Stoke City v Leeds United 24 August 2019 at the 365Bet Stadium

It was a beautiful sunny day when I left Halifax at 7.40am to head to Leeds for the coach. Our stop was in Leek today and it was good to chat to friends and have a laugh. Just before we left we managed a Leeds United Supporters Club Fullerton Park branch photo and thank you to the ladies from Stoke who took it so I could be in the photo too. As we arrived at the ground 45 minutes before kick-off I headed straight to the Power League which was a few minutes’ walk from the away end. I was going to meet Ian (my daughter’s Godfather) together with his brother Les and his wife. It’s a long time since I’ve seen Les who is a Stoke fan, but both lads came to watch me play football for charity in the 70s and made a flag saying Big H rules. Les already thought they’d lose today and on Tuesday but I was more cautious. That saying, I felt more confident this year that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes as last year especially as Bielsa will have watched everything very closely.

I managed a few photos on my way in to the ground and had a couple of fans trying to recreate the Beatles on the zebra crossing. I had to get my flag out for the steward to check it and had some lads saying “Heidi what are you hiding in there, a couple of cans?” I took the banter in the good spirit it was meant to be. There was a great atmosphere under the stands as I made my way to the green aisle for my seat. I got to the front of the stand and then made my way over to the left hand side to hang my flag up in the little space that was left. I hadn’t realised that there were loads of flags at the opposite end in between both sets of supporters until the end of the game. Never mind, but sadly it meant I didn’t get any photos of them.

The team: Casilla, Dallas, Berardi, Hernandez (captain with Cooper out injured), Phillips, Forshaw, Klich, Bamford, White, Alioski and Harrison. Subs: Nketiah for Bamford (74), Costa for Hernandez (80) and Shackleton for Klich (85). Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Dallas (42), Alioski (50) and Bamford (66). Attendance was 24,090 with 2,913 Leeds fans.

The Leeds fans were in good voice as I took my place near the front of the stand behind the goal. At one point I realised the fella behind me was sat down so moved slightly into the aisle for a while. Even though I was quite confident, I wasn’t taking anything for granted and knew that Stoke would raise their game for us. Last year they had just got a new manager in but this year they were rooted to the bottom of the table and on shaky ground. Stoke took the game to us for a while but Leeds were able to quell any attacks with Casilla not being very busy, just involved with our players passing the ball to him. With some misplaced passes for a while from Dallas and Hernandez I just thought they’d grow into the game and wasn’t too worried. It was a case of, let Stoke have their 10 minutes and then we’d take charge of the game. Just after that Klich’s shot brought a save out of their keeper. Hernandez was very unlucky not to get on the scoresheet on 15 minutes when their keeper made a great save to keep him out and then caught the rebound with a deflected shot from Klich. We had a couple of near chances although the half so far hadn’t set the world alight. Ben White was playing really well in defence and was so cool, calm and collected when picking the ball up. A couple of times he waited for the Stoke player to come near him before dancing round them with ease. As some fans were heading downstairs for the break, Leeds attacking the far end showed some great movement, before Hernandez sent a great pass across to Dallas who was clean through to hit the ball first time into the net. As the Leeds fans celebrated, fans in the aisle next to me tumbled down the terraces and all ended up in a tangle at the front of the stand. Just as they started to try and get up, loads of fans coming back from downstairs came hurtling down the terraces with loads landing on top of one another. Some of them looked in a bad way as eventually they were helped up. What I couldn’t understand, was why no stewards did a thing to help plus they didn’t even ask any First Aiders to come to where we were? A girl was let out at the front as she’d hurt her fingers in the melee and eventually came back with an ice pack on them. Just before the whistle went Klich had another shot saved by their keeper as we went in one nil up at the break. I spoke to the lad who looked really badly injured to see if he needed to go to the First Aid but luckily he’d started coming round and was able to walk.

After catching up with a few fans downstairs including another one of our injured fans who I’d tried to help up, I went back to my seat. The lad behind me had scratches along his back and a big hole in his t-shirt. The lads seem to have been very lucky to have got away with being seriously injured thank goodness. Although Stoke started off with a rare attack it didn’t take long for Leeds to get a second goal. Bamford passed the ball across the goal for Alioski to fire home to put us further into the lead. Leeds were on top at this point as they continued to attack towards us with Harrison’s shot creeping past the wrong side of the post. We had some long range shots that didn’t come off before we got a third goal. Forshaw played a great ball into the area where Alioski found his shot saved by their keeper only for Bamford to follow up and put the rebound into the net. Leeds had been playing some lovely football with great footwork and although Stoke brought a save out of Casilla, we continued to dominate the game. With both Klich and Forshaw denied goals with saves by their keeper, we ended the game with a 3-0 win and another three points to keep us on top of the league.

It had been a great day out and I’m sure our performance will make other teams around us sit up and take notice. Bielsa ball is great to see despite whatever happens in the future and I for one am enjoying watching our team play.

Tuesday sees us play Stoke again but this time at Elland Road in the next round of the Carabao Cup. The team will be made up of our youngsters and give players who have not featured much in the Championship some game time. I am taking all three granddaughters to this one and as I couldn’t get all our seats together in the Kop, I will move from my seat to be with one of them. Thanks to everyone who wanted photos taken today and for all the positive comments about my blogs, books and my appearance in Take us Home: Leeds United the documentary. As always I appreciate your comments which are gratefully received. Also I’d like to say a big thank you to Harry and Martin both Bradford Whites, for buying my books Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan respectively. Talking about books, my latest one from is called Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United which is based on my blog and last season. Despite the way it ended, this was our best season in a long while with some fantastic football on show. As usual I have included lots of photos of our fans and this will be available soon. If anyone is interested in buying one please do not hesitate to contact me. See you on Tuesday, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
  • Out soon: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Leeds United v Brentford 21st August 2019 at Elland Road

It’s been great seeing the feedback from the Leeds fans who have viewed the documentary Take Us Home : Leeds United. Thank you for all the positive comments for my cameo role in it which are gratefully received. I know some fans don’t want to watch it and I can quite understand that, but I found I really enjoyed it despite the painful and emotional scenes at the end. We’ll just have to go one better this year Leeds so automatic promotion is a must please. It was nice to meet Rik from the Netherlands in the Peacock before the game who came to introduce himself to me, having seen me in the documentary. Having seen both the Derby and West Brom wins at Elland Road last season, we agreed it would be third time lucky tonight also with a win against Brentford. It was nice to chat to some of our Welsh Whites before the game too. We made sure we went into the ground in plenty of time as I’d been asked to get photos of one of our mascots tonight. I’d met my sister Erica and friends before the game and I managed to find her in the East Stand with my camera. In the toilets in the ground I was just entering a cubicle when a voice shouted “Heidi, that’s my lucky toilet”. Well obviously, being the superstitious person I am, I understood perfectly and did the honourable thing and chose another one to go in and let Victoria keep the luck going.

The Team:- Casilla, Alioski (Douglas injured), Cooper, White, Dallas, Hernandez, Bamford, Forshaw, Klich, Phillips and Harrison. Subs: Costa for Harrison (65) and Eddie Nketiah (on loan from Arsenal making his home debut) for Hernandez (77). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Nketiah (81). Attendance was 35,004 with approximately 300 Brentford fans. Because the opposition had brought very few fans, this was the first game that the West Stand area at the front of the away fans became a Leeds United fans stand again. Getting more of our fans in the ground rather than having great empty spaces was a great initiative from the club.

Today would see the return of Pontus Jansson for his first game against us playing for the opposition. I was sad to see him leave Leeds because he was the one player who brought the fans and the team back together again and for that I am grateful. I can still see him in front of the Kop when he got us all going for the first time and that interaction with the team can now be seen all the time. As the teams came out it was good to see the interaction with Jansson and the current Leeds team which showed he was well thought of despite all the rumours that had been doing the rounds. The South Stand also sang “you’re Leeds and you know you are”. I for one didn’t accept the disruptive influence character assassination on him and at the end there were hugs all round with him and the Leeds players which were good to see. Good luck to him although not against us please.

As the teams kicked off, it was very much evens for a while with Leeds getting a few free kicks before Alioski found himself in the book for a foul. Although there weren’t many chances for either team, it took for Brentford to hit the post with Casilla beaten that brought the game to life in the 24th minute. Leeds went to the opposite end with Klich striking a shot that brought a good save out of their goalie. Bamford then put a header over the bar after a great cross from Alioski before a second chance of a header that went past the wrong side of the post. Brentford brought a save out of Casilla just before the break as we went in on level terms. The first half had passed very quickly though and it wasn’t surprising that we had not found it easy to get past Brentford.

The second half saw Leeds up the tempo getting a couple of corners in quick succession. Forshaw brought a save out of their goalie and with him coming close to scoring in the last couple of games, I feel sure a goal will come soon. We had a lot of the Kop shouting for a handball in the area and a penalty, which didn’t come. It will be interesting to see a replay as I didn’t see it. Dallas ended up with a booking after running up to the ref calling for the penalty as his pleas fell on deaf ears. Costa came on as a sub with half an hour to go to replace Harrison before Nketiah replaced Hernandez. It was interesting to see the new rules in force, that any player being subbed had to go off the pitch at the nearest point. That to me looks a good thing as there is nothing more annoying than players wasting time by taking ages to get off the pitch. As Costa started to make an impact, Nketiah was brought on in place of Hernandez. As I hadn’t been sure who was on the bench, I found I was impressed that we actually had some players on the bench who could make an impact. As it was within five minutes Leeds took the lead after some great work by Costa on the left hand side in front of us. As he passed the ball across to the middle of the goal, we were all cheering before Nketiah had even put it into the net. I can’t remember the last time we had players on the bench that could make an impact and also put some speed into the attack, which were great to see and get us the reward of a goal. Leeds were quite comfortable on the ball and limited Brentford to any attacks, although they were still a threat for the last minutes of the game but we were able to come out with the win to stay on top of the league with another three points.

Stoke City away on Saturday sees us visit the Bet365 stadium again which wasn’t a happy hunting ground for us last season. A friend of mine who supports them said we will get two wins in a week as we also play them at home next Tuesday in the second round of the Carabao Cup. As always, I never take anything for granted and will make my judgements by what I see on the pitch but am hopeful we will put on a better performance this time. As Bielsa tends not to make too many changes, I expect him to put the same team out but we will see on the day. If we get to the ground early enough I hope to head to the Power League pub next to the ground where away fans are welcome and also to see my friends.

As we headed to the steps of the Kop to go out, someone said is that Heidi Haigh, the Queen of the Kop? Thank you for the compliment and although I was grateful for the praise, I’m sure that view will only be from a few fans. On getting back to the car I put BBC Radio Leeds on but was dismayed to hear someone slagging Leeds fans off who had been having a go at Bamford. I thought they should focus on the whole ground continually singing his name rather than some individuals who made their feelings against him known. At the end of the day they are entitled to their opinion whether we agree with it or not. See you at Stoke, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
  • Out soon: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Wigan v Leeds United 17th August 2019 at the DW Stadium

Well it’s been quite a week. Wednesday saw me attend the Premiere Event for the documentary Take Us Home : Leeds United at the Everyman Cinema in the Trinity Centre, Leeds. Getting a VIP invitation was because I featured in the documentary and it was a great opportunity to be involved. My grateful thanks go to all those who made this possible for me. Please note though, it should have been a blue carpet as we don’t do red! I watched the remaining five episodes last night and had to keep watching until the end no matter how painful it was at times. I found it really emotional but did enjoy it because this is Leeds United my football club and fellow supporters. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took their time today to complement me on my performance in this or asked for their photo to be taken. As always, I appreciate all your comments.

For those of you who have been following my family challenges since the beginning of the year, finally we have some good news to focus on. My husband’s latest tests are fine and any residual changes are down to the treatment he has had for his cancer, with Huddersfield Royal Infirmary keeping an eye on him for the next five years. I know we aren’t the only people who have been going through this and good luck to any other Leeds fan/family who are going through similar challenges. My baby grandson is making good progress and should be transferred into special care shortly rather than being in intensive care. He is now over 3lbs and putting weight on which is good to see.

