(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

There will not be many Leeds supporters who will not have realised that it is nine years since Simon Grayson’s side beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

Interestingly, you do not need to spend long searching on Twitter before you find a decent number of supporters who hate the idea of celebrating that victory almost a decade on.

It is understandable that some supporters find it uncomfortable to continue celebrating the win. Some have seen Leeds win major trophies, get to a European Cup final and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Beating Manchester United therefore, in the third round of a competition which would see Leeds knocked out one round later, may seem an underwhelming accomplishment in comparison. Especially when those celebrations are continuing nine years down the line.

But here is why we should continue to celebrate that victory

Over the previous six years, Leeds had been through it all. There were times when it seemed Leeds United would probably be no more by the time 2010 rolled around.

On the pitch, Grayson was the first manager since relegation from the top flight that seemed to be on the cusp of building a side capable of returning and thriving in the Premier League.

Before Grayson, there was a shocking Championship play-off final performance, administration, relegation to the third tier, a points deduction and another play-off final defeat.

Leeds’ relationship with the FA Cup was also strained. Just 13 months before the trip to Old Trafford, the Whites were beaten at Histon in the second round. It was a contender for the darkest of days in an era when the gloom seemed reluctant to lift.

 

But the gloom had largely moved on by the time Leeds travelled across the Pennines. The Whites were well clear at the top of League One and Grayson appeared to be building a side that he could take through the leagues and back to England’s top table.

The start of a new era for Leeds

Alex Ferguson played several established stars. And yet, Leeds more than deserved their 1-0 win.

Jermaine Beckford scored the only goal after Jonny Howson’s stunning long-range pass. Robert Snodgrass hit the bar, while Luciano Becchio and Bradley Johnson missed great chances.

It was not the performance of a League One side. It was a display of a team that was returning to the level they were at pre-financial implosion.

The win did seem to derail Leeds’ title hopes. But Beckford was there again on the final day to ensure the Whites stumbled into the Championship that same season.

Not capitalising on that side’s momentum when they did go up was clearly a mistake. A mistake that has taken Leeds out of the promotion race for several years until recently. But that should not take away from the day that Leeds reminded everyone what they are capable of no matter how many times they are knocked down.

It is obviously not Leeds’ greatest achievement. And hopefully there are plenty of victories of greater significance to come in the very near future. But that should never take away from the statement that Leeds made on that day.

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