the story of leeds football from 1990 to 2000

Leeds champions again. This page looks at the seasons between 1990-91 through to the mixed, emotional season of 1999-00. The first season back in the first division, saw Howard Wilkinson's men reach the Zenith Data final and finish comfortably fourth in the league. Only the second season back and Leeds United are champions, for the third time in their history. Another final in the FL Cup 1995-96, before the departure of Wilkinson in 1996-97. George Graham fills the managerial void making some significant signings, before David O'Leary takes the reigns in 1998-99. A great start for O'Leary, who guides the team to fourth that season and one place better in 1999-00, qualifying for the European Cup and making it all the way through, to the semi of the UEFA Cup. Controversy and heartache also blighted that season, which saw two Leeds fans murdered.


WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 1974 ~ 1990 | Period 2000 ~ 2005

  1990-91 ~ 1998-99
What a comeback, the first season back in the top flight for Howard Wilkinsons men was more than the most optomistic Leeds fan could have hoped for. The season 1990-91 saw Leeds United reach the Zenith Data Systems Northern Final, losing in a two legged game with Everton. Drawing the first leg at Elland Road 3-3 where Chapman netted twice and Sterland bagged the other. In the away leg though Leeds lost the game 3-1 with Sterland scoring again. In the FL Cup and Leeds battled all the way to the semis. Beating Aston Villa on the way, 4-1 at Elland Road with goals from Welshman Gary Speed, Chapman scoring twice and Gary McAllister who had signed from Leicester for £1million. Goalkeeper John Lukic made a return that season also for the same price tag. Unfortunately Leeds lost the semi against Manchester United in another close fought two legged affair. Leeds went out at the first stage to Arsenal in the FA Cup, after three replays, but in the league Leeds finished a lofty fourth position, in their first season back Leeds made the fourth placed spot in January and stayed in that position all season.

  1990-91 Back In The Top Flight With A Final And 4th Place.

The start of 1991-92 saw Wilkinson make more invaluable purchases to add to his team. Tony Dorigo joined from Chelsea for £1.3million, Rod Wallace came from Southampton for £1.6million and David Wetherall from Sheffield Wednesday for another bargain £125,000 were amongst the major buys. Irishman Gary Kelly also made his debut that term. Leeds made the 5th round of the FL Cup that season, beating Everton at Goodison Park on the way by 4-1, with goals from Speed, Chapman, and Rod Wallace getting two. Eventually Leeds were beaten by Manchester United 3-1. It was Manchester United who also put Leeds out of the FA Cup, at the first stage by a single goal. In the league and Leeds United went the first ten games without a loss. Losing their eleventh game by a single goal away at Crystal Palace. That was one of only four losses all season for Leeds United, as Wilkinsons men took the championship in only their second season back up. Arguing in a two horse race with Manchester United for the top domestic prize, it would be Leeds United who would avenge their cup exits and take the first division championship back to Elland Road. A magnificent season for Leeds winning their third ever championship. In only Wilkinsons third full season at Elland Road he had achieved a minor miracle.

  1991-92 Only The Second Season Back And Champions.

Before the start of the 1992-93 campaign Leeds took on Liverpool in the Charity Shield for the second time in their history. This time round it would be victory for the men in white, as Leeds won the shield 4-3, with Eric Cantona bagging a hat trick for Leeds and Tony Dorigo scoring the other. An early exit in the FA Cup, with Arsenal winning a replay at Elland Road after extra time and Leeds also went out early in the FL Cup, losing away 2-1 against Watford. In the league and Leeds just couldn't find their feet. With somewhat Jekyll and Hyde like performances, losing 4-1 away to Middlesborough in late August followed three days later with a 5-0 win at home against Tottenham, saw them finish in an unbelievable 17th spot. Starting games as champions rather than underdogs didn't suit the Leeds attitude and with the rest of the division having a point to prove, Leeds didn't have the answer. Leeds went all season without an away win. In the European Cup Leeds disappointingly exited early in a two legged game against Scottish Champions Rangers. Although the previous round saw one of the most memorable games ever at Elland Road. The German champions Stuttgart brought a 3-0 advantage to Elland Road in the first round. Nobody gave Leeds a hope and they were underdogs once again. Back at Elland Road and Leeds were unstoppable with a single-minded game plan of attack winning the game 4-1. With goals from Speed, Cantona, Chapman and Gary McAllister netting from the penalty spot. Stuttgart should have gone through on the away goal rule but amazingly UEFA ordered the game to be replayed because Stuttgart had fielded too many foriegn players in the game at Elland Road. At the neutral Nou Camp and Leeds won the replay 2-1 with goals from Strachan and Shutt.

  1992-93 Dreadful Away Form Sees Leeds Finish 17th.