The team: Casilla, Douglas, Cooper, White, Dallas, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich, Forshaw, Harrison and Bamford. Subs: Costa for Klich (76) and Shackleton for Forshaw (90). Attendance was 14,819 with 5,200 Leeds fans. Leeds won 2-0 with a brace from Bamford (34, 65).

As I got in my car to head to Leeds, the heavens opened and I thought we’d be in for another soggy day. It was nice to see the sun begin to shine when I got to the ground and luckily for us, it kept out all day plus it was quite warm. After ending up with freezing fingers at Salford during the week, it was a very welcome change to the weather. It was nice to meet Dean from Leyland during our pub stop and hopefully he managed to get into the ground. After getting a coffee I found myself in bad books as I knocked it over, soaking my daughter Dani with hot liquid as well as me. She wasn’t impressed with me and said I can’t be taken anywhere! We got to the ground with plenty of time to kick-off and as we made our way to the front of the stand, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to put my flag up. As Dani and I made our way to the front corner, we managed to hang it over the end of the stand. At that moment it was so blustery I was expecting the wind to take off with it so made extra sure that it was tied on tight.

There was a good atmosphere under the stand as I made my way back into the middle section to my seat. I was right behind the goal but had a great view. The atmosphere transferred itself onto the terraces which was great as I really enjoy the singing. It was good to see that Sean had made it too coming from Australia for the game. The first half started slowly and Wigan were at their most dangerous at this time. With Casilla chasing after the ball back towards the goal, I shouted at him to pick the damn ball up. Obviously I was nervous at that time as I swore at him too. Sorry about that. He made amends for me just after that when he made a good save to keep Wigan out. When Wigan hit the post we were able to clear the ball as we gradually began to take charge of the game. Wigan were doing their damndest to stop our players by fouling them with some challenges going unpunished but also getting quite a few free kicks. I said to the lad next to me that we don’t want them going down to 10 men this time as we know what happened at Elland Road last season. With Wigan’s next attack, the ref blew for a free-kick to them for a foul just before Bamford received a really bad one from their player already booked. The next minute after what seemed to be a message from his linesman to the left of us, he changed his mind and gave their player a second yellow then a red card. With Wigan down to 10 men once again, I thought we’d make sure we didn’t succumb to them in the same way as we did at Elland Road. Learn from your mistakes came to mind. Bamford hit a weak shot at goal when he should have put some power behind it. I said he needed some lessons from Allan Clarke on how to make any attempts into goals. Once he learns from him he’ll do better. A few minutes later he did indeed score as Forshaw’s shot rebounded off the post for Bamford to stick the ball into the net out of reach of their goalie. It was good to get the goal and put us in front on the day. Just after that fighting broke out in the main stand to our right as Leeds fans became under attack. I wasn’t sure if it was some of our corporate fans as I thought I saw some wearing lanyards who were then taken out through one of the boxes. Hopefully no one was badly hurt. Just before the break Hernandez had a shot saved meaning we went in a goal up at half-time.

It took ages to get underneath the stand to the far end where the ladies were situated. It wasn’t a surprise to see a few of the lads obviously can’t read when challenged as to why they were in there. As I made my way back to the middle of the stand I bumped into Ella before someone knocked some of her beer out of her hand. The next minute the same thing happened again before someone stood next to me found the same happen to him. The next minute we ended up with a beer bath as some was thrown into the air. Dani said it was Karma when I told her later, saying I couldn’t complain after spilling my coffee on her lol. By the time I got back in the stand the game had already kicked off.

The second half started with lots of free kicks given to both sides with many stop and starts. Wigan shouted for a penalty when challenged in the area but the ref waved play on. I didn’t think it warranted one though. When Leeds whipped the ball off the toes of a Wigan player, we were all mystified when they were awarded a free kick as it looked a perfectly legitimate challenge to us. Leeds were awarded a corner with many Leeds fans going mad that we should have had a penalty for handball. With the new rules changes, a penalty should be awarded for both a deliberate or accidental handball. As it was, from the corner, Bamford bundled the ball over the line for his second goal of the game to give us a little breathing space. Harrison was in constant space down the right hand side as Leeds kept attacking. Hernandez and Harrison both had shots saved to prevent us getting a third goal and Casilla made a further save to keep a clean sheet. It hadn’t been a pretty game, but I was happy to get the win and three points. It doesn’t matter how Leeds win as long as it goes in our favour.

Our next game is on Wednesday against Brentford which see Pontus return with the opposition team. Sorry Pontus but you need to go home empty handed with no points please. I’m not sure why we aren’t playing on the Tuesday evening though which is our normal day for mid-week games? We then go to Stoke next Saturday for the Championship game before meeting them again a few days later for the Carabao Cup second round at Elland Road. The away ticket sell-outs has reared its head again with loyal fans missing out on tickets. It can’t be right that someone who hasn’t missed a game since 2012, went on the pre-season tour to Australia, got a ticket for Salford then missed out on Stoke. The club must look after loyal fans and not take them for granted. I love our worldwide fan base and will always encourage our fans to come to games. Although it doesn’t affect me being both a home and away season ticket holder, I do care about other Leeds fans.  See you on Wednesday – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Take Us Home Leeds United Premiere Event 14.8.19

 

It’s not everyday you get invited to see yourself appear in the Leeds United Documentary, Take Us Home. Thank you for the invitation as it was good to see and I’m looking forward to the next five episodes.

I saw plenty of familiar faces on there too and just hearing the fans singing Marching on Together had tingles running down my spine.

Salford City v Leeds United 13th August 2019, Carabao Cup 1st Round at the Peninsula Stadium

With a new ground to visit on the horizon, I was looking forward to the game. Although there would be a lot of changes to the team from Saturday, it was a chance to see our fringe players in action including our latest signings in Costa and Nketiah. As someone who wants us to progress in the cups as winning breeds winning in my eyes, I didn’t want any banana skins tonight but a progression to the next round. With it only being a short journey over the Pennines, we got there before the gates had even opened but luckily we didn’t have long to wait before we were let in. Everyone was searched before being allowed in but I think some things were way over the top. When I saw one of our disabled fans being patted down I shook my head. The lady who searched me laughed at all my bags etc. but I even had to open my water bottle to prove it was water. Another lad was asked to open his wallet! Apparently they were looking for drugs.

I hung my flag up at the front of the barriers because I knew they wouldn’t be allowed along the perimeter due to advertising hoardings. We had plenty of flags on show as usual and with so many familiar faces there I had loads saying hello or asking for photos. It’s always nice to have a chat with many of our fans who I saw today, but I’m biased when I say we have the best fans in the world. There had been a lot of hype for this game by Sky as they were doing a documentary on Salford City due to the involvement of ex man u player Gary Neville and others. There is only one class of 92 and that was Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United who won the First Division, making us the Last Champions before the invention of the Premier League!

The team: Casilla, Berardi (Captain), Phillips, Leif Davis, Helda Costa (first start), Eddie Nketiah (making his debut), Clarke, Shackleton, White, Klich and Alioski. Subs: Alfie McCalmont (making his debut) for Clarke (70), Harrison for Alioski (78) and Bamford for Nketiah (78). Attendance was a sell-out 5,108 with 1,400 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Nketiah (43), Berardi (50) and Klich (58).

The first half saw Casilla tested early on before Phillips found his shot sailing way off target. It was worth a try especially as we were building up very slowly in our attacks. We had Davis to thank for keeping Salford out from a corner with a goal line clearance with Casilla beaten. We looked very shaky at that moment as defending corners once again nearly came to haunt us. It was only when Salford attacked us that I realised how tall their players were. With one corner Alioski looked like he was going to try and mark one of them which would have been another David and Golath show. Luckily the other players made sure White got to mark him instead. I’ve no idea why other teams always seem to have giants in them! Phillips’s next effort brought a great save out of their goalie and shortly afterwards he (Neal) prevented him scoring again. Salford always looked dangerous on the break when they were running towards us but Casilla did well to make the save to prevent them taking the lead. Clarke was the next one unlucky not to score when Neal saved a long range shot from him. Although we had a few chances we had kept the tempo low and I said it was like watching paint dry and we needed to up it. Just before half-time we did just that, when Shackleton sent a great pass out to Costa who beat his man at the by-line sending a great cross for Nketiah to get a goal on his debut. Klich was very unlucky not to get us a second before the break as his shot went past the wrong side of the post. The goal was just what we needed going into the second half.

Having got the vital break of a goal, we only had to wait five minutes in the second half to get another. This time Berardi scored his second goal for Leeds when he got on the end of a corner to beat Neal to put us two up on the night. He ran straight back to the other end to celebrate probably because when he got his first goal at Newport he got booked for celebrating with the Leeds fans. Klich came close to giving Leeds a third when he should have kept the ball down but volleyed it over. Casilla then made two great saves to deny Salford the chance to get back into the game. Leeds then broke free from the corner and came charging towards the Leeds fans with Klich in the driving seat. He kept going and sent a fantastic shot into the top corner of the net to send the Leeds fans into overdrive especially in the no man’s land in front of the barriers! We had Casilla to thank for another save before Berardi made our second goal line clearance to keep Salford out. Luckily they were unable to score from a rebound with the goal at their mercy after another Casilla save. Keeping a clean sheet and getting a 3-0 win was good to see and now we meet Stoke at Elland Road the week after we play them away in the league.

When one of their fans ran onto the pitch and went to score he slipped and missed which had the Leeds fans jeering at him. As he slipped back into the crowd, his jacket was thrown back onto the pitch as he mingled with their fans. Surprise, surprise though he wasn’t challenged at all by their stewards. There again those at our end did try to move our fans out of the no man’s land after our second goal but gave up rather quickly. He was the second fan to end up on his arse as one going out at half-time to the left of us was trying to be clever and fell over too. Must be something in the water over there! One thing I didn’t hear until after the game was Salford fans mocking the deaths of our two lads in Turkey. I’ve no time for imbeciles like that and although not a violent person would love them to get their comeuppance!

Saturday sees us back in league action with the away game at Wigan where we have a big following of over 5,000 fans. Keep scoring goals Leeds and get us another win. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Leeds United v Nottingham Forest 10th August 2019 at Elland Road

My granddaughter and I headed to Leeds for our first home game of the season as for once this didn’t include any pre-season games at Elland Road. It was good to be back having got in the mood for football by playing Paul Wilson’s King of Elland Road all the way from Halifax. We bumped into the 100 years of Leeds United documentary crew as we headed to Billy’s statue to meet my daughter Dani but had to arrange to meet both my sisters there after the game. Due to car parking issues now prevalent at Elland Road, they were told they couldn’t park in Car Park A due to it being for VIPs only, even though there were plenty of spaces. Luckily they got onto the park and ride site but I know these parking issues have been felt very much by many of our disabled supporters.

I went to the Peacock as the Dani and Hannah headed into the ground and stood talking to a Leeds fan I knew outside. As we were stood talking, a photographer arrived to take our photo. It was nice to bump into Monica from the Philippines who was over for the game and also to hear that she enjoys reading my blog. I was also asked to take a photo of some fans over from America, with another one an avid reader of my blog. I managed to catch up for a chat with a few others including Paul one of my Selby Whites and want to thank my “counsellor” for his support which was greatly appreciated. After taking photos of fans I decided I wanted to get into the ground early to ensure my season ticket worked although by the time I chatted to a few people I only got in just before the team came out. After hearing Bielsa’s lookalike young Freddie from Ireland was going to be mascot, I also wanted to capture photos from him coming out with the team. When I’d seen there was a chance for other kids to be a mascot for the game with proceeds to charity, I was all for giving my granddaughters the opportunity until I saw the price. £750 per mascot is a heck of a lot of money and out of my league sadly and many others too from what I read online. Elland Road was buzzing in anticipation of what this season would bring. With the transfer window now closed, our final signings for the season are French goalie Illan Meslier aged 19 from Lorient and Striker Eddie Nketiah aged 20 from Arsenal both on season-long loans. We also lost Roofe who was transferred to Anderlecht but the good news is that Phillips is here to stay which is really important as he is the mainstay of our team.

Team: Casilla, Dallas, Cooper, Douglas, Phillips, Klich, Forshaw, Bamford, Harrison, White and Hernandez. Subs: Alioski for Harrison (73) and Costa (his home debut) for Klich (80). The score was 1-1 with Hernandez scoring the Leeds goal (59). Attendance was 35,453 with 2,001 Forest fans.

