My interview for Blackburn Rovers preview (20th October 2018 – Blackburn Roverseas by Dirk Copland

My appearance is between 10.45 and 16.00 minutes!

Blackburn Roverseas by Dirk Copland

Leeds United v Brentford 6th October 2018 at Elland Road

As my granddaughter Hannah and I headed into Elland Road for the early kick off after leaving at 8.30 am, I realised that despite feeling tired, many of our long distance fans would have already been on the road a long time before. I was due to meet Christophe a French journalist for an interview in the Peacock at 10.00 am but I hadn’t expected it to still be shut when we got there. As Bev and Steve from Bournemouth were in Billy’s bar and wanting my new book Back to Reality, I had to leave Hannah outside the door for five minutes in order to meet them. After bumping into Steve who said that he remembered me from the seventies, we headed back across the road just in time to meet Christophe. We headed into the bottom part of the garden to do the interview as it would have been too noisy at the top with the band playing.  I’m looking forward to the finished article which he said would be sent to me and I am grateful for the opportunity. Thank you also to the ladies on the table behind us, who said that they had brought Frank with them who had come to the game from Australia and was celebrating his birthday tomorrow. I hope he enjoys his day and the game. A few fans stopped for a photo during the interview and my flag was got out at the end for more photos. Bev and Steve, Pete and Lily, Karl and Louie, Garry for Aiden and Dylan, Peter, Craig and Michelle are all the proud owners of my new book and my grateful thanks goes to them all for the support. Also, thanks to everyone who I spoke to who follow my blogs and asked for photos which are appreciated greatly. I was also given a LUSCOS badge from one of our Norwegian fans which was a lovely gesture too. Annette and her niece from Denmark were also here for a regular visit to Elland Road.

Once in the ground, having met up with my daughter Danielle, she found her season ticket ended up having a lucky escape as she dropped it and it nearly went down the loo!  I don’t think things are that bad anymore lol!! As we got to the top of the steps, a ball kicked from the pitch was heading straight above us until someone hit it and it bounced down just missing us and I nearly fell backwards trying to avoid it. Was someone trying to tell us something? I left most of my things in my seat as I headed to the front. I knew Dean was bringing his little girl to the game and I wanted to capture the occasion. Bless her she was so excited and had wanted to know why her picture wasn’t in my new book? This means that I have to keep on doing these blogs and books because they tell the stories of Leeds fans following their team home and away. There were another couple of fans with Dean who had travelled from Australia for the game too. I then went to find Raymond who was being filmed for the programme The Undateables again as I wanted to get a photo. He was always found banging a tambourine at games over the many years he has followed Leeds.

The Team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Dallas, Saiz, Alioski, Klich, Roberts, Phillips and Harrison. Subs were: Forshaw for Klich (63), Jack Clarke (one of our youngsters making his debut) for Dallas (70) and Baker for Saiz (76). Attendance was 31,880 with 510 Brentford fans. The score was 1-1 with Jansson equalising for Leeds (88).

Once again for the umpteenth time this season, we had a “referee” trying to make a name for him when we were being shown live on Sky. How he can be called a professional with the way he conducted himself on the pitch is frankly unbelievable.  It is about time that referees who cannot even get the basics right, have to be accountable for their actions and get demoted. It isn’t a case of sour grapes or a referee not giving the home crowd many decisions. When Alioski slipped and lost the ball with their man about a yard away, the ref blew for a foul in our favour! That was when I knew for sure he had lost the plot as everyone burst out laughing that the incredulous decision was given in the first place. All I want is a fair playing field, being allowed to challenge for a ball, win it without their player ending up on the floor and a free kick given even though we have come away with the ball. Football is a contact sport, but not receiving a head-butt from behind as happened with Alioski later on in the game. He went to retrieve the ball from the Brentford dugout so as to get on with the game, only for their coaches to play silly beggars and try and keep it and their player was totally out of order. When I think of the amount of times we have had players hauled over the coals after the games had finished by the powers that be, I genuinely cannot understand why players are allowed to get away with it against us? There were still a fair few of their players going down “injured” and time wasting but not at the same level as a few teams have done recently.

With Douglas out injured after Hull City, it meant there would be a change to the team and Dallas came in to replace him at left back. I wasn’t particularly enamoured about him playing so far back but once again I put my trust in Bielsa to make the right decision. The fact that he wants players to be able to swap and change all over the pitch doesn’t give me the same feeling of dread that we had under previous managers, when it was square pegs in round holes situations. As Brentford set off on the attack and Peacock-Farrell had to make a great save from them, we were going to have to keep on our toes today. That said, until the referee started blowing the whistle over any challenge that saw their player end up on the floor, I knew we were going to be up against 12 men again. With every challenge being given Brentford’s way, when we did eventually get a free kick, the referee was met with loud cheering from the crowd. Brentford had most of the chances in the first half with Peacock-Farrell being called on to make numerous saves to deny them a goal. As our players had to run back and defend in numbers after being caught out of position when we attacked, it was good to see everyone working together in packs to win the ball back. We had a great chance to get a goal just before half time but Saiz’s shot went wide after some great play between Alioski and Harrison.

The second half saw us trying to get a goal and were unlucky not to score after their keeper fumbled the first shot but managed to stop Phillips get the rebound into the net. After a Brentford attack towards the South Stand, it looked like their chance had gone as the ball went past the post. With the fans going mad behind the goal I realised he had given them a penalty! I haven’t seen the action again but everyone said that their player was already falling before it got near Peacock-Farrell but the ref decided he’d fouled him. 10 minutes after this incident it came up on Danielle’s watch that Ayling had been booked for dissent! Unfortunately for us Brentford scored the penalty sending our keeper the wrong way which sadly meant we had to come from behind again. When young Jack Clarke was brought on to make his debut, I said that maybe Ayling should come off as his passing had been quite poor today. I was wishing later on in the game that he had come off as the ref sent him off for a second bookable offence after a foul in the last minutes of the game. It was definitely a free kick but when some of their players got away with fouls, why was Ayling not just given a talking to as it wasn’t malicious just bad timing? As it was Dallas came off so I said Ayling may play better now which he did until his sending off. Clarke had an immediate impact with a great cross into the box. We started to put the pressure on and I was particularly impressed today with both Alioski and Jansson. Alioski played at left back at times once Dallas had come off, but the chasing down of balls, challenges and putting some great crosses in, often bypass some of our fans. As the referee was getting lambasted by the Leeds crowd, this heightened the noise levels and upped the atmosphere. After winning a free kick two minutes from time, the Elland Road crowd went wild when from it, Jansson headed home to equalise. As the players celebrated with the fans a few went onto the pitch which resulted with one lad getting taken out. We were very unlucky not to win the game when it looked like Baker’s header after Alioski had crossed the ball, was going straight into the net. Unfortunately it crept wide at the wrong side of the post so the game ended in a draw. It’s a long time since I’ve heard chanting against the referee all around the ground. We’ve had plenty of poor ones over recent years but this one today, got up everybody’s backs for his inept performance!

It was good to meet up with our Johannesburg Whites from South Africa after the game, although two have moved back to Yorkshire now to enable them to attend Elland Road more. It was nice to meet up with our West Coast Whites too who are friends with one of our old Halifax lads, Daisy. When it was pointed out to me that they had three Bremner stones in the vicinity of mine I couldn’t believe it!

With the International Break upon us once again, the next game will be on 20th October with another early kick off for our visit to Blackburn. With a massive following of 7,650 Leeds supporters my granddaughter Hannah is also coming to experience the away game with us. The last time she was at an away game was when we played Huddersfield the other year but was sat in the opposite end to us Leeds fans. With two of my daughters Michelle, Danielle and granddaughter Laura, they had to keep their mouths shut when Leeds scored. At the end of the game though Hannah forgot where she was and cheered that Leeds had won, oops! Let’s hope we can get the win at Blackburn! See you there – 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Hull City  v Leeds United 2nd October 2018 at the KCOM Stadium

This was the second time in a week that I was heading to an away game straight from work only this time the Fullerton Park coach was taking the strain. I arrived at Elland Road at the same time as my daughter Danielle and had a chat to Fiona Hanley the Supporters Liaison Officer (SLO) for Leeds before getting on the coach. We seemed to arrive in Hull in no time at all and found out why there was to be no parking around the ground, due to the big Hull Fair situated on the car parks. As we were escorted through the site, I couldn’t help but notice the great amount of impressive mobile homes there were. Obviously they must be doing okay!

Once in the ground I headed to the front to hang my flag up although I was disappointed when I went back to get it near the end of the game, to find it had been knocked to the floor. What a shame no one tied it back up again! I also couldn’t believe that we had only been given 2,100 tickets for this game either. When they had a small attendance with no end of empty seats, it doesn’t make sense that they can turn the extra money we would create by not selling us more. As once again we sold out our allocation in minutes, they must have more money than sense. The one thing they did have right though was having loads of beer being served at once, something that has been mentioned to Angus Kinnear recently that needs improvement at Leeds. The one thing that was over the top in my opinion was the amount of police in attendance dressed in riot gear.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Phillips, Klich, Harrison, Douglas, Alioski, Saiz and Roberts. Subs were: Forshaw for Saiz (74), Dallas for Harrison (74) and Shackleton for Douglas (82, went off injured). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Roberts (51). Attendance was 13,798 with 2,100 Leeds fans.

As the game kicked off, Leeds started with plenty of possession and on the attack coming close in the opening minutes. At that time I thought some of the Hull players looked scared as I wanted us to take charge of the game. At times our build up was slow and we had some sloppy passing. At other times we were passing the ball between ourselves and wearing Hull down. We should have taken the lead with Alioski through on goal but his final shot was wide. I thought the ball had taken a deflection or hit the post first but I may be wrong with that. We should have also taken the lead just before half time when Alioski’s cross came to Douglas who seemed to have an open goal in front of him; unfortunately he blasted the ball over the top of the goal. That was an excellent chance and showed again that we can create chances but need to take them.

Thank you to Whitby John for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18. It was nice to hear that Olivia, who bought the same book at Millwall, has taken it to school to read. As she is the only Leeds fan surrounded by Bradford fans, she is doing an excellent job of flying the flag for us!

At the start of the second half it didn’t take long before we took the lead with an excellent goal from Roberts. He let fly from outside the box and the ball beat their goalie which was unexpected according to some of the fans near me. I hoped that would settle the nerves a bit. We had shouts for a penalty turned down surprise, surprise when the ball hit their player’s hand(s) in the area plus when Saiz fell in the area he was booked for diving. We saw plenty of the ball but to me, it looked like we were playing a slower game today. With us having three games again this week, I felt that impacted on the way we played tonight and were preserving our energy. It wasn’t one of the better games to watch from the terraces but at the end of the day, we got three points and the win which took us back to the top of the table. Leeds were fighting for the ball as Hull started to put some pressure on us. I just didn’t want them to get anything out of the game at all but we managed to keep them out thankfully.

At the end of the game the team had come over to the Leeds fans to clap us when all of a sudden Cooper came with a Leeds shirt with the word “STAY STRONG TOBY” on it. That gesture brought tears to my eyes as we learnt yesterday that despite Toby overcoming his treatment for neuroblastoma, he has now got a brain tumour. Keep fighting little man and I really hope you can overcome this too.

After arranging to meet someone in the Peacock for my book on Saturday at 1.45 pm, I’d checked on my calendar as I suddenly had the feeling the kick off time had changed. I thought the Leeds fixtures would change automatically but they didn’t so I’ve rearranged my arrival time now. I also had a French Journalist for FRANCE FOOTBALL, the main football magazine in France contact me. The one that rewards every year “The best player of the year” with The Ballon d’Or (The Golden Ball). Hopefully I will meet up with him at the Brentford game as he said he would be interested to meet a true Leeds fan and a well-known blogger!  It is nice to know that my blogs are being seen around the world. See you on Saturday – 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United 28th September 2018 at Hillsborough

As soon as I finished work, I got quickly changed into my Leeds things and headed over the tops to Wakefield from Brighouse as I was driving to the game today. After making good time I picked up my daughter at Junction 39 and although there was some traffic as we pulled off the M1, we got to the ground early enough to get a good parking spot at the garage. As I pulled into the forecourt I was going to go out again and pull in at the side of the pumps but thanks to Paul, I stayed where I was and we parked for free.

Because we arrived so early the turnstiles weren’t even open so we headed to the players’ entrance just in time for the team to arrive. Before they got there though, we were asked if we could be filmed for Sky TV. As we said yes they wanted us to do a fist pump so we both automatically did the Leeds salute!! When we were tagged in a photo of it later (this had been played at the start of the game), it was a really good quality photo.