A vast improvement in the league saw Leeds United finish in 5th spot for the 1993-94 season. With The Whites scoring four or more in a game no less than four times, including a last match 5.0 thrashing away at Swindon, with goals from White, Fairclough, Rod Wallace and Deane scoring two, this rounded up a reasonable effort in the league. Brian Deane made the trip back to his home town for £2.9million that term along with David O'Leary, who Wilkinson gained for free from Arsenal. The team exited early from both domestic cup competitions but did manage to end their away win drought, beating Southampton 2-0. On the 11th September with goals from Deane and Speed. Wilkinson made some significant buys for 1994-95 with one being the man they now call The Chief. Lucas Radebe made the trip from the South African outfit Kaizer Chiefs for £250,000. Also Tony Yeboah was acquired, coming from Eintracht Frankfurt for £3.4 million. Leeds made it to the 5th round of the FA Cup but lost out at Old Trafford by 3-1 with Yeboah netting the away goal. Leeds went out at the first stage to Mansfield in the FL Cup but In the league the side had a satisfactory time. Again finishing in 5th spot and qualifying for the UEFA Cup in the process. With a home win against Manchester United being one of the highlights. Goals from Deane and David Wetherall were enough to beat the current champions 2-1 in a win to savor.

  1993-94 A Big Improvement As Leeds Back Up To 5th.
  1994-95 UEFA Cup Qualification As The Whites Make 5th Again.

Tony Yeboah showed what a class act he is in season 1995-96, netting a hat-trick in the first round, first leg of the UEFA Cup to ensure a 3-0 victory away at Monaco. They lost the home tie 1-0 but Yeboah's goals in the first leg, were enough to ease them into the second round. Unfortunately Leeds eventually crashed out of the cup, losing to PSV Eindhoven 5-3 at Elland Road and 3-0 in the away leg. Having a disappointing time in the league finishing in 13th position and only managing 12 wins all season. Memorable goals from Tony Yeboah again, specifically against Liverpool in a 1-0 home win and one in particular, of a hat-trick in an away game with Wimbledon, which they won 4-2. Were the higlights of a poor term in the league. In the domestic cups and Leeds did well. Reaching the quarter final stage of the FA Cup, eventually losing 3-0 to Liverpool, in a replay, away at Anfield. In the FL Cup and the side reached the final for only the second time in their history. On the road to Wembley and they beat the side that was currently premiership champions, Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Elland Road, with goals from Yeboah and Deane and finished Birmingham's hopes in a two legged semi. Leeds won the away leg 2-1 with an own goal and one from Yeboah and stormed the home tie winning 3-0 with goals from Deane, Yeboah and Masinga. This set up the final with the other club from Birmingham, Aston Villa. Yeboha was out injured and this proved to be costly, as they were easily beaten 3-0. A forgettable signing that season was Thomas Brolin, the Swede who cost Leeds a club record of £4.5 million. More positively though, Ian Harte was promoted from the youth ranks to make his debut appearance.

  1995-96 A Domestic Final But 13th Finish In The League.

Leeds started the 1996-97 campaign reasonably well, picking up seven points from a possible twelve, but the improvement on last seasons finish wasn't to last. A fateful day on the 7th September saw the team play current champions, Manchester United at Elland Road and an injury decreased Leeds side were beaten 4-0. This didn't go down well with the Elland Road faithfull, some sections had already been chanting for Wilkinsons departure since the FL Cup final defeat and now it sounded like the whole of Elland Road wanted 'Wilkinson Out'. The new board at Elland Road Caspian, didn't waste any time. Howard Wilkinson was sacked as Leeds United manager. George Graham was brought in by Caspian, as the new man to take the club forward. They managed to better the previous season in the league by two places, finishing in 11th spot. Leeds went out early in the FL Cup to Aston Villa 2-1, with Lee Sharpe getting the only favourable goal. A better showing in the FA Cup saw them make the 5th round stage. With Leeds beating Graham's old club Arsenal on the way at Highbury, with a single goal from Rod Wallace. In the fifth round and they were beaten by Portsmouth 3-2, with Lee Bowyer getting the goals for Leeds. Lee Bowyer had been bought from Charlton that season for £2.6 million, along with Nigel Martyn who came from Crystal Palace for £2.25 million.

  1996-97 The Draw Specialist Takes Leeds To 11th.