After one minute’s applause for those fans no longer with us at the start of the game, we attacked the South Stand in the first half. Leeds set off on the attack putting some good moves together and also spraying excellent passes across the field. With an early appeal of a penalty after Forshaw was brought down in the area ignored, first Phillips with a save by their goalie then Douglas found his attempt blocked as Leeds piled the pressure on. With numerous corners we couldn’t manage that breakthrough early goal but we did limit Forest to any chances. Their goalie denied Bamford a goal when he made another crucial save. Forest had deliberately kicked the ball away three times without the ref even speaking to their players which annoyed me.  When Phillips brought their player down with a mistimed tackle he was straight in the book as their player made a meal of it rolling on the floor. Stop being a namby pamby and be a professional with no play acting. When a similar tackle on one of our players didn’t get their player a booking, I’m positive that was only because he got up on his feet straight away instead of rolling about on the floor. Dallas was body checked by their player on the edge of the box but didn’t even get a free kick. Although we’d seen a lot of the ball and had loads of possession we weren’t able to make it count as we went in level at half-time.

It was nice to catch up with friends at half-time as Carole and I wished each other happy birthday. I’d also seen Tony from West Midlands who’d said the same. I said he never looked a day older than when I first met him all those years ago in the seventies.

I hoped we’d be able to get on top of things in the second half as we attacked the Kop. Bamford came close twice with one shot off the crossbar and another effort needing a bit more power on it as his chip went wide. Once he starts scoring at home I’m sure the goals will come. He is putting more effort into his game now and just needs to up his confidence. There may be large expectations when playing at Elland Road but he couldn’t fault the crowd for getting behind him. Forest had a rare attack but the ball went over the crossbar. All of a sudden Klich put a fantastic ball over the top of their defence for Hernandez to run on and I knew he would score. As the ball hit the back of the net Elland Road erupted as a blue flare was let off in the Kop. In the pandemonium I saw stewards at the front of the Kop motioning for assistance so I thought someone must be hurt. Eventually they were stretchered out of the ground so hopefully they weren’t too badly hurt.

As Forest brought on their three subs early on in the second half (although at different times) I couldn’t but help notice the size of them. It was like David and Goliath when I saw their player against ours. This also came to haunt us when they won a corner in front of the South Stand. In the melee the ball was eventually put into our net for them to equalise. Although I haven’t seen it, others said Cooper had been fouled in the build up to the goal but it was allowed to stand. My husband confirmed this when I got home too as well as confirming we should have had two penalties. One where Costa had three of them on him in the penalty area probably wasn’t one from my point of view, but another where he was brought down was a cast iron one conveniently ignored by the ref. Cooper had a push in the back which was ignored too. He went for the ball then ended up a few feet away from where he jumped so that was blatant to me. The bad foul on Dallas was even worse but ignored by the ref too. There were many bad fouls from Forest and it looks like our team are going to face a battering again this season. When teams can’t beat us they will not hesitate to foul us instead. Some of them should have been bookings but luckily for them the ref let them off.

Once again the referee was very poor in many aspects and the officials should be accountable for their inactions. He went off at the end of the game with the Kop booing and giving him stick for his inept display on the pitch. Although it was disappointing not to get all three points, at least we won’t have other clubs baying to claim the end of our unbeaten run.

We met up with my sisters Karin and Erica at Billy’s statue before heading home. Luckily we managed to get away easily although we didn’t go straight home. Hannah sent a tweet to Susan Smith after the game as she’d broken down and didn’t manage to get to the game. She’d been looking forward to getting a photo with her but that will have to be at the next game instead.

Tuesday sees our Carabao Cup tie at Salford which will be a new ground for me before the away game at Wigan next Saturday. Our away following will be contrasting at both games as we have only a small allocation of tickets for the former with approximately 5,000 for Wigan. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Bristol City v Leeds United 4th August 2019 at Ashton Gate

Welcome back everyone to my Follow Me and Leeds United blog that will take you through the Centenary season for Leeds United. As a home and away season ticket holder this will be done game by game where you get an insight into an away day and lots of photos of the fan experience. Please feel free to share any posts or photos but if you can give me acknowledgement for anything shared that would be appreciated.

For those of you who are already avid followers of my accounts, we will know shortly how the treatment of my husband’s cancer has gone but he is making good progress. Also my baby grandson made a very early appearance yesterday as he didn’t want to miss all the action. His mum had a season ticket before she was born so I made sure he had his Leeds United kit ready for him to grow into before he was born.

With everything going on in the background with my family I haven’t had time to think too much about the new season but am saddened by both the Jansson and Peacock-Farrell sales. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I stand by my point of view that we should have built our team around Peacock-Farrell. Bringing others in on high wages to the detriment of players already here was always going to upset the applecart. 

As always I will make my judgements by what I see on the pitch. With Bielsa staying that had to be the best news I wanted to hear as it brings the continuity I crave. Getting off to a good start will be key to how our season progresses but being amongst our fans once again during our season’s journey will be priceless. Make sure you ask for a photo when you see me if you want to be part of the blog. After a stop in Gloucester with lots of Leeds United discussions and good company we arrived at the ground in good time for kick-off. It was great to walk down to the ground saying hello to lots of Leeds fans and seeing lots of familiar faces. The bottom tier of the stand was cordoned off which is a shame as we could have sold extra tickets today no problem. As it was most fans put their flags on show in this area which was good to see.

The team: Casilla, Cooper, Bamford, Douglas, Dallas, Klich, Phillips, Ben White (making his league debut), Hernandez, Harrison and Forshaw. Subs: Costa (making his league debut) for Klich (76), Alioski for Douglas (79) and Davis for Harrison (85). Leeds won the game 3-1 with Hernandez (26), Bamford (57) and Harrison (72) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 23,553 with 2,126 Leeds fans.

After a few free kicks going Bristol’s way we settled into the game and there was some great pin point passes across the pitch. Casilla managed to have my heart in my mouth a few times again today with his charging out of the area runs. With one clearance in the first half it went straight to their player on the edge of the box but Casilla made amends with a great save to keep Bristol out. Leeds started to look comfortable on the ball and I was impressed with young Ben White who was quick to show some nippy footwork giving a good account of himself. We were able to keep a lot of possession and didn’t look too troubled by Bristol when they tested us on a few occasions. The game turned on its head when Hernandez scored a fantastic goal at the opposite end to us on the half hour mark to put us into the lead. I knew as soon as the ball left his foot it was going into the net. The Leeds fans had been in good voice even before the goal and upped the noise with great celebrations. We nearly got a second on the stroke of half-time when Forshaw’s shot just went past the wrong side of the post. Very close but not close enough to score. I didn’t feel unduly worried about Bristol in the first half as we played some good attacking football as we went into half time with a one goal lead.

The ref caused some controversy when Klich was fouled and stayed on the ground, he played on. When the same thing happened with one of the Bristol players, he blew up and stopped the game. Just remember officials, I want a level playing field this season and not one rule for Leeds and one rule for everyone else. Also when we are getting our shirts pulled right in front of the linesman, he needs to open his eyes because if I can see it in the stand then there is something wrong with his eyesight!

The second half saw Bristol come out with more fight in them and it took a while for us to settle. It wasn’t long though before Hernandez did some fantastic weaving in the penalty area on the left hand side of the pitch and crossed for Bamford to head the ball into the net in front of us for our second goal of the game. I’d said before the game that if Bamford gets one hopefully that will give him confidence to score more. We were on top at this point and looking good for a win. This was made even better when Leeds scored a third after a great counter attack involving Dallas then Klich before Harrison put the ball into the net. With some fans singing we are top of the league, I thought back to last season when I wouldn’t sing it in case I jinxed anything. I thought maybe it would be better if I was optimistic and just sang it anyway. With approximately 15 minutes left on the clock Costa was brought on in place of Klich which left us seemingly disjointed as we lost our prowess in midfield. This immediately gave Bristol the impetus putting Leeds on the back foot and under pressure, so it was no surprise when they pulled one back beating Casilla at the near post. With them then piling further pressure on us and coming close to a second, I thought we better not capitulate and let them get another otherwise we’d be in trouble. It took a while for us to calm down and get control again but luckily we stopped them scoring another goal so we had a winning start to our Centenary season with a 3-1 away win. Hernandez got a deserved Sky man of the match with his magical jinx and fantastic goal which was well deserved.

It was lovely to see Phillips coming over to the Leeds fans and handing his shirt over to young Jack at the front of the stand who was really happy. This was also caught by the Sky cameras too which was lovely to see. Apparently in the warm up the ball had hit Jack and this was his way of saying sorry. Well done to both.

When we got back to the coach I went onto the roadside as a lad I know was being helped along the road but was in a very bad way. His injury looked really bad and the police were going to get a car to take him back to his coach but in the meantime was leaning on ours. Sadly I had to get back on the coach as we were leaving but I really hope he is okay.

We had a relatively good run back to Leeds and I was home in Halifax before midnight. After having really warm and dry weather on our way down to the game it was a surprise to hit rain again on our way home. Our first home game of the season is the early 12.30pm kick-off against Nottingham Forest next week. It will be good to get back onto home soil, as this is the first time in many years we haven’t had a home game in any of our pre-season friendlies. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

York 10th July and Guiseley 11th July pre-season games

York City v Leeds United 10th July 2019 at Bootham Crescent

Welcome back to all my followers and I hope this season brings us the rewards we are all craving. Last season’s ending hit many of us very hard and it has taken a while to get over not getting automatic promotion. We have brought Costa from Wolves who will have to hit the ground running for me purely because I am not in favour of expensive loans, but as long as he plays for the shirt and stays injury free they will be plus points. I’d been rather down due to Pontus Jansson being sold to Brentford this week which had been preceded by Jack Clarke’s sale then loan back from Tottenham. Instead of building we seemed to be dismantling what we had so I will wait and see what transpires on the pitch. At least it looks like we are getting rid of a lot of the fringe players who shouldn’t be here.

Going to York straight away rekindled the passion of following Leeds for 50+ years in what will be our Centenary Year. As always I make my judgements by what I see on the pitch but it was good to be back amongst our support with many familiar faces. It was also good to see that Nikki still had Rita her guide dog with as we thought she’d been retired at the end of last season. Rita is a Leeds fan through and through who barks every time Leeds scores a goal.

The team for the first hour: Kiko Casilla, Stuart Dallas, Gaetano Berardi, Liam Cooper, Barry Douglas, Alfie McCalmont, Adam Forshaw, Pablo Hernandez, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Kemar Roofe.

Substitutes en masse: Robbie Gotts, Oliver Casey, Ryan Edmundson, Bryce Hosannah, Jack Jenkins, Clarke Odour, Pascal Struijk, Kun Temenuzhkov, Rafa Mujica and Liam McCarron.

Leeds won the game 5-0 with goals from Harrison (3, 44), Roofe (22), Hernandez (34) and Forshaw (53). Attendance was 5,108 with 2,162 Leeds fans.

Leeds got off to a great start when Harrison put the ball in the net to give us the lead in the third minute after York failed to clear Hernandez’s cross. Bamford had a shot over the bar but shortly afterwards was unlucky not to score when his shot hit the post. Harrison was playing well and his cross from the byline was met by Roofe in the box to put us further into the lead. Leeds were in fine form not giving York much of the ball and it was no surprise when we scored again after a great build up from Harrison and Bamford which enabled Hernandez to get on the score sheet. After a rare shot from York just before half time that went over the bar, Leeds increased their lead with a second great goal from Harrison from outside the box. Leeds being 4-0 up at half time had made it an enjoyable start to this pre-season friendly game.

The second half saw us carry on with the same team and Harrison was unlucky not to get a hat-trick when he was denied by their goalie making the save. Leeds did get a fifth goal when Forshaw chipped the ball over the keeper after being put through by Hernandez.

There was a mass substitution after an hour with only Casilla staying on the pitch who became captain. Youngsters McCarron and Mujica were making their debuts for Leeds. There was no let-up in play as the youngsters carried on where the first team had left off and I was impressed with the way they slotted in to the way Bielsa wanted. The one player that stood out for me was young Alfie McCalmont as he played the holding role that Phillips normally plays in for the first hour. He didn’t look out of place and has a bright future I’m sure.