The first thing we did was head to the front of the stand to hang my flag up and was allowed to put it on the stairs going down to the lower tier. It wasn’t a surprise to find out a few of the stewards were Leeds United fans though and thanks to all of them who helped me and let me take a photo of my flag. I had a chat to a Spurs fan steward and only moved at the start of the game, heading to my seat. A big thank you to Dawn and Paul for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 for their little granddaughter who attended her first game last week. As always I appreciate the support.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Douglas, Harrison, Jansson, Saiz, Alioski, Roberts, Klich and Phillips. Sub was Forshaw for Saiz (90). The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Klich getting the Leeds goal with a spectacular strike (62). Attendance was 26,717 with 4,600 Leeds fans.

I’m glad I’m on the same wavelength as Bielsa as I’m adamant we have to stick with what we are trying to do. There will be ups and downs but he stuck with the same team again making no changes. After last year’s defeat here and with us losing our first league game, I thought we wouldn’t be making the same mistake as against Birmingham last week. That said it didn’t stop my stomach churning half way through the first half though.

The game saw the first half pass really quick with a lot of end to end stuff. Although some of our passing wasn’t crisp enough there were a few nervous minutes before we settled down. Some Wednesday players tried to emulate the Birmingham players by being “injured” on the floor. One of the moves we did though where five of our players were like flies around one of their players and won the ball cleanly, had us shaking our heads with astonishment. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why the free kick was given against us especially as just before that Saiz had been fouled and it was play on. He was playing some fantastic stuff once again and won us a corner. We came very close to taking the lead then with Douglas hitting the post and Phillips having to settle for the rebound being cleared off the line. We started to play really well at that point as we started to put pressure on the Wednesday goal. We weren’t having it all our own way though and Peacock-Farrell was called on to make a good save to deny them a goal. Despite what a few fans around me said, he didn’t stand a chance with the goal they scored just before half time. When the ball was launched into the air it looked like it was sailing over the goal, only to hit the post and go into the net. That was a real downer at the time as it came out of the blue but Cooper brought a save out of their goalie just before the break. Put it this way, I bet if he tried to do that again, he would never score in a month of Sundays!

The second half saw me commenting to the lad next to me, that did the photographers in front of the stand to the right of the goal know something we didn’t? There were a number of them who had positioned themselves in front of the Leeds fans, obviously waiting for us to score. We didn’t disappoint them either when Klich went on to equalise with a spectacular goal. Although they had a couple of chances, at times we were camped in their half. What I really liked seeing, was Leeds not letting the ball go out for a throw in but kept the ball in play along with carrying on the attack. What we saw on the pitch at times in that second half was some absolutely brilliant stuff which was fantastic to see. Despite all the pressure though, we couldn’t get a winning goal even though we came close. At times we were like a battering ram and some of the moves were out of this world. I wasn’t too disappointed at the end of the game even though some were saying that we had dropped two points. We may have battered them and only had one goal to shout about, but at one time we would have lost that game so I am happy we got a point and weren’t beaten. The progress we are making on the pitch even with the long term injuries we have bodes really well for the future. With another week ahead where we have three games to contend with, I wonder what will happen this time. One of these days, we will get the rub of the green when we play like we did tonight. See you at Hull – 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

 

Fan Girl’s Documentary by Hatty Jones

I did an interview with Hatty when we played Aston Villa away on 13th April 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing the full version in due course.

This doc explores the extent to which sexism is experienced by female football fans. Unfortunately, due to copyrighted material, the full version cannot be put up until Hatty is able to film extra footage and re-edit. BUT, she was never just making this film to get a grade. It’s something she is passionate about and she is hoping what she has found can help combat sexism within the game. Therefore, sections which don’t contain copyrighted material will be put up to raise awareness until the full film is available. BE KIND TO PEOPLE.

Leeds United v Birmingham 22nd September 2018 at Elland Road

With today’s game a sellout, it was good to see our worldwide fan base coming together. Although I missed our Hong Kong Whites who were outside the Peacock when my daughter Dani arrived, it was good to know that plenty of our Scandinavian fans and Irish fans would be here today. As my granddaughter Laura and I headed to the Peacock where I was hoping to meet up with some of the Not606 Forum members, I remembered that I had to buy a programme today. On the Supporter’s Club page were two photos of my granddaughter Hannah and I from our recent visit to Berlin, one taken in Stockport International airport and the other by the Brandenburg Gate with us both wearing our Leeds shirts with pride. After the recent atrocious weather, it was nice to stand in the garden and chat to plenty of Leeds fans. Speaking to one of our lads later who is at the front of the Kop, he said he was soaked to the skin after the Preston game midweek. Unfortunately due to his wheelchair, he had to stay put and was the only one in his group who got saturated sadly. I found the people that I needed to and it was good to meet up and chat, before both of my sisters Karin and Erica arrived with a friend. It’s not often we get a photo of all three of us at Elland Road at the same time, but thank you Laura for doing that for me. When Chris Turton came to say hello and he said the last time he’d seen me, there was no thought of me having children or grandchildren so that shows how long ago it was. It was good to meet him and his family.

I know I shouldn’t get superstitious, but I tried to banish the thought of Birmingham not having won so far this season. I wish those stats were never mentioned because it always turns out wrong for us. In discussions before the game I said I wouldn’t get carried away as there is a long way to go as yet and would rather just keep getting the points and see what happens later in the season. With Monk coming back as their manager too, I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of becoming the first team to beat us this season in the Championship, but sadly that became the case. It felt as if his ghost at Elland Road had a detrimental effect on our team’s game today.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Douglas, Phillips, Roberts, Saiz, Alioski and Klich (an unchanged team). Subs were: Dallas for Phillips (34), Forshaw for Klich (62) and Edmondson for Douglas (71). Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Alioski getting the Leeds goal (85). Attendance was 34,800 with 1,314 Birmingham fans. Eight minutes of injury time was added on at the end of the second half, the majority for time wasting.

Before I go on, the ref today was an absolute disgrace to the profession. Conned time after time with play acting and time wasting, why did he wait until eight minutes from the end to book one of their players for the latter? You could see him getting a flea in his ear after stopping the game again in the second half. He could have put a stop to it in the first half instead of letting Birmingham dictate the game that way. As someone said after the game, they reckoned he wasn’t fit enough to keep up with play and kept wanting a rest. That wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t ignored the amount of fouls on Saiz and booked him when he complained about the time wasting. It is time that the EFL stood up to be counted with the amount of referees we have already had this season who should be demoted, as they are not good enough!

That said, we lost the game within the first 20 minutes as we failed to play to our strengths and let in two soft goals. It was one of those moments when you felt that playing three games within the last week had taken its toll on us. Our passing wasn’t crisp enough and we were letting Birmingham get the better of us and didn’t close them down enough. When their attack ended with Peacock-Farrell committed to the wrong side of the goal as the ball was struck into the right hand side from where I was looking from the Kop, I was sure no one deflected it. I think that was the case as he was anticipating where the ball was going rather than waiting to make the save. It was a soft goal to give away though. From there things didn’t really improve for us either as we seemed to be playing more to the benefit of Birmingham rather than our strengths. Pumping balls into the air when they had massive players, who were able to bully us, seemed counterproductive. We were too slow to the ball quite a few times too. It was no surprise when they got a second goal as we had struggled to make an impact on the pitch. It was still another soft goal though as no one closed their player down as he hit the ball which went in via the post. Phillips was subbed just after this although no one collectively was really playing well at that moment. He had Douglas in space on the left hand side of the pitch but ran across to the right instead and was caught in possession, but no one was helping him either. Peacock-Farrell made a great save to deny them a third goal prior to a good move from Leeds, when a great chance fell to Alioski but his shot was blasted over the bar.

The second half struggled to get going because as always, when we have to play the officials as well, it never works out for us. The linesman missed a blatant shirt pulling in the penalty area too. With Birmingham players falling like flies and the ref blowing up all the time to slow the game down it took us until the 85th minute to pull a goal back when Alioski put the ball into the net in front of the Kop. There was a small celebration as he raced back to the half way line for them to get on with the game. It’s ironic how we didn’t need the trainer on the pitch after being fouled though, as our players got on with it! When eight minutes of injury time was put up it gave us a chance to get an equaliser and we nearly did get that, when Dallas’s shot was saved by their goalie to deny us a point. We did battle in the latter parts of the game to get back into it, but it was probably too little too late.

After the game I headed to Green Hammerton with my other half for a charity evening to hear Ian playing from vinyl, his Motown and Soul music. Ian said I was at the beach playing football with his friend in Salonika in 1973 as we were on the same trip; it’s a small world really!  On our way home, we encountered animals on the road as we ground to a halt just before the junction of the A58. All I could think of was the Leeds vile animals for some reason, oops.

Despite losing for the first time this season (apart from the Carabao Cup), we have to pick ourselves us and get on with it. The defeat was always going to happen at some point sadly and for those calling for Peacock-Farrell to be dropped, the answer to that from me is no! We have to build our team around him and have to take the ups and downs that will happen along the way. I know fans are entitled to their opinion, but this team is being built for the future as well so we march on to our next game on Friday to Sheffield. I will be driving to this one with my daughter Dani straight from work.  See you then – 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Leeds United v Preston 18th September 2018 at Elland Road

Today saw the first of two homes games in a week. With Preston having beaten us in the Carabao Cup, I said that we wouldn’t make the same mistake again but it wouldn’t be easy. As I was meeting Vicky in the Peacock who had bought my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 for her dad as a birthday present, I wanted to get there early. I left my other half in the car whilst I headed there and Terje from Norway shouted hello to me so I had to start with my photo taking. After a good chat with Ella and her dad we went to queue for a drink but it was heaving at the bars. I couldn’t believe that the extra beer huts in the Peacock garden were shut tonight as they’d been open for the cup game recently. I‘d lost Ella by then, so stood talking to Karl and a lad from Halifax and stayed there as they waited to be served. The Peacock had missed a trick tonight as it took ages for the queues to go down. My daughter Dani and I headed into the ground as I wanted to be in place for the team coming out.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Roberts, Alioski, Saiz, Klich, Douglas and Phillips. Subs were: Dallas for Roberts (86), Forshaw for Klich (88) and Baker for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Cooper (37) and Roberts (74 and 82). Attendance was 27,729 with 306 Preston fans. (I knew there weren’t many of them but that’s a very poor turn out in comparison to the cup game. No doubt they’ll cite it was cheaper for that one!)

The opening spell saw Preston taking the game to Leeds as they tried to build on their recent win with Peacock-Farrell making a couple of saves early on. As long as they weren’t handed any early penalties I thought we would be okay. We had a couple of great chances then which ended up with one kicked off the line and although we had another great chance, the finishing was poor. Jansson had stepped up a gear tonight and it looked like having played the whole game against Millwall had done him good. Although I thought he’d hesitated with his first pass up the field, he grew into the game and he got in on the act with some great footwork as the team fought and backed each other up. As Alioski went through on goal towards the South Stand, he was goal ward bound when the linesman in front of the West Stand saw a lone player there and stuck his flag up late, just as Alioski sent a great ball into the bottom of the net. When fans keep complaining about him being offside, I think they need to take into account the amount of times the linesmen haven’t a clue. Alioski was running all over the pitch and some of the balls he got to, he didn’t have a right to get to them. One of them being when he raced over to the West Stand side and got the ball right on the line before playing a great pass to one of our players. We took the lead eight minutes before the break after the corner played in by Douglas was met by Cooper’s diving header. Prior to the goal, Preston were once again time wasting and we had plenty of fouls not given our way which should have been. The linesman at the East Stand missed most things and it was unbelievable that he didn’t see a bad shirt pull on Cooper that happened right in front of him. It looked like someone said something in his ear every time he ignored it! Once we’d scored the goal though the time wasting disappeared for some reason. When Alioski chased after their player from the South Stand to the half way line, he more or less got the ball but as their player went down like a ton of bricks, the ref booked Alioski. I don’t think it was a booking though, yes a foul for a free kick but he let so much more go from Preston. We were unlucky not to get a second goal to go into the break.

After finding Dean to hand over the books he and Skippa bought from me at Millwall, I headed back to my seat for the second half. We had an early chance when Jansson’s header looked to be heading into the goal only to be deflected wide. It looked like Preston came out with renewed vigour then especially as they were more bothered about scoring now. They did in fact get the ball into the net for an equaliser or so I thought, until the cheers from the Leeds fans when the linesman put his flag up for offside saw it disallowed thank goodness. As the game continued I was surprised to see that Bielsa wasn’t looking to make any changes to the team. He kept crouching down in different parts of the technical area. I said to Dani that it looked like he wanted to give those playing a run out, which then saw them all step up a gear. Some of the passing and movements were out of this world and one of the attacks was outstanding. What we saw tonight was some absolutely fantastic football and it didn’t end there. After Harrison (we saw how the run had helped him with some great footwork) hit the post after some immense work from Saiz, we got a second goal. Phillips put a perfect pass over for Roberts to run onto and lob the ball over the keeper.  Some great celebrations followed then and despite what Millwall’s manager said, they weren’t reserved just for them! To cap it all we got a third, again after some great play from Saiz, who played the ball out to Klich whose pinpoint pass saw a cool Roberts head the ball into the net. That was it game over and to see the football we have witnessed tonight was absolutely fantastic. The team went off to a standing ovation and it was well deserved. When my hubby said that it reminded him of Wilkinson tonight, I said no, Bielsa reminds me of Don Revie. If he can emulate what he and the team achieved then we are in for some great times. I like Bielsa and what he and his coaching staff have done so far with the team. He doesn’t slag anyone off, just gets on with it and I look forward to Saturday when we meet Mr Monk and Birmingham. See you then – 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

 

Millwall v Leeds United 15th September 2018 at the New Den

When I got up at the unearthly hour of 5.20am it could only be for one thing, a Leeds United away day and as it turned out a 17 hour round trip. This was the first game after the international break so it was nice to see the football back. It was quite dark and drizzly as I left home to travel to Leeds and shows the nights are drawing in. After picking up at Wakefield and Chesterfield, we headed to Bexley Heath for a short pub stop. We actually got a good welcome and a very big thank you to the manager and staff for reserving tables for us which were most unexpected. The manager’s uncle is a Leeds fan and we got great feedback from him, saying we were the best football fans they’d ever had there. From there we headed to the police escort and thought we’d just missed one as there was a coach at the far side of the common with the police. We were made to park on the grass and as some fans on the coach were making their way off it as we were to be kept there for a while, it was good to hear we were heading off after all. They took four of the coaches in as another three pulled up at our first stop on the common and stayed behind. We had an uneventful escort in, apart from the coach driver beeping the horn so many times due to the London drivers trying to encroach into the escort. The Millwall fans we did see were their usual selves with their gestures, which I’m sure would have been reciprocated by some of the Leeds fans. We did get a salute off some lads walking further on so knew they were ours. The reception committee at the ground was quite large but didn’t feel as intimidating as in the past. We heard that lots of Leeds fans were caught up in traffic due to Rotherhithe Tunnel being closed which caused some to get to the ground at half time.

A big thank you to Bob, Dean, Skippa, Olivia and Ella for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and I’m grateful for the support. John has ordered all five of my books and I look forward to getting a photo of him in due course plus Nikki, Stephen and Rita who have bought all five books too. I was going to put my flag up at the back of the stand next to the New Wrexham Whites flag that Brian had brought. One of our stewards shouted that there was some netting at the far right of the seats so I went to put it there instead. As it was, by doing that, I managed to meet up with all the people I had to either before, at half time or near the end of the game. Hooter’s son Aleksy was going to run around the pitch at half time so as well as looking for Samuel Becchio doing his job on the pitch, I’d to get more photos. I’d already promised to get photos of our mascot and managed to get some to share with his dad. Reuben, Dylan’s son also helped me to put my flag up so thank you. As I nipped downstairs just before the kick-off I realised I’d forgotten to go and take some photos of a group of Garforth Whites but luckily was able to catch up with them.

With an injury list that was growing with the long term absences of Hernandez, Bamford, Berardi and Roofe it was going to be interesting to see how Bielsa managed this. As it was there were only two changes with Jansson and Roberts being the two brought in. The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Douglas, Harrison, Saiz, Alioski, Phillips, Roberts and Klich. Subs were, Baker for Klich (61), Dallas for Roberts (68) and Forshaw for Phillips (74). Attendance was 17,195 With 2,220 Leeds fans. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Harrison equalising for Leeds in the 89th minute.

After last year’s capitulation here which then impacted on the way we were going to play, meant no one knew what to do; I felt we never recovered from that. We played a different game from then on which led to the eventual sacking of Christiansen and the short termism of Heckingbottom. The good thing this year which has given me more confidence is the appointment of Bielsa as our manager. I like him immensely as he has got the team fitter and have them playing how I want to see it, with lots of attacking football. There will be ups and downs no doubt but I wasn’t coming here today expecting us to lose. I’d only got butterflies in my stomach on the last part of the journey on the coach, as on previous visits things have been thrown at the coaches. Luckily nothing like that happened today. As the game kicked off though I thought Jansson looked a little nervy along with a few of the others but we managed to contain Millwall and started to get some good attacks of our own going. There were quite a few misplaced passes for a while too. After Alioski was caught offside again many fans were saying he was always being caught offside. With one though, I thought he ran from behind their players so couldn’t understand why the flag went up. Unless I get to see that attack again I won’t know for sure. Roberts got in a good position a few times but there was not enough power to the chances unfortunately. Millwall had a few chances and Morison after his recent mouthing off in the press about being Zlatan was kept under wraps for a lot of the game before he was subbed. The height of Jansson was vital today and whilst his passing at first was shaky, his headers were superb. The first half went very quickly so I stayed at the front of the stand to take the photos before going downstairs just before the second half kicked off. As I got there I immediately heard my name shouted as some of the Halifax Whites were there with Shuy who was over from Australia. One of the lads had his son Jake was with them but he wasn’t there for the photo. Shuy looks forward to reading my blog in Australia and a big thank you to the others for their comments. To be told that I do a fantastic job with my blog, to keep doing it and not to take any notice of any negativity is greatly appreciated.

 The second half had just kicked off as I got back to my seat and there were many fans stood in the aisles this time. I’m not sure if we were slow off the mark, but Millwall took the lead 11 minutes into it when we failed to clear the ball. That woke their fans up who had been pretty poor but it could have been because they knew we weren’t going to be a walkover today. For a while we seemed to struggle and especially when Baker came on for Klich. He’d left his shooting boots at home as his shot landed at the front of the upper tier we were on. The one good thing about Bielsa is he doesn’t dwell on making subs and if he needs to change things he will. When Roberts was subbed, Harrison ended up as striker which mystified a lot of fans. I commented with another that I expected Bielsa to know what he was doing. When the clock got to the 80th minute I headed to the far side of the stand to get my flag only stopping to talk to some fans first. As I got over to my flag I started to untie one side as Leeds had an attack and I stopped what I was doing only to see Harrison get the ball and unleash a shot from the edge of the penalty area. As I watched to see where it went, the stand erupted with jubilant Leeds fans as the ball hit the back of the net to equalise in the 89th minute. Fantastic scenes of celebrations happened, but my heart was in my mouth as one lad balanced on the top of the wall on the stairwell with a large drop at the other side. I’d seen one of our players hurtling over to the other side then saw Bielsa getting involved as something kicked off in the Millwall area. As Saiz had a lot of fouls to skirt round, maybe something had been said to him. We got on with the game quickly though. It wasn’t a case of settling for a draw, we were going to try for a winner. We did come close before the final minutes saw us battle for our lives as Millwall tried to get a winner. Every Leeds player stood up to be counted and played their part in those closing minutes which was good to see. We also broke out to attack and we looked as if we could finish the game strongly. As the whistle blew and the Leeds fans sang we were top of the league, I hadn’t realised that Boro had lost but also even before the game, I’d forgotten where we were in the table. Out of sight, out of mind means there is no hope for me. The Leeds fans were happy to stay in the stand for a while celebrating as the Millwall fans were happy to stay and give abuse to us. This was reciprocated from our fans as gestures between both sets of fans carried on for ages.

Eventually I got downstairs and heard the coaches were being kept in for a while which wasn’t unexpected. After taking photos of plenty of happy Leeds fans we got back on the coach ready for our police escort away from the ground. With the police vans at the front and those on horseback to the left of us, it was quite funny seeing officers walking alongside the coaches to the right of us. Although we went out via Westminster Bridge again (there were plenty of tourists around despite the recent terrorist attacks), the journey didn’t seem to take so long as last year as we got back to the M1. That was before we had the normal motorway queues when it went down to one lane and we got stuck in a load of traffic; normality resumes for us Leeds fans travelling back to Yorkshire as it wouldn’t be an away day without it! I would have taken a draw at the start of the game and it was a hard fought point which saw Leeds remain unbeaten (the only club in the Championship) and top of the league. Tuesday sees the first of two home games with the visit of Preston, who beat us in the Carabao cup game a couple of weeks ago. This time it will be different I’m sure. We also have Birmingham at home on Saturday and I know we have lots of our overseas fans attending that one.

Before I finish today, my sincere condolences go to two of our long term loyal Leeds fans who died on the same day last week. Fotis came from Salonika, Greece and came twice a year to games and was always a guest of the Griffin branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club. Mick Thompson aka Trapper was one of my lads from the Selby Branch that I ran in the 80s-90s. These deaths hit home and they will both be sadly missed. RIP lads and my thoughts are with all their families and friends. See you all on Tuesday, 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Leeds United v Middlesbrough 31st August 2018 at Elland Road

As my granddaughter Laura and I headed to Elland Road for the near sell out clash, I found I literally had to drag myself there. It was a real effort as I felt that bad but I realised that work overload issues had affected me more than I’d have ever thought. With the Peacock buzzing and everyone in high spirits, I knew that my Leeds United family and team would come to the rescue. To the lad in the Peacock who hadn’t found my Stoke photos, the link to them is here http://www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk/stoke-city-5th-august-2018-at-elland-road so hopefully you will find the photo you are looking for. With my daughter Dani as well, we headed into the ground early as we knew there would be queues. My friends Sue and Paul were still stuck in traffic at that point so hopefully they made it for kick off.

The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Ayling, Cooper, Klich, Alioski, Saiz, Roofe, Harrison, Phillips and Douglas.  Subs were: Jansson for Berardi (88), Bamford for Roofe (90) and Dallas for Harrison (90+2). The game ended in a 0-0 draw which saw Leeds remain at the top of the league going into the International break. Attendance was 35,417 with 2,322 Boro fans.

Today was always going to be a tough one with this top of the table clash with Boro being in second place. I wasn’t sure how this would go as all the talk was of Boro having some very tall players in their side. I liked what Bielsa had to say in his press conference though, he comes across very humble but is looking at what he has to do to try and win the game and it is very refreshing to hear him speak. I knew then that we may do something different at times tonight. As the game kicked off, I thought at times we looked a bit nervous and we started to do the long ball as well as our passing being a bit short. I thought we needed to play to our strengths and pass the ball between us and once we settled down, I thought we handled the game very well. We had another atrocious referee who was booking our players left, right and centre whereas a Boro player actually got booked for dissent rather than the foul. One foul on Harrison should have warranted a card but lo and behold that one was play on. With the whole ground in good voice, it lent to the atmosphere which was great to hear from a packed Elland Road. Peacock-Farrell made a great save from Jonny Howson and then we had Ayling’s header kicked off the goal line. When Roofe went down in the penalty area the ref waved play on.  At half time I was told that both teams should have had a penalty although I couldn’t remember a specific incident for Boro.

The second half continued with end to end football. Boro were proving tough opposition which wasn’t unexpected and I was hoping our fitness levels would get us there in the end. Peacock-Farrell made a great save to deny them and Harrison had a great shot that went just wide. I thought he played very well today as there had only been flashes of brilliance against Preston on Tuesday. Game time I’m sure is what he has been lacking. We started attacking a lot and with one move, Saiz had the ball and should have sent a first time ball out to Alioski on the wing next to him. Unfortunately he kept hold of the ball for longer than he needed and when he did pass it, Alioski had strayed offside. I thought we were going to stick with the same team and not bring on any subs. When Berardi went down injured in the penalty area in front of the South Stand, the trainer didn’t come on to the pitch and he carried on. He didn’t last long after that and as I saw him limping, Bielsa was already on it and Jansson was coming on to the pitch to replace him. With the last kick of the game, we won a free kick just outside the box but weren’t able to put the ball into the net. What celebrations there would have been if it had gone in? As it was we had to settle for a point but I was happy to take that. We remain unbeaten going into the International Break and then we head to Millwall where last year they kicked our unbeaten run into touch.

After seeing that the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) will be the club’s Charity of the Year for the 2018/19 season all I can say is, this is a worthwhile charity and I look forward to seeing how Leeds United support them over the season. As my daughter Charlotte died from congenital heart disease at 17 days old, I know exactly what families go through and wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone. If she’d have been sent to Leeds at the time, there was the chance she would have been able to live a normal life. Sadly she never got that.

See you at Millwall, 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

 

 

Leeds United v Preston 28th August 2018 at Elland Road, 2nd round Carabao Cup

What can I say but a big thank you to all those Leeds fans who have stood up to be counted and given me fantastic support for sharing my blogs. After receiving some abuse from someone about the fact my blog showed up in approx. 10 different Facebook groups, the reaction I have had from other Leeds fans has been totally overwhelming.

After posting the following when sharing the blog the response has been phenomenal.

