Leeds United v Bristol City 24th November 2018 at Elland Road

After a week of feeling up and down and lacking in get up and go, I was woken by my youngest granddaughter Alexis age four, Facetiming me and asking if she could come to the football instead of Laura. Well that melted my heart and jolted me into action. It’s surprising what a little bit of love can do! I was unable to attend the funeral of our oldest Leeds United fan Edna Newton yesterday, but heard she got a great send off with lots of Leeds fans turning up as well as her family. There was also a lovely touch from the club with their wreath which was placed at Billy’s statue after her funeral. With Bremner Square around Billy’s statue now even larger with more stones in place, we headed there straight away and it looks fantastic, with lots of memories for so many fans now.  It was nice to meet up with some fans from the Isle of Man there who regularly read my blogs and they will now have their photo in this one.

On our way to the Peacock, I remembered that someone from work wanted a programme as her dad should be in it. On stopping at Phil Beeton’s cabin, we bumped into some of our Norwegian fans who had come over for the game. When I took a photo, I hadn’t realised at that time it was Phil’s birthday. I hope he enjoys reading my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United season 2017-18 that his wife Chris brought for him as a surprise. I’d had a great surprise during the week when my neighbour Keith had brought 10 of the same book at once. When Tony came up to me as I passed him on Lowfields Road later, he’d said “guess what I got for my birthday?” His son had bought two of my books for him. As usual my grateful thanks go to them for their support. I also caught up with Simon plus some more of our Norwegian fans and Jørn from Denmark in the Peacock.

Leeds had sold out all the tickets for the home support once again for this game. After the international break last weekend, it felt ages since we’d played. With more serious injuries for members of our squad with the broken leg for Blackman plus Jansson and Peacock-Farrell being out, this meant a couple of our youngsters coming into the team today. This was: Will Huffer in goal for his debut, Cooper, Phillips, Dallas, Alioski, Roofe, Forshaw, Klich, Douglas, Aapo Halme making his first appearance at centre back and Hernandez. Subs were: Harrison for Alioski (61), Saiz for Halme (64) and Baker for Klich (82). Leeds won 2-0 with goals from Roofe (69) and Hernandez (86). Attendance was 34,333 with 889 Bristol City fans.

Someone had asked me how I thought we’d play and I said I’d no idea but needed a win. The good thing about Huffer being in goal was that the whole squad including the under 23s are all trying to play the same game, so he should be fine. The first half saw Leeds have a lot of possession but the one thing that wasn’t happening were shots on goal. Their keeper to begin with looked very shaky and I felt that we needed to put him under pressure. Although the game was at a steady pace, I didn’t think Bristol offered too much although they had a good chance when the ball came to one of their players on the edge of the area but his shot was wayward.  We’d had a shot on target and should have done better with at least a couple more. The two young debutants were playing well, doing what they had to do and playing it safe despite a couple of hairy moments. Bristol had a couple of patches putting us under pressure but I thought we coped with them very well. My only fear was that déja vue moment of us having lots of the ball and them breaking away to score, but the score was even as we went in to the break.

The second half started off as it had been left at the end of the first half. I felt that we needed to freshen things up at that time but then the Leeds fans came into their own once more and became the 12th man. The South Stand started with the Klich song “It could be 20 yards or 30 yards, everywhere we go, 40 yards or 50 yards, Klich will score a goal, Klich will score a goal!” With the Kop joining in, this upped the atmosphere and had an immediate effect on the players. Not long after, their player fouled Roofe in the middle of the park and got a deserved booking. The next thing I saw the red card out as he was sent off. I hadn’t realised he’d already been booked and despite his manager saying at the end of the game that the ref had been swayed by the crowd, he deserved to go. The ref had been almost invisible for a lot of the game because for once he let the game flow a lot, well most times! The team upped the tempo and then Bielsa made two subs within a few minutes of each other with Harrison and then Saiz coming on. As someone shouted “we can’t keep trying to walk the ball into the net”, it wasn’t long before we got the goal to put us into a well-deserved lead when Roofe scored from close range. At that time I didn’t expect us to do anything else but win the game. We had a lot of pressure but then Bristol had a spell where they won a couple of corners and attacked us. I didn’t feel worried though because we dealt with the threats before taking the impetus again. After Saiz put a great cross in for Hernandez to head the ball into the net for our second goal, that was it game over. A win and three points were gratefully received thank you.

When the subs were being made earlier, I’ve no idea what was happening with the person putting the numbers up. On one of my photos Bielsa looks to be angry about something so no doubt we’ll find out in due course. Onto our second home game in a few days when we play Reading on Tuesday. Whether any of our injured players come back by then I don’t know, but I’m sure our youngsters will fit in just fine.  See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

West Bromwich Albion v Leeds United 10th November 2018 at The Hawthorns

It was a 5.30 pm kick off that beckoned today but things got off to a bad start when the coaches didn’t turn up on times due to a mix up. I was on coach two today but as coach one got ready to go with our driver from last week, there were reminisces from then when it wouldn’t go! Eventually it did so instead of leaving at 12.00pm we were at least 40 minutes late. Our pub stop in Sutton Coldfield was reduced to 90 minutes where Worksop and Harrogate Whites stopped too. 

It was a long time since I’d visited the Hawthorns and can’t really remember when I was last there.  Games I can remember were Johnny Giles’s testimonial game and also Telford in the FA Cup. I wasn’t there when we were relegated as for two years I only went to home games due to having my first two children. What I can remember though from our early visits, were scores of Leeds fans getting arrested for nothing. Even when we scored and were cheering when we scored a goal, that was the excuse to wade into our fans on the terraces and drag anyone out.

One thing that happened this week corroborated one of my stories in my first book Follow Me and Leeds United. A newspaper cutting shared on my timeline from John Murgatroyd in Harrogate confirmed what I’d written in the book. As I’ve said many a time, everything I’ve written about is true, there is nothing made up and even though it has taken 47 years for it to be confirmed, I wasn’t far off!

“Abbey Coachways ran a coach to the matches at Coventry and Nottingham in 1971. At Nottingham I wore a six-foot scarf that I had made. I was quite naïve to the fact that there may be trouble at matches at this stage. We were followed into Nottingham by a couple of Wallace Arnold coaches. These coaches had a middle door as well as one at the front and Leeds fans kept opening this door and hanging out of the coach. Going back to the coach after the match I hid my scarf under my coat, with a bit of difficulty I might add and probably looked six months pregnant! As I was going across the bridge over the River Trent I was in the middle of all the Forest boot boys who were looking for Leeds fans. It was the first time I had really seen anything like this but I was laughing to myself as I was a Leeds fan in the middle of them and they didn’t know it. Once back on the coach, I began to hear stories from the other fans on my coach about the escapes they’d had. We heard that a Leeds fan had been forced to swim the Trent and another had been stabbed in the back and collapsed onto the steps of a Wallace Arnold coach. How true these stories were can only be confirmed by people who were involved.”

We got to the ground in plenty of time for kick off, but as there was no space for my flag as they wouldn’t let Leeds fans put them at the front due to advertising rights, I left mine in my bag. Before the game started and with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War tomorrow, saw the Last Post played and an immaculately observed minute’s silence take place. 

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Dallas, Alioski, Cooper, Jansson, Douglas, Phillips, Klich, Roofe, Forshaw and Hernandez. Subs were: Roberts for Roofe (66), Harrison for Douglas (73), and Saiz for Klich (78). Attendance was 25,661 with 2,737 Leeds fans. Leeds lost the game 4-1 with Hernandez scoring a late consolation goal (90+2).

I didn’t know what to expect from the game as I didn’t know anything about them apart from them getting relegated last season, including forgetting that Bartley now played for them. As they mentioned he was out injured the realisation hit me. We were under the cosh from the word go so I knew we weren’t in for an easy game and expected them to raise their game as they were playing us. We had a few narrow escapes and Peacock-Farrell was forced into making a good save to stop them from scoring. We had plenty of possession but we didn’t actually do anything with it. No one seemed to want to take charge in midfield and I know we try patient build ups but we kept giving silly passes away and that gave WBA the impetus to attack us. I was happy to get to half time with the score 0-0 and it ended up with the Leeds fans still singing and it being very quiet from the home fans.

I went downstairs at half time as I was hoping to see the Thames Valley Whites with their new flag which was a tribute to the fallen and Armistice Day but sadly I never found them. Speaking to a friend of mine at half time, she said beware of the pavements around West Brom as they jump up and hit you in the face! Things got quite scary as we were trying to get back to our seats at the end of half time. Stewards were blocking the tops of the stairs and wouldn’t let anyone back up in to the stand. As more and more fans came up behind us and we started to get crushed things could so easily have got out of hand with things kicking off when there was no need at all. Luckily they soon saw sense and let us up but that was stupid and irresponsible.

