Date: 31st October 2011 at 9:11pm
Written by:

SeasideEssexXile previews Elland Road, home of Leeds United.

Elland Road – Leeds United

By SeasideEssexXile

God bless the fixture list computer. If losing at home to Forrest wasn`t bad enough, add to that a dark damp night and another defeat in Dinglesville, let`s just top it off with a midweek trek to Leeds soundly followed by Millwall returning to form 3 days later at home. I`m sure the OB have influenced the plight of the travelling tangerines, let`s hope that we don`t make it 3 defeats in a row with our visit to Yarkshire.

How To Get There

M55 take the M6 South. Take the M61 at J30 towards Manchester then pick up the M62 clockwise. From the M62 at J27 join the M621to J1. Take the A6110 at the roundabout to the ground.

For the sat navvers – LS11 0ES

For the Virgin lovers amongst us – Leeds train station is around a 35 minute walk from the ground. Probably best to either take a taxi or one of the shuttle buses that run from just outside the station to the ground. As you come out of the station main entrance, cross the road and take the stairs down to the street below. Turn right and cross the road and you will see the double-decker buses lined up. The first bus in the queue also sells the tickets for all the other buses. The buses drop off and pick up at the corner of the North and East stands. It’s best to get a return ticket as then you don’t have to queue up after the match to get a ticket back to the station, you just walk straight onto the bus.

If you decide to walk leave the station from the rear exit, from where you can walk down the short hill out of the car park and follow the road around to the left. At the traffic lights go ahead (the road bears slightly left) and follow Whitehall Road for just shy of half-a-mile, passing under a railway bridge and then forking left down Springwell Street, to cut off a corner. At the end of Springwell Street, you come to a roundabout exit road with a zebra crossing in front of you. Cross at the zebra crossing, taking the next exit road clockwise around the roundabout. This is the A58 Domestic Road. This road becomes Domestic Street after about 400 yards (Domestic Road turning right and heading up to an overpass) and continues slightly uphill for about another 400 yards, passing under another railway bridge. There is a zebra crossing up here, which you should use to walk up the right-hand pavement. Upon reaching the top of the hill, you come to a garage, and some small shops, where you should turn right onto Shafton Lane. At the end of Shafton Lane, turn left onto Ingram Road and follow this until you see a pedestrian bridge ahead, as the road bears left, becoming Tilbury Road. By now, you should have seen the football ground over to your right. Cross the M621 via the footbridge, turning right at the bottom, and head down Elland Rd towards the stadium.

For those flying Samm Airways – Leeds / Bradford airport is 12 miles away.

The Ground

Elland Road has been the permanent residence of Leeds United since the club’s foundation in 1919 and it was previously occupied by Leeds City.

With a capacity of 40,204 the stadium is the 12th largest football stadium in England, and the second largest outside the Premier League (after Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium).

The ground has hosted FA Cup semi-final matches as a neutral venue, and England international fixtures,] having been selected as one of eight Euro 96 venues. Previously, Elland Road was home to Holbeck Rugby Club and although used primarily for football since the early 20th century, rugby league returned when the ground was used by the Hunslet Hawks for several seasons in the mid-1980s.

Elland Road comprises four main stands – the Revie Stand, the East Stand, the South Stand and the John Charles Stand- which, together with the corners, bring the total capacity to 38,304. The record attendance of 57,892 was set on 15 March 1967 in an FA Cup 5th round replay against Sunderland.

The site, at the foot of Beeston Hill beside the A643 road to Elland, was owned by Bentley’s Brewery and was called the Old Peacock Ground, after the pub which faced the land, hence the nickname the Peacocks associated with both Leeds City and United. The first occupants were Holbeck Rugby Club who moved from Holbeck Recreation Ground after buying the Old Peacock Ground from Bentley’s for £1,100. The club built a stand and the ground became widely known as Elland Road.

Football team, Leeds Woodville of the Leeds League shared the ground with Holbeck in the 1902-03 season, but Holbeck went under in 1904 after losing a play-off against St Helens RLFC and the ground was put on the market. After a meeting at the Griffin Hotel in Boar Lane in August, a new club, Leeds City, was formed and it was agreed that the Elland Road ground would be rented for the upcoming season. The lease was signed on 13 October 1904, for a rent of £75 per year. The club had an option to buy the ground for £5,000 in March 1905, but in November, the price was reduced to £4,500.

