That Beckford Goal

Let’s get something straight. This matters.

During our time away from the Premier League, and even now we’re back, I get sick and tired of hearing people who don’t understand the rivalry trying to say that Man United don’t care about Leeds and Man City are their bigger rivals. That’s nonsense.

If anyone is in any doubt about what these games mean you only had to listen to Gary Neville before the Leeds-Liverpool game last Monday. “I don’t like Leeds. When you’re a Manchester United player you have two big rivals – Leeds and Liverpool.” Thanks Gary. I don’t agree with everything you say, but you hit the nail on the head there. Having played for Liverpool I know that rivalry with Man U is huge, but don’t try and tell me Man United fans think more of the City game than they do Leeds.

Read Fergie’s book where he talks about his feelings for Leeds or, when the crowds return, watch any game from Old Trafford and you’ll hear the crowd signing “we all hate Leeds” at least once. And that’s been a regular feature all the time we’ve been ploughing around League One and the Championship.

There’s all sorts of different theories behind the rivalry, but mine would be that it’s simply Yorkshire’s number one city against Lancashire’s. The old Roses rivalry. Like Manchester and Liverpool there’s only 30-odd miles between the two clubs. It’s Yorkshire v Lancashire, and that’s the big thing.

As a Leeds player you’re under no illusion as to what this game means to the fans – the Man U players will be the same. When Leeds won there in the FA Cup when in League One, I’m told you could hear Fergie’s displeasure in the away dressing room such was the bollocking he gave out, not simply because they had lost, but because of who they had lost to.

I never won there as a Leeds player, and when I watched the game in December at Old Trafford I could have cried. I was genuinely pleased that fans couldn’t attend because the humiliation of that 6-2 defeat was such that the Leeds fans there would never have got over it. And the home fans would never have forgotten it.

But on Sunday we have another chance. Okay, it won’t end our Old Trafford hoo-doo, but it’s a chance to set the record straight, get one over on them, and make it equal for the season.

Come on boys. You know what you’ve got to do.

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