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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

Ipswich v Leeds United 5th May 2019 at Portman Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

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

Now it is back to the realities of the last couple of games where we take on Villa at Elland Road. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

Brentford v Leeds United 22nd April 2019 at Griffin Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Wigan 19th April 2019 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

Preston v Leeds United 9th April 2019 at Deepdale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

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

Leeds United v Sheffield United 16th March 2019 at Elland Road

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The weather was foul as my granddaughter Hannah and I headed to Elland Road showing that this storm showed no signs of abating. With flooded roads to contend with on the way home, I’ll be glad when the weather improves. At least we didn’t have snow like Northumberland and Scotland though. For once it wasn’t just the home crowd that was sold out as Sheff Utd had sold all their tickets too so we were looking at a full house. I’d seen on Facebook that a couple had arrived from Malaysia for their honeymoon on what would be their first visit to Elland Road. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch up with them for a photo but hope they had a good day. I was also meeting Mark in the Peacock which I’d assumed was to take his photo. It turned out that I was to take part in an interview for the documentary 100 years of Leeds United which was a surprise, but of course I did that. I heard someone shout something about two magpies when they passed me outside the South Stand. Prior to Mark arriving I was talking to some lads one who had read my books and said he had enjoyed them.  Thanks for the feedback which is appreciated.

Hannah wanted to go into the ground early so I made sure she got through the turnstiles before going and renewing our season tickets. Now the paper copies had come through I was able to renew them as the auto cup scheme can be chosen, whereas online you don’t get that option. I have sent the suggestion to the club for the auto cup scheme to be added to the online renewal because it would make it easier and I know I’m not the only one who waits for the paper copy for that reason.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Phillips, Klich, Bamford, Roberts, Alioski and Hernandez. Subs: Douglas for Harrison (57), Clarke for Klich (77) and Dallas for Ayling (77). Leeds lost the game 1-0 and had Casilla sent off in the second half. Attendance was 37,004 with 2,641 Sheffield United fans.

As the game kicked off there was a minute’s applause for Bill Fotherby who died this week. He was Chairman of Leeds during our promotion from the Second Division and winning the title in the First Division which saw Leeds as the Last True Champions.

Leeds started off on the attack before getting a further opportunity a few minutes later when Bamford’s shot was blocked. It looked like he tried to place the ball rather than hit it hard which may have resulted in a better chance. We had another great chance with Harrison but unlucky for us he volleyed the ball over. We kept the pressure up and it was a case of hoping we didn’t rue the missed chances as we were unable to put the ball into the net. We had limited Sheff Utd to a few attacks but then just before the break we were passing the ball across the back but we didn’t seem to know how to take it forward. With that Sheff Utd got the impetus and nearly made us pay as they were unlucky not to score in the final minutes as they upped their attack. They should have been pulled up with a hand ball for one of them and offside for another but got away with both of those decisions. I was glad for the half time whistle to blow but felt by messing about at the back we had given Sheff Utd some hope. At times we had not taken the swirling wind into consideration although Alioski managed one great pass across the pitch.

At the start of the second half as we were attacking towards the Kop, I couldn’t help but notice their players were built like brick “s**thouses” or so the saying goes. It felt a bit like men against the boys (us) when I compared the players as they were hard to fight off at times. We did have a great chance to take the lead when a great attack saw Klich get to the byline to cross to Roberts only for his shot to come back off the post. That was probably our best chance of the game but that started my stomach churning as that familiar feeling that we weren’t going to score came over me. Unfortunately it did come back to bite us as Sheff Utd took the lead when Sharp got the better of Cooper before he passed it to his player to score.  That said we did keep on trying and were attacking when Sharp elbowed Jansson who went down like a ton of bricks. Sadly for us that slowed the game right down and lost our momentum. Sheff Utd were closing us down quickly though which didn’t help. Clarke came on in a double substitution with Dallas. He got to the byline and passed the ball across the goal only for Jansson, who at this time was playing up front, hit the ball past the post. Leeds were still going in search of an equaliser which I’d have happily accepted at this late stage only to be caught out on the counter attack. This time Phillips was overcome and as Sharp ran past him, Casilla who was way out of his area came out and brought him down and was given a straight red card! Down to 10 men but with still a few minutes left plus injury time, saw Jansson go in goal. We survived the free kick and in the last minute when we were awarded a corner, Jansson came out of goal to join the attack but to no avail as Sheff Utd got the win.

Unfortunately this defeat means we drop out of the automatic places with Sheff Utd jumping into the space. As I’ve said many times anyone can beat anyone in this division but both Sheff Utd and Norwich seem to be living charmed lives at the moment. It isn’t over by any means and we still have to go out and get as many points as we can. From shooting on sight at Reading we reverted to type by trying to walk the ball into the net or taking that one step too many instead of catching their goalie unawares. We could also have taken advantage of the wind behind us but sadly wasn’t to be. We now have a week off before Millwall at home with the LUDO dinner, dance on the same evening. I tried getting extra tickets for the Millwall game but was unsuccessful once again. Every time I chose tickets and tried to buy them it wouldn’t let me. Also even though sections were showing limited tickets they were all greyed out! You never know there may be the odd ones that come available before the game! See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

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

Reading v Leeds United 12th March 2019 at The Madejski Stadium

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After a bad night and an early morning call to Jimmy’s Leeds, I was looking forward to catching up with my sleep on the journey to Reading. Again thank you to fans who spoke to me in support of my husband and me as they are greatly appreciated. I’d seen Andy Loftus post that the plaque for Chris and Kev have been cleaned and restored by Richard Illingworth. As the anniversary of their murders in Turkey nears, I want to say well done as he has done a brilliant job. I was glad I wasn’t driving with the rain and wind causing problems, but things had calmed down by the time we got to the ground just before kick-off.