After City’s first season in the Football League, the club built a 5,000-seater covered stand on the west side at a cost of £1,050. Attendances were rising, culminating in over 22,500 people cramming into the stadium to watch a local derby with Bradford City on 30 December, bringing in £487 of gate receipts. An expansion programme continued and the club’s directors ensured that the initial success was built upon, employing a ‘ground committee’ to oversee developments. In February 1906, 3,961 square yards of land on the Churwell and Gelderd Road side of the ground was bought from the Monk’s Bridge Iron Company at a cost of £420. The committee built a 4,000-seater grandstand which the Lord Mayor, Joseph Hepworth unveilled before a match against Chelsea on 17 November. The project cost £3,000 and over half a mile of steel was used. There was a training track for the players that ran the length of the stand, dressing & officials rooms and a motor garage.

ity experienced financial hardships jeopardising the club’s future but after much uncertainty an offer of £1,000 and an annual rental of £250 was accepted for the ground. The ground was used during the Great War as a venue for drill and shooting practice until the 1919-20 season commenced. City started that season brightly, but scandal arose involving illegal payments to players during the war years and the club was expelled from the Football League after only eight games. This led some local businessmen to contemplate digging up the clay deposits under the pitch and turning Elland Road into a brickyard. Yorkshire Amateurs became the tenants, and that club played there for a brief spell saving the ground from development.

Suring the 1920s, the South Stand terrace was covered with a wooden barrel-shaped roof and came to be known as the Scratching Shed. Another stand was built on the east side terracing called The Lowfields. Behind the goal at the north end was a terrace known as the Spion Kop, or Kop from a hill in South Africa on which 322 British soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Spion Kop, in January 1900, during the Boer War.

Significant changes were made regarding the structure of Elland Road during the 1930s and 1940s, however during the Second World War the ground was requisitioned by the War Office for administrative purposes.

Floodlights were first used on 9 November 1953 for a match against Hibernian when the £7,000 lights, claimed to be the most expensive in the country at the time, were switched on. The game attracted 31,500 fans.

During the early hours of Tuesday 18 September 1956, a fire gutted the West Stand and scorched large sections of the pitch. The blaze consumed the entire structure, including offices, kit, club records, physiotherapy equipment, dressing rooms, directors’ rooms, the press box and the generators for the floodlighting system. The roof of the stand collapsed into the seating area before the fire brigade arrived and the total damage was estimated to be £100,000, but the club’s insurance cover was inadequate. The players helped clear rubble and wreckage but the 2,500-seater stand could not be salvaged. After a board meeting, the directors decided to launch a public appeal to build a new stand with assistance from Leeds City Council. The appeal raised £60,000 and a £180,000 West Stand was opened at the start of the following season.

The new stand had of 4,000 seats mounted behind a paddock, which could hold a 6,000 standing spectators. Two years later another fire started after a Central League match against Preston North End affecting the West Stand. Fortunately, Cyril Williamson, the club secretary, and several directors were on hand and the fire was extinguished and no significant damage was caused.

n April 1968, the Spion Kop terracing was stripped away to make way for a new stand at a cost of £250,000. The roofed structure was built in less than six weeks and became known as the Gelderd End. When completed it left around 60 feet (18 m) of land behind the goal which was turfed and the pitch moved 30 feet (9.1 m) north.

Further improvements in 1970 included the coupling of the West Stand and the Kop with a £200,000 corner stand, the North-West corner. To complement the upgrade, an almost identical stand was built, linking the Lowfields stand and the Kop, which cost £200,000. In 1972, when the Leeds United Sports and Souvenir Shop opened, featuring a programme collection. In 1974 Leeds won the league for the second time and the Scratching Shed was dismantled and replaced by the South Stand at a cost of £500,000. This state of the art development comprised a standing paddock capable of holding 4,000 fans, a row of 16 executive boxes, above which was an all-seater 3,500 capacity stand. Plans to link the South Stand with the Lowfields were curtailled when Leeds ran out of money. In the same year, the floodlights were replaced by the tallest floodlights in Europe, measuring 260 feet (79 m). Initially three floodlights were erected – two at either side of the Kop and another in the South-West corner – and the other was erected four years later.

In summer 1982 Leeds sold Elland Road to Leeds City Council for £2.5m, and the council granted the club a 125-year lease. Ambitious plans to improve the stadium and neighbouring sporting facilities were designed in 1987 by Newcastle upon Tyne architects and promoted by developers Baltic Consortium and W.H. White. The estimated costs were between £50 million and £75 million to re-build the Lowfields with a 7,500 all-seater stand and construct a peripheral 2,000-seater sports stadium adjacent to the stand. Other plans included a shopping centre, ice rink, cricket hall, cinema, nightclub, café, restaurant, waterpark, leisure centre and shops. None of the designs were acted on.

