Date: Saturday, 28th April 1990.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
United 2 Leicester City 1
United: Sterland, Strachan.
Leeds United: Day; Sterland, Beglin; Jones (Batty), Fairclough,
Haddock; Strachan, Kamara,
Chapman, Davison (Varadi), Speed.
Leicester City: (Per Programme) Hodge; Mauchlen,
Paris; Ramsey, Walsh, James; Reid, North, Kelly, McAllister, Wright.
Referee: Mr D. Allison (Lancaster).
ever see a better goal? And did you ever see one better timed? Those were the
immortal words of John Helm after Gordon Strachan
grabbed a last-gasp winner against Leicester City to ensure Leeds United put one foot
firmly back in the top division. Little did Helm realise
that that remark would become part of United folklore,
rather like Kenneth Wolstenholme's phrase "They
think it's all over" became synonymous with the 1966 World Cup final.
Helm's comments opened United's celebratory promotion
video of the season, but the well-respected broadcaster admitted he is stunned
that fans still recall his words, verbatim. "Somebody came up to me in Horsforth a few weeks ago and repeated it word for
word," said Helm. "I was astonished that someone could remember it
like that. It was just a reaction to the goal. The game was over, Leeds had won, and it was the perfect end
to the game."
was privately celebrating Strachan's goal high in the
Elland Road commentary box, the United fans partied as though promotion was already sealed.
A Mel Sterland goal had given United the lead in the
must-win encounter, but Gary McAllister conjured up an equalizer for Leicester to leave United
Leeds dominated the closing stages, but
it wasn't until the dying moments that Strachan
produced his memorable winner. With Newcastle being held at home by West Ham, Strachan's goal was effectively good enough for Leeds to clinch promotion with one game
to spare. And Helm's exuberant off-the-cuff commentary encapsulated the emotion
of the moment perfectly. "I'd done Leeds a few times that season and I think people
thought I was a Leeds
fan," he recalled. "That maybe came through because I'd got to know
the players well. There were some good players in that side and they were good
people as well. It's more enjoyable when you know the players. You want them to
win and, to a degree, you feel a part of it. It was a season where every game
seemed to have something riding on it."
moments of Helm concluding his emotionally-drained commentary, third placed Newcastle bagged a winner against the Hammers
to take the promotion race to the final day. Leeds headed for Bournemouth knowing a win would secure the title, Sheffield United also knew they needed a victory at Leicester to make sure, while Newcastle went to Middlesbrough hoping other results would fall
kindly. In the event, Leeds
and Sheffield United were victorious, Lee Chapman scoring United's
vital goal at Bournemouth, while Newcastle were hammered 4-1 at Boro.
top-level career that began at Dundee and took in successful spells at Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds
United, he found the net on more than one hundred and fifty occasions. However,
he has little doubt as to the goal that gave him the most pleasure. It was his
left-foot cracker that earned United a vital victory at Elland Road in the penultimate game of their
Second Division Champions campaign. It was imperative that United took full
points from the match to ensure an automatic promotion spot and Gary
McAllister’s equalizer seemed to have snatched victory from United’s
grasp. Only six minutes remained when Gordon Strachan,
who had run himself almost into the ground, brought the crowd to its feet when
he smashed the left-foot angled shot past Martin Hodge after Gary Speed had
tapped the ball back to him.
football memories start to fade away, that one will be the last to go. It was
such an important goal you couldn’t put a price on it. We knew we had to beat Leicester and the goal was one of my better
ones though I have to admit that all was not what it may have seemed. Frankly I
just swung my left boot at the ball and hoped for the best. I was so tired that
was all I could do and I was astounded when the ball went in the direction I
wanted it to because I had to use my ‘wrong’ foot. But when you look up and realise that the keeper can’t get to it, a grin comes to
your face and when you see the fans behind the goal jumping up and down and
enjoying themselves it is a fantastic feeling. But the goal looked great and
will be something that I can bore my grandchildren with in the years to come.” Said Gordon Strachan.
promotion battle had suffered a surprise set-back when Barnsley had visited Elland Road and inflicted a shock 2-1 defeat.
With victory over the mid-table Foxes a must, Mel Sterland
put United ahead with a fierce low shot from the right after just thirteen
minutes, to settle the nerves. But the second goal, and the added comfort it
would have brought, would just not eventuate. Gary McAllister’s second half equaliser, really put the cat among the pigeons and set the
United players, officials and supporters nerves on
end. Then came the goal that meant everything to them
and sent the little Scottish magician into Elland Road folklore and set the scene for the
final victory at Bournemouth and the ultimate prize of promotion and the Second Division
Mel Sterland and Gordon Strachan
scored the Leeds goals
McAllister scored for Leicester Jim Beglin
was settled at left-back Tommy Wright was a former Leeds player
Martin Hodge later was a goalkeeper coach, Ali Mauchlen came on loan