards seeking small groups of rival fans to attack.  When none such are available, they will be content to fight among themselves and disgrace the game in this country that way. They had a set-to at Wembley last April in the FA Cup semi-final.  Bewildered Wigan fans looked on as their team cruised to victory and the Millwall animals tore into each other like sharks drunk on blood.  Images of crying children caught up between bloodied “adults” lacing into their own kind shocked and revolted the nation.  As usual, nothing effective was done.

It’s about time, though, that something was done.  Millwall is the land that time forgot, a throwback to an uglier era that the rest of the game is doing reasonably well in leaving behind.  Only at Millwall does this anti-culture still flourish, by word and by deed.  In Leeds, the old men of the sixties and seventies Service Crew sit around swapping stories on internet forums these days, their boots hung up for good.  Even West Ham fans are emerging from their own savage past.  Man U fans are too busy travelling up and down between Devon and the Theatre of Hollow Myths to engage in fisticuffs – they’re an aging population too.

The modern football fan is a relatively peaceful person, obsessed with the media fishbowl of the Premier League, horrified by the price of everything, as likely as not to be a student, or a female; a far cry from the working man’s army of previous decades.  Not so at Millwall.  Millwall defies evolution, laughs at progress, dismisses a family atmosphere as “soft”, spouts poison on the internet, looks for easy targets down scary back-alleys. Millwall is the past in defiance of the present and the future.  Millwall should be consigned to that past, to the dustbin of football history – and their shrinking legion of “fans” left to lob half-bricks at each other.

It’s high time to get rid of Millwall.

PS – see below for the evidence of one Millwall cretin glorying in his following the Twitter account of Turkish murderer Ali Umit Demir. Disgusting – but we shouldn’t apply normal human standards to some Millwall apes.

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Leeds United – Does the Fightback Start With This Sweetest of Wins?

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Leeds United Manager Brian McDermott

Welcome to Leeds, Brian McDermott.  Whatever else happens during your reign at Elland Road, you could hardly have had a better start, and there were signs aplenty of much-needed change in application, atmosphere and attitude in the team, the crowd, the whole club.  And who better to win against in your first game?  Sweet as a nut.  Thank you so much.

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday was actually beyond sweet, for several reasons. Probably the most important of these was the fact that, after months of saying “we must win today to squeeze into the play-offs”, we’d finally woken up to the brutal reality that a run of poor results had brought us juddering down to; so now it was “we must win today because, oh sweet Jesus, we could get bloody relegated.”  That pressure has at least eased off slightly in the wake of a somewhat nervous but rapturously welcomed win.  We’re not out of the woods yet, but we may at least be out-distancing the wolf and leaving poor Grandma to face a bottom three finish on her own.

The other reasons for relishing Leeds United’s win at the expense of the Wendies, as we fondly think of them, date back to the return fixture at Hillsborough earlier in the season. For those who have forgotten, Leeds played awfully, went behind and looked well on the way to defeat.  Then Michael Tonge’s stunning equaliser was followed immediately by a yob invading the pitch from among the Leeds fans who’d turned up merely to watch the game, and proceeding to land the third-best punch of the evening on the unsuspecting face of Wendies ‘keeper Chris Kirkland.  The two best punches had been landed earlier in the piece by thuggish home defender Miguel Llera on two different Leeds players, and were ignored by the ref, in the normal FA-approved manner.  Llera, a lanky dork in a head-guard, might normally have been subject to some scrutiny after the game for his free interpretation of the rules regarding lamping your opponents in the jaw, but on this occasion the focus was almost entirely upon the actions of the miscreant who’d emerged from the away support.  Questions were asked in the House, resolutions were passed by the United Nations, the NATO alert status was upgraded to Amber and the Galactic Federation issued an ultimatum demanding that Leeds United be relocated to dwarf planet Pluto.  Or that’s how it felt.