“As always I post my blog and photos for those fans who want to read them. If it isn’t for you then please ignore them but please do not resort to abuse as I received earlier tonight. I’m pleased to report that this has now been deleted by one of the groups I post in. I understand that some fans are in many groups the same as me so receive the same post many times. If anyone has any ideas how to manage my posts better I am happy to discuss these further because it does take a lot of time and effort to do this. If you do not want me to share in your group then please let me know. As I want to get the photos out to as many fans as possible and we do have a fantastic worldwide fan base, how do I do this if I don’t share it? I am happy for Leeds fans to share this themselves if that is easier but look forward to hearing your views. The rest of the blog and photos are on my website link below. http://www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk/norwich-v-leeds-united-25th-august-2018-at-carrow-road

My response to everyone for their support was “Due to an overwhelming response of gratitude for what I do, please note I will still be sharing my blog in all the Leeds United groups that I am in. If it isn’t for you, then please ignore and scroll past. Thank you! Marching on Together!” Leeds fans are one in a million that’s for sure.

As we headed to Elland Road, there would be a lot of changes to the team today but for once I wasn’t worried about square pegs in round holes. As Bielsa is getting everyone to play the same way, this means that anyone stepping into the team should be able to play wherever he puts them. We arrived an hour before kick-off and went to the Peacock to meet friends before going into the ground. As we walked out of the Peacock it was nice to meet someone off the new forum I was asked to post in www.not606.com. I didn’t realise how close it had got to kick off once we were through the queues at the turnstiles so missed the teams coming out.

The team were: Blackman, Phillips, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Harrison, Dallas, Baker, Roberts, Shackleton, Pearce and Bamford. Subs were: Klich for Shaughnessy (45), Saiz for Shackleton (45) and Alioski for Roberts (60). Leeds lost the game 2-0 their first defeat of the season under Bielsa’s management. Attendance was 18,652 with approx. 1,000 Preston fans.

I was still down at the steps leading to the upper part of the Kop as the game kicked off. I was just ready to go to my seat when a Preston player went down like a sack of spuds in the penalty area and the ref pointed to the spot with 43 seconds on the clock. I will have to see this again as it looked like a dive to me and I felt he’d conned the ref. Unfortunately Blackman was unable to save the penalty going the wrong way which for once I predicted correctly. An uphill battle beckoned. Straight away Preston started with time wasting tactics and I said the ref wouldn’t book anyone until the last few minutes and I was right about that. A terrible referee who let Preston walk all over him, especially with letting the time wasting go unpunished. With new players in the team, it took a while for them to start playing football but once we did, their goalie saved a great shot on target from Shackleton. With 30 minutes gone Preston were reduced to 10 men after their player was sent off which he deserved, for a two footed tackle on Baker. We had a great chance to equalise but Jansson’s header was cleared off the line. Bamford was unlucky not to score with two great chances but their goalie was leading a charmed life and made another fantastic save to deny him. One move was out of this world which their goalie saved. Just before half time and despite all the Leeds pressure, their player beat off challenges to run from near the half way line to score Preston’s second goal. That was a vital goal for them and made it even harder for us.

At half time when I was talking to my friend Margaret, we both agreed that we thought we were playing Norwich again due to the kit Preston were wearing. Unfortunately the score at half time was different to Saturday. I wasn’t too downbeat at this time because we were attacking, had shots on target and had been unlucky not to get back into the game.

The second half saw a double substitution with Klich on for Shaughnessy and Saiz for Shackleton. The subs made an instant impact as Saiz made some great runs and once again Bamford came close to scoring. As the game went on Roberts tried to do a flick with the ball which didn’t work as he expected. I said straight away that he would be subbed and he was more or less straight after this with Alioski coming on to replace him. I didn’t think he’d had a good game either. The longer the game went on, you just knew we weren’t going to get anything out of it which was impacted by the play acting and time wasting from Preston. That said, Preston didn’t sit back and defend once they had their player sent off and if a neutral fan was watching, I think they’d have been pleased to see an end to end game. From a Leeds perspective though, it turned out to be our first defeat of the season. I also thought that Bamford looked very lightweight in attack near the end of the game. Whether his fitness wasn’t up to scratch I don’t know but watching him closely as Leeds were attacking the Kop end, I found out that I wasn’t impressed with what I was seeing.  Despite losing the game there were plenty of positives to be had. Bielsa had kept Phillips in the spine of the team and with the strongest bench I’ve seen Leeds have for a long time, I felt he was talking the game seriously. We did lots of attacking with shots on target and a goalie playing out of his skin. Maybe if he’d have been booked early in the first half for all the time wasting he was doing, it may have impacted on his game. Pearce was limping for a lot of the second half with a muscle injury by the look of it. We’d no subs left but credit to him for carrying on and without making a fuss about it.

I know many Leeds fans aren’t interested in the cup games anymore and feel the league is more important. That is something I don’t agree with as winning breeds winning. I didn’t feel the same way tonight as I did after the defeats against Sutton and Newport, because we had been trying and did put some great attacks in where we were unlucky not to score. Back at Elland Road on Friday for our game against Middlesbrough being an important game for us in the top of the table clash, I am happy that Peacock-Farrell will be back in goal. Whilst nothing against Blackman, he seemed to hesitate when getting the ball out from the back and I think that was picked up by Bielsa at the end of the game. For once I didn’t feel too disappointed about the defeat and as we play Preston again in September at Elland Road that will be the game where the points matter.  See you Friday, 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
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

 

 

Norwich v Leeds United 25th August 2018 at Carrow Road

With an early start beckoning, what I didn’t expect was to be wide awake for most of the night. With my Fitbit showing I only had 1 hour 21 minutes sleep, I felt like death warmed up. As I got to Leeds I realised why I’d been cold as the temperature was at a low eight degrees which is not something we’ve been used to of late. The good thing though, the sky was blue and I got a fantastic photo of Billy’s statue and the ground in glorious sunshine. Luckily for me I was able to sleep most of the way to our pub stop in Thetford where LUSC Fullerton Park members raised a toast in remembrance of our two supporters Paul Turner and Keith Horner, who both died during the close season and were regular travelers with the branch.

On arrival in Norwich at 2.15pm, we got straight in the ground and I went to the front of the stand to put my flag up near the corner, before taking some customary photos. I’d said to my daughter Danielle that last season my flag got soaked due to the rain; I obviously tempted fate because the next thing the heavens opened but luckily it didn’t last too long and the sun came back out again.

The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Phillips, Hernandez, Douglas, Alioski, Saiz, Klich, Roofe and Jansson coming in for his first league game of the season after Cooper’s injury. Forshaw and Dallas are also out due to injury. Subs were: Bamford for Roofe (77), Harrison for Hernandez (79) and Baker for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 3-0 with Klich (21), Alioski (26) and Hernandez (67) scoring the Leeds goals. Attendance was 25,944 with approx. 2,500 Leeds fans. 

Norwich had painted the away changing rooms pink in an effort to unsettle us as a team, although the dug outs remained the same with the Leeds team warming up at the far end of the pitch. It took about 15 minutes for us to get a grip of the game as Norwich set out to attack us. The Leeds fans were in fine voice despite there being no alcohol served in the ground. Once we got over the early pressure from Norwich, Leeds turned on a fantastic display of football going two goals up in the first half. After Alioski’s header was saved by their keeper, the ball came back out to Klich on the edge of the area and he hammered the ball past their goalie for our first goal. When Alioski got the second one the Leeds fans upped their singing even more, enjoying the display being put on by the team. Although Norwich threatened a few times, Leeds were playing as a team and fighting for everything meaning we were able to nullify any threats as we went into the break in the lead. There were lots of smiling faces and happy Leeds fans with many wanting their photos taken. 

When our fans were singing we were top of the league and also Leeds are going up, I refused to sing it as I wasn’t going to put a jinx on things. We were playing some great football and running rings around Norwich who at times were chasing shadows. We’re taking the p**s sang the gleeful Leeds support as Norwich, although they kept plugging away, were no match for us as we fought for everything. When Hernandez sidestepped their player in the penalty area, I knew the ball was going in as soon as it left his foot to put us three goals up and game over. At that time unbeknown to me but near where Danielle was standing, the celebrating Leeds fans fell down the rows and the steps with many fans at the bottom of the pile including Norwich stewards. If ever there was an advert for safe standing this was it. Unfortunately someone we know was hurt in the melee and was taken to first aid with an injured back. Someone at the end of the game was being helped down the steps by two lads as he was limping badly with another celebration injury. Hopefully both of them and any others who were hurt will be okay.

At the end of the game all the players came over to the Leeds fans but there were so many stewards stood in front of us I couldn’t get a clear view but it was nice to see both Alioski and Jansson take off their shirts to hand to fans. I then noticed that young Jack one of our loyal Welsh Whites was the lucky recipient of Jansson’s shirt. To be fair though the stewards had been very relaxed and happy for me to take photos of all the flags and many of our fans. I was also able to go and get my flag near the end of the game. 

It was a very happy and satisfied support walking back to the coaches that’s for sure. As I mentioned numerous times in my blogs last year about our lack of fitness, it was a unanimous vote that our fitness levels this year under Bielsa are going to make a difference. Whatever is thrown at us, it will be exciting to watch I’m sure of that!

With Tuesday’s game against Preston at Elland Road in the next round of the Carabao Cup, there will be a number of changes to the team with those who haven’t had any game time given the chance to shine. We then finish the week with Friday’s second home game in a week against Middlesbrough. Bring it on and I’ll see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Swansea v Leeds United 21st August 2018 at The Liberty Stadium

The coach was leaving Leeds at 9.30am today and I got there in plenty time. After a quick look at some of the Bremner Stones, with pickups at Wakefield, Chesterfield and Tamworth, we headed to Porthcawl for our pub stop. After sunshine most of the way down, it started raining but luckily it stopped by the time we got off the coach. I made sure we got a photo of a group of us at the sea front as soon as we got off the coach and posted it straight away on Twitter and Facebook (unfortunately we couldn’t go onto the beach as it was cordoned off). The story of Leeds fans everywhere continued as the chap I asked to take a photo of us turned out to be a Leeds fan, although he was not wearing his Strongbow shirt! At the pub we sat outside enjoying the sunshine, when the chap who took our photo for us pulled up on the road next to us and shouted to us. His grandchildren didn’t look too impressed though! Martin made us laugh when he started talking to the lad next to him on the coach about a book he was mentioned in and found out he was the writer of it! It’s a small world.

We had a lovely three hour stop with good company, lots of laughs and something to eat and drink. We got to the ground around 7pm and it was a shock to see two armed police stood there before we entered the compound. I was surprised to see them and also that the away area was cordoned off. There again they were making sure we didn’t have a repetition of the last time we were there, when some windows on the buses back to the station were put through. When we had played Swansea at Elland Road in the same season, there were many Swansea fans who via the internet said they also liked Leeds. I’d been stood at Billy’s statue when a lad approached me asking if I could take a photo of him with Billy which I did. Unfortunately there were some younger Leeds fans who took exception to the Swansea fans and I’m positive that’s why we saw the issues in our last visit sadly.

We got into the ground relatively quickly and there were a lively bunch of Leeds fans under the stand. Thanks to all the fans who wanted their photos taken today and there were a lot that’s for sure. As two fans have requested purchasing all five of my books (the fifth is due out shortly), I will have to ensure I replenish my stock of a couple of them in readiness. My daughter Dani and I went to the top of the stand to hang my flag up and it was great to see so many flags today. What had been quite funny was us two saying goodbye outside the stand; we thought we were going in different entrances with Dani’s seat in the bottom whilst mine was in the top half. We found out inside that we were able to get anywhere in the stand after all.

After Bielsa had named an unchanged squad, it surprised me when I saw Shackleton on the pitch. Only then did I find out that Cooper had injured himself in the pre-game warm up and had a hamstring injury. We could have done with his height that’s for sure as Swansea had some ‘brick s***houses’ playing for them. The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Roofe, Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski, Shackleton (making his full debut), Klich, Phillips and Douglas. Subs were: Baker for Phillips (28), Harrison for Alioski (45) and Bamford for Roofe (64). Score was 2-2 with Roofe (40) and Hernandez (79) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 20,860 with approx. 2,100 Leeds fans who had sold out their allocation in minutes. Excellent support once again despite this being a mid-week game and live on Sky. Leeds came back from behind twice to get a well-earned point and went top of the league tonight (although there are other clubs playing tomorrow so that may change).

As the game kicked off we found ourselves up against a tough team (they’d obviously been watching us). The ref A. Davies showed his true colours immediately and continued this for the whole game, booking our players and falling for every challenge giving free kicks galore. Their number 9 should have been booked for a blatant dive in the penalty area despite our player already running away with the ball he’d won when the player went down. The same player went nuts at the linesman when he flagged for a foul and the fact he got away with it didn’t go down well with the Leeds fans. He continued to rant and nothing was even said to him, unbelievable! Swansea took the play to us with constant attacking and not giving us a chance to settle. After Phillips was robbed of the ball, Swansea continued with the attack and we found ourselves a goal down sadly; although Peacock-Farrell got his hands to the ball he was unable to save it going into the net. It wasn’t surprising really although a little disappointing, but I knew we were up against it. Bielsa made an immediate change taking off Phillips and bringing on Baker. We had been struggling to stop Swansea attacking and it was a bold move from Bielsa. As this was the first game this season that we had gone behind, it would be interesting to see how we would react as a team. Well the team didn’t disappoint, we managed to get an attack on their goal and it was great to see Roofe put the ball into the net to equalise after great work from Shackleton on the right. This was the half time score and at least we were still in the game.