Reports from those who attended the U23s game at Elland Road on Monday gave some fantastic feedback. They were playing the same way as the first team and there are some more great prospects coming through with the youngsters which are good to hear. Seeing it all falling into place behind the scenes is certainly good news for our club and long may it continue. The other good news was hearing Jack Clarke had returned to the U23s after his recent illness so that is a relief knowing he is okay.

The team: Casilla, Jansson, Cooper, Ayling, Alioski, Roberts, Bamford, Harrison, Hernandez, Phillips and Klich. Subs: Dallas for Ayling (57), Shackleton for Roberts (69) and Douglas for Klich (74). Leeds won the game 3-0 with Klich (14) and Hernandez scoring two (22 and 43). Attendance was 17,701 with 2,071 Leeds fans.

We started off with a lot of possession but seemed nervy with misplaced passes which Reading took advantage of but Casilla made the save to keep them out. Once our nerves settled though, we took the game by the scruff of the neck. Ayling ran down the right, passed the ball into the middle for Klich to score after Bamford had dummied the ball to put us into an early lead. Klich is scoring goals rang out from the Leeds fans who were in good voice. We’d sold out again although we were only given just over 2,000 tickets due to Reading having a “singing area” in the same stand as us. I’d commented that I hoped we could score plenty of goals to shut that drum up! We took the game to Reading then and took a further lead when Ayling once again passed the ball in and Hernandez hit his shot off the foot of the post that went into the goal. The Leeds fans celebrated in style as that would hopefully take the pressure off us. We hadn’t stopped there as we continued on the attack coming close from Klich before Bamford brought a save out of their goalie. Just before half time we scored a third when Hernandez scored a fantastic strike after Bamford released the ball to him. We had taken to scoring from distance today instead of walking the ball into the net which had taken Reading by surprise! 3-0 at half time saw some really happy Leeds fans going into the break.

Again at half time we saw lads who couldn’t be bothered to find their own loos using the Ladies! Although we did manage to shoo some lads out of there and told them to find their own! The Leeds fans below the stand were having a great sing song although two decided to climb up onto the overhead pipes which had my heart in my mouth. I can’t understand those who throw their beer around though especially when it costs so much plus I had to walk gingerly to make sure I didn’t fall on the wet floor!

The second half saw Leeds take their feet off the pedal as we started playing further back. Unfortunately that saw the nerves kick in a bit for me as that’s what normally catches us out. We did still attack, but this format saw Reading get into the game more. When Ayling tried getting out of the way of a Reading player their fans were screaming at him to be sent off. There was no way he could get out of the way and the ref spoke to him. As he’d already been booked Leeds did the right thing and subbed him as he was in danger of being sent to the dressing room. He’d played well though. As the game continued my nerves eased a bit as I saw Leeds were coping well with everything thrown at them. We came so close to a fourth goal when Bamford should have done better and then Hernandez saw his shot go inches wide. Bamford came close again which saw the Reading fans start to give him some stick so the Leeds fans upped their support of him! Hernandez was very unlucky not to get his hat trick though when the goalie made a save initially and he was unable to get to the rebound.  Leeds managed to keep another clean sheet as we took the three points to go back to the top of the league and sent a great Leeds support home happy. As Reading hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us it was great to get the win too.

For once we didn’t have to negotiate closed motorways on the way home and had a relatively good journey home although the wind closer to Yorkshire and on the M62 was still causing issues.

Saturday sees a crunch game with Sheffield United coming to Elland Road for the early kick off. With another sell-out home crowd both teams have a good run behind them. We know what we have to do Leeds, three points please.  See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

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

Bristol City v Leeds United 9th March 2019 at Ashton Gate

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Hearing loads of Leeds fans and neutrals had found their tickets for today’s game had been cancelled by Bristol I felt for them. What makes that decision a mockery was seeing half of the away stand seats had been covered over and out of bounds when they could have accommodated these fans. Never mind the money that Bristol threw away, it felt that after the recent spygate incident when the Bristol Chairman was crying out for us to lose points, that this decision was carrying on a vendetta against our club. Well instead of us losing points, can I say thank you Bristol for another three points today making six in total from you!

Once again, I want to say a big thank you to all those fans for showing their kindness and support after a particularly gruelling week for my family. With my husband three weeks into his treatment fighting cancer, there are so many others going through similar challenges. I’d encourage anyone to talk about these things as it does help. Today is my therapy and the recharging of my batteries to help me get through this, so was able to catch up on my sleep both going and coming back from the game. Also I appreciate the comments from those who love reading my blog and for those wanting their photos taking.

We arrived at the ground in plenty time for kick off so my daughter Danielle and I headed to the front of the stand to put my flag up in a prime position near the corner flag. Finding my seat in the stand was very difficult as each section had the same numbered seats which caused confusion. As one fan said someone was in his seat, I intervened and said to check which section he was in. The steward thanked me for my explanation with this. When I eventually found what I thought was my seat, there was no one there who normally stands near me so who knows if it was the right one? I stayed there for the first half though.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Alioski, Harrison, Bamford, Hernandez, Phillips, Roberts and Klich. Subs: Dallas for Bamford (57), Douglas for Harrison (75) and Berardi for Klich (83). Attendance was 24,832 with 2,680 Leeds fans at the game with another 2,000 at the beam back at Elland Road. Leeds won 1-0 with Bamford scoring for Leeds (9) which pleased my friend Sue as she won the golden goal on the coach!

The atmosphere was brilliant and the Leeds fans were in full voice which is something I love. Singing is another thing that is very therapeutic! As the game kicked off there were a few slips on the field so I began to wonder if the rumours about the pitch getting an extra watering were true. It didn’t take us long to get to grips with it though so I assumed it was just a rumour. Bristol had the first chance before Leeds took the lead early on in the 9th minute. Alioski put a fantastic ball over to the right hand side which Ayling headed into the path of Bamford who put the ball into the net. Cue, there was beer thrown everywhere amongst the celebrating Leeds fans. One lad had already fallen over the back of our seats and ended up on the floor next to me. As I looked for the players celebrating too, I realised when I couldn’t see them that someone was down in the penalty area and saw on the replay that Bamford had collided with the post on scoring.  Luckily he was able to carry on after treatment. I thought he’d hit his head but later reports on a knee injury may mean I was wrong. He did go down again later on at the same time as Phillips who had to put the ball out as he needed treatment too.

As Bristol tried to get an attack going, they started making mistakes with the ball going out of play on numerous occasions. We came close again when Roberts brought a save out of their goalie. Leeds looked very comfortable on the ball and to me Bristol only threatened from set pieces. Luckily we dealt with most of them comfortably although a couple of times Casilla raced off his line and we were lucky to not be punished for it. The only time Bristol looked like scoring was when we messed about with the ball on the right hand side just before the break. Alioski was in acres of space on the left hand side but we insisted on playing the ball on the right. This put us into trouble as Bristol won the ball, but luck was on our side for once and we kept them out. Ten minutes before the break though the Bristol fans in the stand to our left were streaming downstairs so obviously they weren’t impressed with the way their team were playing.

At half time I went downstairs and when trying to find the ladies was pointed in one direction. I saw all the lads going through that door so thought it can’t be that way. Well I was wrong, but whoever designed the ladies and gents next door to each other wants a kick up the bum! All that does is make the lads use our loos instead of sticking to their own! It would help if they shut the door whilst in a cubicle too not that they cared! After taking loads of photos I tried finding Tina who I was meeting as she wanted to buy my first book Follow Me and Leeds United. Thank you for the support which is appreciated. We were both at the opposite ends of the stand but then made things worse by both trying to find each other so it was vice versa. I headed to the middle of the stand behind the goal and at least Tina found me there! Someone else is wanting some of my books having bought one last week, but neither of us could remember which one he had so I will have to look at my photos to find out.

Bristol came out fighting more in the second half but we still managed to get to grips with them as we continued to look for a second goal. Some fantastic work by Harrison just in front of us saw him beat three men before passing the ball to Roberts, whose shot was saved easily by their keeper. It’s a shame it didn’t have any power in it. With another set piece Casilla looked way off his line but despite that, we were able to keep Bristol out. When Casilla made a save, all of a sudden there was an outcry with their fans screaming off, off.  It was only afterwards I saw a replay of what happened and it looked like their player caught Casilla. They put heads together but then as the ref approached, the Bristol player stepped back before throwing his head back as if he had been shot. Anyway for once the ref saw someone trying to cheat and get someone sent off or booked but it could have been worse. Suddenly the Bristol fans woke up but they’d been very poor whereas the Leeds fans were getting behind the team and it really was great. As a player was down injured Tina and I went down underneath the stand to get to where my flag was as there was no way we were going to be able to get through the crowd stood in the gangway. As I’ve no grips on my boots we had to tread gingerly as the floors were wet through and it looked like the beer throwers had been having a field day!

I hadn’t seen the blue flare that was set off when we scored as it was right at the other end of the stand. It was only when I was talking to one of our stewards at the end of the game that he said someone suffered greatly from breathing in the smoke and came down to the front where he was promptly sick. A couple of the Bristol stewards were very impressed with my flag too and when asked who my hero was, well there is only one and that is Billy Bremner!

As 90 minutes appeared on the clock, six minutes of injury time was put up. I got nervous a couple of times but on the whole, Leeds continued to battle and keep them out so I wasn’t too bad although I was counting down the minutes. When the ref blew for time the Leeds fans celebrated and sang their hearts out as the team came round for a deserved round of applause. Jansson was roaring to the fans and no one went to leave immediately as the Leeds fans savoured the moment. Another three points put us back into second spot after both Norwich and Sheffield United had won respectively last night and this dinner time.

As we came out of the ground a lad from Russia who had come with some friends I know to the game came to say hello so I got some photos. Our coach was on the same street so we didn’t have far to walk. We didn’t gain much time on the other coaches and by the time we got around the roundabout the rest were just being escorted away from the ground so we joined them. We stopped at the services to change drivers and a coach with fans in red and white were getting off theirs at the same time. As we were coming out of the loos this woman looked at my scarf as I asked who they were: Sunderland was the answer who had been to Wycombe Wanderers. It was only at this point I realised they weren’t in our division because as usual I’d forgotten they’d been relegated. The smallest person in their team had some fighting and as Danielle checked on the scores, there had been sending offs very late in the game which had finished very late. At least the meeting with opposition fans at the services was more civilised, although that was definitely not the case during the seventies!

Another win Leeds gets us closer to our dream, so keep going and onto Reading next. Don’t worry about anyone else, only us and keep getting the points please. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v West Bromwich Albion 1st March 2019 at Elland Road

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Before the game I couldn’t have told you what day we were one never mind who we were playing, plus I’d forgotten the game had been moved for Sky. Suffering from extreme lethargy I needed a pick me up that’s for sure. The Navan Whites were bringing their new flag with them and I’d arranged to meet them for a photo. We also had a “spy” in the camp today as Jeff Astle’s daughter had travelled with some Leeds fans to the game. For anyone who doesn’t know, Astle scored a goal in 1971 at Elland Road when referee Ray Tinkler let them play on with a player in an offside position. Tinkler has never been forgiven for that decision by Leeds fans which cost us the league. It also resulted in us having to play our first four games of the next season away from home, two at Huddersfield, one at Hull and one at Hillsborough due to a few fans running on the pitch in protest.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the Peacock before the game and lots of singing which was great. I’m not sure if Dave Aalbers had got in there prior to kick off. I’d spoken to him the day before about Leeds United for a story that will be published on the Dutch site VICE Sports. He couldn’t have chosen a better game to come to either.

