Were They Fit To Wear The Shirt? - The Wilderness Years - The B's Part 3

One last excuse to see Becchio - Laurence Griffiths

In the final look at the players with surnames starting with B to have played for Leeds United in the last 20 odd years, Stephen Clark looks at those who have represented the club since the slide into the third tier, a bunch which includes a latter day legend, a star of the future and plenty in between.

So Raul Bravo took the crown of being the worst of a mediocre collection of player's in last weeks poll, to join Wayne Andrews and Tomas Brolin in our rogues gallery. This week we start with a couple of players whose stays at Elland Road have been brief and ultimately disappointing.

BARRY BANNAN

Bannan was one of the loan signings drafted in by Simon Grayson in his attempts to get Leeds back into the Premier League at the first attempt following their promotion from League One. With United sitting in the play-off places and still in with a shout of automatic promotion, the Aston Villa man was seen as Neil Kilkenny upgrade. Possessing a decent amount of skill, he was expected to be the creative force in the centre of the park.

He made his debut as a sub in the 2-1 win at Preston, ironically as a replacement for Kilkenny who had scored a superb opener (it was of course also the match when Billy Paynter broke his duck).

His first start was at Bramall Lane, and unfortunately it was the start of the slump in United's away form that saw them slip away in the promotion chase. He was also part of the side which crashed 2-1 at Pride Park where another ineffective performance proved to be his last start. He was recalled by Villa at the end of April after making just seven appearances.

Described by Gerard Houllier as similar to Xavi and Messi, he showed none of that potential whilst at Leeds. He is currently a mainstay of the Aston Villa side fighting for their lives in the Premier League.

ROSS BARKLEY

What can be said about the teenage prodigy from Everton. Wildly touted by many to be one of the best young talents in the English game, the buzz when Neil Warnock captured him on a months loan was that he could be the creative player the current team is crying out for.

He made his debut in the debacle at Barnsley, but was singled out by the manager as one of the only bright spots in that game. His next game saw him create the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bristol City, a delightful cross a rare shaft of quality on another dismal Elland Road afternoon.

However a missed chance against Cardiff City seems to have signalled the end of his spell at Elland Road. Warnock dropped him for the trip to Wolves and deemed him surplus to requirements, allowing him to return to Goodison Park. Warnock gave the reasons that he could not guarantee him first team football in a midfield which contains Michael Brown, Paul Green and David Norris. That's one of the brightest prospects in the game unable to shift three journeymen midfielders. Unfortunately this says more about the ineptitude of our manager than the future of the English game.

LUCIANO BECCHIO

So we move on to another talent deemed surplus to requirements by Neil Warnock. Who could have anticipated the impact Becchio would have had on the club when he turned up on United's pre-season tour of Ireland before the 2008/09 season. Gary McAllister brought some great players into the side during his spell as manager, and Becchio goes down as one of the best.

His first goal for the club came away at Yeovil in August 2008, taking just 25 seconds to score on his first start. His first goal at Elland Road came a few days later in a 4-0 win over a Crystal Palace side managed by Warnock (does he hold a grudge?)

Throughout that season Becchio was a regular scorer, building a fantastic partnership with Jermaine Beckford. It was in many ways the ideal pairing, Becchio the workhorse, Beckford the thoroughbred both offering a threat but in very different ways.

Becchio's goal against Millwall in the play-off semi final at the end of that season is his iconic moment in a white shirt. An inspired run and cross by Ben Parker was turned in by Becchio leading to one of the most fantastic noises I have ever witnessed inside a football ground, his celebratory ecstatic run to the South West corner would become a trademark over the years.

Not blessed with great skill, he reminded me in a lot of ways of Lee Chapman. Never really looking comfortable in possession of the ball, but absolutely deadly when in sight of goal. It's one of the reasons his goal at Middlesbrough in October 2010 was f****** unbelievable.

When Beckford left following promotion from League One, we expected him to struggle. Instead he blossomed into a truly excellent goalscorer. He loved attacking the South Stand, goals against Spurs and Chelsea particularly memorable.

This season without him we would be staring a relegation battle in the face. 19 goals however were not good enough for our manager and in my opinion he has been forced out. 18 months were left on his contract. His goals would be worth more than the pittance we have received. Without his goals for the rest of the season, Leeds may still be staring at a relegation battle.

I have seen no player score more goals for Leeds United than Luciano Becchio - I hope he gets no votes in this poll.

