After last week’s disappointing effort and result at Newport which ended with me having swollen legs after a 15 hour round trip, the dread of having to go to Ipswich with half of the team injured made me want to forget it and not bother. Of course, it turned out to be a fleeting feeling. All thoughts of not wanting to go went out of my head on hearing the sad news that Eric Carlile had died. Eric was at the forefront of the Leeds United Supporters Club for 50 years and my first memories of him was enrolling me as a postal branch member in the early 70s. Eric did a lot for us fans over the years with the all ticket games and will not be forgotten. Having kept in touch with him by sending Christmas cards he will be sadly missed. Leeds United fans led by Mick Hewitt and the LUSC South Kirkby Branch, raised a glass to Eric in the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds at 12.00pm. RIP Eric.
Having done my good deed of the day by picking Gaz and Ella up (thanks for the breakfast), I answered a plea on WACCOE to bring some tickets down to Ipswich and declined the offer of a bottle of booze. As the lad could no longer make it he didn’t want to let his mate down who he was meeting at the ground to give him his tickets. I met him at Elland Road at 7.30 am with his baby boy to get the tickets off him and can confirm they were promptly delivered to the right person on arrival at Ipswich. This is what Leeds United fans are about, always helping each other out when they can and I will always do that willingly if I am able.
As well as doing a voice message for BBC Radio Leeds I have a message for Eddie Gray. Eddie is 70 on Wednesday so happy birthday. It doesn’t seem two minutes since he was tearing Chelsea apart at Wembley in 1970 and it’s such a shame we never got our just desserts in that game. If we’d have avoided the replay they wouldn’t have had chance to put Eddie out of the game with a brutal tackle. “Happy 70th birthday Eddie. It doesn’t seem two minutes since I saw you terrorising the Chelsea players on the wing at Wembley in 1970 on that terrible pitch after the horse of the year show. That display was fantastic and always stands out in my mind. You are a fantastic ambassador for Leeds United, not only for the club but for us fans too. Always willing to take part in events or in my case did the foreword for my first book Follow Me and Leeds United which I am very grateful for. I used to love the supporters club events at Menwith Hill which all the team came to. I’ve a confession to make, I never did drink that crème de menthe you bought my friend Carole and I and said we had to drink it, I gave it to Carole! So sorry!”
I would like to say something to the fans in the pub who caused them to cease serving beer just before we were leaving. By all means have a good time, have a drink but take responsibility for your actions. You had been asked to stop swearing when singing and it quietened down for a while but then you did it again. I know that I asked some lads to think about it earlier. Although I don’t use the men’s loos I believe these weren’t left in too good a state either. Just remember that this reflects on every Leeds fan and as this pub is one we have been going to for years without any issues, it is possible we won’t be allowed back. There were plenty families in there and some had walked out; maybe without the swearing they wouldn’t have felt so intimidated.
We were still 10 miles out of Ipswich when we received the start of our police escort before pulling into the services. There were at least 15 coaches in the escort which took my memories back to the 80s. It was great in those times seeing the long line of coaches sometimes 30 strong full of Leeds fans. We were then escorted to the ground getting there at 2.30 pm just at the same time as the couple I was meeting. I was stood chatting to a couple of lads and what a coincidence, they had all met up last week at Newport! It’s a small world! The next thing we heard a commotion and saw a load of scarecrows coming down the street. I’d heard that some of the SLI had dressed up today so got some photos. They did look good though! The only disadvantage of everyone arriving at the same time was going up the stairs into the stand which was jam packed with fans. After putting my flag up I headed to my seat just after the team had come out. Thanks for the Selby Whites flag photo Andy Welford!
The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi, Cooper, Jansson, Anita, Roofe, Hernandez, Alioski, O’Kane, Phillips and Cibicki. Subs were Sacko for Cibicki (injured 29), Shaughnessy for Alioski (46) and Lassoga for Anita (78). Leeds lost the game 1-0 with a wonder goal from their player in the 67th minute of the game. Attendance was 18,638 with 3,537 Leeds fans.
Portman Road is never a good place to come to and Ipswich have often been a bogey team for us over the years. I remember our FA Cup run of replays that ended up being played at Filbert Street, Leicester on both the Tuesday and Thursday with Ipswich eventually winning the tie. I also remember coming here in the seventies and getting ambushed in the Sporting Farmer pub. Having arrived at 12.00 pm on a freezing cold coach 15 of us went to the pub and were spotted by approx. 40 Ipswich fans who ran down the road and followed us in. Our lads let me sit between them near the bar which was a good job as I’d have fallen down with fear through the intimidation. I then spent 2½ hours shaking like a leaf. They’d gone out after a couple of hours only to return 100 strong and start singing IRA songs to us. I thought our time was up and it was only by the landlord standing up to them that prevented the pool table full of bottles to descend on us. After they went a load of Leeds fans turned up so I felt safe but not something I wanted to happen in the first place.
