My Scotland flag made by Carole

Leeds United v Rotherham 18th August 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Derby (A) 11 August 2018 at Pride Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stoke City 5th August 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

By Heidi Haigh a fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

Author of the following books:

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

 

Forest Green Rovers away 17th July 2018 at New Lawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

York City away 19th July 2018 at Bootham Crescent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southend United away 22nd July 2018 at Roots Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oxford away 24th July 2018 at the Kassam Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guiseley away 26th July 2018 at Nethermoor Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Las Palmas 29th July 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Leeds United v QPR 6th May 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

 

Norwich City v Leeds United 28th April 2018 at Carrow Road

It wouldn’t be Leeds United without more controversy happening at the club. With a post season tour to Myanmar formerly Burma on the cards, my first instincts were of fear for the fans as I thought the Foreign Office had banned all travel there due to the unrest and atrocities going on in the country. That wasn’t the case as it turned out to be, as it is deemed safe where Leeds are going. Although there is no way I can go there due to cost and having no holidays, I’m not sure whether I would have gone if given the opportunity. My niece visited the region last year and having seen photos from her trip, I can only hope that the people living there get the chance to have some normality. As a group of our most loyal supporters will be going, I wish them all a safe journey.

As I headed to Elland Road for the coach with the Greatest Showman CD once again blaring out in my car that had me singing along, the sun started to come out, making me feel really upbeat and looking forward to our trip to Norwich. Our coach was already there when I arrived at the ground and we got off on time heading for our stop at Thetford. After leaving Leeds in sunshine, even though there was a nip in the air it felt a lovely day for football. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for the weather to deteriorate as the rain came down. We had Fiona Hanley the Leeds United SLO travelling with us today. She had been given an invitation to travel with us to see first-hand the obstacles and distances our disabled fans had to cope with getting to the coaches after games.

The Nottingham Whites and Worksop Whites were already there when we arrived at the pub and the couple of hours stop passed by in an instance. Our group was reminiscing as usual which ensured we had a good laugh. A loud bang made us jump out of our skins as we saw a young Leeds lad who had tried balancing his chair on two legs unsuccessfully, hit the floor with a bang. I thought at first he’d knocked himself out but luckily or unlucky for him, he’d only hurt his knee. I did ask him if he was okay and he thanked me for asking.

We took the opportunity to get off the coach right outside the ground as we were dropping a couple of our fans off and after our search outside the ground went to the turnstile. When a steward saw me with my bag he asked if I wanted to go through an open door at the side instead of having a battle with the turnstile which I gratefully accepted. I do have visions of getting stuck in one someday but hopefully it stays a vision and doesn’t really happen lol!

I had brought my flag with but thought I wouldn’t get a chance to put it on show today, as last year I was only allowed to put it up at the back of the stand but had nothing to attach it to. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to put it onto the netting over the first few rows so put it near to where Paul, Reuben and also Dave were sitting. I then headed to my seat which was a few rows from the back of the stand. I fail to understand why Leeds seem to put the away season ticket holders as far away from the pitch as possible? Unfortunately I puffed and panted up the stairs showing how unfit I am. At least we were dry up there although my friend Sue said she never got warm all game but staying in the stand at half time probably didn’t help. I’d taken some photos of the Flintstones and other characters already today as a few fans had dressed up for the occasion with this being the last away game of the season.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Pearce, Cooper, Jansson, Pennington, Alioski, Saiz, Vieira, Phillips, Roofe and Hernandez (just signed a new two year contract). Subs were Grot for Alioski (70), Forshaw for Vieira (74) and Lasogga for Pearce (83). Leeds lost the game 2-1 after taking a lead with a fantastic volley from Phillips (39). Attendance was 26,869 with approx. 3,000 Leeds fans. I was very disappointed to see that O’Connor had been dropped with the recall of Cooper. Whilst nothing against Cooper, we should have stuck with the young ones as we should be building the team around them.

