Marching on Together

Image Credit: Ungry Young Man, Flickr, 24/10/18

Players, Supporters and Legends have all come together over the last week to celebrate 100 years of Leeds United.

The club anthem was sung loud and proud in Saturday’s fixture at Elland Road against Birmingham City. As the anthem says, “we’ve had our ups and downs” Leeds United really have had just that. If the 1-0 win over Birmingham wasn’t enough, there has been many events which have took place across the city all week celebrating the 100th Birthday.

The club was first founded on 17th October 1919 after Leeds City F.C was disbanded by the football league. Leeds City had only played 8 matches when they were clamped down on by the Football Association for various reasons regarding missing financial documents and illegal payments. The club was then sent to auction and offered to the highest bidder. The club ended up in the hands of the Crowther brothers and with the help of 1,000 avid Leeds supporters, Leeds United Football Club was formed.

One of the most significant events at Leeds United occurred on the evening of 17th September 1956. Leeds United had made it into the topflight for the first time since 1946-47 and were trailing just one point behind Manchester United at the top. Leeds had struggled long and hard to get back to the top of English football and they had finally arrived. But at 2am, Leeds United’s dreams of topflight football came crumbling down as Elland Road was on fire. The main stand went up in roaring flame taking everything it had with it; including 50 years’ worth of trophies, pennants and written records all gone in just one evening.

The cost of building a new stand meant they had to sell their mighty John Charles to Juventus and for the next 5 years that followed; Leeds saw a slow decline of both result and morale.

In 1961, Leeds United rose from the smoke as Don Revie took over as boss. Little did Leeds United know at the time; but they were about to experience one of their biggest highs as a Football Club of all time. The club which at the time were struggling for survival in the Third Division became revitalised and Leeds United became arguably one of the biggest and best
football teams in the country. Marcelo Bielsa has made a huge impact during his time at Elland Road, however, Leeds United at 100 years would not be the club it is today without Don Revie.

Don Revie built a completely new club, with a new strip, new successes and new dreams. Under Revie, Leeds won two of their three English league titles, an FA cup, a League Cup, a Charity Shield and two Inter-cities Fairs Cups. They were unstoppable. Revie left the club in 1974 when he was appointed as England Manager and in 1975 Leeds United reached theEuropean Cup final which they just missed out on after being defeated by Bayern Munich.

In 1992, Leeds United went on to win the last First Division Title under Howard Wilkinson before it was rebranded as the Premier League after becoming victorious against Sheffield United away beating them 3-2. Wilkinson transformed the club’s fortunes and finished Leeds’s 10-year plan in just six years. In 1996, Wilkinson left Leeds after 8 years and sincethen the club has seen over 20 managers in 22 years.

Leeds remained in the premier league from 1992 until 2004 where they were then relegated into the Championship. However, their Championship run only lasted for 3 seasons as in 2007 Leeds finished 24th and were relegated into League 1. Hope for the club became very low for a team with such huge potential. In 2010, Leeds were granted promotion and madetheir way back into the Championship.

They have now spent 9 seasons fighting to regain their Premier League status and came close last year when they finished 3rd . Leeds lost out on promotion after failing to perform in their last 9 games of the season winning just a third of them. This meant that automatic promotion was no longer an option and a very tough and close play off led to Derby Countypreventing Leeds United their dream of returning to the topflight.

Could the clubs 100th year be their year? Marcelo Bielsa’s team sit 2nd in the Championship just 2 points behind West Bromwich Albion with Leeds winning 7 out of their first 12 games. They will be well and truly pushing hard to make this their year. Kalvin Phillips gave Leeds their centenary match victory at Elland Road on Saturday against Birmingham City with a
second half goal. This was no normal game though, as the team were greeted by fireworks and an incredible mosaic as they walked out on to the pitch not to mention the electric atmosphere that was carried throughout the game. Leeds legends came from all over to celebrate the clubs 100th Birthday and what better than to see them take the 3 points on what was such a poignant occasion.

The city is well and truly behind them this year. Are you?

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