Very little unites Leeds United and Bradford City, but David Wetherall spent 18 years between the two clubs making over 500 appearances and winning a league title in the process. You’ll find few fans of either side with a bad word to say about him. 

Leeds United’s defensive frailties are well document and we’ve all reminisced on better days and compiled our greatest defensive combination for when genetic cloning becomes a reality and we can farm Lucas Radebe’s and Terry Cooper’s –  the last player who truly satisfied at left-back some would argue. But whenever I read and hear these dream-team defensive combinations, no one ever includes the legendary David Wetherall!

OK, so we’ve had some good central defenders and it’s understandable that Lucas Radebe, Norman Hunter and Jonathan Woodgate would be top of your list. But to include Rio “Plug” Ferdinand above a man who bled blue, white and yellow is sacrilege.

Rio Ferdinand isn’t fit to lace David Wetherall’s boots. In 202 appearances for Leeds, Wetherall achieved much more than Plug. He won the League title in 1992 and also played in the League Cup final in 1996 (not his greatest moment, I grant you). Rio, to his credit, played a massive part in our Champions League run, but he also played an equally important part in our implosion the following season. By then, the captain of the club, Rio was the man who we hoped would lift morale following the release of that ridiculous David O’Leary book – instead, Leeds United slipped from 1st at the start of the year to finish outside the Champions League places triggering a financial crisis we still haven’t recovered from.

Now I’m not saying we should hold Rio fully responsible for our financial meltdown, but he is a Scummer these days so I think it’s only fair we give him some of the blame…

I’d also argue that Jonathan Woodgate has nothing on Wetherall. Sure, he was good. But you wouldn’t catch the ever-reliable David Wetherall ethnic cleansing the Leeds nightclubs on a Saturday night! You also have to take into account that Woodgate will retire with a Worthless Cup to his name and tales of ‘what might have been’ whilst Wetherall retired having conquered England.

And David Wetherall did much more than help us win the title and take us to the League Cup final. He also scored a sensational goal in September 1997 that gave The Whites a rare win over Manchester United. That alone is enough to make him a legend in my eyes.

But Wetherall didn’t stop there. Even after he’d left Leeds United he was still doing everything in his power to ensure The Whites were successful. Clearly not a fan of travelling (Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and then…) Wetherall moved to Bradford City where he scored the winning goal against Liverpool to give Leeds United a place in the Champions League. Sure, the youngsters did their part in getting us there, but the old head was still on hand to provide assistance.

So next time you’re listing your perfect defensive line-up spare a thought for the man who won us a league title, humiliated the Mancs and sealed us a place in the Champions League. Even if you (quite rightly) decide the best central partnership is Lucas Radebe and Norman Hunter, save a place for the always reliable David Wetherall on your bench – it’s the very least he deserves.

10 Responses

  1. pabs1983

    spot on… but at left back, i would argue that dorigo was equally as good in a slightly modified role.

  2. Paul1019

    TSS Every now and then you remind me of a time when supporting Leeds was fun and exciting and not the recurring nightmare we currently endure. Back then I knew nothing of administration , points deductions, relegations after relegation, free transfers, parliamentary investigations, hotels, dodgy obnoxious chairman or the likes of Bristol City tempting our players away for better wages!

    David Wetherall was a giant in our history…he scored against Man U …did you know that? ;) Top Player. Thanks for taking me back. I doubt I will ever think back one day about how great Andy O.Brien was. The contrast is huge.

    • TSS

      No, there's few players in the current squad I think we'll remember quite as fondly as David Wetherall. But then we're constantly in transition these days – how many players do we have that will make 250 appearances for the club over 8 years? Jonny Howson and erm…

  3. number1inyorkshire

    we are a million miles away from those days in fact we are a million miles away from where we were at Christmas . we fell away badly last season because the few quality players we had were played to death because we had no one to replace them .this team as it stands can get better if Larry plays the right personnel in the right places .
    lets think of some more defenders we could do with .

    Lucas ,dorigo .Harte,mills ,Kelly.marques, the list goes on and on .

    is this the worst leeds united SQUAD ever

  4. mattbb1

    no, the worst leeds united squad ever was the one under wise when we got relegated from the championship with lunminaries such as Armando Sa, Richard Cresswell, Geoff Horsfield, Ian Westlake.
    Most were Blackwell's fault but I remember going to see them play birmingham city, and they were just dreadful, like a team of strangers.

    • TSS

      Venables and Reid deserve a special shout here for the misfits they assembled, admittedly under diverse circumstances.

  5. kev

    every team needs a david weatherall,does his job, keeps his head down, proud to play for his club an unsung hero,always thought oliver dacourt was another player like that abit like paul madeley in the revie team,does what it says on the tin !!

  6. Daniel Christopher Young

    Good article. 'Wethers' scored the first live goal for Leeds I had seen at Elland Road (beating Man Utd 1-0 in 1997) and was always committed to the cause.

  7. Martin

    My "dream team" Back Four: Cooper, Charlton Hunter, Raney Subs Dorigo, Sterland, Radebe, Kelly in no particular order.


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