After an initial early chance we found ourselves under attack quite a few times but then we’d gain possession of the ball and race to the other end. The linesman in front of us was never up with play and missed no end of offside decisions for Norwich and the first time he eventually put his flag up was on 42 minutes. We hadn’t been able to have a real chance of scoring though and many times we started passing back to the goalie something we hadn’t done so much as of late when Cooper has been out injured. A change of tactics perhaps but I will always maintain that the best form of defence is attack. To me Hernandez was showing the signing of a new contract syndrome with really bad passing but he wasn’t the only one. On 36 minutes we took a surprise lead when the ball came back out to Phillips on the edge of the area who volleyed a perfect shot into the bottom of the net. That was a fantastic goal but as usual we shot ourselves in the foot just before half time. We had a corner but wasted it only for Norwich to gain the impetus from our failing by attacking us and sadly despite Peacock-Farrell’s great effort found the ball in our net after in came off the inside of the posts. I initially thought that was a narrow escape only to see the ball cross the line for them to equalise right on half time. What a bummer! Why can’t we actually keep a lead without conceding more or less straight away? It was a bitter blow and the timing was crucial too giving Norwich hope.

At half time I went downstairs and saw lots of fans for photos. A big thank you once again for those who say they love reading my blog. As always the comments are greatly appreciated. After watching some of our younger fans have a good time singing Leeds songs, I went back up for the second half not realising we had already kicked off. After stopping to chat to someone I knew on the way back up to my seat, I stayed there for a while but as we kept encroaching on the stairway and being asked to get back into the row of seats, I thought I’d better return to my seat.

To be honest the second half was dire in comparison to the first as I had high hopes we could win today. Peacock-Farrell got my man of the match having made some vital saves once again. Sadly we stood off Norwich instead of closing them down which was the worst thing we could do. The next thing they had a powerful shot that beat Peacock-Farrell to put them into the lead. It didn’t feel like we could get anything from the game then sadly although we should have had a penalty for a blatant handball which even I saw! There were wide open spaces down the far side of the pitch as Norwich attacked the stand to our left. I was very disappointed to hear Heckingbottom blaming Pearce for leaving lots of space down the wing which encouraged Norwich to attack. He is in defence so where was our midfield protecting him????  When Grot was brought on for Alioski there were chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing”. Alioski had been chasing the ball and putting some tackles in so personally I wouldn’t have subbed him plus with his height, I thought why is Grot on the wing anyway? We had a couple more chances late in the game but nothing good enough sadly.  Unfortunately the gallows humour from the Leeds fans came back to haunt us all. To be honest when some of our fans sang how sh*t must you be we’re winning away, I thought it was much too early to be singing it which proved to be the case.

It was very disappointing to see the team, despite clapping the fans, not come anywhere near us. The only one who did was Alioski and fair play to him. He gave his bench coat to a young Leeds lass, who had written a sign, in Macedonian I presume. He also gave his tracky top away so well done Alioski for showing the others what they should have been doing. I’d gone to get my flag from the front of the stand and found it absolutely saturated showing how much it had rained.

Fiona Hanley got first-hand experience of what our disabled fans have to put up with. Just as we were pulling away from the coach park, I pointed out Ian from the Griffin branch being assisted by a couple of police back to his coach. It was far too long a distance for the lad on our coach too. For the sake of using one of the police vans, surely they could be taken back to their coaches in relatively comfort rather than having to struggle? We had a short stop on the way back but we actual came a shorter route back so were at Elland Road by 9.30 pm. Luckily for me I slept most of the way back too plus whilst trying to write this blog! I couldn’t believe it when I got on the M621 to come home only to find I’d to come off at the next junction for road works. Detours, detours the story of Leeds fans lives!

There was lots of summing things up at the end of the game and not very complimentary from some fans. We look to be heading for our “normal” end of season place of 15th at this moment in time. Whatever happens for our last game at home next week against QPR, the stats for our performances or should I say none performances, make dismal reading since Boxing Day. We can thank Thomas Christiansen for at least getting us enough points from our early run because without that, we’d be down and out again from this division but in the wrong direction.

We have a big summer ahead of us and we really need to change things but how, I don’t really know anymore. See you next week LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Barnsley 21st April 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

 

Preston v Leeds United 10th April 2018 at Deepdale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Sunderland 7th April 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saiz’s free kick hits the post

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Fulham v Leeds United 3rd April 2018 at Craven Cottage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youtube – Turn your backs for Chris and Kev

WACCOE

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday 17th March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Wolves 7th March 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Brentford 24th February 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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