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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday 17th March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Wolves 7th March 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Leeds United v Brentford 24th February 2018 at Elland Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Sporting Memories and Follow Me and Leeds United

Book preview link on Sporting Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Caught the action with Roofe’s equaliser!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My end of game comments today

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Cardiff 3rd February 2018 at Elland Road   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My end of game comments

 

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Eric Carlile’s funeral 2nd February 2018

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

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

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

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

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Hull City 30th January 2018 at the KCOM Stadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardiff at home on Saturday is a must win game for us now so nothing but three points will do. See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

Heidi’s video comments at the end of the game

 

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

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

Millwall 20th January 2018

Today I was heading in early to Leeds with my daughter and granddaughter following later. My first stop was at the Peacock to meet Rob who was joining me at BBC Radio Leeds for an interview regarding a community project. Big congratulations to Katherine Hannah and her husband on the birth of their baby girl and I look forward to seeing her back at Elland Road with a new Leeds fan! Following this I headed back to the Peacock to meet a couple of guys from a media company in London to do an interview about why both clubs are hated. I’ve no idea how I will come across as you have to think on your feet but I didn’t agree with the comments from a couple of Millwall fans who they interviewed last night. They said that we were the Millwall fans of the north!!  I don’t think so! The one thing I did forget to say was about us getting ambushed at the services by Millwall fans on our way back from Fulham in the 80s. They had come over to our side of the motorway at Leicester Forest to wait for us when all the Leeds fans turned up. As I went and hid in the ladies loos, they were returned to the other side of the motorway pronto with some even risking their lives by running over all six lanes of the motorway! After completing my third interview for All Leeds TV I can honestly say that I’ve been in demand today! I’d been asked what I thought the score would be today but I said I wouldn’t predict anything as I always get it wrong but hoped for a win. When I was told that Millwall hadn’t won away all season I immediately said, that’s the worst thing to hear because it always works out the other way once it’s mentioned! I’m positive that they’ll raise their game to play us too. When Dani and Laura arrived later I headed up to the White Rose to pick them up, having a quick chat with my friends Sue and Paul on the way before going straight into the ground on our return.

There was great news for little Toby Nye this week. To hear that through the pleas of the club, everyone including fans and players had done a fantastic job and raised the £200,000 for his next treatment for his Neuroblastoma. Saiz donated the last £25,000 after his recent misdemeanour at Newport for spitting to enable the total to be reached. Well done to everyone involved and I’m proud to see this has been achieved. Toby was also going to make his last appearance at Elland Road today before starting the treatment next week.  It was lovely to see him being carried out by Liam Cooper before getting the chance to run about on the pitch. Good luck little man and I look forward to seeing you back at Elland Road in the near future.

The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi, Cooper (sent off straight red), Jansson, Laurens De Bock (making his debut at left back), Roofe, Lassoga, Hernandez, Phillips, Vieira and Alioski. Subs were Pennington for Vieira (43), Dallas for Roofe (74) and Shaughnessy for Lasogga (83). Attendance was 33,564 with 1,285 Millwall fans (bubble trip removed for this game). Millwall won 4-3 with Leeds scorers Lasogga 46 and 62 and Roofe 55.

The first pass from De Bock was fantastic right across to the far right of the pitch to the feet of our player. That was an impressive start in my eyes. Wiedwald was called into an early save before we had two great chances to take the lead in the opening minutes. Lasogga had two clear chances to score, the first one a header straight to the goalie and the second one saved by the advancing goalie where a chip over him may have resulted in a goal. I can’t even pinpoint where things changed because all of a sudden Millwall took charge. They scored a goal and as they celebrated, the Leeds fans started cheering as it was disallowed. My fear then was because of all the jeering they would come back even stronger. Sadly that turned out to be as they scored another goal more of less straight away, well it felt that way! How Morison our ex player got away with antagonising the Leeds fans in the Kop and North East lower I will never know. When Berardi got booked for celebrating his first goal at Newport the other week with his own fans, how could someone who was deliberately goading the opposition fans to get a reaction be ignored? Morison was never good enough for us and swapping Becchio for him was the worst deal ever at the time.

They then got a second wind where they were stronger, bullying and intimidating us. A push in the back by Phillips was silly and gave them a free kick but I expect consistency from referees. As usual two that happened to us were ignored. I didn’t realise until they had a corner how tall some of their players were with one being 6’ 7” or so I heard after the game.  We were struggling to contain Millwall by the end of the half and then a third red card in three games happened when Cooper made a late challenge on their player. I don’t think he’d been having a good game but Millwall players immediately surrounded the referee which then resulted with him being shown the card. The Millwall bench also took off to our bench although I didn’t see what or how this happened but both teams had an assistant manager sent to the stands. It baffles me how we have had straight reds for fouls when others just get a yellow card for doing the same thing? Down to 10 men once again and to make matters worse just as we were looking to make a sub they scored a second goal. Morison once again goaded the fans with the referee completely ignoring his behaviour. This is another time where we were going to bring a sub on and the opposition scored. At this point we looked down and out as the half time whistle blew after three minutes of injury time. To be honest I expected about six!