At half time I went to look for Tony from the West Midlands as Billy was looking for him. I used to travel with Billy’s dad’s coaches to away games in the seventies and Tony used to stay at their house. It was good to catch up with both of them. When we discussed how long ago we had met, it was unbelievable really as Tony hasn’t aged at all. Scunny was there too and I got more requests for photos so was happy to oblige. Tony said before the game today he’d gone into a pub near the ground with his Leeds shirt on and this man shouted out, “I remember you from 1981 as you were the only black person to come into the pub then!”

As the second half kicked off and with the Leeds fans in good voice, Bielsa made a further change when Alioski was replaced by Harrison. I’d notice Alioski had his right hand bandaged and when I mentioned it to Dave who stood next to me; he said it had been like that on Saturday. I hadn’t noticed it but then realised I’d not bothered putting my glasses on so no wonder! Things took a turn for the worse again as we found ourselves behind again when they scored a second goal. Damn! I’d started to get butterflies in my stomach but I still hoped we could get something out of the game. Without looking at my photos (I hoped I captured the moment), when Bamford got past their player on the wing and passed the ball across to Hernandez in the penalty area, I had my camera poised as there was no way he was missing that one. The equaliser sent the celebrating Leeds fans into raptures and at that time I felt we could go on and win the game. Shortly after Swansea were through on goal and it looked like they were going to get the winner, only for Peacock-Farrell to make a fantastic save with his feet to deny them. Leeds came into their own then as we found our feet and looked all on that we would get that winner only for their player to go down “injured”, I mean time wasting in the penalty area. Still as the final whistle blew and despite the draw meaning we’d dropped our first points of the season, the team got a fantastic reception from the Leeds fans. It was lovely to see George get Berardi’s shirt at the end of the game too. George had been mascot plus it was also his birthday so he’d had a great day and a birthday to remember. It was Berardi’s 30th birthday today too, plus Phillips (100) and Alioski (50) also reached milestones with games played. As I went to get my flag at the end of the game, someone helped me climb over the seats only for cramp to start in my calf and feet again, ouch!

I know we didn’t play too well at times today, but we showed character to come back from behind twice and get something from the game. At one time we would have capitulated and been beaten so I will take the positives from today. Bielsa definitely takes things seriously, seeing him getting up off the bucket and taking everything in about the game is good to see. The fact that he changed things quickly is also a breath of fresh air too.

Luckily I’m not in work in the morning but I know some people are so I feel for you. Personally I got home at 4am with a 20 hour round trip behind me. The Liberty Stadium hasn’t been a good hunting ground for us or Vetch field (Swansea’s old ground) so I’m happy with a point. See you at Norwich on Saturday for another tough game. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

My Scotland flag made by Carole

Leeds United v Rotherham 18th August 2018 at Elland Road

On our way to Elland Road we heard that the game was now a sellout from a Leeds fan’s perspective with the only tickets available in the Rotherham area. After a quick trip to the White Rose we got to the ground at 1.15 pm the earliest for a long while, as I was meeting my sister Erica and also Simon was here from Cornwall. As Dani, Laura and I headed to the Peacock Erica and Paul her friend caught up with us at the traffic lights. It was nice to catch up with lots of fans in the Peacock and Beano who goes in the South Stand was trying to get a new song going about Bielsa and his bucket! As we headed into the ground Laura wanted to go via my Bremner stone but I was disgusted to see that someone had spilt their chips and tomato sauce over the steps to Billy’s statue. This is sacred ground to me and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would treat the area in any other way. It had been cleared away when we got there after the game although there were stains where the food had been.

The team today were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski, Roofe, Hernandez, Douglas and Klich. Subs were: Baker for Saiz (80), Bamford for Roofe (86) and Jansson for Klich (90). Leeds won the game 2-0 with Luke Ayling scoring his first league goal (49) and Roofe getting the other (72). Attendance was 33,699 with 707 Rotherham fans.

The first 20 minutes saw Leeds have a couple of chances but with Rotherham shooting on sight, they were unlucky not to score first. With one bad pass from Cooper to Peacock Farrell, it looked odds on that Rotherham were going to score, but they had the ball whipped off their toes to deny them a goal. They also had a long range shot hit the post as they were taking the game to Leeds. At this time our players were a bit jittery seemingly to me because of the full house spurring them on. I felt they needed a goal to calm those nerves but we were playing out from the back and kept passing the ball back to Peacock-Farrell which was too close for comfort at times. Before half time we came close with a fantastic shot from Klich that just went at the wrong side of the upright and their goalie saved a great attempt by Berardi.

Laura and I met up with Carole, Ashley, Margaret and Keith behind the betting desk as usual. Carole was wearing her scarf from the seventies and I still love this piece of history and it makes me wish I hadn’t got rid of lots of my things. I did get the chance to buy one of my scarves back on eBay recently but someone won me to it at the last minute. I recognised it straight away because as well as the patches it had a familiar ladder at the front of it where I’d worn a pin badge.

Whatever Bielsa said to the team at half time it worked, as the team came out on fire for the second half. Within four minutes we had taken the lead when Douglas’s corner caused havoc in the Rotherham goalmouth. With Cooper’s header saved by the goalie, Roofe passed the rebound back across and Ayling’s header crossed the line despite the Rotherham player’s attempt to clear it. As Ayling wasn’t sure whether to celebrate, he looked to the referee and as the goal was given he ran exuberantly to the East Stand. As this was his first league goal I’m not surprised. This goal took the heat off the team and some of the passing in this half was out of this world. With Saiz jinking past players as if the ball was attached to his feet by a rope, our attacking just got better and better and he was unlucky not to score when his effort was headed off the line. Coming out from defence into attack saw Roofe get a second goal for us; Phillips sent a pin point pass over the defence for Roofe to run on to along the front of the West Stand. Roofe beat their man at the edge of the box and then from a narrow angle put the ball into the net to send the Leeds fans into fantastic celebrations. When Super Leeds and Marching on Together were sung in the Kop and most of the ground this was spine tingling and it felt a very special moment. Hearing Super Leeds ringing out from the stands like it did, this felt like a momentous occasion as I can’t remember it sung like this for a long, long time. Apart from Peacock-Farrell making a great save in the last few minutes, we were able to see the game out comfortably in our favour.

I think out fitness levels overcame Rotherham today as well as having a positive mental attitude and fighting for every ball. There were mistakes made, especially in the first half but in the past, we would have lost these challenges and the mistakes would have been costly. By chasing down everything, this enabled us to get on top of the game. Bielsa’s impact on this cannot be underestimated either. The fact that Bielsa is the first Leeds United manager (I don’t do coaches sorry!) to have won his first four games in charge is another milestone. Listening to his interview on BBC Radio Leeds on the way home makes me like him even more. It is not about him but the team and he looks at what isn’t working and tries to rectify it. He is a man of my heart because he has got the team fighting for everything and never giving up, which is something I always wanted to see my team do. Let’s enjoy the moment Leeds fans because it is about time our long suffering support has something positive and exciting to watch on the field.

Tuesday sees us head to Swansea for the first of two away games in a row with a 9.30 am departure from Leeds before we head to Norwich on Saturday. I’m looking forward to enjoying two away games with our fans but also looking forward to seeing what we produce on the pitch. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Bolton Carabao Cup 1st Round 14th August 2018 at Elland Road

As my granddaughter Hannah and I arrived at the ground our first stop was the club shop. I’d met my publisher Steve unexpectedly yesterday and he said that three of my books were on sale in the shop which was good to hear. The book area had been delayed as the sale of the home shirts had taken over from sorting out more of the layout. It looked really good in there today and there are lots of memorabilia for sale now. From there we went to the Peacock and met my daughter Dani and friends Sue and Keith. As we walked into the pub a lad from Halifax came over to say hello and I remembered the name Bucket immediately. As he keeps up to date with my blog in Spain it was nice to say hello. After taking a couple of photos we headed into the ground as there were going to be queues at the turnstiles, as the sales of tickets had gone through the roof in the last few days. The Bielsa effect is obviously having an impact and whetted the appetite of fans for this cup tie even though there were going to be a lot of changes to the team. On our way there someone came up to me to say was there any Leeds fan out there who didn’t know it was my birthday last Saturday. Obviously he’d seen all the messages I received on Facebook etc.

The team today were: Blackman, Shackleton, Ayling, Jansson, Baker, Harrison, Bamford, Phillips, Roberts, Saiz and Pearce. A double substitution of Klich for Roberts and Alioski for Saiz (68) then Roofe for Bamford (80) took place. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals by Bamford (27) and Saiz (35). Attendance was 19,617 with 1,007 Bolton fans.

With the wholesale changes to the team I didn’t feel like I normally do because as far as I can see, Bielsa will be getting every player at the club to play the same way. This means to me that they would be able to slot into any position they are asked to play. The first half an hour saw Leeds have plenty of possession and saw a couple of early chances. Phillips looked like he was the engine room and had a good game. Jamie Shackleton was making his home debut and I do like the lad. Seeing him give as good as he got when protecting Blackman in goal made me laugh but it was impressive. He is going to be a good one for the future that’s for sure. All of a sudden Bamford got the ball in an attack, got past one Bolton player before putting the ball into the net for a debut goal.  Eight minutes later we got a second goal when Saiz scored after some great footwork when we broke out of defence into an attack. At that time we looked like we would be comfortable winners.

The second half saw Bolton come out on the attack and our play wasn’t as fluent as it had been in the first half. It wasn’t a surprise when they pulled one back and could so easily have equalised before we got back into the game. Both Harrison and Shackleton put some great crosses in but we were unable to do anything with it. The young lad behind me was concerned that we had eight men in attack near the end of the game. I said it was because we won’t sit on a one goal lead anymore and whilst he understood that, I don’t think he understood the Bielsa concept. My motto of the best form of defence is attack, means that I am happy with what Bielsa is bringing to the squad as a whole. There was some rustiness amongst a few of the players in the team today and some frustrations amongst them when things didn’t come off. With having no reserve teams of old to get playing time, and despite having a smaller squad, it looks like the players on the edge of the first team will be used in the cup games. Whilst I’m not a lover of a weakened team for cup games, for once it didn’t feel like it due to the fact that Bielsa wants everyone to play the same way. What I did like to see was the trainers all getting involved at the side of the pitch and sending instructions to the players. Bielsa also didn’t stay perched on his bucket but would get up to have a word with them too. After both Monk and Heckingbottom stood at the side with folded arms, I found that a breath of fresh air.

Just before the end of the game some lads behind tried singing Wembley, Wembley, we’re the famous Leeds United and we’re off to Wembley. I just thought no please wait with that song as I didn’t want it jinxing. With many of our fans in the East Stand heading for the exits I thought they must be confident that Bolton won’t get an equaliser and weren’t waiting for extra time. To be honest on that basis I’m assuming that nothing has changed with the rules for cup games since last season though. I did get a bit jittery in those last few minutes but we ended the game with a win and through to the next round. We’ll know soon enough who our next opponents will be; if it’s away I would like to have a new ground to visit.

I would like to say a big thank you to Pete for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United which is appreciated enjoy the read. Also thanks for the feedback from everyone who enjoys reading my blog.

Saturday sees Rotherham come to Elland Road for the second home game in a week and we will be looking at a near sellout crowd. I feel that Bielsa will stick with the same team as against Derby unless there are any injuries. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Derby (A) 11 August 2018 at Pride Park

Good news for me, I have now proof read my latest book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and sent this back to my publisher. Fingers crossed it will be out in the next few weeks. I have approximately 200 photos (including collages) from our journey to games last season in the book as it is written as a fan for the fans. I will have a quota to sell and I am hopeful that it will be available in the club shop but will keep you informed.

A big thank you to everyone who took time to wish /sing a happy birthday to me today, plus the special card I received from the Leeds United stewards were all appreciated. As for the best birthday present I could have asked for, take a bow Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United. I asked for a win and three points and that performance today was out of this world! Commiserations to my publisher Steve though as his birthday wishes only lasted until 5.30pm. Somehow I think I got the better deal lol!

As the game was being shown live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off, the coach was leaving Leeds at 1.30pm. Billy’s bar was open for us too which was good to see. My friend Sue was travelling by car to the game with her husband Paul as they were coming from the opposite direction. My daughter Danielle (Dani) was picked up with some others at Junction 39 before we headed to Chesterfield for our pub stop. We had a nice break before arriving at the ground at 4.50 pm. It was nice to catch up with many fans before the game and there was quite a queue outside the turnstiles. I thought Dani was to go in through a different entrance to me, but she came back to inform me that I’d been looking on the ticket at the area inside the ground. Oops at least I hadn’t gone looking for it! I then tried trapping my arm in the turnstile but I soon moved it out of the way as it began to hurt!

