What a tournament this has been. We had Liam Bridcutt and Gaetano Berardi make surprising runs in the Players bracket. Eddie Gray, Steve Evans, and Gary McAllister made noise in the Managers. The White Rose and The Old Peacock Pub pulled off upsets in the Icons bracket. And Lucas Radebe shocked us all by making the Elite Eight in the Greats. But our Final Four includes no surprises: three one seeds and a strong two seed won their respective brackets, and they now move on to the Final Four of the inaugural Leeds United March Madness tournament to determine which is the most "Leeds" of them all.
If you had told me before the tournament began that these four would be left standing, I would not have been shocked in the slightest. Should've put money on it I guess. Let's take a look at who's "cutting down the nets," as they say, and moving on in the tournament.
The Players bracket provided our only two-seed upset of the Elite Eight, and probably because of poor seeding by our staff. Charlie Taylor has been a strong, strong presence on a weak and error-prone back line this season, and he's one of the best talents we've seen in awhile, but Lewis Cook earned this win through his wondergoal against Fulham and a promising attacking presence throughout. He's playing for the U-19 England squad too, so maybe that helped him this weekend. A well-deserved win for Cook, winning the Current Players bracket, but he has a much bigger challenge ahead of him...
In the Managers bracket, if anyone bet against Don Revie from the start, they should probably be punched in the nuts. The legendary manager led Leeds through their golden era, from 1961-1974 before he left to manage England. He posted the best win percentage in Leeds history, managed the most games (740, over 300 more than Wilkinson in second), and... wait a second... you don't need a Don Revie history lesson. He's Don Revie for God's sake. He won this bracket easily, as well he should. Now will he win in the Final Four?
In the Greats bracket, again, the top seed prevailed as Billy Bremner topped the Cinderella 11-seed Lucas Radebe. Radebe had a valiant run, but no one was ever going to top Billy, who scored 91 goals in his 587 appearances for Leeds between 1960 and 1976, amongst a thousand other accomplishments. Will he be able to top the winner of the Icons bracket?
That winner is Elland Road. I personally wanted to see a Billy vs. Billy's Statue showdown for the ridiculousness factor, but Elland Road is as synonymous with Leeds United as it gets, and it was a worthy victor. Built in 1897, the Old Peacock Ground has hosted LUFC since it's formation in 1919 and will hopefully be home for another 100 years. Renovations have kept the tradition intact, and it's not going away anytime soon. Now if we could just get someone to buy it back...
So now that we have our champions, we have a decision to make: which of these entries is "the most Leeds?" It might be a silly question, so answer these instead: Which, when a friend asks you about Leeds United, do you mention first? Which, when you think of Leeds United, comes to mind? That's the decision you have before you, faithful reader/voter. Are you a fan first and foremost of the 2016 squad? Then vote for Lewis Cook. Are you a fan of the legends, the good old days? Then Don Revie and Billy Bremner will face off in your final. Is Leeds United more than a single person to you? Then Elland Road probably gets your vote.
So that's our breakdown. Two polls to go, then the Leeds United March Madness Final on Monday. Thanks for participating, and be sure to share with your friends on social media so the true Leeds champion can have his one shining moment.
1 Current Leeds United Player
1 Leeds United Manager
1 Leeds United Great
and 1 Leeds United Icon
Tournament details: we have polls for each of the 32 First Round matchups, and the voting will run through Sunday night. Vote for your favorite in each matchup, and the loser is eliminated from the competition. Then, on Monday, we'll post the 32 winners and the polls for the 16 following matchups. Next Thursday, we'll post those 16 winners (the Sweet 16), and run 8 polls through Sunday night. On the following Monday, we'll post the 8 winners (the Elite Eight) and run 4 polls through Wednesday night. Then finally, on Thursday the 31st, we'll have our LUMM Final Four, winners for each of the four categories (Favorite Player, Favorite Manager, Favorite Great, and Favorite Icon), and a chance to crown the ultimate Leeds United March Madness champion for 2016.
(Thanks to Vertex42 for the amazing customizable spreadsheet there. Click the photo above to enlarge it and see the updated bracket.)
Here are your two Final Four polls. We have a real game coming up Saturday, stay tuned on coverage for that (cannot wait to see the Whites back on the pitch, myself). No wrong answers at this point, just pick whichever you think is most deserving of the title Leeds United March Madness Champion. GET IN.
THE "FINAL FOUR" SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS
Thanks for voting... yet again! Check back on Monday for our winners and the Final matchup! #MOT