Leeds United v Barnsley 21st April 2018 at Elland Road

The sun shone brightly in Halifax as I set off for Elland Road making it perfect weather for a football game. Singing along to the greatest showman also made it a very happy journey. As I was meeting Dean at Billy’s statue at 1.30 pm for a live interview I made sure I set off in plenty time to go to Leeds via Rastrick and Wakefield. First I picked up my granddaughter Hannah and then my daughter Danielle before getting to the ground right on cue. As my car was feeling poorly I was worried it would impact on getting there okay but luckily it didn’t let me down.

Thanks for the opportunity of doing the live interview Dean and as always, I’m glad to be able to help other Leeds fans out. When asked if I was doing another book, I said I wasn’t sure as I couldn’t think of a title for it. “A waste of time” said Dean. Many fans who have had their photos taken for my blog throughout the year have also asked if they’d be in my next book so I feel I can’t let them down. If the demand is there, then another book would be based on my blog Follow Me and Leeds United from this season together with lots of photos as per last season’s The Sleeping Giant Awakens 2016-17. Unfortunately as this season hasn’t gone the way we all hoped on the pitch, the title I would have picked isn’t appropriate, that’ll stay a secret and I hope it can be used at the end of next season instead!  I’ll have to get a move on with a title for this one if that is the case!

As it was so hot we didn’t expect to get served in the Peacock but as luck would have it, most of the fans were outside so for once we managed to get a drink. We went up into the garden where we started chatting to a group of fans from Worksop and Airdrie. The latter who had travelled from Scotland for the game Les and his son Donald, meant we had a good chat about the Scottish players that Leeds had playing for them at the start of the seventies. He also said Jim Storrie one of our ex-players who played centre forward for us and helped Leeds win promotion to the First Division in 1964 was an Airdrie lad.  Barry Bannan was a friend of his too (now playing at Sheffield Wednesday). Jamie had his dad to thank for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United as a present for his 21st birthday. Enjoy the read. Getting into the ground I was just in time to get in my spot to take photos and meet Debbie and James for my book The Sleeping Giant Awakens so again thank you to them both.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Pennington, Jansson (back after concussion), Pearce, O’Connor, Hernandez, Vieira, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz and Roofe. Subs were Ekuban for Alioski (71), Forshaw (returning from injury) for Saiz (84). Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals by Pearce (17) and Alioski (50). Attendance was 30,451 with 1,663 Barnsley fans.

Leeds looked fired up from the start today after Barnsley had an early chance. They did create us a few problems but I thought once we settled into the game that we could go on and win it. We were battling more and as young Pearce went forward with the ball he unleashed a long range shot that took their goalie by surprise. The ball seemed to bobble along the floor on the way into the net as it took an age to end up in the back of it. We weren’t the only ones ecstatic for him either and it was so nice to see the celebrations of the team with Pearce who was justified in his own joy of getting the goal. I was chuffed to bits for the lad. We didn’t have it all our own way in the game though as Barnsley who are in a relegation battle, kept putting us under pressure. After Pontus headed the ball out of defence well and did that a few times, he somehow nearly cost us a goal. He was going to kick the ball out of the penalty area then changed his mind at the last minute and it was a good job Peacock-Farrell was so alert to prevent the goal and make the save. Someone next to me thought someone had shouted but I didn’t think it was the keeper as it took him by surprise.  There was also another incident with Pontus that could have put us in trouble but again we were able to get the ball away. Unfortunately the team seemed to quieten down as Barnsley got into the game more. It was a disappointment when the ball was crossed into the penalty area in front of the Kop only for poor O’Connor to score an own goal to bring Barnsley level. There was nothing he could do about it and I felt badly for him. To cap it all they very nearly took the lead when Barnsley shot and I was convinced the ball was going in the net. Someone stood in front of me to get out of our row so I couldn’t see the outcome but Peacock-Farrell made a great save to keep it out. There were some boos as the whistle went for half time but to be honest I couldn’t understand why because I thought we’d not played too badly. We weren’t losing either.

I actually got back up into the stand before the players had come out for the second half but as it seemed a long half time, I could have sworn they would already have been out. Within six minutes of the restart though we had taken the lead after Roofe rounded their player on the wing and crossed the ball for Alioski to put the ball into the net. Cue relief and celebrations all around. It looked like we couldn’t keep a lead again when Barnsley had the ball in our net only a short while after we’d scored but luckily for us the linesman flagged for offside! Although we started to put more pressure on Barnsley they weren’t giving up without a fight especially when their player missed an open goal. From the Kop I thought he was stood on the goal line and missed but apparently he was a bit further out than that! They could also have had a penalty but luckily for us the ref chose to book the Barnsley player for diving. Talking of Pennington, he had a really good game on the wing in place of Berardi. In fact a few of the players stood out today which was a vast improvement as of late. Alioski gets a lot of stick from fans for running around and going down easily, but this was causing Barnsley issues as he was closing them down and tackling them. We had Peacock-Farrell to thank once again for making some class saves. One thing I will reiterate is that we need to build our team around these youngsters and I did say that to Peacock-Farrell, Pearce and O’Connor later on in the evening. Apparently we have a good striker in the under 23s who would be a good addition to the squad too. My stance is of quality over quantity, with players who want to play for the shirt and the fans including our youngsters and we won’t go far wrong. Saiz wasn’t happy with his substitution and looked to be having a tantrum in the dugout. I hadn’t actually seen anything until others behind me pointed it out. Jamie Clapham did the after game interview with BBC Radio Leeds and when asked about it he said it was behind him and he didn’t see or hear anything.  I think my photos show him stood right in front of Saiz so I think he was being diplomatic and knew exactly what had gone on. Even the players in the dugout didn’t know what to do!

We managed to see the game out to get the three points and keep Barnsley firmly near the bottom of the table and in danger of relegation. Sunderland have also suffered back to back relegations after it was confirmed they were relegated today from our division. At least with Wigan being promoted back to the Championship, it is a ground with a good allocation of tickets for away fans.

After the game we headed to the White Rose to meet my daughter Michelle and other two granddaughters Laura and Alexis as they were taking Hannah back for me. Danielle and I were going back to the Pavilion for the Leeds United Disabled Organisation’s (LUDO) player of the year event. I can honestly say that it was a fantastic night with a carvery and pudding all for the grand total of £25 per person. We got to meet the players (even Saiz as I wondered if he’d turn up after his earlier shenanigans) and had a great sing song along to the DJ’s choice of songs. With some great Irish Dancing and a bit of bingo thrown in it was really good. It was commented on that I’d got legs and respectively seeing our stewards there not in uniform and having a night off was good to see. Our longest serving steward remembered me from the seventies too. It was the last year of the event being organised by Stuart (not sure if I’ve spelt it right) due to ill health and it was an emotional night for him. His services to LUDO were recognised by the club as well as LUDO representatives, so a big well done from me as he deserved the recognition. I’d like to say a big thank you to Nikki and not forgetting Rita her dog, for inviting me to join her and others at the event. I will certainly look forward to attending this again next year and I would encourage other Leeds fans to do the same. Any extra monies raised go to LUDO so it is a great cause.

Next week sees our penultimate game and the last away game of the season at Norwich. Having already thought the season had finished before today’s game I’m looking forward to having a great day out with the rest of our fans. If we can get another three points there I will be more than happy. 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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

 

Aston Villa v Leeds United Friday 13th April 2018 at Villa Park

I was going early to the game today as I was meeting Harriet who was going to film me for an interview for a Fan Girls Documentary. Whether this ever gets into the public eye I’ve no idea, but it went really well and Harriet’s comments later were that she had watched the footage and it was golden. Thank you for the opportunity to help! After the interview I was stood talking to some of our fans waiting for the team coach to arrive and we had our photo taken for LUFC. When we went back to wait for the coach Orta came and shook the hands of everyone in the group including mine. This was the first time I had met him. I had also seen Angus Kinnear when I arrived and I’d told him what I was doing there. Thanks for being complimentary about my support of the club.

Because I needed to be at the ground early I was grateful for the chance of a lift there and travelled with Paul, his son Reuben and friend Kenny. After lots of traffic delays near home we arrived at the ground for 4.50 pm. Harriet did some more filming as I spoke to a few fans and we headed to the pub at the end of the street but unfortunately they wouldn’t let her film there so we parted ways. I suppose I could have stood outside the away end for a while because due to Health & Safety reasons, unfortunately she wasn’t allowed to film me in with the our fans which was a shame. Never mind.

As I looked around the ground when I got to my seat I couldn’t help casting my mind back to my many previous visits to Villa Park. The ground now in comparison to my early visits looks really good. The open end (to the right of the Leeds fans), was where we stood on my first ever visit there for a 0-0 draw in the League Cup. That game turned out to be a bad one when we left the ground. We’d walked through Villa fans on the street corner who asked us what the time was but we ignored them and got safely onto our Wallace Arnold coach. It was whilst we were stuck in traffic further down the road that the missiles and bricks started hitting the coach all down the left hand side. One lad told me to get down in the aisle out of the way as we were in a terrifying situation. After a few minutes that felt like a lifetime with most of the windows smashed on the left hand side, the Villa fans disappeared as quickly as they came. No police turned up either so we were left to carry on our way back to Leeds with no windows and it was freezing. Another time, as Leeds weren’t playing I went to see Glasgow Rangers play Villa in a friendly game with this one being abandoned 10 minutes into the second half due to trouble. I was stood in the Holte End for that one but ended up climbing on to the pitch and into the Doug Ellis stand to get away from the trouble. Memories!

Coming back to today, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game and would take things as they happened although I didn’t think we’d win. With a bad run of results since Heckingbottom arrived at Leeds and our chances of the play offs gone, I hoped that some of our youngsters would be given the chance to play. There again I couldn’t remember a time when we had been hit so badly as a team with serious injuries and key players out. I’d be interested to see a comparison with old football boots against new ones to see if they had any impact. There again, they’d probably be too heavy for modern day footballers! Seriously though, it is a big concern of mine that we’ve had so many and I wonder what can be done to prevent this in the future?

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Pearce, Pennington, O’Connor, Dallas, Hernandez, Alioski, Roofe, Vieira, Phillips and Ekuban. Subs were Saiz for Ekuban (45), Alioski for Grot (66) and Lasogga for Roofe (78). Leeds lost the game 1-0. Attendance was 33,374 with 2,400 Leeds fans. Apparently Villa needed over 38,000 there to go above us in the overall attendances and I knew they wouldn’t get that after hearing they had their highest attendance of 36,000 for the visit of Wolves. That’s why many fans had decided not to turn up then (tongue in cheek)!! I can understand why many decided to call it a day today, but personally I prefer to see the game in person so I can make judgements about what I see. It was nice to see Ralu was over for the game from Romania again.

After an initial attack by Villa, Leeds started on the attack when Alioski unleashed a great shot which was saved by their goalie giving us an early corner. I’d forgotten Snodgrass was playing for Villa even though one of our fans had told me he’d spoken to him outside the ground. Again we had to thank Peacock-Farrell for making some great saves to keep Villa out (this was also noted by Sky as he was chosen as man of the match at the end of the game). Leeds fans had given Snodgrass a warm warning but this changed when he won a free kick just outside the box by going down with a soft challenge. We had been playing much better than as of late with our youngsters Pearce and O’Connor also playing well. Unfortunately Villa scored just before the half hour mark with a header after we failed to clear the ball properly. That was a shame but the Leeds fans who had been getting behind the team with some great singing carried on doing that. An incident happened in the seats behind me to the left when police started dragging a Leeds fan out and everyone was going mad. I’ve no idea why as I’d not seen or heard anything untoward and my friend Sue said that the lad had his head banged against the wall which was out of order. Later on another fan was taken out and I also saw one I knew in the stand below taken out, again I’ve no idea why? No doubt I will find out in due course but it felt like things were well over the top. It was good to have a chat at half time with Derby Jim, Leicester Rob and Worcester Phil who have been mates since the early eighties ie 81-82. The club means so much to them especially when going through current traumas and personally I know from experience, that it is our fans that help overcome this. It must be difficult as a Leeds fan being married to a Derby fan with a Derby ram tattoo on her backside though lol!

At the start of the second half Ekuban had been subbed by Saiz and we started off brightly and more strong in the second half. One thing that was apparent was our failure to pass the ball well, mostly falling short or couldn’t get it past the first man. The Leeds fans started chanting we all love Leeds, getting louder and louder in a long sustained getting behind the team which they responded to. It took us singing to get the Villa fans to start getting behind their team but they didn’t last as long as we did. They only had sporadic support in that area over the 90 minutes. Only really loud when they scored, surprise, surprise!

The team did respond in the second half and we did a lot of attacking although we didn’t have the final finish. Peacock-Farrell again showed how he has grown into the games with his run in the team and looked self-assured catching the ball and also making some great saves once again. As a mistake by us gave Villa the chance to get a second goal, Pennington timed his tackle well as he started playing better, to nick the ball off the Villa player’s feet. When Grot and then Lasogga came on as subs, sadly they didn’t make any difference and maybe even stifled our chance of an equaliser. Even though I didn’t expect us to score, I was hoping we could sneak a last minute goal to get a point out of the game but that didn’t happen.

I didn’t feel so downhearted at the end of the game because the team had been trying and tried to play some attacking football in the second half. They were getting stronger and although some of the play showed that we need someone who can dictate the game more going forwards who can attack and score goals, I saw some positives. I have already said that we need to build the team around Peacock-Farrell and I would be happy to see Pearce and O’Connor be part of this too. With Coyle to come back in at right back we have a young nucleus of youngsters and we then need to have quality with a few older heads and a few from the current squad to move forwards. I do disagree that this was the worst team ever after reading comments on Twitter after the game. I’ve seen some dross in my time of following Leeds and I don’t think this team tonight comes even close to the worst even though things haven’t been good for a while! We do have a long way to go I agree especially as our hopes have been dashed so badly this season. The close season is going to be crucial and Radz having made mistakes, is going to be key to how we move forward as a club. As long as he has learnt that we cannot do the bargain basement with lots and lots of players anymore and the way forward is quality over quantity then fingers crossed we will start heading in the right direction. Success will bring the fans back as today many fans voted with their feet and stayed away. Three away midweek games in a couple of weeks has also taken its toll on the cash flow of some but apparently we had more coaches here today than we took to Preston. Many must have travelled by different methods to that game!

With our next game against Barnsley at Elland Road next Saturday, the team Heckingbottom was in charge of before us, this could be a make or break game for him. He said on BBC Radio Leeds after the game that the players have all been seen now and given a chance to show what they can or cannot do. That means a cull is on the way and we will know who hasn’t by the players picked and on the bench next week. If things aren’t working then give some more of the youngsters a chance.

As tonight showed, we are very lucky that once again we have some great youngsters coming through at the club so things look brighter in that direction. Keep doing what we are doing with those and you never know life as a Leeds United supporter may do a u turn and kick start next season. 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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

 

Preston v Leeds United 10th April 2018 at Deepdale

As we headed to Preston at 4.00 pm I thought we were going straight to the ground but luckily despite the crawling traffic a few times we managed an hour stop in Leyland. From there we got to the ground with a police escort just before 7.00 pm. I was meeting Martin and his son who were over from Belgium although they weren’t going to be sitting with our fans. I always helped Martin out in the past by getting tickets for him as he was a regular who went everywhere. It was nice to meet up with him and his son after all these years and I recognised Martin straight away. On our way into the ground one of our stewards said this was his last away game as a steward having been one for 18 years. He will just do the home games in future so he can have some family time but well done.

Inside the ground I went and put my flag up and then went to look for Nikki and her dog Rita as I will be attending the LUDO end of season do on 21st April with my daughter Dani. As I got there I was introduced to a journalist from America who had decided to forego watching the Champions League game tonight and come to join us at Deepdale. He also bought my book Follow Me and Leeds United so a big thank you to him for that. John who was stood on the row behind asked if I’d anymore books so he bought Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan so again I thank him for that as the support of fans is greatly appreciated. I managed to see loads of people I knew including Ian who is Godfather to my eldest daughter Michelle. Ian was a regular on Wallace Arnold coaches with us in the seventies along with his friend Gary and we are still friends to this day. Being a Leeds United fan, the one thing I love is our unique bond and camaraderie that we have between us that stays forever.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Anita, Jansson, Dallas, Hernandez, Grot, Roofe, Ekuban, Phillips, Vieira and O’Connor. Subs were Hugo Diaz making his debut (replacing Jansson who went off injured) (57), Saiz for Roofe (67) and Alioski for Grot (68). Leeds lost the game 3-1 after leading 1-0 with Roofe scoring for Leeds (13). Attendance was 14,188 with 3,550 Leeds fans.

As soon as the team was announced before the game, loads on social media were thinking it was a joke and that the real team would be announced later. Many were saying that if they’d known this earlier they wouldn’t have bothered travelling to Preston. I was optimistic at that point and after seeing two magpies outside the Peacock I thought our luck was in. Talking of magpies, my friend Sue found a live one in her house last week that must have been brought in by her cat. To say she was shocked was an understatement. Also Brian from Wales was missing his first game tonight and said it would be typical of Leeds to win because he wasn’t there so I was hoping he’d be proved right. Obviously the reality was completely different and a tale of two halves once again followed.

As Preston attacked the goal in front of the Leeds fans they had a couple of chances as Peacock-Farrell was called on to make a save that went out for a corner. Leeds actually took the lead in the 13th minute when the corner taken came back out to Phillips, who then crossed the ball for Roofe to score! Immediately some Leeds fans sang “How sh*t must you be we’re winning away”. I just thought please don’t sing that so early but wait until we’d more goals under our belts. Instead that song came back to haunt us by the end of the game. It looked like we were playing with a front three so I thought just before we scored that maybe this would work. As it was Preston did lots of attacking and came close to equalising. The one thing I noticed was their passing and control of the ball was so much superior to ours and also they kept being in so much space on either wing. Luckily for us though their shooting boots weren’t on! We had a couple more shots on target which forced saves from their goalie before Preston hit the post just before the break.

I still thought we would be able to go on and win the game at this point but with the second half only a few minutes old, we had the stuffing knocked out of us when Preston were awarded a penalty after a foul by Anita. Peacock-Farrell went the right way but was unable to prevent the ball going into the net for the equaliser. The lad next to me said Gallagher who was taking it never misses and he was right. To make matters even worse, Preston took the lead a couple of minutes later after Peacock-Farrell had already denied them a second goal with a great save. Controversy followed as Jansson stayed down injured for a while and then was taken off. Loads of Leeds fans have slated him going off as it looks like when the going gets tough he goes down injured. Doubts actually crossed my mind tonight. Young Hugo Diaz came on as sub and played well. We had a corner and O’Connor pushed their goalie over who acted like he’d been shot. With that Preston players manhandled him and then fisticuffs started. The next minute it was all kicking off around us at the front of the stand where I’d stayed for the second half. Stewards including ours were in abundance as I saw one of ours was trying to calm down the lad who’d been stood near me. I got involved then as the lad was getting very agitated due to being held and to prevent him getting taken out, I tried calming things down. Eventually we managed this between us all. He hadn’t actually done anything wrong only run towards the perimeter fence but it was pre-empted that he was going to do something he shouldn’t do. After things had calmed down and O’Connor was booked the game carried on. I’m not sure if any of the Preston players were booked for the retaliation which would have been deserved, especially as one had him by the throat, but someone said no one was.

I went to get my flag but wasn’t sure how many minutes were left but it turned out to be at least 10 minutes. Their scoreboard in our end is terrible and I couldn’t even look up there without getting dizzy so it was hard to work it out. As I got my flag I was talking to one of the Preston stewards who praised our fans by saying we always had a lot of fans both there tonight and at Elland Road. As we chatted I said as long as Preston didn’t get another goal so we were down and out that would be fine. Unfortunately that happened and it was indeed over for us. The penalty decision was the deciding factor and it will be interesting to see if our shout for a penalty in the first half should have been given or not. Whether that would have made a difference to the score I’ve no idea but it really was a tale of two halves. Who could have seen that final score at half time? Why can we not defend a lead once again? It was so deflating for us all and you just end up resigned to it all. Orta out was sang by many fans who are all convinced that he is the one dragging the club down. Personally I don’t know what to think anymore but the longer the season has gone on it does feel that there is something seriously wrong at the club. I don’t have any evidence but something isn’t right. I’m still not convinced by Heckingbottom either as results and performances have not improved under him after the sacking of Christiansen.

The coaches were parked right outside the ground and we quickly headed away with a police escort. Instead of the quick trip to the motorway, we found we had diversions again as the entrances slip roads were closed! That wasn’t the only diversion as apparently the exit road off the motorway was shut too plus we had roadworks to contend with near Rochdale.

I can’t remember what got us talking about the Istanbul murders but I think I mentioned I was glad the plaque for Chris and Kev got cleaned and treated in time for the families to visit. John said that they nearly walked into the square as the attacks happened but were warned away from there by some shoe shine boys. As they headed downstairs to a bar slightly away from the area the small group of Leeds fans couldn’t believe their eyes seeing the attacks being shown live on the TV. He is convinced that this was a set up because why would this be on the TV so quickly? Such an horrendous thing to happen. The next day all the hotels where the Leeds fans were staying were on lockdown and flights to Turkey cancelled so no more could arrive for the game. Incidentally this game should never have been played because of what had happened which is why all the Leeds fans turned their backs at the start of the game. John and his group were going to meet Phil Beeton to travel on his coach so they were in two taxis mostly wearing their Leeds colours. Unfortunately the first taxi crashed into someone and it was then that things got very scary as groups of men surrounded the taxis and saw them wearing their colours. John had visions of them being attacked in there but luckily for them one of the drivers had rung ahead and two relief taxis turned up and got them out and to the hotel. As they got out of the taxis, no one could believe their eyes because no one had known there were any other Leeds fans out there for the game.

This got John talking about a couple of incidents that had happened in the past. One was at Newcastle when they were cornered on the steps of a building. There were about a dozen Leeds fans including PC Barraclough. It was like the Alamo having to fend off all the Newcastle fans, with the baton being used in great abundance as well until the Newcastle police turned up to put a stop to it all. The second was coming out of a game at Chelsea to see their fans all holding up walking sticks. This was just after the Clockwork Orange film came out. It’s not something he is proud of now but it was self-preservation when a Chelsea fan lunged at him with the stick, he grabbed it and nutted him to stop him. I’m more than happy to leave trouble in the past but unfortunately it isn’t always the case that you can sadly.

We arrived back in Leeds just before midnight despite all the detours and I’d found out we had a group of Danish Leeds fans travelling with us. As well as Norwegian fans there tonight, I feel for Inverness White and Bournemouth Whites who have such a long way to travel back home. Why did he bother to make the trip was Inverness Whites comments after the game and I can’t blame him. The detours didn’t end there as I had another one on the way back to Halifax.

On Friday we travel to Aston Villa for another night game and live on Sky I think. I will be travelling in early for this one with Paul and Reuben who have kindly offered me a lift. I am taking part in a Fan Girls documentary and will be doing some filming for it before the game. I’ve had to tell my seat number too so I’d better behave during the game lol! I really can’t see us getting anything from the game but who knows. Always Leeds, Always Loyal is the Supporter’s Club motto and one thing I do know, is that at times Leeds United do not deserve our support but it’s what we do! See you at Villa – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Leeds United v Sunderland 7th April 2018 at Elland Road

After I took a photo of the plaque at Elland Road on Tuesday remembering Chris and Kev our two fans who were murdered in Turkey, I mentioned on the WACCOE forum that it was hard to read and whether there was anything we as fans could do to remedy this. I’m very pleased to say that my message was picked up by the Leeds United Trust and along with the Don Revie plaques in the Kop; these have now been polished and upgraded by them. Leeds fans looking after Leeds fans is what we do so a big well done from me. It is the least we can do to commemorate their murders and ensure we never forget them. RIP to both lads and thoughts with their families and friends at this tough time of the year.

With nothing left to play for this season we still were expecting a crowd of around 30,000 including a sizeable contingent from Norway of approximately 150 Leeds fans. I was meeting up with some fans before the game but despite my best efforts of getting to Leeds early I found I was later than expected and rushing about. With an excited granddaughter who will be celebrating her 8th birthday tomorrow and my daughter Dani we left the car park only for my bag zip to break and scatter the contents along the floor which made me even later. Luckily by the time we arrived at the Peacock the first person I saw was the person I’d been asked to take tickets for. I then had a chat with a couple of our Irish fans and a big thank you Ken and Jack for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and Nick for buying Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan. One of our Trust members I wished to thank for the plaque renovations was a little shy as he hid behind others when I took a photo! As we headed into the ground the rain had stopped so I was able to take photos of the flowers left for Chris and Kev.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Paudie O’Connor making his debut at centre back, Jansson, Dallas, Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski, Phillips, Vieira and Lasogga. Subs were Roofe for Phillips (64), Ekuban for Lasogga (68) and Anita for Saiz (90). Berardi was sent off in the 90th minute with a straight red after a bad tackle. We drew 1-1 with Hernandez getting the Leeds equalising goal (72). Attendance was 30,461 with approximately 2,300 Sunderland fans.

With Sunderland propping up the table and looking like having two consecutive relegations, I’d no idea what to expect from the game. We actually started off well and came close a few times but not close enough to make them count by scoring. We had most of the possession for a good while into the first half and it was nearly a case of de ja vue when Sunderland had an attack and came very close to scoring. Luckily for once it went our way as we were able to keep the ball out. As the half went on things quietened on the terraces and we were going through the motions without any urgency. Once again we were playing with a lone striker up front when we were at home, why?  I don’t think the system suited our players because the longer the half went on, the more it looked wrong. We had Dallas still at right back but had brought young Paudie O’Connor in at centre back who played well. We had some miss hit shots and gave the ball away too much and I couldn’t wait for the half to end.

As I went back up into the Kop at the start of the second half I found that I felt like a lead weight and had to literally drag myself back up to my seat. I thought at first it was because I wasn’t looking forward to the second half but I still felt that way at the end of the game. This seemed so when Sunderland put the ball into our net to take the lead within three minutes of the start. Sunderland were looking better than their place in the table showed but I think we were contributing to that especially when they came close to getting a second. I felt that once we changed our system when Roofe came on we looked a different team. To say we have changed manager, Heckingbottom was still standing there with his arms crossed not getting involved and our tactics have remained the same. Why? As fans keep complaining about interference my thoughts are that we have a set piece coach and others so the team does the same thing regardless of it working or not. I found I was deflated and demoralised for a while in the second half because I couldn’t see a way forward. When we changed the tactics it didn’t take long before we were able to get an equaliser when Hernandez got the ball in the penalty area and was able to score. We were very unlucky not to take the lead when Saiz brought out a great save from their goalie and hit the post with another shot. Sunderland hadn’t given up either and we had Peacock-Farrell to thank again for another point blank save to deny them taking the lead. We lost Berardi to a straight red card right on 90 minutes so instead of trying to win the game we saw it out with 10 men once again. That was so frustrating and to be honest it felt like we’d lost again although for once we’d got another point.

The thing is there were flashes of what we could do as a team but we weren’t consistent enough. In the first half we have to make our chances count and play from the off for the whole game not just a few minutes here and there. I think that’s why I was quite frustrated today because it didn’t look like things were going to change in the long term and this was what we had to look forward to next year!

We have a further two away games next week with our visit to Preston on Tuesday and away at Villa on Friday. In my opinion I’d knock the lone striker on the head as I hate it as it doesn’t work. As we have to change the team around again with Berardi’s suspension, I have no idea who we have left to bring in though so will have to wait and see what happens at Deepdale. See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Saiz’s free kick hits the post

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Fulham v Leeds United 3rd April 2018 at Craven Cottage

Before I start my blog today I wish to pay my respects to the families and friends of our fans Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight who were brutally murdered in Istanbul on 5th April 2000. Never forgive and never forget that they went to a football game to watch Leeds United and didn’t return.  Leeds fans are asked to turn their backs at the game tonight on 18 minutes to pay their respects to them as those fans at the game did 18 years ago. RIP Chris and Kev.

It’s also 15 years since Marion one of our Cockney Whites died this week.  Marion was a regular who only missed three games home, away or abroad in 24 years and I’ve seen some lovely words from Greenie and her friend Tricia on Facebook regarding this. The whole week is a bad one and culminates in the anniversary of the sudden death of my baby daughter tomorrow. Life can be cruel with the best ones taken too soon sadly.

When I left home this morning I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get to the motorway via the A58 or not as I’d had to turn back late last night due to flooding. I was also surprised to see my garden still full of snow when I’d got home despite the torrential rain since the snow stopped at 11 am. Having had at least 2″ of snow yesterday in Halifax, all I can say is what a difference a day makes and thank goodness the game was today. There was no flooding to be seen in the A58 and I arrived at Elland Road just after 9.00 am. A big thank you to Helen who I met straight away for buying my books Follow Me and Leeds United and The Good, the Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s. As always thank you for the support which is appreciated. The good thing about the game today was that I wasn’t at work so even getting home late won’t be an issue for once.

It was good to hear that my books are doing well in the club shop too and I look forward to seeing a dedicated book area after a six week refurbishment that will take place shortly. Also for those fans who keep asking me about the CD we are recording with all the old Leeds songs. This is still in progress but unfortunately we have hit some technical issues. As we are trying ways to overcome the obstacle and I am waiting to receive this, it is sadly taking longer than I thought to sort out. It will be done but at this moment in time I don’t have an end date for bringing this out so please bear with us.

I’d woken up on the coach on the way there and thought we weren’t going to get a pub stop as it was already 1.30 pm before Sue pointed out it was an evening kick off, oops. There’s definitely no hope for me especially as I can’t even blame alcohol for being a dipstick! At least catching up with my sleep is better than having a hangover that’s all I can say lol. We arrived in Hammersmith for our pub stop prior to the game and found Leeds fans already there with some of the South Kirkby branch who had gone for a four day trip to the capital. Unfortunately one lad who was going on their day trip missed his lift as they were both waiting in two different places. He then spent another £80 to travel down by train as he hadn’t missed a game so it had to be done showing commitment and the things fans do for Leeds! We were joined by Mitch and Richard and as usual spent some time reminiscing about the past and having a laugh. One tale Mitch relayed was when they went to Ferencvaros. With the organised trips you were expected to share a room with another fan. He’d been woken up at 4.00 am to hear his room colleague shouting he’d lost his teeth, but the funny part of it was them being found in a plant pot later in the day where he’d lost them after being sick, urghhh.

When we arrived at the ground we had a long walk from where the coaches parked and went straight in. Last year I’d struggled to get through the turnstiles with my arms full and came out backwards. This year I still had my bag with although I’d left my jacket on the coach and didn’t have the same trouble there again. After a temperature of 2.5 degrees in the morning when I left home, it was 16 degrees in London – that’s barmy. I went to hang my flag up only to be told the only place it was allowed to go was along the back of the stand. After showing my fire paperwork I put it up at the back of the stand. Having a chat to some Sherburn Whites it was a shock to realise that it was 30 years since I’d moved from Selby to Halifax. I then did my good deed for the day when I saw someone I knew who was getting into an argument with a steward and was in danger of being kicked out. It was misleading as fans had been allowed in the right area according to the ticket but her seat was on the opposite side. One steward had allowed her in and this other one was kicking off about it and wouldn’t let her go further down the stand. She did try though so I quickly diffused the situation and said I would take her to her correct seat. Luckily that worked out okay. One of our disabled fans had also had issues with parking outside the ground. Having been in a disabled parking spot since 4.00 pm someone tried to get him kicked out of it and got the police involved. As he had a blue badge and was disabled, they said he had every right to park there! I also made a suggestion to the stewards in the ground that I asked to be passed on (not sure whether they will though). It’s alright having notices saying the steps in the stand were uneven but as I’d already missed my footing on the way down the stand and that’s stone cold sober, they needed something else to highlight this. I’d seen one of our fans with a walking stick nearly go flying too and said it’s alright having the steps painted yellow but they need a warning sign on them as it took you unawares when going down them. Going back up the stand didn’t create the same problems but I’m sure there would have been many more who struggled with it.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Jansson, Berardi, Pennington, Dallas, Hernandez, Ekuban, Vieira, O’Kane, Alioski and Saiz. Subs were Phillips for O’Kane (22), Lasogga for Ekuban (72) and Grot for Alioski (72). Leeds lost the game 2-0 and the attendance was 21,538 with 4,003 Leeds fans plus 2,000 “neutral” fans with the majority being Leeds! Fantastic support once again especially with nothing left to play for.

I also hadn’t realised that Fulham was on the banks of the River Thames and running at the back of the stand to the left. I think it has been dark every time we have been there recently or I’d just forgotten! There again when we played there for the first game of the season in 1985 there was only a crowd of 5,772 which included loads of our fans but I can’t remember anything about the ground that day. I’d driven a minivan down with no seats in the back if I remember right with six members of the newly formed Selby Branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club. Although it was another bad result with us losing 3-1 the memory of that day that lingers in my mind was pulling into Leicester Forest services and being met by Millwall fans. They hadn’t reckoned on some of our fans who were on the coaches taking exception to being “attacked” and were returned to the other side of the motorway pronto! How those who ran across all six lanes of the motorway didn’t get killed I’ll never know!

We started off with plenty possession, but soon were overcome as Fulham had attack after attack with a lot of this coming down the right wing. Dallas playing right back was struggling to contain their man as they used their speed to their advantage. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed seeing Dallas play in that position as it is a square peg in a round hole situation once again. Why can’t we play to our strengths? Surely we have someone in the club who has this as their natural position? We were lucky young Bailey Peacock-Farrell was on form to prevent a couple of goals by making great saves. On 18 minutes the Leeds fans who had been giving great support to the team with constant singing, paid tribute to Chris and Kev en masse. Turn your backs for Chris and Kev started being sung from the back of the stand and I shouted to those around me to do the same. A very touching moment to show we will remember them both always.

I suppose it didn’t come as a great surprise when Fulham took the lead although I don’t think their man knew much about. The ball struck him and went in with his back to the goal when we failed to defend a corner once more. We hadn’t played well at all and had already had to change the team when O’Kane went off injured. Our play was slow and predictable whereas Fulham were fast and putting us under constant pressure. One lad arrived in his correct seat just before the break as he’d gone to the wrong row by mistake. He told me off for not supporting him as I didn’t agree with the seat number, sorry!

At half time I went down onto the concourse which was packed with Leeds fans. After taking some photos including one of my “adopted” daughter someone said that Ralph Ineson a famous Leeds fan was nearby. I went across to find him for a photo and was introduced to some Nottingham Whites too. After introducing myself to Ralph I mentioned I was a friend of Gary Edwards and I had travelled with him on Wallace Arnold coaches in our early days of following Leeds. Ralph mentioned his dad (I hope I got that right?) used to drive the coaches in those early days of following Leeds in the 70s. We had some good drivers in those days who used to look after us so you never know he might have driven us to games. Of course I did show my Follow Me and Leeds United book as that is the name of my blog too and thanks for having your photo taken with it Ralph! He did get the year right for the photo on the front of the book that was taken by the Daily Express in 1975. He also showed an old war wound on his forehead caused by Jack Charlton. He was still in a pushchair and Jack was running, pushing him but unfortunately he wasn’t strapped in so went head first out of the pushchair, ouch.

The second half had kicked off when I got back into the stand and our row seemed to have gained at least four people. It meant that there wasn’t much room but Whitby John found himself in an argument with the lad next to him for encroaching in his space. Unfortunately at football games these things happen but at least the argument died a death and I didn’t need to intervene. I know it is frustrating when we are losing but we shouldn’t be arguing or coming to blows with our own fans. Our fans were absolutely magnificent for the whole game and we don’t need those silly clappers that had been handed out to the home fans that’s for sure. We started to play better in the second half but still had to rely on Peacock-Farrell to deny Fulham a further goal. Alioski had the ball in the net only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. It’s ironic but he didn’t have the same reactions in the first half when Fulham were attacking the goal in front of us. We should have equalised with a great chance for Ekuban only for him to hit the ball at their goalie when he should have lifted the ball over him. That was a disastrous decision because Fulham raced to the far end of the pitch to put the ball into our net to given them a second goal and put the game out of reach for us. Alioski received some bad challenges and with just over 15 minutes of normal time left we made a double sub with both Ekuban and Alioski making way for Lasogga and Grot. When Lasogga was brought down with a cynical challenge from behind by their player who was also the last man, I was expecting a red card. Well of course he got a yellow card but when I think back to our sending offs this season they were nowhere as bad as this tackle.

We saw the end of the game out with nothing really to play for. I went up to the back of the stand to get my flag and then didn’t hang about after the whistle blew as I knew it was a long walk back to the coach. It certainly was for one of our fans as he struggled with the distance to get to our coach. We were one of the last coaches away from the ground as another of our fans had got lost when a policeman directed him in the wrong direction of the coaches. We made it back to Watford Gap services in good time although seeing a lorry with a car that had been hit in the slow lane of the M1; I just hoped everyone had got out safely. Just after we left the services one of our fans on the coach was taken ill with a medical episode but luckily with the help of Keith and another couple of fans they were able to sort him out. The story of Leeds fans lives happened again as we had to endure two detours off the motorway due to closures but by going in a different direction to the diversions we ended up in front of the other coaches. Also by avoiding the M621 and going via Tingley roundabout this helped too. All this meant that we didn’t get back to Leeds till just after three and I eventually got home at 3.45am a round trip of approximately 19 hours. The things we do to follow our team!

On the way back to Leeds on the coach I found that I couldn’t be bothered typing up my blog. As I am not in work tomorrow I can type it up in the morning and I wouldn’t be posting it till then. As we hit the worst day of my life again, I can say that had an impact on the way I was feeling. Also I can’t see a way forward at all for us as a club on the pitch at this moment in time. The hope that had been there at the start of the season that this was the year we made it back to the Premiership has been taken away big style. The last accounts under Cellino when Radrizzani came in as co-owner have now appeared which shows the amount of money the latter has put into the club to buy it. I’m looking forward to Mike Thornton’s analysis of the accounts which help me understand more about the ins and outs of them. Radrizzani has done a lot in the background to steady the ship so to speak which was always going to impact on us as a club. I only hope that he sees where things are not working and learns from this for next season.

Saturday sees us take on Sunderland so we need to get something from this game as we are at home. Whether we will or not remains to be seen.  See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Youtube – Turn your backs for Chris and Kev

WACCOE

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers 30th March 2018 at Elland Road

Heading for Elland Road after the international break, for once I was very grateful for the break because things on the park weren’t going very well, with lots of fans becoming disillusioned about the fall down the table. I felt the break had at least rejuvenated me plus whet my appetite, so I was looking forward to today’s game against Bolton. I was in a happy mood singing along to the radio on my way into Leeds. In-between our last game and the international break, I attended the LFU AGM (Leeds Fans United / CBS) where Angus Kinnear the Leeds CEO was there to speak regarding the ongoing talks between LFU and the Club regarding fan ownership. I was there to represent myself but also Jailhouse John’s groups from WACCOE as he died over a year ago. I was asked to take over the communications with the groups after his death and I was pleased to do this. Being seen as trustworthy and someone who would always do her best to look after the interests of fans in the groups, it was a proud moment for me.  As to the meeting, this was very positive and I look forward to hearing the outcome of these talks in due course.

I’d gone in early as I was meeting Craig from the Johannesburg branch who was here with his friend Michelle. He was acting as a go between to take three of my books back to Keith in South Africa. After first trying Billy’s Bar, I found I’d just missed them in the Peacock but luckily found them in the Pavilion. Bobby from Coventry bought a book from me too after stopping me to chat. As usual, I want to say a big thank you to Keith and Bobby for their support which is appreciated. I look forward to receiving feedback in due course once the books have been read. After bumping into Gary from my home village Carlton, Neil from New Zealand stopped to talk to me telling me he reads my blogs all the time. I had a few other people telling me they look forward to my blogs and looking to see if they are in the photos, so it is really lovely to know that these blogs serve a purpose with our worldwide fans. Thanks for the feedback from our Irish and Thames Valley Whites fans.

 As I was on my way to meet two of my daughters Michelle and Danielle and my three granddaughters, I took a photo of some friends and a couple of lads more or less stopped too so I asked did they want their photos taken? One said but I’m a Bolton fan! I said I’m happy to take photos of any fans for my blog so I did! I just managed to get into my position for taking photos at the start of the game as the teams came out. I’d already found Craig and Michelle again behind the goal to get some more photos. Today was going to be another great crowd due to the offer the club made for season ticket holders to bring a friend for free to the game. Recommended by the Trust, it was great to see this initiative taken up by the club which was also offered to Bolton fans. After hearing that Bolton fans had managed to have the Drysalters pub shut down due to incidents before the game, I was actually surprised to hear this. Having always been given plenty of tickets at Bolton and been made welcome in the local pub there, we haven’t had any problems recently. Casting my mind back to when they played at Burnden Park though, we did have some trouble there if I remember correctly but I can’t remember anything in recent years. Someone will possibly put me right on that score.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Berardi (captain), Jansson, Pennington, Dallas (at right back), Alioski, O’Kane, Vieira, Ekuban, Hernandez and Lasogga. Subs were Saiz for Lasogga (62) and Grot for Alioski. Attendance was 35,377 with 2,480 Bolton fans. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Ekuban (4) and Hernandez (50).

Within four minutes of the start of the game Leeds found themselves in the lead with a goal from Ekuban after Lasogga’s cross! Ekuban had looked very lively in the initial stages and he’ll have been glad to score as well as us fans. As I’d thought I couldn’t see where the next win was coming from prior to this that was a welcome goal to change my mind! When I’d thought there was something wrong with my eyes and I couldn’t see clearly, I found out why when Danielle started laughing at me. I’d put my glasses on only to find out that the left hand lens had fallen out and the frame was broken, more money and yes I have just renewed our season tickets! That’s before I’ve to save the money for my away season ticket too. After an inspiring start from Leeds, things quietened down although we did threaten a few times which was good to see. I did start to feel very weary courtesy of a stressful day at work and my sister’s party at Drax the day before. For some reason that was when the game seemed to drag and I was looking forward to hearing the half time whistle. We were very unlucky not to score a second just before the whistle went but unfortunately Jansson’s header hit the crossbar. With Bolton playing in purple, we managed to contain them mostly but they did come close to an equaliser. One thing I did notice was that they had a couple of “giants” playing for them!

At half time I surpassed my silliness due to being tired when I tried to make a cup of coffee for Keith only to realise I’d left that in the bag I’d handed to Michelle. Unfortunately they were in the family stand so he declined the hot water. I’d already left the flask behind with the girls when they were at McDonalds so it wasn’t to be my day. At least it’s the thought that counts!

The second half started off the same as the first did with Leeds getting a second goal due to the persistence of Alioski on the left of the goal in front of the Kop. Hernandez was on hand to get to the loose ball in the penalty area to give us some breathing space or so we thought. I thought the game might die a death as in the first half but instead it was Burton who pulled one back after they’d won a free kick and then stepped up their game. As the Leeds crowd got very restless we were very jittery and it took us a bit of time to settle down after Bolton scored. It was a case of Déjà vu as the South Stand had just sang how sh*t must you be, we’re winning at home! I think the gallows humour should have been left until the end of the game when we knew what the final score was! Also singing Jansson, knock him out ended up with him being booked along with the Bolton player not long after when they had a set too! It was one of those moments when you felt it wouldn’t have happened if we’d not mentioned it. On the whole despite it being a large crowd the atmosphere wasn’t one of the best. Things did improve on the pitch and we were very unlucky with a couple of great shots that were saved by their goalie. The second half raced by and it was already the 85th minute in no time at all, probably because there had been more action on the pitch. Luckily we managed to hold out to get the win and the welcome three points.

After the game there was some argy bargy between some fans with one getting dragged away by others. The police did go over for a chat but as we came out of the car park instead of three fans there were five and he was still having a go! Whether he’d had too much to drink I’ve no idea but obviously something had got to him even though we’d won!

Tuesday sees us head to Fulham for the evening fixture that is live on Sky again. Luckily I’m off work now so even though it will be a late night, it won’t feel so bad with not having to be up early for work. I’ll take each game as it comes and yes it won’t be easy that’s for sure, but today showed we put up more of a fight so long may that continue. See you on Tuesday – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday 17th March 2018

Today saw a poignant day for my family as we should have been celebrating my daughter Charlotte’s birthday. Despite her short life of 17 days when she was taken from us suddenly and unexpectedly, she found fame as a Leeds United fan. She attended her first game against Crystal Palace at six days old. On the day that she was born we played Arsenal at Highbury which meant I had another priority that day and didn’t make it to the game. Charlotte made headline news that day as her birth was announced live on TV just after half time by Greavsie. He said I’d seen more action that day than Leeds had! She will never be forgotten and will always be in our hearts!

Waking up to snow once again that had settled in the garden, it was nice to see that it was only flurries and the roads were clear. The icy wind chill and the fact the temperature was hovering around zero degrees or below meant it was going to be a cold one that’s for sure even though the sun kept coming out.

With another crowd above 30,000 expected, our support once more shows how extensive our worldwide fan base reaches. I was meeting DJ from Singapore coming to his first Leeds United game having arrived yesterday and a big thank you to him for buying my book the Sleeping Giant Awakens. Also, we had Sam and his wife arriving from Australia with other fans in attendance from Norway, Sweden and Ireland. BBC Radio Leeds said we even had some fly in from Iceland such is the pull of the name Leeds United.  It’s just a shame that our team cannot match this fantastic support sadly.

The team was Peacock-Farrell. Berardi, Jansson, Pennington, O’Kane, Forshaw, Dallas, Alioski, Hernandez, Ekuban and Tom Pearce making his debut at left back. Subs were Lasogga for Ekuban (59), Grot for Pearce (77) and Phillips for O’Kane (78). Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Grot scoring the Leeds goal. Attendance was 31,638 with 2,039 Sheffield Wednesday fans. It was good to see that the scoreboard now has got the teams, score and time on it now!

Although I wouldn’t make any predictions of the score line, I still had high hopes at the start of the game that we could turn things around after our bad run of results since Boxing Day 2017. Talking of turning around, it was the first time we’ve changed ends at the start of a game for a while. We didn’t get off to the best of starts though as we let Wednesday have the run of the pitch giving them early chances to take the lead. Passes from Hernandez were badly placed at least three times but all of a sudden it looked like he upped his game as we started to gain more and more possession. We won a free kick at the edge of the box and as I had my camera poised, our free kick didn’t go where we all expected it and we were unlucky not to score. We got in another scoring position and Ekuban should have done better as he blasted the ball over the top of the goal when he would have been better hitting it low and hard. I thought Alioski was working hard and getting some crosses in and when someone shouted the opposite of my thoughts I said he was running around a lot. The lad in front of me turned around and said he’d run around a bit for £20,000 a week! As I said I don’t think he’s on that much, I did take his point of view on board. Despite having lots of possession, I’d just turned round to get my bag to go downstairs at half time when I heard the Wednesday fans cheering as the ball ended up in our net. As my heart sank the Leeds fans started cheering as the linesman put his flag up for offside. That was a relief as it meant we were still level pegging going in at the break.

As I came back into the stand I couldn’t believe what I was seeing with the snow and swirling wind. For some reason I was thinking the worst was over even though I’d seen severe weather warnings on the way to the ground. The two lads who stood in front of me and the lad to the left of me (he was expecting a defeat), didn’t come back in the stand for the second half. I’d said the game itself wasn’t a spectacle so I suppose it wasn’t a surprise that they hadn’t come back up to their seats. That lad to the left of me had said Wednesday were very poor and so were we and if we couldn’t beat them there was no hope for us. At that point I couldn’t see us scoring as we have to learn to take our chances when they are there and we hadn’t.

In the second half Alioski was getting crosses in and although we came close it wasn’t enough to put their goalie under pressure. They did have a chance earlier but then against the run of play, the taking your chances when they are there came back to bite us on the backside.  Wednesday attacked and the ball came off the crossbar and they put the rebound into the net. Time wasting occurred then as they took ages to get back to the centre spot. That sinking feeling again as we had to come from behind once again. As the weather deteriorated into a snowstorm the team looked down and out. It wasn’t until we made two subs that we looked like an attacking side and four minutes from time with a second chance of a cross from Hernandez, Grot was on hand to head the ball into the net to equalise. At that moment in time I’d have taken a draw and a point. When six minutes of injury time was put up, the Leeds fans cheered as I shouted come on Leeds as I believed we could go on and win the game. Sadly I was very wrong as Wednesday broke away and got the better of Pennington to stick the ball into the net for the winner. Why oh why can we not stop conceding so many goals? My granddaughter Laura hadn’t wanted to come to the game today as she was tired after sleeping at a friend’s house last night. As her fingers and toes froze at the end of the game and I was shivering so much I couldn’t hold my camera straight, I could understand her reluctance to be there!

Talking to a few fans as we came out of the ground, all they can see is a downward spiral for the team and the worst position and performances for a long time. Having renewed our season tickets before the game I know I’m in it for the long term but I feel sure many fans are going to question their loyalty. Having got the great offer from Leeds United for the Bolton game of bringing a friend for free for season ticket holders, I am bringing my eldest daughter and all my granddaughters to the game. I’ve given up thinking we can rescue the season or can win, although it could get very close to survival even at this stage of the season. Thank goodness we did have a great start to the season because without that, we would have been relegation fodder already! See you at the Bolton game – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Reading v Leeds United 10th March 2018 at the Madejski Stadium

Before I start my blog today, I would like to say the following. If any fan is interested in buying my books at a game, please note that I only carry one of each book with me on the day. If I know more than one copy is required, I can sort this in advance if you let me know. Prices are as follows: Follow Me and Leeds United, Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan and The Sleeping Giant Awakens 2016-17 are all £12.99 each. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s my joint book with Andrew Dalton is £14.99.

As the loyal contingent of Leeds fans headed to Reading today with very little to play for from the team but pride, I thought I must be bonkers when I got up at 4.50 am! I posted that online before I left home and it was good to see comments from other fans doing the same thing. As usual the camaraderie of our fans is second to none.

After the snow had returned two days ago causing havoc where I lived for approx. five hours then disappearing as fast as it came, I was glad to have a clear run to Leeds, despite the heavy rain and a damp, miserable start. This continued on our way down the motorway with some fog thrown in but eventually easing off by the time we arrived at Windsor to have tea with Her Majesty the Queen! Well not quite, but we arrived just too late to see the changing of the guard. Having never witnessed anything like that in person before, I would have loved that opportunity. I’m sure Leeds United will always be in her thoughts though as she handed the FA Cup to Billy Bremner in 1972 after our win!  We had a nice stay in the King and Castle pub and I chatted to other Leeds fans in there as well as taking photos. As we left the pub I managed to get a group from the Fullerton Park Supporters Club coach together and this lad asked if I wanted him to take a photo for us? He said he wouldn’t run off with my camera and actually supported that club across the Pennines to which I chanted, “There’s only one United!” Thanks for taking the photo though! I managed another sleep on the coach and woke up just before arriving at the ground. Although it was an hour before kickoff, the last part took us about 20 minutes to get dropped off and at least the weather was fine with even some sunshine! As the stewards checked my bag one was astounded to learn that we had travelled five hours to get there as he didn’t know where Leeds was! I did feel quite weary as I went into the ground with the early start catching up with me but luckily soon perked up.

Inside the ground although there were plenty of Leeds fans all stood around watching the TVs it was quiet and orderly. When I did watch the TV, seeing Allan Clarke’s goal at Wembley in 1972 and Eddie Gray’s goal against Burnley I cheered the goals as if I was still at the games as old habits die hard! Going into the ladies was treacherous as it looked like they had only just finished cleaning the floors as they were wet and slippery and to say it is a newish ground it stayed that way even until the end of the game. Maybe it was the dampness that made it stay that way? Once again we had plenty of our male fans deciding to walk into the ladies to use the loos which upset some of our female fans. I had a quick chat with Phillip Thumbsup Cresswell before putting my flag up at the front behind the goal and it was nice to catch a glimpse of it later on TV when showing replays of the game. Just before the game kicked off, the singing under the stands had lots in a jovial mood showing that the Leeds fans had turned up once again now would the team?

The team was Peacock-Farrell (retaining his place), De Bock, Jansson, Berardi (captain), Pennington, O’Kane, Saiz, Alioski, Hernandez, Ekuban and Forshaw. Subs were Lasogga for Ekuban (77) and Dallas for Hernandez (85). Attendance was 19,770 with 3,467 Leeds fans. Leeds drew 2-2 with Jansson (43) and Hernandez (56) getting our goals.

It was disappointing to see that Leeds didn’t have a mascot again which is a shame considering all the young fans that were at the game. The Leeds fans were in good voice giving the team backing with plenty of WACCOE chants and scarf waving. Despite that within 16 minutes, once again we found ourselves a goal down despite having an early chance when their goalie saved from Alioski. Reading were suspiciously beating the offside trap every time despite looking to be in front of our men. That said they ran at us causing lots of problems with their speed and won the battle to score their first goal. We had Peacock-Farrell to thank for saving a long range shot that was dipping just under the bar and another good save later on. We then had another scramble off the line with Pennington and Peacock-Farrell battling to keep the ball out, with Pennington blocking the rebound as we got the ball away. I thought that could be our saving grace and give us a chance to do something with the game. That happened just before half time when we equalised with a goal from Jansson after a corner was punched out by their goalie and hooked back into the box from Forshaw. It seems ages since we scored a goal. 