After putting my flag up I headed up to my seat and once again found our away season tickets were right at the top of the stand. As I found my seat next to the home fans, I wondered why we were put up in the Gods and so far from the pitch. I was around lots I knew though and sat next to Whitby John again.

The team today were: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Ayling, Cooper, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski, Douglas, Roofe, Klich and Hernandez. Subs were; Jamie Shackleton for Klich (73), Patrick Bamford for Roofe (79) and Lewis Baker for Saiz (86). Leeds won the game 4-1 with goals from Klich (5), Roofe (21and 60) and Alioski (64). Attendance was 27,311 with 2,000 Leeds fans.

One of my friends tweeted that it would be a draw but I said I wanted a win and three points. At that time I would never have believed that I got my wish in such style though. My concerns last season were that we weren’t fit enough and as Bielsa has rectified that I looked forward to seeing the difference it makes. I also enjoyed seeing the team playing as one, backing each other up and getting the win against Stoke last week. I’m definitely looking forward to the Bielsa effect.

Derby had limited the amount of tickets we got for this game and they’d all sold out as usual. There were lads who’d come to the game without tickets but found there weren’t any spares to be had. Underneath the stands the fans were in fine voice singing about Douglas. Bielsa had named the same team as last week as Leeds got off to a dream start. Within five minutes we were one goal up when Klich sent a great strike from the edge of the box into the Derby goal. The team headed to our corner to celebrate with the Leeds fans who were ecstatic. Some Derby fans to the right of us started to cause issues with some of our fans. At first I thought there had just been some banter but I think they were making personal comments. At first the Derby stewards were having a go at the Leeds fans for retaliating, but after complaints by some of our fans, one of our stewards came and stood there too. One of the younger stewards was a Leeds fan as he’d been talking to Whitby John before the game kicked off.

The ref let a few tackles on us go without giving a free-kick but was quick off the mark to give Derby one. Unfortunately they drew level from this free-kick with a fantastic shot that beat Peacock-Farrell although he didn’t stand a chance with it. Of course the celebrating Derby fans woke up very quickly then. To get an atmosphere going they have a drummer behind the goal facing their fans but he wasn’t even watching the game which I found weird. The good thing though was that Leeds carried on where they left off. We were playing as a team, battling, fighting for each other, using simple passes and then fantastic crosses to the other side of the pitch. It was good to see especially when Alioski crossed the ball into the middle for Roofe to jump above everyone to head the ball into the net to put us back into the lead. We played some really good stuff and were unlucky not to get another goal. Derby hadn’t given up though so I was glad to get to half time still in the lead.

At the start of the second hand we look very jittery for a few minutes as we started making a few mistakes. I just hoped this wouldn’t give Derby the impetus to take the game by the scruff of the neck. I needn’t have worried, because we got going again and extended our lead with Roofe scoring his second goal of the game after Klich’s great pass to him. Even better still we got a fourth when Alioski headed the ball into the net after great work from Hernandez. Unbelievable scenes of celebrations from the Leeds fans as I don’t think we could actually believe we had scored four goals at Pride Park. Having been a bogey ground for us for many years, it was a fantastic feeling to know that we were playing some fantastic football as well as winning. When Shackleton came on as sub in place of Klich, he was unfazed and I knew that Bielsa had worked with the youngsters too so they would slot into place. At York he had played on the wing but he was brought on more into the middle of the pitch. With one Derby attack when Peacock-Farrell indicated the Derby player had stamped on his foot, Shackleton went to help him. I was impressed with the fight he put up against the Derby player to ensure he didn’t get a free shot at our goal.

The Leeds fans had been in good voice throughout the game and it was a feeling of immense pride when the final whistle blew and we had won in style. I had already gone down to the front to get my flag and had taken photos of lots I knew and many were shouting for me to take their photos. Jansson came over at the end of the game to interact with the fans and he threw his brand new away shirt into the crowd which was caught and handed to one of our disabled fans. He was wearing it on the way out of the ground so I was able to get photos and he was chuffed to bits and well done.

I met Dani and Sue at the end of the game and then we headed back to the coach. After a police escort away from the ground we were back on the M1 in no time. After dropping Dani and others off in the rain, we got to Elland Road and it was only spitting. I gave Roy a lift home as his car was poorly before getting home in good time.

Tuesday sees our Carabao Cup game against Bolton at Elland Road before we take on Rotherham in the league next week. The cup game will see those who haven’t played already getting a game. I won’t make predictions, but although things have started off similar to the last couple of seasons, there is a difference to the team on view. We will have made the other teams in the division sit up and take notice, especially as both games have been live on Sky so far. Let’s enjoy the ride and for once it would be nice to have more ups than downs. See you Tuesday, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Stoke City 5th August 2018 at Elland Road

Having been in Berlin with intermittent Wi-Fi, I missed a lot of what happened at Elland Road over the last week. Seeing that Vieira was sold to Sampdoria was a shock and not something I expected now the season was ready to start. I’d seen comments previously on one of the groups on social media saying that he hadn’t impressed over the pre-season games; I only hope there are future clauses added to ensure we don’t miss out cash wise if he achieves his potential. We also signed Jack Harrison a winger from Manchester City on a season long loan and Patrick Bamford a centre forward from Middlesbrough. I also found out that I’d made an appearance in the Sky documentary about Leeds that had been shown on Thursday, Leading Leeds United. I was there with my camera at Bootham Crescent at the York pre-season game taking a video as Bielsa came off the coach. He was smiling at me and touched my shoulder and if I remember right it was because I got in the way and said sorry. I got a message from my son Jamie today asking if I was always on the TV? It was still a proud moment to see that I had been included in this though. As always I will share my love of Leeds United around the world through my books, blogs and photos.

With this game already changed to a Sunday with a 4.30 pm kick off for a live Sky game; it hadn’t deterred the Leeds United faithful with a crowd of over 34,000 expected. Included in the total were the Stoke fans who had sold out their own allocation. There was to be a tribute in the South Stand to Paul Madeley, applause before the game for him and fans had been asked to wear white.

It was good to be back at Elland Road for the first game of the season despite being there a week ago for the friendly against Las Palmas. There was a real buzz about the place as I headed to the Peacock with my daughter Danielle and granddaughter Laura. When I’d picked Danielle up earlier we got stuck in diversions and road closures in Dewsbury and I was glad it was still a few hours to kick off. At one point I thought we’d never get out of there as every road we tried was closed but thank goodness we got out in the end.

Can I say a big thank you to a young lady who will remain nameless at this moment in time, for buying all four of my books which will be a present. As always, your support is appreciated. I was hoping my 5th book Back to Reality with Leeds United, 2017-18 would be out but I am still awaiting confirmation from my publisher.

It was great to see that many of our Norwegian supporters were over for the game. Sadly I was still travelling back from Berlin so missed their get together on Friday evening. There were also some of our Irish supporters here too. On my trip to Berlin with my granddaughter Hannah, we went to the Brandenburger Tor as soon as we arrived, having worn our Leeds United shirts whilst travelling. This had to be done especially when flying from “Stockport International Airport!” I was just about to take a selfie when a lad came up to us and asked if we wanted another Leeds fan to take it for us, of course was the answer. He was a Leeds United fan from South Africa and by wearing our colours everywhere, does encourage others to talk to you.  Once again this shows to me how much we have a fantastic worldwide fan base.

The Peacock was very busy and the garden was packed. With the sun shining and that “perfect” football weather, there were plenty of high spirits and optimism in the air. Personally I was looking forward to the season with a positive outlook. You’ve got to be that way as far as I’m concerned at the start of the season but as always the proof will be on the pitch. I know many fans haven’t felt this way at all but I like to see for myself how things pan out and will always give things a chance. I realised there was no hope for me as I went to get my camera out of the case and it wasn’t there. I was going to take a photo of some fans and just as I was panicking, they pointed out that my camera was attached to my wrist. I’d already taken some photos before that hence why the case was empty.

We went into the ground in good time in readiness for the start. The stands all looked great with loads of white shirts everywhere and it felt like there was going to be a great atmosphere. One thing I will say is despite the 50+ number of years I have followed Leeds United, there were still plenty of faces that I didn’t recognise today. In the seventies and eighties you would have a large hardcore of fans who went everywhere and even if I didn’t know their names, I would always recognise their faces. Now with our fan base being bigger than ever, it isn’t surprising that I don’t know everyone anymore.

After the applause and the cards in the South Stand (Eleven Pauls) the game was ready to start. It was also good to see Paul’s team mates from the Revie era applauding from the touchline too. One thing I was hoping for was that our fitness levels would be the best they have been for years under Bielsa’s training.

The team was Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Luke Ayling, Kalvin Phillips, Samuel Saiz, Barry Douglas (making his debut at left back), Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi, Ezgjan Alioski, Pablo Hernandez, Mateusz Klich and Kemar Roofe. Subs were Stuart Dallas for Klich (76), Lewis Baker for Saiz (88) and Jack Harrison for Alioski (89). Leeds won the game 3-1 with Klich (15), Hernandez (45 + 1) and Cooper (57) scoring for Leeds. Stoke scored with a penalty (52) by Afobe. The attendance was 34,126, with 2,471 Stoke fans.

The game set off with a great pace against Stoke City who had been relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season. We had plenty of possession and our passing was good as the team were collectively fighting for every ball. We had an early chance after Alioski sent over a cross and Roofe’s volley was saved by Butland in the nets for Stoke. (The Leeds fans made Butland laugh in the second half when he was in front of the Kop. They sang he was a s**t Jordan Pickford (England’s goalie) and he started clapping and laughed). That made the Leeds fans sing Butland is a Leeds fan. It wasn’t long before Leeds took the lead though after Saiz kept hold of the ball and passed it to Klich who ran forward into the penalty area to put the ball into the net. 1-0 as the celebrating Leeds fans went berserk on the terraces.  We had a good chance to go two up before Ince (getting loads of abuse from the Leeds fans due to his dad who played for man u), hit the crossbar for Stoke. We were playing some good football with precise passing between our players. Alioski brought another save out of Butland which prevented us getting a second goal. There was always a danger that Stoke could get back into the game and I wanted another goal to give us a cushion. This was provided when Hernandez sent a shot into the left hand corner of the goal in front of the South Stand. I was poised to see the goal go into the net and ready to take a photo of the action, only for Danielle to knock my elbow as the ball went in as she celebrated us scoring. It felt good to be two goals up as we went in at half time.

After joining Carole, Ashley, Margaret and Keith at half time, we had to disappoint a Leeds fan as we weren’t taking bets. We have taken to standing behind the betting area beneath the stands and it does raise a laugh though. The conversation was very positive about the way we were playing and long may it continue.

After attacking initially at the start of the second half it was very disappointing when the ref pointed to the spot giving Stoke a penalty. I was hoping they would miss it but unfortunately Peacock-Farrell went the wrong way. Here we go again, especially as the ref seemed to have a brain exchange at half time in my opinion. We were being picked up for fouls and he was letting those on us go so nothing had changed in that respect. For once it didn’t stop us and before long we won a corner and as Douglas sent the ball into the centre, Cooper was on hand to head it into the net for our third goal of the day. The celebrating Leeds fans couldn’t believe it but it was good to see that we were scoring goals too. We didn’t have it all our own way though as in the second half Stoke came close on a couple of occasions. When Peter Crouch came on I couldn’t believe he was still playing as he seems to have been around for ages. He is still a giant though and caused our defence some problems but luckily for us we were able to keep them out and get the season off to a great start with a win and three points.

It was great to see everyone including the subs and those not used, come onto the pitch to clap the fans at the end of the game. Although Bielsa failed to confirm this had happened, he had the players picking up litter for three hours so they could appreciate how long fans have to work to watch them play. All I want to see from a team is them giving their all, fighting for the ball and even if they lose it, getting it back as soon as possible. What Bielsa has done with the team on today’s showing is exactly that and that is all I ask for. We are in for an exciting season and I am positive that will happen because whatever happens next, they are going to play for the shirt and put the commitment in that the fans do. Even Pontus Jansson, despite being an unused sub, went to the South Stand at the end and interacted with them again. That is something he stopped doing early last season and I could never understand why?

We headed into the club shop to see how the refurbishment had gone. To hear that the new shirt was only available in an XL shirt having sold out of the rest, just shows how replica shirts and memorabilia for Leeds fans are high on the agenda. Once in the car I made the mistake of heading towards Elland Road to go up Wesley Street. I’ve no idea what was going on but all of a sudden there were three police vans parked across Elland Road, with flashing lights and sirens going off. They were getting ready to escort the Stoke buses out but I wasn’t sure if they had fans who had travelled by train or not? Someone will know what happened and will put us in the picture no doubt.

