We’re here, the final day of the 2013/14 season. One, which will see up to several of this current Leeds United squads contracts expire in the summer and more than likely will be the last time we see them in the Leeds shirt. Quite a sad thought really. However, for one man it will be an end of an emotional era…
Daniel Pugh joined Leeds United as part of the £7 Million sale of the prodigal son Alan Smith to M*nchester United in 2005. Danny had come into Leeds when Kevin Blackwell was building the squad from top to bottom bringing in the likes of the pace machine Julian Joachim, Sean Gregan and Paul Butler to name a few.
Pugh made his club debut in the newly formed Championship which Leeds defeated Derby one-nil thanks to a Fraser Richardson screamer. I remember that day well, watching Pugh’s silky skills and pace cause the Derby back four constant problems all day. Playing left wing that day I could see this from a player cam view sat in the East Stand at the time. What did surprise me was the amount of abuse he was getting from our own fans. I remember vividly two blokes both resembling the Mitchell brothers berating him every time he touched the ball ‘F off scum b*stard’ they repeatedly said. Not the easiest debuts to have in front of your fans.
He continued to be ever present in the first half of the season and later found himself out of favour. The following summer he was transferred to Preston for £250,000 and then two years later moving to Stoke City for a £500,000 fee. After another spell back at Preston on loan in 2011 Pugh returned back to Elland Road initially on a three month loan. Manager at the time Simon Grayson was desperate to sign him as the club was short on cover for the left side of the pitch and he eventually did later that summer for a reported £500,000.
With the sacking of Grayson and the appointment of Neil Warnock, Pugh found his first time opportunity’s limited as he was quickly frozen out. He was transfer listed alongside ‘The Robbie Rogers’ and the Leeds fans thought they’d never see Danny Pugh in a Leeds shirt again. A successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday who instantly became a fans favourite at Hillsbourgh for the performances he put in for the Owls. He returned to Leeds this summer with Brian McDermott in charge and vowed to fight for a first time place.
Another summer of uncertainty loomed for him but again he found himself playing a role in the Leeds team when many thought he wouldn’t. With the loss of form to Stephen Warnock and Aidy White at the beginning of this season McDermott turned to Pugh for the trip to Charlton in November. Pugh started and impressed in his first performance for Leeds in twelve months. He then went onto to cement the role his own for a good run of games bagging two goals along the way.
So here we are today, nine years later; two spells, 68 appearances and six goals Danny Pugh could potentially be playing his last game for Leeds United. He may never have been the most gifted player we’ve ever seen pull on the white shirt but I believe he is one of the most professional of ones. He has been frozen out, mocked by the fans, aged 10 years in the past two but he’s never come out to the press or on social media complaining. The man has just got his head down and got on with it.
Over the years at Right in the Gary Kelly’s we’ve been a champion of Danny Pugh, all you need to do is look back on some of our articles to the day we covered his return to his return back to the first team after twelve months away. We’ve backed him. If Danny does get a cameo today I’m sure the Leeds faithful will give him a good send off for the way he has conducted himself representing the mighty whites of Leeds United. Danny Pugh is F*cking Brilliant…
Whilst many of us assumed that the good ship Somma had set sail some months ago, Paul Nicholls the agent of Davide Somma confirmed last week the player is still at Leeds United and is aiming to get fully fit and on the lookout for a new club.
Speaking to African based football website MTN FootballPaul Nicholls said about his client:
Davide is still in Leeds at the moment. He has access to the facilities and staff at Leeds United FC while he completes a strength and conditioning program before starting his search for a new club,”
Further reports originating in the South African media suggest championship rivals Barnsley are also monitoring the progress of the former Leeds United hitman as they look to bolster their front line.
Somma who for the past two years has been blighted by serious injuries briefly returned to the Leeds United first team in the second half of last season, after scoring in the defeat to Nottingham Forest only to be side-lined once again and ruled out for the reminder of last season.