FEDE BESSONE

Whilst Luciano is without a doubt the best South American to play for Leeds, his fellow Argentinean Fede Bessone is possibly the worst. The left back signed from Swansea following our promotion to the Championship, having been a regular for them in the Championship. He was pretty unheralded and there was a good reason for that. He wasn't very good.

Leeds faced Derby in the opening game of the season and he was poor. That was as good as it got. The nadir came at Barnsley (where else!) in a 5-2 defeat. Leeds had taken the lead early on and, despite being run ragged for the rest of the first half, looked like going in at the break in front. Then Bessone made an error to allow Barnsley to equalise just before half time, and as he left the field at the interval, it was with a slow walk that showed he did not want to receive his bollocking in the dressing room from Simon Grayson.

He came out for the second half, but his bottle had gone and he started to limp around the field with an apparent injury. Grayson hauled him off, replaced him with Andy Hughes and he was never seen again.

He had a loan spell at Charlton before he was released at the end of the transfer window the following season, returning to Swansea. Last seen at Swindon Town, Bessone was just another in a long line of hopeless left backs.

BOLDISZAR BODOR

Talking of hopeless left backs takes on to this trialist who turned up a couple of summers ago for pre-season. This was the summer of discontent, when the selling of players became the norm at Elland Road. After just missing out on the play-offs the previous season, the decision to allow Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny to leave coupled with the sale of Kasper Schmeichel saw Leeds supporters pretty upset. A host of trialists turned up in that pre-season and Bodor appeared twice.

He had been a regular in the Dutch league with Roda JC and with Ben Parker's fitness in doubt (as it always was) Bodor was given the opportunity to join the squad for the game against Sheffield Wednesday. He appeared as a substitute when Parker again got himself crocked, and looked big and powerful. Parker recovered for the visit of Newcastle and Bodor again found himself on the bench. He didn't do enough though to secure a contract (although was he worse than Darren O'Dea?) and was released, ending up in the Greek top flight with OFI Crete.

LEIGH BROMBY

Leigh Bromby was a deadline day signing in the days when transfer window's were not the periods of dread and fear they are now. Leeds United were on the way up when he signed from Sheffield United in August 2009, signed as a utility man across the back in the League One promotion campaign.

A Leeds fan, Bromby was a solid if unspectacular member of that promotion winning squad. Simon Grayson never seemed to be able to settle on a back four, and Bromby shifted along the defensive line sometimes at centre back, often at right back.

His finest moment came in the Christmas victory over Stockport County. The trips to Edgeley Park have been amongst my most memorable and the visit in December 09, just days before a slightly more famous victory down the road was particularly sweet. Trailing to the side rooted to the foot of the table, Jermaine Beckford grabbed an equaliser but it looked like being two precious points dropped as the clock wound down. That was until Bromby popped up as the game entered the final minutes to drive the ball into the net from 20 yards, sending the Leeds fans mad and frustrating a Stockport player so much he proceeded to have a bit of a paddy in the back of the net. His tantrum saw him roundly abused by the away support behind the goal who then proceeded to pelt him with snowballs!

He also went close to scoring a goal which would have seen a famous moment rendered a little less special, hitting the post in the closing minutes of the win over Bristol Rovers which ended th League One nightmare, but which would have taken the gloss off Jermaine Beckford's last goal in a white shirt.

Bromby was unfortunate to suffer a shocking injury at Cardiff last season, one which has not only has ended his Leeds career but threatens to finish his playing days completely.

MICHAEL BROWN

Michael Brown arrived at Elland Road in the summer of 2010. Simon Grayson had wanted to sign the "combative" midfielder the previous season, but on a massive contract at Portsmouth, Brown was unwilling to take the cut in wages, preferring to stay in the reserves at Portsmouth.

With the release of Bradley Johnson, Brown was expected to step in and fill his spot in the side. However where Johnson would be mancally running all over the field, Brown was slightly less athletic, taking up a spot around the centre circle, a position he has barely left since.

In his prime Brown was an excellent player, in fact he had been heavily linked with Leeds in 2002 when he was part of Neil Warnock's Sheffield United side who knocked Leeds out of both the League and FA Cup. In that side he was the dashing all action player, with Stuart McCall in the holding role.

It was to Tottenham that Brown moved as the Blades failed to make the top flight and where he became the defensive hardman he is today. Spells at Fulham and Wigan saw him maintain a prescence in the top flight before joining Portsmouth where he picked up a losers medal in the 2009 FA Cup final.

