Yesterday was the anniversary of the day when in 1992 Leeds United FC won the Division One title.
At Victoria Hotel, nine of those title winners were at a event organised by MJK Events. This is how the evening went.
Andrew Brewer organised the tickets and we arrived before the players and Sgt Wilko arrived. Victoria Hall was filling up when we took our place at the front near the stage.
Just after seven o'clock the players arrived; Chris Whyte, Steve Hodge, Mel 'Zico' Sterland, Jon Newsome, Rod Wallace, Tony Dorigo, Lee Chapman, Gary McAllister and the manager that assembled them all Howard 'Sgt Wilko' Wilkinson.
We'd paid a little more than the ones sat on benches at the back of the hall, for that we got to 'press the flesh' and get much valued autographs of our heroes. I shook each of them by the hand and thanked them for their efforts, they were happy to sign and chat to every person that put a picture, or in my case a DVD of the 'Champions of 1992' in front of them.
My wife had found a badge on an old coat that no longer fitted me and to my amazement it had a Division One League Champions 1992 badge on it. This was twenty five years old and I thought it appropriate that the man who brought the team together should have it. I said; "You deserve it Howard, for what you did for my club". He thanked me and carefully put it in his pocket.
My souvenir of a great night.
The near on three hours they were there was spent remembering good times and sad times (Gary Speed's passing) of that special season for them all, what was plain for all to see is that this club still means so much to them. Jon Newsome's mimicking of Mick Hennighan was especially funny, Howard's assistant hasn't been well or he would have probably joined the celebration.
'Zico' celebrates his goal shown on the video screens behind him.
They showed key goals from 1991/92 and they talked about how new players were taken out for Gordon Strachan and his wife as a welcome to the club. Gary McAllister caused a few throats to swell when he mentioned about how he heard about the death of Gary Speed, he'd worked with him the day before on a BBC sports programme, he also said of the Welshman what a pleasure it was to play alongside him in the best midfield's seen at that time.
After a break, it was time for Howard Wilkinson to tell about how he'd told the Chairman of Leeds; "How do you want to do this, quick or slow? If it's quick I want three million quid to buy the players I need." Imagine three million to buy good enough players to win a League Championship!
His memory is as sharp as his wit, often seen as a dour man, his humour filled the hall with laughter.
A clever man motivator who got the best out of players like Batty, Speed, Vinnie and countless others. I could have listened to his stories until the 'cows came home', such a joy to listen to.
That was that, a night to remember. Sometimes when you meet your heroes it can ruin the image you have of them, but not tonight. They were great players and people and it was so special.
Twenty five years, where has the time gone?!
By Keith Ingham
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