Sommas contract with Leeds United expired this summer and manager Brian Mcdermott said this about him:
He’s a great guy who’s been really unlucky. I spoke to Harvey Sharman and we agreed that we wanted to do the right thing by him.
We’ll look after him, try to get him fit and if something comes up for him elsewhere, we’ll try to make sure that nothing stops him taking up the opportunity.”
On the chances of Davide earning an extended stay, McDermott added:
I think realistically that’s not going to happen. You never say never in football, but that’s not necessarily how we were thinking. At the moment he just needs to concentrate on getting fit and over all the injuries. You feel for him.”
Shortly after Mcdermott made this statement rumours were circulating Somma had departed the club altogether and not taken the clubs offer of earning his fitness. Since then, with his agents comments that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It has been confirmed that his client is on the hunt for a new club which does confirm the clubs management haven’t till this point offered Somma a new deal.
If Somma does move to Barnsley and gets back to the player he was, Leeds United could come to regret the decision to let him go. Hopefully he does show glimpse of this in training with a pay as you play deal could work for both parties.
For many of us Ken Bates’ meaningful involvement at Leeds United was over as of the end of last season, formally though his role of president was set to loom over the club for a full Three Years.
Ken Bates has been a divisive figure since the beginning of his tenure as Leeds Chairman, and whilst I won’t go into full depth on the key points of his reign it’s probably worth summarizing a few points (just a few – cue rant)
Leeds were relegated from the top flight in 2004. Ken Bates was chairman of the club from 2005, he presided over our longest stint outside of the top flight.
Ken Bates took us into Administration in our first full season without a parachute payment post-relegation. After that point he never spent a 7 figure sum on a player.
During his tenure we saw the club purchase Robert Snodgrass, Luciano Becchio, Max Gradel, Jermaine Beckford, David Healy, Richard Cresswell, and Bradley Johnson to name a few. In the same tenure we sold or released those players (usually to Norwich), on top of which home-grown talent such as Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson and Matthew Kilgallon were all sold too.
For the first time in their History Leeds were relegated to the third tier – and spent 3 (long) seasons there.
It’s hard to underestimate Leeds’ fall from grace. Some clubs yo-yoed in and out of the 3rd Division and back into the top division whilst we stagnated in the 3rd and 2nd (Norwich & Southampton) others slowly grew to be bigger wealthier clubs (Reading, Wigan, Bolton)
Throughout that period we were told not only of the long term wisdom of our prudence in the face of the wasteful short term thinking of those clubs – and whilst Bates was right about Leicester (see you next season boys) he was generally not right about much else.
How could it possibly have been right to sell off our best young players or at best not offer them a decent contract so we could command a fee for them? How was it commercially sound to spend a small fortune on corporate boxes before we even got promoted, and nearly bankrupt us in the process?
How was it right to hamstring some of the best managers at championship level in the transfer market – when on the face of it a small nett investment in relative terms would have seen us pushing for promotion if not in our first season back in the championship, certainly in the next.
Just look at the genuine affection players like Snodgrass, Johnson, Gradel and for this writer most sadly of all Jonny Howson had for this club. They stayed despite Ken Bates’
But what was the issue with him? He was just a `marmite’ personality – larger than life? Wrong. Bates called those who protested `morons’ he made personal attacks on The Leeds United Supporters Trust chairman Gary Cooper and Melvyn Levi when he spoke to the media. This was not gracious behavior it was a smear on our club. Bates saw us at war with the football league over the re acquisition of our golden share – something he lost! And yet it was somehow Lord Mawhinney’s fault that we saw 25 points docked? Erm Hello – did he put us in administration?
Dwelling on the #TOMA(tm) saga is perhaps still too raw for us, but just for a moment imagine negotiating to buy a Ford Fiesta from Bates – now imagine that multiplied by 2 million. GFH deserve beatification.
Ken Bates remained chairman till the end of June and was set to be club president for 3 years – a non executive role. The incumbent was as many know the late Earl of Hardwoods wife. Earl Harewood was a gentleman. A Creditable ambassador, a cousin of the Queen. Ken Bates suggested electric fences at Stamford Bridge.
