First of all with this day being the 22nd anniversary since the death of my hero Billy Bremner, my thoughts go out to his family. I can’t believe it is so many years ago that I, along with thousands of other fans, lined the streets near Doncaster to say goodbye. My Bremner stone is near Billy’s feet at Elland Road and something I am proud to own courtesy of my family. Leeds fans in the crowd at Huddersfield paid their tributes to the great man by chanting Billy Bremner’s barmy army over and over again.
I’d been talking to a couple of Huddersfield fans at work yesterday. One said that they wished they’d never been in the premiership as they now have overpaid prima donnas who won’t play etc. (it looks like some were dropped for today too which proves a point). After seeing the display from some of their players today who went down at the drop of a hat, now that’s one thing I don’t miss, give me our Leeds players any day.
With driving to the game today, it was great to meet my daughter Danielle at my elder daughter’s house in Rastrick, because 15 minutes later we were parked up at the ground. The parking attendant thanked me for being so good and quick to park and said I could teach others how to park properly. It’s a good job he didn’t see me trying to park on the roadside when I went to babysit my grandson later this evening, hence the late blog so apologies for that. We decided to wait for the Leeds coaches to arrive before we eventually went into the ground. As we headed up the hill to the car park as normal, it was only because of some other Leeds fans that we didn’t have a wasted trip to the turnstiles. Huddersfield had changed where we entered the ground so we entered just past where the coaches parked instead. I’d not any issues with that and it was only after we turned around that stewards were told to stop any Leeds fans heading that way.
We got into the ground in good time and had a right laugh when Danielle was asked if she was old enough to be searched. As the age is 16 and she is well into her twenties, it looks like she is carrying on in the family tradition of looking younger. Well my friend Sue and I have remained 35 for a number of years so I forget my real age lol! Thank you to the Bradford Whites for their support and promotions of my books for me. It was funny to hear Adele had been reading one of them whilst in a meeting recently so couldn’t put it down as she got so engrossed in it. Well it was a lot more interesting wasn’t it lol? Thanks to Gary Noble for buying my new book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United too. Don’t forget these books will make a great present for any Leeds fan.
It was nice to meet up with a steward who helped save a friend of mine’s life at the Middlesbrough game last week. He saw Mags collapse near the LUDO lounge and realised she needed immediate help despite the fact she had been drinking as someone said. His quick response was to get her to the first aid bay then the nurse and doctor in there had to give her CPR as her heart stopped three times. Well done to Martin Grubb, Catriona and Dr Paul Robinson because without them, Mags wouldn’t be here today.
Casilla had a couple of friends in the stand who had travelled from Italy for the game today. He made a couple of crucial saves today which kept us in the game so well done to him. He has come a long way since I was shouting expletives at him after the Derby game and I’ll put my hands up to say that now, I do feel safe with him in goal. His charging out of the area has been brought under control and that has made such a difference to the way he plays.
Just before we’d gone to our seats for the start of the game, we’d been stood outside the stairs next to the partition between the sets of fans. The town fans started banging on the other side of the walls before deciding some of us needed a beer bath so that was reciprocated very quickly. I made sure the stewards were told it had come our way first as well as a bottle as it was straight away looking like our fans were about to get the blame. At half time there were a number of police and stewards in the same place on our side.
The team: Casilla, Ayling, White, Berardi, Dallas, Harrison, Costa, Bamford, Klich, Alioski and Hernandez, Subs: Nketiah for Bamford (77), Oliver Casey making his first team debut for Klich (85) and Douglas for Costa (87). Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals from Alioski (50) and Hernandez (78). Attendance was 23,805 with 2,314 Leeds fans.
I was looking forward to us winning today but knew it wouldn’t be an easy game because town were going to raise their game against us and there were no doubts in my mind that would be the case. It did prove to be a difficult game but with Cooper being out through injury and Phillips suspended for this game, we had to reshuffle the squad at the back. It was apparent to me that White took a short while to settle in because of this but it didn’t take long for him to get there. The one thing Leeds were doing was chasing after every ball lost and that proved a good thing many a time when we won the ball back. I was hoping out fitness would tell in the end though.
