After spending three hours feeling sick and gipping during the night, I was glad when the feeling eventually subsided. Although this meant I had very little sleep, I decided to get up rather than have an extra half an hour in bed and take the dog for a walk before heading for Leeds. There was very little traffic on the roads which was lovely, and I found myself parked up at the ground in plenty of time for the coach. I woke up just as we pulled up for our pub stop and was one of the first to get off the coach. As two of us queued up for a drink, I wondered where everyone else was. It turned out we had gone in the wrong pub, oh dear! When I eventually joined some of my friends, Keith said that if we won today then I would have to do the same when we play West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day. It looks like I may have started something now after today’s game lol!
After the Birmingham fans caused trouble at the Elland Road fixture for our Centenary game, it was Leeds fans who ended up punished for it with a reduced allocation of tickets and no beer on sale inside the ground today. Another club who uses financial suicide when we could have sold the tickets three times over; it doesn’t make sense to me. Thank you Phil Thumbsup Cresswell for buying my new book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United.
The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, White, Harrison, Klich, Nketiah, Phillips, Costa, Alioski and Dallas. Subs: Roberts for Nketiah (81) and Berardi for Klich (86). Ref: K Stroud. Attendance was 22,059 with approximately 2,000 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 5-4 with goals from Costa 15, Harrison 21, Ayling 69, Dallas 84 and Harding own goal 90+5.
It was quite chilly as we waited at the tunnel at the right for the Leeds players to come out for their pre-game kick-about. As they went back inside, we headed to our seats in readiness for the start of the game. The teams then come out from the tunnel to the left of the stand which I find weird.
I had no pre-conceptions about the game, just as always wanting us to win and get three points. I could never have imagined that within 21 minutes we would be leading two nil. Our first goal came as we raced out of defence into attack and Harrison put Costa through who slotted the ball home to put us into the lead. Six minutes later we went even further into the lead when Harrison’s deflected shot ended up in the back of the net. At that point it looked like Birmingham were there for the taking. In true Leeds fashion though we weren’t going to make things easy for us. When three of our players went to mark one of theirs, it left an unmarked player on the left of the pitch to run towards our goal, pass it into the middle for them to pull a goal back. The game continued at a fast pace and before I knew it the whistle went for half time with us leading 2-1.
It had been nice catching up with Gary Edwards, Collar and Rupert (one of my Selby Whites) so the game had already kicked off when I got back up into the stand. My heart sank when we didn’t clear from a corner and Birmingham equalised. Two goals up and again we had thrown a lead away. If we thought that was the end of the goals, we were very much mistaken as this ended up being a game of goals galore. When Luke Ayling hit a fantastic shot from the edge of the box in front of us to put us 3-2 up to restore our lead, he was over the moon as were we. Birmingham nearly scored an own goal for us from a Phillips corner but had their keeper to thank for keeping the ball out. He then saved from Alioski before the game turned once again as Birmingham equalised with a header. Damn, with Birmingham fans only wakening up when they scored with their keep right on till the end of the road song, then Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again we shut them up within a minute. Leeds regained the lead when Ayling passed the ball for Dallas to bang the ball into the net. A day of our defence not clearing the ball and Casilla looking decidedly shaky showed when Birmingham equalised for the fourth time in the first minute of injury time making it 4-4 which looked to be the final score. More drama was to come though when we got a winner courtesy of an own goal, to send everyone in the away end wild. Berardi won the ball as Leeds powered forward and Ayling hit the ball hard across the area which flew into the net from their player to give us a winner on the day. 5-4, who would have thought we would come out winners by that score. For once though we never let Birmingham take the lead as we always restored it as we had our shooting boots on today. Although we had been a little lightweight at times with our tackling with Harrison and Costa getting pushed off the ball, the whole team showed a resilience and a never give up attitude which saw us get the win and three points to put us back to the top of the table. With this being our last game of the year, we stand proudly in a great position to go into the final countdown in our quest for promotion. I just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and will see you at West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day. Just on a poignant note, with 2019 a year that started badly for us as a family with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, my daughter Danielle and I came out of the ground to the news that our chocolate Labrador Maisie had left us to go over the rainbow. She was the one who wouldn’t leave my husband alone, so he went to the doctors. I am glad 2019 is at an end now and look forward to a great 2020 where Leeds get promoted in our Centenary year! 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 now: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited