Date: Saturday, 31st March 1984.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
United 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1.
United: Ritchie. Sheffield Wednesday: Bannister.
Leeds United: Harvey; Hird,
Hamson; Irwin, Aspin,
Dickinson; Butterworth, Sellars, Ritchie, Lorimer, Barnes.
Sheffield Wednesday: Hodge; Williamson, Taylor;
Oliver, Lyons, Worthington;
Megson, Bannister, Varadi,
Referee: Mr D. Richardson (Blackburn)
It was a big day for Leeds United’s
promising teenage midfield player Scott Sellars when Sheffield
Wednesday, the club that he had supported as a Soccer-mad schoolboy, visited Elland Road for a Second Division
clash in March 1984. The youngster was only just beginning to make his way in
the professional game but United manager Eddie Gray,
delighted at the progress Sellars had made in such a
short time had no qualms about playing him against a Wednesday side going
strongly for promotion.
“My loyalty is now with Leeds and I
want to see us win, though I would like Wednesday to get promotion,” Sellars said before the game, and the youngster had the satisfaction
of providing the cross from which Andy Ritchie scored the goal that earned
United a 1-1 draw. The United striker, seeking his first goal in nearly five
months, and only his second at Elland Road, got up
well to meet the high left-wing cross and send the ball into the net.
It was United’s instant reply to
Wednesday’s seventy-ninth minute opener from Gary Bannister, who had fired home
low through a crowded penalty area after Tony Cunningham had headed back a
centre from Gavin Oliver. As far as Wednesday’s players were concerned, though,
Ritchie had been a bit too ‘handy’ in scoring his goal. Everything happened so
quickly that it was not easy to detect a handling offence and it was only when
goalkeeper Martin Hodge raced out of his goal to protest that many spectators
were made aware of the suspicion of hand ball.
Television playbacks did not confirm Ritchie had punched the
ball in but they did show that he handled after first heading the ball. Said
Ritchie,” the ball came down onto my head and then hit my forearm before going
in, but I did not handle the ball intentionally.”
Referee David Richardson agreed with Ritchie and the goal
stood to bring a fair result to the all-Yorkshire clash. United had been the
better team in the first half and Wednesday had taken control in the second,
until the last fifteen minutes when it became a ding-dong tussle.
United saw Martin Dickinson turn in a useful performance at
the centre of defence and there was encouragement to be gleaned from the right
back display of Denis Irwin. Both players cleared efforts of the line and
Charlie Williamson performed a similar feat to deny Aidan Butterworth. After
the game Wednesday’s manager Howard Wilkinson said, “Leeds have got a good home
record and if they were anywhere near as good away from home they would be a
force to be reckoned with.”
Alternative report from the YEP (Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
The players of Sheffield Wednesday
would claim that Andy Ritchie had a hand in it if they failed to leave the
Second Division as champions in a little more than a moth after this game. But
then Everton players had the same kind of feeling about Alan Hansen at Wembley
a week previous. In neither case was there conclusive evidence that the hand
was quicker than the eye. Yet in the Milk Cup Final Everton might have had an
important penalty and after tis game Wednesday might have been two points clear
in the promotion race had the officials taken a different view. Wednesday
goalkeeper Martin Hodge was adamant that the ball had been punched past him a
little more than a minute after his side had grabbed the lead near the end of
an intense and often thrilling Yorkshire derby at Elland Road. If Ritchie’s hand
played a bigger part than his head in the eighty-first minute equaliser for Leeds,
then it was hardly a neighbourly thing to do. But Ritchie maintained that he
did not handle the ball intentionally when he outraced Wednesday’s defence to
meet the perfect left-wing cross from Scott Sellars
for his first League goal since mid-November. Yet just as in the Hansen case,
one side could claim they were handicapped.
Nevertheless, the two quick goals certainly brought a
stand-up climax in this clash. Stewards were still clearing one spectator off
the field when Leeds kicked off after Wednesday’s breakthrough.
And there were any number in the main stand who could not say who had replied
for Leeds so quickly, never mind whether the ball had been handled into the net
because they were involved either in or watching a fight in the back few rows.
