After yesterday’s glorious weather I was surprised to see rain on a miserable day. Although chilly the weather had improved by the time I got to Leeds at 8.10am for the coach that I thought went at 9.00am. It turned out to be a longer wait than I thought as we weren’t leaving until 30 minutes after that. I’d like to say a big thank you to Barry for sorting me out with a Swansea programme as I’d forgotten that I was in it with my Take Us Home photo. After a pub stop at Junction 39 (I’d recommend the bacon sarnies), we arrived at the ground about 40 minutes to kick-off. Because last season I had taken the cautious route as to where we would end in the league as I didn’t want to jeopardise things, this season I’m not. I’m going to have a positive, mental attitude and forget my superstitions. Leeds United will go up as champions in our Centenary Year!
It was slow getting into the ground due to loads of fans arriving at the same time but also because everyone had to file in one by one so the sniffer dogs were able to check everyone. The lad in front of me patted the Labrador one on the head and was told in no uncertain terms to leave the dog alone as it was working, oops. I then had to produce my fire certificate for my flag before going in to the ground. I headed to the front behind the goal to put my flag there as usual only to be told I had to move it. All the flags were to be put at the front of the left hand corner of the away end. I realised after that it was to ensure there were no Leeds fans able to get within feet of the Barnsley fans as they have in the past. I also donated my last book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 to Garforth Whites charity events. As it was nearly kick-off I headed to my seat which was higher up behind the goal but a decent view. With this being the first game after the international break it was good to be back at the football.
Just before the game kicked off, the lad next to me showed me a selfie he had got with Radrizzani. I then saw him stood next to the tunnel waiting for the players to come onto the field. Although I knew it was late and I might not see him I headed back down to the front and right to the tunnel. I saw one of the documentary crew with him and caught his attention asking Radrizzani to come over. He did and said “I will have to talk to you at another game, you are famous!” I didn’t manage to get my photo with him this time but caught someone else on camera. I decided to wait there as we were allowed to stay until the teams came out then went back to my seat for the start.
The team: Casilla, Cooper, White, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich, Dallas, Shackleton, Bamford, Harrison and Alioski. Subs: Costa for Harrison (45), Nketiah for Bamford (70) and Berardi for Klich (90). Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals by Nketiah (84) and Klich (penalty 89). Attendance was 17,598 with 4,400 Leeds fans.
Leeds set off on the attack and a lovely move from Shackleton saw Bamford bearing down on goal on the right hand side towards the home fans but his shot was saved by their keeper. Barnsley looked a very strong side which had ex-Leeds players Mowatt plus Wilks, Halme and Oduor who were transferred from Leeds during the summer. Some of their players were giants and playing to our strengths today along the floor was going to be vital. There was a lot of end-to-end play and we had to thank Casilla for making an excellent save from Wilks to prevent Barnsley taking an early lead. He was also called into action a couple more times with good saves. Leeds carried on attacking and if we lost the ball the players would fight to get it back. Although Barnsley were strong and threatening, I thought we shouldn’t worry as they could be beaten. Dallas and Bamford were playing really well and I can’t believe the octopus that was all over Bamford was never penalised once despite it all being so blatant! We had a great chance to score just before half-time, but Harrison’s shot bounced back off the post so we had to go in with no score at the break.
It was good chatting to fans at half-time and also taking photos and as always I appreciate the comments and support for my family. Ian had come from the Isle of Man for the game too and for once I remembered a name to mention!
The team set off on the attack as soon as the whistle blew but Bamford’s shot was easily saved by their keeper. Casilla made another great save to keep out a long range Barnsley shot as the game kept at a fast pace from end-to-end. We thought when Bamford scored after great work from Costa on the right that we’d gone into the lead only for the linesman to flag offside. Some thought Costa was offside but on getting home my husband said there had been nothing wrong with the goal. As Leeds continued to attack we had another great move but the ball from the left was hit hard across the goalmouth and Alioski’s header went wide. Barnsley still weren’t giving up as Wilks hit the side netting and Casilla made a couple more great saves to deny them a goal. Another attack for Barnsley saw the linesman put his flag up for offside. Before Bamford was subbed I was disappointed to see the reaction of Halme when he rugby tackled him. Although I still thought Barnsley looked a strong side I was adamant they could be beaten. When Klich’s shot was deflected just wide I’m not sure if it was this corner or another. I said “Come on Leeds get the ball in the net now so I can go and get my flag”. A few minutes later Phillips sent in a great free kick which saw Nketiah in a great position to volley the ball into the net in front of the Leeds fans. There were great scenes on the terraces then with the celebrating Leeds hordes. That was my cue then to go down to the front of the stand to retrieve my flag before the end of the game.
As I got to the front of the stand there was a Barnsley steward at the front going along the stand making gestures to the Leeds fans. As everyone started to get mad our steward Phil Thumbsup Cresswell went over to him to stop him. With that he lashed out at Phil and that did it, mayhem ensued on the terraces with Leeds fans going mad. My camera was clicking away with all the action but I’d no idea what I’d captured until I got home but the steward was removed from the stadium. Damn right he was and he should never be in a position to do that ever again as he was unprofessional and let his own personal judgements affect what he did. What I hadn’t seen was that he’d just taken a Leeds fan out for celebrating our goal. Why I ask is it a crime to celebrate especially when he didn’t even go onto the pitch? The steward then came back really cocky and goading our fans.
As I stood to the left hand side Leeds won a penalty and Klich obliged to put the ball into the net to give us a two goal lead at the death. With delirious scenes of the celebrating Leeds fans, I suddenly heard a commotion to the left of us in the side stand. Some Leeds fans had been sat in the seats all game at the front but must have celebrated our second goal when they got attacked. One lad with no shirt on was one of the culprits but some of the attacking was vicious. Together with a woman, they were both attacking a lad sat down for ages before anyone intervened. I’d like to know why they weren’t both arrested instead of being let back in the stand? The rest of the stewards stood around that area and did nothing. It was only when loads of our stewards ran over that it all stopped. One lad gave the Leeds salute as he was taken out. With it all kicking off and fans standing in front of me I hardly saw the closing minutes of the game. At the end, I saw one lad with a badly grazed forehead and I thought he was kicked it was that bad. I’d seen someone post before the game that they were vicious in Barnsley especially if you are found in their ends and that had been seen today. Just think, my little grandson could have been born there recently as they had to transfer my daughter to Barnsley as there were no special cots in Halifax. I’m glad to say that he waited to get back to Halifax before making an appearance. As I went to get my flag I managed to say hello to Aravind from India who had come to see Leeds again and he said that he’d seen me in the documentary.
The win saw Leeds go back to the top of the Championship and Swansea drop to second place as Forest beat them at home in the last minute. Our next game is the early kick-off at home to Derby next Saturday so see you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!
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, Leeds United in the 1980s
- The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
- Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
- Out soon: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited