Brighton v Leeds United 27th November 2021 at The Amex

Brighton A 27th November 2021

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After waking up to snow and horrendous winds, I knew it would be a challenging day for Leeds fans travelling to the game, especially those in the north. With freezing fingers after clearing snow from my car, the worst snow was down to the main road and apart from one flood to contend with I got to Elland Road just after 8am in time for the coach. I realised that I’d made the mistake of not putting my walking boots on as I’d cold and wet feet before even leaving Leeds. It was going to be a long day. The travel disruptions didn’t stop there as we had to detour around Barnsley to get past a jack-knifed lorry/accidents that had shut the M1. It’s a good job we had allowed plenty of time to get to the game because even though we made good time after that, it was slow going on the M25. We luckily still managed to have a pub stop before getting to the game 30 minutes before kick-off. With all the Leeds fans arriving at once, there were plenty of queues getting in. I had to have my flag checked (I think for content) to see if it was allowed in, and the steward very kindly said it was okay. Being able to hang my flag up at Premier League grounds has been virtually impossible at many so far this season so I’m glad it got an airing. Whoever designed the ground though, putting the ladies’ loos next to a packed bar wasn’t good planning.

A big thank you to Dave for buying by new book United Are Back! For anyone wanting to buying it, remember to use the code HAIGH25 if ordering direct from my publisher JMD Media to receive your discount for any of my books or others on the site.

linkhttps://www.jmdmedia.co.uk/products/united-are-back-leeds-united-2020-21-back-in-the-premier-league-behind-closed-doors

With it being the 10th anniversary since Gary Speed’s death, it was a lovely gesture seeing some fans had been given t-shirts before the start of the game. The Leeds fans ensured they remembered him by singing ‘Oh Gary Speed’ on 11 minutes.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Firpo, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Phillips, James, Dallas, Forshaw, Harrison and Llorente.

Subs: Struijk for Phillips (45), Shackleton for Firpo (45), Roberts for Harrison (63).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Gelhardt, Klich, Cresswell, McCarron, Jenkins.

Leeds drew the game 0-0.

Referee: Craig Pawson.

Booked: Firpo.

Attendance: 31,166 with 3,000 Leeds fans.

The Leeds fans were in good voice but Brighton fans after their initial start were very poor, and I was surprised when they booed their team off at the end of the game. Leeds found themselves under the cosh and we had to be thankful for the woodwork and Meslier keeping Brighton from scoring. Firpo received an early booking which maybe impacted on his performance, as he was given a torrid time during the first half. It took a while for Leeds to get a grip of the game before having an attack, but our final shot was wide. The nearest we came to scoring was when we won a free kick taken by Raphinha which just missed Rodrigo, and James who couldn’t get a good contact for a shot. The rest of the half was dominated by Brighton’s continuous attacks with again the woodwork and Meslier preventing them scoring. It had been a poor half from our point of view but at least the scores were 0-0 at half time.

The second half saw both Phillips and Firpo subbed but it didn’t make any difference to stopping Brighton from attacking. Again, it took time for us to have an attack with Dallas’s shot saved by their keeper giving us a bit of hope. When Roberts came on, he made an immediate impact, but it was a shame he didn’t lift the ball over the keeper to score, instead it was straight at the keeper who saved the shot. Meslier made another great save tipping the ball over the bar as Brighton continued to try and break the deadlock. The last 10 minutes saw Leeds get into the game more and a great run by Forshaw saw Roberts’ shot saved by the keeper. Roberts had a further shot saved before the game ended in a 0-0 draw. With freezing fingers and toes at the end of the game for me along with an icy wind, conditions hadn’t been great, but Brighton had the best efforts. That said we could have been a few goals down by the end of the game, so the positives are that we didn’t lose and gained a point. I’ll admit at one point I thought there was only one team going to score and it wasn’t us, but for once things worked out in our favour. One thing I will say though is that despite thinking the purple kit looks okay, on the pitch it had no impact for me and would rather not use it during a game. As the Brighton fans were going out of the ground next to me, a Leeds fan amongst them shouted Leeds, Leeds, Leeds. Leeds fans here, Leeds fans there!

It had been a very poor game overall and although we had a very good run home with no diversions for once, I couldn’t wait to get home as I felt very down. Sleeping on things is the best way forward for me and I’m feeling a lot more positive this morning. We have two home games this week so come on Leeds, believe in yourselves and let’s get those two wins under our belts before heading to Chelsea. See you there LUFC, Marching on Together!

Spurs v Leeds United 21st November 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

My new book United Are Back! Leeds United 2020/21 Back in the Premier League behind closed doors is now available for those wanting to buy it. With Christmas just around the corner, it will make a perfect present for the Leeds fan in your life! This completes the series that started with The Sleeping Giant Awakens Leeds United 2016-17, Back to Reality! Leeds United 2017-18, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United Leeds United 2018-19 and Leeds Are Going to the Premier League! Leeds United Season 2019/20 Promotion in their Centenary Year! I do have small stocks of all the books if anyone is interested in those too so just let me know if you want to meet up at a game. My other books are Follow Me & Leeds United, Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Leeds United! Leeds United in the 1980s, the latter co-authored with Andrew Dalton.

Remember to use the code HAIGH25 if ordering direct from my publisher JMD Media to receive your discount for any of my books or others on the site.

linkhttps://www.jmdmedia.co.uk/products/united-are-back-leeds-united-2020-21-back-in-the-premier-league-behind-closed-doors

As usual a big thank you to everyone for their support in buying my books which is greatly appreciated including Robert, Martin, Harry plus those who have already got their orders in or who have ordered it directly from my publisher or Amazon.

Last Friday I attended the Centenary Whites do at the Irish Centre which was once again it was an excellent event with lots of different acts too. It was well worth going to and enjoyed by all of us in my family group.