It turned out to be a tale of two halves because within six minutes we were a goal down. From having a penalty appeal turned down, the ball ended up with their player taking on two of ours who hesitated, looking for an offside flag. This was when I realised how strong and big some of their players were. Unfortunately they went on to score. What we had been doing was trying to walk the ball into the net instead of shooting which meant we had very few on target. We did get into a couple of good positions but our shots were wide. For those fans involved, keeping the ball is counterproductive especially as we were losing. Within a few minutes from this, with misplaced passes from us and WBA getting the rub of the green with the ball running in their favour more often than not, they scored again. It did look like Peacock-Farrell was going to save it but unfortunately it looked to go through his hands for their second. I still thought we could get something from the game at that point even though we didn’t really look like scoring. When the ball ricocheted off one of our players straight to theirs to run on and score it was game over. It wasn’t the end though as WBA got a 4th and we were down and out! With that, the Leeds fans came into their own once again and showed what makes me love our support. Those left behind did a great rendition of “We all love Leeds”, over and over again which made Hernandez chip the ball over their goalie to pull one back although too little, too late. As the Leeds fans carried on with the song even after the final whistle, it meant some of our players come straight over to clap us all. As always I’m proud to be a Leeds fan. As I came down the steps and met my daughter Dani she said when Hernandez scored, she was the only one where her seat was just behind the goal, as gaps had appeared all around her when their fourth went in.

There was something kicking off downstairs with the police surrounding some Leeds fans and one lad in particular. Eventually it looked like things had calmed down as he walked past us but then no end of coppers followed him as we carried on past. As we got to the bottom of the walkway and ready to cross the road, some police were getting high and mighty with some Leeds fans although I’d not seen or heard anything out of order. I tried to diffuse the situation for some lads and one said it was his brother with them but the police were being heavy handed when there was no need. I got the lad away and I know he was angry about being pushed around and wanted the number of the one who had pushed him. Unfortunately knowing how bad they could be down there I said it wasn’t worth him getting done for it no matter how angry he was. He did thank us though.  Someone said they knew what was wrong with Leeds; too much breast feeding although I think sleepless nights would be true! I had to laugh at that because with four or five new born babies within the last few weeks, our players’ wives did all the work to begin with! I had some fans blaming Peacock-Farrell for letting the goals in though, but I didn’t agree. Maybe he should have got the second but it was individual errors and bad passing further up the field that caused them to counter attack us. Our failings of not shooting further out and trying to walk the ball into the net proved costly to me today. Hearing Mick Hewitt had taken one of his branch members to hospital today, I hope they are okay and get well soon. 

Back to the drawing board for us today and back to reality as we were shown a lesson in that second half. Men against the boys, but ex premiership money showing.  Whilst I don’t want to go back to silly money for players, there was nobody on the bench who was going to come on and be a match for them in those stakes. With another international break upon us there is no game next week before we return to Elland Road for the Bristol City game. With the rugby game at Elland Road tomorrow, I only hope they don’t damage the pitch and that is one reason why I don’t like having their games at our ground.

Thank you to Jan, Carl, Daniel, Daz and The Masons for buying my new book Back to Reality. Your support is appreciated plus a thank you to those of you who took the time to say you enjoy reading my books and my blog. Speaking of my blog, to hear it has gone as far as China courtesy of Charley from Harrogate, is good to hear and again thanks to him and anyone else who shares my blogs with others. See you against Bristol – LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Wigan v Leeds United 4th November 2018 at the DW Stadium

It seemed such a long time since we’d had a game with this Sunday lunchtime kick off with a large support from Leeds once again heading to Wigan. I surpassed myself this morning by forgetting we were leaving Leeds at 9am; the realisation hit as we were getting ready to leave the house at 7am! As my daughter Dani had stayed the night, we both could have done with an extra hour’s sleep.

I felt there had been a lot in the news this week about Leeds; firstly about Berardi being out for 16 weeks with a hamstring tendon rupture that will heal without surgery.  He must be gutted to be out with another bad long term injury. We also had little Freddie Callaghan from Ireland making his appearance on Soccer AM dressed at Marcelo Bielsa and well done to him. When I first saw his photo appear on Twitter showing him dressed like that for Halloween, I couldn’t get over the likeness to Bielsa! A further thing has been the “Sky TV are f***ing s**t chant which has found itself in the news this week. As many of us have long suspected, our chants are muted when televised which wouldn’t be so bad if it was just these chants not that I sing it personally. When our fans are on song, the atmosphere is out of this world and should not be muted so our worldwide fans can join in with us. There had been a “debate” amongst Leeds fans if you can call it that, on one of the Facebook groups I frequent. The owner of the first comment posted that Leeds fans were hypocritical for singing that when they will have Sky at home. Along with others who said that it affects the travelling support, especially our long distance fans, who have to change their travel arrangements and costs them money, his answer was they still have three weeks before the game to make a booking. As pointed out to him, fans book for the cheapest prices they can and also once they have got a ticket they need to have their travel arrangements sorted. Unfortunately there was no getting through to him, so I left it that the fans who sing it are entitled to their opinion whether they have Sky or not!

I would like to say a big thank you to John for buying all five of my books today so happy reading and I look forward to getting feedback in due course. Evie was made up after buying my first book Follow Me and Leeds United then having her photo taken, so thank you once again. Just a reminder, that autographed copies of all my books are available through me at any game. Follow Me and Leeds United, Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan, The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17 and Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 are all priced at £12.99. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s is £14.99. As Christmas is coming don’t forget these will make great presents for the Leeds United fan in your life. With lots of recollections from my early days of following Leeds to the latter two books depicting the last two seasons travelling home and away with Leeds, there are plenty of stories that will resonate with our great support. With lots of photos in them, you may even find yourself in one! Our stop today was in Leyland again which was packed with Leeds fans plus a few Man City ones before we made our way to the ground. I was to meet Phil Thumbsup Cresswell there who was buying my new book Back to Reality so thank you to him for the support.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Douglas (back from injury), Dallas at right back, Cooper, Jansson, Philips, Roofe, Forshaw, Alioski, Hernandez and Klich. Subs were Shackleton for Klich (90+1). Attendance was 14,799 with 4,856 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Hernandez (9) and Roofe (46). 

By the time we reached the ground it was 1pm and luckily although there was plenty of traffic, we didn’t get caught on the gridlocked roads after an earlier car crash next to the ground which the team got caught up in. By the time we’d walked to the ground, put my flag up and walked to where Dani’s seat was, I didn’t realise the teams were already out on the pitch and ready for the minute’s silence. This was for both Armistice Day and the Leicester City owner and staff who were killed in a helicopter crash leaving their stadium last week. The silence was immaculately observed in the stands but underneath on the concourse, no one was aware it was taking place.

With Wigan unbeaten at home so far this season I was hoping that for once we could turn that stat around. We’d had a conversation in the pub about Dallas playing at right back. I didn’t like him playing in that position but I said I would be happy for him to prove me wrong. As my friend Sue said, she thought it was more about him moving forward than the defensive part and I hadn’t thought about that. As it was I thought he had a good game today.

Within six minutes of the start, we found ourselves a goal down after Wigan were awarded a free kick just outside the area. Despite it taking ages before the kick was taken, the ball was kicked into the right hand side of the net, opposite us. I thought if we’d have had someone on both posts for set pieces and corners, it would make it harder for the opposition to score. Once again we’d given ourselves an uphill battle at the start of the game. For once though, within three minutes we had equalised with a fantastic move that saw Klich asking for the ball in open space, pass the ball across the goal where Hernandez was there to stick it into the net right in front of us. Sending the Leeds support into raptures was certainly true as the lads behind kept falling into me. I was trying to keep on my feet to get some photos which proved difficult, but celebrations have to be done! With that, loads of Leeds fans started coming out of the stand to our right and were brought into ours. This upset some Wigan fans who didn’t like the fact we’d had loads of fans in their stand too. We had a couple of great chances but their goalie was on hand to palm the ball away. We had lots of possession from then on and Wigan weren’t in the game very much. They had small pockets of attack, but I thought we coped with the game very well as we went in at half time 1-1.

I took a few photos of fans beneath the stands and had a chat with Tina and Kev before going back to my seat. As I got to the top of the stairs I said “when did the teams come back out?” as that seemed to have been a quick half time. With that the ball was passed across the goal by Hernandez and with Roofe bearing down on their goalie whose defender got in the way, contrived to Roofe getting the loose ball and sticking it into an empty net. That was a welcome goal with many fans missing it as they were still down below the stands. I headed back to my seat and in the middle of taking one photo, nearly jumped out of my skin as someone let one of those “bomb fireworks” go off in the seats to my left close to where Dani was. I’m sorry but I won’t agree these should be at a game and I wish those who bring them into the stands wouldn’t do it. I know this will fall on deaf ears though sadly. We came close to scoring again and the Leeds fans were in good voice, as they had been for most of the game. With Wigan fans resorting to a drum to whip up any atmosphere, they were pretty poor to be honest. When all their fans stood up and started clapping, I had no idea what it was for as I hadn’t seen anything on social media beforehand. As I tried to clap too, no Leeds fans joined in so gave up. I saw something mentioned later about Dave Whelan their owner, so need to read up on that as I assumed that is who it was for. The lads in front of me were going mad as a woman in front of them had not taken any interest in the game and spent the whole 90 minutes playing games on her phone. I found it very strange to be honest unless she’s attended under duress, but with tickets being sold out in minutes if you don’t want to watch the game, there are plenty of fans who do.

After having some strange decisions made by the officials plus heavy tackles flying in left, right and centre from Wigan, it was good to see one of them booked. The longer teams get away with fouls, the more they do. A couple of times Wigan attacked and it looked like they had got the better of our defence, but one thing that shone out, is the fact our players play as a team. With about six of our players bearing down on their attacker, we got the better of him and then started another attack once more. With Shackleton being the only sub today at the start of five minutes of injury time, he was unlucky not to score. As I headed to get my flag, one lad shouted “Heidi where are you going?” My response was to go and get my flag, so that was alright lol! The Leeds fans were singing, “we’re Leeds United, we’re top of the league”. I couldn’t sing it until the final whistle blew so as not to jeopardise anything and it was a relief to hear the whistle blow for full time. We broke another stat by this being the first game since Boxing Day where the opposition had scored first and we ended up winning, so well done lads.

