Hearing loads of Leeds fans and neutrals had found their tickets for today’s game had been cancelled by Bristol I felt for them. What makes that decision a mockery was seeing half of the away stand seats had been covered over and out of bounds when they could have accommodated these fans. Never mind the money that Bristol threw away, it felt that after the recent spygate incident when the Bristol Chairman was crying out for us to lose points, that this decision was carrying on a vendetta against our club. Well instead of us losing points, can I say thank you Bristol for another three points today making six in total from you!
Once again, I want to say a big thank you to all those fans for showing their kindness and support after a particularly gruelling week for my family. With my husband three weeks into his treatment fighting cancer, there are so many others going through similar challenges. I’d encourage anyone to talk about these things as it does help. Today is my therapy and the recharging of my batteries to help me get through this, so was able to catch up on my sleep both going and coming back from the game. Also I appreciate the comments from those who love reading my blog and for those wanting their photos taking.
We arrived at the ground in plenty time for kick off so my daughter Danielle and I headed to the front of the stand to put my flag up in a prime position near the corner flag. Finding my seat in the stand was very difficult as each section had the same numbered seats which caused confusion. As one fan said someone was in his seat, I intervened and said to check which section he was in. The steward thanked me for my explanation with this. When I eventually found what I thought was my seat, there was no one there who normally stands near me so who knows if it was the right one? I stayed there for the first half though.
The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Alioski, Harrison, Bamford, Hernandez, Phillips, Roberts and Klich. Subs: Dallas for Bamford (57), Douglas for Harrison (75) and Berardi for Klich (83). Attendance was 24,832 with 2,680 Leeds fans at the game with another 2,000 at the beam back at Elland Road. Leeds won 1-0 with Bamford scoring for Leeds (9) which pleased my friend Sue as she won the golden goal on the coach!
The atmosphere was brilliant and the Leeds fans were in full voice which is something I love. Singing is another thing that is very therapeutic! As the game kicked off there were a few slips on the field so I began to wonder if the rumours about the pitch getting an extra watering were true. It didn’t take us long to get to grips with it though so I assumed it was just a rumour. Bristol had the first chance before Leeds took the lead early on in the 9th minute. Alioski put a fantastic ball over to the right hand side which Ayling headed into the path of Bamford who put the ball into the net. Cue, there was beer thrown everywhere amongst the celebrating Leeds fans. One lad had already fallen over the back of our seats and ended up on the floor next to me. As I looked for the players celebrating too, I realised when I couldn’t see them that someone was down in the penalty area and saw on the replay that Bamford had collided with the post on scoring. Luckily he was able to carry on after treatment. I thought he’d hit his head but later reports on a knee injury may mean I was wrong. He did go down again later on at the same time as Phillips who had to put the ball out as he needed treatment too.
As Bristol tried to get an attack going, they started making mistakes with the ball going out of play on numerous occasions. We came close again when Roberts brought a save out of their goalie. Leeds looked very comfortable on the ball and to me Bristol only threatened from set pieces. Luckily we dealt with most of them comfortably although a couple of times Casilla raced off his line and we were lucky to not be punished for it. The only time Bristol looked like scoring was when we messed about with the ball on the right hand side just before the break. Alioski was in acres of space on the left hand side but we insisted on playing the ball on the right. This put us into trouble as Bristol won the ball, but luck was on our side for once and we kept them out. Ten minutes before the break though the Bristol fans in the stand to our left were streaming downstairs so obviously they weren’t impressed with the way their team were playing.
At half time I went downstairs and when trying to find the ladies was pointed in one direction. I saw all the lads going through that door so thought it can’t be that way. Well I was wrong, but whoever designed the ladies and gents next door to each other wants a kick up the bum! All that does is make the lads use our loos instead of sticking to their own! It would help if they shut the door whilst in a cubicle too not that they cared! After taking loads of photos I tried finding Tina who I was meeting as she wanted to buy my first book Follow Me and Leeds United. Thank you for the support which is appreciated. We were both at the opposite ends of the stand but then made things worse by both trying to find each other so it was vice versa. I headed to the middle of the stand behind the goal and at least Tina found me there! Someone else is wanting some of my books having bought one last week, but neither of us could remember which one he had so I will have to look at my photos to find out.
Bristol came out fighting more in the second half but we still managed to get to grips with them as we continued to look for a second goal. Some fantastic work by Harrison just in front of us saw him beat three men before passing the ball to Roberts, whose shot was saved easily by their keeper. It’s a shame it didn’t have any power in it. With another set piece Casilla looked way off his line but despite that, we were able to keep Bristol out. When Casilla made a save, all of a sudden there was an outcry with their fans screaming off, off. It was only afterwards I saw a replay of what happened and it looked like their player caught Casilla. They put heads together but then as the ref approached, the Bristol player stepped back before throwing his head back as if he had been shot. Anyway for once the ref saw someone trying to cheat and get someone sent off or booked but it could have been worse. Suddenly the Bristol fans woke up but they’d been very poor whereas the Leeds fans were getting behind the team and it really was great. As a player was down injured Tina and I went down underneath the stand to get to where my flag was as there was no way we were going to be able to get through the crowd stood in the gangway. As I’ve no grips on my boots we had to tread gingerly as the floors were wet through and it looked like the beer throwers had been having a field day!
I hadn’t seen the blue flare that was set off when we scored as it was right at the other end of the stand. It was only when I was talking to one of our stewards at the end of the game that he said someone suffered greatly from breathing in the smoke and came down to the front where he was promptly sick. A couple of the Bristol stewards were very impressed with my flag too and when asked who my hero was, well there is only one and that is Billy Bremner!
As 90 minutes appeared on the clock, six minutes of injury time was put up. I got nervous a couple of times but on the whole, Leeds continued to battle and keep them out so I wasn’t too bad although I was counting down the minutes. When the ref blew for time the Leeds fans celebrated and sang their hearts out as the team came round for a deserved round of applause. Jansson was roaring to the fans and no one went to leave immediately as the Leeds fans savoured the moment. Another three points put us back into second spot after both Norwich and Sheffield United had won respectively last night and this dinner time.
As we came out of the ground a lad from Russia who had come with some friends I know to the game came to say hello so I got some photos. Our coach was on the same street so we didn’t have far to walk. We didn’t gain much time on the other coaches and by the time we got around the roundabout the rest were just being escorted away from the ground so we joined them. We stopped at the services to change drivers and a coach with fans in red and white were getting off theirs at the same time. As we were coming out of the loos this woman looked at my scarf as I asked who they were: Sunderland was the answer who had been to Wycombe Wanderers. It was only at this point I realised they weren’t in our division because as usual I’d forgotten they’d been relegated. The smallest person in their team had some fighting and as Danielle checked on the scores, there had been sending offs very late in the game which had finished very late. At least the meeting with opposition fans at the services was more civilised, although that was definitely not the case during the seventies!
Another win Leeds gets us closer to our dream, so keep going and onto Reading next. Don’t worry about anyone else, only us and keep getting the points please. 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