At half time I think my friends and I were a little shell shocked as there was no answer to the way we had collapsed. As I was going back into the stand Susan said a 2-2 draw will do and the lad next to me agreed that a 3-2 win would be better.

Well our 10 men stood up to be counted in the second half as within 30 seconds Lasogga had scored to pull a goal back. That got the fans revved up and between our players and the fans on the terraces; we joined forces to rack up the pressure. I suddenly realised that Berardi had gone back over the left hand side of the pitch. He had been playing in his normal position at right back  now we had cover at left back and Ayling was out injured. We started playing with vigour and putting some great attacking football in. Whatever Christiansen had said to the team at half time, it worked. Although Millwall hadn’t given up at this point with Wiedwald called into action, we got an equaliser after a massive scramble on the goal line after their goalie spilled a shot. The noise ramped up to a crescendo all around the ground as Leeds fans celebrated. We had the upper hand at this stage and the Leeds fans were sent delirious when Lasogga got his second goal of the game to put us into the lead. With 10 men we had played better than with 11 and to score three goals in this way was unbelievable. I just hoped we could keep going. Roofe was subbed first and then Lasogga who had been fouled earlier went off too. For me it was too early to defend a lead with seven minutes of normal time left and four minutes of injury time. As our best form of defence had been attack this depleted our attack and personally I wouldn’t have had a defender on. Someone fast up front to run at them would have taken the pressure off us. Unfortunately this proved to be our downfall as Millwall got their equaliser and then deep into stoppage time won the game with a deflected goal.

Although the first half had been horrendous for us, this was another game where we didn’t deserve to get nothing out of it. Having 10 men in the end probably cost us. Despite the result, we have shown what we can do and have to learn to do this for 90 minutes and not 45. Also keeping 11 men on the pitch would be good too although you can’t help but think referees have an agenda against us! For those who think the Kop doesn’t sing, well I can assure you every Leeds fan did their job in the second half creating the fantastic atmosphere which is something I love. Eddie Gray got his rendition of oh, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie Gray by me on the 70th minute and others a few minutes later. We may have been beaten in the end but I saw hope today, that we aren’t dead and buried even though the score line says we lost. I’m proud to be a Leeds fan as always. With no game next week due to the FA Cup 5th round the Leeds team are having a break in Murcia I think Christiansen said. Hopefully the warm climate will do some healing as despite the players being out through suspensions (with Phillips joining them as well today), we seem to be thin on the ground.

As an aside and I know I mention the ladies loos in the Kop don’t have seats, I think we can add leaking toilets and locks missing to them too. I look forward to the day I don’t have to moan about this!

Time will tell what happens next with the rearranged game at Hull coming the day before the end of the transfer window. See you there LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Video comments by Heidi Haigh at the end of the game

Ipswich away 13th January 2018

After last week’s disappointing effort and result at Newport which ended with me having swollen legs after a 15 hour round trip, the dread of having to go to Ipswich with half of the team injured made me want to forget it and not bother. Of course, it turned out to be a fleeting feeling. All thoughts of not wanting to go went out of my head on hearing the sad news that Eric Carlile had died. Eric was at the forefront of the Leeds United Supporters Club for 50 years and my first memories of him was enrolling me as a postal branch member in the early 70s. Eric did a lot for us fans over the years with the all ticket games and will not be forgotten. Having kept in touch with him by sending Christmas cards he will be sadly missed. Leeds United fans led by Mick Hewitt and the LUSC South Kirkby Branch, raised a glass to Eric in the Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds at 12.00pm. RIP Eric.

Having done my good deed of the day by picking Gaz and Ella up (thanks for the breakfast), I answered a plea on WACCOE to bring some tickets down to Ipswich and declined the offer of a bottle of booze. As the lad could no longer make it he didn’t want to let his mate down who he was meeting at the ground to give him his tickets. I met him at Elland Road at 7.30 am with his baby boy to get the tickets off him and can confirm they were promptly delivered to the right person on arrival at Ipswich. This is what Leeds United fans are about, always helping each other out when they can and I will always do that willingly if I am able.

As well as doing a voice message for BBC Radio Leeds I have a message for Eddie Gray. Eddie is 70 on Wednesday so happy birthday. It doesn’t seem two minutes since he was tearing Chelsea apart at Wembley in 1970 and it’s such a shame we never got our just desserts in that game. If we’d have avoided the replay they wouldn’t have had chance to put Eddie out of the game with a brutal tackle. “Happy 70th birthday Eddie. It doesn’t seem two minutes since I saw you terrorising the Chelsea players on the wing at Wembley in 1970 on that terrible pitch after the horse of the year show. That display was fantastic and always stands out in my mind. You are a fantastic ambassador for Leeds United, not only for the club but for us fans too. Always willing to take part in events or in my case did the foreword for my first book Follow Me and Leeds United which I am very grateful for. I used to love the supporters club events at Menwith Hill which all the team came to. I’ve a confession to make, I never did drink that crème de menthe you bought my friend Carole and I and said we had to drink it, I gave it to Carole! So sorry!”

I would like to say something to the fans in the pub who caused them to cease serving beer just before we were leaving. By all means have a good time, have a drink but take responsibility for your actions. You had been asked to stop swearing when singing and it quietened down for a while but then you did it again. I know that I asked some lads to think about it earlier. Although I don’t use the men’s loos I believe these weren’t left in too good a state either. Just remember that this reflects on every Leeds fan and as this pub is one we have been going to for years without any issues, it is possible we won’t be allowed back. There were plenty families in there and some had walked out; maybe without the swearing they wouldn’t have felt so intimidated.

We were still 10 miles out of Ipswich when we received the start of our police escort before pulling into the services. There were at least 15 coaches in the escort which took my memories back to the 80s. It was great in those times seeing the long line of coaches sometimes 30 strong full of Leeds fans. We were then escorted to the ground getting there at 2.30 pm just at the same time as the couple I was meeting. I was stood chatting to a couple of lads and what a coincidence, they had all met up last week at Newport! It’s a small world! The next thing we heard a commotion and saw a load of scarecrows coming down the street. I’d heard that some of the SLI had dressed up today so got some photos. They did look good though! The only disadvantage of everyone arriving at the same time was going up the stairs into the stand which was jam packed with fans. After putting my flag up I headed to my seat just after the team had come out. Thanks for the Selby Whites flag photo Andy Welford!

The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi, Cooper, Jansson, Anita, Roofe, Hernandez, Alioski, O’Kane, Phillips and Cibicki. Subs were Sacko for Cibicki (injured 29), Shaughnessy for Alioski (46) and Lassoga for Anita (78). Leeds lost the game 1-0 with a wonder goal from their player in the 67th minute of the game. Attendance was 18,638 with 3,537 Leeds fans.

Portman Road is never a good place to come to and Ipswich have often been a bogey team for us over the years. I remember our FA Cup run of replays that ended up being played at Filbert Street, Leicester on both the Tuesday and Thursday with Ipswich eventually winning the tie. I also remember coming here in the seventies and getting ambushed in the Sporting Farmer pub. Having arrived at 12.00 pm on a freezing cold coach 15 of us went to the pub and were spotted by approx. 40 Ipswich fans who ran down the road and followed us in. Our lads let me sit between them near the bar which was a good job as I’d have fallen down with fear through the intimidation. I then spent 2½ hours shaking like a leaf. They’d gone out after a couple of hours only to return 100 strong and start singing IRA songs to us. I thought our time was up and it was only by the landlord standing up to them that prevented the pool table full of bottles to descend on us. After they went a load of Leeds fans turned up so I felt safe but not something I wanted to happen in the first place.

As the game kicked off today it was fairly even. Some of our passing wasn’t very good but we’d had a chance and it’s a case you have to take chances when they are there. We were passing the ball across the back four a lot at one point which frustrated me and so we slowed everything down as there was no one taking ownership of the ball. After Cibicki went off injured Sacko was brought on as sub. Many fans would have preferred Dallas to have come on as he was back from injury. For the rest of the first half I could see why fans were worried as it looks like he needed someone to tell him what to do with the ball once he had it. We started playing out from the back and Sacko was through with the ball and Alioski was screaming for the ball at the far side of the pitch in a great position level with the defence with them on the back foot. When Sacko slowed down and waited for everyone to catch up with him and we eventually lost the ball, it looked like he had no idea what to do with the ball and no awareness of other teammates on the pitch. That should have been a great chance for us but we didn’t even get near their goalie to put him under pressure. The ref had already shown his true colours; when Pontus was fouled he’d ignored him and then Cibicki went down. Pontus then started getting very angry. Whilst the trainer was on the pitch Jansson went across to the bench as Christiansen was shouting to him but it looked like he was ignoring him. He did go back to him then but Christiansen kept his hand in front of his mouth when talking to him which had me wondering why he didn’t want anyone lip reading his comments? We had another attack and as O’Kane was following their player to the bye line fighting for the ball, the lad next to me shouted don’t foul him. When their player went down I thought damn he did. The next thing he was shown a red card and sent from the pitch. I was astounded as I never saw anything untoward only someone trying to challenge for the ball. Is this not allowed anymore? Others around me said he had nutted their player and he had to go. On video evidence later on it looked like a case of their player conning the ref, yes he got pushed but I don’t think it was a sending off offence just their player going down like a sack of spuds. If indeed it is found that he cheated then the red card should be rescinded for O’Kane and given to their player! That’s only fair in my eyes. When their player had a tantrum he was only spoken to by the ref although when Jansson had a tantrum he was booked. I was worried that Jansson was losing it though and he is no use to us back in the dressing room. As usual double standards by the ref though and if we had a player all over us it was our player backing in, whereas Ipswich players falling like flies got a free kick! The red card came on 37 minutes and I felt like we were losing by the time half time came especially as Ipswich had a couple of late chances. One direct from a corner hit the post, then another hit the crossbar.