It’s time for a new era, and do you know what – we should just start going back to Elland Road, to drink it all in. Or perhaps we should go to the club shop at Trinity to buy a replica shirt in town for the first time in 6 Years? Maybe we could enjoy a pint of our favourite cider in the ground? Or Switch on the Radio and Listen to match commentary on BBC Radio Leeds. Pettiness is no longer the order of the day. We have our club back.
People are talking to Leeds United again and talking about us. We may not be Man City rich but at least we know people will be up front with us about WHY players might be sold, and that where possible there is a drive to recruit and improve our squad. And we know whomever comes to talk about investing in the club will be dealing with business people who want to make money and improve the image of their product.
Oh and thank erm..The lord that Ken Bates is gone.
Reporter – Matthew Brown-Bolton
Today we make our debut in this seasons ‘We Are Leeds’ matchday programme and our first column will be in today’s game against FC Nurnberg. Make sure you get your hands on a copy and tweet us your thoughts to @RITGK
When we decided to do one final interview for this season it was unanimous amongst the Right in the Gary Kelly’s team who we all wanted.
We’ve already interviewed some of Leeds United’s greats this year, Michael Bridges, newly appointed club ambassador Dom Matteo, promotion winning captain and current under 18s manager Richard Naylor, Danny Mills and David Haigh and Salem Patel 24 Hours after the takeover of the club. But one player in recent seasons embodies the classic `fan on the pitch’ ethos no better than Andy Hughes.
Possibly Dennis Wise’s best signing of all Andy Hughes joined us when we were -15 at the bottom of league one from recently relegated to the championship Norwich City. It was clear Mr Hughes liked a challenge.
This is a man who knows what its’ like to be a Leeds United fan. The man who gave it his all for the white shirt. The man who was part of that famous day at Old Trafford, the man who when the final whistle went at Elland Road of the final day of League one in 2010 instead of running off the pitch when the fans invaded the pitch ran towards the Kop to embrace the celebrations of finally getting promoted to the Championship. Step forward Andy Hughes.
In what has to be the most frank and honest assessment from any player we have interviewed Hughes tells us what it meant to him playing for Leeds United… enjoy!
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Since Leeds United relegation from the English Premier League in 2004 the club has had its fair share of ups and downs. The current squad currently on a 7 game winless run and alarming now find themselves flirting with relegation this season. So in an attempt to pick up the fans spirits Ryan Parrish looks at the second part of the clubs top 10 moments since the 2004 football league campaign.
5. Southampton 3-4 Leeds United, St Mary’s, 19th November 2005.
When Kevin Blackwell’s promotion chasing Leeds found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to Southampton, the travelling fans could be forgiven for contemplating heading to the exits with 45 minutes still to play. No doubt there will have been a few who decided they had seen enough when the half-time whistle went, but those who stayed witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in Leeds United’s recent history. A first half goal from Marian Pahars and a Nigel Quashie double had seemingly given Harry Redknapp’s side a comfortable lead at the break and it looked like it was just going to be one of those days for the Whites. After a dressing down, Leeds came out a different side after the interval but time was against them. With Blackwell’s men still trailing 3-0 with just 23 minutes to go, he decided to give it one last throw of the dice, replacing right back Frazer Richardson with Northern Ireland striker David Healy. Something immediately clicked and within minutes, Leeds were back in the game thanks to a Paul Butler header. Robbie Blake pulled back a second shortly after and with 13 minutes still on the clock, there was a real sense of belief that Leeds could take something from this game. The confident Redknapp had used all of his three substitutions at half-time and unable to alter the tide of the game, he watched in disbelief as the Leeds onslaught continued with Healy dispatching a penalty to draw things level. There was still six minutes plus injury time to be played and Leeds had the momentum. The attacks continued and just two minutes after the equaliser, a sweet strike from on-loan midfielder Liam Miller put United in front, sparking mayhem in the away end and sealing a victory which will live long in the memory.
