Chelsea v Leeds United 11th December 2021 at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea A 11th December 2021

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Thank you to each and every one for your support today as I sold all those CDs I had with me as well as some copies of my latest book. Thank you, Nikki, Adele and Jack, for their support with my book United Are Back! As always, the support is greatly appreciated. With Christmas just around the corner both the CDs and my books would make a great present for the Leeds fan in your life. Just a reminder that I will have some with me at Man City and will be in the Peacock back room next to the back door to the garden from 3pm at the Arsenal game. The song lyrics can be bought for an additional cost of £2 as an email link. 100% of this balance goes to the Leeds United Academy/Foundation. I’ve had mine printed by Printout Colour Printers Ltd, Halifax to keep with a CD as a piece of history memorabilia.

We’ve had some fantastic feedback from fans regarding our CDs too:

Rob Harvey: ‘I’ve just bought the songs CD & wow – what a blast from the past! It’s given me a right chuckle remembering the old songs from my days on the Gelderd in the ‘70s & I can’t thank you & the ‘choir’ enough for capturing these for posterity. OMG the PDF is fantastic!

At Elland Road this morning as I waited to get on our coach to Chelsea, I decided to do a little video at Billy’s statue. When I looked at my Twitter account later in the day, I was astounded to see over 15,000 views on it, wow.

One thing that has once again reared its ugly head at football games, is how our disabled fans do not get any thought about distances from the coach parking when we are visiting away grounds. Chelsea today was another one and for a supposed Premier League ground it was a disgrace which is a far cry from the Championship grounds we visited. Parking so far away with not a thought for any of them when it could be arranged to drop them nearer the ground is sadly lacking. That wasn’t the only issue either because getting into the ground had the potential for some Leeds fans getting seriously hurt. I stopped off for a bag search and to be fair they were brilliant with a quick look in my bag, and I was on my way. I joined the Leeds fans who were going in the upper terrace queue which was cordoned off as more and more fans arrived at the turnstiles, but there was still plenty of time to get through them in time for kick off. Well, that’s what I thought! As we stood there patiently the queue in front of us failed to go down and fans were getting impatient with the police being totally incompetent. The longer we stood there the worse the crushing got with fans joining the queue behind us, as we edged very slowly towards the turnstiles. With supposed covid checks I thought that was what the issue was, but with kick off getting closer and crushes getting worse it needed dropping and asap. The police then ran further back down the queue as some Leeds fans were telling us in the vicinity to stop pushing as there were fans getting crushed in front of us. The crushing then got worse and worse with no one seemingly going through the turnstiles which was due to them failing to read tickets time after time which was so frustrating. Fans were shouting to the stewards to get help with the turnstiles and to do something as it was getting hard to stay on your feet. Many fans found themselves on the floor as the situation deteriorated and became a massive health and safety hazard. With flashes of the Hillsborough crushes in my mind I tried to keep a small gap in front of me so I could breathe but it became a massive challenge. The Leeds fans around me were all looking out for each other the best way they could. When I eventually got to the front some lads made me go in front of them to get in safely only for my ticket not to work. Eventually the scanner flashed green as I got in shaking but okay. They’d opened the doors next to us to ease the crush but what a farce and what a disgrace. There was no thought for the safety of the fans and if something did kick off, I could not blame them due to the way we were treated no better than cattle. Why are football fans not treated as human beings as the chaos was orchestrated by the police inaction which was disgraceful? By the time I got in I had missed 12 minutes of the game and there were many more fans behind me still trying to get in with some missing 25 minutes of the game. Whoever was in charge should have asked for the kick-off to be delayed due to the scenes outside.

Team: Meslier, Ayling, Raphinha, James, Roberts, Shackleton, Forshaw, Dallas, Harrison, Firpo and Llorente.

Subs: Klich for Shackleton (59), Gelhardt for Raphinha (81), Cresswell for James (87).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Jenkins, Summerville, Drameh, McKinstry, McCarron

Attendance: 39,595 with 2890 Leeds fans.

Leeds lost the game 3-2 with Chelsea scoring a second but soft penalty in injury time to win the game. Leeds scorers Raphinha (27 penalty), Gelhardt (83 scoring his first premier league goal two minutes after coming on as a sub. According to Jonny Cooper on Twitter, he became the youngest ever Leeds United player to score against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge).

Referee: Chris Kavanagh.

Booked: Firpo, Shackleton, Klich, Llorente, Meslier.

With our injury list having grown I knew it was going to be a back to the wall performance today and Leeds didn’t disappoint us putting in a battling performance and being very unlucky not to get something out of the game. With two fouls on Roberts very early on, Raphinha took a free kick in a good position only to see their keeper make a fantastic save to keep him from scoring. Leeds were playing some good attacking football and when James was brought down in the penalty area Leeds were awarded a penalty. After being checked by VAR Raphinha stepped up to put the ball into the net to give Leeds a well-deserved lead. Leeds kept breaking away and attacking, but then started to try and calm the game down by playing slowly out of the back. This invited Chelsea to attack us, and they equalised just before the break before nearly scoring another one shortly afterwards but Meslier made a vital save to keep them out as we went into the break on even terms.

The game turned on its head 10 minutes into the second half when Raphinha’s tackle in the penalty area was deemed to be a foul after the referee initially gave a corner. Typically, he consulted VAR and changed his mind giving the penalty instead!! Klich came on as a sub and made a run forward which saw Roberts shot straight at the keeper saved. Gelhardt looked to come on but then Leeds began attacking again and he was stood down. Eventually he did come on in place of Raphinha and what an impact as two minutes later he received a pass from Roberts and put the ball into the net to equalise with his first ever Premier League goal. As Bielsa changed things to see the clock run down, sadly for us the referee awarded Chelsea a second penalty which saw them win the game with a minute of injury time left. That was such a blow not to come away with at least a point after a very spirited display from Leeds.

It had been noticeable that the Leeds fans were in excellent voice but if it hadn’t been for Chelsea scoring, we would never have heard their fans at all. One thing I couldn’t understand was when upgrading Stamford Bridge that the away fans were now in the shed end instead of the home fans? That said on our way out of the ground the police were stood watching our fans and taking no notice of their fans throwing stuff at ours and refused to turn around to watch them.

As I walked back with some off our coach, I was taken back in time. Apart from Huddersfield away at Leeds Road where I had travelled with Abbey Coachways our local coach company in Carlton, with my friend Sue and her dad, Chelsea was the first away game my friend Sue and I went to on our own. We’d gone by Wallace Arnold coaches from Leeds. Our mums had banned us from going to Southampton for the previous away game, but I told my mum I was going to Chelsea whether she liked it or not especially as I was working and earning my own money at 16. That said I couldn’t have done my seven-year stint of not missing a game home or away and go and see Leeds play abroad in the ‘70s without the help of mine and Sue’s parents and a family friend Arthur. I will always be eternally grateful to them. Living in a village between Selby and Goole meant they had to travel an hour each way in the morning and another hour each way to pick us up after an away game. We never did tell them how bad the troubles were following our team Leeds United otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to leave the house! With my dad and Sue’s parents no longer with us and my mum now ill, embrace the time with your loved ones as you never know what is around the corner. We are lucky we have had such great parents.

As I finish my blog today, my thoughts go out to the family of our Fullerton Park member Philip Bowden who died today. Another Leeds fan taken far too soon. Rest in Peace Philip and thoughts with your family today.

See you at Man City, LUFC – Marching on Together!