As the game kicked off today it was fairly even. Some of our passing wasn’t very good but we’d had a chance and it’s a case you have to take chances when they are there. We were passing the ball across the back four a lot at one point which frustrated me and so we slowed everything down as there was no one taking ownership of the ball. After Cibicki went off injured Sacko was brought on as sub. Many fans would have preferred Dallas to have come on as he was back from injury. For the rest of the first half I could see why fans were worried as it looks like he needed someone to tell him what to do with the ball once he had it. We started playing out from the back and Sacko was through with the ball and Alioski was screaming for the ball at the far side of the pitch in a great position level with the defence with them on the back foot. When Sacko slowed down and waited for everyone to catch up with him and we eventually lost the ball, it looked like he had no idea what to do with the ball and no awareness of other teammates on the pitch. That should have been a great chance for us but we didn’t even get near their goalie to put him under pressure. The ref had already shown his true colours; when Pontus was fouled he’d ignored him and then Cibicki went down. Pontus then started getting very angry. Whilst the trainer was on the pitch Jansson went across to the bench as Christiansen was shouting to him but it looked like he was ignoring him. He did go back to him then but Christiansen kept his hand in front of his mouth when talking to him which had me wondering why he didn’t want anyone lip reading his comments? We had another attack and as O’Kane was following their player to the bye line fighting for the ball, the lad next to me shouted don’t foul him. When their player went down I thought damn he did. The next thing he was shown a red card and sent from the pitch. I was astounded as I never saw anything untoward only someone trying to challenge for the ball. Is this not allowed anymore? Others around me said he had nutted their player and he had to go. On video evidence later on it looked like a case of their player conning the ref, yes he got pushed but I don’t think it was a sending off offence just their player going down like a sack of spuds. If indeed it is found that he cheated then the red card should be rescinded for O’Kane and given to their player! That’s only fair in my eyes. When their player had a tantrum he was only spoken to by the ref although when Jansson had a tantrum he was booked. I was worried that Jansson was losing it though and he is no use to us back in the dressing room. As usual double standards by the ref though and if we had a player all over us it was our player backing in, whereas Ipswich players falling like flies got a free kick! The red card came on 37 minutes and I felt like we were losing by the time half time came especially as Ipswich had a couple of late chances. One direct from a corner hit the post, then another hit the crossbar.
At the start of the second half it took me a few minutes to realise Shaughnessy had come on and had to work out that it was Alioski that had been taken off. We actually played better with 10 men than we did with 11 although it took us a while to get on top. Anita who had been quiet in the first half looked a lot better and was getting in some good tackles and played well in front of us. It seemed to go against the run of play when Ipswich scored an absolute screamer of a goal which proved to be the winner. There was nothing we could do to save this but we gave their player too much space. I bet if he tried that again he wouldn’t score in a month of Sundays so that was a pain. We brought Lasogga on as we tried to get an equaliser which we nearly did when their goalie made a great save from him to prevent us getting something out of the game. I think a draw would have been a true reflection of the game but as always the score says otherwise and we came away empty handed. The fans let the ref know their feelings at the end of the game but the team were clapped off the pitch. Our fans had been singing for most of the game but “you only sing when you’re winning” came to mind for the Ipswich fans as they’d been quiet for most of the game.
We’re at home next week against Millwall and their fans have had their ticket restrictions lifted so we will see if they bring more fans to Elland Road. I’ve also been asked if we can get the atmosphere in the Kop going that day with flags and scarves trying to recreate days gone by. I feel sure once our cd comes out and apologies for the delay but it’s got to be right, there will be a fair few fans relishing singing some of the songs again. In the meantime if we get it right on the pitch, the stands follow suit with the atmosphere. We can be the twelfth man and help the team by doing this. I do realise how disheartened some fans get as I was very disappointed last week. Despite the loss today I felt more heartened that we didn’t lie down and die and did show some great attacks, unfortunately the final balls didn’t put their goalie under pressure. Once again though we have another injury and that is something that concerns me greatly. Can we go back to traditional football boots please and see if that makes a difference? I do wonder why it is happening though so if anyone has any other ideas please let me know as I’d appreciate their input. As usual time will tell how we recover from these defeats over the last two weeks. Just think though for the second year running if we’d have got through to the 4th round of the FA Cup we’d have had a big pay day with home ties against Arsenal and Spurs respectively. Why we would turn down the chance of a good cup run I’ve no idea? I don’t agree with those fans who say we are never going to win it anyway and promotion is the be all and end all; you never will if you don’t try! Winning breeds winning and if we don’t get in the top six by any chance it would have been nice to have something to shout about by progressing in the cup. At this moment in time we feel a long way away from a promotion side but as things can change very quickly in this division with any team capable of beating anyone on their day, then you never know. We aren’t out of things yet and we just have to “Keep Fighting”. See you next week 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 2016-17
After game comments for BBC Radio Leeds – West Yorkshire Sport