Town were given a few free kicks to begin with before things settled down slightly as they were going down at the drop of a hat. Two of their players did have a clash of heads which was a just stoppage. Leeds managed to get on the attack and won a corner. Hernandez sent a low cross into the box and Klich’s shot bounced off the post and away for our first chance of the game. Town retaliated with an attack but found Casilla in great form as he made a fantastic save to keep them out. After one of their players had been down “injured” for a while, more like time wasting to me, it didn’t take him long to start running around in the penalty area. Leeds players were after them like flies and with one of their players on the goal line, Alioski was being a right pest lol as they ran around Casilla. Alioski was doing his job and protecting his keeper! Leeds were standing firm with Casilla making another save and we nearly took the lead just before the break as we raced to the other end but Costa’s shot went over. I was glad that we’d got to half time and kept town out especially as there had been five minutes of injury time played.
At half time a lad had gone into the ladies toilets causing uproar but had disappeared before the stewards arrived. It was nice to hear that a lad going through cancer treatment is responding well to it and good luck in his recovery. Another lad who I’d put in touch with my publisher is getting his book published in March which was good to hear. After me having my photo taken with Bielsa last week, that caused a good topic of conversation with others. I was talking to people that much and taking photos that I decided I better head back into the stand as I was sure the second half would have kicked off. That proved to be the case and luckily I hadn’t missed anything. I had only just got back to my seat as Leeds were on the attack and won a corner before the ball came to Alioski on the edge of the box. As soon as the ball left his foot I knew it was a goal as the Leeds fans went wild. With the hatred from town fans that never existed until we ended up in the same league, it just made me want to win them even more so get in! Trying to keep my feet when everyone was falling around me was difficult as I scraped my leg on the seat in front. Just after that we had another great attack only Bamford’s final header was wide. That was a shame as we could have put the game to bed then. When Bamford did score, his goal was ruled out for offside but replays apparently showed that the goal should have stood. Their keeper saved from Harrison which kept them in the game. Two of our players were booked Klich and White when both of them won the ball for me. Hopefully I’ll get to see these again, as the ball went in the right direction after the tackle. Although town players kept going down, it was noticeable that they didn’t stay down as long now they were behind. When it looked like town had got the better of our defence and were going to equalise, Casilla made a point blank save with his feet which enabled us to bring the ball out of defence. Leeds were starting to make some breaks now and Bamford was starting to get under their skins with a foul eventually bringing him down. Even though he had hurt his arm, our trainers did not come onto the pitch and he eventually got up and carried on. This angered their fans too ha ha. Eventually Bamford got subbed for Nketiah and as he went off he put his thumbs up to the dugout, job done! Within a minute Leeds took a greater lead with a second goal, after breaking away with another fantastic move which ended with Hernandez heading the ball into the net in front of the Leeds fans. Delirious scenes on the terraces as the lads behind me tumbled down the seats and I couldn’t keep my footing and ended up on the floor too. Eventually we all got up and I managed a few photos with lots of happy Leeds fans. That’s all part of the football experience although different from falling down the terraces in the past with no seats. The lad did ask if I was okay which was nice. For those saying safe standing isn’t required, with railings in place it would certainly stop people falling over lots of seats onto others. With the early kick-off result, Leeds had gone back to the top of the table again. As the Leeds fans continued to sing and celebrate, the town fans started to leave the stadium in abundance knowing they had been beaten. At the end of the game it was nice to see some of the Leeds players interacting with some town players and Alioski swapped shirts.
We were some of the last Leeds fans to leave the stadium as we were near the front of the stand. As we walked past the Leeds coaches I started taking photos of some of our fans but it looked like I was causing a riot. Well a friendly one lol. As we got to the crossroads by the Ford garage, I saw some of the walkers from the Leeds United Trust. They had walked to the ground today from Elland Road with some town fans to raise money for the foodbanks so well done to them. As we stood there loads of police came running past us and vans shot up the road towards the town centre. To say it was so long after the game, I can only surmise that our stragglers had been met by some town fans but no doubt someone will say what happened in time.
Well done Leeds, another three points and onto our midweek game at home to Hull on Tuesday. Keep going and lets enjoy what we are seeing, see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!
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, Leeds United in the 1980s
- The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
- Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
- Out now: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited