Home > Football, Previous clubs > My time at…Leeds United. Part 4 Egging..and the South Africans arrive.

My time at…Leeds United. Part 4 Egging..and the South Africans arrive.

Self-confidence had rocketed since my arrival in the First Team squad. They say that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I would say that unfortunately I had found myself on the wrong side of that line at times. Don’t get me wrong, you do need confidence to be a professional footballer. All of the top players have it but they manage to churn out an 8 or 9 out of 10 performance every week. Eventually this affected my performances but in a negative way. The problem was that my niave, 18 year old mind  was saying ‘ all you have to do is turn up and it will happen for you.’

Well, gradually my performances tailed off and I was out of the first team.You could say that I was being rested and I probably said that to myself but my form had dropped away significantly. Anyway it was the end of the season barring The FA Youth Cup Final. It was a two-legged affair against Manchester United. There was a lot of bad blood between the two clubs at that time. Eric Cantona had made the switch from Leeds United over to Manchester earlier in the season and he was ripping the Premier League apart. In that Manchester United youth team were the likes of  David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Keith Gillespie, Robbie Savage and Chris Casper. They were a cracking team and were strong favourites to beat us having won the same trophy the year before. The first leg at old Trafford went to us 2-0. A goal  each from myself and Noel Whelan. There was roughly 30,000 on the night even though Old Trafford was being renovated.

So back to Elland Road for the second leg. It was live on Sky Sports too. Interest was that high that the kick-off was put back about half an hour. I scored one of the best goals of my career that night. An overhead kick from about 12 yards. Even Leeds United fans still ask me about it today. We eventually won the tie 4-1 on aggregate.  By this time Kevin Sharp had made his senior league debut too. Three mates living together in the same digs had played first team football. Maybe we all got a bit above our station.

So the end of the summer brought the Under 18’s European Championships to England. Our squad was made up of the Leeds United youth team ,Manchester United youth team plus the likes of Sol Campbell, Darren Caskey, Julian Joachim, Robbie Fowler, and Kevin Gallon.

I started the first match against France. I was replaced by Robbie Fowler who came on, scored, and kept his place for the rest of the tournament. We won the tournament and I played a bit part really.

It turned out to be my last appearance for England at any level. I did not know it at the time. I just thought that I would make the natural progression to U21 level at least.

So back to pre-season training at Leeds United. Brian Deane had replaced Lee Chapman as the target man. Phil Massinga and Lucas Radebe had come all the way from South Africa. They were a couple of years older than myself, Noel Whelan, Kev Sharp, Mark  Tinkler and Gary Kelly but they did hang around with us. To be fair to them both they came with the very best intentions. They were both great lads but swore blind that they didn’t drink. We invited them out loads of times at the beginning with them turning us down on each occasion. Well, bordem must have been a factor because one night they gave us a ‘yes’. Well, they liked the taste of it that’s for sure and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Bacard & Coke was their favourite tipple. In the end they were out on it more than us!

 All of us young lads loved a night out . In fact ,we loved an ‘all dayer’  even more. There were many weeks if there was no scheduled reserve or first team game that we would find ourselves in a pub by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We would always end up in a club called Mr Craigs. There was free entry if you played for Leeds United and we all felt like celebreties in there. Although I enjoyed a night out with my mates I don’t want to paint a picture of on obsessive drinker. I never went out two days before a game which was the ruling of the club at the time. Boredom then was sometimes difficult to surpress, particularly on a night time.  There were 4 of us in digs so what do you do?  We spent a lot of time in front of the TV and also with the Atari. For those that are too young to know what an Atari is: let’s just say that it was the closest thing to a PlayStation ! At the time this was cutting edge gaming. Sonic the Hedgehog was a big part of my life at that stage. But I had passed my driving test, had a car so what would you do if you were bored??

Egging. Yes, egging. This consisted of driving to a petrol station to buy all of the eggs they had available. We then patrolled the streets of Leeds looking for our victims who we could throw our eggs at from the car window. There was a technique to it. Obviously we didn’t want our victims knowing it was us so we would choose people who were walking in the opposite direction that we were travelling. Initially we didn’t want to be in an area where there were too many traffic lights just in case we were spotted although as we became more experienced this gave us more of a buzz. It might not seem that funny reading this but can you imagine splattering some unsuspecting person with an egg and seeing their facial anger that they didn’t know where it came from? We tended to use the Headingly area of Leeds as our preferred target zone. There was always plenty of people stood outside plenty of pubs so we didn’t have to be that accurate. Just lob one in that  direction as we drove past and see what happened. So if you ever got egged in Headingly between 1993/95 there was a good chance that it was either me, Kevin Sharp, Mark Tinkler or Gary Kelly !!

We even carried it over to Tuesday afternoons on home match days. After lunch the first team squad were assigned to the Hilton Hotel in town to prepare properly for the evenings match. I knew if I was playing or not ,most times not, so I found this time to be particularly boring. We always seemed to be on one of the highest floors with plenty of people walking past minding their own business.

We actually got busted. Somebody must have spotted us and we were dragged into the managers office to explain. We denied the whole thing. Luckily for us Gary Kelly was part of our Tuesday afternoon operations squad. He was a regular in the first team and a real prize asset to the club so they would have had to discipline him if they were to discipline all of us and they didn’t want to upset him too much.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

 

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