At the start of the second half it took me a few minutes to realise Shaughnessy had come on and had to work out that it was Alioski that had been taken off. We actually played better with 10 men than we did with 11 although it took us a while to get on top. Anita who had been quiet in the first half looked a lot better and was getting in some good tackles and played well in front of us. It seemed to go against the run of play when Ipswich scored an absolute screamer of a goal which proved to be the winner. There was nothing we could do to save this but we gave their player too much space. I bet if he tried that again he wouldn’t score in a month of Sundays so that was a pain. We brought Lasogga on as we tried to get an equaliser which we nearly did when their goalie made a great save from him to prevent us getting something out of the game. I think a draw would have been a true reflection of the game but as always the score says otherwise and we came away empty handed. The fans let the ref know their feelings at the end of the game but the team were clapped off the pitch. Our fans had been singing for most of the game but “you only sing when you’re winning” came to mind for the Ipswich fans as they’d been quiet for most of the game.

We’re at home next week against Millwall and their fans have had their ticket restrictions lifted so we will see if they bring more fans to Elland Road. I’ve also been asked if we can get the atmosphere in the Kop going that day with flags and scarves trying to recreate days gone by. I feel sure once our cd comes out and apologies for the delay but it’s got to be right, there will be a fair few fans relishing singing some of the songs again. In the meantime if we get it right on the pitch, the stands follow suit with the atmosphere. We can be the twelfth man and help the team by doing this. I do realise how disheartened some fans get as I was very disappointed last week. Despite the loss today I felt more heartened that we didn’t lie down and die and did show some great attacks, unfortunately the final balls didn’t put their goalie under pressure. Once again though we have another injury and that is something that concerns me greatly. Can we go back to traditional football boots please and see if that makes a difference? I do wonder why it is happening though so if anyone has any other ideas please let me know as I’d appreciate their input. As usual time will tell how we recover from these defeats over the last two weeks. Just think though for the second year running if we’d have got through to the 4th round of the FA Cup we’d have had a big pay day with home ties against Arsenal and Spurs respectively. Why we would turn down the chance of a good cup run I’ve no idea? I don’t agree with those fans who say we are never going to win it anyway and promotion is the be all and end all; you never will if you don’t try! Winning breeds winning and if we don’t get in the top six by any chance it would have been nice to have something to shout about by progressing in the cup. At this moment in time we feel a long way away from a promotion side but as things can change very quickly in this division with any team capable of beating anyone on their day, then you never know.  We aren’t out of things yet and we just have to “Keep Fighting”. See you next week LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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After game comments for BBC Radio Leeds – West Yorkshire Sport

 

 

Newport County A 7th January 2018 – FA Cup 3rd Round

Up at 4.00 am to travel to Leeds for the coach to Newport shows the lengths us Leeds fans have to go to when following our team. For once some of the Thames Valley Whites will be setting off around 10.00 am as this game is relatively close for once, so really I have nothing to moan about as early set offs are a regular occurrence for them and others. As usual I didn’t sleep well knowing I had to be up early so thank goodness I am able to sleep on the coach. Having to defrost my car before setting off meant it’s going to be a cold one today too. At least the early morning set off meant not much traffic on the roads so even taking it steady I got to Elland Road by 5.20 am.

Going back 12 months I will never forgive Monk for throwing in the towel at Sutton who deserved their win on the day. Our visit to Newport is on similar lines and will be a big test for Leeds especially as some of the fringe players will be involved. The FA Cup is still important to me as I am a traditionalist and I am privileged to have been at Wembley in 1972 to see my hero Billy Bremner lift the cup. A good cup run will do us the world of good and yes my hopes of winning the cup may be obscure, but I live in hope that we treat this game with respect. Also the fans who are travelling there today want to be treated with respect too and seeing the team give everything to come away with a win is all that is asked. That said I decided to tweet the club yesterday with my comments about respecting the FA Cup and the fans and just hoped it didn’t fall on deaf ears. Newport is also a new ground to go to with Leeds so I am looking forward to adding this ground to my list of grounds visited. I had a conversation in McDonalds about all the new grounds there are now in comparison to grounds we have visited in the past. With Maine Road and Ayresome Park having bitten the dust they are two grounds I was glad to see the back of, as they were the two worst grounds to visit as a Leeds fan in the seventies.

After a good sleep, I woke up just before we arrived in Monmouth for a short pub stop along with the Harrogate Whites. It was a nice break despite it being short and as I left I took some requested photos of the Harrogate Whites outside the pub. We arrived in Newport in plenty of time for kick off, getting dropped off right outside the turnstiles. After hanging my flag up behind the goal I made my way to the side stand where my seat was as I was in the auto cup scheme. It was nice to see decent facilities for a small ground which puts some others like QPR to shame. The sun was shining and warmer than I’d dared hope for in the side stand. The ones behind the goal weren’t as lucky as they weren’t in the sun and Sue said the biting wind didn’t help either.