Centenary Whites Irish Centre 19th November 2021

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Spurs v Leeds United 21st November 2021

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Dan James scoring his first goal for Leeds United at Spurs 21st November 2021
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It was a cold morning with ice on my gate as I set off from home for the coach to Spurs. After a stop at Muswell Hill again we arrived at the ground in good time for kick off luckily getting dropped off nearby. The challenge after the game was finding out where we had parked but it was disgraceful that once again there was no provision for getting our disabled fans back to them. That is one thing the Premiership is severely lacking, any compassion for the ordinary fans that follow their team which is unacceptable in this day and age.

After the bag searches, then being searched myself, with some of our stewards having the joys of asking for covid passes where they received some friendly abuse from me before a final wave of a metal detector which made loud noises from my phone, I made it to the turnstiles. That was the easy part getting through! There was an icy wind outside the stadium but at least it was warm under the stand where the Leeds fans were in fine voice with constant renditions of the Follow, Follow, song which sounded great.

This was a new stadium to visit despite me having visited White Hart Lane many times before. I was taken back in time to my first ever away game that I travelled to on my own on 29th January 1972, an unbelievable 50 years ago in January, which Leeds lost 1-0 at White Hart Lane. My friend Sue couldn’t afford to go as she was still at school whereas I’d started working at 15. I travelled with Wallace Arnold coaches from Leeds and when we got to the ground, I asked some girls at the front of the coach if they’d mind me tagging along with them. We went in the seats above the Spurs fans at the back of the goal and long-lasting friendships were formed that day that are still in existence now.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Dallas, Struijk, Phillips, Forshaw, Gelhardt making his first premier League start, Harrison, James, Llorente and Klich. Subs: Firpo for Klich (58), Roberts for Forshaw (72) and McKinstry for Gelhardt (87).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, Greenwood, Drameh, McCarron and Jenkins.

Leeds lost the game 2-1 after James getting his first goal for Leeds just before the break on 44 minutes.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Booked: Gelhardt, Cooper, Forshaw, Phillips.

The game set off at a cracking pace and a foul on Gelhardt gave Leeds a free kick on the left-hand side of the pitch, which was taken by Phillips and saved by the keeper. Leeds kept racing forwards putting Spurs under pressure before some outstanding defending from Phillips, Cooper and Forshaw won the ball back from Spurs letting know they were in a game. Forshaw saw his shot come agonisingly close to opening the scoring, but it whistled past the wrong side of the post with their keeper at full stretch. Phillips was playing his best football since he came back from injury plus the whole team were doing well collectively which was good to see. Just before the break with many fans having already gone downstairs for half time refreshment queues, Leeds took the lead with a greatly worked goal. Some fantastic play from Harrison on the left wing saw him beat the defender before crossing the ball into the middle for James to score his first goal for Leeds at the far post. The attempt from Forshaw and the goal going into the net have been captured in my photos I’m pleased to say. Going in at half time in the lead felt good as many fans had written us off before the game due to the players out with injuries.

The second half started with Leeds defending deep which invited Spurs to attack us, which saw the ball bounce back off the post after a finger tipped save from Meslier. Leeds raced to the other end with James trying to add another goal to his tally but this time his shot was saved by their keeper. Leeds found their luck holding when Spurs’ next attempt saw Llorente deflecting the ball onto the crossbar before we cleared it. Back to the other end in front of the Leeds fans and two attempts from Gelhardt were saved by their keeper. Sadly, our luck didn’t hold as another attack saw Meslier pulled out of position in an attempt to win the ball and the ball was passed back across the goal for Spurs to equalise. With Spurs players falling down at the drop of a hat it wasn’t a surprise to see them win a free kick just outside the area with the referee keen to oblige by giving it. Sod’s law saw the ball bounce off our wall and onto the post, only for one of their players to be quick to peel off and score from the rebound. That was a bitter blow especially after we had played so well in the first half. Although Leeds kept trying to get forward, we were hitting balls into the air which were easily cleared by their giants in defence as I shouted for Leeds to play to our strengths. Our best spell in the first half was our constant attacking keeping the ball away from them and playing to our strengths on the floor. It felt very futile then as I couldn’t see another way through although James tried once again to get on the scoresheet. As the final whistle blew it was a massive disappointment that we hadn’t got anything out of the game but as always, only the final score counts for anything.

The atmosphere from the Spurs fans was very poor today. They were heard when the game kicked off, after both goals and at the end when they could have been so impressive. As we came out of the ground, we were only allowed left and then in the direction of the coaches although we’d no idea where they were. Our driver had at least told us the road he was parking on so that gave us something to aim for, but plenty of fans took a long time to get there as there was no police assistance in telling anyone where the coaches were. After a long time getting out of London and another M1 detour because of motorway closures, I eventually got home at 12.30am Monday morning. With more ice to be found on my gate, it looks like we are heading into wintry weather this week but hopefully it will have warmed up for Saturday’s visit to Brighton. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Centenary Whites Irish Centre 19th November 2021

Centenary Whites Irish Centre 19th November 2021

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Another great night watching the Centenary Whites and other acts at the Irish Centre yesterday. 

My new book, United Are Back! Leeds United 2020/21

I’ve just received my latest book in time for Christmas presents. For those wanting an autographed copy, I will have some with me at the Centenary do on Friday 18th November and also at Spurs on Sunday. Please let me know if you want one. 

They are available direct from my publisher JMD Media

Use code HAIGH25 to receive a discount if ordering direct from my publisher

Leeds United v Leicester City 7th November 2021 at Elland Road

Leicester H 7th November 2021

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From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has taken to time to speak, comment on Facebook, hugged, given support via expressions etc for the support my family have received from what I wrote yesterday on social media. For those unaware, my husband Phillip (Captain for those who know him through the Leeds United Supporters Club), after being given the all clear from throat cancer which started three years ago, he has now been diagnosed with cancer in his lung. Those who are receiving treatment themselves or have been through it as a family, know exactly what this entails and have taken time off their own troubles to show their support too. At this moment in time, we are waiting for biopsies to take place to know exactly what we are dealing with including treatment options and prognosis. Initially this week with us both being knocked for six, it felt like all the fight had drained from us but now we have a more positive outlook and are ready to fight this as a family. This is what being Leeds means to me as the Leeds United family comes together to support each other and I am forever grateful that our fans are so special.