At half time I went downstairs and had to gingerly pick my way down the steep steps in the stand which were frankly dangerous. That showed when we scored as fans went hurtling down them. It was no wonder Reading stewards were clearing the gangway regularly. It was also precarious underfoot and as I realised I had no grip on my soles, I had to gingerly step over puddles on the floor from spilt drinks which wasn’t good. At least I didn’t end up on my backside in a puddle! Taking plenty of photos, the Midland Whites from Derby, Leicester and Birmingham have to get a mention today for their great support and it was nice to say hello! A big thank you to Allison for buying my second book Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan and your support is appreciated.

The second half hadn’t been going long when Leeds took the lead with a shot from the edge of the area from Hernandez. Sadly this lead only lasted a few minutes as once again down our left hand side, we left a Reading player in acres of space and they were able to equalise. Whitby John stood next to me thought I’d lost the plot when I looked at the scoreboard and said, oh it says 2-2, when did we score two? I’ll blame it on the early morning start and tiredness, having forgotten our first half goal even though I’d taken a photo of the scoreboard at 2-1!  Silly me! We did come close a few times with the post getting in the way of a goal for us plus Alisoki brought a great save from their goalie although I thought we grew into the game as a team. We still had some worrying defensive mishaps but at least they didn’t score a third. I felt slightly disappointed that the game ended quietly but it was a point rather than a defeat which I’ll take as a positive.  One of our young fans took a chance at the end of the game getting Hernandez’s shirt and my heart was in my mouth when I saw it!

Once again, a big thank you to all the fans who wanted their photos taken today and say they read my blog. As always, I do this as a fan for the fans! We had a great run back to Leeds only to look like we were being diverted once again as the M1 was shut at Barnsley. Luckily we got there just before it was completely shut and ended up getting back onto the carriageway and on our way. That was a relief and despite sleeping a lot of the way home as well as many others, getting home sooner rather than later was a bonus!

With Sheffield Wednesday at home next Saturday, I want to get in to Leeds as early as possible as I want to renew our season tickets first. A glutton for punishment that’s for sure, but even if this season does turn out to be a big disappointment on the pitch; hopefully things in the background will now have stabilized. I’m positive that things have been a mess but we need stability to move on in the right direction. Mistakes have been made and the club should never take our support for granted, because we have been beyond loyal despite everything that has gone on in the past 15 years!  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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Leeds United v Wolves 7th March 2018 at Elland Road

I was on BBC Radio Leeds this morning before heading to work. I was asked how many points I would give Heckingbottom out of 10 since he has been here. Maybe I surprised myself and did him a disservice, but I said none although I did say he could have a point after our recent win! I wanted the team to go out and fight tonight as it was a last chance saloon for many fans.

After a full on day at work I felt like I had a thick head and was looking forward to taking my mind off things as I headed to Elland Road with my daughter Dani and granddaughter Hannah. After arriving just after 7.00 pm having had a good run there, we called in the Peacock first. A girl from Ireland was attending her first game here today and also Peter from Australia was attending his first ever Leeds game at Elland Road. After seeing our defeat and the way we lost at Boro, I was hoping for better things. A big thank you to Peter for buying my second book Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan and as always, thank you for the support which is appreciated.

The team was Bailey Peacock-Farrell (playing his first game for a couple of years), Berardi, Jansson, Cooper, Anita, Forshaw, Sacko, Saiz, Lasogga, Dallas and Phillips. Subs were Pennington for Cooper (went off injured 36), Hernandez for Sacko (46) and Ekuban for Lasogga (73). Attendance was 26,434 with approximately 1,250 Wolves fans. Leeds lost the game 3-0.

All we want as Leeds fans is to see the team giving 100% and take pride in wearing a Leeds United shirt. After the diabolical display at Boro we didn’t start the game very well at all despite having the first attack of the game and their goalie made a save. After approximately 15 minutes we started fighting for the ball and looked up for it. We got a corner and then wasted it with a silly short one that ended up with us losing the ball. A weak link was down the left hand side as Wolves attacked the Kop end with Anita and Sacko not combining well at all. Anita was either out of position and beaten time after time and Sacko at one time was stood in the middle of the pitch leaving their man on his own on the wing in front of the East Stand. By the time he had woken up, their player had the ball in acres of space and set up another Wolves attack. We had Peacock-Farrell to thank for not being at least three goals down in the first 20 minutes! We were at sixes and sevens all over the pitch and I’ve no idea who was supposed to be marking who, as wave after wave of Wolves attacks showed them in loads of space, time after time. We weren’t closing them down at all and it was no surprise that they scored taking the lead. The Leeds fans had been trying to up the tempo once again, getting behind the team but then everyone had the stuffing knocked out of them when Wolves took the lead. With Peacock-Farrell denying them a second goal I was hopeful we would be able to get something out of the game. Lots were hoping for an upset against the top of the table team but that took a dive when they got their second goal just before half time. After a great save from Peacock-Farrell they were first to the rebound scoring their second goal of the game. My only disappointment was just before they scored the South Stand kept hold of the ball and wouldn’t let it come back into play. Now if we were a few goals to the good, that may be an opportune time to waste a bit of time, but sadly for us by the time we got the ball back into play we were a second goal down as Wolves went straight down to the Kop end and scored!

At the start of the second half I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go back up and watch the game, although I knew that I would as I always stay until the bitter end! Hernandez came on for Sacko and although the team tried we were really out of our depth and showed what a gulf there was between the two teams. We had a shot from Lasogga on target and a couple of other chances but apart from that we were very poor. When Wolves got a third when they lobbed Peacock-Farrell when he came out of his area that was it game over once again. Although that was a mistake from our young goalie, he was actually my man of the match as he pulled off some great saves, despite being let down from the players in front of him. What more can I say as we ended with another 3-0 defeat. I told Hannah that being a Leeds United fan is character building because it teaches you how to be a good loser! I don’t know about the good part but it is something we as Leeds fans have had to get used to over the years. At the moment things are as bad as I’ve seen them for a long time after such high hopes at the start of the season. There seems to be a lot that is wrong in the background and although I can’t pinpoint anything with proof, a lot of fans have turned on the role Orta has in the club. Even listening to Heckingbottom on BBC Radio Leeds after the game he said that things are different at our club. What I will say is that I don’t think we are fit enough! I’ve no idea what the goal keeping coach has been doing where Wiedwald was concerned, as things never improved over the season. As for the free kick specialist, I cannot for the life of me see any improvements on that score either!

Where do we go from here? With season ticket renewals out at the moment, I know I will renew ours although I am waiting for the paper copies to arrive. I do think the club have made a big mistake bringing them out so early and also the fact that any season ticket holders who bought the half ones at Christmas or one for the first time, have not been looked at the same as us long term season ticket holders. In the past if you bought a season ticket at the higher rate as a new holder once renewals came about they got the same price as us. Sadly this will definitely affect fans renewing plus also the very poor displays of late will impact greatly on these I feel.

Onto Reading on Saturday, it is once again a case of going through the motions as a Leeds United fan, enjoying the day out with our fans and trying to forget the 90 minutes in between. It is a coping mechanism that works for me as I forget how bad we are once I’ve slept on things. Will we get a win anytime soon, who knows, but as we slip down the table to 13th my aspirations of top two for this season are well and truly gone. See you 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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Middlesbrough v Leeds United Friday 2nd March 2018 at The Riverside Stadium

Well what an end to the week with horrendous weather from the Beast from the East which saw heavy snow hit the north of England and Scotland. Storm Emma headed south yesterday and caused further havoc. In amongst these was a football game that was taking place tonight at Middlesbrough. Will it be on? Will it be postponed? Those questions were doing the rounds but I knew that this would be played despite the conditions, as it was being televised for Sky. I did think a decision would be made today as long as there was no more snow which turned out to be the case. Whilst I’m happy the game was going ahead especially when I was on my way there, I had a lot of sympathy for those fans with tickets in the sellout away end that can no longer go due to the snow. Our Bournemouth Whites, South Wales Whites, Bristol Whites to name a few have been unable to travel now which is a shame and I feel for them. I’m not sure if Inverness White got down either as everything he was trying was getting cancelled but it was good to see our Lincolnshire Whites able to make it. We had Peter flying over from Canberra, Australia to see his first Leeds game with help from David who met him in Australia so I’m hoping to catch up with him at the game. Whilst it may be a consolation that the game is being screened live, there is still no better feeling than watching a game in person and being amongst other Leeds fans! As I’d found out I wasn’t in work this morning after all, at least it meant I could have a leisurely trip over to Leeds instead of a mad dash after work to get there for the coach.

Everyone met up in The Peacock where the Shropshire Whites had stopped for a quick pint before carrying on their way.  When I took a photo of them one of them said that every time I take a photo of them we lose; something tells me he was right!  That’s it lads tell me to go away next time please!! We heard that many fans had already arrived at the ground after a good trip so hopefully our journey will be the same. We were picking some fans up at Green Hammerton then heading straight to the ground and after a police escort arrived there at 7.00 pm. We also heard there’d been some trouble in Middlesbrough itself before the game and our coach was showered with snowballs on arrival. I wasn’t looking forward to the cold and looked like Michelin man with that many layers of clothes on. The wind was going to be the worst thing and outside the turnstiles it certainly was blowing a gale. I felt sorry for our stewards who had been out in that from 4.00 pm. At least it looked like we would be sheltered inside as the wind was hitting the stand we were in.

After putting my flag up it was nice to see Simon one of our Southern fans had made it after many hours of travelling. I then went back downstairs to find Peter our Canberra White and David, what was really nice, was to be presented with a T-shirt especially for me. Peter reads my blog every week in Australia as I share the posts on Facebook and this time he will find he is part of it too. Cato from Norway was there too.

The team today was Wiedwald, Anita, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas, O’Kane, Phillips, Lasogga, Saiz and Alioski. Subs were Forshaw for Alioski (46) Vieira for Phillips (46) and Ekuban for O’Kane (68). Leeds lost 3-0 with the attendance 27,621 and 2,921 Leeds fans.

The snow started coming down again as we kicked off but at least we had arrived safely, I’d worry about getting home afterwards. If we got back to Elland Road okay at least McDonalds was open for 24 hours! Luckily the snow didn’t stick and everything turned out fine from that point of view.

From a footballing point of view, this performance was a total disgrace. No passion, no commitment, no trying, no nothing. It looked like players were square pegs in round holes once again and I’ve no idea what formation we were using. Neither did the players from the look of it! We were being run through time and time again and to be honest I’m surprised it took 31 minutes for them to score their first. Things were that bad that I don’t think we even had a shot on target. Apart from a free kick there was very little to talk about amongst ourselves. This was made even worse when they scored a second goal just before half time and nearly got a third.

Talking to others at half time, we all could accept a defeat but what we couldn’t and wouldn’t accept was the laying down and dying. Just because it was cold, that was no reason for the team not to turn up. The fans as usual had done their bit, getting behind them and singing all the time. Even all those hardy souls taking off their shirts and being bare chested put more effort in than the team! Those fans whose coach and relief coach broke down on the way to the game only got there at half time to find we were already two goals down.

The second half saw Forshaw (who missed the game last week as his wife was giving birth) and Vieira come on. Forshaw playing against his former club was the only one who stood out even though he was only playing for 45 minutes. To be honest the half carried on where we left off, being poor and not looking like we could score in a month of Sundays! I feel Anita isn’t good enough for us and there is something about the way he runs / his stance that I cannot stand. In fact he reminded me of Gregan in that way as I couldn’t stand his stance either! As much as I’ve stuck up for Wiedwald in the past and despite the fact we only have Bailey Peacock-Farrell to challenge him due to Lonergan’s injury, he has to lose his place in the team. I could go on because for once I felt there were no positives to take from this game. As much as I said we’d win and get something out of the game to push on for the play offs, the reality is much different. We are light years away from having a settled side that can challenge for the Premiership. All the hope and stuffing was knocked out of me today and I have to accept that this season is over for us. What makes it stand out as a bad defeat, was this day was the anniversary of our League Cup win in 1968, when we did have a team to be proud of! When we went three goals down I know fans were upset, but smashing seats does no one any good least of all us. I challenged a young lad telling him to pack it in and to give him his due he did stop. However the older chap with him and others took exception to me having a go at him and wagged his finger at me. I said that it reflects badly on us all and I will stand by that. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but causing damage is something I hate.

I went down to get my flag on 80 minutes and it was nice to be offered help by the Boro stewards to take it down. I stayed there for the last few minutes and chatted to a fan who said he worked with Boro fans. He follows me on Twitter and reads my blog so is another one who will find himself in it. I’d also had a fan stood near my seat who reads my blog so it is nice to know as it makes it worthwhile, even though I keep falling asleep whilst writing this up! Another thing that was pointed out was Leeds need to ditch the black kit on an evening as they blended in too much with the crowd. No wonder they couldn’t pass the ball between them!

As I reminisce of the past once again, my first ever visit to Middlesbrough was to Ayresome Park for Bill Gate’s Testimonial in May 1974. A dozen of us went up on the train changing at Darlington and to say that we hadn’t played them before or not for a long time, I couldn’t believe the hostility of their fans. That was something that got worse every time we went there and along with Maine Road were the worst grounds to visit as a Leeds United fan. I even left a game at 4.15 pm at Ayresome Park one year as the trouble was that bad. These episodes in the seventies are all recorded in my first book Follow Me and Leeds United for those fans who want to find out what we as a fan group had to put up with to follow our team.