As a very happy support came out of the ground, we got to the coach and were soon on our way. Stuck in traffic our coach kept stalling so our driver turned right up a road and it was only as we got to the top of it, we realised we weren’t going any further. With no power at all we couldn’t get the coach onto the main road. I said would it help if we pushed the coach to which the driver said yes that would be a good idea. With that a dozen of us got out and started to push the coach from behind. Although I managed to get a couple of photos, I did push it too though despite getting accused of just taking photos lol! It certainly did the trick as we got the coach over the incline and set off. I thought it was going to mean no Sunday tea at my elder daughters for us but luckily we made it back to Leeds in one piece. I’d been asleep when we’d passed a crash on the motorway so hopefully no one was hurt in it.

It felt good to get a win today and next week sees us head to West Bromwich Albion for the first time in a long while, for another evening kick off. There are plenty of tales from our times at their ground, with one in my first book being Jonny Giles’s testimonial which a group of us attended in the seventies. When lads with Brummie accents pretended to be Leeds fans then showed their true credentials, it turned out to be a bad night for my friends and I! I don’t think that’ll happen when we visit them next week!  See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Nottingham Forest 27th October 2018 at Elland Road

Before I start my blog today, I wish to pay my respects to our oldest and longest Leeds United fan Edna Newton, who died this week aged 94 years. Having a season ticket for 64 years was a fantastic achievement and the game needs more fans like her. It was a proud moment seeing my photo on the scoreboard on the 64th minute signalling the whole ground to start giving their applause to celebrate her lifelong support of Leeds United. RIP Edna. The WACCOE message board I frequent had organised some flowers for Edna to be placed at Billy’s statue which was a lovely gesture. Also Leeds United put flowers on her seat with a Leeds scarf around them which is another heartwarming gesture.

It is also the nearest home game to Armistice Day and the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. So many died in the wars and seeing the horrendous conditions in the trenches in the First World War brings a lump to my throat. The poignant Last Post played by the bugler always gets to me. To all those soldiers who gave their tomorrows so we could have our today, I salute you.

With a slightly later set off time than normal, I thought it would be a good idea to go to the White Rose en route to Elland Road with Danielle my daughter and granddaughter Laura. With queues of traffic everywhere, we were lucky to get a parking spot despite there only being a few vacant. I never expected it to be like that so I’ll avoid daytime shopping if I can in the future as I hate it being crowded.  Give me a football crowd any day!

I actually prefer 5.30 pm kick offs to the lunchtime ones and on arrival at the packed Peacock, everyone was in good spirits. With fans having longer before the game it contributed to the atmosphere and I tried capturing a new song that some lads were trying to get going by video. It was good to catch up with friends although only for a short while before we headed in to the ground. Having looked for the Leeds United Supporters Trust collecting food for Leeds south and east foodbank, I found them on the way in so well done to them.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Dallas, Cooper, Jansson, Hernandez, Alioski, Klich, Phillips, Roofe and Forshaw. Subs were: Pearce for Ayling (went off injured) (25), with Clarke replacing Pearce (65) and Saiz for Phillips (65). The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Roofe equalising in the 84th minute. Attendance was 34,308 with 1,766 Forest fans.

After taking photos at the bottom of the steps I made my way to my seat to find out that I nearly didn’t have one! A man and woman had been sat in our season ticket seats when the other two got there. When Danielle had said they were in our seats they weren’t for moving but one eventually did. They’d been overheard saying that if anyone asked them to move they’d be told to f**k off. I’m pleased to say that my seat had been vacated by the time I got there!

It took me 10 minutes to realise that Dallas was playing at left back again which I wasn’t exactly enamoured about. It made me think back to the Guiseley pre-season game when Dallas scored two goals from the left hand side.  Maybe that’s behind Bielsa’s thinking but whilst I’ve no problem him going forward I don’t like seeing him in defence. It was just after this realisation that Forest took the lead from a corner which meant we faced an upward battle again to get back on level terms. The Leeds crowd didn’t let being a goal down deter them from keeping a good atmosphere going though. Ayling went down after being fouled and although he got up again he only lasted a few minutes before being subbed. Looks like another big injury sadly but as long as it isn’t a repeat of last year’s game against Forest which ended his season. Once they’d taken the lead Forest started the time wasting tactics and when their man went down in the penalty area I thought he was feigning an injury. As he headed to the dugout rather than straight out to the touchline, I was just going to berate him but realised he was being subbed! Although we had a couple of chances, we didn’t really test the Forest goalie which was a contrast to the Ipswich game, with the amount of saves their goalie had to make.

The second half saw Forest still leading as Leeds ramped up the pressure. With the fans becoming the twelfth man and getting behind the team with WACCOE reverberating around the ground, we waited for a double substitution to be made when my photo of Edna came on the scoreboard. The applause for her was unanimous and I’m sure she’d have loved hearing the applause she received. I was surprised to see Pearce himself a sub taken off but realised he’d pushed Alioski back and brought Jack Clarke on. He had an immediate impact when he put a low hard cross across the box which was crying out for someone to knock it in at the far post. We had an immense amount of pressure as Leeds tried their hardest to get an equaliser. The ball many times wasn’t falling kindly for us and I always felt like Forest would be a threat. I felt that as long as we kept them out and didn’t give them a second we could get a goal and go on to win the game. The equaliser came in the 84th minute with Saiz, Dallas and Klich involved before Roofe put the ball into the net to send the volume of eruption from the Leeds fans into overdrive. As we were heading back to the centre circle I saw their goalie remonstrating with the linesman and claiming handball. As the referee headed over to the linesman we waited with bated breath until he signalled to the centre spot. That was a relief but I just thought it would have been carnage if they’d have disallowed it! Replays have apparently shown it was a ball to hand but it’s about time we’ve had the rub of the green and the decision going our way for once. We had to settle for a point in the end but am happy to take that as it is better than a defeat.  The one thing that we must do better is from our corners; we have to start beating the first man which for some reason we cannot do more often than not. I don’t like short corners but I could see why we resorted to them at times!

Thank you to Debbie and James for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18. With many fans saying they hadn’t appeared in my photos as yet including the original Donny Whites that was remedied today! The latter may shout at me though as I wobbled so they’ll have to ask me again next time they see me. As usual, many of our Scandinavian friends were in attendance, our Irish fans plus we had some Utrecht fans visiting too. With plenty of others in attendance including our long distance south coast regulars, it was nice to meet up with others after the game. Having just read that Rita our Leeds United guide dog and Nikki had an altercation with a Forest fan taking his anger out on them all I can say is shame on you. How dare you attack them because that is nothing more than disgusting! On hearing there has been a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium Leicester after their game, things aren’t looking good after it burst into flames on impact. Sad times for their club.

We have a good break now with our next game being against Wigan for the Sunday lunchtime kick off. With another large following heading there with tickets once again sold out in minutes, I hope we can do better than we did at Blackburn.  See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

Leeds United v Ipswich 24th October 2018 at Elland Road

We were later than usual getting to Elland Road for this night game as there seemed to be loads of traffic everywhere. On hearing the M621 was closed in both directions we came off at Tingley instead and got there 40 minutes before kick-off. By the time we’d walked to the ground it was too late to go to the Peacock, although it meant I missed Paul one of my Selby Whites and Simon too who will be heading back to Canada shortly. I missed my sister Erica but managed to see her in the North East lower when I got into the Kop, so was able to have a chat as well as at Billy’s statue after the game. She made me laugh as the last few games she has attended she has gone in the North West, The East upper, North East lower and on Saturday she will be in the West Stand. As she said though, it depended where the available tickets were! With the majority of our mid-week games being on a Tuesday I had to be reminded that today was Wednesday too. Also with having had a very stressful day at work, I was looking forward to the football taking my mind off things. Thank you to the gentleman who said he had enjoyed reading my book; Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan, and I am grateful for the feedback.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Cooper, Ayling (back from his one game suspension), Phillips, Berardi, Alioski, Saiz, Klich, Roofe, Hernandez and Harrison. Subs were: Dallas for Berardi (27) went off injured, Forshaw for Saiz (57) and Pearce for Harrison (57). Leeds won 2-0 with goals from Roofe (22) and Cooper (66). Attendance was 29,082 with approx. 500 Ipswich fans.

Having done an interview for Amy Downes and her blog Diary of a Tractor Girl, I said I’d no idea where any team was in the league as I only concentrate on Leeds United. Lo and behold what did I keep hearing afterwards? Only that Ipswich were bottom of the table which usually meant teams would play out of their skins against us. It better not be a banana skin tonight! 

After hearing that Jansson got a one game ban after his recent comments at the end of the Brentford game, I was fizzing. If I had my way the ref from that game would never have got the chance again due to his absolute incompetence. When Jansson said the word s**t in his post-match interview, which in my view is quite tame in comparison to many swear words these days, then said we were robbed, he was only speaking the truth. As usual there is one rule for Leeds United and one rule for everyone else! It’s getting to feel like it is us against everyone else again as per the -15 season, so if it has to be a siege mentality, then so be it.