After picking two of my granddaughters Hannah and Laura up, we then collected my daughter Danielle. After all the challenges we had this week, an addition was Danielle having an overnight stay in hospital although at the moment we are non the wiser for her extreme pain. It never rains but it pours for us and as I wait for my telephone appointment to discuss my recent scan results with the doctor, as the saying goes, things come in threes. Well, we have had more than our fair share thank you very much.

I was looking forward to going to the Fan zone to see the Centenary Whites play before the game. They didn’t disappoint and it was great having a sing song and listening to the Leeds songs put to popular music by Paul Wilson and the rest of the team. They are well worth going to see and the 19th November sees them performing at the Irish Centre along with other acts. If you haven’t already got your tickets, then come and join us for a great evening amongst Leeds United fans. We got in the ground ready for the minute’s silence for Armistice Day on the 11th November, remembering our Armed Forces. Thanks to the Thames Valley Whites for sharing their remembrance flag photo.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Forshaw (making his first Premier League game start for two years after his comeback from injury), Raphinha. James, Rodrigo, Harrison, Phillips, Struijk, Dallas and Llorente.

Subs: Roberts for Harrison (83), Cresswell for Forshaw (90).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Klich, Drameh, Bate, Hjelde, McKinstry and Summerville.

Leeds drew the game 1-1 with Raphinha scoring the Leeds goal (26).

Attendance: 36,478 with 2,901 Leicester fans.

Referee: Darren England.

Booked: Raphinha.

On seeing that Forshaw was starting the game in midfield, I knew that our midfield would be stronger today. It was also going to be interesting seeing Struijk play at left back but as he is a natural left footer, at least he was playing on his better side. Leeds were the first to attack with Rodrigo’s shot saved by the keeper before Meslier was called into action too. Leeds came very close to scoring when Harrison saw his shot saved that was destined for the top corner of the goal. From the resulting corner, Phillips saw his header saved, Raphinha was then brought down in the penalty area but appeals for a penalty were waved away before James saw his shot go narrowly wide. Leeds were awarded a free kick on the right of the penalty area which Raphinha took himself. Elland Road erupted when his free kick hit the back of the net to put Leeds into the lead just before 30 minutes were on the clock. With Leeds fans still celebrating, we couldn’t quite believe it when Leicester straight from kick off went towards the Kop and put the ball into the net, once again showing we couldn’t keep a lead. Both sides had a further chance before the whistle blew for half time.

Leeds started the second half on the back foot after a back pass from Cooper put Meslier under pressure and we gave a sigh of relief when the ball went wide of the post. Leicester then had a shot that went wide from the corner. A great chance from a corner saw Phillips’s pass to Harrison only for the ball to go sailing over the bar. James after some great work was let down as his final shot went over the bar, then Rodrigo saw his shot saved by the keeper. As Leeds attacked again the same two players came close to scoring with both shots going narrowly wide. When Leicester put the ball into the net to go into the lead, it felt like we were pushing a self-destruct button. By not preserving our lead we had put ourselves under pressure once again. Suddenly it came on the score board that VAR was looking for a possible offside decision which went in our favour, upping the Leeds support into a frenzy. As Leicester attacked again, Meslier raced off his line making a vital save to keep them out. He was called on to make a save a few minutes later and last gasp defending by Phillips kept them out again. With a final shot from Raphinha going narrowly over the game ended in a draw. The positive is that we got a point out of the game.

I thought we had played well in large parts of the game, sadly switching off for the crucial minute after we had taken the lead. Rodrigo and James were linking up well and with better finishing from James it may have been a different story. It felt like he was trying too hard to score but I don’t feel it will be long before he does. Struijk had a good game at left back too which was good to see. With one Leicester player, I couldn’t believe I was praising him for not staying in a heap on the floor but getting up after a tackle! There again they had a few instances of time wasting and falling down when they tried to slow the game down, but on the whole they were a lot better than some of the recent teams. With the next international break upon us, we have a couple of weeks for some of our injured players to get up to speed hopefully before our trip to Spurs. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!                                                       

 

Norwich v Leeds United 31st October 2021 at Carrow Road

Norwich A 31st October 2021

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With another 4.45am early morning call for the long trip to Norwich, I was grateful for the reminder of the clocks going back giving us an extra hour in bed. Knowing me, I’d have been at Elland Road an hour earlier than needed otherwise. We had a good trip down to Norfolk, stopping at Thetford before arriving at the ground just as the rain stopped. Thinking it was going to be cold, I took my coat into the ground but should have left it on the coach as it was warm where I was stood. On the other hand, my daughter Dani ended up frozen as she was stood next to the wall at the side of the stand. Once again, the power of being amongst my friends remains good therapy, well apart from the two stood next to me in the ground who took exception to me taking photos. Firstly, I was told by one that I should be watching the game and secondly the other one said that I was stopping him from watching the game by trying for less than 20 seconds to get past him to my seat. Now I appreciate the game had kicked off for the second half, but there was really no need to be so antagonistic. I can’t say I’ve seen them before, so I didn’t know them and despite not knowing me they obviously took issue with me. I know I can’t please everyone when writing my blogs and taking photos, but this is done for those fans who appreciate being part of the football day out. I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, so I just thought sod you, and shook my head. I carried on singing, chanting, taking my photos and supporting my team like I always do. I don’t need anyone telling me how I should support my team thank you very much. It’s very rare for me to say anything against our fans but the response from those two pales into insignificance, with the response of fans who loved having their photos taken today.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, James, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Harrison, Dallas, Phillips, Shackleton, Llorente and Struijk.

Subs: Drameh for Shackleton (injured 71), Forshaw for James (77), Roberts for Rodrigo (88).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, Summerville, Gelhardt, Hjelde, Klich.

Leeds won the game 2-1 with all the goals coming in a four-minute spell in the second half. Raphinha (56) putting Leeds into the lead and Rodrigo (60) getting the winner after Norwich had equalised from a corner two minutes earlier.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 26,913 with 2,300 Leeds fans.

Booked: Rodrigo. Harrison, Shackleton. Drameh.

Before the start, the last post was played 1as soldiers and Chelsea pensioners came together with the crowd to remember our fallen soldiers. A minute’s silence was respectfully observed before a wreath of poppies was laid. It was nice seeing the Leeds salute given to our fans as they passed by our stand. It had been nice talking to the Norwich stewards before the game as they were very friendly.

Leeds started the game attacking the goal where the Leeds fans were massed at the side of the pitch. Raphinha was on fire making many great runs down the wing in front of us. Leeds were very unlucky not to take an early lead as James from a Dallas pass, got round their keeper only to see his shot kicked off the line. After some tough early tackles from Leeds where the Norwich players fell to the ground very easily, the game was allowed to flow. Then it was as if someone had got in the referee’s ear, and he completely switched off from giving Leeds anything. Every free kick was given Norwich’s way but even some that shouldn’t have been given, with the referee getting stick from the Leeds fans. When Norwich had a shot, I was convinced it was going into the net but luckily for us it went wide. Rodrigo saw his shot saved by their keeper before Meslier was called into action to keep the scores level at half time. Norwich had been determined to waste time in the last few minutes of the half but despite that, only one minute of injury time was played.

At the start of the second half, Meslier saved a free kick from Norwich before Leeds took the lead with a fantastic goal by Raphinha. He broke down the wing and then into the box before sending a great shot into the net sending the Leeds fans wild. Norwich straight away attacked our goal, as Meslier was given the ball, he tried to pass back across towards the far corner, only to see the ball go over the line. From the resulting corner, Norwich sent a header into the net to equalise. Why could we not hold onto a lead, that was so frustrating. As Leeds went straight back on the attack, the ball was lost but then won back again by Struijk. He passed the ball to Phillips who in turn gave it to Rodrigo, who sent a long shot into the net, taking their keeper by surprise. Two great goals in a matter of minutes and this had put us back in the lead. The Leeds fans had been in fine voice on the terraces and got behind the team even more. Shackleton went down injured, and it looked like Drameh was coming on to replace him. The next thing he was sent back on to the pitch only to go down again shortly afterwards and the substitution was made. When I heard number four for Leeds with our next substitution, it sounded like we were replacing number four. It looked like James was as confused as I was when he was replaced by Forshaw. Seeing Norwich getting angry when they were trying to get the ball off us when we had a goal kick, they didn’t like the boot being on the other foot. They weren’t bothered when wasting time in the first half! Obviously with them losing they’d changed their mind. Leeds were able to see the game out and get a welcome win and three points. With fans singing, there’s only one Stuart Dallas, he looked chuffed to bits for the support given to him. His recent revelation about the traumas he’d been through with the death of a close friend and his isolation from his family through Covid at such a sad time, had taken its toll on him.

There were some good signs today with some great attacking play and Raphinha for me was my man of the match. Keep going Leeds and build on this performance. After seeing Phil Cresswell’s post this morning saying we had 29 matches left, I said we had to have another unbeaten run like we did in 1973. Who knows but today was a step in the right direction. With another Sunday game next week with the home game against Leicester, I am looking forward to watching the Centenary Whites in the Fanzone before the game starts. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Arsenal v Leeds United 4th round Carabao Cup 26th October at The Emirates

Arsenal A 26th October 2021 Carabao Cup 4th Round

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Centenary Square 26th October 2021

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It was lovely to be able to take my granddaughter Hannah with me to the game in London. Having allowed plenty of time to get to the ground to catch the coach, we were there in no time and still had an hour to waste before leaving. We decided to look around Centenary Square first before looking around the shop where I could have spent a fortune. As it is a case of going to the football or buying something in the shop, the football wins hands down.

We got stuck in some traffic around junction 32 on the M1 that was just grinding to a halt. As things started moving again, we passed the cause of the hold up. An articulated lorry on its side in the field next to the motorway that was resting on some power cables. This accident caused an impact on Leeds fans getting to the game tonight with some forced to turnaround. I spoke to one lad outside the ground just before kick-off who told me his ticket for the game was still on the M1! We had a stop at Muswell Hill before heading early to the ground as Arsenal had informed the coach drivers, they would be closing the roads around the ground around 5.30pm.

We wandered up and down the streets for a while as we needed to find a Subway for gluten free food and luckily, we had a good guide in Nikki and her guide dog Annie. We then returned to the ground as I wanted some photos of us all in front of it and a kind policeman volunteered to take a photo of us with my camera. My daughter Dani, her boyfriend Chris and Hannah went into the ground as we were in different sections but as I was meeting someone outside before the game I stayed with Nikki until she met up with her son. A couple of Arsenal fans started talking to me with one saying how good it was to see so many Leeds fans in the capital for a Tuesday night game, showing great support and to enjoy the game. As I was wearing my Billy Bremner shirt another fan said my shirt was an old one and did, I remember his friend Vinnie Jones playing for us. Oh yes, I remember Vinnie, then he said he was really a Watford fan. It was good to just walk about outside the ground though with no issues as if we owned the place. Seeing the signs for the “Clock End” took me back to the 70s and all the trouble that happened on the terraces in that end as a Leeds fan. Getting followed all around the stand by groups of Arsenal fans hell bent on trouble and intimidation before trying to get back to the coaches in one piece was very hairy. At one game we were charged by the Arsenal fans which saw a big gap appear in front of me as everyone scattered, leaving me faced with snarling aggressive lads shouting come on at us. As I wasn’t a fighter, I got away as soon as I could shaking like a leaf plus getting injured climbing over a wall to get away from them.

