For once this game worked in my favour as the holiday period timed in with me not being at work this week. Arriving at Elland Road in time for the coach departure I headed for Billy’s bar but then did an about turn after seeing they had some new bags in the club shop window. Having been looking for one that is slightly larger than the one I have which will fit my flag and books in, they had just the thing. I then retraced my steps only to find Billy’s bar shut when for some reason I thought it would be open but everyone had congregated in the Peacock anyway. Despite heavy traffic most of the way, we seemed to arrive in Derby in no time at all. I think I fell asleep whilst on the M1 and woke up at the ground so it was no wonder it felt like a quick trip. It looked like the turnstiles weren’t even open so initially we didn’t want to get off the coach but it wasn’t long before the lights came on so we went straight into the ground. On our way to the turnstiles the Leeds United photographer stopped us for a photo so for once I was on the receiving end of one. After a bit of banter with a Leeds fan saying I didn’t get to many games he got his photo taken by me. When I went through the turnstiles the steward who checked my bag questioned me when I said I was an author and my books were in my bag. She was very impressed when I showed them to her and it was nice to get the praise for writing them which was appreciated.
I managed to get my flag put up in a good spot at the top of the stairs then went to talk to Nikki and companion as well as Rita her dog. We had a good chat before I went back downstairs, chatting to other Leeds fans before the game. The next thing Derby fans started banging on the partition between the stands before a Leeds fan responded doing the same. He got escorted away by another Leeds fan to save him getting into trouble as Leeds fans let them know we were there by singing. I’d said my scarf had been washed so I hoped to have got rid of all the bad luck and rubbish that had been happening recently. I was going to be positive instead. I was trying hard not to be superstitious, but I remember with our 29 game unbeaten run in the seventies my scarf only got washed when we were beaten at Stoke, as not washing it kept our run going. Although that was opposite to my thoughts today, old habits die hard in one sense. When I eventually got to my seat, guess who had forgotten the game was live on Sky even though I’d seen the camera below us? As daft as it is, I didn’t twigg for ages that that was the reason for the camera being there so there’s no hope for me really lol!
The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi and Cooper (both back from suspension), Jansson, De Bock, Vieira, Hernandez, Lasogga, Roofe, Dallas and Forshaw. Subs were Saiz (back from suspension since Newport) for Roofe (54), Phillips for Vieira (62) and Alioski for Hernandez (76). Leeds drew 2-2 with goals from Lasogga (34) and Alioski (79). Attendance was 27,944 with 3,152 Leeds fans.
I didn’t know what to expect today but the Leeds fans immediately got behind the team and sang for the whole game. It had been ages since this happened at an away game but it carried on from Sunday’s home game against Bristol City. What I did see from the team despite being under the cosh for a lot of the first 30 minutes was some fight in them. We could have been three goals down and out of the game but as we rode our luck, I hoped it would be a good omen. It was even better when against the run of play Cooper put over a fantastic cross from the left hand side of the field near his penalty area over to Dallas on the right. His perfect cross for Lasogga to head the ball into the net put Leeds into the lead and sent the celebrating Leeds fans into raptures. This was the first time we had taken the lead for a while I think. The game had been very fast and we’d had a lot of defending to do as Derby carried on with the pressure. Just when we thought we could go into half time in the lead as another attack ended with a rebounded shot being flagged for offside, unfortunately we let Derby in with an equaliser. They sent a high ball into the area which Cooper got to but sadly the ball came backwards to a Derby player just in front of our goal giving Wiedwald no chance. That was disappointing but at least it was 1-1 and there weren’t in the lead.
At the start of the second half we were under the cosh once again and I said we needed to change it. Luckily Heckingbottom saw what I did and Saiz came back for his first game since he was sent off at Newport for spitting. Immediately he made a difference as we started attacking, playing some nice passing between us and upping the tempo. There was a lot of end to end play from both teams as we were caught out of position having to race back to cover when an attack broke down. For a neutral fan it was a good advert for football as when we had attacked they responded by counter attacking. It also meant the game passed by really quickly and didn’t drag. When Alioski came on, the lad next to me said he’d have to do something and I replied saying he would as he’d got Saiz back and they played well together. Sure enough it wasn’t long before Saiz put Alioski through and although their goalie saved his initial shot he headed in the rebound to send Leeds into the lead once again and the Leeds fans into exuberant celebrations! At that point it looked like we might steal the win as droves of Derby fans streamed to the exits. As the Leeds fans sang, is there a fire drill it didn’t stop loads of their stands emptying as the incredible noise coming from the Leeds fans continued. Unfortunately for us, plus it shows you shouldn’t leave the game until the final whistle blows, Derby got an equaliser in injury time again. That was such a shame for us as it would have been good to get the away win and three points. Still, that has to be one of the best fighting spirited games we have played there and getting a point should be seen as a good result, especially as we have never played well at their new ground. The Baseball ground is another matter as we had some good results there in the past. Those of us who remember going there in the Pop side, will also remember that horrible narrow ginnel all the Leeds fans would be sent down at the end of the games there. Thousands of us crammed into a narrow space, it’s surprising that more than not we ended up unscathed from that experience!
When I got back to the coach it was good to meet up with a Leeds fan from India who was with the Thames Valley Whites. At least he got into the game this year after apparently being denied entry in with the Leeds fans last year as they didn’t agree he’d come to watch Leeds! How anyone can do that is beyond me especially with the worldwide support Leeds United have!
Take a bow Leeds United fans as our atmosphere was brilliant tonight, getting behind the team all game plus we don’t need a drum! Seeing social media after the game there were a lot of unhappy Leeds fans because we didn’t get the win and blaming players etc. What I will say is that normally this would have been a good result but because games are running out for us, fans are up in arms that it wasn’t three points. From my point of view though the season isn’t over yet, things can still change and I haven’t given up as yet. My positives after our recent bad run are that we have shown if we give Lasogga the right service he will score, we scored two goals away from home and did take the lead twice. We can build on this and if the fans remain the twelfth man until the end of the season, maybe, just maybe, we can sneak into that final play-off spot. See you at Elland Road on Saturday for the Brentford game. 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
OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017