When you are feeling down, the best therapy you can get is head to watch your football team. What an evening at Elland Road with the best performance of the season and a team playing for each other. After spygate erupted on social media today with Derby accusing a person acting suspiciously outside their training ground of being a Leeds spy, I just laughed. I remember stood outside a fence watching the famous Leeds United team train on Fullerton Park before it became all prima donna like. I’d be happy to see that become the norm again and I can’t see what all the fuss is about. Leeds fans as usual took the mickey and Legsy in the Peacock had brought his binoculars to the game. Whilst in there it showed on the TV that Bielsa said he was the guilty party as it was a common thing in Argentina to spy on the opposition. All I will say is there is nothing to feel guilty about and Lampard needs to grow up! With a great sing song before we headed into the ground, our spirits were certainly high. In a conversation last week I’d said I wasn’t worried about tonight at all. I’d asked my granddaughter Hannah why she hadn’t brought her scarf with as she’d come with my daughter Danielle and we’d met near the ground. With that we found out that some girls on stilts were handing out free scarves to those kids without one which was really good to see, so Hannah must have known.
The team: Peacock-Farrell, Cooper (back from injury), Jansson, Alioski, Harrison, Clarke (making his first start), Hernandez (back from injury), Forshaw, Klich, Roofe and Ayling. Subs: Shackleton for Harrison (63) and Davis for Clarke (79). Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals from Roofe (20) and Harrison (47). Attendance was34,668 with 1,238 Derby fans.
There was a cracking atmosphere as the teams came out and it looked like spygate was not having the effect that Lampard wanted as the whole Leeds United club came together as one. We kicked off and went straight on the attack and the ref pointed to the spot as Alioski was brought down in the first minute only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. As I’ve defended Alioski in the past, it isn’t always him that’s offside; the officials don’t seem to know what offside is, especially when someone said the TV replay had shown him onside! The ref then changed his mind and from then on it looked like someone had given him a flea in his ear for daring to give Leeds United anything. The amount of fouls, late and dirty that Derby made on our players only to either play on or not give us anything from them just has me shaking my head. As we’ve seen so many times, our players do not get the same treatment because instead of a yellow we get shown a straight red. Derby were very lucky to still have 11 players on at the end of the game that’s for sure. Leeds carried on with an electrifying pace and Forshaw was all over the place as was Alioski. They weren’t the only ones though because everyone was fighting for the ball in packs and helping each other out as we put Derby under constant pressure. With a fantastic WACCOE around the ground and scarves waving everywhere it looked and sounded an absolutely wondrous sight and it was certainly moving. The sound of the singing too was out of this world as Leeds fans became the twelfth man. Jack Clarke once again proved his worth as he provided the pass that Roofe got on the end to stick into the net to send Leeds fans into raptures. After having the penalty given then not given, this was justice for us! Leeds were playing some fantastic football and battling for everything and some of the footwork was mesmerising. Obviously Derby couldn’t get the better of us so resorted to bad fouls instead. They had their first shot well wide just after the half hour mark and managed to put us under pressure in the last minutes of the first half. The first half though had belonged to Leeds and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a one sided game for a long time. It was so good to see though and we still looked to have plenty in us as our fitness levels show how far we have come since Bielsa joined us.
As I was talking to my friends downstairs at half time I said we’ll have to go up as Leeds are going to score straight away. As we were behind the betting stand I asked this man to let me through as Leeds were going to score straight away and I needed to get back up into the stand. He said if we did he’d come and find me and asked me where I stood so I said on the Kop!! He said I’d had a senior moment as we laughed at what I’d said. I told the ones at the end of our row what I’d said as the game kicked off. What more can I say but I was dead right wasn’t I? Within two minutes Clarke did some great attacking to the left of us as he got past their player and Alioski passed it back for Harrison to put the ball into the net to give us a two goal lead! I put my arms in the air shouting I knew it as Leeds fans celebrated everywhere. What a start to the second half! We carried on where we had left off as we continued to put Derby under pressure. I wasn’t worried for most of the game as we just swarmed around Derby every time they got the ball. We came close a few times but weren’t able to add to the goal tally but we’d still played really well. I only got nervous at the end as Derby had a couple of attacks and I didn’t want them to get anything out of the game. The game ended as Jansson rang rings around Derby who did the only thing they could do by bringing him down with a bad foul. That should have been a sending off in my eyes but of course it was a yellow only. As Pontus limped off the pitch at the end he looked in a lot of pain. As Clarke was getting interviewed at the end of the game for man of the match, Klich was taking the mickey by pretending he’d got some binoculars! Gallows humour is the Leeds United way.
I’m actually glad we’ve played tonight now as a relaxing weekend is ahead of us and we can watch the other results at leisure. Our performance tonight will have made others sit up and take notice. We head to Stoke next week and I don’t think we should be scared of anyone. Just keep doing what we are doing Leeds and take each game as it comes. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together.
Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years
Author of the following books:
Follow Me and Leeds United
Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18