Leeds United v Preston: Glynn Snodin finally gets to make emotional return

Preston North End No 2 Glynn Snodin, who played and coached for the Elland Road club, has supported United for 45 years. Picture: Dan Westwell
Preston North End No 2 Glynn Snodin, who played and coached for the Elland Road club, has supported United for 45 years. Picture: Dan Westwell
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GLYNN SNODIN, a devoted Leeds United fan since watching the 1972 FA Cup final spellbound, was unable to make a much-anticipated return to Elland Road last season on doctor’s orders.

Abnormally high blood pressure led to Simon Grayson’s assistant at Preston North End being forced to take 10 weeks off, hence why he missed Leeds’ 1-0 victory over the Lancashire side shortly before Christmas, 2015.

It was a big blow, not least because the game would have been Snodin’s first return since being shown the door in 2012 by a club he served as player and coach.

North End’s visit today, therefore, is going to be one to savour for the 57-year-old.

“I was gutted not to be able to go back last season,” Snodin told The Yorkshire Post. “But my blood pressure was sky-high and the doctors wouldn’t let me do anything.

“I couldn’t drive and was told not to work. I wasn’t even allowed to walk anywhere, they were that worried by it. I had to totally take a back seat.

I was living the dream when I went back there under the gaffer, I loved driving in to Elland Road on a match-day or to Thorp Arch for training

Preston assistant manager, Glynn Snodin, remembers his time working at Leeds under Simon Grayson

“I was off for 10 weeks in the end. I am fine now but it was a worrying time. And, of course, it meant I wasn’t able to go back to Leeds – which was something I had been looking forward to ever since the fixtures had come out the previous summer.

“That is why I am looking forward to going back this time. I haven’t been since we were sacked so it will be a special feeling. I will just have to remember not to walk into the home dressing room.”

Snodin spent five years at Elland Road as a player after being signed from Doncaster Rovers by Billy Bremner in 1987.

He returned in 2009 as Grayson’s assistant for another three-year spell that included the clinching of promotion from League One and a stunning FA Cup win at Manchester United.

“I was a Leeds United fan as a kid,” recalls the Preston assistant, who also had a spell as Grayson’s right-hand man at Huddersfield Town.

“I remember watching the 1972 Cup final on TV with my dad and my brother. It wasn’t like now, with football on TV every day.

“This was a special event and we were all there, in the front room, from 10am right through until the game was over and that great man (Bremner) was parading the trophy around Wembley.

“Then, afterwards, we all went out and played football, pretending to be Allan Clarke or Mick Jones. Great times. To then be fortunate enough to play for Leeds and later be a coach was brilliant.”

Snodin’s affection towards Leeds even extended to having the ‘Marching on Together’ ringtone on his mobile phone when on the coaching staff of clubs such as Charlton Athletic and West Ham United.

“When it went off at Huddersfield, people weren’t happy so I just blamed the gaffer,” he laughs. “I said it was his phone, not mine. Most people believed me, too.”

A recent switch to an iPhone means the corridors of Deepdale have been spared that tune but his affection for the Elland Road club remains undimmed.

“Leeds is a special club,” added Snodin. “I was living the dream when I went back there under the gaffer, I loved driving in to Elland Road on a match-day or to Thorp Arch for training. Then there were the away games, with thousands following us all over the country.

“We had some great times, such as promotion or winning at Old Trafford. But there were bad times, too. A 2-0 defeat at Hereford sticks in the mind because we were awful. A few words were said in the dressing room after that and, credit to the lads, they responded well and we got the club going again.”

Grayson’s dismissal in February, 2012, saw his entire coaching staff also shown the door. Just three weeks later, however, they were reunited at Huddersfield and led the club to promotion from League One the following May via a play-off final shoot-out win over Sheffield United.

By a strange quirk of fate, Preston’s next two fixtures are against the West Yorkshire duo and Snodin, fresh from Tuesday’s 5-0 hammering of Bristol City, is relishing the chance to peg back a couple of rivals in the race for the play-offs.

“I joked earlier about possibly going in the wrong dressing room at Leeds but these are a big couple of games for us,” said Snodin, recently inducted into Doncaster Rovers’ Hall of Fame. “We will be ultra-professional because we want the best for Preston. We are going well at the moment after a sticky start. Losing six out of the first eight games this season and being in the bottom three was not what any of us expected.

“But the lads have been great since then and with Leeds and Huddersfield both above us in the table, this is a big chance to pull them back a bit.

“Leeds have had a great season. After all that has gone on over the past few years, Garry Monk has done a great job.

“There is a big change around the place and he deserves credit for that. But, this is our chance to rein Leeds in a bit and we want to take it.”