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Quiet, Jones

Strangely, the only person even slightly to distract the full attention of the Fourth Estate from this heinous act of a drunken thug, was Wendies manager Dave Jones, who seemed confused as to who the real victim was in the whole sorry episode.  Interviewed directly after the match, an over-emotional and highly-strung Jones was asked about his take on events, the interviewer clearly expecting a confirmation that his ‘keeper had been assaulted, that it was disgusting and that it was all Leeds United’s fault.  What Jones came up with though was a protracted whinge about the chants directed at him by Leeds fans, that he’d had this for years, that it was disgusting and that it was all Leeds United’s fault.  He rounded off his tirade of barely-suppressed sobs by stating that the Leeds fans were “vile animals”.  All of them.  No exceptions.

In the next few days, once the laughing over Jones’ histrionics had died down somewhat, many Leeds fans took to posting pictures on social media of their sweet little eight or nine-year old lad or lass, clad in Leeds United regalia, clearly incapable of melting butter in their innocent little mouths, to point out that said little lass or lad had been tarred by the obnoxious and unwisely gobby Jones as a “Vile Animal”.  It was an apt demonstration of how silly it is to open your trap without first engaging your brain, but there was no real climb-down from the defiant Wendies boss, and – the rantings of the gutter press aside – it was generally agreed that he hadn’t come out of it too well, and had indeed made something of a prat of himself.  Apart from seeming entirely focused on his own perceived (non-physical) injuries, to the exclusion it appeared of his poor goalkeeper who had actually copped for a fourpenny one, Jones had also managed to cock a deaf ‘un to the vile – if I may borrow his word of choice – chants from the Wendies faithful about the two Leeds fans murdered in Istanbul.  Jones’ lexicon of sick insults  would seem to be a highly selective publication.  If only he could have foreseen how the “Vile Animals” tag would be taken up by the Leeds faithful, almost as an inverted badge of honour, maybe wiser counsel would have prevailed.  But it’s probably fair to say that Jones doesn’t have a wiser counsel.

Annoyingly after all this, Mr David Jones, Sheffield Wednesday’s current manager, was not apparent on the touchline at Elland Road on Saturday.  We’d all been looking forward to renewing the acquaintance, to seeing Jones trying to avoid the scornful gaze of twenty thousand people, to watching him squirm as the hated Whites (hopefully) trod his on-form Wendies into the turf.  The victory came to pass, as we know; but Jones had managed to incur a highly convenient and opportune touchline ban, so was mercifully spared running the gauntlet of vile animals and copping for another load of earthy West Yorkshire humour.  Some would say that Jones had engineered this situation by deliberately making intemperate comments after a draw at Bristol City which he knew would see him wriggle out of an Elland Road ordeal, and that it was the act of a coward and a hypocrite.  And I’d be among their number.  Dave Jones is a ridiculous and embittered little man, and I can hardly think of a more fitting victim for what was – I sincerely hope – only the first of many McDermott-inspired victories for Leeds United.

So this victory was the ideal start, but the Strife of Brian may yet be lurking ahead.  Even if Leeds do finally pull well clear of the drop-zone in the remainder of this season, the new Gaffer certainly has his work cut out to rebuild the morale of a club that has lurched through a long drawn-out crisis of a season which has brought massive disappointment in the league, only partly assuaged by two decent Cup runs and the slaying of several Premier League “giants” at Elland Road – just to remind us what being Leeds used to be all about.  Can Brian restore these heady times and glory days?  It all depends, not least on the support he can winkle out of whoever owns the club by the time summer finally comes.  Next season will be a success if the playing style can be found to suit the personnel available, and if the team actually compete like they mean it, instead of strolling through the motions like case-studies for chronic apathy.  Promotion would be nice, but it’s not mandatory, not in a manager’s first season.  Let’s just battle, show some application and skill, and let’s get that old Leeds United spirit back, so that we can be not just loud, but proud again.