Team: Meslier, Drameh making his first team debut at right back, Rodrigo, Roberts, James, Forshaw, Dallas (Captain), Llorente, Struijk, Phillips and Harrison.

Subs: Klich for Forshaw (45), Gelhardt for Roberts (53), Cooper for Llorente (58), Greenwood for Rodrigo (69), Summerville for James (69).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, McKinstry, Hjelde.

Leeds lost the game2-0.

Attendance. 59,126 with 5,500 Leeds fans.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Booked: Roberts.

Leeds attacked the goal where the Leeds fans were packed in the lower tier. After Arsenal having the first chance of the game where Meslier saved the shot, Leeds started attacking winning a few corners. It was noticeable that Arsenal pulled everyone back into defence to defend them. Leeds were making some great runs out of defence with James looking very fast. Our first real shot at goal was from Harrison which was saved by their keeper. I was very impressed with young Cody Drameh too who was playing very well and assured on his first team debut. With Leeds on the attack, one of their players hurt himself when trying to foul Leeds and was left in a heap on the ground. Surprise, surprise, the referee stopped the game which angered the Leeds fans because play should have carried on as there was no reason to stop it. The game has gone soft especially as it was their player’s own fault. Although Harrison and James saw their shots easily saved by their keeper and Arsenal sent a shot wide before the break, the scores were still level at half time. Leeds had played very well in my opinion, with lots of fast attacking play although we hadn’t scored.

At half time as I was just going back down the tunnel, I saw a young lad having a go at another Leeds fan for pushing him. I tried to intervene by “pushing” him away saying it wasn’t worth it and he apologised to me saying it had been deliberate and was not an accident. As the young lad’s mates joined in with the verbals, and I wasn’t making any headway, I walked away and left them to it.

I was surprised to see Bielsa had made a sub by taking Forshaw off and bringing on Klich for the start of the second half. As the team had been playing so well, I wouldn’t have changed anything, but it is possible after Forshaw’s recent injury that had been taken into account. It was a tale of two halves though because we never got going in the second half. With our next change shortly after the restart we lost the strength we’d had in midfield. The referee caused Leeds fans to scream at him when a blatant push and then a foul on us were let go and play continued rather than us having a free kick. The same didn’t happen to Arsenal of course, as he blew up for every challenge giving them a free kick. How frustrating was that? Arsenal took the lead shortly afterwards and we were adamant the ball had not crossed the line when Meslier kicked it out with his feet. With all the pushing and shoving from Arsenal in front of him prior to this they should have been penalised for it. As it was when watching the action replays, we had to concede that the ball had crossed the line even if it was only slightly over. Arsenal then started with their unsporting behaviour and gamesmanship going down at the slightest touch and the referee obliged by awarding them numerous free kicks. Slowing the game down when their player went down in the penalty area no trainer came on and he got up. Whether it was the same player or not one walked to the side of the goal then back into the penalty area. The next minute a player went down so it was ages before play resumed and their player had got up again. The game was killed off from a Leeds point of view when Cooper’s short headed back pass was picked up by Arsenal who got to the ball first, rounded Meslier and the ball trickled into the net although it looked like it was going wide. I’m disappointed that my dream of a cup final at Wembley and Europe beckoning has gone done the pan again. Winning breeds winning as instilled in me by Billy Bremner and the great Revie team I have been privileged to see play.

After their first goal someone threw a bottle down at the Leeds fans to the right of the stand from the Arsenal fans above. That opened the floodgates for retaliations going backwards and forwards between both sets of fans. For the rest of the game there was a lot of unrest with things thrown from both sets of fans. For a minority of our fans, resorting to smashing seats though is not the answer and is out of order especially as Leeds fans bore the brunt of it. Sadly, my granddaughter got caught up in it when a bottle was caught by the fan stood in front of her and she got very upset, so Dani, Chris and Hannah moved to the back of the stand away from it. The Arsenal stewards were very apologetic saying that for the last three games they’d had big issues with Arsenal fans causing trouble and they’d no idea how to deal with them. If that was the case, why on earth did they have these fans sat above us especially when they wouldn’t give us tickets for the upper tier this year, because we were stood up all through our last game there? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Outside at the end of the game as I was waiting for the others to get there, suddenly, an Arsenal woman shouted, he’s only 10 as she and her child walked past me. It looked like they’d walked across the front of some Leeds fans walking down the slope, but I hadn’t seen anything that he’d been deliberately targeted.

I am so glad that I don’t need to get up for work after a 3.15am return home and my sympathies go to those fans who have to go in. Having been there and done this many times too, it shows the effort and commitment our fantastic support makes every game to follow our team. See you at Norwich on Sunday for another long-distance trip. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) at Elland Road 23rd October 2021

Wolves H 23rd October 2021

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For those who didn’t manage to see my Southampton report and photos last week please click on the link

Southampton 16th October 2021

Southampton A 16th October 2021

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I was looking forward to being back at Elland Road with our fans for a pick me up. As we were walking to the ground from our parking spot, a Leeds fan came up to me to say he had just been reading one of my books again. We had a good chat, and he was doing his good deed for the day, showing two Wolves fans where they needed to go to their seats in the West Stand. This was the nice part of football, chatting to both sets of fans and having a laugh by reminiscing. This was just what I needed. It was good chatting to others in the Peacock and in the ground before the game kicked off.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Raphinha, Dallas, Klich, Rodrigo, Shackleton, Harrison, James, Llorente and Struijk.

Subs: Roberts for Harrison (45), Summerville for Raphinha (injured 54), Gelhardt (making his home debut) for Klich (62).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Phillips, Cresswell, Forshaw, Drameh, Hjelde.