After dropping Danielle off, Laura and I headed to Rastrick to pick up one of my other granddaughters Hannah before eventually getting home at 10.00 pm. Once again it has taken a while to write this blog up (as usual falling asleep) so I will post onto my Follow Me and Leeds United page and my own page and then share amongst the groups in the morning. Please feel free to share the blog with any other Leeds fans/Leeds groups on social media that you know would be interested to read it.

Next week sees us travel to Derby on my birthday for another late kick off of 5.30 pm. A great present would be another win so fingers crossed. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

 

Pre-season friendlies season 2018-19 including Forest Green, York, Southend, Oxford, Guiseley and Las Palmas (the latter will be added as soon as I am available)

By 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, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • OUT SOON!Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 

Forest Green Rovers away 17th July 2018 at New Lawn

Welcome back to the start of the new season and especially those fans who love reading my blogs and having their photos taken. Last season’s blog has just been turned into a new book which has been sent to the publisher and will be out very soon. It is titled Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and includes over 150 photos/collages of the fans I’ve met on our travels and the team. I will have a quota of books to sell myself priced at £12.99. If you want to meet me at a game to buy an autographed copy then please let me know and I will arrange to meet you. The book will also be available on Amazon and hopefully the club shop once again.

As soon as the pre-season programme was announced, I could see it was going to be a very expensive time with six games in quick succession. As they were all based in this country it also meant a lot of travelling. Forest Green Rovers was the first game that beckoned as this was also a new ground to go to for me. LUSC Fullerton Park and LUSC South Kirkby (both Leeds United Supporters’ Club branches) joined together to travel to the game so it was a trip straight there and back. After a good journey down I waited outside the turnstiles whilst others went into the beer tent outside the away end. After chatting to a few fans that I knew I decided to walk around the ground. As I got to the far end I realised the team had just arrived so headed to the players’ entrance. It was noticeable that some of the youngsters looked apprehensive on seeing a group of Leeds fans waiting for them to get off the coach, but they’ll soon get used to it.

It was good to be back amongst our fans with lots of familiar faces having their photos taken. As I headed to the turnstiles, I changed my mind as to which one I was going through as I knew I couldn’t be searched by a male steward. Another girl came across to my queue and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as the male steward had told her that she couldn’t take her contraceptive pill in! Well I’ve heard it all now, unbelievable. After a search of my bags I was asked if I’d any keys so I replied yes my car and house keys. I wondered why they were included in the search and then remembered, I’d seen an email recently saying a new weapon was appearing on the streets which was a key with a blade inside it. 

I put my flag up behind the goal and stood with my friends the Bournemouth and Southampton Whites who are great company in readiness for kickoff. With our new manager Marcelo Bielsa recently installed, the team have been training hard under his management and were due to play the full 90 minutes. Personally I thought that was good to hear, as our fitness levels and bad long term injuries were a cause of concern for me last season.

The team was:  Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper, Adam Forshaw, Pablo Hernandez, Samuel Saiz, Ezgjan Allioski, Kemar Roofe, Stuart Dallas, Gaetano Berardi, and Kalvin Phillips.  Attendance was 3,250 with 1,161 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Roofe (16) and Ayling (25).

As the team was made up of the same players we had at the end of last season, at least it meant I knew who was who. In the pre-season games it is normally very hard for me to work the players out especially as I never get a programme anymore, so I need names and numbers on shirts to remind me. We raced into a two goal lead very early on when Roofe scored our first goal of the season in the 16th minute followed shortly by Ayling scoring his first goal for us I believe. Right on half time Forest Green Rovers pulled one back as Peacock-Farrell was beaten by a shot in the top right hand corner, right in front of us.

As I was speaking to some of our fans the conversation turned to my blogs. I said I hadn’t been sure if I should put last year’s blog into a book before deciding to go ahead with it.  Mark said that what I was doing was important; my blog is one of a few that is written about the fan experience and showing what they go through to support their team. That was so nice to hear and I really appreciate the support as it makes me feel that doing this is worthwhile, as well as sharing my experiences of watching games over a 50+ year span.

As this game was the start of getting ready for the actual season to begin I wasn’t expecting too much. I did like the yellow shirts and blue shorts as there was something about them being in pristine condition that stood out for me. It was also good to be back amongst our fans and catch up with lots of them. Due to a 7pm kick off and despite a detour to South Kirkby we made good time getting back to Leeds although I slept most of the way back.

York City away 19th July 2018 at Bootham Crescent

I was struggling to get any enthusiasm for my football due to a workload that has overwhelmed me and made me feel I couldn’t do it anymore. I am grateful that I have a chance to recharge my batteries over the summer holiday period.  I had driven to the game and managed to get a good parking spot on a nearby street and as I was there early, I headed to the players’ entrance. Stix who co-ordinates the team and events waved to me from an upstairs window just before the team coach arrived. I thought there was no chance that the coach would be able to get into the area behind the stand but the driver reversed into it with no problems. I decided to film the players getting off the coach and as expected, there were a lot of the youngsters for this game as it was only two days after the Forest Green game. Bielsa had his photo taken with a young Leeds fan and then two friends of his arrived. He didn’t hear me shout him but the girl tapped him on the shoulder and he came back for a photo with me.

I spoke to a few fans and took some photos then found out my mum and sister were at Clifton Bingo so headed there to see them before coming back to the ground. I didn’t even realise I was in the seats so decided to sit on the front row as I was having severe issues with my feet with pain that came on suddenly at the weekend.  It meant I couldn’t weight bare for a while and as it still hadn’t settled down it was the best thing to do. As the game kicked off Leeds fans behind the goal started singing they couldn’t get in the stand as it was overcrowded at the top as they came up the stairs.

The team was:  Kamil Miazek, Tom Pearce, Laurens De Bock, Jamie Shackleton, Yosuke Ideguchi, Ronaldo Vieira, Lewis Baker (making his first appearance after signing on loan from Chelsea), Mateusz Klich, Jack Clarke, Jordan Stevens and Ryan Edmondson. Score was 1-1 with Sam Dalby scoring for Leeds (58). Attendance was 4,400 with approx. 2,000 Leeds fans.

I knew Vieira was playing but had no idea until after the game that Klich had played as I didn’t bother putting my glasses on. I need to start looking on my phone for the starting lineup I think as that may help too. York took the lead on 24 minutes after they had come out strongly and initially we struggled to get any momentum going.  It felt that the first half was more of Bielsa seeing some of the youngsters playing who are part of the development squad.  Eventually we started getting into the game more and I hoped the fitness levels would help us to improve. We went into the break 1-0 down although Shackleton was unlucky not to score an equaliser just before the whistle blew.

I’d hung my flag up at the side of the stand but just before half time the lad behind me said it had fallen down. I went to get it then as I realised fans had decided to untie it so they could see when queuing up for food.  I’d not given that a thought so I moved it to the front of the stand instead.

The second half started with three changes made, Will Huffer replaced Miazek, Sam Dalby for Stevens and Hugo Diaz for Edmondson. The substitutions made a difference to our performance as the second half belonged to Leeds. Shackleton made some great runs down the side in front of us, beating his man to the bye line numerous times. Clarke also showed great potential with an impressive performance. After York hitting the crossbar it was our turn to do the same with Klich’s shot before Dalby put the rebound in to equalise for Leeds. It may have been a 1-1 draw but there were positives to take with some of the individual performances.

This is probably our last visit to Bootham Crescent as York should be moving to a Community Stadium slightly out of town. We always have a good turnout of fans at this fixture and it is always a ground I relished visiting as I used to live near Selby. After we had played in the European Cup Final in Paris, my friend Sue and I went to see York play man u there wearing all our Leeds colours. Some of their fans came from Barnsley as did some of the Leeds fans so we stood with the lads we knew.

I was so tired on the way home that I had to pull over three times but better to do it that way and get home safely. Sunday is a very early start with our visit to Southend for our third game in a week so see you there.

Southend United away 22nd July 2018 at Roots Hall

I didn’t realise that we were travelling by minibus to this one with Roy driving us there. We left Leeds at 7am as it was a 2pm kickoff and after a short stop at Cambridge services arrived to a very warm Southend. Initially we were going to walk to the sea front but we decided we didn’t have enough time to get there and back. As my feet were still giving me trouble it wouldn’t have been a good idea. We were directed to the pub near the ground that was for away fans only and it was good to see it had a Leeds scarf hung up behind the bar and Leeds coloured bunting. It turned out the landlady Michelle was a Leeds fan and so were her parents. Thanks for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and I look forward to feedback in due course. Michelle later shared some great photos that her parents had of meeting some Leeds players. It was good to see Rudi and his son who had come from Norway for the game. It is always good to catch up with the Bergen Whites at our pre-season games.

After talking for ages with fans we headed back to the ground where I hung my flag at the back of the stand. As there was a danger of “flying balls” I decided I would be safer sat behind the goal so joined Andrew and some others. It was roasting and my knees were on fire but it was nice to have some good weather.

The team was: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, De Bock (Tyler Roberts 62 making his debut after his transfer in January but had been injured since arriving), Berardi, Forshaw, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz, Dallas and Roofe.  Score was 1-1 with Ayling scoring his second goal in two games (34). Attendance was 3,815 with 988 Leeds fans.

Leeds played with yellow shirts and blue shorts and I found the kits very appealing as they looked pristine. This was another game where Leeds went 1-0 down after 20 minutes and Southend came close to scoring a second. Once again Ayling came to the rescue scoring his second goal in two games to equalise just before half time. It was good to see Roberts making his debut eventually too. We came close a couple of times in the final stages of the second half with their goalie making a double save and another kicking one off the line, but the game ended in a draw.

It was nice to have one of their stewards come and ask the Leeds fans if they wanted their water bottles filling up as well as their own stewards. I had been grateful to have a bottle of coke brought for me unexpectedly at half time by one of the lads sat near me. As he’d brought the others in the group a drink he brought me one too so thank you.

We had a good run back to Leeds without stopping after a delayed get away due to three of our group not being able to find the minibus. Our next game is Oxford away on Tuesday so see you there.

Oxford away 24th July 2018 at the Kassam Stadium

I was looking forward to visiting Oxford’s new ground today having visited the Manor ground in the past. I had treated my daughter Dani to the game today as she’s had a tough time recently so it was time to chill out and enjoy getting back to the football. After doing a detour to pick her up we arrived at Elland Road in good time for the coach. Fullerton Park Supporters’ Club were sharing a coach with the South Kirkby branch again. We parked up then after a quick visit to Howard’s bar for the shop, we returned to the car. On our way back past Billy’s statue we saw that the old signs from the shop had been taken down along with the old railings, as they were being replaced with the refurbishment of the club shop. I would have loved to have taken them home but one, my car isn’t big enough and two, Dani said there was nowhere they could they go lol! 

We were then stopped by a couple of interviewers from Calendar who were at Elland Road due to the death of Paul Madeley yesterday. Paul was an integral part of the great Don Revie side and part of the best team ever that I was privileged to have seen. Having signed a blank contract as he only wanted to play for Leeds; sadly they don’t make players like him anymore. RIP Tank and thank you for the memories.

We had a stop at a club in Bicester before getting to the ground at 7pm. It was weird seeing only three stands built at the moment which I assumed was due to financial restraints but may be wrong on that score. There was a sizeable amount of Leeds fans there for this pre-season friendly which was good to see. I put my flag on display at the bottom of the stand. As I tried to shake the flag out I inadvertently caught my camera case, threw it over my head and knocked my beret off in the process. A big thank you to the Leeds fan (he said he’d touched the great flag) and the steward for helping me put the flag up. There is no hope for me but luckily the camera still worked thank goodness. That would have been catastrophic for me because as well as the Leeds games, I have a five day trip to Berlin with my granddaughter Hannah in between the games to look forward to.

As usual I was talking to lots of people downstairs and it was good to see the Hampshire Whites. I then saw Collar and Tony who I’d missed at the Forest Green game so managed to see them and have a chat. It was good to catch up with them and reminisce about Tony’s Leeds United painted Capri car. The troubles he encountered in the past through parking it outside Supporters’ Clubs or in car parks at away games was quite funny, although they weren’t at the time. Because we were talking so much we missed the teams coming out so I was late getting photos of the Leeds mascot and the junior football team of one of our Oxford Whites. Luckily I got some photos of the mascot in the centre of the pitch and the team in the stand opposite. Today also saw Radrizzani was back at a game and as many fans are getting increasingly worried about our lack of transfer activity, sadly it has seen a lot of nastiness on social media. Personally I haven’t given up hope as yet as there is still time with the transfer window being open and the loan window open until the end of August. There is still time until the fat lady sings (so the saying goes); once the windows are shut, that’s when we will see what our ambitions as a club are.

