Derby (A) 11 August 2018 at Pride Park

Good news for me, I have now proof read my latest book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and sent this back to my publisher. Fingers crossed it will be out in the next few weeks. I have approximately 200 photos (including collages) from our journey to games last season in the book as it is written as a fan for the fans. I will have a quota to sell and I am hopeful that it will be available in the club shop but will keep you informed.

A big thank you to everyone who took time to wish /sing a happy birthday to me today, plus the special card I received from the Leeds United stewards were all appreciated. As for the best birthday present I could have asked for, take a bow Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United. I asked for a win and three points and that performance today was out of this world! Commiserations to my publisher Steve though as his birthday wishes only lasted until 5.30pm. Somehow I think I got the better deal lol!

As the game was being shown live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off, the coach was leaving Leeds at 1.30pm. Billy’s bar was open for us too which was good to see. My friend Sue was travelling by car to the game with her husband Paul as they were coming from the opposite direction. My daughter Danielle (Dani) was picked up with some others at Junction 39 before we headed to Chesterfield for our pub stop. We had a nice break before arriving at the ground at 4.50 pm. It was nice to catch up with many fans before the game and there was quite a queue outside the turnstiles. I thought Dani was to go in through a different entrance to me, but she came back to inform me that I’d been looking on the ticket at the area inside the ground. Oops at least I hadn’t gone looking for it! I then tried trapping my arm in the turnstile but I soon moved it out of the way as it began to hurt!

After putting my flag up I headed up to my seat and once again found our away season tickets were right at the top of the stand. As I found my seat next to the home fans, I wondered why we were put up in the Gods and so far from the pitch. I was around lots I knew though and sat next to Whitby John again.

The team today were: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Ayling, Cooper, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski, Douglas, Roofe, Klich and Hernandez. Subs were; Jamie Shackleton for Klich (73), Patrick Bamford for Roofe (79) and Lewis Baker for Saiz (86). Leeds won the game 4-1 with goals from Klich (5), Roofe (21and 60) and Alioski (64). Attendance was 27,311 with 2,000 Leeds fans.

One of my friends tweeted that it would be a draw but I said I wanted a win and three points. At that time I would never have believed that I got my wish in such style though. My concerns last season were that we weren’t fit enough and as Bielsa has rectified that I looked forward to seeing the difference it makes. I also enjoyed seeing the team playing as one, backing each other up and getting the win against Stoke last week. I’m definitely looking forward to the Bielsa effect.

Derby had limited the amount of tickets we got for this game and they’d all sold out as usual. There were lads who’d come to the game without tickets but found there weren’t any spares to be had. Underneath the stands the fans were in fine voice singing about Douglas. Bielsa had named the same team as last week as Leeds got off to a dream start. Within five minutes we were one goal up when Klich sent a great strike from the edge of the box into the Derby goal. The team headed to our corner to celebrate with the Leeds fans who were ecstatic. Some Derby fans to the right of us started to cause issues with some of our fans. At first I thought there had just been some banter but I think they were making personal comments. At first the Derby stewards were having a go at the Leeds fans for retaliating, but after complaints by some of our fans, one of our stewards came and stood there too. One of the younger stewards was a Leeds fan as he’d been talking to Whitby John before the game kicked off.

The ref let a few tackles on us go without giving a free-kick but was quick off the mark to give Derby one. Unfortunately they drew level from this free-kick with a fantastic shot that beat Peacock-Farrell although he didn’t stand a chance with it. Of course the celebrating Derby fans woke up very quickly then. To get an atmosphere going they have a drummer behind the goal facing their fans but he wasn’t even watching the game which I found weird. The good thing though was that Leeds carried on where they left off. We were playing as a team, battling, fighting for each other, using simple passes and then fantastic crosses to the other side of the pitch. It was good to see especially when Alioski crossed the ball into the middle for Roofe to jump above everyone to head the ball into the net to put us back into the lead. We played some really good stuff and were unlucky not to get another goal. Derby hadn’t given up though so I was glad to get to half time still in the lead.

At the start of the second hand we look very jittery for a few minutes as we started making a few mistakes. I just hoped this wouldn’t give Derby the impetus to take the game by the scruff of the neck. I needn’t have worried, because we got going again and extended our lead with Roofe scoring his second goal of the game after Klich’s great pass to him. Even better still we got a fourth when Alioski headed the ball into the net after great work from Hernandez. Unbelievable scenes of celebrations from the Leeds fans as I don’t think we could actually believe we had scored four goals at Pride Park. Having been a bogey ground for us for many years, it was a fantastic feeling to know that we were playing some fantastic football as well as winning. When Shackleton came on as sub in place of Klich, he was unfazed and I knew that Bielsa had worked with the youngsters too so they would slot into place. At York he had played on the wing but he was brought on more into the middle of the pitch. With one Derby attack when Peacock-Farrell indicated the Derby player had stamped on his foot, Shackleton went to help him. I was impressed with the fight he put up against the Derby player to ensure he didn’t get a free shot at our goal.

The Leeds fans had been in good voice throughout the game and it was a feeling of immense pride when the final whistle blew and we had won in style. I had already gone down to the front to get my flag and had taken photos of lots I knew and many were shouting for me to take their photos. Jansson came over at the end of the game to interact with the fans and he threw his brand new away shirt into the crowd which was caught and handed to one of our disabled fans. He was wearing it on the way out of the ground so I was able to get photos and he was chuffed to bits and well done.

I met Dani and Sue at the end of the game and then we headed back to the coach. After a police escort away from the ground we were back on the M1 in no time. After dropping Dani and others off in the rain, we got to Elland Road and it was only spitting. I gave Roy a lift home as his car was poorly before getting home in good time.

Tuesday sees our Carabao Cup game against Bolton at Elland Road before we take on Rotherham in the league next week. The cup game will see those who haven’t played already getting a game. I won’t make predictions, but although things have started off similar to the last couple of seasons, there is a difference to the team on view. We will have made the other teams in the division sit up and take notice, especially as both games have been live on Sky so far. Let’s enjoy the ride and for once it would be nice to have more ups than downs. See you Tuesday, LUFC – Marching on Together!

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