When I was a kid, Leeds United was one of the big games of the season.
Right through the 70s, 80s, 90s and early noughties, it was always a game to look out for, whichever division we were in.
Sunderland of course was/is always way out on its own but after that…?
For anybody of a certain age you would almost certainly say Manchester United and Liverpool, the two dominant clubs of these past decades and they would always bring plenty of fans – whilst Newcastle took some huge followings to both.
Alongside those two though would be Leeds United. Middlesbrough an irrelevance and Leeds the next closest club to St James Park.
Newcastle United meeting Leeds United was always a big occasion on and off the pitch, the hatred/rivalry between the two sets of fans was right up there with the likes of Man Utd.
The thing is, time moves on. For older Newcastle fans the Leeds match will unquestionably be the one you most want to win this season in terms of natural rivalry etc but younger supporters…?
I get the feeling that for anybody under 30 years of age though, it is like my dad talking to me about the likes of Preston and Blackpool being big clubs you’d look forward to playing.
This was summed up for me in a very amusing exchange I read on The Mag yesterday.
It was quotes from an excellent interview Jamaal Lascelles had done with the club’s TV channel ahead of Sunday’s match, amongst the questions he was asked…
‘Leeds and Newcastle, two clubs that arguably deserve to be in the Premier League?’
Jamaal Lascelles: “Well, yes, Leeds are a good team, they have always been up there in the Championship but like I’ve said before, repeating myself, we don’t really look at other teams too much.”
The Newcastle Captain totally misses the point of the question!
The interviewer is referring to Newcastle and Leeds as being to massive clubs whose natural place is in the Premier League due to their histories and fanbases. To Lascelles though, Leeds United are a club who he sees as regularly being competitive in the Championship and could potentially be in the mix to be promoted, no more than that.
Of course, why would he think any different? He turned 23 last week and the last time the two clubs met in the Premier League was in 2003 when Jamaal Lascelles was nine years of age. The last 13 years have been spent in the second or third tier for Leeds United.
That dramatic 4-3 win at Elland Road with a last minute Nobby Solano goal to send Newcastle top at Christmas in December 2001…Lascelles would have been still excited about Santa coming a few days later.
Looking back through his playing record, I can see only twice that Jamaal Lascelles has played at Elland Road and one of those times (21 April 2014) there was only 20,517 there to see Nottingham Forest beat Leeds United 2-0.
A full house against Newcastle United probably tells you that the potential is there for Leeds United to rise again but equally, crowds as low as nineteen thousand earlier this season show how far they have fallen.
I can’t wait for Sunday and the 90 mile trip down to ‘Super’ Leeds. Altogether now..’Leeds, Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds, Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds, who the f******* hell’s Leeds’!!!