It was nice to set off with a win despite York not really putting up any opposition. See you at Guiseley.

Guiseley v Leeds United 11th July 2019 at Nethermoor Park

Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Costa (69) and Bogusz (80). Attendance was approx. 5,800.

The Team: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Kamil Miazek 45), Helder Costa making his debut, Mateuz Bogusz, Kalvin Phillips, Gjanni Allioski (Niall Huggins 86), Ben White making his debut (Nohan Kenneh aged 16, 74), Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke, Leif Davies, Mateusz Klich and Jordan Stevens.

Substitutes not used: Bobby Kamwa, Stuart McKinstry and Theo Hudson.

We missed the build up to the game as I’d to wait for my granddaughter Hannah to get back from a school trip. We also had to pick our tickets up for the game from my nephew’s house who lives near the Guiseley ground so at least we had somewhere to park. We got into the ground just as the teams were coming out so stayed at the corner where we arrived with Hannah and Vinnie getting a place at the front of the stand.

It was a different team to York yesterday with more of the youngsters playing but it was good to see Kalvin Phillips there. With all the rumours flying around that he was going to be sold, I’m hoping that’s all they are as he needs to be in our team going forwards.

It didn’t take long to see that Guiseley were going to be a different side to York as they were up for it from the start and were very quick on the attack. Phillips found this out when he was bundled off the ball and Peacock-Farrell was then beaten on a one to one to put Guiseley into the lead on nine minutes. Guiseley continued to put us under pressure and there was no free flowing football from us that had been on show at York which was a complete contrast to that game. It was taking time to get a grip of the game as we went in at half time a goal down.

As we started the second half better, we thought Alioski had equalised only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. We should have had a penalty when our player had his foot taken from under him and although the referee was poised with his whistle looking to blow, he decided not to give one. It took us until the 69th minute to get level on the night when Costa scored on his debut after some good individual work. Miazek who had come on for the second half in place of Peacock-Farrell was called on to make a save to prevent Guiseley from taking the lead for a second time.

Leeds took the lead for the first time after Shackleton and Costa combined to give Bogusz the chance to score. It took a few minutes for the scoreboard to update and we thought that Guiseley wanted to pretend we hadn’t scored. Guiseley didn’t give up but Leeds were able to hold on for the second win in two days.

As the final whistled sounded on 89 minutes, kids all over the ground ran onto the pitch as that was the sign for a pitch invasion. It was quite funny listening to the tannoy announcer pleading with everyone to get off the pitch, even saying he’d put a notice up on the scoreboard.

Even though this hadn’t been a good game it was good for the players to start their build up to the season. Unfortunately Alioski went off injured and White was taken off with a knock. Let’s hope long term injuries are banished this year as that was our downfall last season.

I just want to wish all the fans going to Australia and Sardinia a wonderful and safe trip to either or both. To say I’m not jealous at all would be an understatement as sadly I am not in a position to go to any of the ones abroad this year. I’m looking forward to seeing all the photos from those fans who are there though and see our fantastic support on show once again.

I’m now looking forward to the season starting in earnest on 4th August with our trip to Bristol City. Come on Leeds, we can do this! See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
  • Working on my latest book which will hopefully be out soon

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh @followmeandleedsunited

 

Fan Girls Dissertation by Hatty Jones

I was asked to take part in this Dissertation by Hatty and thank you for the opportunity.

Leeds United v Derby County 15th May at Elland Road play-off semi-final second leg

With one thing after another happening kicking you when you are down together with grid locked roads all around us, it was a relief to get to Elland Road in time for kick off. The one thing it did though was give me no chance to worry about the game ahead of us. I knew once the game kicked off that I would be able to forget about things for a while but I felt we’d missed out on the build up to the atmosphere. With only a one goal lead, there was still hope at this point that we’d do this and although slightly nervous, the tie was in our hands. I’d be happy when it was 10pm though then at least we’d know for certain what happened next. The stat I’d found incredulous on Saturday, was hearing that out of the 46 games we had been in the automatic promotion spots in 42 of them.

It didn’t take long to start taking photos and it was nice to be thanked for sharing my blog by one fan who had been caught on camera a few times this season. Getting into the Kop there was a great atmosphere below the stand that started to get the juices flowing. Leeds fans all over the ground had been given a scarf on our seats today which was a nice gesture by Leeds and Victor Orta had been putting them out personally. They reminded me of the silk scarves we used to wear in the 70s so thank you for that. As the teams came out to a crescendo of noise, it felt like something we had never witnessed before. Despite having attended games for over 50 years, this will take some beating and would be up there with the best. Scarves twirling or held up, it was a fantastic sight and something I will always be proud of being part of.

The team: Casilla, Cooper, Ayling, Berardi, Phillips, Hernandez, Harrison, Bamford, Shackleton, Dallas and Klich. Subs: Clarke for Klich (86) and Brown for Bamford (88). Leeds lost the game 4-2 with Dallas getting a brace for us (24 and 62). Attendance was 36,326 with 2,653 Derby fans. Leeds lost on aggregate 4-3 meaning Derby meet Villa in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

With the Leeds crowd in full voice it took a while for us to settle into the game and I certainly didn’t want Derby to get an early goal. It was vital we gave them nothing and when Dallas put the ball into the net in front of the South Stand after Cooper’s header had hit the post that gave us a two goal cushion on aggregate. We were unlucky not to get a second goal when Klich’s shot hit the cross bar but bounced down on the wrong side of the goal-line. I didn’t realise that Bamford was booked for diving as I’d decided not to bother wearing my glasses, superstitions and all that!! Whilst we’d kept attacking (the best form of defence) I’d not been worried about Derby at all. The last five minutes or so saw us slack off for some reason. We then hit the self-destruct button once again when Casilla made an error coming out when Cooper was trying to shield the ball and let Derby in to score right on half time. That was the difference between going in with a two goal lead but instead we had given Derby a lifeline. Casilla did exactly the same thing a short while afterwards nearly presenting Derby with another goal. Why he has to continuously hare out of his goal when he has no chance of getting near the ball is beyond me. The teams went off at half time with expletives ringing in Casilla’s ears from me!

The second half had barely kick off when Derby scored again more or less straight away to equalise on aggregate.  All because of that goal before half time in my eyes which was a crucial one not to give away. We should have taken the lead again when Harrison had a great chance only to see the ball kicked off the line before Dallas brought a save out of their goalie. There were shouts from everyone around me that we should have had a penalty for hand ball. Although I didn’t see it myself fans around me said it was blatant but no officials made the decision. A penalty was awarded to Derby though a short while later when their player went down in the area and they sent Casilla the wrong way to put them 3-1 up on the night. What a turnaround for Derby but so predictable from Leeds sadly. The game wasn’t over though, as Dallas got his second goal of the night to equalise on aggregate. With the tie looking to go into extra time and penalties, neither of which I wanted, we were reduced to 10 men when Berardi was sent off. We’d been fouled twice and the ref played on before Berardi got his revenge and a red card. As we regrouped Derby started to attack us and Bamford was robbed of the ball by being too lightweight. They then put the nail in the coffin by scoring their fourth on the night putting an end to our promotion hopes. Once again with the game in our hands, we threw away that opportunity. I only had slight stomach churning probably because I’d seen it so many times before. We were so close yet so far away. I found that I wasn’t as upset as I thought I’d be probably because I was resigned to the failure once again. As I pointed out to Hannah my granddaughter, this is part of being a Leeds United fan and how it prepares you for being a good loser. Character building it is called. It was a bit of a tongue in cheek saying this time though because I was adamant we had to gain promotion this year; our best chance for years and we’d thrown it away. My ambition for this season had always been aspire for the top two and go up automatically as we had to get promoted this year otherwise we would never do it.

Only time will tell how we pick ourselves up for next season in the Championship. For me there will be no excuses but it has to be automatic champions. Matching this season’s performances will be hard though with all the injuries we have suffered to the squad. Replicating most of the games will depend on who is part of our squad going forwards. A must is we have to keep Phillips and not cash in on him. We have to build the team around him and our other youngsters and have some older heads amongst them. I’m not happy with Casilla tonight and as I said all those months ago I would have kept Peacock-Farrell in goal as we had to build our team about the youngsters and I would have made Casilla fight for his place. Whether he has got too complacent I don’t know but seeing his suicidal charges out of goal have made me scream at him for his incompetence.

As someone who won’t be going on the Australia pre-season tour, I hope everyone has a great time. I would love to have been part of it but cannot be. We must have a flying start to next season and recruitment will be a vital part of that. I will be taking a break for a few weeks from my blog but will turn it into a book and season review in due course for those who are interested. I will post details up when available.

To all those fans who have supported me, had photos taken, chatted, or just been part of following Leeds United, I thank you all and appreciate all you have done to help me through some tough times. Although these are not over yet and won’t be for a long time, I salute you all. Just keep the memory of the sight of our fans in the stands at the start of this game and realise that it is special being a Leeds fan.  Our support is unique and don’t ever lose that feeling. See you all 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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Derby County v Leeds United 11th May 2019 at Pride Park – play-off semifinal first leg

On Wednesday I was having my nails done and it was really funny when I was introduced to the lady next to me, as she was a Leeds fan too. The two of us were chatting away about Leeds United with Hannah and Debbie looking at us both saying that they hadn’t a clue what we were on about lol. Thank you Paula who it turned out had worked at Elland Road for 17 years, for buying my book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18. After another hard week for my family, this culminated with the death of my father-in-law yesterday. The good thing was we all managed to get there and spend some time together and I was there holding his hand when he took his last breath. There are many others going through traumas of their own today, not only friends but those families who suffered in the Bradford Fire disaster and the death of young Leeds fan Ian Hambridge at Birmingham in 1985. My heart goes out to all of them on what was a dark day for football all those years ago. It was also my friend Karen’s birthday which sends a poignant reminder every year.

 

As I pulled my car onto the street I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing that little ba****d magpie walking across the road in front of me. At first I thought damn, then I decided that I needed to kick that superstition into touch today. After a tearful conversation with my youngest daughter, then another with my eldest daughter I was glad to get that out of my system. Whilst stood at the bar when we stopped at Chesterfield on our way to the game, someone asked me how we would do and I just shrugged my shoulders. At that time it felt like it was an effort to go to the game and getting into the play offs is something I could have done without.  As my daughter Dani and I struggled to get a table in the packed pub, we were lucky to join Nikki, Stephen and Rita the dog at their table. By the time we left after food, drink and plenty of conversations in good company, my spirits had lifted and I was looking forward to getting there.

 

We arrived in plenty of time for kick off and I headed to the front to put my flag up. There were lots more put up before the game and they are great to see. As I stood there Katherine Hannah from BBC Radio Leeds came to see me for an interview plus another one at the end of the game. My mum and sister Karin heard the first one and my sister Erica the second one. I also did an interview for the Leeds United documentary crew. Although slightly nervous at this time I said I wanted to win 4-0 today, 4-0 on Wednesday and 4-0 at Wembley. That is just because I want the other team to be out of sight and out of mind to ease the nerves. I just wanted Leeds to give 110% percent like my hero Billy Bremner always used to and my new mantra is saying “it’s not over till it’s over, so we still have a chance”. Seriously I just wanted to win the game and as I won the football card on the coach I said it was a good omen!

 

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Dallas, Forshaw, Roofe, Klich, Phillips, Hernandez and Harrison. Subs: Shackleton for Forshaw (went off injured 24) and Clarke for Roofe (81). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Roofe (55). Attendance was 31,723 with 2,780 Leeds fans. With Jansson out injured Berardi stepped in to take his place. It was good to see all our injured players had travelled to the game to support the team too.

 

We played towards the goal nearest the Leeds fans in the first half and to me, it was noticeable, that Derby were looking to gain an advantage by keeping the team at the far end of the pitch when warming up too. I just thought we’d have to shut them up instead! I thought we played well in the first half and although we had lots of possession again, we weren’t able to put the ball into the net. What was good though was seeing Leeds do exactly what I wanted in fighting for every ball and although Derby got the chance to attack a few times, they didn’t come close to scoring as we battled to keep them out. I hadn’t put my glasses on so although I could see the players at the far end of the ground I did miss things. The most important thing was not seeing Forshaw go off injured and Shackleton coming on as a substitute. I thought he’d been playing from the start and I’d missed it, oops! Derby were also battling to keep Leeds out and the first half was a good one to see as we went in at half time on equal terms.

 

The second half saw us attacking the far end and Derby started falling like flies looking for and getting the free kicks. When Derby fouled our player as we attacked, the ref said play on. With that Harrison put a great cross over to Roofe in the middle of the goal mouth to hit the ball into the net and send the Leeds fans into raptures. There were bodies flying all over the place as I dodged them to stay upright. There were fantastic scenes of joy amongst the Leeds fans and it was great to be part of it. Roofe was unlucky not to score a second goal minutes later but their goalie made the save to prevent him getting another one. I started getting a little nervous as the game went on and couldn’t believe it when their player went down in the area and a penalty was given. I was convinced we hadn’t fouled their player as the ref went over to speak to the linesman at the far side of the pitch. I said “Wouldn’t it be great if he changed his mind and said it wasn’t a penalty?” With that the decision was reversed as the Leeds fans cheered and the Derby fans jeered. It was great to see the replays on social media afterwards confirming that Harrison was fouled and hadn’t touched their player anyway. After Derby’s short spell which had me on tenterhooks, Leeds got the better of them again as the whole team battled and got to the end of injury time with a 1-0 win. What better tonic did I need than that? I also loved the chant today “All of the spies, are hidden away, just try not to worry, you’ll beat us some day, we beat you at home, we beat you away, stop crying Frank Lampard, stop crying Frank Lampard!” That was class and whoever made it up full credit to you as I can’t stop singing it. Thank you also to those fans who love what I do with my blog and as always your comments are appreciated and that is also a big boost for my self-esteem.

 

Getting a goal was great as it gives us a psychological advantage. Let’s make Elland Road a cauldron of hate in the second leg and scare the living daylights out of Derby. See you on Wednesday – 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Ipswich v Leeds United 5th May 2019 at Portman Road

After hearing Bamford had got a two game suspension for simulation after the Villa game by the FA it came as no surprise that Hourihane from Villa had got away with the punch on Klich. Because he stayed on his feet it was deemed not a punch, surprise, surprise. Leeds put in a defence for Bamford asking for the ban to be lenient due to us letting Villa score. That should never have formed our defence as I still maintain that goal should not have been handed to them on a plate. Instead we should have asked for Villa to be brought up for bringing the game into disrepute by attacking our players and punching Klich for scoring a perfectly legitimate goal and playing to the referee’s whistle. As video evidence appeared on social media showing the punch on Klich, there was no excuse for not charging them. Also on view was Villa scoring a goal with a Stoke player down recently, where Villa happily took the goal.  When the boot was on the other foot they didn’t make a fuss at all and showed how two faced they are.

As for today’s game, it may have had no meaning, but it always had the typical Leeds United banana skin waiting as Ipswich were already relegated and we needed one point to confirm our final place as third in the Championship. As usual we lost against 10 men, missed a penalty and let Ipswich score three goals. After a 4.30am get up well, what’s another kick in the teeth? Thousands of Leeds fans still turned up to celebrate our season and had been in good spirits with plenty coming down for the weekend but many coming for the day only. As it turned out we ended up third as both Villa and West Brom lost, with Derby taking the last play-off spot to be our opposition in the semi-finals with the away leg first. My publisher is a Derby fan and as I want Leeds to go through and win these ties plus the final at Wembley, please let him be the disappointed one. Whatever happens, we have to do this even if it is the hard way.

The stewards were very friendly letting my go downstairs to the front of the stand to put my flag up with one proclaiming he was a Leeds fan too. I caught up with the documentary crew too and had a chat with them before realising I was being filmed again oops!

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Klich, Forshaw, Roofe, Phillips, Harrison, Dallas and Hernandez.  Subs: Clarke for Harrison (61). Leeds lost 3-2 with Klich (45) and Dallas (76) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 20,895 with 3,963 Leeds fans.

Leeds took the game to Ipswich and played some good football, the only downfall being our final weak passes that allowed them to clear the ball and when we did have a shot, we didn’t get any on target. As the game went on we started being too casual at the back and Ipswich came close to scoring before Forshaw had a shot saved by their goalie. I could see that we were giving Ipswich hope and that was going to be dangerous for us. The next thing Casilla raced out of his area to the wing as Ipswich attacked but there was no way he was going to get anywhere near both their player and ours. As he brought their player down my heart sank as I thought this was another sending off for him but luckily for Casilla, he received a yellow card. Why he keeps doing the same thing though I have no idea but he really needs to think about what he is doing as this was costly for us once again. With Ipswich scoring from the resulting free kick, what could be worse? I’m sure I’d seen a stat about them not scoring or winning for a long time and these stats usually change when they come up against us. We did still try and came close when Roofe had a shot blocked before a further attack just before half time saw Klich hit a strike from the edge of the box into the net. That was a relief to know we’d scored just before the break.

Sadly we didn’t keep the impetus up because within a couple of minutes of the second half starting Ipswich scored a second goal. That was just what we didn’t need! When Clarke came on as sub we upped our game and started attacking more, coming close with the ball flying all over the box but without us putting it into the net. An Ayling cross once again brought a second goal for Leeds after Roofe had hit the bar before Dallas got onto the end of it to equalise. Someone said we’d settle for a draw and I said no we would go out to win. When we were awarded a penalty and their player was sent off, Roofe got hold of the ball to take it. My only thoughts were to make sure we scored from it. Well it certainly didn’t go to plan as Roofe slipped as he went to take it and the ball flew over the top. Another penalty miss and another one that wasn’t even on target or bringing a save out of their goalie. To say we were never awarded penalties in the early part of the season, now we have missed four out of our last six penalties. Once again this proved to be very costly for us as Ipswich scored three goals in a single game for the first time this season, scoring three goals from three shots on target (courtesy of @LUFCDATA). With another mix up in our defence between Ayling and Casilla, Ipswich were able to get the winner just before full time.

As playoff tickets go on sale tomorrow, I’m just glad that I have got the auto cup scheme for both home and away tickets. Although I would be guaranteed a ticket for both legs, I don’t have the hassle to worry about. Good luck to the Leeds United youngsters in their game at Elland Road tomorrow. I won’t be attending this time as I jinxed them at Guiseley recently making them lose and I want them to win. Who knows what the playoffs will bring against Derby but we must do it the hard way once again. Surely it will go right for us this time, please ……….? One thing is for sure, we’ll know soon enough.

The good thing about today was being with others, supporting each other and catching up with sleep. With friends going through similar issues to me at the moment with family members, I wish them all the luck in the world. Personally, we made some progress with my husband this week taking one step forward then two steps back. Keep fighting everyone and that includes Leeds United! See you at Derby – 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Leeds United v Aston Villa 28th April 2019 at Elland Road

Well it’s certainly never dull being a Leeds fan that’s for sure! Today we had what I call a proper game of football, blood and thunder, with the Leeds crowd roaring the team on. Full commitment from the start from our team which helped to ease the hurt felt after missing out on automatic promotion.

When I arrived at the ground with my granddaughter Hannah, we headed straight to the Peacock. I was meeting fans from all around the world today who had come to see our last game of the season. Normally I bring all my family to this game but even when tickets came back on sale from those fans who were now not attending, I still couldn’t buy any as I was a season ticket holder and not a member. It was good to hear about fans who had travelled to the game from Hungary and Ireland who had initially missed out on tickets but were lucky to pick up spares yesterday. Many others who had already booked flights and accommodation were sorted in the end too which was good. Leeds fans helping out other Leeds fans has been very noticeable recently too. I was just sending a message to the Hungarian Whites who I was meeting when I bumped into them in the Peacock car park. The documentary crew was there to film them who I was supposed to be meeting later before the game. It was good to catch up with Mark and Daisy, Halifax Whites with the latter now living in the USA. There were fans from Melbourne, Gibraltar, Argentina, Malta and Norway today showing what a fantastic worldwide fan base we had. With us now being in the play offs it meant that Rita, Nikki’s guide dog, had a reprieve so today was not her last game. Rita has been going to every Leeds game for years and celebrates a goal with the rest of the fans with her barking and will be missed when she no longer goes to games. Well done to Mark for wearing his costume in the name of charity, raising money for the Samaritans in memory of his friend. Also donating to Brendan Ormsby’s fundraiser too meant that I supported lots of good causes today.

As I was waiting for the documentary crew to come back to the Peacock, Charley of the Harrogate Whites came to find me. Marta from Argentina who I was looking to meet after the game was in the tent so I caught up with her there. There were photos galore and lots of fans enjoying themselves. If I’d been sad before the game, the one thing to be certain to lift your spirits is being amongst other Leeds fans who love the club like I do. This is what makes following our club special and won’t be beaten in my eyes. In the meantime, I found an answerphone message from West Yorkshire Police on my phone. Hannah had begged me to go into the ground as she didn’t want to hang around so I said yes. Apparently minors can’t be in the ground on their own which although understandable, is a shame. In trying to instill confidence in our young children and giving a bit of freedom whilst under certain conditions (I knew we were all going to sit together), it didn’t work out that way. She was worried she would get me into trouble by not being with her at the time, but I will say thank you to the stewards who had to look after her as per their rules. I’ll blame the documentary crew for standing me up lol as I would have been in the ground much earlier. As it was I caught up with so many people that it worked out well in that regard. As well as the Centenary Year for Leeds United next season, it is also the Centenary Year for the Leeds United Supporters Club and I love the pennant and other memorabilia they have for sale in the Peacock back room.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Klich, Bamford, Forshaw, Phillips, Dallas and Hernandez. Subs: Berardi for Dallas (45) and Roberts for Harrison (45). The final score of 1-1 was controversial. Leeds played to the whistle and scored but Villa were allowed to score straight away to even the score as their player was down injured (wrong in my eyes). Attendance was 36,786 with 2,626 Villa fans.

It was lovely to see all the players bring their children on to the field as mascots when the teams came out. Ayling was buzzing with his little girl and I could see he was up for the game from the off. Villa started brightly before Leeds got into the game but it was one of those end to end games with plenty of action. The referee today lost the plot straight away and in my opinion should hang his boots up because on what I’ve seen today, he should be banned from being a ref ever again. He let a couple of things go for both teams then went on a free kick spree against Leeds favouring Villa with one culprit being Grealish who spent most of his time on the floor rather than on his feet. With plenty of the free kicks being balls that Leeds won fair and square, this riled the Leeds fans up even more. The atmosphere was electric as the Leeds fans got behind their team with both teams still looking for a goal. Casilla looked as if he’d missed a ball but then recovered to put it around the post for a corner to Villa. As Leeds were just about to break into the box in front of the South Stand, the ref blew his whistle. Just as I wondered why everyone was going mad as he should have played advantage with our attack according to those around me, I realised that he’d blown for half time. I can’t remember the last time that I wasn’t waiting for the half time whistle to blow plus hadn’t even seen the amount of injury time to play as I’d been so engrossed in the game.

If we thought the ref had been poor in the first half he surpassed that performance in the second half. Bielsa had made two changes with Berardi and Roberts on for Dallas and Harrison and it nearly paid off, as we came so close to scoring when the ball went just past the wrong side of the post from Forshaw. The game had still been end to end but Leeds were fighting for everything and won the ball cleanly as their player went down once again. He didn’t have a head injury and the ref played on as we screamed Leeds to keep going. That’s exactly what Roberts did as he passed the ball to Klich to put the ball into the net to send the Leeds fans wild. All I could see was Villa players grabbing hold of ours and going nuts which I couldn’t understand. Why weren’t they being allowed to celebrate with us? The next thing a Villa player was shown a red card but with people standing in front of me I didn’t catch what was going on at the far side of the goal, only seeing Klich was being manhandled by two Villa players. From the television angles shown later Bamford although had been in some pushing and shoving, reacted as if he’d been punched but it didn’t look like there was any contact to his face. The ones I’d seen having a go at Klich showed the one on the left punching him in the stomach. It was the one involved with Bamford who was red carded although I may have missed more here but the worst was to come on the restart. Villa were given the ball and instructed to equalise with no one allowed to stop them although Jansson tried.  In all my years of following Leeds I have never seen anything like it but apparently Bielsa had said to let them due to fair play. I’m sorry but this is one time I would disagree strongly, there was no head injury and you play to the whistle. With all the cheating, diving and time wasting Villa did all through the game then it should have been just desserts. To say Bielsa had been booked earlier for what I’ve no idea, he is more magnanimous that I would ever be but there was no need to be as we’d done nothing wrong again!! The ref showed how inept he was as he should have stuck with his decision of awarding a goal. As long as it doesn’t affect us playing the away leg of the playoffs on the Saturday it will be fine in the long run, but if points matter?? I won’t go there as I’d be very angry. We nearly got the “winner” in the last few moments as the game ended in a draw.

We stayed to see the players walk around the pitch at the end of the game and the talking point with everyone we met afterwards was letting Villa walk the ball in the net. Unbelievable!  That saying I really enjoyed the game today plus it passed by ever so fast with everything going on. Football is not a non-contact sport and you should be able to challenge for a ball without a free kick being given, because the opposition fall down at the drop of a hat. Football should not be for namby pambys who cheat their way through a game, give me a proper football game any day. I have been asked to mention Terence Bell and Debbie Hood who helped Jay Patel and his wife from London get tickets for the game today. I wished a safe trip home to our Bournemouth Whites Steve and Bev plus the same goes for all the other fans I’d met near Billy’s statue. I also caught up with some more Leeds fans back in Halifax when I met my family at The Wainhouse Tavern for tea. It just shows that wherever we go, there will always be some Leeds fans!

With Norwich and Sheffield United gaining automatic promotion, we face the play offs once more. I have to take some of my own advice here; I’d said that when we played man u at Old Trafford in the FA Cup that if we go there expecting to lose we always will do. Go out and play to win and lo and behold Beckford scored to make that dream happen. The same goes for the play offs with our poor record. We should not be scared of anyone, we have showed today that we can still play well and will for once be the underdogs. It’s time for us to change that record and make it happen so come on Leeds, you can do it! Our last league game sees us travel to Ipswich and I’m still looking forward to a good day out. 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Leeds U23s v Newcastle 23rd April 2019 Premier League Cup Semi-Final at Nethermoor, Guiseley

Despite Leeds losing the semi-final 3-0 which I put down to me jinxing it (sorry), it was nice to go and see the game. After the pressures of the Championship it was a refreshing change and there were lots of familiar faces there to support the team in a sellout crowd of 3,051. It was a real family occasion for me taking my daughter Danielle and granddaughters Hannah, Laura and Alexis with. I managed to take a photo of the girls with Bielsa and he lifted Alexis onto the barrier so she could be seen which was great. I said to him, “Please stay whatever happens.” His translators who were with him were nodding in agreement. In attendance were my two sisters Erica and Karin, nephew Mark, niece Sonya, children Tommy and Vinnie with friends, Martin, Simon, Jessica and Tom. It was nice chatting to fans at the game and unfortunately for the pheasant, its trip to the ground ended tragically with a broken neck after hitting the stand roof before landing in front of my sisters.

Now it is back to the realities of the last couple of games where we take on Villa at Elland Road. 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Brentford v Leeds United 22nd April 2019 at Griffin Park

After having no nerves up to now, today’s game had a different feel to it. Despite sleeping on the way to the services which I thought would take my mind off things, my stomach churning started with a vengeance. After the Wigan defeat which was a real downer, it felt like we’d blown our chances of automatic promotion. That has been my choice of guaranteeing promotion for us as we don’t do play offs so even though we’d still be in the latter, it didn’t help my mood. I still sent out a tweet first thing today though saying “We can still do it Leeds. Keep fighting until the final whistle blows.” We’ve got to have a positive mental attitude despite the nervousness and I want us to raise the roof as fans for the full 90+ minutes and make the team play out of their skins. The reality though was as I feared, we lost the game and although not mathematically certain at this point, are resigned to the playoffs. With the meltdown underway on social media what I will say is that it doesn’t matter if we’d have taken the play offs at the start of the season; the reality is that we’ve blown automatic when it was in our hands. If we’d been in the chasing pack it would have been a fantastic achievement yes, but we weren’t. As usual Leeds United have demoralised their loyal support once more as we’ve seen it too many times. That saying, the season isn’t over yet and if by some miracle we do pull this one out of the bag and achieve promotion by the play offs for once in our lives, I’d be over the moon. All we can do is to be there as usual and give them our support like we did at the final whistle today. I’m very downbeat at the moment but once I’ve slept on things it never seems as bad. The sad thing is though unless by some miracle we pull it off and win the playoffs, we will have thrown it away which is hard to take.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day when we arrived at the ground for the tea time kick off which meant once again that we were playing catch up with those above us having played already. The Leeds crowd were still in a jovial mood though ready for us to take the bull by the horns and get a win despite our poor record at this ground. As we got in the ground although I was in the seats I went to the front of the standing terrace below to hang my flag at the front. 

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Alioski, Bamford, Roberts, Harrison, Forshaw, Klich and Hernandez. Subs: Dallas for Alioski (12), Roofe for Roberts (58) and Clarke for Jansson (64). Leeds lost the game 2-0 and putting them out of the automatic promotion spots, three points behind with an inferior goal difference. Attendance was 11,580 with 1,680 Leeds fans.

From the word go we looked up for it and should have had a cast iron penalty when Bamford was brought down in the box. As I hadn’t put my glasses on I had to rely on other fans’ judgements on that but replays later showed the ref was only a few feet away and ignored the call. When Alioski went down injured after 12 minutes Dallas was straight up and ready to come on. As he went off so early it felt as if we’d lost one of our sub options too early and he shouldn’t have started the game in the first place. As Brentford attacked us in the initial stages I thought they should have had a free kick at the edge of the box in front of us but the ref said play on. He got the decision right where their player went down in the box as we clearly got the ball. The one decision where the ball hit a Brentford player that was at least a foot inside the box and went out over the line and should have been a corner to us was a bad decision against us. We were put on the back foot and had Casilla to thank for making a superb save to keep the scores level. The longer the game went on without us scoring though was not good but I just wanted to keep Brentford out especially just before half time. Sadly for us we let them run through us and score in the 44th minute giving us an uphill struggle. If only Roberts had managed to equalise straight after their goal when he had the goalie to beat, it would have been a different game.

At half time I heard Leeds fans were coming to blows with each other sadly due to disagreements about players. The last thing I want us to do is fight amongst ourselves. I learnt a long time ago that you will never get everyone to agree to the same thing and there will always be different opinions. Even if I don’t agree with them, they are still entitled to voice their opinion as I have mine and we have to accept that without turning on each other. Agree to disagree!

The second half found us start well but then we just didn’t look like scoring although we came close in the last few minutes. The worst thing happened with Brentford scoring a second, then nearly getting a third and putting any fight back beyond us. With the home crowd taunting the Leeds fans about not going up I was pig sick that it had come to this. Before the end I went downstairs to retrieve my flag and the Leeds fans cheered me up by singing and still getting behind the team. The club doesn’t deserve the support it has in certain aspects especially for the stalwarts who have been there and seen us let down so many times before. Hearing our younger fans saying they’d travelled all this way to see this rubbish is sad.

It’s not over until the fat lady sings or so the saying goes and I will always live in hope and support my team. I know it’s hard and although demoralised at this moment in time thinking we won’t win any play off, I will get over that in the coming days. I am proud to be a Leeds fan and as always the lack of football in the 90 minutes gets in the way of a good day out. Keep the faith no matter how hard it is. The statistics may say we have fantastic possession, but it is the end result with goals scored that counts where we have been sadly lacking and looks to have cost us. Next Sunday sees our last home game of the season against Aston Villa who have picked themselves up to have a 10 game unbeaten run. As always we need to win and you never know, things could still go to the wire with Sheffield Utd despite it seeming pie in the sky at this moment. For once we had a good run with no motorway detours and I was back at home 20 minutes after midnight. I’m heading off to Guiseley to watch the under 23s tonight where we have helped to have a sellout crowd. It will be nice to have a break from the pressures of the Championship and see how our youngsters perform. See you at either Guiseley or Elland Road – 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Leeds United v Wigan 19th April 2019 at Elland Road

As I headed to Elland Road with my granddaughter Alexis the sun was shining making a great day for football. On arrival at our parking spot all the stresses from a manic week slipped away because all that mattered was being at the game. Although I’ve had to limit going on social media recently, I was still aware that we had a lot of nervous fans about this game but had not really thought about it myself. That saying I saw a lone magpie (damn you), also the stat of us scoring first and not losing suddenly came into my head (why?) and us being turned around to play facing the Kop made me think that things just may not go our way today. I also found lots of messages appear on my phone that I’d missed over the last few weeks that somehow hadn’t shown up until today. I had hoped to bring my husband to the game as I thought it would help his recuperation but he wasn’t well enough to be on the terraces sadly.

We headed to the Peacock as I was meeting Martyn and a colleague from Holland who wanted to do an article for a Dutch magazine Staan Tribune. A few friends joined in with the conversation and it was good to have this opportunity and I look forward to seeing it when it is released in the summer. Whilst meeting my daughter Danielle and niece Sonya at Billy’s statue, I took some photos. It was great to get some feedback from one of the Irish lads who thanked me and said he loved my blogs. I couldn’t have a better compliment than being told that what I do is fantastic as it makes him feel like he is there at the games with me. There was also Tom from New York who was attending his first Leeds game too. Future stars are two girls who play for the Leeds United Academy. Marta Parodi had arrived in Leeds from Argentina to attend the Villa game. I’m not sure if she’d made the game today or not but someone had told her to get to the Peacock to enjoy the atmosphere pre game. Hopefully I’ll catch up with her at the Villa game as it would be nice to record her visit with a photo; I wonder if she travelled here with Luciano Becchio lol? It was also nice to hear during the week that my book Follow Me and Leeds United was being read in Costa Rica and that Mark was enjoying the read. His son will also read it after Mark, so it will be interesting to hear a younger generation’s view on what it was like following Leeds United during the seventies.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Jansson, Berardi, Phillips, Klich, Alioski, Hernandez, Harrison, Roberts and Bamford. Subs: Forshaw for Phillips (45), Roofe for Roberts (45) and Clarke for Klich (70). Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Bamford scoring our goal (17). Hernandez’s penalty had hit the post a minute earlier meaning we failed to score from another penalty. It also meant Wigan were reduced to 10 men as their player had handled on the line and received a straight red card. Attendance was 34,758 with 743 Wigan fans.

With Sheffield winning their early kick off game putting them back into second place, it was vital that we followed suit to go back above them in the table. Leeds were turned around at kick off for the second home game in a row which I felt was a shame. It didn’t deter us from starting out on the attack though and we were unlucky not to get on the score sheet with our first attack. Wigan looked as if they’d be up for it today though as they were a big and strong side. Once their player got sent off and with the penalty miss, I said we’d have to score even more goals then. Within a minute Bamford had indeed scored a great goal to put us into the lead. I was looking forward to us scoring more despite first a bad back pass, then Casilla being rounded far out from goal, which nearly presented Wigan with an equaliser. We had a couple of shots on target which meant at that moment, I felt we would be able to score more and Roberts was unlucky not to score when the ball was headed off the line. With another attack which should have been a corner to us which wasn’t given, Wigan raced to the other end and put the ball into the net to equalise just before the break. This was a bad time for them to score against us and really deflated the Leeds support.

