As I set off from home it felt eerily quiet even though it was 7.15am but at least the sun was rising making it light. It gave me a positive feeling to the day as I stopped the car at the side of the road to take a couple of photos.
Our pub stop today was in Bury St Edmunds where we have stopped for many years. I love the pub here as they have retained so much of the old features which I think is great. As well as our coach there was both the Vine branch and South Kirkby branches in there too. As we all arrived at similar times the pub had a challenge on to get everyone served although we were lucky as we didn’t have to wait too long. Having already decided what I wanted to eat I had to change my choice as it wasn’t on their menu. Both Sue and I decided on jacket potatoes only to find they’d none left! If that’s all we had to worry about then it’s not an issue, never mind. It was nice to find fans coming up asking about my blog and having their photos taken. It was also nice to have a chat with a couple of our younger fans from the South Kirkby branch. Then another one who I’d taken a picture of an incident in the home stand at Blackpool, which was really scary for him and some others.
We got a policeman on a motorbike giving us a personal escort to the services and then approx. 12 coaches were escorted to the ground. We got into the ground by 2.30pm despite all the coaches arriving at once and again it was nice to have stewards saying hello and smiling. I put my banner up and had a chat with a few fans including Vaughan, his son George and friend Jack who go everywhere. I‘d also been reminiscing with Steve about our visits to Paris and Amsterdam and also the realisation that they were 42 and 41 years ago respectively. Where has the time gone as we remember them like yesterday but can’t remember who we played last week lol! I was also talking to a couple from Bournemouth who hadn’t brought their banner in due to problems they’d had before the game. They’d been in a pub near the station which was packed. There were loads of queues for the toilets upstairs as the toilets downstairs were locked. Why? To then send men into the ladies was a disgrace. The lad complained as there were women and children having to use them with men going in as well! Where’s the logic in that? One of the staff took exception to his remarks and reported him to the police who then did a check on him. He said he was sick and tired of it as they take one look at him and decide he’s a trouble maker! Having been following Leeds for nearly the same time as me, why do they automatically think he wants to cause trouble?
The team today was Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, O’Kane, Dallas, Wood, Sacko and Hernandez. Subs were Bridcutt for Vieira, Barrow for Sacko and Doukara for Wood. Attendance was 18,745 With 2,113 Leeds fans. I was also surprised to see that Leeds were without a mascot again today. Why, I’ll never understand with the amount of youngsters we had at the game? It’s possible someone couldn’t make it at the last minute, but are we limited to one mascot away from home?
It’s always a bogey ground for us here and Sue had said beforehand that she didn’t know how it would go whilst she was talking to an Ipswich fan in Bury St Edmunds. I wasn’t sure either and sometimes prefer to see how we are playing in one sense before making a judgement. One of my memories from Ipswich was about 15 of us getting ambushed in the Sporting Farmer near the ground which I’ve mentioned in my book Follow Me and Leeds United. Some things you never forget! I also remember Bobby Robson being the only one to get tickets for a group of us Leeds fans at the opening of the ground in Eindhoven when it had sold out. Thanks Bobby.
We had a couple of attacks but before we knew it we were a goal down in the 8th minute. The ease with which Ipswich went through the middle of our team into the penalty area to score didn’t look good at all. Passes had already been going astray but we really made it look so easy for them. Once again up against it with our backs against the wall. We struggled to make any impact at all to be honest and whatever tactics we were using made us look very dire. Ipswich were the ones who came close to scoring and always looked dangerous. The Leeds fans kept getting behind the team with a 10 minute rendition of “We all love Leeds” and must have put some motivation into the team. As half time approached I was talking to the lad next to me saying that I was sure Monk would make some changes early on in the second half. We also felt there must be something more going on due to the fact that the whole team collectively seemed to have lost their way. I still stand by my stance that we should have gone out to win at Sutton as winning breeds winning and nothing I have seen since that day will convince me otherwise. Almost in slow motion we got the ball into the penalty area and everyone seemed to stop as the ball came to Dallas and he had time to put the ball into the net. Phew just in the nick of time to give us a fighting chance.
I was comparing cameras with Paul at half time as he explained an action on his. I have to admit that despite all the thousands of photos I have taken, unfortunately I still haven’t read the instructions yet, oops!
The second half saw Bridcutt come on for Vieira but unfortunately the game carried on in the same vein as the first. Our passing collectively was very poor and once again we have Green to thank for a great save to stop Ipswich getting a winner. Also it’s a good job Bartley was on the line to head one out that eventually came back in for Green to catch. Our other substitutions didn’t have an impact but we managed to get to the final whistle to keep it a draw and get a point. The only shot on target for us was our goal which showed how poor we were unfortunately. The only good thing to come out of it was that we didn’t lose and got the point away from home so will have to take that as a positive. I was very surprised to hear Monk saying the pitch had been very poor in his talk after the game. That wasn’t anything the fans around me had seen, sorry!
It had been a good day out with good company despite the 90 minutes at the game. It was also nice to be back home in Halifax by 9.30pm as I remember the days when we used to take at least five hours to travel back to Leeds along the winding roads. As I reached King Cross there were police everywhere and a car on its roof so I’m glad I missed that!
I know many fans are worried that we are going to drop out of the play-off spots and at times it looks as if that could happen. I still maintain we should just go out and get as many points as we can and play to our strengths. We seem to have gone to playing very deep and having a lot of passing from side to side before giving the ball away. I don’t know what the answer is but there will not be any easy games as anyone can beat anyone in this division. Next week sees the visit of Sheffield Wednesday to Leeds in an early kick-off in one of those crucial games, so we have to raise our game at Elland Road. It also looks as if we have got another 30,000+ crowd so let’s make it a fortress Elland Road and sing our hearts out for the lads. I’m hoping to meet up with my old Selby Branch lads after the game too. So fingers crossed for next week, see you there – LUFC – Marching on Together.