As we have Wolves at home to look forward to on Wednesday, hopefully the weather will have warmed up so it won’t affect the fans travelling to Elland Road. This really is the last chance saloon for the team to show they can perform but there will have to be wholesale changes. Give our youngsters the chance to shine and show what they can do as they certainly can’t do any worse than that performance, if you can call it that, tonight.  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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Leeds United v Brentford 24th February 2018 at Elland Road

As we set off for Elland Road today, despite how cold it was, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. In my eyes this was a perfect setting for playing football in. When we got into the Peacock I said that I was expecting a win today seeing that we had been beaten and had two draws since Heckingbottom came to Leeds. As always, I go to games with an open mind and wait and see how things pan out on the pitch. A lot of Leeds players have come in for criticism recently on social media due to errors made which meant we conceded goals.  Whilst I can understand the frustrations I am hopeful that many players will be able to turn things around. I feel our fitness has been lacking and maybe the training methods will change now. Despite Wiedwald being on the receiving end of this too, I feel that with proper coaching he can turn things around too even if my views are in a minority. Being able to communicate with his defence, together with being able to come for a ball comfortably at corners will make a heck of a difference to his game.

As we were walking into the ground it was nice to catch up with Andy who I hadn’t seen for a while and his friend. He mentioned us turning up to see Jimmy Armfield at his house in Blackpool in the seventies and whether I remembered it. I certainly did and said I’d shared the photo I’d taken at the time of Andy, Carole, Linda and Jimmy with the Blackpool Gazette on his recent death.

The team today was Wiedwald, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Anita, Saiz, Alioski, Lasogga, O’Kane, Phillips and Dallas. Subs were Ekuban for Lasogga (73), Sacko for Dallas (83) and Vieira for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Cooper (31). Attendance was 28,428 with 539 Brentford fans.

The first 30 minutes saw Leeds on the receiving end of pressure for a lot of it. Our passing was poor whereas Brentford’s was very good with their players often in loads of space. By giving them the ball all the time it contributed to us not getting going in the right direction. The referee once again showed his true colours when he booked Anita for his first foul following this up by booking Alioski. Now admittedly Alioski went for a header and his arm was out but I’m positive there was very little contact, not that you could tell as their player fell down as if he’d been hit by a missile! As he got up very quickly after the booking I would say that the referee was conned. Unfortunately once the referee had shown his true colours by just talking to their player when he fouled us just after this, he didn’t get any better. We had Wiedwald to thank for keeping us in the game when he made a superb save to deny them the opening goal.

We eventually got a free kick on the left hand side of the pitch and I said that we needed to make the most of this. With a fantastic cross from Alioski’s free kick, Cooper headed the ball into the net to put Leeds into the lead. Possibly against the run of play but even though Brentford had lots of possession they hadn’t scored. I’d said once we got a goal it would take the pressure off us a bit and it did. We started to play with Saiz stepping up, showing how we’ve missed having him in the team working well with Alioski before Lasogga’s shot was saved by their goalie. It was nice going in at half time in the lead.

The second half saw the officials really rile the Leeds fans up by being the twelfth and thirteenth men for Brentford.  The linesman in front of the East Stand surpassed himself. After seemingly never up with play and always giving Brentford the benefit of the doubt with offside in the first half, he had no problems using his flag this half. His decision of one, inches into the opposition half was just baffling. Both he and the ref missed a blatant arm around Saiz that pulled him back and said play on. The worst was when Saiz passed the ball out to Lasogga who was bearing down on our goal with just their goalie in his sights when we realised instead of giving us advantage, he pulled us back for a free kick! It really does seem like their own personal feelings take over from their professional judgements because once again the officials are not treating both teams on a level playing field.

Prior to that chance we did put some lovely play together with Saiz, Alioski (he did a lot of running today) and Lasogga who was unlucky not to score. I hadn’t felt worried that Brentford would score as it looked like we had worn them down, but when they got a free kick just outside our penalty area in the last minutes, my stomach churned a little bit. There were gasps as Wiedwald made the save but probably more because he punched it out and we were able to close them down enough for the rebound shot to go over.

Back to winning ways for the first time with Heckingbottom but I’d also forgotten that it was our first win since Boxing Day. We can build on this and need to go to each game just getting as many points as we can. As I said last week, you never know and I will still stay positive. It was nice to bump into the Norwegian Whites on my way back to the car so got a customary photo.

At this moment of writing my blog I am hearing sad news that a Leeds fan was knocked down after the game after pushing a young child out of the way. Until this is clarified I am not going to speculate on what happened and how he is as there are different versions and I wouldn’t want to spread any wrong news. It does put things into perspective though.

Onto Middlesbrough on Friday night for another televised game. I will be going straight from work and I’m sure that will be so for a lot of our fans. With the snow forecast for this week, as long as it doesn’t affect our travel arrangements I will be happy as I really don’t like driving in it if I can.  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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Derby County v Leeds United at Pride Park 21st February 2018

For once this game worked in my favour as the holiday period timed in with me not being at work this week. Arriving at Elland Road in time for the coach departure I headed for Billy’s bar but then did an about turn after seeing they had some new bags in the club shop window. Having been looking for one that is slightly larger than the one I have which will fit my flag and books in, they had just the thing. I then retraced my steps only to find Billy’s bar shut when for some reason I thought it would be open but everyone had congregated in the Peacock anyway. Despite heavy traffic most of the way, we seemed to arrive in Derby in no time at all. I think I fell asleep whilst on the M1 and woke up at the ground so it was no wonder it felt like a quick trip. It looked like the turnstiles weren’t even open so initially we didn’t want to get off the coach but it wasn’t long before the lights came on so we went straight into the ground. On our way to the turnstiles the Leeds United photographer stopped us for a photo so for once I was on the receiving end of one. After a bit of banter with a Leeds fan saying I didn’t get to many games he got his photo taken by me. When I went through the turnstiles the steward who checked my bag questioned me when I said I was an author and my books were in my bag. She was very impressed when I showed them to her and it was nice to get the praise for writing them which was appreciated.

I managed to get my flag put up in a good spot at the top of the stairs then went to talk to Nikki and companion as well as Rita her dog. We had a good chat before I went back downstairs, chatting to other Leeds fans before the game. The next thing Derby fans started banging on the partition between the stands before a Leeds fan responded doing the same. He got escorted away by another Leeds fan to save him getting into trouble as Leeds fans let them know we were there by singing. I’d said my scarf had been washed so I hoped to have got rid of all the bad luck and rubbish that had been happening recently. I was going to be positive instead. I was trying hard not to be superstitious, but I remember with our 29 game unbeaten run in the seventies my scarf only got washed when we were beaten at Stoke, as not washing it kept our run going. Although that was opposite to my thoughts today, old habits die hard in one sense. When I eventually got to my seat, guess who had forgotten the game was live on Sky even though I’d seen the camera below us? As daft as it is, I didn’t twigg for ages that that was the reason for the camera being there so there’s no hope for me really lol!

The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi and Cooper (both back from suspension), Jansson, De Bock, Vieira, Hernandez, Lasogga, Roofe, Dallas and Forshaw. Subs were Saiz (back from suspension since Newport) for Roofe (54), Phillips for Vieira (62) and Alioski for Hernandez (76). Leeds drew 2-2 with goals from Lasogga (34) and Alioski (79). Attendance was 27,944 with 3,152 Leeds fans. 

I didn’t know what to expect today but the Leeds fans immediately got behind the team and sang for the whole game. It had been ages since this happened at an away game but it carried on from Sunday’s home game against Bristol City. What I did see from the team despite being under the cosh for a lot of the first 30 minutes was some fight in them. We could have been three goals down and out of the game but as we rode our luck, I hoped it would be a good omen. It was even better when against the run of play Cooper put over a fantastic cross from the left hand side of the field near his penalty area over to Dallas on the right. His perfect cross for Lasogga to head the ball into the net put Leeds into the lead and sent the celebrating Leeds fans into raptures. This was the first time we had taken the lead for a while I think. The game had been very fast and we’d had a lot of defending to do as Derby carried on with the pressure. Just when we thought we could go into half time in the lead as another attack ended with a rebounded shot being flagged for offside, unfortunately we let Derby in with an equaliser. They sent a high ball into the area which Cooper got to but sadly the ball came backwards to a Derby player just in front of our goal giving Wiedwald no chance. That was disappointing but at least it was 1-1 and there weren’t in the lead.

At the start of the second half we were under the cosh once again and I said we needed to change it. Luckily Heckingbottom saw what I did and Saiz came back for his first game since he was sent off at Newport for spitting. Immediately he made a difference as we started attacking, playing some nice passing between us and upping the tempo. There was a lot of end to end play from both teams as we were caught out of position having to race back to cover when an attack broke down. For a neutral fan it was a good advert for football as when we had attacked they responded by counter attacking. It also meant the game passed by really quickly and didn’t drag. When Alioski came on, the lad next to me said he’d have to do something and I replied saying he would as he’d got Saiz back and they played well together. Sure enough it wasn’t long before Saiz put Alioski through and although their goalie saved his initial shot he headed in the rebound to send Leeds into the lead once again and the Leeds fans into exuberant celebrations! At that point it looked like we might steal the win as droves of Derby fans streamed to the exits. As the Leeds fans sang, is there a fire drill it didn’t stop loads of their stands emptying as the incredible noise coming from the Leeds fans continued. Unfortunately for us, plus it shows you shouldn’t leave the game until the final whistle blows, Derby got an equaliser in injury time again. That was such a shame for us as it would have been good to get the away win and three points. Still, that has to be one of the best fighting spirited games we have played there and getting a point should be seen as a good result, especially as we have never played well at their new ground. The Baseball ground is another matter as we had some good results there in the past. Those of us who remember going there in the Pop side, will also remember that horrible narrow ginnel all the Leeds fans would be sent down at the end of the games there. Thousands of us crammed into a narrow space, it’s surprising that more than not we ended up unscathed from that experience!

When I got back to the coach it was good to meet up with a Leeds fan from India who was with the Thames Valley Whites. At least he got into the game this year after apparently being denied entry in with the Leeds fans last year as they didn’t agree he’d come to watch Leeds! How anyone can do that is beyond me especially with the worldwide support Leeds United have!

Take a bow Leeds United fans as our atmosphere was brilliant tonight, getting behind the team all game plus we don’t need a drum! Seeing social media after the game there were a lot of unhappy Leeds fans because we didn’t get the win and blaming players etc. What I will say is that normally this would have been a good result but because games are running out for us, fans are up in arms that it wasn’t three points. From my point of view though the season isn’t over yet, things can still change and I haven’t given up as yet. My positives after our recent bad run are that we have shown if we give Lasogga the right service he will score, we scored two goals away from home and did take the lead twice. We can build on this and if the fans remain the twelfth man until the end of the season, maybe, just maybe, we can sneak into that final play-off spot. See you at Elland Road on Saturday for the Brentford game. LUFC – Marching on Together! 

The atmosphere in the Leeds end after Alioski’s goal in the 79th minute captured by me

My end of game comments – sorry for the quality today on my new phone

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Sporting Memories and Follow Me and Leeds United

Book preview link on Sporting Memories

Leeds United v Bristol City at Elland Road Sunday 18th February 2018

After a week of feeling lethargic, irritable and generally not feeling well, it was a relief when my daughter Dani said she’d drive us to the game today. With it being a silly kick off time of 4.30 pm courtesy of our usual change for showing the game live on Sky TV, we called in at the White Rose Centre on our way there. Once parked up at the ground I left Dani and Laura my granddaughter in the car so she could have a sleep. I felt that way myself but after a Costa to give me some energy I headed to the Peacock.

When I got into the pub there was a surprise in store with an atmosphere already in place probably due to the amount of time some fans had already spent in there. Although some of the songs weren’t to my taste it was very loud and I hoped this would transfer on to the terraces. We need to be the twelfth man as that always makes a difference.  I’d already forgotten that this would be Hecky’s first home game and it seemed so long ago since his first game at Sheffield for some reason. It would also show how the rest of the season would go today, having already been written off by many fans which was unsurprising really. As I stood at the bar I was talking to Kev and Karen who asked if I had any photos of my friends and I walking about with our flags outside the ground, from our early days of following Leeds. As soon as I showed them the front cover of my book Follow Me and Leeds United they bought my book and as usual I am very grateful for their support.  Also my appreciation goes to those fans who thanked me for sharing my blog and photos as they look forward to reading it. Those little things actually mean a lot and make it worthwhile for me.

There had been a lot of complaints about the cost of the tickets for the Bristol supporters today and whilst I agree they should be cheaper, I want to praise the loyalty of the Leeds support. We had our loyal fans travelling from Bournemouth which they do every game along with the Devon Whites. We had some of our Norwegian fans in attendance as usual and some fans putting in great amounts of efforts just to get to the game. Norwich to Leeds via Portsmouth and a taxi to London from Farnborough as no trains ran early enough for the 8.00am coach to Leeds plus a Leeds fan travelling from Inverness for the game were some I could name.  I could go on as there will be many more who deserve the accolades too.  I also want to give a big shout out to a good friend of mine Gary Edwards for his 50 years of not missing a consecutive competitive game following Leeds United. That is a fantastic achievement and I know there are a few more fans who are nearing that record too. As a fanatical Leeds supporter I know the efforts our fans go to when following our team and I don’t think there are any other fans who can touch us!

By the time I headed into the ground I felt a lot better. As one fan stopped me to thank me for my blog, another one stopped to talk to me. He knew I took the photos but he had no idea of the lengths I go to by writing my reports too. The game ahead of us today was a discussion with another fan. We both take each game as it comes and I will make my judgement on what I see happening on the pitch. After getting my usual photos as the teams came out I headed to my seat to see what we had to come as the game kicked off.

