For some fans the close season has been a long one but for me personally it has flown by. So much seems to have happened in a little while which has impacted on our start. Radrizzani has now completed his full takeover of Leeds and because of this we now own Elland Road once again, something I couldn’t be happier about. Owning our home once again means so much to me and others and gives me hope once again for the future. With a managerial change having taken place due to Monk’s resignation we now have Thomas Christiansen in charge. I wasn’t happy with the way Monk hung Charlie Taylor out to dry for the last game of the season, seemingly to divert attention away from the fact that we missed out on the play offs. You don’t tell someone who has continually played with an injury that once we were out of the promotion race he wouldn’t be used so he could let his injury heal. To be then thrown under the bus or the Leeds fans to be exact is something I can’t forgive him for, so to be honest I’m glad he has gone. The Sutton debacle plus throwing the towel in makes me feel he won’t be missed. The one thing I will give him credit for is getting the fans and the team interacting once again. That alone made things more enjoyable last season and is something that has been missing for a long time. This is a must for the future too.
I drove to Guiseley on a lovely warm day singing along to the radio and feeling upbeat for the new season. I’m trying not to be too positive just so I don’t put a jinx on the team!! Seriously though, my thoughts before we had a change of manager and still are, means that we have to forget the playoffs and go for automatic promotion as nothing else will do. Whether that materialises or not is a long way away but gives us something to aim for. I felt the league last year was one where anyone could beat anyone on their day and if you go out with the right mentality then you never know. I still think that winning breeds winning so we will see.
As I reached the ground I met my friend Sue and Adam from the Fullerton Park Branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club before I went to the cricket club. I met up with Mick, Alex and the South Kirkby LUSC. It was good to see lots of familiar faces once again, always Leeds, always loyal is the motto from the Supporters Club. Just before I headed into the ground I had gone to the ladies where a woman immediately started telling me about the Leeds fans she’d travelled in on the bus with who had been very noisy. She proceeded to tell me about them drinking in the pub down the road and had been stood on tables although one unlucky lad fell off! A big thank you to Lynsey and her daughter Katie for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and I’ll look forward to feedback once they’ve read it on their holiday!
I hung my flag by the tunnel as there were no advertising hoardings there. There were only a few flags today, Fullerton Park had one and there was another one hung up next to theirs. The Swedish flag came out when Dallas scored after 17 seconds! Welcome back to season 2017-2018!
The team today was made up of everyone and we played a different team in each half. The team was Green, Ayling, Bellusci, Jansson, Denton, O’Kane, Phillips, Dallas, Roofe, Hernandez and Antonsson in the first half. The second half team was Wiedwald, McKay, Diagouraga, Cooper Berardi, Vieira, Bridcutt, Gomes, Sacko, Doukara and Erwin. Shaughnessy came on for Cooper five minutes from the end. The game was a sell out so with the capacity being 4,000, both the Leeds fans and Guiseley fans intermingled with no issues which were good to see. A great turn out of Leeds fans for our first pre-season game.
I hadn’t brought my glasses into the ground so couldn’t see so well at the far end of the ground but Dallas in front of me, got off to a great start with two early goals both from similar angles. To be fair they were cracking goals too! Before we knew it we had conceded a goal but we managed a further goal after good work from Hernandez in the penalty area which gave Antonsson the chance to put the ball into the net. Jansson had his angry head on when he clashed with a Guiseley player and both had to be spoken to by the ref. He didn’t look too happy to be honest as the team walked off the pitch at half time. The last two to depart from it were Bellusci and Silvestri. The former came in for some stick (to be fair it was quite tame to some I’ve seen) and he reacted to it. My opinion is that he is a disruptive influence and bad egg in the dressing room. On the pitch I would say he cannot be trusted and I would much rather he left and started anew somewhere else. I realise I don’t have a say in this so will have to see if he stays or goes. I also think there will be a departing of the ways of some of the other players today especially as we have a glut of midfielders. With Charlie Taylor having departed and us being light in some other areas, it will be interesting to see who is brought in next week.
At half time I was going to go into the club to meet my “singing” team, but unfortunately due to H&S reasons it was full to capacity so I couldn’t go in. Plans are still in place for us to record all the old Leeds songs which I am looking forward to. Talking about old songs, we won’t be singing a certain song from the past that some fans were singing on their way to the ground today. In the past is where it should stay, we are better than that!
As I started walking around the ground to the other side for the second half, I wondered if I would see the large dog that was in the stand last year. It certainly was, so had its picture taken once again! I bumped into a few people I knew so had a chat with them before I found Sue and some others. As I sat next to a Leeds fan, it turned out that I knew him after all. When Leeds scored a further goal by Erwin all of a sudden I realised that Nikki was there with her guide dog Rita when the latter started barking (something she does every time Leeds score a goal!) It was nice to see them both. The one thing I had noticed about the game that differed to last season, was that we were trying harder. It wasn’t just a pre-season knockabout as in the past but we were actually scoring goals too. Whether that is something that Christiansen has instilled in them or Guiseley weren’t as good as last year I don’t know, but it was a positive show from Leeds. Just before the end of the game I went to go and get my banner as it had fallen down at one end. I stayed by the players’ tunnel as we ended up with a fifth goal from Erwin! Whatever happens from now on, the fact we started off with a 5-1 was good to see.
I waited with others for the team to come out and whilst some came out of the tunnel, more came out of the side entrance. As I got my photo taken with Christiansen, Paul said to him that there were legends on the pitch and legends off it. He said that I was one of the legends off it and Christiansen should get to know about me which I thought was a lovely thing to say. Thanks Paul that was appreciated. Hopefully Christiansen will see my photos then!
As the next game I will be able to attend is the Oxford home one, I’ll have to remember to get my tickets ordered. I want to bring my granddaughters to that one hopefully. I was supposed to be bringing them to Guiseley but didn’t tell their mum who had organised a birthday party for my eldest Hannah, oops! When I got to the ground I handed their tickets in at the turnstile just in case anyone turned up without any seeing as they were sold out! Sadly for me I cannot go to Austria for the pre-season tour as much as I’d love to be there. I will be there in heart and soul even if not there physically. But with my youngest daughter Emily getting married on the 21st July, I have something to look forward to here!
As I renewed my season ticket without completing the form I completely forgot about the home auto cup scheme so I need to sort that. It was so much easier not having to worry about organising any tickets and them coming automatically. With Bolton being our first league game in the Championship at least we will get a big allocation for this one and I am looking forward once again to the new season. See you soon – LUFC – Marching on Together!