The team today had nine changes which I wasn’t happy about overall as that was too many in my eyes. Lonergan, Berardi (captain), Shaunghnessy, Anita, Borthwick-Jackson, Klich, Lasogga, Grot, Sacko, Cibicki and Phillips. Subs were Cooper for Borthwick-Jackson (60), Saiz for Grot (74). I had no problems with our four youngsters being part of the team on the bench today to give them the experience of being involved (Liam Kitching, Tom Pearce, Oriol Ray and Jack Clarke). If we had been a few goals up then that would have been the time to introduce one of them but not otherwise. The attendance was 6,887 with 1,040 Leeds fans although there were many more in the home ends. Leeds lost 2-1 with Berardi scoring his first goal for Leeds (10). (Sue and I shared the golden goal prize of £20 having been put down with the initials TT which we correctly worked out as the Terrible Twins – something my mum always calls us too!)

What I wanted more than anything was for Leeds to take this game seriously and not under estimate Newport. The game was fairly even before we had an attack and Berardi playing in an unfamiliar place in the middle of the back four alongside Shaunghnessy, let fly with a shot from outside the area (apparently hitting Lasogga on the way in) to score his first goal for Leeds. I was so pleased for him as he ran to the fans behind the goal to celebrate only to get a booking for it, which was a harsh decision in my opinion. What’s wrong with celebrating your first goal for crying out loud?  That was an unexpected bonus though and I hoped we could build on that goal. Today’s game was also a big test for me to see if the club had the same ambitions as I did. Although we didn’t shine for the rest of the first half we more or less matched Newport who didn’t give up but they also came close to an equaliser.

The second half saw the Leeds fans behind the goal and those of us in the side Bisley Stand creating an atmosphere between ourselves which caused a lot of laughs.  Meanwhile on the pitch we were very lucky to keep Newport out as they kept on attacking us. Although we had a couple of shots on target, I was frustrated when we went backwards instead of attacking as we only invited Newport to put pressure on us. They came very near two or three times when I was convinced they had scored but luckily they hadn’t. When we went forward we couldn’t get any decent crosses in to give us a clear shot at goal. I wanted us to add to the goal as the longer the game went on there was always a chance Newport would pull one back. The equaliser came when Sacko messed about in front of us and allowed Newport to win the ball back and it ended up in the back of the net to give them hope when it deflected from Shaughnessy. Instead of us going for the winner we allowed Newport time and space to keep on attacking us. Saiz came on for Grot but hardly touched the ball and I felt the sub hadn’t worked and I’d have given Grot the full 90 minutes although Sue thought he may have had a knock. As Newport came close again there was only one team who was going to win it and it wasn’t us. Lo and behold that is exactly what happened in the closing minutes of the game to leave the Leeds fans reeling, gutted and as one lad said to me afterwards, embarrassed by the showing we had put on the pitch. Many others were downright angry as once again the fans and the FA Cup had been shown disrespect.

Never mind saying we were never going to win it; why not? It won’t unless we try that’s for sure and I’d rather give it a good go and get the feel good factor going together with hope, than to not give a damn. Winning breeds winning and if we don’t get the chance to go up automatically or get in the play offs this season then once again it is an opportunity lost to keep the fans onside. Also the chance of getting back into Europe is also a factor. I for one along with others, long to see the day we win the FA Cup again and for fans to say the FA Cup doesn’t matter, then sorry but it should. It’s a shame the club chose to ignore my video I sent through yesterday because after Berardi scored, there is no way we should have lost that game. We should have battled for everything and built on his goal. Saiz also got sent off after their winner with those around me in the Bisley stand saying it was for spitting. Sorry but if that is the case; it isn’t acceptable under any circumstances as it is disgusting. As I got to my flag some fans were mystified as to why he’d been sent off so I told them what the reason was according to those around me in the side stand.

At the final whistle I did both a video for Sportsline (Made in Leeds) so will be ringing them tomorrow evening and also a voice message for BBC Radio Leeds – West Yorkshire Sport which should have been read out after the game. To say I was disappointed is an understatement with many others very angry at the don’t care attitude of many of the players. It’s a real low again knowing we have been beaten rather than getting something out of the game.

There are no excuses now Leeds as to not turning up for any games for the remaining season. Putting weakened teams out is flawed in my opinion and shouldn’t be allowed. Fine teams if they do, but I think the greed of premiership money has changed football beyond recognition. Arriving home at 7.00 pm meant a round journey time trip of 15 hours. Thanks for the no show Leeds! Once again our support is tested to the limit with our loyalty taken for granted but then once we’ve slept on it our eyes turn to the next game. Next week sees us travel to Ipswich for another far away game but at least it is on a Saturday. See you there LUFC-  Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Newport game preview by Heidi Haigh 6/1/18

Newport end of game comments by Heidi Haigh 7/1/18

Newport Voicemail for BBC Radio Leeds – West Yorkshire Sport by Heidi Haigh 7/1/18

Nottingham Forest 1st January 2018

I hope everyone has had a Happy New Year, a great night seeing in 2018 and are not feeling too rough today. Luckily for me as I stopped drinking alcohol over 30 years ago, I don’t have that problem but had a lovely evening with my eldest daughter and family: I laughed that much my throat hurt!  I also wish my sister Erica a very happy birthday for today too.