The team today was Wiedwald, De Bock, Jansson, Pennington, Anita, Hernandez, Dallas, Lasogga, Ekuban, Forshaw and O’Kane. Subs were Sacko for Dallas (64), Roofe for Ekuban (64) and Phillips for O’Kane (73). Attendance was 28,004 with 536 Bristol City fans. The game ended in a 2-2 draw with Lasogga (72) and Roofe (80) scoring for Leeds.

Well once again all I can say is the first half was painful, very painful in fact. We got the first shot in and when the ball came back to the Kop end which we were defending, I just said that we had not to concede first at any cost. I suppose once again that I should have kept that big gob shut because within 16 minutes we were two goals down, with the Elland Road faithful shocked to the core. Not again as I shook my head. The first goal conceded was Wiedwald’s fault as he missed the cross completely and then was out of position as Bristol slotted the ball into the net. The second one was an own goal from O’Kane, although I didn’t see how that one went in. We had failed to defend from the long throws, effectively gifting Bristol the lead. As someone pointed out we had conceded 10 goals in recent home games which was a terrible stat to have. Although the atmosphere had started well on the terraces, this knocked everyone for six. It wasn’t long before the players were getting jeered for example Wiedwald when he caught a ball, Pennington after kicking the ball out of play as frustrations began taking over on the terraces. The play was that bad in the first half I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing once again and just kept shaking my head. Laura did the best thing and lay across the seats and went to sleep! Wiedwald did make amends later on when he made a great save to prevent the game being put beyond us. We did have a shot across goal that just missed Ekuban I think putting it into the net to pull one back. With us two goals down at half time the team went off to loud boos from around the ground. I had my coping mechanism head on and tried to push how bad we’d been to the back of my mind. I wasn’t the only one who thought it had been painful either!  We are on the same wavelengths some of us that’s for sure!

Downstairs we had our usual meet up behind the betting desk which created a laugh with some lads. All of a sudden I saw Trampas there too so had a chat to him. We were discussing the Bremner stones we had both been brought and one lad said he was going to be doing the laying of the stones around Billy’s statue. It was only as I said my name that one of the lads realised I was the one who wrote the blogs that he reads all the time! At least many of those who spoke to me today about liking my blogs will find their photos included in this one!

As we went back into the stand for the second half, Carole said that the last time we had a comeback it was as soon as we got back to our seats. We were discussing scores, I said 3-2 and the lad next to me said 4-2 and we also had a 4-3.  I don’t think at that point anyone thought we would score but we were hoping that Hecky’s half time talk would have had an effect on the team. As it was it took time for us to get to grips with the second half. We also had Wiedwald to thank for keeping us in the game. When a double substitution of Sacko and Roofe was made for Dallas and Ekuban, I felt underwhelmed. Although I did say that I preferred Roofe as an impact sub rather than playing for 90 minutes the good thing I thought was he was playing upfront. As the frustrations with the fans were starting to creep onto the terraces once again, we showed the world why we have the best fans in the world. A bit of gallows humour took place with us singing Leeds are going up and then cheering the ref actually giving us a free kick. As the noise picked up we started a fantastic WACCOE (We are the Champions, Champions of Europe) all around the ground and an equally as loud Marching on Together ringing out loud and proud! I thought if this didn’t pick the team up by us being the twelfth man then nothing would. As Hernandez got the ball, instead of passing out to the wing where I expected it to go, he whipped the ball across to the far post where Lasogga got his foot to it and put it into the net to pull a goal back. I was made to eat my words (which I didn’t mind) when Roofe got to the ball first to score our second goal to equalise. Cue immense relief around Elland Road as the frustrations turned to celebrations. You could see Bristol wilting at this moment in time and is why I would love to see 90 minutes of singing and chanting regardless of what is or is not happening on the pitch.

Leeds were very unlucky not to win the game with the last kick when Lasogga nearly got a second goal when his attempt came back off the crossbar and was cleared. What a winner that would have been if it had gone in although I did capture the second goal on my recording. The second half papered over the cracks but we did show a fighting spirit that needs to be there for the full 90 minutes and not 45. Whilst the booing isn’t nice and not something I joined in with, fans are still entitled to make their own minds up. What happens or doesn’t happen on the pitch will always mean fans have different views whether I agree with them or not, although I don’t agree with telling other fans of ours to go and support someone else. Sorry Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan regardless.

I would also like to say that being Leeds can be very special which is what this second half showed today. Experiencing this atmosphere and support was phenomenal, going from gallows humour to a fantastic noisy support in minutes to completely change the game! I’m always proud to be a Leeds fan though.

One downside today was when I heard about a Leeds fan turning on another in a cowardly way because they objected to how they supported our team, all I can say is shame on you. That isn’t what being Leeds is all about and I will never condone that sort of behaviour.

With our away game at Derby on Wednesday before our home game against Brentford on Saturday, this could still be a make or break week for us.  I still live in hope that we can rescue this season although a lot can depend on the other teams around us. I never bother looking at other teams results though so have no idea half of the time what is going on around us. Talking of not knowing things, in the recording I was doing near the end of the game I couldn’t even remember who scored first or second for us!  My memory is terrible but at least I can laugh at myself! 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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Caught the action with Roofe’s equaliser!

Selby Times Interview – 8th February 2018 – The Sleeping Giant Awakens 2016-17

Sheffield United v Leeds United 10th February 2018 at Bramall Lane

Well it’s certainly never dull being a Leeds United fan after another week of sacking our manager and getting another one in. I know I was wavering last week after the defeat against Cardiff but I so wanted to see stability and things work out and knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. The lad stood next to me at the Cardiff game had said make sure you get a photo of Christiansen as it will be his last game. On hearing on Sunday evening that Thomas Christiansen had been sacked, it was a case of here we go again. Social media went nuts with the news, with lots of fans glad that he had gone whereas I was sad that it had to end like this once again. One thing I will say thanks to Christiansen for is the great start to the season that we had. There was some fantastic football played and it was such a shame we couldn’t keep going that way.

Monday saw the leaking of names as our next manager with Grayson, McClaren, Stam and Hughes to name a few being bandied around. Whilst I like Simon Grayson and thought he should have stayed at the time he was sacked, I don’t think going back was an option. I didn’t want any of the others either. The next name to come out in public, Paul Heckingbottom the manager of Barnsley, left me feeling very underwhelmed. Having recently played them at Oakwell and seen comments he made about hating us, that didn’t go down well with me plus the fact he had only seen one win in 16 games whereas Christiansen had not won in 10 games. It didn’t make sense to me.

I deliberately stopped looking at all the comments from fans as there were many with the same opinion as me.  Others were saying he was a young manager and he’d been fighting a bit of a losing battle at Barnsley with his best players being sold. I actually felt so down and the worst I’ve felt as a Leeds fan for a long, long time.  My best option was to sleep on things as they never seem so bad afterwards. He was indeed signed as our next manager so now he is here I have no option but to get behind him as I always do. As the week went on I only really listened to what he had to say after Adam Pope interviewed him on Thursday and I’ll admit he did come across well, plus it was easy to understand another Yorkshire accent! I don’t want to jinx anything but I am hoping that he does indeed manage to turn things around for us. He will have to hit the ground running as proof will be in the pudding for me and with a Yorkshire derby on Saturday against Sheffield, he couldn’t get a better baptism to show what he can do with the team.

Bramall Lane has lots of good and bad memories for me. “We took the Shoreham easy, easy”. That chant will have many memories for Leeds fans who went there in the seventies. We got there early and just went in their end. By the time their fans started to arrive it was full of Leeds fans and they went back out of the stand very quickly and left us to it. The following year the police let a lot of our fans into their end again but then decided to stop the rest of us queuing up outside . As we were all sent to the away end instead, my friend Carole had a horse stand on her foot. Those Leeds fans in the Shoreham that year had a torrid time in their end as they were seriously outnumbered. I was glad I was in the other end but didn’t like seeing all the fighting taking place.  The other good thing was when we won the league there in 1992 where we won 3-2 with some bizarre goals. Liverpool then beat man u in the later kick off and Leeds United became The Last Champions of the old First Division! What a day and what great memories!

Today will be the first game with our new manager once again, Paul Heckingbottom. It was pointed out by some of our fans last week that they didn’t realise the club sponsors of 32Red meant we were actually trying to receive that many red cards throughout the season. They also said they hoped that his surname wasn’t a bad omen and we were going to end up bottom. No………..! It reminded me of when we were relegated with the sponsors Bet24 and we ended up going down. So to make sure it doesn’t happen I’ve decided to go with the name Hecky instead and all I could think of was (H)ecky thump for some reason! I hoped it meant we could thump some goals in.

Joking apart though, I’ve had time to calm down now and will look forward to what the rest of the season has to come. As always the proof will be in the pudding for me and I go by what I see on the pitch in the flesh. As our under 23 side had a great win yesterday, something that seemed to be lacking for most of this season as they built a brand new side, I am looking forward to the first team emulating that score.

Heading off for the dinner time kick off, I am grateful for Em’s taxis this morning. Thanks to my daughter Emily for helping me out as my car has been playing up and needs some tlc today. We got to the ground in plenty of time for the coach and arrived at Bramall Lane in good time for the early kick off. As we pulled up outside the stand I’d seen a shop near it so Sue and I decided as there was a bitter wind to warm up with a Costa Coffee before the game. The female steward who got on the coach prior to us getting off was all for us winning today as she supported the other team in Sheffield.

After a quick chat with some of the stewards outside the turnstiles, I needed to be a contortionist to get through the turnstiles with my bag. Why the heck they make them so tiny I cannot understand. I had to have my bag by my head and came out backwards, at least I got through it but I’m sure one of these days I won’t make it! After putting my flag up by the corner flag and chatting to a few people I went up to my seat but not before seeing Peter Lorimer coming onto the pitch with Tony Currie. It was good to see Peter looking so well as he battles his illness and nice to see him back at a game. It was also the first game in ages that saw Radrizzani back at a game too. With everything going on this week, it wasn’t a surprise. As “you can do magic” by Limmie & The Family Cookin belted out from the tannoy that took me back to the seventies. I hoped it meant we could somehow get something out of this season after all.

The team today was Wiedwald, Dallas (playing right back), Pennington, Jansson, De Bock, O’Kane, Phillips, Roofe, Alioski, Lasogga and Forshaw. Subs were Hernandez for Roofe (45), Sacko for Alioski (75) and Ekuban for Phillips (77). Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Lasogga scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 27,553 with 2,236 Leeds fans.

We couldn’t have got off to a worse start as we were a goal down within a couple of minutes when ex Leeds player Billy Sharp volleyed the ball from the edge of the area straight under the crossbar and into the net. Here we go again came to mind as my heart sank! For a while we were under the cosh and struggling to get a grip on the game. Roofe sadly once again was failing to make an impact, but playing on the wing is a no, no for me. At times it felt like we were playing with 10 men once again as he was that poor and a weak link. After getting an early booking for Forshaw with his first tackle, I also thought another referee showing his true credentials again. We did manage to get a shot on target and Lasogga came close but we struggled to get any momentum going. Roofe went down injured as some fans chanted for Hernandez to come on, but then carried on. He eventually went off just before half time and we were down to 10 men before eventually Hernandez replaced him. I hoped we’d have a more balanced side now as Roofe has been ineffective in my opinion. We were very unlucky to not get back into the game as our free kick came to Jansson clear in the area only for his header to bring a great save out of their goalie to deny us an equaliser.

I went downstairs at half time and when I was asked about what would happen in the second half, I said we had 45 minutes to do something about it and this lad said no chance! As I went back down the steps it was packed with fans and I thought I’d better get back to my seat because if we scored I’d end up at the front of the stand. No sooner had I got back to my seat did we do exactly that. A lovely cross from Hernandez saw Lasogga connect with the ball to head it into the bottom corner of the net to send the Leeds fans behind the goal into raptures! That gave us a heads up and got us back into the game. We did start playing better and battle more as the game went on to give us some hope. We did have a short spell as we grew into the game that saw some great passing and forward play as the players tried to get something out of the game At that time I was hopeful we could go on and get a winner but then we had the wind taken out of our sails once again with them getting awarded a penalty. We were slow off the mark with their free kick and it looked a cast iron penalty from our end as O’Kane took their player down at the other end. I’ve heard plenty of conflicting reports for and against this so would like to look at it again. Wiedwald went the right way but wasn’t able to save Sharp scoring his second goal of the game. This goal ended up being the winner and although I would have taken a draw, this wasn’t to be. Although a disappointing result, there is a lot to be done team wise. As I wondered why Roofe had been given a starting position (I’d have him as an impact sub), I realised that everyone had been given a chance today.

With our next game not until next Sunday with another live game on Sky against Bristol City, Hecky has a lot to do between now and then. Never mind if the players look good on the training pitch, it is how our formation does or does not work on the main field of play that counts. There was the positive of not giving up in the second half but once again we got off to a slow start with conceding the early goal. We have to learn to play for 90 minutes and are fit enough to do that. As the lad behind me said and I agreed, why do we pull all 11 men back into the penalty area to defend a corner? We need to leave someone on the half way line which will take at least a couple of men out of the attack. We also agreed that the best form of defence is attack so if anybody from Leeds United does read this blog, I would be grateful if this message can be passed on to Hecky for me please! As someone who has watched Leeds United for over 50 years and seen the best team ever play for us, I do know what I am talking about in this respect.