Leeds drew the game 1-1 with Rodrigo equalising with a penalty (90+4).

Referee: Robert Jones.

Booked: Shackleton, Rodrigo.

Attendance: 36,475 with 2,913 Wolves fans.

It was vital we got something out of this game after the terrible performance at Southampton last week. Leeds made the early attacking towards the Kop at the start of the first half with Raphinha back in the side after completing his isolation after playing for Brazil, making some great moves. Sadly, within nine minutes Leeds were a goal down, as Wolves made their first attack of the game and scored from it. That reminded me of how we used to smash and grab our way out of defence into attack and score. That said, we hadn’t been playing badly either, but things weren’t just going our way. With Leeds on the back foot once again, Wolves started with their time-wasting tactics and the referee was falling for everything, giving numerous free kicks their way. Although Leeds tried to get back into the game, things petered out until the half time whistle blew, despite having lots of possession.

Bielsa brought Roberts on in place of Harrison at the break. With Wolves defending in numbers, it was hard to break them down, but Leeds won a free kick to the right of the pitch in front of their fans when Raphinha was brought down. He looked to be in a lot of pain, but the referee refused to let the trainers onto the pitch. Raphinha was then told to get off the pitch to get treatment. Seeing him hopping off on one leg told me that was not the right decision to be made and the trainers should have come on. It’s all right trying to keep the game flowing especially as some of the Wolves players were going down like 9 pins, but there are genuine injuries. Sadly, Raphinha ended up going straight down the tunnel being supported by the trainers which didn’t look good for him.

Summerville came on first to replace Raphinha and then Gelhardt was brought on to give Leeds some more attacking prowess. When Wolves were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box the Leeds fans were up in arms but cheered when this was sent over the goal. Having riled our support, the Leeds crowd then showed what a fantastic twelfth man we could be, starting with a WACCOE and raising the tempo by getting behind the team. Marching on Together had the stands shaking as the team responded to the show of support from the fans. With a couple of our headers coming close, our best chance of the game saw Gelhardt’s fantastic shot tipped over the bar by their keeper. What a goal that could have been. Meslier had to stand up and be counted to ensure Wolves didn’t get a second goal to put the game out of reach. Nothing was given by the referee when Summerville was challenged in the penalty area, but there was no mistake deep into stoppage time when Gelhardt was brought down in the area. As I was wondering who would take the penalty, it was no surprise to me to see Rodrigo step up to take it. As he has been the first player taking our recent penalties in shoot-outs and scoring from them, Rodrigo put the resulting penalty into the net to secure an equaliser to give Leeds a point. We had been discussing being optimistic and I nearly got my wish of two goals in two minutes; a fantastic cross from Gelhardt was sent across the box to the left-hand side just missing James getting on the end of it by inches. Leeds deserved to get the point from the draw and showed that by fighting until the final whistle, we always stand a chance.

Well done lads and please get our young lads to join you in accepting applause for their part in the game. As we neared where I park, there was a police van there together with a lad who had blood on his face. He mentioned someone being drunk but as there was no one else around, I’m not sure what happened.  With it being half term net week, it gives my granddaughter Hannah a chance to attend another away game with me, so she is very excited. The last time we went to Arsenal in the FA Cup I got home at 3am only to be up for work at 6am, so I am glad that I won’t need to this time. There will be plenty of Leeds fans in our fantastic support making that sacrifice though, plus we have another long distance away game the following Sunday with our visit to Norwich. See you at both, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Southampton v Leeds United 16th October 2021 at St Mary’s

Southampton A 16th October 2021

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Getting up at the unearthly hour of 4.45am could only mean one thing, away days were back after the international break. One of our Hampshire Whites had tweeted, that they make this long trip to every home game at Elland Road. There is no disputing the effort that comes from our loyal fans to support our team, which is more than could be said about their performance today, which was dire.

I really wished I’d started writing down everything that happened to us as a family since my husband received his cancer diagnosis three years ago. Never a week goes by without something happening to someone in my extended family. With him receiving further tests and me getting told I need an operation sooner rather than later; it is one thing after another. Personally, I don’t want any operation to interfere with my football but as there will be a long wait anyway, who knows when it will be.

One bit of good news though is about our song’s recordings that a group of Leeds fans started in 2017. Despite it taking four years to get this project to completion, we are nearly there. Watch out for further news very soon and remember, Christmas is just around the corner.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente, Struijk, Shackleton, Dallas, Klich, Rodrigo, Roberts, James and Harrison.

Subs: Forshaw for Rodrigo (64), Gelhardt making his Premier League debut, for Klich (77), Summerville for Roberts (81).

Leeds lost the game 1-0.

Referee: David Coote.

Attendance: 30,506 with 3,300 Leeds fans.

Booked: Roberts, Struijk, Llorente.

After a stop in Basingstoke, we reached the ground 30 minutes before kick-off, but with queues at the turnstiles, we got into our seats with the game ready to start. The next 45 minutes passed very quickly but not in a good way for us as we were under attack for most of the half. Leeds had no answer to Southampton taking the game to us with constant attacking. They were helped on their way with the referee giving them no end of free kicks in the first 15 minutes, although that is no excuse for our heads going down and capitulating to them. Southampton fought for every ball, winning the second balls too but we looked to have lead in our boots sadly. When they were running rings around us, it looked obvious to me and others around me that we should change our formation. Meslier had to be on his toes making a couple of good saves, but it was a good job that their finishing was woeful otherwise they could have had a hatful of goals. With only one cross caught by their keeper our only attack of note was just before the break, but Roberts’s shot went wide. A very poor half for us but I was thankful to go into the break on even terms.

After the restart, Southampton had an attack that brought a save from Meslier before we had a spell of attacking with Harrison’s shot deflected for a corner. We continued to attack but instead of having a shot, we kept passing the ball across the pitch which was so frustrating. Catch them unawares and shoot, we do know how to do that! That proved to be our downfall as Southampton won the ball, raced to the other end, and put the ball into the net to go into the lead.