Yet it was generally a good afternoon for the 25,343 spectators, who were given
meaty entertainment by the players, who shrugged off the sleet and soggy
conditions as they determinedly looked for victory.
in charge for almost all the first half. Wednesday were
the masters from then until the last quarter, then either side could have won
it. Probably Wednesday should have edged through, but Gary Bannister and Gary Megson failed from almost hand-shaking distance from David
Harvey. Leeds twice, through Denis Irwin and Martin
Dickinson, had to make clearances, while Charlie Williamson produced the same
service for Wednesday. It was a match full of significance, though, for both
sides. Wednesday testing and finding that their reserves can do a good job in a
passionate atmosphere. With Leeds finding that they
could match a promotion-chasing side for the second time in four days, and
along the way probably discovering, at last, a youngster to fill one of their
hardest roles of the last decade. With suspensions and injuries wiping out
almost the whole of his defence, Howard Wilkinson, Wednesday’s Manager, said it
was a first outing for “this” side. “I thought the heroes today were the lads
who came in. Up and down the country, people were secretly thinking we could
get done here at Leeds and it did not happen,” he said.
Gavin Oliver, Charlie Williamson and Kevin Taylor all played a full part in
Wednesday’s progress. But the most impressive reserve on view was Denis Irwin
who fitted in at right-back for Leeds as efficiently as
anyone has managed since the days of Paul Reaney. The
eighteen-year-old Irish Youth International won praise from Eddie Gray, the
Leeds Manager, too.
Leeds also had some good moments from
eighteen-year-old Scott Sellars, who was keen to impress
against his home-town team, but Wednesday, having watched Leeds
at Newcastle in midweek, had
devised a plan which undermined much of the threat which had been so apparent
in recent home outings from Peter Barnes. Barnes, who was to be offered a
year’s contract when his current one was due to run out shortly because Leeds
felt he was still a crowd-puller, found that Wednesday slotted Gary Shelton
into the space he tries to find and some of the former England winger’s sting
consequently drawn. In fact, it looked very much as though two hard-working
sides would cancel each other out totally until the eightieth minute. Then
Gavin Oliver knocked over a deep angled cross from the left, Tony Cunningham
for once escaped Neil Aspin’s guard to head the ball
back through a crowded penalty area and Gary Bannister poked in his twentieth
goal of the season. Straight from the kick-off Gary Hamson
was able to put Scott Sellars away down the left and
Andy Ritchie did the rest. But the only real winner was Eddie Gray, who waved a
successful betting slip at the after-match press conference. He had had an
undisclosed sum on Hallo Dandy, or was it Hallo Andy?
Neil Aspin closes
down Tony Cunningham
Aidan Butterworth is shadowed by Mike Lyons
Andy Ritchie challenges for a high ball with
Gavin Oliver Martin
Dickinson and Denis Irwin crowd out Gary Bannister
Andy Ritchie flies through the air after a
Gary Hamson wins the
ball in a challenge with Tony Cunningham
Action below Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
Gary Bannister opens the scoring for Sheffield
Andy Ritchie scores the Leeds equaliser,
but was it with the head or the arm or some other part of the body?
Tony Chamberlain and Gary Megson
protest the Leeds goal with the referee
Leeds United 1983-84:
Back Row: Scott Sellars,
Martin Dickinson, Mark Gavin, Neil Aspin, Tony Brown,
Middle Row: Keith Mincher
(Coach), Peter Gunby (Coach), Peter Barnes, Andy Ritchie,
Andy Watson, David Harvey, John Donnelly, John
Sheridan, Barry Murphy (Coach),
Front Row: Gwyn
Thomas, Aidan Butterworth, Kevin Hird, Eddie Gray
(Assistant Manager), Gary Hamson, Frank Gray.
Andy Ritchie scored for Leeds amid claims of
handball Gary Bannister got the goal
There were strong games from Martin Dickinson
and Denis Irwin. Martin Hodge
claimed handball for Leeds goal
Gavin Oliver crossed for Tony Cunningham to
set-up the goal