Today we’re looking at when we sent Leeds down
If this wasn`t a series where will occasionally look at some of the weirder, and also the more depressing moments at ground now known as the Macron, I without hesitation would have called this series of flashbacks “Reebok Classics.”
But I didn`t. Anyway, today, still happy times. We go back to May 2004, and a famous thumping of a club that was on its knees.
Leeds United had suffered a decline and then some. On 2nd May 2001 they were playing a Champions League semi-final against Valencia. Three years later, via a succession of managers, overspending, and a fire sale, they rocked up to the Reebok like a prisoner marching down Death Row. If we beat them, they wouldn`t be officially relegated, but with a six point gap, a far worse goal difference than Man City and two games left they would be needing an exceptional combination of results.
Meanwhile, our third season back in the Premiership had gone swimmingly.
A League Cup final, and still an outside chance of European qualification, although due to Millwall and Middlesbrough`s cup exploits we needed a probably out-of-reach fifth place for UEFA Cup qualification. Maybe next year?
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, the game being picked for Sky`s Premiership Plus channel (remember that, you paid for Sky Sports, and you still had to cough up extra to pay for the other games).
Before we got underway, there was a minutes` silence for Wanderers legend Eddie Hopkinson, who had passed away a week before.
It started quite well for the Yorkshire lot though. Emerson Thome, who we duly apologise for reminding you of, misjudged a long ball from Paul Robinson then fouled Alan Smith. Whether the touch was actually just outside the box or not, Mark Viduka stepped up and took the penalty that put Leeds ahead.
And that`s when it started to get fun for us. Viduka, who had a real problem with discipline at that time, got a second yellow card and was sent off for the second time in weeks for an elbow.
With a man advantage, we slaughtered them in the second half. Jay-Jay Okocha dinked a pass inside for Youri Djorkaeff who took a touch and slotted past Robinson`s near side for the equaliser, before Youri`s shot from range was headed off the line by Gary Kelly. Then we went ahead. Nicky Hunt had the freedom of Lostock down the right, his shot was parried straight to Djorkaeff who made no mistake. 2-1.
Unable to score at the end they were meant to, Ian Harte resorted to putting past his own keeper, it was a great finish to be fair to make it 3-1, Henrik Pedersen getting a cross in that was just too good for the Leeds defender.
There was more to come as well, Nolan finished well after a through ball was perfectly played by Okocha. It was an absolute dismantling, and the picture of the crying kid in the away end is almost iconic. He`s must be a fully-grown adult now. Sorry for making you feel old.