Did you know? The Southampton starting line-up featured a 16-year old Theo Walcott. It also included former Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise who went on to manage the Whites less than two years later.
4. Carlisle United 0-2 Leeds United, Brunton Park, 15th May 2008.
The 2007/08 season will live long in the memories of Leeds United fans for a number of reasons. The Whites had faced an uphill battle all year having being handed a 15-point deduction before a ball had even been kicked. But under the guidance of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet they continued to defy the odds and it looked as if an instant return to the Championship was on the cards. Despite the dip in form that followed the duo’s departure and the appointment of Gary McCallister midway through the season, United still managed to clinch a top-six finish. After a disappointing performance in the play-off semi-final first leg, a late Dougie Freedman strike to make it 2-1 had given Leeds a glimmer of hope for when they travelled to Carlisle for the return game less than a week later. Leeds had the best away record in the division and they knew that winning the game by any more than one goal would send them to Wembley. From kick-off the Whites looked focused on the task at hand and they got off to the perfect start when local lad Jonny Howson fired them in front inside the opening ten minutes. What followed was a nervy eighty or so minutes, with both sides playing it cautious, not wanting to over commit and find themselves caught out on the break. The game looked destined for extra-time, something the Leeds fans would have jumped at before the game, but with just seconds left on the clock and United on the attack, Freedman laid the ball off to Howson. The 19-year old was striding forward with intent and he calmly swept the ball into the bottom corner past the impressive Keiren Westwood in the Carlisle net, sending Leeds to the play-off final. The home crowd was stunned into silence and the Leeds fans couldn’t quite believe it either. From being 2-0 down at one point in the tie, they were heading to Wembley, thanks to two goals from one of their own.
Did you know? Prior to the game, Carlisle had won 17 of their 23 home games that season. A record only matched by Premier League champions Manchester United.
3. Reaching zero: Leeds United 2-0 Hartlepool United, Elland Road, 8th September 2007.
The sight of the Leeds squad engaging in a post-match huddle was becoming a trademark of the start of the 2007/08 season, but the one which followed the 2-0 win at home to Hartlepool was the most poignant of the lot. From the opening day victory at Tranmere, the 15-point deduction seemed to invigorate Leeds when it seemed like everything was against them. Having won their opening four games of the season, Dennis Wise’s side had the opportunity to reach zero points after just five games, when they faced Hartlepool at Elland Road. The game itself wasn’t a particularly memorable one, with goals from Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford sealing a 2-0 win, but there was no doubting the magnitude of the occasion. The players celebrated on the pitch like they had just won promotion and in the stands it felt like a victory over the rest of the Football League, those who had voted to impose the 15-point deduction, after all, it was the fans who were made to suffer. Leeds were on the March though, and a thirteen game unbeaten run saw them climb the table at a rapid pace, putting themselves amongst the promotion contenders and flirting with the top two. The result against Hartlepool wasn’t one of the most important in the Whites’ recent history, in fact a lot of Leeds fans would probably struggle to recall the opponents that day, but the significance of it is not to be underestimated. This was a special moment for Leeds United and a marker in their history that showed that this club would never die.
Did you know? The fifth straight win meant it was Leeds’ best league start since 1973.
2. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United, Old Trafford, 3rd January 2010.
The rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United needs no introduction. After a humiliating televised 1-1 draw away to Kettering in the previous round, the winner of the Elland Road replay would travel to Old Trafford to face the English champions, Manchester United. Leeds needed extra-time to see off their non-league opponents, but a date had been set, January 3rd, for their first meeting in six years against their old rivals. With League One promotion on the cards, Leeds were flying and full of confidence, but so were Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the Premier League and the Leeds fans feared they could be in for an afternoon of embarrassment in a game where such pride is at stake. After a few nervy exchanges in the opening stages of the game, those fears were laid to rest for the time being when Jermaine Beckford raced onto the end of a Jonny Howson long ball to put Leeds ahead in front of the Stretford End, much to the delight of the 9,000 travelling fans. In the second half it required the goalkeeping heroics of Casper Ankergren, as well as a goal line clearance from Jason Crowe to keep the Whites in front, but Leeds held their own and they had a number of chances to double their lead. Beckford almost added his second and Robert Snodgrass struck the bar with a free-kick as Simon Grayson’s side earned a historic win. There was no questioning that Leeds were the better team over the 90 minutes, with the likes of Beckford and Howson both putting in performances which put them in good stead for their future Premier League moves. Over three years on, Leeds fans still sing about the result today and rightly so. A League One team going to the Champions of England and getting a win is one thing, but when it’s against your bitterest rivals, it feels so much sweeter.