The team: Casilla, Jansson, Cooper, Phillips, Hernandez, Harrison, Roberts, Bamford, Alioski and Ayling. Subs: Dallas for Harrison (77) and Shackleton for Roberts (90+2). Leeds won the game 4-0 with goals from Hernandez (20 seconds), Bamford 28 & 63 and Alioski (90 + 2). Attendance was 35,808 with approx. 2,500 WBA fans (they’d had official transport put on for them to attend the game today which forced them to stay until the end of the game!) It was also another sold out game.

I’d just made my way to my row and was on my way to my seat when I stopped in my tracks. Our first attack of the game had seen us go straight to the opposite end and I thought we’re going to score! As the ball hit the back of the net from Hernandez, Elland Road erupted as I tried to keep my beret on my head and take photos amongst the celebrating fans. What a start that was. In my last blog I’d said that Leeds have to remember that the best form of defence is attack so I’m pleased that Bielsa had taken my advice lol! As the crescendo of noise erupted around Elland Road with an electrifying atmosphere, we couldn’t have asked for a better start. Leeds were fighting for every ball and it was great to see. That raised the tempo of the game even more as Leeds drove forward in search of more goals. As is the norm at Elland Road, the ref was giving free kicks galore to West Brom as every little tap saw them go down whereas we didn’t get the same benefit. Admittedly some were free kicks but others were questionable especially when he let things go against us. That did not deter Leeds though as Bamford was put through by Roberts to score a second goal for us ramping up the atmosphere even more. The celebrating Leeds fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing after the recent defeat at QPR, what a contrast as each player was fighting for each other and playing as a team. It was a fantastic sight to see and the only game that came close in my point of view was the Derby home game. West Brom did come close to scoring as their long range shot tested Casilla who was off his line. Luckily for us he tipped the ball over the crossbar making a great save. To be honest though, we limited West Brom to rare chances such was our domination of the game. We had further chances before half time but it was great to go into the break in a two goal lead.

The one thing I did notice though which Peacock-Farrell got loads of stick for, was Casilla’s positioning in goal from free kicks outside the area. For example when the free kick was taken in front of the Kop, the wall was lined up to the right and he stood to the left of that leaving a massive gap at the other side of the goal. West Brom only had to lift the ball over the wall for a clear chance, as there was no way Casilla would have got to the ball and would have needed a man on the line. The only thing I will say on that score is that to me, it obviously isn’t down to the player but the way they are trained that makes them leave the big gap.

It was great having a half time chat after the first half we’d just seen as everyone was in good spirits. I said I needed to get back to my seat just in case we did a repeat of the first half by scoring immediately.  I did have to wait a little bit for that to happen though. Admittedly I did get a little nervous at the start of the second half as that was when West Brom were at their most dangerous. You can always tell when I get nervous as the lad in front of me said I had started swearing, oops! It didn’t take Leeds long to get back into the game though, closing them down and fighting for everything. Roberts was having his best game of the season for me although I’d forgotten he’d come from West Brom as it was so long ago, plus Bamford then scored his second goal of the game to put us three goals up. Fantastic scenes all around the ground as the crowd never stopped with their support and singing. I loved every minute of that and it is the best therapy I could ask for. We had even more chances but their goalie made the saves to keep us out. When Shackleton came on during injury time, one of the first things he did was run down the wing to the left of us and cross the ball. When this happened a second time the crowd erupted as the ball hit the back of the net. I thought he’d scored, but it turned out Alioski was in the middle to put it in the back of the net to give us a convincing win at 4-0 to put us back to the top of the table. Happy, happy Leeds fans, players and staff, in fact everyone connected with us were ecstatic that the game had turned out that way. Prior to the game someone said we would get beaten 2-1. My response was I didn’t predict scores and would make my judgement on what I saw on the pitch but it was a must win game for us. Thank you Leeds United for making my night as I loved it. This is what makes supporting Leeds United special, our fans and the team playing like this. It was lovely to see a photo of Bielsa after this game smiling away but he still wouldn’t take any credit, it was always everyone one else who should be given the praise. What a humble man and a fantastic ambassador for the game and it’s a shame there are not more people like him. The bonding he has done with the team is fantastic to see, all for one and one for all, I love it!

We have a nice weekend to look forward to now but as I’ve said, we should just concentrate on Leeds United and forget about everyone else. We stood up to be counted today and will have sent shivers down the spine of others around us. Keep going Leeds and onto Bristol next week so see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

QPR v Leeds United 26th February 2019 at Loftus Road

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As Leeds headed to QPR for the re-arranged game, I tried to ignore all the stats coming out about their recent bad run of defeats. Having followed Leeds for so long, I know the form books go out of the window when they play us but for once I was hoping we would have the impetus. I would much rather play games on the said day and get the points rather than have a game in hand. Time would tell how that would pan out. I want to say a big thank you to my friend Sue for being a shoulder to cry on.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Bamford, Hernandez, Phillips, Alioski, Roberts, Klich and Harrison. Subs: Douglas for Phillips (65), Dallas for Ayling (73) and Brown for Alioski (81). Leeds lost the game 1-0. Attendance was 14,763 with 3,105 Leeds fans.