When we set off from home the sun was shining and it felt like good football weather but that soon changed once we got to Leeds. My daughter Dani, granddaughter Hannah and I didn’t arrive at Elland Road until 2.10 pm but then sat in the car a while listening to BBC Radio Leeds. Having done a preview of the game for them we wanted to listen to it, but once again it wasn’t played whilst listening to the programme. At 2.45 pm we gave up and went into the ground as the rain started so I’ve no idea if it did get played at all. My mum, sister Karin and friends Carole and Ashley had heard the one I did before the Birmingham game but I’d missed that one too. I do have the recordings myself anyway so I can listen to it again so never mind.

I was stood taking photos before the kick off and a steward came up to me asking me to move. I said I was taking photos for my blog and would move at the start of the game. Just as I was getting ready to move to my seat one of the stewards I knew came and spoke to me. He’d been told there was a woman taking photos and he said its okay it’s Heidi!  Thanks for the support.

The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Berardi, Jansson, Cooper, Roofe, Hernandez, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski and O’Kane. Subs were Anita for Ayling (26), Lasogga for Alioski (46) and Sacko for Roofe (80). Attendance was 32,426 with 917 Forest fans. The game was a no score draw (0-0). Forest had sacked their manager the day before so I hoped it was not another game where the opposition raised their game.

As the game kicked off I felt that Forest were there for the taking as we had our first attack. If we thought Forest were going to lie down and die for us, then unfortunately we were sadly mistaken. We were nearly a goal down when their man was through on goal only for Cooper to make a fantastic tackle at the last minute to deny them a shooting chance. We had a goal scoring chance at the other end when Jansson’s header was cleared off the line and as the ball rebounded to Roofe he hit it over the bar. Forest were getting to grips with the game as we tried to break them down. Ayling went down after a tackle from Bridcutt caused him an injury. We’d seen Bridcutt go and say something to Ayling but didn’t realise he was the one who had fouled him in the first place and cut him by the sounds of it. He was treated and got up to carry on but was still limping. It wasn’t a surprise to see him go down again on 26 minutes and he was then subbed with Anita coming on. Straight away Berardi swapped to right back his correct position as Anita went to left back. It took a while for Berardi to settle down in that position in my opinion as he is so used to playing at left back. We didn’t play particularly well in the first half but it wasn’t as bad as the Birmingham game going in 0-0 at the break. I thought Saiz was a lot quieter but thought that was because he had come back from injury at the Birmingham game.

My friend Carole said we would be okay and the second half would be better. Lasogga came on at the start of the second half in place of Alioski. The second half was indeed better with Saiz back to his normal self but it ended up being a half of frustrations. We were unlucky not to take the lead after some great play from Saiz on the right hand side of the goal, when he passed the ball to Roofe. As we waited for the ball to hit the net, it hit the crossbar instead and rebounded to be cleared away. A short while after, Roofe should have repaid the favour and passed the ball to Saiz or Lasogga as they ran through the Forest defence alongside him. As there was a gap in front of him he shot instead and the ball went over the crossbar. That was probably a chance missed unfortunately. It could also have proved costly as Wiedwald had to make a fantastic save to tip the ball over the crossbar to prevent Forest scoring against the run of play at the other end. This gave Forest impetus to attack us and Wiedwald made another save to keep them out. We had a couple of chances with headers from both Jansson and Lasogga (didn’t have enough pace on his) but their goalie was leading a charmed life and saving whatever came his way. The referee at this time was making some atrocious decisions when our players were being rugby tackled and let Forest get away with it and pulling us up for innocuous challenges. The home crowd were up in arms at this stage and the linesmen were no better as one foul on the left of the pitch was right in front of one of them. It looks like they should have borrowed my glasses as they were terrible decisions. My fear at this late stage was that Forest would steal a winner but they didn’t and it looked like the game was going to end in a 0-0 draw. I was right in my thinking when another six minutes of injury time was put up and although we attacked some more we had to settle for the draw and one point. The positive is that it is better than losing by getting the point but it was an extremely frustrating game for us Leeds fans. The ref got some stick at the end of the game too which he deserved for an inept performance.

It was disappointing to only get a point overall from the last two games but we are still in the top six although it is very tight from 2nd place to 9th; Wolverhampton Wanderers being an impressive nine points ahead of 2nd at this stage of the season. Obviously things can change very easily in this division but we are still in the mix.

