Leeds United v Rotherham United: Leeds lad and boyhood fan Leam Richardson aims for a hat-trick of party-pooping moments at Elland Road

Leeds United v Rotherham UnitedWHEN it comes to being a party-pooper at hometown club Leeds United, Leam Richardson has seen it, done it and got the T-shirt.

If rock-bottom Rotherham United, even accounting for their epic run without an away win - the last one arrived on rival Yorkshire soil at Bramall Lane some 459 days ago back on November 8, 2022 - require any inspiration ahead of Saturday’s White Rose derby, then it surely arrives from their manager.

The Leeds lad and boyhood fan was assistant at Wigan Athletic - a side toiling at the wrong end of the second-tier table just as the Millers are now - when the Latics triumphed not just once at Elland Road, but twice in consecutive seasons.

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Back on Good Friday 2019, Wigan inflicted a huge, some would say mortal, blow upon United’s automatic promotion hopes.

Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson, pictured on the touchline during the 2-0 defeat to Southampton at the New York Stadium last Saturday. Picture: Richard Sellers/PARotherham United manager Leam Richardson, pictured on the touchline during the 2-0 defeat to Southampton at the New York Stadium last Saturday. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson, pictured on the touchline during the 2-0 defeat to Southampton at the New York Stadium last Saturday. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

They overcame considerable adversity by coming from behind to triumph the hard way, playing 75 minutes with 10 men after the dismissal of visiting centre-half Cedric Kipre.

The following campaign, the football fates decreed that Kipre would produce a colossal performance at the back, with his team-mates not far behind, as Wigan produced another huge ‘coupon-busting’ result to win 1-0 at Leeds, four years ago this month, to leave a footballing Svengali in Marcelo Bielsa scratching his head for the second time in under a year.

It knocked United off the top of the table in the process.

Eyeing his own personal hat-trick, Richardson said: “I don’t think anybody saw it coming, especially with how they happened. But deservedly so.

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"We’ll take it however which way it comes. It starts with hard work and focus in what you are doing. It’s got to be around us, what we do and imposing ourselves in the way we can.

"I didn’t live too far from the stadium and have been there many times as a fan, player and coach.

"Thankfully, as a coach I have been quite successful down there and fingers crossed, we can repeat that.

"In the last couple of times I’ve been there, we’ve had wins. If we can continue that, it would be great.

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"You need to play well, have that little bit of luck and need the officiating to be spot on and detach yourself emotionally from the atmosphere and everything that goes with it.

"But that’s what we are - we are professionals.

"It’s our job to do that and make the right decisions in the right moments and give a good account of ourselves individually and collectively. You only win at Elland Road as a team, you very rarely win as individuals.”

Born into a Leeds supporting family, Richardson - who played with Beeston Juniors and Leeds City Boys before signing on schoolboy forms with United - rejected the chance to sign for the club as a teenager and instead chose Blackburn Rovers to better his prospects of first-team football at an earlier age.

A former season ticket holder in the Kop as a lad, Richardson, whose dad Ken and brothers are Leeds supporters, is hoping for a grand day as he steps out in full charge of a side at Elland Road for the first time.

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It will only be truly special if the Millers get a shock result.

Richardson added: "I could have signed for Leeds at one point, but chose to take a different path.

"I have watched them many a time for many a year in different divisions like many Leeds fans have. But once you step into football, you have got your own career to focus on and it takes a backward step.

"There is only one team I want to have a good performance and positive result (on Saturday).

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"My season tickets were in the Vinny Jones, Howard Wilkinson, David Batty, Gary Speed, Gary McAllister (era). I used to sit in the Kop with my brothers and dad and enjoy it from there. I’ve seen a few promotions and highs and lows, like many Leeds fans have.

"I’m certainly not a Leeds fan on Saturday and hopefully they will see a few lows and then after that, we’ll get behind them again and we’ll see a few highs.

"I’ve been inundated with ticket requests, but the family have been very supportive to me in my career and I’m sure they only want one team to get a result.

"But it will only be a good day if we get a really strong performance and get a positive result.”

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Despite not playing for Leeds at Elland Road, Richardson has his own unforgettable on-pitch memory to savour at one of the most iconic stadiums in England.

He famously made his professional debut for Blackburn against United in a League Cup tie at Elland Road in October 13, 1999.

That night saw United triumph 1-0, thanks to a dramatic last-gasp winner from Danny Mills, with Richardson, then 19, lining up alongside the likes of Damien Duff, David Dunn and Matt Jansen for Rovers in front of a crowd of 24,353.

He continued: “Brian Kidd gave me my debut against Leeds, not only was it special to make my debut, but also against Leeds, sadly on the night, we did lose although I’d didn’t think we deserved to.

"A dubious goal….But it was a great experience. It came and went in a blur, but it was a proud moment.”