As Leeds attacked the South Stand we came close a couple of times. With their goalie out of position, Hernandez’s shot from a long way out was off target. Alioski playing left back put some hard crosses in, with one being saved by their goalie and the rebound just missing Hernandez. Alioski put in quite a few crosses although they were too long, but had plenty of power in them. He made some great runs down the left and I thought he played really well. Berardi got booked for a foul and was lucky to escape a talking to for another foul. I said I wanted to see 90 minutes of blood on their boots and then realised we had already played 20 minutes of the game. I didn’t want to see Berardi get his marching orders though which was always going to be a worry once he got an early booking. I couldn’t tell that Ipswich were bottom of the table though, as I thought they at least tried to play football and there was none of the cheating that had gone on previously with other teams.  Just after Ipswich had a header saved by Peacock-Farrell, Leeds took the lead. Saiz battled to win the ball in the centre of the park, passed it out to Hernandez on the right wing whose pass gave Roofe a delightful header that flew into the net. What a relief! That seemed to be the first time we had taken a lead for a while but I could be wrong of course. A few minutes later Berardi went off injured and we had to reshuffle our formation. After the initial euphoria things quietened down on the terraces as the half time whistle blew.

I came back up into the stand to hear the second half had already kicked off (you used to be able to see on the TVs when the team came back out but not anymore). As I got to the top of the steps the Kop shouted hand ball in unison. As I got back to my seat Danielle my daughter said that it was definitely hand ball and right in front of the ref. It wouldn’t have been a penalty though as it was outside the area. As Ipswich attacked the far end, I heard someone say they better not score now! As we started attacking more and more, their goalie ended up being their man of the match for me as he made some fantastic saves to deny us a further goal. Hernandez was playing really well and the team gained confidence as we continued to get behind their defence. We scored a second goal from a corner when the ball was passed across the box and Cooper hit it into the net. We nearly got a third which looked destined for the top corner when Alioski unleashed a fantastic shot, only to see it bounce back out after hitting the top corner of the goalpost. We continued to put Ipswich under pressure and played some really good passing football but on their rare attacks, I was always wary they could pull a goal back. At least it was nice to see they didn’t time waste their way through the game which was a breath of fresh air after recent games. Leeds made a double substitution, with both Forshaw then Pearce coming on. I said that Harrison would go off and Alioski would move forward with Pearce dropping back. Well of course that is what happened so Bielsa and I are on the same wavelength lol.

The win put us back on top of the league and it was good to hear that West Brom had been battered by Derby.  Saturday sees us back at Elland Road for the second home game in a few days but a later kick off of 5.30 pm due to being televised live on Sky once again. Hopefully the win will have taken some of the pressure off the team and we can go out and enjoy ourselves, getting another three points.  See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

The Diary of a Tractor Girl

My interview with Amy Downes prior to Leeds United v Ipswich 24th October 2018

The Diary of a Tractor Girl

 

Blackburn v Leeds United 20th October 2018 at Ewood Park

It was still dark as we left home this morning for the noon kick off and another live game for Sky. I was meeting my daughter Danielle in Leeds and was taking my granddaughter Hannah to her first away game with me. She was really excited and looking forward to her day out with over 7,600 Leeds fans. With there being no trains, Fullerton Park had got two coaches going today and many other supporters were travelling by coach too. With our stop at our regular haunt of Leyland, they certainly had plenty of trade today with fans standing at least four deep at the bar. Because of that I used the app for our food which took the stress out of queuing.

We arrived at the services to be escorted to the ground just as there was a convoy of coaches being taken down to the ground. I was pleased to see that the police weren’t messing about as we headed after them approx. five minutes later going past all the queuing traffic on the opposite side of the road. There were loads of Leeds fans doing the salute to the coaches as we passed by with hardly any Blackburn fans in sight. As we were escorted past the ground we began to wonder where we were being taken but were turning round at the end of the road, coming back and parking on the street. It was too late to go into the fan zone but it was good to see that being put in place for our fans once again. As Danielle and Hannah headed to the upper stand I went into the bottom stand, straight to the front to put my flag up.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi and Roofe (both back from injury), Jansson, Cooper, Phillips, Klich, Alioski, Saiz, Roberts and Dallas. Subs were: Hernandez for Roofe (70), Clarke for Dallas (76) and Shackleton for Berardi (86) Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Klich getting our goal right at the end of injury time in the first half (90+1). Attendance was 20,029 with 7,717 Leeds fans. Well done to Ella from our branch; she normally travels on our coach and was our mascot for the game.