Although James’s persistence saw his chance go wide, if we thought we would improve, sadly that wasn’t to be. We had no leader on the pitch, our passing was woeful, we couldn’t play as a team and were at sixes and sevens. It is a long-time since I’ve seen such an inept performance from Leeds. I know we were missing key players with Phillips, Koch, Bamford, Firpo and Ayling out injured, plus Raphinha had just returned from a long trip after playing for Brazil where he scored two of their goals. That said, we were a shadow of a team without them and had a lot of the youngsters on the bench. I’m sure some of them would have put in a better performance than some of the team today. I’ll be honest, with the odds stacked against us from the start, I though we could surprise everyone by getting a win, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It was a gutting display today, but it will only be worrying if we don’t pick ourselves up from this defeat. Because we couldn’t contain the ball in midfield, this puts pressure on our defence, but also means we couldn’t create anything either. That to me was one area we needed to strengthen not that I’d any idea of who could have been brought in to do the job. We need a Bremner and Giles partnership or a Batty and Strachan one and wish we had them here today. We cannot be so reliant on Phillips playing that we seemingly can’t manage without him.

Although a very painful result and a 19 hour round trip, we move on. See what happens with the Wolves game next week so see you there. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Premier League Productions – Matchday Memories with Heidi Haigh

At half time  during the televising of the Leeds United v Watford game at Elland Road 2nd October 2021, the recent filming by Premier League Productions went worldwide.

Matchday Memories with Heidi Haigh of Leeds v Liverpool, 4th November 2000 when Leeds won 4-3 with Viduka scoring all four goals.

Leeds United v Watford 2nd October 2021 at Elland Road

Watford H 2nd October 2021

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I would like to wish Jack Daniel who has been battling cancer for the last year or so, a fantastic 15th birthday tomorrow. Hopefully he will receive lots of cards from our fantastic Leeds support to put a smile on his face.

After a trip to a and e this morning with one family member, then another one who was coming to the game with us taken ill, it meant a change to our travel plans. Because of this we went straight into the ground but luckily just as the teams were coming on to the pitch. Today was a game where three points were a must.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente (back from injury), Shackleton, Dallas, Rodrigo, Raphinha, James, Klich, Firpo and Phillips.

Subs: Roberts for Dallas (injured 78), Struijk for Klich (90+2).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Harrison, Cresswell, Hjelde, Gelhardt, Greenwood, McKinstry.

Leeds won the game 1-0 with Llorente scoring for Leeds (18).

Attendance: 36,261 with approx. 1,494 Watford fans.

Referee: Simon Hooper.

Leeds set off on the attack and saw both James and Raphinha’s shots blocked before Dallas had a shot saved by their keeper. Leeds took an early lead after Llorente hit the ball from close range into the net from a corner. Leeds should have been awarded a penalty a couple of minutes later when James was brought down from behind in the penalty area. Where was VAR having a look at it because once again there wasn’t a peep from it? If James had been wearing the colours of that team across the Pennines, there was no doubt in my mind that VAR would have looked at the challenge again! The referee should have given a couple of Watford players early bookings for the many fouls on our players, but he left it until late in the second half to give them their first yellow card. When a Watford player threw himself to the floor in the penalty area in front of us, play was waved on. As we were shouting at him to get up, Watford won the ball back but then blasted the ball over the bar. Watford were then guilty of time wasting as their players dropped like flies as they tried to slow the game down. There was just time for Klich to come close with a shot that went narrowly wide before the whistle blew for half-time.

The second half saw Leeds continue to attack with Dallas having a couple of chances. Twice Firpo saw an opening appear in front of him in a good position outside the box, but instead of shooting he passed the ball to the side. It was a shame that he didn’t have a go because from where I was stood in the Kop, it looked like he had a clear view of the goal with only the keeper to beat. No doubt, he was following orders though. After having the majority of the game, Watford had a rare attack which brought a save from Meslier resulting in him taking a knock. There was always a danger Watford could get back into the game with us only have a one goal lead and from the corner, they hit the ball into the net when Meslier dropped the ball. Luckily for us, Watford were penalised for a foul on Cooper, and it was disallowed. There was no way we could let them score and get back into the game. Roberts came on as a sub and had a great run down the left-hand side, but his cross was cut out, stopping Raphinha from getting the ball. Leeds came so close to getting that second goal when Phillips’ free kick was spilled by their keeper. Roberts saw his shot cleared off the line before his second shot rebounded back off the crossbar, as Watford got the ball away. With four minutes injury time put on the clock, Bielsa was determined to see Leeds get our first win of the season and brought Struijk on to see the game out. Shackleton had been impressive and Rodrigo and Raphinha had both run their socks off again. To be honest, no one had a bad game for me as Leeds had dominated most of it. It was lovely to see all our young players come off the bench at the end of the game to say well done to the players. It was nice to catch up with my friend Linda and her daughter. Linda is one of my friends on the iconic photo from the Daily Express in 1975 that is the front cover of my book Follow Me and Leeds United. Friends for life!

The three points were very welcome going into the international break and allowed Leeds to climb out of the bottom three. I’m looking forward to the start of us climbing the table after the break. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Leeds United v West Ham 25th September 2021 at Elland Road

West Ham H 25th September 2021

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Centenary Whites at The Commercial, Churwell 24th September 2021

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I was still buzzing when heading to Elland Road, after seeing the Centenary Whites band playing at the Commercial, Churwell last night. It was a fantastic evening seeing the band wearing Leeds shirts, singing Leeds songs (along with the fans of course) and also, the Leeds United football family coming together with those who had travelled over from Norway and Ireland for the game today. Thank you for all the positive comments about my blog and photos which are appreciated. The Centenary Whites are performing again at the Irish Centre, Leeds on 19th November 2021 and it would be great for other Leeds fans to buy tickets to watch them, as they are definitely worth going to see. I also made an appearance on Radio 5 Live during the event but had to stand outside to make myself heard. I also appeared on the programme again tonight as they wanted a before and after the game chat with me.

