We Are Leeds, We Are Leeds
The F.A. Cup 3rd round, LUFC are drawn away to the mighty Manchester United. Man U who have won just about everything in the last decade, versus Leeds United, who have been in financial and sporting chaos for the past few years. Man U are second in the Premiership, Leeds top of the 1st (as in the 3rd) Division, two full leagues separate the two sides. Manchester have a reserve squad that is the equal of most Premiership 1st teams, Leeds have their 1st teams, and one or two half decent subs, it's a done deal then.
Except, there's this old rivalry across the Pennines. Except, Leeds being two leagues down have nothing to lose, Manchester can sacrifice their reputation if they fail to win comfortably. Except, Leeds see this game as where they should be playing all the time, for Manchester this is another day at the office.
Premiership teams come to Old Trafford and try not lose, the lion hearts of Leeds take to the pitch and within moments you can see what they want to do, they want to win. For half an hour they want to win more than Manchester, they have the desire and the drive, the passion and the commitment, they are playing with belief and assurity. Manchester are on the back foot, Leeds throw themselves forward, and then it happens, Johnny Howson loops a long ball forwards, Jermaine Beckford gathers it, but the Man U goalie and a defender are bearing down on him, Beckford slides the ball between the advancing pair and slowly, agonisingly for the home fans, it rolls into the net.
Cue chaos and wild celebration for the 9,000 LUFC fans in enemy territory, and for the tens of thousands watching at home and in pubs. Man U are stunned and for the rest of the first half they defend against a confident Leeds side.
In the second half things are a bit different, the home side take charge and pressure the Leeds defence. Showing signs of real panic, Alex Ferguson throws on the rest of the big guns, Owen joins Rooney, Giggs and Valencia join up with Berbatov, one of the most menacing attacks in European football is now arrayed against a side from the lower divisions.
Man U attack again and again in the second half, but Leeds defend like they attacked in the first half, like men possessed, time and time again a last lunging white stockinged foot clears the ball inches from the Leeds goal line. It's not all defence either, Beckford misses the red net by inches, Snodgrass bounces one off the woodwork.
"I wonder," ponders the ITV commentary. "If Manchester are not winning at full time, how much time will the referee add on ?."
5 minutes, 5 bloody minutes for about two minutes of injury time for Becchio. The ball rains in on the Leeds goal, Owen scuffs a shot, Rooney skies one, Berbatov runs into a wall of white shirts, then, the whistle.
It's over. Leeds United have dumped Man U out of the FA Cup, Beckford might be off to Newcastle but he's a deity in West Yorkshire for the day. Leeds are the cream of the crop, Man U and their legion of 'fans' are left with cold humble pie, what a game, what a remarkable game.