As Leeds kicked off we went straight on the attack but the final ball was mishit straight to their player. With their first attack they came straight to the goal in front of us ending with two corners one after the other. We were left with an uphill battle once again when from the second one, their player bullied us to head the ball straight into the top left hand side of the goal right in front of us. My first thoughts were why did we not have anyone defending on both sides of the goal as Bremner and Reaney used to do? It may be that they couldn’t have done anything about the first goal but when they scored a similar goal for their second, it would have made a difference I’m sure, especially as that turned out to be the winner.

Saiz brought a save out of their goalie and we had to thank Peacock-Farrell a couple of times for stopping them taking a further lead. With the Leeds support getting behind the team, we were frustrated to see passes going astray and when we did win corners, Alioski’s first few crosses were below par. In fact it looked like the players were disjointed and Bielsa hadn’t got the line up right from the start for this game. I’d said before the game that I hadn’t seen us have square pegs in round holes this season as everyone gets to play all over the pitch so it hadn’t been apparent. I think I should have kept my mouth shut especially with Dallas at right back although he swapped sides with Berardi later on. We have a great young player in Pearce who can play at left back in his rightful position and I would much rather play him than put Dallas in either position where he hasn’t impressed me. There was a lot of frustration from the Leeds fans when we kept playing the ball out from the back but going from side to side until we could work our way forwards. As someone commented on the fact that we had been found out, I said we had to work out a different way to overcome them. We got one minute of injury time as we played out from the back, I said it would take us the full minute to get to the far end of the pitch. As we got to the far end after 13 passes in 45 seconds, the ball was in the net to equalise. What a relief that was to get the goal just before the whistle blew. We all agreed we had played to our strengths along the floor because any high balls were being mopped up by their set of giants in both attack and defence. I wondered what was in the water over here as well as what they were feeding them!

I went downstairs to hear some lads say we didn’t deserve it; I said the team was being patient in their build ups whereas the patience amongst many fans had worn thin, but we all agreed we would take the fact we had equalised. As the lad next to me in the seats said, how many times have we not deserved to have penalties, free kicks etc. given against us, so we need things to even themselves out and go our way instead.

The second half saw Leeds straight on the attack and it looked like we would take the game by the scruff of the neck. At times we did do that but we weren’t consistent enough.  A couple of times we waited for the ball to go out rather than get it, only for Blackburn to nip in and take the ball off our toes.  As we waited for Hernandez to come on as sub I wondered why he hadn’t come on before realising it was because Blackburn had got a free kick. Unfortunately they got a corner out of it which resulted in Blackburn scoring their second goal of the game. I was cross that we hadn’t learnt our lesson from the first half and put players on both posts as we could have avoided that one and kicked the ball off the line. When Roofe was battling in the left hand corner near us to keep the ball from going out for a goal kick, he was holding his own until there were two of them attacking him. No one could believe it when the linesman put his flag up to give the free kick against us. As the conspiracy theories against us grow, we all feel that the officials don’t even hide it now with their outrageous decisions that are so blatantly against us. Saiz brought out a great save from their goalie before we had two penalty shouts, one for a foul and one for hand ball. I would need to see them again but after my neighbour said on my return home, he’d heard them say on the TV that we had been robbed; there must have been something in the non-decisions.

Unfortunately we couldn’t manage an equaliser, despite the pressure put on by our players in the last minutes of the game. As the final whistle blew and we had our second defeat of the season, the dreaded curse of after the international break, a large away support from us, plus the early kick off have once again raised their head sadly. 

Thanks for my chocolates and Galway Whites badge Paul. After doing an away fan review for Dirk Copland of Blackburn Roverseas prior to the game I did a follow up one afterwards as requested too.

Thanks to Helen for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United Season 2017-18. Talking about my books I just wanted to remind those fans who are thinking of Christmas presents that autographed copies are available from me. Just let me know where and when to meet and I’ll sort it out. There are some great stories of life as a Leeds United fan ranging from the seventies until now, which cemented our loyal support for our team and is why we have the support we have today.

We move on to Wednesday’s game against Ipswich at home when we have to pick ourselves up and get something out of the game. Having not picked up many points of late we do need to turn things round and soon. There were always going to be ups and downs and I feel that having the right team on the pitch at the start of the game is very important. See you Wednesday LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United Match preview 2018/19 by Dirk Copland forBlackburn Roverseas

My interview takes place between 10 and 16 minuites

 

 

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

My appearance is between 10.45 and 16.00 minutes!

Blackburn Roverseas by Dirk Copland

Leeds United v Brentford 6th October 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United 28th September 2018 at Hillsborough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

 

Fan Girl’s Documentary by Hatty Jones

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

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

Leeds United v Birmingham 22nd September 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Preston 18th September 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Middlesbrough 31st August 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

See you at Millwall, LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

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

 

 

 

Norwich v Leeds United 25th August 2018 at Carrow Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Scotland flag made by Carole

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