Oh – and if Mr Jones has somehow clung on to his Hillsborough hot-seat – six points off the Wendies would be just lovely too.  Thanks again.

Memory Match No. 2: Sheffield Wednesday 1, Leeds United 6 12.1.1992

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As 1991 turned into 1992, the two-horse English Title race was hotting up.  Man U had suffered a shocking reverse on New Year’s Day, capitulating 4-1 at home to QPR, and then later that January 1st, Leeds had won competently 3-1 at West Ham to remain well in the race for the ultimate domestic honour.  The scene was adequately set, then, for Wilko’s first return to Wednesday since he had quit Hillsborough to become Leeds boss in 1988.  This would also be Lee Chapman’s last game before his season-threatening FA Cup injury, which resulted in the drafting in of one Eric Cantona – with all the long term consequences that would entail.  But Chappy was destined to be sidelined only temporarily, and he went out in the most emphatic style.

There was a crowd of 32228 at Hillsborough, the usual vociferous contingent of travelling Leeds fans rivalling the home crowd for noise from the outset, and completely drowning them as the game went on.  Leeds United were weakened, so it seemed, by the absence of the injured Gordon Strachan and suspended David Batty, half of their legendary midfield Fantastic Four.  Any side, surely, would miss performers of such calibre.  Leeds, though, seemed determined to make light of the problem, and tore into their hosts from the start.  Full-back Tony Dorigo made an early darting run, cutting in from the left and making good progress down the centre of the pitch, before unleashing a right-foot thunderbolt that Wednesday ‘keeper Chris Woods had to tip over.  From the resulting Gary MacAllister corner, Chris Fairclough rose to head downwards, and found Chapman in splendid isolation four yards out; his finish swift and deadly for 1-0.

For a local derby, the contest had been decidedly one-way traffic – Chapman was to send two towering headers just wide before Carl Shutt had a scuffed shot smothered by Woods in the home goal.  Then, a true champagne moment as Mel Sterland fed the ball to Chapman on the right.  In a completely untypical burst of pace and control, Chappy surged between two hapless Wednesday defenders, raced into the area, and unleashed a shot that beat Woods completely, just clipping the frame of the goal to rapturous applause from the Leeds fans at the Leppings Lane End.  I remember thinking at the time that anything was possible now, if Lee Chapman could do something so utterly out of character.  And so it proved as, from a free kick awarded just right of centre some ten yards outside the box, Dorigo stepped up to absolutely hammer a left foot drive past the helpless Woods.  Cue mayhem and cavortings as the Leeds hordes behind the goal, celebrated as clean a strike as you could ever wish to see, the ball a blur as it arrowed into the far corner with deadly precision and power.

At 2-0 down, the home side were making increasingly desperate attempts to gain some sort of foothold in the match.  This desperation was adequately demonstrated when, from a harmless-looking ball into the Leeds area, Wednesday striker Gordon Watson ran in front of Chris Whyte, continued on for another step or two, and then hurled himself into the air, landing in agonised paroxysms of simulation between a bemused Whyte and Leeds ‘keeper John Lukic.  Such obvious fraud and villainy could have only one outcome, and the stadium held its collective breath for sentence to be passed on the miscreant.  Instead – amazingly – referee Philip Don pointed to the spot.  Whether none of the officials had seen the extent of Watson’s ham-acting, or whether they were moved by sympathy for the mauling Wednesday were taking from a rampant Leeds, it’s impossible to tell.  The outcome was the same either way.  Ex-Leeds hero John Sheridan stepped up, saw his penalty brilliantly saved as Lukic tipped it against his right-hand post, and then gleefully belted home the rebound to give Wednesday a massively unmerited lifeline.

