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Bez Lifts the Lid...
 Life with United...and beyond   Part XIV

Leeds, Leeds and Leeds, who the bally hall are Leeds ? We know a man who knows a story or three, just for a change......

John Beresford gives us the low-down on dirty Leeds

1994/95 (H) Lost 1-2 (Elliott)

"Keegan played Watto as centre half for that game against Leeds and he did this ridiculous handball which gifted Leeds a penalty. If you ask him now he still can't tell you why he did it, he just says he saw the ball and thought, "I'll never reach that, I'd better punch it". 

After that game Keegan banned him from borrowing Pav's goalie gloves and going in goal for kickabouts after training!"

1995/96 (H) Won 2-1 (Lee, Beardsley)

During the Keegan era, the staff and players had a five press ups forfeit for any mistakes made, which started to be taken to extremes.....

"We scored two in two minutes to turn round the game and towards the end the ref blew for a throw in. Keegan celebrated thinking we'd won and then did five press-ups when he realised what he'd done

"When Keegan did the five press-ups towards the end of the game we were in stitches. After that, it started to get a bit daft and any time anyone said anything slightly wrong they had to drop and give five. It got to the stage where KK would spend most of his teamtalks doing press-ups so we had to call a truce eventually. It showed how good team spirit was at the time, though."

"Also in this game, Tomas Brolin was on the bench for Leeds after they just bought him. Kennet Anderson
(who had a trial at Newcastle but didn't sign) mentioned to me that Brolin had never particularly wanted to go to Leeds but the deal was too good to turn down. He didn't care about how well Leeds did and I remember he played exactly like that."

1995/96 (A) Won 1-0 (Gillespie)

"We played Leeds not long after the home game against Villa where I had the on-field "dispute" with Keegan. I'd spoken to him after the game and apologised and he assured me that it wouldn't change things. 'Fair enough', I thought because Keegan was notorious for bearing grudges. He'd already said that he was going start the Leeds game with the eleven that finished the win against Southampton, which seemed reasonable but said I would be on the bench again.

We were sitting in some Portakabins at Elland Road when KK was giving the team talk and he said the eleven who would start and then came to the subs. His team talks were never that well prepared and he was looking around the room to pick the subs. He started with Pav [Srnicek], then Clarkie and then me, I'd presumed. But the third one was Warren Barton. 'You bastard,' I thought. After all he'd said about no grudges. I got up and walked out with Chris Holland who was in the 16 and headed straight for the player's bar.

I was drowning my sorrows when all the lads came past on their way to the pitch. They thought it was hilarious. Rob Lee, Bats [David Batty], Steve Howey were shouting, 'Don't worry he doesn't hold grudges...!!'. I was fuming. 

Anyway, we won the game, which was great, and got back onto the coach. At this point no-one knew anything about what Keegan had said on SKY - it wasn't mentioned on the coach at all. BBC's Breakfast telly had asked me to do a post-match piece the morning after the Leeds game which I'd agreed to do before the Villa game. Having been dropped for Leeds, I didn't feel that keen to do it but I'd promised so I got off the coach and went straight to my Durham flat to get some kip before the early start.

I got to the BBC studios and they sat me down and said that we'd be on shortly. When they started to talk about sport they said I'd be speaking and then cut to the Leeds footage. They showed the goal and then Keegan's famous SKY interview. I nearly fell off my chair. I knew nothing about it and I had the 15 seconds to try and work out what I was going to say. I was still seething about being left out and I was so tempted to say what I was thinking about him. I thought about the Championship and realised I had to stick by KK and said something about 'getting it off his chest' and 'heart on his sleeve' and that the lads were all behind him.

Keegan had seen the interview and when I arrived at training he thanked me for what I'd said. I asked him about not holding grudges and asked why I'd been left out. He said, 'You probably won't believe me but I honestly forgot! I was so used to picking you for the starting eleven that when it came to the subs I never even thought about you. As soon as you got up, I realised but at that point I couldn't tell Warren that he wasn't playing. I said to Pedro [Peter Beardsley], "Oh shit, I've left Bez out." I think I believe what he said, as Peter confirmed it but I didn't get back into the 14 for the Forest and Spurs games...."

1996/97 (A) Won 1-0 (Shearer)

"Bats first game back at Leeds after signing for us was a bad-tempered one. We won it 1-0 with a Shearer goal and they had Carlton Palmer sent off. David was really wound up for it and I can remember Lee Sharpe sitting on the ball in the middle of a scramble and Bats just started jumping all over him. He was almost dancing on him! I don't know how he got away with it but Sharpe was pleading with him to stop."

1997/98 (A) Lost 1-4 (Gillespie)

I can't remember much about the 4-1 defeat at Leeds when we played in the blue, orange and green kit. I think the own goal given against me was a deflection after a shot by David Hopkin but I think most players try and forget games like that. I do remember taking a lot of stick from my mate, Peter Swan [who plays for York City] and is a loyal Leeds fan. And of course, all my family were there as they all live in Yorkshire.

Niall MacKenzie

Page last updated 24 June, 2009