Leeds came out on the attack but the final ball was wide. Their goalie made a great save to deny us a goal from Phillip’s header from another attack. The closest we came to scoring was when the ball went across the penalty area and when it looked like Bamford was going to score; unfortunately he missed connecting with it. I wasn’t sure if he’d taken his eyes off the ball or whether it was just too far in front of him, as it was hard to say at the time. The saying that you have to take your chances when they are there comes to mind. QPR had been time wasting from the off but were continuing to frustrate Leeds by always trying to get the ball back off us. Roberts kept winning the ball but then lost it or gave it away and there were a lot of show boating flicks from a few players, that didn’t come to anything as QPR won it back. Despite us not scoring, the Leeds fans in the stand had been fantastic with constant singing and putting on a great atmosphere. This always lifts the mood for me as I love the singing. Leeds continued to have a lot of possession but were constantly passing the ball back to Casilla. He made one great save to keep out QPR and another one when he put his head on the line so to speak. We do seem to be passing the ball back a lot at the moment though and should remember the best form of defence is attack. Liam Cooper went off with a head injury that needed stitching just before half time. You could see Leeds just wanted to contain QPR to ensure they didn’t score until he came back on the pitch just before the whistle blew.

At half time I was talking to some fans who said it had been rubbish so far. I didn’t think it had been too bad as we’d been attacking, but got that familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. QPR took the lead in the first few minutes of the second half which came from us not keeping possession. Our passing hadn’t been crisp, were short, and QPR took advantage to fight for the ball putting our players under pressure. As we lost the ball in the far right hand corner from us, the ball flew across the penalty area and their man was behind our players to put the ball into the net from close range. I’d no idea where Casilla was at this stage and will need to see what happened. The mistake of losing the ball at the back had cost us dearly. QPR went on the attack and Casilla was forced into making a couple of good saves to keep them out. Alioski brought out a great save from their keeper as he crossed the ball from the left when it looked ready to dip under the bar. When Phillips was subbed I was mystified because there were plenty of other players I would have brought off before him. I had to hope that Bielsa knew what he was doing. Douglas had a fantastic chance to score only to blast the ball high into the stand. It should have been on target at least. Frustrations were creeping in amongst the support with the miss although the fans were still getting behind the team. We had another great chance to equalise but the ball wouldn’t go in after first Dallas, then Bamford had their goalie making the saves and living a charmed life. I felt if we could get one goal then we’d get another but the longer the game went on, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Izzy Brown came on for his debut; many Leeds fans think he is going to make a difference to us. My first impressions of him weren’t great, because his first tackle could have had him seeing red as soon as he got on the pitch. I would have taken a draw but the loss saw Leeds stay in third place on goal difference. Scoring is an issue at the moment that’s for sure despite all the possession we are having.

Knowing how demoralised I felt at the end of the game, I could empathise with Bielsa after seeing the photo of him on social media, slumped on his haunches. We have to “Keep Fighting” every game and still get as many points as possible as it is not over yet. Please don’t put us through the horrors of the play offs Leeds, we need to aspire to automatic promotion and it isn’t over until the fat lady sings so they say! Keep the faith Leeds fans, as always we will have our ups and downs as we keep Marching on Together! For those fans who had to endure the normalities of motorway closures on an away day which meant some of our northern contingent didn’t get home until 4am, I hope the players appreciate what our supporters do to follow their team. West Bromwich Albion at home is going to be another key game this week so see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers 23rd February 2019 at Elland Road

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Firstly, it was good to hear that Jack Clarke’s recent illness has been diagnosed as a virus and that he is back in light training. Get better soon Jack and I look forward to seeing you back on the pitch.

The soap opera of Leeds United reflects my own family, with always something going on. This time it was the news that we had been found guilty of spygate by the EFL and had been fined £200,000. What a load of rubbish, as this ended up out of hand due to lies that were spread. What I want to know, is why Frank Lampard has not been brought up for bringing the game into disrepute for spreading those lies? That isn’t showing goodwill towards us so what is different? The answer is nothing, it’s just that we are called Leeds United and there is one rule for us and one for everyone else. No one will change my mind about that as I’ve seen too much of it sadly and although the club accepted the fine to move on quickly, I would have liked to have seen us fight back for once. 

Today was a glorious spring day as we headed to Elland Road for an actual Saturday 3pm kick off and another sellout crowd from the home fans. It certainly makes you feel better and blows the clouds away when the weather is nice like this. As we’d gone down to third on goal difference due to the postponement of our game, against QPR, my stance is that we should ignore everyone else and concentrate on Leeds United only. Just keep getting the points and see where the land lies later on.

It was nice to meet up with some Dublin Whites by Billy’s statue and also in the Peacock and I appreciate the comments made to me. Some Ajax fans were in the Peacock too who had come to watch Leeds and I met a group from Malaysia who had come to Elland Road for the first time as well. Such is the pull of Leeds United; this shows our worldwide support including our Scandinavian contingent who had travelled to the game as well. I’d agreed to meet up with the Nottingham Whites for a photo by Don Revie’s statue before heading into the ground. My granddaughter Laura went in the family stand today with my sister Erica and niece Siobhan and she was looking forward to sitting down! It’s standing room only in the Kop so my granddaughter Alexis who is smaller took on that role today, with some help from my daughter Danielle.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Klich, Phillips, Bamford, Harrison, Alioski, Roberts and Hernandez. Subs: Dallas for Roberts (81) and Shackleton for Ayling (90+4). Attendance was 34,144 with approx. 500 Bolton fans. Leeds won the game 2-1 with a penalty by Bamford (16) and Alioski (68) with the winner.