I went back up to my seat before the start of the second half when I suddenly felt very weary. When the team came out it was a surprise to see that both Phillips and Roberts had been subbed by Bielsa. It seemed a strange sub so early on in the game as they both hadn’t been playing badly. It also became apparent to me quite quickly that this hadn’t worked in the way he’d expected it to. It was more of the fact that the wrong players had been taken off in my opinion. What we were up against were a team of very tall, strong players who had built a wall across the back line as well as wasting time. When they attacked they ran straight through the middle at us and just shook our players off. I felt we were losing the game in midfield because we were attacking high up, but our defence was constantly on the back foot. The worst thing happened when Wigan took the lead as the game had already had that déjà vu feel about it. Their goalie made some great saves to keep us out but we never looked like getting that breakthrough again. We continued to play the same move along the left hand side which didn’t work and I felt Harrison had a poor game along with many other players today. I thought he was the one being subbed when Clarke came on but it was Klich taken off instead. Our crossing was poor a lot of the time but with tall players in the opposition they found it easy to mop them up. Although we did try to take shots many a time, it would have been great for that first time ball to be hit rather than passing it again to the left as we couldn’t make them count. There was lots of tension on the terraces which along with the team looking the same, meant it didn’t bode well with the score line. When the ball went out in front of the West Stand as Wigan forged another attack, this could have resulted in another goal when the throw in wasn’t given. Luckily for us they didn’t and despite the hope that we could get an equaliser and a point, sadly this didn’t materialise as we ended up on the losing side.

With all the Wigan celebrations I didn’t realise until we spoke to one of their fans after the game that they’d been in a relegation battle. It wasn’t a surprise that once we gave them that lifeline before half time that they’d reacted better than us to get the win. They deserved that win on the day though sadly for us. One thing I must mention that has to stop is those fans who think it is okay to throw things at the opposition players. I know it’s frustrating when their player went down in front of the South Stand as it looked like he was play acting, but please, please think about what you are doing. This will go on the referee’s report as he went around the penalty area picking all the coins up and handed them to the fourth official. We cannot give the EFL/FA any more opportunities to clamp down on our club as this also happened at a recent game and I hadn’t heard any outcome of those charges. We have had enough battles on our hands to get to where we are and the last things we need are any more to deal with. It matters to me and many others that we take the upper hand as the Kop did with the provocation shown to us when Wigan scored their first goal.

With Norwich getting a late equaliser in the late evening kick off and obviously the Sheffield United win, we are back in third place and out of the automatic spots. As a support we all want automatic promotion Leeds, so please do all you can to get those full nine points from the last three games to give us that chance. As today showed, anyone can beat anyone in this division and with Brentford not being a happy hunting ground for us, that is one statistic I would like to change. Over to you Leeds United, please do those of us going to the game proud and change that one! 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday 13th April 2019 at Elland Road

With such a hectic week behind me I’d not really thought about the game today so wasn’t unduly worried, because as usual I was going to see what transpired on the pitch. With only five games left and having a later kick off due to Sky televising today’s game things could change in the table again. As we went through the turnstiles in the Kop I heard someone say Millwall had a penalty against Sheffield United (who like us are challenging for that automatic spot). I then heard another person saying they’d missed the penalty so we said we’d have to do it the hard way. By the time my daughter Danielle joined us I’d no idea that the game had ended in a draw so Sheffield United were only above us on goal difference.

Before the game I’d met Mick Glasby from Nottingham and his friend Alistair a Glasgow Rangers fan who had come with him to the game. A big thank you to Mick for buying my second book Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan; the support is appreciated and the feedback that he enjoyed reading my first book Follow Me and Leeds United was good to hear. As Laura my granddaughter and I got into the ground early we went and stood at the front of the stand to watch the players train before kickoff. There were plenty of fans watching and a young boy next to us was thrilled when he was given one of the t-shirts the players were wearing. Laura wanted to ask Jamie Shackleton for his as she’d had her photo taken with him at the recent LUDO event, but he was at the far side of the ground. One of the Nottingham Whites came up to speak and had a photo taken. Laura decided we needed to go to the other end of the Kop but stopped in the middle behind the goal. As I was speaking to the documentary crew who came to film me at home for the 100 years of Leeds United recently, a flying ball caught Laura’s arm who was just to the right of me. She was very brave though and said it hadn’t hurt luckily. I showed the crew where our seats were and arranged to go and see them at the end of the game for a chat. As I’d been asked to take photos of one of the mascots it was also good to be in the ground early for a change.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Jansson, Berardi, Harrison, Phillips, Klich, Bamford, Roberts, Hernandez and Alioski. Subs: Roofe for Bamford (64), Forshaw for Klich (77) and Dallas for Harrison (86). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal by Harrison (65). Attendance was 36,461 with 2,527 Sheffield Wednesday fans.

As the game kicked off it wasn’t long before I was confident that Leeds meant business today. Although we’d been turned round so we were attacking the Kop in the first half (it’s not often that has happened this season), that didn’t deter us. Roberts was very unlucky not to score an early goal but only because their goalie was playing out of his skin and made a great save. I didn’t realise Cooper wasn’t playing for a while and that Berardi was on the pitch instead. I knew Ayling was captain but didn’t realise why and it was only afterwards I found out it was because something had happened in the warm up that prevented him starting. Sheffield Wednesday came close when Casilla got beaten when he raced out of goal but the ball went into the side netting. They had their goalie to thank for saving a header from Harrison and then Ayling had one kicked off the line when it looked like a certain goal. With the opposition limited in their attacks they tried time wasting as they were no match for Leeds, but despite all the attacking we went into the break still at 0-0. We had played well though which was good to see and had been unlucky not to score.

I went back up in the stand just as the players came out for the restart. We started the second half as we ended the first, on the attack which was good as I’d said to my friends that we were going to score straight away. Well I didn’t get that quite right as it was the 65th minute when we did take the lead. I saw the ball crossed in from the right and the next minute everyone was going wild as Elland Road erupted. I’d thought the ball had gone straight into the net but Harrison had in fact got on the end of Hernandez’s cross to score. We thought we’d managed to score a second goal when Roofe put the ball into the net only for the linesman to stick his flag up for offside. That was a shame as it would have put the game to bed and there’d have been no comeback for Sheffield Wednesday. Just before time though we actually invited them to attack us and I was glad to see the ball hit the side netting. The Leeds crowd had been fantastic and the fans had upped the atmosphere getting behind the team. When the final whistle blew the scenes around the ground were of joy but also of relief that we had got the win and the three points. There were so many happy fans which was great to see and loads shouting hello to me as we made our way to outside the disabled entrance to meet the documentary crew. Thanks to all those fans who asked how my husband was, he is now out of hospital with one hurdle behind him and the next one to overcome. The support is appreciated as always.

I daren’t get my hopes up until it is mathematically certain that we can retain second place in the table. I still think Elland Road is the best place to be when we crank up the atmosphere and look forward to seeing us take on Wigan on Good Friday. After seeing how the team fought and played for each other today, it will be good to see them carry on in the same vein. Fingers crossed, we can do this Leeds, Keep Fighting!! 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Preston v Leeds United 9th April 2019 at Deepdale

I was travelling by car to this game as the person who was taking me was in a meeting so we set off later than we normally would. Because of this we had a pre-booked parking spot and a big thank you to David Hill for sorting this out for us which is greatly appreciated. As it was we arrived in plenty of time for kick off despite some queuing before joining the M61 and the parking spot was a 15 minute walk from the ground. There were plenty of Leeds fans walking up to the ground at the same time as us which was unsurprising as we had another away ticket sell out. The good thing that after the game I was home in Halifax by 11.15 pm which was brilliant!

I went to put my flag up behind the goal and was surprised to see that Preston had made some changes to the layout of the stand since we’d last been there. The first rows of seats were all fenced off so no fans could get to the pitch side. At least I had a prime spot for my flag.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Alioski, Hernandez, Bamford, Roberts, Harrison, Klich and Phillips. Subs:  Berardi for Harrison (77), Forshaw for Roberts (83) and Roofe for Bamford (90). Leeds won the game 2-0 with a brace for Bamford (62 and 76). Attendance was 18,109 with 5,516 Leeds fans (plus however many were in their ends and the corporate areas!

It was no surprise to see that Bielsa had kept the same team who started at Birmingham. Despite the defeat there, unless there are any injuries he likes to make few changes. Plus I think he also likes to give the players a chance to make amends especially after a defeat.

Leeds were up to it from the start and looked a different side to Saturday despite the same team. Our first attack brought a save out of their goalie. We continued to attack and although came close we didn’t get anything on target. Alioski was down for a while and when I saw him continue with a bandaged head I couldn’t remember if he’d had one on when he came out or if that is what had happened to him. The officials were all guilty of ignoring what should have been free kicks to us but giving Preston plenty. When they were pulling Jansson’s shirt with the linesman to the left a few feet away and in full view of him, well he might as well have been on a different planet! More shirt pulling had one fan shouting, “if you want a Leeds shirt then go and buy your own!” The linesman on the right called an offside which had everyone around me baffled and screaming that he didn’t know what he was doing. Every time Bamford was fouled the ref gave it the other way saying he was backing in, with one incident late in the game where he was thrown to the ground given to Preston, unbelievable! We didn’t have everything our own way which I always say is down to the free kicks given to the opposition and Preston always looked like they could score. We had lots of possession again but not many clear cut chances. The one thing I would like to see again is us peppering the opposition’s goalie with shots. My memories of the great Don Revie side are of us hitting the woodwork but also making goalies work by making saves or more importantly letting us score goals. Having shots on target and taking more shots from outside the area would catch goalies unaware in my opinion.

At half time I went downstairs where things were getting a little lively. A few women came into the toilets for a smoke as they’d been instructed to do so by the stewards despite there being no smoking signs everywhere. No one was allowed out of the ground to smoke so some even did that in the concourse.  It didn’t make sense to me as the gates are opened at half time at many grounds. Now if it was Ipswich away on the last day of the season I could understand them not wanting to open the doors at half time as there’d be an invasion of fans without tickets!

As the second half got ready to kick off their number four was having a word with the ref. I said he’ll be asking him to be nice to Preston. As it was, the same player brought Bamford down when he was clean through and given his marching orders within five minutes of the restart. Phillips came close with the free kick. From then on we kept the pressure on with having an extra man and at this time I felt we could get something from the game. The goalie looked jittery at times and so he should with thousands of Leeds fans breathing down his neck. With one shot he spilled the ball but recovered enough to catch it at the second attempt. When Bamford’s shot was saved by the goalie he looked like he’d a point to prove. Well he certainly did not long after that when he struck a fantastic goal from the edge of the area to send the Leeds fans behind the goal wild. I got hit on the head as the people behind me fell after being pushed from further up the stand. It didn’t matter though because Leeds were in front which was all that mattered. The next thing I saw Leeds fans being escorted out of the stand to our left with drinks being thrown at them plus there were loads of Leeds fans in the stand to our right too. We couldn’t settle for a one goal lead and had to go for another. Ayling came close to scoring and hit the post before Bamford got his second of the game with a header as Klich pinpointed the cross in the right place for him to score. I’d written in my blog on Saturday after the Birmingham game that on a different day Bamford could have had a hat trick. I was happy for him to get one today on that basis but although he came close we had to settle for two instead.

The win sees us go back into second place as Sheffield Utd play tomorrow at Birmingham. Having seen someone post that we are definitely in the play offs now, that’s fine but I want automatic promotion please. As I kept saying what will be, will be, I was told we don’t want to go to Wembley and I quite agree. We have a late kick off of 5.30 pm this coming Saturday with the Sheffield Wednesday game at Elland Road. Having seen some of the Welsh lads after the game who’d said “can we do it?” My answer was that I daren’t make any predictions as I don’t want to jeopardise anything. What we do have is a chance and I would love for us to make things mathematically certain sooner rather than later for that automatic spot. We will know soon enough so 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Birmingham City v Leeds United 6th April 2019 at St Andrews

This week has been a very challenging and emotional week. Tuesday saw a great gathering including lots of Leeds fans pay their respects at Trev Horsley’s funeral. Thursday was the anniversary of my daughter Charlotte’s death and the end of radiotherapy/chemotherapy treatment for my husband Phillip and yesterday saw the anniversary of the murders of Chris and Kev in Istanbul. I also heard today that Andy Ramshaw one of my Selby Whites died this week too and thoughts are with his family and friends. The last couple of days I found a lot of anger in me that sent my stress levels soaring which culminated in me having a massive meltdown. The one good thing about following Leeds United is the support network from our fans. For those who took time to ask how I was, my husband was, spoke about football, look forward to my blog, follow me on Twitter/Facebook or have bought my books, my heartfelt thanks go to you all.  You know who you are and as always your support is greatly appreciated.

