fans are a superstitious bunch. At least half of us will go through
a very specific routine before we head down to Elland Road on
match day. We'll have a lucky shirt or a lucky pair of pants.
We'll stop for a drink in the same pub, and drink the exact same
drink as we always do. When it's time to renew our season tickets,
it's very important that we get our favourite seat; the same one
we've sat in for years. Break from any one of the habits, and
we'll bring bad luck on ourselves. Then the lads will lose, and
we'll never forgive ourselves.
Luck is a quality that we often associate with the Irish. Nobody
truly knows how that connection was originally made, although
some believe that it had something to do with miners
during America's gold rush. Irish symbolism is full of lucky
characters from symbols, from four leafed clover to leprechauns
offering pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. The popular online
slot website Clover Casino
is dressed in Irish symbolism and themes, from the games you can
play there to the colour scheme of the site; all of which is designed
to help gamblers feel lucky as they play. Plenty of people who've
played 'Rainbow Riches' on the site will tell you they've stuck
lucky, but that lucky Irish streak has extended to Leeds United
in the past, too.
At some of the most successful points in our club's history,
we've had more than just a pinch of Irish talent either in the
dugout or on the pitch, leading the way for us. We don't have
any in the first team at the moment. Perhaps that's the reason
we're still finding it hard work to get back into the top flight.
Based on past form, we'd be well advised to get a prominent representative
from the Emerald Isle in to give us the boost we need, and the
four men we're about to name are the reason why!
1. Johnny Giles
Johnny Giles is one of Ireland's
greatest ever players. Of that there can be no doubt. He's
also one of the best midfielders ever to pull on a white shirt
and run out for Leeds United. Forming a midfield partnership with
Billy Bremner that was arguably more effective for any club than
the pairing of Xavi and
Iniesta for Barcelona decades later, he was Don Revie's right
hand on the pitch, personifying his manager in the way that he
approached the game. He may have been portrayed as a hard man,
but Giles was also an accomplished and cultured player with an
eye for a key pass.
He wasn't shy of chipping in with goals when required either.
By the time all was said and done on his career with the whites,
Johnny had found the back of the net 115 times; the precise same
number of goals as Bremner. During his stay with the club, we
won two league titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and finished
as runners up in the European Cup. Many players who were at Leeds
during the Revie era can point to a similar number of medals;
very few did as much to earn them.
2. Gary Kelly
It almost feels rude to talk about Irishmen associated with Leeds
United, and not have Gary Kelly at the top of the list, but we
think he'd probably accept second billing to Johnny Giles. Gary
Kelly was a textbook fiercely-loyal one club man. He spent his
whole career with us, from 1991 all the way through to 2007, making
over 500 appearances.
Whilst it's true to say that Kelly never won any major honours
with the club, having made only two appearances in the title winning
1991-1992 season as a teenager, Kelly was a key component of the
David O'Leary side that routinely finished in the top five in
the late 90s and early 2000s, and was there to see Leeds return
to the Champions League for the first time in a decade, playing
in a team that made it all the way to the semi-finals. The season
after he left, we were relegated to League One. Need we say more?
3. Ian Harte
If we're going to talk about Gary Kelly, then we should also
talk about his partner in crime, Ian Harte, who played on the
opposite side of the defence and was almost with us for as long
as Kelly was, with his Leeds tenure running from 1996 through
to 2004. Harte was known for his lethal free kicks, and his habit
of popping up with goals at vital moments, such as against Deportivo
La Coruna in the first leg of the Champions' League quarter-final
at Elland Road.
As with Kelly, Harte wasn't at the club during an era where we
won major honours, but he was another vital cog in that team of
the late 1990s who seemed destined to go on and lift trophies,
playing a big role in bringing European football back to the club
and making us competitive in the league once more. Watching Harte
and Kelly operate at left and right back respectively, some said
their understanding was almost as if they were brothers. It should
have been; Kelly is Harte's uncle.
4. John Sheridan
Although he seems to be more frequently associated with Oldham
Athletic - probably because of his numerous spells as manager
of the club - John Sheridan was the beating heart of
Leeds United's midfield for almost all of the 1980s. He was with
us from 1982 to 1989, and was the one player who could always
be counted upon to put in a shift. There were constant rumours
of interest in Sheridan from larger clubs, but he remained loyal
and committed to the whites until forced out of the club after
a dispute with new manager Howard Wilkinson, who wasn't a fan
of Sheridan's style of play.
The eighties, much like the 2000s, were wilderness years for
Leeds, who spent almost the entire decade in the second tier.
Sheridan was one of the few bright spots, even finishing one season
as top scorer from his midfield berth, and has the distinction
of appearing in the first ever Play Off final, in which Leeds
were beaten 2-1 by Huddersfield. He may not have been at the club
by May 1990, but he'd played a huge part in keeping the ship steady
for all those years, allowing the club to kick on and build for
the future. Just two years later, we would win the league championship.
Those are the major players. We could also make a case for Stephen
McPhail, Noel Peyton and Harry Duggan, which just proves that
the connection between Leeds and Ireland is a strong one. With
promotion this season very much on the cards, we're officially
calling for a decent Irish player to be brought through the door
in the next transfer window!
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