Harrogate Leeds United fans prepare for Premier League


Last updated Jul 22, 2020
Harrogate and District Leeds United Supporters group.
Harrogate and District Leeds United Supporters group celebrated promotion this past weekend.

After 16 years outside English football’s top flight, Leeds United fans in Harrogate are preparing for a return to the Premier League and a first piece of silverware in 28 years.

The Whites confirmed promotion last Friday after an Emile Smith Rowe goal in the 86th minute for Huddersfield Town defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1.

Less than 24 hours later, United clinched the title without kicking a ball as third-placed Brentford lost to Stoke City.

For Lai Lam, branch member and publicity officer at Harrogate and District Leeds United Supporters group, the moment on Friday night was special.

“I got loads of messages about going down to Elland Road but I’m trying to be responsible so stayed away.

“I saw the footage of the ones who did though, then saw the team on the steps of the East Stand on Facebook. It was brilliant.”

The supporters group, which was formerly Knaresborough branch until 1996, has around 150 paid members and usually follows the club home and away.

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Miss Lam, a season ticket holder for 30 years, joined the branch for the 1995/96 season and saw United relegated to the Championship at Bolton in 2004. She said:

“Most of us realised we were going down but we didn’t realise it was only the start of the rot that took us even lower.”

After a play-off final defeat to Watford in 2006, United dropped into the third tier for the first time in the club’s history the following season.

Promotion back to the second division in 2010 was a ray of hope in dark times. But the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as head coach in 2018 proved to be the catalyst for a return to the Premier League.

Now, Miss Lam and fellow branch members are itching to get back into the ground to see the team for the first time since March. She said:

“We play some of the best football I’ve have seen in years. I’m looking forward to seeing how Bielsa’s ways work in the Premier League. 

“The man is a genius. He’s completely transformed football in two short years.

“When we can get into the grounds it’ll be great to see the atmosphere that our fans generate.”

Before that though, there is a small matter of lifting the Championship trophy, which United will be presented with following the Charlton game tonight.

Amid the pandemic, football fans have been forced to watch their teams away from the stadiums. Instead, Miss Lam will celebrate the Whites’ first piece of silverware since 1992 at home with friends. 

“It has ruined what should have been a fantastic end to the season. This is the first year the players and the club have been so approachable and we could really have enjoyed it with them.

“But we’re promoted with the best points tally for ages.”

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