Gray: Elland Road, My Spiritual Home

Last updated : 21 November 2003 By Kevin Markey
"Elland Road is my spiritual home," says Eddie in the article.

"I joined this club when I was 15 and my whole adult life has revolved around Leeds, barring a few years when I was away. Someone told me it is all over the papers that Strachan is coming. I am caretaker. I just want to pick up points.

"Whether I leave or not, I will still feel part of Leeds United. I will still go to games. I grew up here, a lot of my pals I played with still live in the area, and I still see them, people like Peter Lorimer, Norman Hunter, Paul Madeley and Paul Reaney.

"When I was 15, lots of boys came here from Scotland, Wales and all over England and Ireland and a lot never made it with Leeds but got jobs around here as firemen and insurance men; one works at Rowntree's in York.

"Maybe it's the air here! Or the Tetley's Beer! It's just a good quality of life around here. John Charles went to Italy to play but came back to Leeds to live and he's a Welshman.

"Elland Road was a great place to play but not easy. Leeds supporters are normally very demanding. It's the Yorkshire way. If they are paying 5p for something, they want their money's worth and that's right.

"The fans have a bit of a siege mentality - 'We Are Leeds'. It is about pride in the club and the city. The noise at Elland Road despite losing games has been fantastic and the travelling support has been tremendous. Leeds fans have a tradition of sticking by the club through thick and thin.

"Leeds have not won much compared to other major clubs; three League championships, FA Cup, a League Cup and a couple in Europe (the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup). There is a great desire to see the club back at the top and winning things. Leeds fans realise the club are at a crossroads and that this is a major season in Leeds' history. No one knows what may happen.

"We must work hard to survive. The fear within the game is immense.

"Clubs are fighting for survival and realise the financial implications of going out of the Premier League. Look at Sheffield Wednesday. They are now in the Second Division.

"One of my sons [Stuart] plays for Rushden & Diamonds and a few years ago you would never have thought Rushden & Diamonds would meet Sheffield Wednesday in the League.

"The club overspent and it backfired. I knew they were spending a lot of money but I got on with my job. They were spending money they never had. It was the wages, the upkeep.

"Mistakes were made but it doesn't anger me. I don't think you can be at a football club and be angry about anything. Sometimes we forget football is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed. It is still called a game of football. I enjoyed playing and that is how everyone should play. When I was manager here in the Eighties, I brought up players like Denis Irwin and John Sheridan to enjoy the game and they are still playing.

"There is great potential here. Leeds is a huge city and Leeds are still considered a major club and that is why we get the publicity; in recent years it has been bad publicity. Nearly everyone outside Leeds thinks we will get relegated.

"We have to make sure that does not happen. Outside the top six, I don't think there's a lot between the teams. It wouldn't take much to get amongst the teams in the middle of the table and then you are not that far from a European spot.

"I told the players in training: 'The supporters have been fantastic to you this season and you must now give them something back.' Before the players go out, I will mention to them the three C's that Don Revie brought me up with: to play with confidence, concentration and courage.

"It is going to be tough against Bolton. I played against Sam. He kicked me. Sam would kick anyone! He might kick me in the dug-out! It is a massive game."