Next week sees us visit Newport County in the FA Cup 3rd round. I have a message for Leeds United especially after hearing Thomas Christiansen saying he would change the team for the visit. Please do not treat the FA Cup with disdain and disrespect the Leeds United support who will be getting up at silly hours to travel the miles to get there. I hold the FA Cup dear to me and am a traditionalist along with many other fans. Winning breeds winning and after the debacle at Sutton last year, something I would never forgive Monk for, I don’t want the same to happen next week. I’ve no problem with a few changes but we do not need to change the whole team. Having had the privilege of seeing Leeds United win the FA Cup at Wembley in 1972 and seeing my hero Billy Bremner get handed the cup from her Majesty the Queen, I can honestly say the feelings of winning were out of this world. It is also a chance to get in to Europe. If by any chance we do not manage to get into the playoffs or go up automatically (which we should aspire to do), we can still build on things by having the European games ahead of us next season if we actually win the FA Cup. It may be a pie in the sky moment but you never know and I’ll be optimistic providing we take the challenge seriously. As the club hierarchy seems to be looking at challenging for promotion next season and not this, I do believe we should still try to get there. Other fans are looking at us strengthening the team in the January transfer window but obviously time will tell if we do or not. As it is I am looking forward to visiting a new ground next week and look forward to progressing in the FA Cup.  See those of you going next week – LUFC – Marching on Together!

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Comments at the end of the game by Heidi Haigh

Video comments at the end of the game by Heidi Haigh

 

 

Birmingham away 30 December 2017

Could I just put out a plea for as many fans as possible to send a birthday card before 5th January to little Toby Nye the Leeds United fan suffering from cancer. Toby will be five and as he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma on his 4th birthday his family and friends want to make this birthday a special one for him. Cards can be sent to Toby Nye, The Hope Inn, 74 York Road, Leeds LS9 8ES. I’ve got mine ready to send so let’s get as many cards to him that we can!

After all the snow we had yesterday it was good to see that it had melted in readiness for our trip to Birmingham for our last game in 2017. Although I’d glimpsed a magpie out of the corner of my eye I thought I’d ignore it only to see a little bugger sat on top of the traffic lights as I got off the M621 at Elland Road. If I hadn’t have seen people saying Birmingham were bottom the league I wouldn’t have had a clue and I just hoped we wouldn’t see a banana skin today. I’d done a small voice message preview for Adam Pope and BBC Radio Leeds yesterday and I’d said that as long as we didn’t lose, that was the main thing but I wouldn’t make a score prediction as I always get them wrong!

We had a good journey to the Bottle of Sack in Sutton Coldfield where we’ve stopped many times. As usual I’d slept most of the way there but maybe the antibiotics I’m taking had knocked me out. We have a good two hours there and as I went upstairs to find the loos this man asked me where we were playing. I had to think again before saying Birmingham. He was a Notts Forest fan but followed the blues when he moved over here. We had a really long chat as he said he always had a soft spot for Leeds and he’d met Billy Bremner and had got his autograph. He also agreed that Clough should never have come to Leeds. As usual the reason he spoke to me in my opinion is because I was wearing my Leeds colours with pride. 

When we got to the ground, I woke up with a jump as, yes you’ve guessed it I’d fallen asleep! As we got off the coach and through the bag / body search which didn’t take long I heard someone say they couldn’t take their bottles in the ground unless they removed the lids. I volunteered to put a couple of bottles back on the coach till after the game for them as they had travelled by car. I hate clubs doing this because I think it is very unhygienic and you don’t want to drink everything at once. As I waited outside the turnstiles the team coach arrived but sadly without the players having dropped them off already; on my way in a couple of riot police wished us luck  I’m sure that one day I’ll get stuck in the turnstiles as trying to get my bag through with me was a challenge! A couple in the ground complained about having to take their bottle tops off. They were able to get their bottle into the ground as the lady was ill but they had to get permission from their top steward. They could have brought it in the ground in a paper cup though so what actually is the difference? As it was when I was stood in my seat later all of a sudden a pool of water appeared in front of the seat next to me. Obviously someone’s drink had been knocked over. I was just glad that it hadn’t gone into my bag and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to stand in a pool of water all game. That’s another reason why the taking of bottle tops off is flawed.

As I went into the stand to hang my flag up I was going to put it up right behind the goal but was told I couldn’t put it there as I’d be covering the advertising. As I went to get my flag at the end of the game, lo and behold there were a few flags over the advertising so I could have put mine there! I put it up nearer the tunnel where the away dressing room was in the opposite corner from where they come out for the actual game. It was nice to get some feedback about my latest book The Sleeping Giant Awakens from a lad looking for the Keighley Whites. He said he was going to look at it for 10 minutes and looked at the photos first. Two hours later he was still reading it as he couldn’t put it down. He said it was great and what I’d written was exactly as it had happened. That was great to hear and I thanked him for the feedback which was appreciated. As I went under the stand onto the concourse I met the Bournemouth Whites. They knew they were in the book and I found out one of my near neighbours is their friend and they couldn’t believe it when they heard they were in the book loads of times. Hearing some more fans have either got the book for Christmas or getting it soon for their birthday, it’s good to hear that it is very popular and a big thank you to everyone for their support. Lots of fans were also queuing up to have their photos taken so as usual I was happy to oblige.