We are where we are and there is nothing we fans can do about it apart from support our team. Unfortunately as we are back to square one, it is going to take more time to turn things around. At least if it had to be done, the sacking of Christiansen wasn’t done at the end of the season  because I want to go into next season, fully prepared for it. As some fans are saying the season is over, it is never over until the fat lady sings. What I will say though and why I wrote my last book the Sleeping Giant Awakens, last season was the first one in years where the season wasn’t written off in October! We are now in February and it’s up to the team to stand up and be counted like the fans do week in week out. It’s over to them! See you next week – LUFC – Marching on Together!

My end of game comments today

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017

Cardiff 3rd February 2018 at Elland Road   

Yesterday saw a big gathering of Leeds United Supporters who came together to say goodbye to Eric Carlile. With fans arriving from Norway, East Anglia and Wellingborough and many others, it showed how well respected Eric was for his service of over 50 years to the Leeds United Supporters Club and to our members. With standing room only and people not able to get into the crematorium he got the sendoff he deserved. The amount of fans who first met in the seventies and were there, shows what an incredible fan base Leeds United as a club have. The camaraderie shown yesterday will never be beaten in my opinion. Eric also got a 50th minute applause at the game today by the whole stadium and a big thank you to everyone for showing him the respect he deserved. The game also started with another round of applause showing respect to Jimmy Armfield and had WACCOE ringing out around the stands; thanks for the memories as someone who was in Paris that night and we will always be Champions of Europe. RIP Eric and Jimmy.

It had been snowing all morning and I wasn’t looking forward to the cold but luckily none of it was sticking to the ground. It was a good job because we got as far as Hipperholme when I asked Dani if she’d got her season ticket only for her to realise she hadn’t! She’s definitely her mother’s daughter as I’d done the same a few seasons ago when I’d left our Rochdale tickets at home. At least now with us both doing it and having to go back home I can’t be given any stick now!

I’d got my positive head on today as everyone was writing us off and said we’d win. Even the magpies came out in twos and fives so we thought we were onto a winner!! How wrong could we be sadly? I am feeling very downbeat at the moment and will try and put everything into words but where we go from here I really don’t know. For those shouting for TC to go, I really feel it won’t make a difference whoever is here. I want stability and want continuity to go into next season but I also realise that my aspirations of going up automatically have gone plus possibly even making the playoffs. Although there are still many points to play for I can also see what many fans are saying in that, are we going to get any more at all? My quandary is that I so want my way to work but without a crystal ball to see into the future, sadly only time will tell what will happen next. I do feel this will be the last 30,000 + crowd too for this season as I know as well as many walking out before the end, some fans left at half time.  I always stay to the bitter end ever since in the early seventies when I missed a cracking goal by Peter Lorimer plus I like to see things in person to make my judgements. It feels like I did that with a heavy heart today though.

The team today was Wiedwald, Jansson, Pennington, Berardi, De Bock. Forshaw, Vieira, Hernandez, Alioski, Lasogga and Roofe. Subs were Dallas for Jansson (who was carried off on a stretcher) (30), Sacko for Lasogga (73) and Grot for Vieira (86). Leeds lost the game 4-1 with an own goal from Bamba. Attendance was 30,534 with 624 Cardiff fans.

With Neil Warnock and Sol Bamba back against us, I really hoped we could put one over them after getting beaten when we played in Cardiff. The trouble was it was Cardiff who came to bully us off the park and when the ref played on after their first foul on us, he set the tone for the whole game. With them getting the first free kicks they went from strength to strength and within minutes they had the ball in the back of our net in front of the Kop. To be honest it all looked so easy as my heart sank. I thought come on Leeds as we tried an immediate response with a fantastic shot from Lasogga that brought out a great save from their keeper. We also had another great chance with a scramble in their penalty area, which saw them get the rub of the green when Lasogga hit the crossbar and we couldn’t put the ball into the net. After another attack Jansson was left in a heap at the other end of the pitch as Cardiff won another free kick nearer our penalty area. Apparently it was a foul from Bamba that ended with him getting stretchered off. As Dallas came on to replace him I said at least we still had 11 men on the pitch. I should have kept my big gob shut because the ref who showed his real favourable credentials to Cardiff, gave Berardi his marching orders for a second bookable offence. What really gets to me is the fact that some of the Cardiff players did foul after foul and didn’t get booked yet we got the early bookings once again. All I want is a level playing field which unfortunately once again we did not get. Cardiff had already scored a second goal and then just before half time put their third in to give us a mammoth task for the second half.

Talk at half time wasn’t happy but we all thought if they sack TC we will still be in the same boat unfortunately. Knowing it was always going to take time didn’t help either. Could we have another second half comeback? Plus we played better with 10 men so we might as well start with a man down!! (I don’t mean it really). As I was going back up into the stand Soggy from Halifax stopped to talk to me so I was late getting back to my seat and the second half had started, not that I missed anything. My granddaughter followed me a few minutes afterwards and as she went past my seat I lost my balance and nearly went backwards into the row behind me. Luckily for me I managed to right myself but jarred my back in the process!

The 50th minute applause for Eric got to Bamba as he put the ball into our net to pull us a goal back. That was when I got hope that we could do something this half. We did look better as a team in the second half although Roofe looked so far out of it at times it was painful to see. My daughter also wanted to go and pull his socks up as he wears them at half-mast for some reason. We were trying and were at least attacking, but then Christiansen made his second sub where he took off Lasogga and brought on Sacko. I said the only thing I thought of he was looking at both Roofe and Sacko being fast (which he did say on BBC Radio Leeds after the game) but sadly all this substitution did was take the sting out of the game. With Lasogga being the only one who looked likely to score, many fans took their displeasure out on TC by singing “you don’t know what you’re doing”. All that happened was Cardiff got their fourth goal of the game and we were outplayed, outfought and a shadow of the team we saw at the start of the season. What with suspensions, injuries etc our team depth looks terrible so I can understand how lots of fans are reacting to this further defeat. I take each game as it comes and my coping mechanism is forgetting how bad things really are after sleeping on it. That saying today feels completely different and will take more time I feel to see things more positively.

We have an early kick off at Sheffield United to look forward to next week; that’s if we even have a team we can play, as I’ve lost count of who will be available and who won’t!  Hands up those fans on the terraces who want to bring their football boots with, as you may just get a game lol!! See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together.

My end of game comments

 

Eric Carlile’s funeral 2nd February 2018

What a fantastic send off Eric Carlile got today. He was secretary of the Leeds United Supporters Club for 50 years and on the Board of Leeds United for 10 years. Fans came from all over today to pay their respects to a great servant of our club with some from Norway, East Anglia and Wellingborough to name a few.

Some fans I haven’t seen for many a year and it was good to catch up. The frightening thing is that many of us have all grown up together as a group of friends since the early seventies, but you will never get such a fantastic camaraderie as we all have anywhere else.

Rest in Peace Eric, your family are lovely and from your Leeds United family, we will keep Marching on Together!

PS Don’t forget to join us and clap on the 50th minute tomorrow in Eric’s memory!!

Hull City 30th January 2018 at the KCOM Stadium

Well what a week it’s been as a Leeds United fan. Seeing the club launch a new crest that was underwhelming due to it being a Leeds salute, this went down with the fans like a lead balloon. Now don’t get me wrong I love the Leeds salute and it’s something I do all the time, but it is definitely not what I want to see on the club badge. By the time I’d finished work and been on Radio 5 live, a petition was doing the rounds that had nearly 70,000 signatures so I certainly wasn’t the only one who didn’t like it. In the time of my interview it had gone up by 1,000 names. Wow just wow, but when our support works together; we are a force to be reckoned with. I’m also glad to say that the club had a rethink due to the amount of fans against the badge and now it is in our hands, the fans to design the new one. I have seen some fantastic designs on the web and I have to give a mention to Jacko on WACCOE for the ones he has done as they are superb. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

With the funeral of Eric Carlile this week who was a great ambassador for the Leeds United Supporters Club and on the Board of the Club for a while, fans have asked for a 50th minute round of applause to take place at the Cardiff game in memory of him. I hope all Leeds United Supporters club members past and present plus everyone else, will give him the sendoff he deserves.

Another death took place last week too with Jimmy Armfield, our manager who took Leeds to the European Cup Final in Paris in 1975. Jimmy was a lovely person and he said if all fans were like us there would be no problems. We had played man u at Elland Road and their fans had left graffiti all around the ground, well there was no way that was staying! A group of us then borrowed cleaning materials from the grounds man and got rid of it all, so we were well thought of because of that gesture. We also helped Jimmy by getting a petition signed by fans and players of the club; he took this with him to appeal our four year ban from European football which was then reduced to two years. I spoke to Jimmy on the telephone when we last played Blackpool as I’d been asked to deliver a photo of him with his World Cup Winner’s medal. Dave Cocker the son of our old trainer Les Cocker had asked me to deliver this to him and I was happy to oblige. You were a gentleman Jimmy and we will always be Champions of Europe. I feel like part of my youth has gone this last couple of weeks with these deaths, but sadly that is a reality we cannot change.

Tonight saw us head to Hull for the rearranged game due to them still having an F A Cup game last Saturday. I actually had a chilled out weekend for a change as I knew I’d a busy week ahead. Having got up at 5.25 am this morning due to organising a big event at work and despite the early start, it made me feel good when everything went like clockwork. I also got a pat on the back for a new resource I created which received great feedback which was great. I was already falling asleep waiting for the coach to arrive and hoped I’d be wide awake for the game. I thought I’d get some sleep on the way across but we seemed to be there before you knew it. We arrived at 6.20 pm and found the turnstiles weren’t even open so as it was cold, we decided to stay on the coach for a while so I had 40 winks then. 

We went into the ground around 7pm so I headed straight to the front of the stand to hang my flag up. It’s the first time for yonks that I was asked for my fire cert which was in my bag but said that’s the first time in ages I’ve been asked to show it. I had a chat to little Jack from the Worcestershire Whites (I hope I’ve got that right?) and whilst we were stood chatting Jansson took off his kick out racism t-shirt and threw it to Jack. He was chuffed to bits especially when he found out later that Jansson had signed it too; he then went back to find his dad further up the stand.  I’d stayed at the front and one of the Leeds trainers (or the ball collector) came over and shouted to me. He asked me to go and find the lad with the t-shirt, as Pontus had left the orange bib inside it and wanted it back. I went and got it for him and as he came back to collect it, I tried throwing it to him but my throw was very poor and it landed on the floor in between the stand and the advertising hoardings. Luckily he got it back with some of the stewards helping him out. I was very disappointed at the end of the game though when Jansson came to throw his shirt into the crowd but went to the fans behind the goal instead. He could have let me have it for getting him his bib back lol!!

The team today was Wiedwald, De Bock, Berardi, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Alioski, Roofe, Lasogga, Hernandez, Vieira and our new signing Forshaw from Boro making his debut. Sadly we lost Shaughnessy to a serious injury very early on just as I was looking forward to seeing him play in his proper position at centre back. This gave Dallas his chance to get back into the side (5). Our other subs were Sacko for Alioski (86) and Cibicki replacing Roofe just before the end of the game (90). The game finished as a 0-0 Draw. Attendance was 17,237 with 2,097 Leeds fans. 

Hull put us straight under attack and within a few minutes got the better of Shaughnessy who went down injured after he landed awkwardly and ended with him being stretchered off.  Wiedwald was called into action making saves to keep us in the game. From my point of view this was his best game for us as he was also coming off his line and catching the ball a few times. One he did misjudge though when he ended up outside the area, but managed to redeem himself luckily for us. We were actually making Hull look good at times as our passing today was absolutely atrocious. I know we had to make a sub early on, but to say the team had just spent a week in Spain team bonding in the warmth; they looked as if they had never seen each other before! Hernandez and Vieira constantly gave the ball away which constantly put us under pressure. Hernandez did a terrible back pass that we were lucky to get away without conceding a goal. He put Wiedwald into an awkward situation but he managed to get the ball away with their player nearly on his toes. That was a dicey move that could have been prevented by remembering the best form of defence is attack. Roofe looked so lightweight tonight too and to be honest, it’s a good job Hull couldn’t put any of their chances away.

The second half started off more of the same but Leeds did start to get into the game more with some good attacks, but to be fair we didn’t put their goalie under too much pressure. The closest we came to scoring was a powerful shot from Lasogga that went past the post. Alioski had the best chance of the game for us when he got into a fantastic position, only to not connect with the ball and missed it. I thought he had played very well in this second half with some delightful footwork to get past the Hull players along the wing in front of us. A couple of blatant fouls on our players in the second half that the ref let go, made the lad next to me say that you can tell him what you like, but there was an agenda against Leeds United. When our player was literally rugby tackled and thrown to the ground and this was ignored, I can’t blame anyone for coming up with those thoughts. At least Hull were very bad at shooting too as they missed an absolute sitter in the second half but their attempt was probably the miss of the season.

It was a disappointing game and result but I took the positives from it. We didn’t lose, we got a point away from home, Wiewald had his best game for us, De Bock played well and I thought Forshaw had a good start to his Leeds United playing days. Wearing the same number 4 that my hero Billy Bremner wore, I’m hoping that Billy’s never say die attitude will rub off onto him.

Cardiff at home on Saturday is a must win game for us now so nothing but three points will do. 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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Heidi’s video comments at the end of the game

 

Why are Leeds and Millwall so hated? – COPA90 – including interview with Heidi Haigh

Including interview with Heidi Haigh – author of Follow Me and Leeds United

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