Birmingham 13th August 2016

As Leeds were at home today it should have been a relatively late start to go to Elland Road.  Instead I left home at 3.30 am, drove to Oxford and back to pick up my brother Rolf who has broken his leg and a big thank you to his friend for meeting me half way. It was funny when on the M1 on our return journey, I heard a horn sounding and looked to the car in the lane to my right to see a Leeds fan giving me the salute! Obviously that was reciprocated!  After leaving Rolf in Brighouse and returning to Leeds with my daughter Michelle and granddaughter Laura, at least the traffic was good to us. I had arranged to meet one of the lads from the old Selby Branch of the Supporters Club who was on the committee with me. I hadn’t seen Paul since I gave up running the branch in 1992 and headed to the Peacock to meet him. As I arrived in the car park this lad shouted out to me and asked if I remembered him. I hadn’t seen David Scott from Selby since the seventies and he had come over for the game from South Africa! I couldn’t believe the coincidence of us arriving at the pub at the same time! I had a quick word with my friends Sue and Paul and headed up to the Peacock garden.

It was good to be back and there were no end of people saying hello including Terje from Norway. I even had a happy birthday sang to me by the Wakefield Whites even though my birthday was a couple of days earlier! I made sure I was going into the ground in good time as I had been asked to get some photos of Ray Fell leading the team out. Ray has recently resigned his post of Chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Club due to ill health and this was a lovely gesture by the club. Just as I neared the Kop I heard someone shout my name and it was Gregory Phua from Singapore over to watch the game. I had said if he saw me to shout me for a photo and he did. Fantastic support from our worldwide fan base once again. Unfortunately I missed seeing one of our fans from America as I didn’t see a message from him on my phone until I got home.

There was a great buzz around the place and I was hoping that we could keep that, obviously it all depended on what happened during the game.  The team today was Green, Bamba, Bartley, Taylor, Vieira, Sacko, Wood, Antonsson, Mowatt, Hernandez and Ayling making his debut. Subs were Roofe for Wood, Phillips for Mowatt and Dallas for Hernandez.

The opening 15 minutes saw Leeds put on a lot of pressure and play attacking football which was good to see. It was also good seeing Alex Mowatt back in the side as he has been missed in my opinion. Unfortunately as is always the case we conceded a goal seemingly against the run of play. Straight from our attack that had seen Antonsson come close to scoring, Birmingham raced to the other end in front of the Kop to slot the ball home under Green’s advancing body. Although Birmingham had scored I didn’t feel too downbeat as we had been playing well with the best football seen by the team so far this season/pre-season.  We equalised approximately 15 minutes later after Mowatt played a great through ball to Sacko whose hard shot went through the goalies hands. There had been some good signs that the players could gel as a team and I was quite positive as we went into the break on equal terms.

Unfortunately within 10 minutes of the second half, Birmingham were attacking the South Stand when I saw the ball end up with one of their players in acres of space, right in front of the goal. There was no way he was going to miss that and he didn’t. That’s when my heart sank that we would have to get back into the game from a goal down once again. Although we came very close to an own goal equaliser things were starting to get tense on the terraces but I’m not sure when things deteriorated on the pitch. After a good first half the second one ended up with us running out of steam. It got to the stage when we lost whatever shape we did have and there was no way we would get anything out of the game.

That is two losses out of two at the start of this season’s campaign and we have a big challenge ahead of us and Monk has got to get things going in the right direction and quick. As we have another home game on Tuesday against Fulham we will not have long to wait to see how we will react.

As we were heading towards Billy’s statue I was shouted by a friend who is going through a tough time at the moment. I had to give her a big hug just to let her know that she has the support of other Leeds fans at this time. Regardless of what does or does not happen on the pitch, this is what being a Leeds United supporter is all about, knowing we can count on others in times of need.

I half expected to want to fall asleep during the game today due to my early start, but for once I hadn’t felt that way; not that it made a difference to the score line! After having a great crowd for our first home game of over 27,000 fans today who had been full of high hopes, many were brought down to earth rapidly with a bang. Personally I don’t expect many things to change but on our first half performance, that had given me hope. Realistically it is going to be another hard season but it is too early to call things at the moment. I’m hopeful of Monk getting time to give us some stability on and off the pitch but unfortunately that decision is not down to me!

See you all on Tuesday – LUFC – Marching on Together!

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