After 3 years in Division 3, or League One as it now branded, the escape would finally happen although as is normal for Leeds United, we would do it the hard way.
Taking my usual 200 mile journey up the M1 on May 8th 2010, I approached the game with my usual cynicism, knowing that if we did not go up there would always be the inevitable play offs. That thought is never a pleasant one following this football club as any fan will confess. Would we hammer Bristol Rovers or collapse under the pressure? Sure we’d had fun in League One going to places like Yeovil, Swindon and others but now enough was enough, time to go….
I have few memories of the game, other than Max Gradel getting sent off and Bristol Rovers then scoring before half-time and we were wondering what would happen next. Seemingly from nowhere Johnny Howson equalised with a shot he surely had no time to think about as the pass he received was really close to his feet. As the ball hit the net in front of us in the North Stand it was like a lightning strike making Elland Road suddenly explode. Realising that it could be done, promotion could really be happening, we urged the players towards us. I had not heard noise like this since probably the Champions League adventure in 2001.
Then the moment came after a bad throw out from the Rovers’ keeper. The ball was collected on the left side of the area and crossed in front of the defence and not cleared well. Jermaine Beckford pounced and wrote himself into the Leeds history books by scoring from close range what would be the winning goal. Even after this a header hit the post which would have made it 3 but the roller coaster of a game was over and the Whites were going up.
As the final whistle went which I am amazed anyone could have heard, most of the crowd ignored the “keep off the pitch request” and invaded from the terraces. The picture most people remember from this after match celebration is of Andy Hughes up on fans shoulders saluting us in the North stand by punching the air with both fists.
From where I was standing these two pictures I took continue to remind me of the beautiful afternoon at my favourite sporting venue, where hopefully one day we will be allowed to enjoy more like this. We were all Marching on Together along with a player, Andy Hughes or “Hughesy”, who always gave 110% for the white shirt and became a cult hero. Though I have never lived in Leeds, journeys up and down in cars and trains were always fun, even on losing days. Now I wonder what the next season will bring as I now reside in southern Spain, wondering how many journeys I will make back to Elland Road and to away games. After so many years of the nightmare ending, what will come next?
But after the excellent news that came from Elland Road yesterday I hope that the bad times are now gone forever…..