As we were on the roundabout coming off the M621, I suddenly realised that I had left my phone on charge at home! Not a good idea when I had to pick my son up from the airport after the game but luckily my granddaughter was able to send him a message. As I got out of the car, I reached in my bag for my beret to realise I’d taken it out earlier and put it on the chair ready to put on my head. Yes, I’d left that at home too. Being on cloud 9 obviously meant I’d already lost the plot today! On arrival at the ground, we headed to the Peacock but never got into the garden today as we started chatting with others and before we knew it, it wasn’t long until kick off. Well today also marks a momentous occasion for us ladies in the Kop because after such a long time, we have finally joined the 21st century and got toilet seats on the loos. My granddaughter was horrified that I took a photo (of a clean one I may add), but it had to be done. Instead of us being second class citizens, things are heading in the right direction lol! Despite an extra drier appearing, others said can we now have proper driers that actually dry our hands.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Raphinha, James, Shackleton, Cresswell, Dallas, Rodrigo, Klich, Phillips and Firpo.

Subs: Harrison for James (45), Roberts for Raphinha (69), Summerville for Shackleton (90).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Greenwood, Gelhardt, Drameh, Hjelde, McCarron.

Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Leeds taking the lead with Raphinha scoring (19).

Attendance: 36,417 with 2,913 West Ham fans.

Referee: Kevin Friend.

Booked: Raphinha, Meslier, Roberts.

As the game kicked off, West Ham were immediately on the attack and their first shot was inches wide. Meslier then made a couple of great saves to stop West Ham taking an early lead. That was when I realised it was going to be a battle today. I admit I don’t take any notice of any other teams as I only concentrate on Leeds United, so I don’t know much about West Ham as a team apart from Declan Rice due to Kalvin’s involvement in the Euros. After the early pressure, Leeds took the game to West Ham and Dallas had a shot tipped over the bar and the keeper also saved from Raphinha. Leeds then took the lead after a great run by Rodrigo down the wing saw him pass to Klich who in turn passed to Raphinha. He was in a great position in the centre of the goal to send the ball into the net as Elland Road erupted. Raphinha was so unlucky not to get a second goal shortly afterwards as this time the ball came back off the post and away. The best form of defence is attack showed for me approximately 10 minutes before half time, when Leeds started defending deeper. With West Ham having not being in the game for a while, this invited them to start attacking us. We were very lucky when their player was through with only Meslier to beat, who made a great save to keep them out once again. He then made another save just before the whistle blew. It had been a good game so far and Raphinha had been playing really well. For me, Cresswell is going to have a great future partnership in central defence with Struijk and is captain material.

Harrison replaced James at half time. It wasn’t long before West Ham were awarded a free kick in a good position. As they passed the ball forward which Leeds won easily, the referee brought the free kick back to be played again. This decision looked to have back fired on us when they put the ball into the net with Meslier laid out on the ground. After lengthy treatment for Meslier, VAR did get involved and the referee went to look at the monitor before changing his mind and not awarding a goal. He also booked their player after the replay was shown on the big screen (although I missed it) with everyone going nuts because of an elbow to Meslier’s face. That should have been a sending off not a yellow card if that was the case. Meslier made another save and then Leeds attacked with good play between Raphinha and Rodrigo setting up the chance for Klich who saw their keeper tip the ball wide of the post. Rodrigo saw his shot saved by the keeper from the corner. West Ham got a lucky equaliser when a cross was deflected into the net by Firpo, but their attack came from Leeds being caught in possession in the middle of the pitch. We had won the ball back only to take too much time to move the ball forward. We started defending deeper again and it made me think though, that we needed some breathing space. The pace had been relentless with plenty of end-to-end football but again, it invited West Ham to attack us. As I was hoping that we could still get a winner, at that moment I would have taken a draw. With moments of the game left, West Ham again got a ball over our defence which proved to be our downfall as they put the ball into the net for the winner on 90 minutes. Again though, I thought we had been too careless with a pass before they won the ball. I was expecting at least eight minutes injury time due to Meslier’s lengthy treatment and all the subs, only to see five minutes on the clock. Sadly, we didn’t manage to pull a goal back as Leeds lost the game. We deserved something out of the game today and at this moment I am not too worried that we can’t put things right. Those feelings may change soon though as we really need that win.

I couldn’t believe that once again double standards have been shown by the referee who is not a friend of Leeds, by booking Raphinha for celebrating our goal in front of the South Stand. Apparently, it was for him going into the crowd so if so, why didn’t he do the same when West Ham celebrated their goals with their fans? He also booked Meslier who went mad after he had been hit again after the earlier elbow. Why was their manager not booked for encroaching on the pitch?

We waited at Billy’s statue for members of my family and whilst we stood there chatting, heard a noise on Elland Road before realising they had let the West Ham fans out. I said that they must have come by train, but the “escort” looked non existent with a few police and some on horseback with them. Eventually we set off back to the car in the same direction after we’d hung back a bit and suddenly thought it was kicking off up ahead, but then there were loads of police just stood alongside the road outside McDonalds which surprised me. A bit further on there was more things going on and the police came racing up behind us to get there. Some Leeds fans were very angry that the West Ham fans despite swearing and carrying on at them as they waited for a lift, were told to move on nicely whilst Leeds fans were told to get out of the way. After the way Leeds fans are treated away from home, we know for certain that would not have happened if it was our fans in an escort. It was quite an eye opener for me because the way our police were acting, was not effective and they looked out of their depth.

Next week sees a must win game for us when Watford come to Elland Road so keep the faith and see what happens then. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Centenary Whites at the Commercial, Churwell 24th September 2021

Centenary Whites at The Commercial, Churwell 24th September 2021

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