In September 1991, the South-East corner was opened, joining the South and Lowfields Stands providing a full corner stand for away supporters. This section was used as the ‘family stand’ until membership proved too big for its 1,710 capacity and a new home found in the East Stand. It is prominent because of its yellow seats, which have given its nickname, the ‘cheese wedge’. A banqueting suite at the rear of the west stand, with a conference centre, was opened in April 1992. The biggest renovation project to date began in 1992, when the Lowfields was replaced by a new East Stand – a 17,000-seater stand with two tiers and no restricted views. On completion in 1993, at a cost of £5.5m, it housed 25 executive boxes, 10,000 seats in the bottom tier, part of which formed the members-only family section, and a further 7,000 seats in the upper tier. The East Stand was then the biggest cantilever stand in the world. In the close season of 1994 Elland Road became an all-seater stadium, with nearly 7,000 seats replacing the terracing in the Kop, as directed by the Taylor Report. The new-look Kop was officially opened in October by the club’s president, George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood and Mrs E Revie, widow of the late Don Revie. The Gelderd End was renamed the Don Revie Stand, in honour of the club’s former manager.

In December 1997 £11.3 million plans to improve the West and South Stands were unveilledwhich would have raised capacity to around 45,000. A new structure mirroring the East Stand would have seated around 12,000 people. A three-tier structure would focus on hospitality with a 15,000-seater indoor arena at the rear of the West Stand. This venue would have accommodated basketball, ice hockey, pop concerts and other events. However, after naming an ice hockey team, the Leeds Lasers, to play at the arena, the project was shelved. Leeds received the ownership of Elland Road once again in 1998, when the new owners, Leeds Sporting Company agreed to pay £10m to buy back the stadium from Leeds City Council.

In 16 August 2001 chairman Peter Ridsdale sent a letter to season ticket holders and shareholders regarding the future of the club outlining two options, to improve Elland Road or to relocate. A ballot form was included but the letter was biased in favour of relocation.[15] Less than 13% voted to stay at Elland Road and 87.6% of the 18,500 who voted were in favour of the move. On 7 September 2001, Ridsdale announced his intention to move the club to a 50,000-seat stadium at Skeltondate-July 2011 [disambiguation needed ] in time for the 2004-05 season.[16] The plans never came to fruition as Ridsdale resigned in March 2003, leaving financial disarray and the PLC was soon to follow in March 2004.

Later that year, Elland Road was sold with a 25-year lease andre buy-back clause to raise funds to pay an instalment of a loan to Jack Petchey. It emerged on 27 December 2006 that the stadium had been sold to the British Virgin Islands-based Teak Trading Corporation 15 months before.[17]

In summer 2006 the South Stand was updated and closed for the first few games of the 2006-07 season while work was completed. The refurbishment included boxing in the concrete columns and alcoves; overhaul of the kitchen concourse area, a mezzanine-level office area, modernisation of the corporate facilities above and a restaurant, Billy’s Bar, named after former club captain, Billy Bremner.

Plans for development at Elland Road to include hotels, a shopping centre and health club were featured in the programme for the match against Huddersfield Town on 8 December 2007. There would be hotels on the site of the shop. Possible adjacent developments could include an arena, casino, police headquarters, cafés, bars and parking for 2,700 cars. These ideas were furthered on 27 October 2008 when the club released plans for redevelopment behind the East Stand containing a 350-room hotel, a covered arcade containing shops, bars, and restaurants; extended and improved facilities for business conferences and events, a megastore, office block and nightclub. On 6 November 2008 the city council announced it would not be building the proposed Leeds Arena on council owned land adjacent to the ground.

On 16 December 2009 the host cities and stadia to be used if England won the right to host the 2018 World Cup were revealed. Leeds was chosen and had the bid have been successful the John Charles and Don Revie stands would have been rebuilt, leading to increased capacity of over 50,000.

n 28 December 2009 chairman Ken Bates spoke about plans to increase the capacity of the South Stand by 2-3,000. This would be achieved by removing the executive boxes and replacing them with seating.

n March 2011 the East Stand Upper was redeveloped with an extended concourse and 25 executive boxes. An arcade, hotel and megastore will be built as part of the five further phases.

e`ll be in the John Charles Stand, room for 3000 here.

Where To Drink

imited – the Drysalters pub which is about a ten minute walk away from the ground.

he White Hart is located at the top of Wesley Street behind the south stand it is good pub for away fans otherwise safer drinking in the town.

le is on sale within the ground.

Plod & Stewards – Known for robust stewarding, be on your best behaviour.

b>Fear Factor Rating – 6

he season has been topsy turvy so far to say the least. Saturday`s defeat saw the first signs of dissent towards the O`s and if results don`t pick up then it`s a safe bet that the voices of frustration will only get louder. A watching nation saw a lacklustre display only a couple of days ago, here`s hoping that come 10pm on Wednesday we are the ones that go marching on together towards another tough game at the weekend.

Onwards + Upwards