Did you know? It was the first time Manchester United had been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round and the first time they had been knocked out by a side in a lower division under Sir Alex Ferguson’s management.
1. Leeds United 2-1 Bristol Rovers, Elland Road, 8th May 2010.
It was just so typical of Leeds United to leave it until the last day of the season to seal promotion to League One. Despite seemingly coasting to a top-two finish before the turn of the year, a dip in form hampered by an FA Cup run left the Whites with it all to do and over 38,000 packed inside Elland Road for one of their biggest games in recent years. It should have been straight forward, but when Max Gradel was dismissed on the half hour mark, it became an uphill struggle. Minutes into the second half, Darryl Duffy poked the visitors into the lead after a mix-up in defence and an all too familiar air of desperation filled Elland Road, the prospect of another season of League One football hardly whetting the appetite of the home fans. Jonny Howson was brought on to try and help the cause and within minutes of his introduction, he pulled things level with a stunning strike from the edge of the box. It was the inspiration Leeds needed and the crowd raised the volume another notch, sensing a win was still possible with over half an hour to play. Talismanic striker Jermaine Beckford had been made captain for the day and it proved to be an inspired decision by Simon Grayson as the number nine fired Leeds in front from close range after a Bradley Johnson cross had fell into his path. Elland Road erupted and fans mobbed Beckford and co. on the pitch. Rovers rarely threatened in the remaining twenty-five minutes and at full time the Elland Road pitch was awash with Leeds fans, embracing their heroes. Leeds don’t tend to do things the easy way and to call this game an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement, so winning in the manner in which they did makes it all the more special.
There is not a little irony in the fact that Leeds United’s current crop of Under 18s is under the leadership of a Leeds lad who was deemed surplus to requirements under the reign of The Thorp Arch Academy founder Howard Wilkinson.
Richard Naylor left Leeds at 18 to join the Ipswich Town academy, in 1995, staying there for 14 Years and becoming an institution there. That said the man affectionately called bam-bam by his team mates there for his `no-nonsense’ attitude to the game, had a Leeds United Tattoo (we presume he still does) and was visibly overjoyed when he signed on loan for his boyhood club in 2009, albeit in the third division by then.
Richard was our captain in the season we escaped league one, and stuck around with us until 2011, having suffered a number of injuries whilst at Leeds, at 34 he had brief spells with Rotherham and Doncaster. But in July last Year he came home, and is now running our Under 18 side, until last week on a 12 match unbeaten run.
He oversaw Sam Byrams introduction to the first team, and it seems we have a good crop of players waiting to follow his example under the guidance of Naylor, Alex Mowatt and Chris Dawson are possibly the better known. An inspirational captain, and a central defender of not inconsiderable quality in his prime, it was an honour for the RITGK team Matthew Mckeith and Daniel Howard to score an interview with Richard Naylor at HQ – Thorp Arch. What was his take on the current situation at Leeds United? Who should we be keeping an eye out for from the youngsters? Listen on.. With Naylor in charge, and the current crop laying waste to opposition with frightening ease, it appears Leeds have a secret weapon in place to get us back to the Premier League..
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Reports have emerged this week that Jonny Howson is on the verge of signing a new deal with the club. Great news, no one doubts the lad has talent. But does this seal his future tenure as captain of the club? In the week Bates urges Grayson & Co to do some soul-searching; I thought I’d give this subject some pondering myself…