George Graham for his first full season in charge, 1997-98, made a bagfull of transfers including Alf-Inge Haaland for £1.6 million from Nottingham Forest, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink from Boavista for £2 million and David Hopkin from Crystal Palace for £3.25 million. That term notably also saw Jonathan Woodgate, goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Alan Smith push into the first team. The team made an early departure from the FL Cup, losing at the second stage to Reading 3-2. Goals from Bowyer and Wetherall were not enough and Leeds went out, at home to the unfashionable Reading. In the FA Cup and Leeds made it through to the quarter final stage, eventually getting knocked out at home to Wolves by a single goal. The great improvement of form and position, was in the league where Graham's side finished in a relatively high spot of 5th. Securing an UEFA Cup qualification for the coming season. Leeds were back in Europe for 1998-99, but maybe not so surprisingly, after their first round win against CS Marítimo, it was confirmed that manager George Graham was to leave Leeds United. It had been rumoured in the press, that he was about to take over the job at Tottenham and after his Leeds side had just secured a second round spot in the UEFA Cup, it was acknowledged he was to leave. Graham had yielded on the long term contract he had just signed and the Leeds board were on the lookout for a new manager. The fancied Martin O'Neill was told by his current club Leicester, that he was not allowed to talk to Leeds and so the board turned to -what could have looked like second choice- David O'Leary. David O'Leary had made the progression from the playing staff to George Graham's assistant and was learning the ropes. The team had only played five league games when O'Leary took over, drawing three and winning two, both home games. The first against Blackburn 1-0 with Hasselbaink getting the winner and a 3-0 win against Southampton, an own goal, a goal from Harte and one from Wijnhard fastened the points. Of course the side was still in all three cup competitions as well. O'Leary's partially first full season in charge, saw Leeds finish in an admirable fourth position. They were beaten in the two legged, second round of the UEFA Cup going down to a single goal, against AS Roma in the away leg and knocked out of the early stages of the FL Cup, by Leicester City 2-1 with Kewell netting the Leeds goal. In the FA Cup and the young Leeds outfit battled all the way to the 5th round, ironically losing to Tottenham 2-0 at White Hart Lane. The fourth position in the league did gain another European spot, in the UEFA Cup for the coming season. That season also saw the return of David Batty from Newcastle for a price tag of £4.4 million.

  1997-98 UEFA Cup Qualification As Graham Leads Leeds To 5th.
  1998-99 Graham Breaks His Contract And O'Leary Takes Leeds To 4th.

No question now, after firming his mark on the club, this was O'Leary's first full season in charge. Making numerous signings for the 1999-00 campaign. Danny Mills came from Charlton for £4.37 million, Eirik Bakke penned for £1 million, coming from Norwegian outfit Sogndal and Michael Bridges from Sunderland for £4.5 million, this underlining the talent O'Leary was bringing to the club. The team went out early in the FL Cup after a penalty shoot out, against eventual winners Leicester City but made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup, finally losing to Aston Villa at Villa Park 3-2. Harte and Bakke netting the Leeds goals. In the league and the young outfit shined, actually making top spot for a period. Though with a squad lacking in the depth that could make a substantial challenge for the title, O'Learys team ended up in third position. Third spot ensured Leeds qualify for the Champions league in the coming season. In the UEFA Cup and Leeds United made it all the way to the semi final where they would meet Turkish side Galatasary. Leeds lost the two legged affair. 2-0 at Istanbul and drawing 2-2 at Elland Road, with both Leeds goals coming from Bakke.

  1999-00 A UEFA Semi And Third Spot In O'Leary's First Full Season.

This season however will always be remembered for the wrong reasons. O'Leary's achievements with his young side will always be in the shadow of two incidents, that are now unfortunately cemented in the history of Leeds United. The first involved two players. Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate. While out drinking at the Majestyk night club in Leeds, January 2000, they got themselves involved in an incident, which saw a man suffer injuries, injuries that resulted in an eight day stay in hospital. What made this matter worse and prompted the papers to have a field day, was the man recieiving the treatment was Asian. Bowyer and Woodgate were charged with causing grievous bodily harm in an allegedly racially motivated attack. The case lasted for nearly two years and from the outset the judge made it very clear, that this incident was not racially motivated. This did not stop the newspapers at large, heaving an all out assault on Leeds United and it didn't stop opposing fans from chanting obscene, expletives at every following game, without any recourse from the authorities. It could however, have stopped Leeds United from having an even more memorable time in the league. Playing under such appalling and ludicrous conditions, which were a result of the national newspapers assaults, must have had a significant affect on the team.

The other regrettable and devastating incident involved two Leeds United supporters. Leeds United faced the Turkish side Galatasary in the semi final of the UEFA Cup. The night before the game on the 5th April, 2000 saw Leeds United fans Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight murdered by a group of Galatasary supporters. Stabbed to death because allegedly they had made insults towards sections of the Istanbul public. An allegation that didn't have one witness who could put Kevin or Chris at the scene of any incident. It goes without saying that if the absurd and incompetent officials within UEFA had of cancelled the following days game Leeds might have done better on the park. The game went ahead in an extremely hostile environment with little care from the Turkish police. Hateful chanting went on over the Leeds team who lost the game 2-0. As if that wasn't enough the referee was distinctly biased in the Turkish sides favour. We'll never know how badly this affected Leeds United, it was heartbreaking for everybody involved with the club. Peter Ridsdale the Leeds chairman throughout the duration of this hard time was amazing, bringing many favourable and respectful comments from people outside of the club. The baleful deeds of the Galatasary supporting scum that night will never be absolved by Leeds fans and the memory of Chris and Kevin will always be in our hearts.

WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 1974 ~ 1990 | Period 2000 ~ 2005

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