This act of base and scurvy treachery required nothing less than a riposte of the utmost nobility and beauty, so we said to ourselves, though probably in more Anglo-Saxon terms.  And, happily, that’s just what came to pass.  Only six minutes after the home side’s ridiculous blagging of a comically unfair route back into the game, Leeds took effortless control again with a goal sublime in both its conception and execution.  Lukic bowled the ball out to Dorigo on the left flank; he sent it first time down the line to Gary Speed, who took one steadying touch before sending a beautiful flighted cross into the Wednesday area.  And there, inevitably, was Chapman, horizontal in mid-air, neck cocked to hammer the ball unanswerably past Woods, the perfect counterpunch to Watson’s knavish low blow.  It was a gorgeous goal, sweeping the length of the left side, taking the entire home team right out of the game, and re-establishing the two goal margin which was the least Leeds United deserved at half-time.

The second half that ensued was simply a story of how a blood-and-thunder Yorkshire derby turned into a stroll in the park for Leeds United.  It seemed as if all the life had been sucked out of the home team – a Wednesday side who, let’s not forget, were unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season, and who would go on to finish third in the table.  So they were no mugs, but Leeds United were absolutely irresistible on the day, and would have hammered far better teams than the hapless, bewildered Owls.

It’s possible that Wednesday were simply embarrassed about that cringe-worthy penalty, possibly they were dog-tired, having been run ragged since the start.  Whatever the case, their heads dropped steadily further and further as the game progressed, and they offered little resistance as Leeds proceeded to throttle the life out of them.  Chapman completed his hat-trick five minutes after the hour, heading in after Speed had struck the bar from a corner.  Poor Speedo was looking the other way, bemoaning his bad luck when the ball hit the back of the net after all, turning his frustration to joy.  Then, perennial bit-part player Mike Whitlow ventured forward, just because he could, and rose unchallenged to meet Rod Wallace’s right-wing cross and head easily over a stranded Woods.  It was left to little Wallace to administer the coup de grâce, striding clear after a shimmering exchange of passes in midfield to dink the ball over the advancing ‘keeper, and put the suffering home side finally out of their misery.

For Leeds, it had been their biggest away win in over 60 years as they returned to the First Division summit in the best possible manner – they got six, but they really could have had ten or a dozen.  The message had been sent out loud and clear to the watching millions in Live TV Land: United were deadly serious about their Championship challenge.  They would surely look back though after their eventual Title success, and identify this sumptuous display as one that defined them as potentially the best team in the land.  For Wednesday, it was total humiliation and – truth to tell – very difficult to sympathise.  Better by far to lose 6-0 than to be tainted as they were by such a crass and obvious example of cheating – and it hardly reflected much credit on the match officials, either.  But the cheats on this occasion failed utterly to prosper.

It was a massively impressive performance, a hugely significant victory, and the sweetest possible return for United’s ex-Owls contingent.  Mel Sterland always took great delight in beating the Blades, but this victory over his boyhood favourites would have only happy memories for him, as indeed for Chapman, Shutt and of course the triumphantly-returning prodigal Sergeant himself.  Leeds would march on to the Title, finishing four points clear with the most wins and least defeats, unarguably deserving Champions (although the usual suspects argued anyway).  Man U’s quarter-of-a-century wait for a Title would extend for another twelve delightful months before Mr. Murdoch ushered in an era of success for them, aided by our own enfant terrible.  And Sheffield Wednesday?  They would recover to finish impressively, despite another awful trouncing at deposed Champions Arsenal.

1991-92 was a season of nip-and-tuck, with titanic struggles in both Cup competitions adding spice to the League fare as the battle for honours raged on three fronts.  But there can be no doubt whatsoever that January 12th 1992 belonged entirely to Leeds United, who looked like Champions a full four months early with this five star, six of the best Masterclass display crowning them as Yorkshire’s finest – just as we, and indeed the Wednesday fans in their heart of hearts, had always known.

Next:  Memory Match No. 3:  Xmas Eve 1995 – Leeds United 3. Man U 1.  Join me again, for an early start to Christmas, a classic Yeboah finish, Brolin’s finest hour and an actual penalty against “Them, From There”.