Striker Lee Chapman’s arrival proved to be vital piece in Leeds United’s promotion season

Lee Chapman
Lee Chapman
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HOW Leeds United could do with someone of the goalscoring ilk of a latter-day Lee Chapman to crystallise their promotion dreams.

A shrewd January transfer addition or two can often be the difference between going up or agonisingly missing out, with the present-day Leeds currently having some food for thought as they bid to land the striker who they hope can prove the catalyst to an on-message second half of the season and a cherished return to the big time.

Wise to that theory, canny former Whites manager Howard Wilkinson landed one such keynote player who he knew well just over three decades ago in Chapman, with his haul of 12 goals in 21 matches in 1989-90 helping to get Leeds over the line and return to the top-flight after an eight-year absence.

It was 30 years ago today that the big targetman, a player not necessarily easy on the eye, but hugely effective in terms of value to a team and goals output, made a goalscoring debut in front of a crowd of 14,485 on January 13, 1990 and so began his rich association with Leeds.

The venue was Ewood Park, Blackburn with United followers celebrating his strike in the Darwen End, with the former Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday frontman netting alongside Gordon Strachan in a 2-1 Roses win, which came just two days after signing.

Chapman, brought in for £400,000 from Nottingham Forest, was entitled to fond memories of Elland Road after scoring a hat-trick there in the colours of Stoke City in 1980-81, but he soon endeared himself to the place after pulling on the famous white jersey.

Wilkinson’s Whites started the day on 49 points, two points ahead of Dave Bassett’s 
Sheffield United and five in front of third-placed Sunderland, 
level on points with Oldham Athletic.

Leeds were to end the day with a four-point buffer over the Blades – who drew 1-1 at Ipswich Town – as they moved past the fifty-point mark for the season and made up for defeat in their previous away league game, a 1-0 reverse at Barnsley to see out 1989 and the Eighties.

It may have taken a further month for Chapman to score again, when he netted a brace in the 2-2 draw at Portman Road, but his contribution on the goalscoring front was to prove crucial in the run-in.

Chapman followed up that double in East Anglia with his first goal on home soil one week later in late February in a 2-2 draw with West Brom and five goals arrived in March.

The burly forward hit two goals apiece in memorable wins against Oxford United and West Ham United and also struck in the 2-0 home success over Portsmouth.

Two goals arrived in April, including a strike in that unforgettable 4-0 Easter Monday success over the Blades before the coup de grace arrived at Dean Court, Bournemouth on May 5, 1990 as he scored the goal which saw Leeds joyously return to the top-flight.