The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Berardi (playing his 100th game and also Captain for the day), Jansson, Cooper, Shaughnessy, Alioski, Phillips, Hernandez, Roofe and Cibicki. Subs were Saiz for Cibicki (55), Klich for Phillips (69) and Lassoga for Alioski (85). Attendance was 21,673 with 2,484 Leeds fans. Leeds lost the game 1-0 with Birmingham scoring in the 83rd minute.

Leeds were very slow out of the starting block today as Birmingham, despite their position at the foot of the table, raised their game as they were playing us. They wanted the ball more than us and were constantly on the attack. We struggled to get going as Birmingham kept attacking and winning corners but luckily for us their finishing was poor. The ref was terrible, giving free kick after free kick the other way and in the meantime letting fouls go against us. I always think that this gives the other team the impetus and the ball just kept running for them. We had one shot on target in the first half and were hoping for more from the free kick from Hernandez just outside the penalty area but unfortunately we weren’t able to emulate the goal we scored at Burton with the ball being hit too high. The only good thing was us going into half time on an equal footing. Apart from “keep right on to the end of the road” being sung by the Birmingham fans, they were pretty quiet despite their team being on top for most of the half. I realised pretty early on that Shaughnessy was playing in midfield due to Vieira and O’Kane being injured which surprised me. His strengths are at centre back which is where we should be playing him and not putting square pegs in round holes. That said, he defended really well and won plenty of headers for us, the only bad thing in my opinion was that Birmingham were winning the midfield battle which wasn’t his fault.

At half time I saw Charlie from Harrogate who said our centenary match in 2019 should be against Club Atlético Independient of Buenos Aires. When we were robbed by Bayern Munich in 1975 in the European Cup final, the World Club Championship in 1975 never took place. Bayern Munich turned down the chance to play the game so the title has never been won. Leeds should get the chance of this rightful title by playing this game at Elland Road. Watch this space as I will put the suggestion forward!

One of the Birmingham stewards had told one of our fans that Birmingham usually played well in the first half but faded in the second half. For some reason they decided to play for the full game today! I actually feel sorry for their fans that they have failed to do this for most of the season so far as they showed what they can do.  I missed the half time announcements of the Birmingham fans who have died (not sure if it was during the whole year or this season). My friend Sue said it was very poignant especially as there were quite a lot who were younger than us.

When Saiz came on as sub on 55 minutes I was hoping we could start getting into the game more. He did have some impact and we had a great shot that was saved and hit the crossbar and was our best chance in the game and gave us a bit of hope. Just as I decided I would make my way to the front to get my flag, Birmingham scored after a Wiedwald save was put into the net from the rebound. I had been hoping to at least get a point out of the game despite not playing well, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and we ended up on the losing side for the first time in a few games. Not a good ending to the year but not totally unexpected when we failed to get a grip on the game and resigned us to the defeat. The consensus from some of our fans on the way out was that Birmingham wanted it more than us and that our team selection was all wrong. To be honest, we are getting so many injuries, I wonder why and whether it is happening on the training pitch? Is it modern football boots causing issues?  Obviously I don’t know what the answers to these questions are, but I still maintain we should play to our strengths. It will bring some of our fans down to earth as they were predicting that with a win we could have been two points away from second place but as usual we fall down at the last minute. We can still aspire to the top two but it won’t be easy and we’ll have to play a lot better than we did today. What I can’t understand either is getting rid of the reserve league as players on the fringe of the first team would get match practice.  Hearing that once they’ve played in the first team they can’t play in the under 23s just doesn’t seem right. Apart from going out on loan, that’s the only way they’ll get that match fitness.

With the transfer window opening next week, I’m not sure what we will do as a club. If there are players who aren’t getting a look in who are on loan, I’d be inclined to send them back and look for different ones. I don’t expect us to go all out and pay silly money for anyone but we do need to strengthen. Whether it is a loan who we can buy at the end of the season or a gem who can be the final cog in the team, we will have to wait and see. With another game on New Year’s Day at Elland Road against Nottingham Forest, we need to get back to winning ways and at least turn up on the pitch. There’s still a long way to go until the end of the season and you never know what will happen between now and then. I prefer to wait and see where we are nearer the end of the season but getting a many points as possible will go a long way to securing our future. I’d started writing my blog on the coach and fell asleep in the middle of it only waking up at Meadowhall.  I always say that going to football is my chilling out time apart from the football or lack of it in the middle!

In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone who reads my blog and Leeds fans all over the world a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. See you next year – LUFC Marching on Together.

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

Author of the following books:

Follow Me and Leeds United

Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan.

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

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

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Video comments by Heidi Haigh at the end of the Birmingham game

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