There was a good atmosphere around the ground as the game kicked off. It was Bolton who came close to scoring in the first few minutes with Casilla making the save before Alioski came close with a shot that was tipped over the bar. As is usual, Bolton were showing that they were going to raise their game as they were playing us. Also with some of the tackles flying in, they were going to play by foul means if they had to. They got away with a yellow card for a couple even though the ref pulled them up for it. As we attacked the South Stand Roberts was brought down for a blatant penalty which was given straight away by the ref. That is only our second one of the season and after a few arguments as to who would be our penalty taker, Bamford stepped up to send the goalie the wrong way to put us into the lead on 16 minutes. As soon as he’d given that decision for us, it seemed that the ref had realised he couldn’t do anything in our favour as every little touch for a while was given as a free kick for Bolton. Casilla had my heart in my mouth a few times as he raced off his line to clear the ball with one coming very close to one of the Bolton players.

As it was, Bolton got an equaliser 10 minutes later when we couldn’t clear the ball. Harrison did well to head the ball off the line with Casilla beaten but then we didn’t clear it and after another 3 attempts with the ball running kindly for Bolton, they put the ball into the net. They weren’t going to give up easily that’s for sure. They could have taken the lead not long after this, but luckily the ball went wide of the post. We had a couple of great chances and Bamford’s header didn’t have enough pace on it and was saved by their goalie which was a shame as it was a good move. Their goalie denied us with a great save too so with the scores evens, we went into the break.

With the second half underway, some great play saw Ayling get the ball in the penalty area who was unlucky not to score as the ball went past the wrong side of the post. Casilla was called into action again saving a long range shot. As Leeds looked to bring Dallas on as sub, he suddenly was sent to run up and down the line again as Bielsa decided to leave things as they were for a while longer.  This paid off as Leeds scored again to retake the lead when Alioski’s cross dipped and their goalie was unable to save it. I haven’t seen it again but it’s been mentioned it was deflected but as long as it’s a goal that’s all that counts. A few minutes later after a bad foul on Alioski, it all kicked off on the touchline and ended up with two of the Bolton players booked and their manager Phil Parkinson sent off. Bielsa walked past the entire melee, went to see that Alioski was okay and was as calm as a cucumber! I think his opposite number should have taken a leaf out of his book! We came close a couple of times but were unable to put some breathing space between the teams and despite Bolton coming close in the last minutes of the game, we were able to see it out and claim the three points.

As we ended the first half on the attack, we were awarded a corner but the referee decided to blow the whistle and not let us take it. I’ve mentioned this; because in injury time in the second half we had already played the five minutes plus more and Bolton were awarded a corner. The ref carried on playing until their corner was taken but luckily we headed the ball clear and got the win. With everything the same at the top of the table, we take on QPR next and as usual it won’t be easy as they’ll raise their game no doubt. Just go out there Leeds United and get the three points as that’s all I want!! See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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


Leeds United v Swansea 13th February 2019 at Elland Road

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It was good to hear that Jack Clarke was released from hospital and although he is still having more tests this week, I wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the pitch.

Personally, my days of multi-tasking and trying to be Superwoman came to an abrupt end yesterday as the soap opera my family seems to have, has taken its toll on me. Things will happen that we’ve to deal with and although has its challenges, it means I’ve had to take a step back. Thanks to the fans who helped me tonight and despite my tears, I am grateful for their time and support which is appreciated.

Elland Road had another sold out sign tonight showing tremendous support from Leeds fans, with the only empty seats being in the away end. As I waited for my sister Erica to meet me at Billy’s statue, it was nice to chat to a number of fans and take their photos. My granddaughter Hannah and daughter Danielle both went into the ground early whilst I had a quick visit to the Peacock before going into the ground. As the teams came out there was a great atmosphere around the stands.  Everyone stood as one to give a minute’s applause to Gordon Banks who was in goal when England won the World Cup in 1966, who has died.

The team: Casilla, Jansson (celebrating his 28th birthday today), Ayling (making his 100th appearance for the club), Cooper, Hernandez, Klich, Roofe, Bamford, Alioski, Harrison and Phillips. Subs: Roberts for Bamford (71), Shackleton for Klich (77) and Davis for Hernandez (90+1). Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals by Jansson (20) and Harrison (34). Attendance was 34,044 with approx. 400 Swansea fans.

The game started off with Leeds seeing plenty of the ball and having a couple of shots off target. As the game went on we looked to settle down more and we took the lead in the 20th minute after a corner. The ball came back in to the box and Jansson put the ball into the net in front of the South Stand which saw great celebrations all around the ground. Even though Swansea kept running at us and always looked dangerous, Leeds were always still looking to attack. Today it looked like all the players had upped their game which was good to see. There were always going to be some passes that went astray, but everyone was fighting to get the ball with players backing each other up. Swansea came close to scoring with a free kick before Leeds went further in front with a goal from Harrison to give us some breathing space. The lad next to me was giving an update regarding Preston taking a two goal lead against Norwich who themselves had missed a penalty. As I’d said to someone before the game we need to concentrate on us as anyone can beat anyone in this division. We came close to a third goal before the break but went in at half time in the lead.

Swansea came out for the second half looking to get back into the game and for me they never gave up and always looked dangerous. We were still seeing plenty of the ball, attacking and playing some really good football but couldn’t get that third goal despite coming close. We should have got a penalty when Bamford was wrestled to the ground but none was given, surprise, surprise. Casilla was called upon to make a couple of important saves but was sent the wrong way when Swansea were awarded a penalty in the final minutes of the half. I said that was not a good place to give away a free kick and the lad in front of me turned round and said it’s a penalty!  Despite Swansea being given a lifeline, Leeds battled and the crowd were still urging them on until the final whistle blew. What a relief to realise we’d got the points and gone back to the top of the league as Norwich lost their game at Preston.

Due to QPR being changed it means we have a free Saturday this week which is a shame. The one thing it will do before our next game against Bolton at Elland Road on 23rd February, is give our players time to get over any injuries. I would much rather play games on a Saturday than midweek though. I can’t say anyone played badly tonight and they all played as a team which was good to see. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Middlesbrough v Leeds United 9th February 2019 at The Riverside Stadium

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First of all I want to wish a speedy recovery to young Jack Clarke and hope that he is okay, after an incident in the dugout in the second half resulted in him being taken to hospital. This resulted in 12 minutes of injury time which also included time added for subs and time wasting by Boro.