The team was: Will Huffer, Tom Pearce, Hugo Diaz, Mateusz Klich, Jamie Shackleton, Ronaldo Vieira, Yosuke Ideguchi, Lewis Baker, Sam Dalby, Oriol Rey and Jack Clarke.  Subs were Jamal Blackman (making his debut after his season long loan from Chelsea) for Huffer (45), Tyler Roberts for Ideguchi (45) and Ryan Edmondson for Dalby (45). Leeds lost 4-3 with goals from Roberts (54), Baker (63) and Clarke (71). Attendance was 4,772 including 1,335 Leeds fans. Leeds were to wear black armbands for Paul Madeley today but it looked like Oxford were the only ones wearing them which was sad really.

The team today was made up of lots of our youngsters; sadly the first half was over before it begun as Oxford scored on six minutes after Pearce, chasing his own pass, was unable to get to the ball first resulting in Oxford taking the lead. They were two up very soon with a third goal before half time. Booed off the pitch by some fans we looked down and out.

As we went downstairs at half time we heard that they had run out of food and it would be 15 minutes after half time before there would be anymore. Apparently Oxford had panicked after hearing thousands of Leeds fans were coming to the game and sent for our stewards to attend.

Luckily for us, our subs at the start of the second half saw a tale of two halves and I really enjoyed the second half which also saw a goal glut. Roberts scored in the 54th minute but then Oxford scored a goal that was marginally offside but was given. If we thought Leeds were down and out we were mistaken, as Shackleton crossed for Baker to score. When Edmondson put the ball into the net for our third goal, this was disallowed for offside. Replays later showed this shouldn’t have been disallowed. When Clarke scored what would have been our fourth goal, the correct score should have been 4-3 to us and not the other way around. I wasn’t too despondent at the end of the game though, because we had played well in the second half plus we showed we could score goals which are always a plus sign.

I was glad I wasn’t at work the next day as we got back to Leeds late. By the time I dropped Dani off at her house, it was 4am when I got back to mine. Our next game is Guiseley on Thursday so it feels like I’ve had no time in between games but see you there.

Guiseley away 26th July 2018 at Nethermoor Park

I picked my daughter Dani up and we headed straight to Elland Road to see my Bremner stone. Norman Hunter, Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer had the honour of opening the square and when I saw the videos of this, I realised Norman (I think he was the one as I can’t find the video now) was standing more or less on my stone. We found my stone in a prominent position in front of Billy and I am so happy. A big thank you to my family once again, for getting me this present for Christmas. We hadn’t been there long before it started spitting with rain. Dani decided she was going back to the car as I carried on looking around thinking a bit of rain won’t harm me!  Well that thought changed very quickly as the heavens opened with a torrential downpour. With that I headed back to the car to join Dani and we decided to go straight to Guiseley to avoid rush hour traffic.

We were there very early but parked up, headed back to the Station Pub and then sat outside with some other fans that we knew. It was very hot, we had a real laugh and they were great company. When we heard a massive crack of thunder I got very nervous but the storm stayed in the distance and it didn’t rain. We headed back to the ground and I was going to get my Leeds United umbrella out of the car but weather forecasts were conflicting with one saying more storms or none at all. We decided to go with the latter and decided to stand outside the stand waiting for the team coach to arrive. It was nice to catch up with Dave (Les Cocker’s son) along with his son Lee and grandson. Getting a photo of three generations of a Leeds legend was humbling and I’m glad I was able to do this.

I hung my flag up next to the players’ tunnel and then we decided to stay where we were rather than go to sit down in the stand to the left of us. That turned out to be a big mistake because just as kickoff approached, the thunder cracked in the distance once more but the torrential rain came. As the rain bounced off the dry terraces we found our feet covered in dirt once it stopped. We felt sorry for the football teams and dance team who were all lined up on the pitch ready for the guard of honour, but they were troopers despite being soaked through.

The team was: Blackman, Shackleton, De Bock, Diaz, Pearce, Klich, Vieira, Clarke, Baker, Roberts and Edmondson. Subs were Stevens for Roberts (38), Rey for Diaz (68) and Dalby for Edmondson (72). Attendance was a sell-out 3,366 with Leeds and Guiseley fans mixing all over the ground.

Once again we found ourselves a goal down after three minutes then two goals down after 29. I thought here we go again but I remembered last year when Guiseley had taken a lead that we got back into the game. When Klich scored just before half time at least we had a chance of getting back into the game. Clarke brought us level four minutes into the second half, then Edmondson scored twice before Guiseley pulled one back but we won the game 4-3.  At the end of the game there was a pitch invasion as loads of young kids ran onto the pitch to see the players. The young lad next to us was man handled by a female steward and pushed back over the fence. When there were loads of others already on the pitch it seemed over the top. Some of the players engaged well with the pitch invaders and took a long time to come off the pitch but it was good to see. The female steward then threw a group of Leeds youths out of the ground as they sang “We’ll never be mastered, by no Guiseley b*****ds” saying you can’t do that here. Apparently she had been man handling a lot of the kids and angered some of our fans. It was a friendly after all!

We called at my nephew’s house nearby after the game and then I headed home to Halifax via Wakefield as I’m a good mum!!  Our last pre-season game takes place at Elland Road on Sunday against Las Palmas before the season starts for real with our game against Stoke. There seems to be some transfer dealings going on in the background and indeed they have, as today 28th July the transfer of Barry Douglas (left-back) from Wolves has just been announced. I look forward to catching up with old and new friends so see you there. LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Las Palmas 29th July 2018 at Elland Road

It was a family affair today as I brought two of my daughters Michelle and Dani plus my three granddaughters Hannah, Laura and Alexis to the game. We had decided to go in early to the game and call at the White Rose beforehand as we thought it easier for the girls to get their dinners at McDonalds. It turned out that the White Rose was shut due to an evacuation test that had gone wrong so we ended up at Birstall instead.

After a trip to the Peacock we went into the ground and for once all our tickets were in the same stand as Michelle, Laura and Alexis were right at the front of the Kop whilst Dani, Hannah and I went to our normal places. I hadn’t been able to buy one of our season ticket seats as it said online that it had been bought by family and friends. It turned out to be an empty seat so I reckon there must have been a blip on the system.

The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Saiz, Hernandez, Roofe.  Subs were Baker for Vieira (45), Klich for Saiz (45), Roberts for Alioski (64) and Shackleton subbing substitute Baker (88). Subs not used: Blackman, Huffer, Pearce, Clarke. Leeds won 1-0 with Roofe scoring the goal (86). Attendance was 11,499 with approximately 30-50 Las Palmas fans. This turned out to be Vieira’s last game for us as he was transferred to Sampdoria two days later.

The first half saw Las Palmas hit the crossbar twice as both sides had chances but we went in at half time with no goals scored. The second half saw Hernandez unlucky not to score when his shot was saved by their goalie. There hadn’t been too much goalmouth action but Leeds took the lead with a goal from Roofe with four minutes of normal time left on the clock.

With the last game of the pre-season friendlies over next Sunday sees the first game of the season with our home game against relegated Stoke. In the meantime I will be having a short break in Berlin with my granddaughter Hannah and will be flying the flag for Leeds by wearing our Leeds shirts on the journey. See you next week LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

 

 

 

Leeds United Supporters Trust – Safe Standing Roadshow 15th May 2018

Leeds United v QPR 6th May 2018 at Elland Road

How quickly the last game of the season seems to have come round. I didn’t attend the player of the year awards on Friday but it was nice to see Peter Lorimer looking so well when given a Lifetime Award after overcoming his recent battle with ill health.

As we headed to Elland Road for our last game of the season, I cast my mind back 46 years to the day I was at Wembley to see Leeds United win the FA Cup for the only time in our history in the Centenary Year. I’m privileged to have experienced us winning the trophy and the memories will stay with me forever. That takes me back to our present day where sadly after a very hopeful start we petered out once again into a disappointing end. From the high hopes at the start of the season that never materialised into the finish we wanted, to the despair on the pitch. After getting off to our great start to the season where we saw some fantastic football played giving us great hope, we changed what we were trying to do. Sadly we will never know if persevering with the way we started would have worked but we never recovered after that, as it looked to me that we didn’t know what we trying to do from then on.

Firstly I want to thank all my followers on social media for taking the time to read and share my blogs over the season. I especially want to thank all our fantastic fans who have once again followed our club everywhere in huge numbers showing fantastic loyalty despite the ups and downs. Home games have also had big attendances with over 30,000 fans attending many of the games. Lots of our overseas fans were making regular journeys and in some cases attending every game which shows our fans are the best in the world in my eyes. I do my blogs as a fan for the fans as I enjoy taking photos which show the fan experience at games. Those fans who regularly want to be part of this experience by asking for their photos taken, shows what a great camaraderie there is amongst our fans and something I treasure. Watch out as it looks like I will be putting this season’s blog into another book for those who have been asking if their photo will be in it! I will include as many photos as possible as with all my books so fans can feel part of following Leeds United whether they can get to games or not.

I took a photo from some old photos from a Harrogate White who attended the Fairs Cup play off on 22nd September 1971 against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. I think I can just work out my friends Margaret and Carole on one of the photos for that game which was played just as I started to go to all the home games. I’d been asked to take photos of the youngsters waving the flags as the players came out as they had a relative taking part. Unfortunately as I didn’t know who was I was looking for, there are a lot.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Ayling returning from injury, Pearce, Jansson, Alioski, Cooper, Roofe, Ekuban, Phillips, Vieira and Forshaw. Subs were Pennington for Jansson (46), Ryan Edmondson at age 16 making his debut for Roofe (73) and O’Kane for Forshaw (86). Leeds won the game 2-0 with Roofe (30) and Phillips (47) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 30,004 with approx. 800 QPR fans.

Just before the end of season applause for Leeds fans who have died over the season, it was sad to hear of the death of Lady Harewood our honorary club president since December 2017. The whole stadium joined in to pay our respects to everyone. As the game kicked off there were white shirts everywhere as the glorious weather meant no coats and no tops on in some instances. There was a typical end of season atmosphere as fans soaked up the sun and although I couldn’t see from the Kop, we had a crowd surfer in the South Stand. Early into the game it was surprising to see a steward suddenly taking one of the beach balls that must have come over the wall next to the pitch from the South Stand. He proceeded to carry it away to the West Stand corner to a round of boos with the South Stand singing they wanted their ball back. Why I’ve no idea as they weren’t doing anything untoward and it was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with fans enjoying themselves. When the same steward proceeded to do that again with another ball I thought he’d lost the plot!

On the pitch after a bit of initial pressure from QPR I thought we settled into the game well and whilst it wasn’t overly exciting, we started to go forward and attack them. It was good to see Ayling return to the side and he showed what we have been missing many a time when he got stuck in. We upped the pressure on QPR and were very unlucky not to take the lead with a massive goalmouth scramble in front of the South Stand. Just a few minutes later we did take the lead with a goal from Roofe after a corner was headed on by Phillips. With another chance just before half time, I felt we ended the half on a positive note.

Jansson didn’t return to the field at the start of the second half and Pennington came on to replace him. Within a couple of minutes we got a second goal as Phillips reacted well when a poor clearance gave him the chance to score a great goal. As we were firmly in the driving seat I didn’t want us to let QPR have anything as Peacock-Farrell deserved to have a clean sheet. On the whole we limited QPR to very few goal scoring chances despite the fact they were bearing down on our goal a few times. The ref was trying to make a name for himself by blowing up for a foul numerous times when we tackled their players but not giving us the same courtesy. Football is not a non-contact sport and you should be able to battle for a ball and win it. As it was we managed to see the game out and get the win and three points to at least give us a good end to the season in that respect.

We waited behind for the players to come around the pitch with their children and applaud the fans for their tremendous support this season. There were actually more fans waiting behind than I thought there would be considering. It was also nice to bump into some of our Northern Ireland fans after the game including Wesley Boyle who played for us in 1997.

Tomorrow sees a number of our fans flying out to Myanmar for the post season tour and I would assume the team too. Who will travel as part of the official party, I am waiting to see but I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable trip and I look forward to seeing some of the blogs from fans I know who are going out there.

What happens next over the close season will define where we are heading as a club. I always knew it was going to take time but had my hopes built up with our great start to the season before normality resumed on the pitch. Having had so many long term injuries as a team this season, that has been a great worry for me but along with suspensions, these have both had a great impact on the players available to play. This season has been a big learning curve for Radrizzani in running a football club, especially with the badge gate saga. As much as I love doing the salute, I don’t want it as our club badge and this was a unanimous vote amongst our fans. The refurbishment of Bremner Square will also be starting shortly and I am looking forward to seeing the end product, especially my Bremner Stone. Lewie Coyle who has been on a season long loan at Fleetwood should be returning to us after having a great season with them, winning the Player’s player of the year so well done to him. We have a spine of youngsters to build on with some old heads, once we have got rid of players who shouldn’t be here. I have no thoughts about specific players and will wait and see who stays and who goes before making any judgements. A few additional quality players and with another season before our Centenary Year, aiming for automatic promotion is a must and isn’t too much to ask, is it?  See you next season – 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 2016-2017

 

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