His Leeds career looked to have stalled, Simon Grayson soon realising he was pretty useless. It looked as if he would just be a drain on the wage bill until Neil Warnock arrived, soon making his favourite son the first name on the team sheet, returning him to the side in his first game in charge.

Brown sums up everything that is wrong with Leeds United at the moment. Slow, ponderous and without the guile to trouble teams he does bear the brunt of the crowds frustrations. The ironic singing of "We All Dream of a Team of Michael Brown's" whilst a little unfair is what we seem to have. Whisper it quietly but he has been a little more effective in recent weeks, but he remains a symbol of his prehistoric manager.

JASON BROWN

One of those "Oh I forgot about him" players, Brown joined the club on loan from Blackburn in September 2010 when Kasper Schmeichel picked up an injury.

When Shane Higgs pulled up lame at Portman Road in October, Brown was thrust into action. His first touch was a stunning save but he was unable to prevent Leeds from slipping to defeat following the dismissal of Alex Bruce.

He started in a 2-1 defeat at home to Leicester before Schmeichel returned. However when the Dane was allowed to miss the match at Coventry to attend the birth of his child, Brown returned for one last hurrah. Leeds won the match 3-2 and Brown made a special effort to thank the 7000 Leeds fans at that game for their support, pumping up the crowd as Leeds hung on for the win before throwing his shirt and gloves into the crowd at the final whistle. It was the mark of a man who appreciated what a privelage it was to play for our club, something that the current crop would do well to remember.

ALEX BRUCE

Alex Bruce is one of those players who seems to have had a raw deal at Elland Road. He never got a settled run in the team, and always seemed to be the scapegoat who would be dropped when things went a little bit awry.

Bruce signed in the summer of 2010 following the promotion from League One. Signed at the same time as Kasper Schmeichel, Leeds fans were obviously a little uneasy at the thought of a side containing two famous names from the history of the Scum over the Pennines.

Bruce took a while to break into the team, given his first chance following the Barnsley debacle and was part of a much more solid looking defence in a 0-0 draw at Barnsley.

He kept his place in the side, moving to right back until he was sent off at Ipswich , but was in and out of the team for the rest of the season as Simon Grayson struggled to find a setlled defensive pairing. His finest performance was in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal as he snuffed out the Gunners attack until Cesc Fabregas's stoppage time penalty.

The ins and outs continued in his second season, and he was released at the end of the last campaign where he linked up with his dad at Hull City.

SAM BYRAM

Without the emergence of Sam Byram, this season would have had very little in the way of positives. It is without doubt an enormous stroke of luck that the young right back has emerged from nowhere to become an ever present in the Leeds United side, and one of the few players that we can actually cling to as someone to care about in the current motley crew.

My first sighting of him was at Farsley in pre-season where he took part in the second half as part of the virtual youth team who made up our second string. It was an inauspicious start, my only real memory of him being the header into his own net. I didn't ever envisage him becoming the shining light of the season.

Looking about 12 at the start of the season, Byram literally seems to have grown in stature over the campaign. He seems to have added a few inches in height as well as muscle. From the moment of his sublime goal against Oxford in the League Cup, he has become one of the most exciting players to emerge from the academy in recent times.

Whether right back is his best position is open to question, and he is without doubt beginning to tire as the season draws to it's sorry conclusion. However he has when pitted against some of the best wide players in the game, he has invariably excelled. Wilfred Zaha has a big money move lined up to Manchester United in the summer, but Byram barely gave him a kick at Elland Road. Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon continually switched flanks to try and attack our weaker left side in the recent cup-tie, Bale only really getting the better of Byram once, to create Clint Dempsey's goal.

The resemblance to the emergence of a young Gary Kelly is startling, and if he goes on to have as long a career at Elland Road as the Irishman, that can only be a good thing for Leeds United. But with envious eyes already looking at the 19 year old, the club have to move forward as effectively as he has done to retain him. We do not want to add him to the list of those we have lost during our years of mediocrity.

So now it's over to you. There are a few here who should not even be considered for a vote in our search for the worst player to represent the club, but there are a few outstanding candidates this week who have certainly not been fit to wear the shirt. So please take the time to vote in the poll below and also to tell us your thoughts and memories of the players above. You can do it via the comments box below or on Twitter @TIAT_LUFC or direct to me @clarkyboy72. Next week we move onto the C's - From Chapman to Crainie with a little bit of Gallic flair that turned sour.

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