The #spygate saga rose its head again yesterday with the EFL saying they needed more time to go over their observations. I hope this means that Lampard will be brought to task for exaggerating what happened and look into the cheating of other teams etc. I also realise that pigs may fly too!! It’s a disgrace and they aren’t fit for purpose as we didn’t do anything wrong. What isn’t even questionable either is they don’t even try to hide their biased treatment against Leeds United anymore which shows how blatant it is.

I have made sure I have passed on my opinions about home and away tickets, to Leeds United, The Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) and the Leeds United Supporters Club. I have also completed a survey for LUST and suggest if you are a member and feel strongly about this that you ensure you share those opinions. There is a forthcoming meeting with the club as far as I’m aware to discuss these findings.

With the LFU AGM coming up I am hoping to attend this on a personal level and as a representative of a group of fans. I know there has been a lot of differing opinions being floated around regarding some people wanting their money back which is their right. Personally mine will stay in for whatever project is coming next.

As we headed to Boro on a really windy and stormy day, it reminded me of last year when we had bad snow which prevented lots of our fans getting to it. By the time we got to Leeds and on our way to our stop in Green Hammerton, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. The wind was always going to have an impact on the game though. The time we had at the club passed really quickly as there was plenty of chatting, laughs and support given amongst us and before we knew it we were on our way to the police escort. By the time we got there it had left the services so with another three coaches we set off for the ground in convoy without an escort. Unfortunately due to traffic, taking a wrong turn and eventually getting into the car park late, we only got in the ground two minutes before kickoff. At least we made it as the teams were already on the pitch as I headed to the end to hang my flag up next to the Shropshire Whites flag.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Phillips, Alioski, Harrison, Bamford, Roofe, Clarke and Klich. Subs: Hernandez for Clarke (46), Roberts for Klich (58) and Shackleton for Ayling (80). Score was 1-1 with Phillips scoring for Leeds (90+11) to equalise at the death. Attendance was 30,881 with approx. 4,500 Leeds fans.

Today was always going to be an important game to try and get us back on track after last week’s defeat by Norwich. Bielsa doesn’t make many changes and although I would have liked to see Shackleton start in place of Ayling, he stuck with the latter. Ayling has been struggling for me and maybe a stint on the bench would fully benefit his recovery from his recent injury. One thing I will not condone though is people tweeting abuse at him, he is a member of our team and doesn’t deserve that regardless if he plays well or not. That goes for any of our players. We had a couple of early chances but didn’t get any on target. One thing that didn’t make sense was us putting high balls in which under the conditions and Boro having height in their defence didn’t work. We need to play to our strengths with the ball being on the floor. We had Casilla to thank for making a great save to deny Boro the lead. On 22 minutes Leeds fans joined in with clapping as a tribute to a Boro fan who was killed recently. I got really angry with Leeds a couple of times as we were on the attack but instead of going forwards, we passed it back to Casilla which put us under pressure and gave Boro the impetus to attack us. They were needless decisions especially when they nearly scored. Our best form of defence is attack which has been proven time after time. Boro came close with a corner as their player headed it over. Luckily for us, as it looked like Casilla took his eyes off the ball as their player got to the ball first.

At the start of the second half Hernandez came on in place of Clarke. Within two minutes our change of tactics contributed to Boro taking the lead as their player ended up in loads of space at the edge of the box. As the ball hit the back of the net that sinking feeling in my stomach appeared again. Despite Boro taking the lead we tried taking the game to them and weren’t giving up. We didn’t always get a run of the ball sadly but we were still trying to get into the game. We came close a couple of times and we should have taken our chance when Bamford hit the ball wide from close range when it really should have hit the back of the net. Their goalie was leading a charmed life when he made a couple of point blank saves to keep us out. As Boro started play acting and time wasting this wound up the Leeds fans. As their player took ages to get off the pitch the referee wasn’t even watching him as he stopped, clapped the Boro fans and hugged his players before eventually getting off the pitch. A couple of minutes after Shackleton came on in place of Ayling Leeds won a corner. Instead of us taking it everything halted and I couldn’t understand why until someone said something had happened in the Leeds dug out. I saw the Paramedics there as I zoomed in with my camera but couldn’t see who it was. The game stopped for a long while so I went to get my flag; the game resumed as our player was put on a stretcher. It was only afterwards that I found out it was Clarke who needed treatment and was taken to hospital after being taken ill. Fingers crossed it isn’t anything too serious and he makes a full and quick recovery. I’d said to one of the Shropshire lads that we needed to play until the final whistle on 90 minutes then realised that it was already past that. I then said until 102 minutes instead and never give up.

As the game resumed, I decided to wait on the stairs in the corner of the stand. I did think that if Leeds scored it wouldn’t be a good place to be as the fans would come hurtling down the stairs. Well I must have had a premonition as we did indeed get that equaliser on 101 minutes. As the ball flew across the area it was headed in to the net by Phillips. I couldn’t work out who had the final touch of the ball until Leeds fans started singing “He’s magic you know, Phillips the Yorkshire Perlo”. I was right in the thick of it as fans came flying down the stairs to the front and going nuts. I moved to the side, grabbed my bag as my feet shot out from under me as I’d no grip on them. Luckily as I fell my bum landed on the seat so I was fine but it could have been so much worse. I then stood on my seat to see and take photos as Leeds fans celebrated. I did see a little lad being lifted over the front and taken by our stewards down the tunnel. I hope he was okay and not sure if he’d just been separated from whoever was with him by the celebrations. As we celebrated as if it was a winner, that goal meant we won a very hard point which could prove to be a turning point for us. The conditions were not brilliant today but we persevered which got us a just result. That goal was for Jack Clarke!