We had a lot of nervous fans heading to St Andrews today. As it is still too early to build my hopes up, I was just going to wait and make my judgement at the ground. From my point of view and many others, the only way we can guarantee promotion is to go up automatically. Having been disappointed three times in the play offs, I don’t know many fans who would fancy our chances doing it that way.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Phillips, Klich, Bamford, Alioski, Roberts and Hernandez. Subs: Dallas for Harrison (45), Roofe for Bamford (70) and Clarke for Klich (70). Leeds lost the game 1-0. Attendance was 24,197 with 2,781 Leeds fans. On the 19th minute, Leeds fans en masse turned their backs to the pitch for a minute in memory of Chris and Kev, as those who were at the game did all those years ago, as it should never have gone ahead after what had happened. It was a game that I’d been too scared to attend so my friend Karen went without me.

I just want to mention the Leeds United mascot who was brilliant. He came to the Leeds fans doing the salute and was a credit to the club. Leeds came close early on and had plenty of possession but the one thing we couldn’t do, was get the ball in the net. The referee showed his credentials early on by missing an elbow on Robert’s head plus other pushes but was quick enough to give free kicks the other way for less than he let go with us. The linesman to the left was useless too because despite some things happening right in front of him, he ignored them. All this does is giving the opposition the impetus. We limited Birmingham to one attack and should have taken the lead when Bamford got to Ayling’s cross and the ball looked as if it was going straight into the net. Sadly for us it hit the post and bounced back into their keeper’s arms. To make matters worse, Birmingham raced to the other end of the pitch in front of the Leeds fans and put the ball into our net to take the lead within a minute of our attack. The case of taking your chances when they are there came back to bite us quickly as we went into the break a goal down.

The second half saw Dallas come on for Harrison and we really should have equalised when he put a cross over to the middle for Bamford to fire over instead of into the net. That was a chance we should have taken. Bamford was really unlucky with his next chance when the keeper made a fantastic save from his header. On another day he could have had a hat trick! As time went on it looked more and more likely that we weren’t going to score despite the possession we were having and had Casilla to thank for making a couple of good saves to keep Birmingham from increasing their lead. Whilst there was only a goal in it we stood a chance of getting back into the game. As it was Norwich had a convincing win to stay top of the table and Sheff Utd won to leap frog back above us into second place as we slipped down to third. Today had that déjà vu feeling about it; we’ve been here that many times before and promotion is not going to happen. Although a lot can happen between now and the end of the season, until it is mathematically certain one way or another I won’t raise my hopes. The one thing we do still have though is a chance so only time will tell what happens.

It was a disappointing game for us today as we weren’t really in it collectively as a team. We may have had a lot of possession but unless we are peppering the opposition’s goal with shots and putting them under pressure it counts for nothing. With Preston away on Tuesday evening, only a win will do for us. As we are driving to this one, we won’t get there until nearer kick off so hopefully the traffic will be fine and we get there on time.

One thing that really disappointed me this week was the club’s decision to stop season ticket holders from being able to buy any tickets for the last game of the season against Aston Villa. Only Gold members were given the opportunity to buy one ticket each. I was going to purchase some in the family stand for my daughters and granddaughters to come to the last game of the season as usual. I stand by my argument on WACCOE that this decision should not have been made for this season but for next as they changed the goalposts at short notice. As part of the agreement for buying a season ticket at the start of the season, there was priority booking for home games. The club have not looked at the wider picture or the impact that decision has had on fans who have made plans to attend this game. It has really hit our overseas fans hard as Norwegians, Hungarian, Dutch, Irish and even a lady from Argentina have found that very few of them can now get a ticket for the game. As they make plans well in advance to attend any game at Elland Road, they book flights and accommodation to get the best prices. The decision has also impacted on families where a parent has brought their child all season on their membership, but now cannot bring them as they don’t have that all important Gold membership. That to me is wrong. I can try and get my granddaughter a ticket but there is no way she is going into the family stand on her own! There again knowing my luck I’d be unsuccessful anyway as I have been unable to buy any extra tickets when they have gone on sale all season. The only way I’ve managed to get any was when some tickets have come back up for sale.

Part of my personal issues has seen trapped nerves in my back and degeneration of my back and hip. At least I know why I’ve been getting the pain but they are just more things I could do without in the never ending story with my family. The saying things can only get better couldn’t be more apt for us and Leeds United. Don’t let us down please – see you at Preston, 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

Leeds United v Millwall – 30th March 2019 at Elland Road

It’s not often that a television crew turns up at your house to interview you! I would like to say a big thank you to Mark and the crew for filming me for the 100 years of Leeds United documentary. I look forward to seeing the finished version of this in due course which will coincide with the Centenary year of Leeds United being formed. Mark also purchased my book Follow Me and Leeds United and later in the day so did Noel from Ireland so I look forward to receiving feedback in due course.

Next Tuesday I am hoping to attend the funeral of a stalwart Leeds United fan who I met in the 1970s, Trev Horsley, who has sadly died. He was instantly recognisable for wearing a sheepskin coat and was always one of the first people I saw in Leeds station when I travelled in to games by train. Next week is a poignant one in many ways for me when the 4th sees the anniversary of my daughter Charlotte’s death and also sees the end of cancer treatment for my husband. We’ve still a long way to go on the latter especially as he has had a bad week and ended up in hospital. The following day brings the anniversary of the deaths of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight who were murdered in Turkey. My heartfelt thoughts go to all their families on these sad occasions.

We return to Elland Road after the international break to resume our league and promotion challenge. Having slipped back into third after the defeat to Sheffield United, today is a must win game for us. I’ve no pre concepts of what will happen but am looking forward to seeing us carry on in the best way we can. Today is a family occasion for us with my daughter Danielle and I being joined by my three granddaughters Hannah, Laura and Alexis. Two of the girls will be going in the family stand with my sister Erica and one with us in the Kop. It was also nice to catch up with Mark one of my Selby Whites when I ran the Supporters Club there. After the game apart from Alexis, we will be going to the Pavilion for the LUDO dinner and dance and will have two excited girls looking forward to meeting the players.

On our way to Leeds I’d to pick my granddaughters up in Rastrick then go via Wakefield to pick up Danielle. As I was going a different way I put the postcode into my satnav, only for me to end up more or less back where I started! I was more bothered about the wasted time in getting to Leeds. We made good timing despite that and managed to avoid the long queues by driving via Beeston. At least we managed to meet up with my sister in good time and also David who’d helped me regarding parking for Preston. We bumped into some of our Norwegian fans and it was the first trip to Elland Road for one of them who had supported Super Leeds since 1972. I also bumped into some of our fans from Scotland and again it was the first trip in many years for one of them. Thanks for the feedback regarding my blog too which is appreciated. I’d also been asked to get some photos of the lads with the flags today so needed to be in the ground in good time. I had a quick trip to the Peacock to catch up with friends and it was nice to see some familiar faces.

As I made my way into the ground, there was a happy buzz around with lots of fans enjoying being at the ground with not a Millwall fan in sight. This is what I like about the away fans being in the West Stand and escorted in from the Fullerton Park car park as it means instead of chaos reigning down Elland Road, it is now a calm oasis of our fans. This makes it good for bringing the kids to the game without any antagonising and I much prefer it that way.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Klich, Phillips, Hernandez, Roberts, Bamford, Harrison and Alioski. Subs: Douglas for Alioski (45), Clarke for Jansson (67) and Forshaw for Klich (75). Leeds won the game 3-2 with Hernandez getting two (34 and 83) and Ayling (71). Bamford missed a penalty before Hernandez equalised for us making us do it the hard way. Attendance was 34,910 with 975 Millwall fans.

I’d been asked to move by one of our stewards as I’d moved to the right hand side of the Kop to get the photos of the kids with flags as they still had the nets up behind the goal. I managed to stay there till just before kickoff but apparently some fans were complaining as well as it being a legality of not standing on the steps. I made my way to my normal spot which is something I do every game for a few more minutes before heading to my seat which I always do once the game kicks off.

I always base my judgement of the opposition on the pitch as I don’t worry about them beforehand. I always say we need to play to our strengths and let the opposition worry about us. It became very clear straight away that Millwall had come to run at us and were a very physical team. Within 10 minutes they were ahead when a long ball across field caught us out before the ball was crossed to the middle for their player to head it into the net. Prior to that Peacock-Farrell made a good save to keep them out. At times we were at sixes and sevens with their attacks. Coming from behind again was a pain but we didn’t let that deter us as we started to see more of the ball and started to attack. When Alioski was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot I breathed a sigh of relief that we had a chance to get back into the game. Sadly it was not to be when Bamford’s very weak and casual penalty was saved by their goalie. It was a case that we were going to have to do things the hard way. Harrison came close to scoring before we equalised when Ayling passed for Hernandez to put the ball into the net in front of the South Stand sending the Leeds fans into raptures. Roberts then brought a save out of their goalie with a shot from the edge of the box just before the break.

Leeds started the second half on the attack having brought Douglas on to replace Alioski. He’d had a couple of hard tackles on him so I wasn’t sure if it was a tactical decision or due to an injury. As Leeds continued to attack we were caught out with a counter attack which saw their player free on the left hand side of the pitch heading towards the South Stand goal. When it looked like there was only Peacock-Farrell to beat, Cooper came across the box from the right hand side and fouled the Millwall player who were then awarded a penalty. Sadly they took the lead from theirs as they sent Peacock-Farrell the wrong way. Although we were behind, the crowd was still getting behind the team as we continued to seek an equaliser. Harrison showed some great footwork in the penalty area as he kept the ball then from Douglas’s perfect cross; Ayling with a brilliant header put the ball into the net to send everyone wild. Coming back twice from behind to keep the win within our grasp got everyone’s hopes up. Leeds weren’t stopping there and settling for the draw as everyone raced back to the middle instead of celebrating with the fans; we were going out to win this game there was no doubt about it. We had now got our tail between the legs and Ayling’s goal saw him play like a man possessed as we continued our charge towards the Kop end. We were now attacking with gusto and came close to scoring when their goalie nearly fumbled the ball into the net.  Forshaw’s great strike from the edge of the box nearly caught him unawares as we won a corner instead. We got the winner after some fantastic work by Tyler Roberts who stopped the ball from going over the goal line and passed the ball hard across the box where Hernandez was on hand to stick the ball into the net. Cue, wild celebrations around the ground with limbs everywhere and it was hard to keep my feet in the melee. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world as the team celebrated with the fans.  We’d fought back, never given up and it had paid off. Scenes like this are out of this world and what makes being a Leeds United fan special. When the final whistle blew fans stayed glued to the stands to continue singing and celebrating as Sheffield United’s home fixture against Bristol City had seen them beaten to put us back up into second place. Getting the three points is all that matters to me and I don’t care how we do it but experiencing the winner means I want more of that. We have only seven games left and it is in our hands once again to get that automatic promotion place.

In the second half of the game, I have never wanted to beat someone as much as I did when I found my dislike of Millwall reached fever pitch. With their deliberate goading of the fans in both the Kop and South Stand after scoring their goals, if that isn’t inciting trouble I don’t know what is? It took until the 81st minute for their goalie to be booked for deliberate time wasting; with every goal kick he went and got a drink before taking the kick. How satisfying it was after our third goal went in as the ground exploded with noise and celebrations. It’s funny how he didn’t waste any more time after that!

There are some fantastic photos on the official site and also a fantastic vlog from Lewis Deighton when the goal went in. Make sure you have a look as they are well worth seeing. My photos are from a fan for the fans and are a different perspective. I know lots of fans love to have their photos taken but am aware not everyone does. I was made aware in no uncertain terms not to take any photos of one person and share them around which is their choice and I am happy to adhere to that. I can’t remember if I have actually posted a photo or they refused one taken which isn’t a problem. I am always happy to take any photos down that people don’t want showing, all that has to be done is ask nicely.

Next week sees us head to Birmingham for the next stage of our battle for promotion where we come up against Monk once again. With their club having just received a nine point deduction due to issues with EFL spending rules, they are still outside the relegation places. We want three points regardless Leeds so let’s get them please! 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

www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United

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