Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Leeds Supporters Top of the League
Quite simply, the Whites’ home attendances and travelling army of supporters on the road were the envy of the division, with the numbers game an awesome representation of the club’s pulling power.
United’s average home crowd level of 27,299 was the best in the division, with the only others to post averages above 25,000 being runners-up Norwich City (25,386) and Derby County (26,023).
Incredibly, their average gates were higher than a whopping EIGHT Premiership rivals – the Lancashire quartet of Blackpool (15,782), Wigan Athletic (16,812), Bolton Wanderers (22,870) and Blackburn Rovers (25,000), along with Fulham (25,043) and the Midlands trio of FA Cup finalists Stoke City (26,858), Carling Cup winners Birmingham City (25,462) and West Brom (24,683).
The Elland Road stats were all the more commendable, given that six home league games were televised during 2010-11, with the bumper derby crowd of 33,622 in the 1-0 victory over relegated Sheffield United on September 25 the best in the Championship all season – and one of six which broke the 30,000 barrier at Elland Road.
Not forgetting the massive crowd of 38,232 for the televised FA Cup third-round replay against Premiership giants Arsenal on January 19.
Just three clubs – Leeds, Derby County and Leicester City – posted crowds above 30,000 in the Championship, with the Foxes recording their top attendance of 30,919 against – yes, you’ve guessed it, United – on Boxing Day.
But analysing United’s monster turn-out away from home from their first port of call at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground on a Sunday afternoon in August to the final-day assignment at QPR’s Loftus Road on May 7, underlined the fact that, despite missing out on promotion, United remained very much the Championship’s headline act throughout the season that was 2010-11.
Incredibly, 14 Championship clubs recorded their highest gate of the campaign when United were in town, with the arrival of Leeds and their travelling hordes bringing a smile to chief executive’s faces from across the land from Middlesbrough to Millwall and Sheffield United to Swansea.
United took a total of 75,729 supporters to away fixtures in 2010-11, averaging 3,293 per game – well over double the average amount that champions QPR (1,561) took to games during a season when they lost just four games on their travels all season.
Within that, United broke several records along the way, right from the massive turnout of 6,732 who made the short journey down the M1 for the Yorkshire derby against Barnsley at Oakwell in mid-September, the biggest away support for a Championship fixture in the whole of last season.
It was United’s largest travelling following in a league match for five years, with the gate at Oakwell of 20,309 some 8,500 higher than the Reds average gate of 11,856 last season. That support was closely followed by another huge Whites contingent of 6,366, who made the even longer journey down England’s congested motorway network to Coventry City’s Rioch Arena to provide the Sky Blues with their top attendance of 2010-11.
A bumper crowd of 28,182 saw United record a thrilling 3-2 victory there on November 6, with the attendance almost 12,000 higher than City’s average.
It was the biggest crowd to ever assemble for a league match at the Rioch, where the Sky Blues moved in time for the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
And just as United’s joyous ditty of “You’re only here to watch the Leeds” was very much a staple song belted out at League One outposts up and down the land during the club’s three-year stint in League One, so it was also sung with gusto last term.
Other noteworthy attendances saw a whopping 5,200 make the 410-mile round trip to South London on Easter Bank Holiday Monday to watch United in action against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with that support eclipsing the travelling followings of the Eagles’ capital rivals QPR (3,185) and Millwall (4,895) – both pretty much on their doorstep.
Another record had also been set on February 26 when many among a United following of 2,944 set off well before the crack of dawn for the televised clash against promotion rivals Swansea at the Liberty Stadium for another massive 530-mile round trip, comfortably the club’s longest away trek of 2010-11.
It helped provide the Swans with their biggest-ever league crowd for a game at the Liberty, with others to record their top crowds of the season against United being QPR (18,234), Reading (23,677), Burnley (20,453), Millwall (16,724), Hull City (24,110), Middlesbrough (23,550), Portsmouth (20,040), Sheffield United (23,728) and Scunthorpe United (8,122).
Handing a big pat on the back to arguably the most loyal fanbase in the land, United manager Simon Grayson said: “Our support both at home and away is absolutely fantastic.
“Everywhere we go it seems to be a sell-out and if our allocations were bigger I’m sure we would take more away than we do sometimes.
“I honestly believe there’s only another two or three clubs in the country who could match our away support and that is testament the size of this club and what it means to people.
“When you look back to take nearly 7,000 to Barnsley and over 5,000 to Crystal Palace on Easter Monday is unbelievable, but equally that makes it all the more disappointing if we can’t reward the fans when they have travelled in such numbers.
“I know it’s a cliche but it should give each and every player a lift when they run out away from home and see so many people behind them.
“I remember when we were 2-0 down at Burnley at half-time and all you could hear in the dressing room was our fans who were in the stand above us.
“We won the game 3-2 and that says it all...”