My camera suffered a fault as it wouldn’t let me see the screen at the back of it but worked okay on a selfie. I think I’ve sorted it but as we have Swansea at home next Wednesday it is needed! With QPR away being changed due to their progress in the FA Cup it means even more changes to our forthcoming fixtures on top of the live TV games. Let’s get Swansea over the line first so see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

Leeds United v Norwich City 2nd February 2019 at Elland Road

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As usual things are never straight forward for Leeds United. With lots of fans staying up for the transfer deadline on Thursday evening with the imminent signing of Dan James from Swansea, I went to bed. It was only the next day that I found the deal to be off due to Swansea in fighting, but I found the way they’d handled it as deplorable. What a terrible thing to do to a young player who was sat at his “new” club waiting for things to be finalised. Having just got home from the game tonight and hearing Swansea have parted ways with their chairman it looks like they have lots going on behind the scenes. I really liked Swansea at one time due to them playing in white and having the supporters having a say in the running of the club. How things change!

My granddaughter Laura and I bumped into some Irish lads from Enniskillen as we headed to The Peacock. The pub itself was absolutely heaving before the game and I didn’t even attempt to get to the bar which was about five deep everywhere. There was a good atmosphere though with plenty of singing. I met Mick from the Nottingham Whites who had bought one of my books to sign. He then bought Follow Me and Leeds United from me too so I hope he enjoys the read. He gave me some fantastic feedback from reading my book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 and I thank him for that. I’d already bumped into Matt prior to getting to the Peacock and thanks to him and also Linsey and Katie for buying this book also. As always I appreciate the support.

Fans had laid flowers at Billy’s statue in memory of Toby Nye and there was also a minute’s applause at the start of the game for both Toby and a little girl Sophie a Norwich City fan, who had also died from cancer as well as ex Leeds player Phil Masinga. Life can be very cruel sadly.

The team: Casilla, Cooper, Jansson, Ayling, Harrison, Alioski, Roofe, Hernandez, Roberts, Forshaw and Klich. Subs: Douglas for Harrison (46), Clarke for Hernandez, (46) and Bamford for Roberts (63). Leeds lost the game 3-1 with Bamford scoring for Leeds (90+1). Attendance was 36,524 with 2,465 Norwich fans.

The ground was rocking as the game kicked off with a sellout which included a full away end for once. The scarves held up all around the ground looked spectacular and I loved seeing that again. Leeds started off on the attack but within five minutes of the start were once again having to come from behind as Norwich took the lead. We gave away a free kick on the edge of the box and the ball found the top corner of the net in front of us via a deflection off the wall. We had a good chance to equalise as the ball fell to Alioski in the box but his shot skimmed across the front of the goal going wide. We had a couple of shots on target which were easily saved by their goalie. The referee should have twice booked two of the Norwich players for diving and cheating once the game stopped but he didn’t even speak to them. With Norwich being one of the teams to send a letter regarding our “spygate” to the EFL, had also painted the away dressing room pink to try and gain an advantage, it just shows what double standards they have. Before half time we had a great chance with Roberts through on goal only for him to be brought down by their goalie. I thought he was out of his area so it wouldn’t be a penalty, but as he was the last man he should have walked. A booking only sufficed but our resulting free kick was poor. Norwich were looking stronger than us as we looked weak when trying to get the ball from them. Even when we won the ball back we would give it away easily. Forshaw looked very calm as he took the ball then suddenly lost it and the ball just ran perfectly for Norwich as their player tapped it into the net after an initial strike deflected into his path to put them two goals up. Before the game I’d been asked if I was worried about playing Norwich and I said no. I only concentrate on Leeds United and take no notice of other teams. I will always make my judgements when watching the game myself. I realised we had a mountain to climb but thought we’d a few players not pulling their weight. We had got a different formation today with both Roberts and Roofe playing but I felt it wasn’t working well at all. Once again Harrison looked lightweight and he hasn’t proved to me that he deserves a place in the starting lineup only as an impact sub probably. Roofe was being well shackled and to be honest I think we missed Phillips in the team. Bielsa made his judgement to keep him on the bench today but I think it was a mistake not to have him on the pitch. Ayling also looks to be struggling and is definitely not playing well. That saying, we got the ball into the net just on the half time whistle and it took me a minute to realise the ref had disallowed it. Their goalie lost the ball and it should have stood. Sorry I forgot we are not allowed to challenge in the penalty area!

We were still positive going into the second half even though we were two goals down. Both Harrison and Hernandez were subbed for Douglas and Clarke but it didn’t make a difference to the way we played. I thought Douglas was very poor when he came on and would much rather have put Alioski at left back and brought Phillips on. It was ages before we got the ball to Clarke too but when he did get it, he always looked dangerous. Norwich were still the stronger of the teams overall but their play acting I can well do without, although we were still giving the ball away far too easily. Maybe when things are so difficult in getting near the penalty area we should try having more shots from outside the box. I know many will go skyward but catching the goalie unawares may work. To cap it all, Norwich got a third goal when the ball went through Casilla’s legs to put the score beyond doubt. Bamford hit the crossbar before getting a consolation goal for us in injury time. With the home terraces emptying at great speed, we stayed where we were until the bitter end. It was a very disappointing game for Leeds and I don’t think we played well at all, only in small patches.

As always we have to move on and that will be for the Boro game next week which is now another early kick off apparently due to police advice. I will take the game as it comes even though it will be tough. There is still a long way to go to see how the season ends, but anyone can beat anyone in this division as we found out today. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

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

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