To celebrate the announcement that Elland Road has been bought back by the club after 13 years, this article will select five of the best moments that have taken place at the iconic ground. The stadium is no longer rented by Leeds after owner Andrea Radriazzani fulfilled his promise of making Elland Road Leeds’s official home once more. As the song says, ‘Elland Road is the only place for us’.
- First Division Champions 1991/2: Parading the trophy
Having secured the First Division Title the previous week after a 3-2 win at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, pipping Pennine rivals Manchester United to the title, Leeds were able to put on a more relaxed performance in front of a joyous Elland Road crowd against Norwich City. Rod Wallace scored the only goal of the game as Leeds put the icing on the cake for what had been an exceptional season for Howard Wilkinson’s side. Gordon Strachan lifted the trophy in front of the Elland Road crowd before the Leeds players embarked on a triumphant Lap of Honour around the ground. Leeds put their place in the history books as the Last Champions of the old First Division before the transition to the Premier League took place the following season. Celebrations at Elland Road were a great way to sign off the campaign.
- Leeds 2 Bristol Rovers 1: Promotion to the Championship
In front of a full Elland Road stadium, Leeds clinched promotion from League One as runners up in the division, sparking wild scenes at the end of the game as a pitch invasion ensued involving fans and players in jubilant celebrations. The ecstasy was pure relief after a tense encounter in which Elland Road was hushed by a forty-eighth minute Bristol Rovers goal when Leeds were down to ten men following Max Gradel’s dismissal. However, roared on by a vigorous Elland Road crowd, Leeds turned the game around thanks to goals from Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford to complete a second-half comeback. Hair-raising.
- Eddie Gray goals versus Burnley 1970
Leeds’ legendary winger Eddie Gray scored not one, but two scintillating goals during a memorable Elland Road league encounter versus Burnley. The first goal in the 2-1 victory was a forty yard lob which left Peter Mellor stranded in the Burnley goal. If this goal was spectacular, the second was footballing mastery. Gray left four Burnley defenders embarrassed as he embarked on an astonishing mazy run, beating three of the four opponents on two occasions during the run towards the Burnley goal from the left by-line of the Elland Road pitch. Gray then unleashed a powerful drive past Mellor at the near post. Such astonishing skill encapsulated the way that Leeds played under Don Revie, with the team’s 7-0 dismantling of Southampton in 1972 being another memorable occasion from a golden era of Leeds United history.
- Tony Yeboah versus Liverpool 1995
On the subject of incredible goals, Tony Yeboah’s monster volley versus Liverpool in front of the Sky cameras on a Monday night at Elland Road was a special moment that has been replayed tens of thousands of times by all football fans irrespective of allegiance. The Ghanaian striker was a cult hero during his time at Leeds and this 25-yard volley after watching the ball drop from the air only furthered the appeal for Yeboah amongst the Leeds faithful. David James could do nothing to prevent the ferocious strike. Leeds manager at the time Howard Wilkinson described the moment as ‘‘A fantastic strike, out of the top drawer’’.
- Leeds 3 Deportivo 2001: Memorable Champions League Quarter Final Win
David O’Leary’s young Leeds team including the likes of David Batty, Danny Mills, Mark Viduka, Ian Harte and Lee Bowyer, tore apart Deportivo La Coruna in the first leg of the Champions League Quarter Final in front of over 35,000 fans at Elland Road. The atmosphere was electric as an Ian Harte free-kick and headers from Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith found the net. Leeds went through 3-2 on aggregate after two legs and this performance encapsulated the courage and skill of a young, talented Leeds side who progressed all the way to the Champions League Semi-Finals. The Elland Road crowd played a great part in the success by being as vocal as they possibly could when spurring on the team.
Elland Road has certainly had its fair share of great moments as well as the bad ones to go alongside them. The stadium was a cauldron of noise last season as Leeds pushed for promotion. At the best of times, Elland Road is probably the most intimidating ground in the country for away sides to play against with the Leeds fans getting on top of the opposition. Full ownership of the stadium is excellent news financially as well as symbolically. Let’s hope there are plenty of more memorable moments to come at the great sporting venue.