Leeds United v Brentford 21st August 2019 at Elland Road

It’s been great seeing the feedback from the Leeds fans who have viewed the documentary Take Us Home : Leeds United. Thank you for all the positive comments for my cameo role in it which are gratefully received. I know some fans don’t want to watch it and I can quite understand that, but I found I really enjoyed it despite the painful and emotional scenes at the end. We’ll just have to go one better this year Leeds so automatic promotion is a must please. It was nice to meet Rik from the Netherlands in the Peacock before the game who came to introduce himself to me, having seen me in the documentary. Having seen both the Derby and West Brom wins at Elland Road last season, we agreed it would be third time lucky tonight also with a win against Brentford. It was nice to chat to some of our Welsh Whites before the game too. We made sure we went into the ground in plenty of time as I’d been asked to get photos of one of our mascots tonight. I’d met my sister Erica and friends before the game and I managed to find her in the East Stand with my camera. In the toilets in the ground I was just entering a cubicle when a voice shouted “Heidi, that’s my lucky toilet”. Well obviously, being the superstitious person I am, I understood perfectly and did the honourable thing and chose another one to go in and let Victoria keep the luck going.

The Team:- Casilla, Alioski (Douglas injured), Cooper, White, Dallas, Hernandez, Bamford, Forshaw, Klich, Phillips and Harrison. Subs: Costa for Harrison (65) and Eddie Nketiah (on loan from Arsenal making his home debut) for Hernandez (77). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Nketiah (81). Attendance was 35,004 with approximately 300 Brentford fans. Because the opposition had brought very few fans, this was the first game that the West Stand area at the front of the away fans became a Leeds United fans stand again. Getting more of our fans in the ground rather than having great empty spaces was a great initiative from the club.

Today would see the return of Pontus Jansson for his first game against us playing for the opposition. I was sad to see him leave Leeds because he was the one player who brought the fans and the team back together again and for that I am grateful. I can still see him in front of the Kop when he got us all going for the first time and that interaction with the team can now be seen all the time. As the teams came out it was good to see the interaction with Jansson and the current Leeds team which showed he was well thought of despite all the rumours that had been doing the rounds. The South Stand also sang “you’re Leeds and you know you are”. I for one didn’t accept the disruptive influence character assassination on him and at the end there were hugs all round with him and the Leeds players which were good to see. Good luck to him although not against us please.

As the teams kicked off, it was very much evens for a while with Leeds getting a few free kicks before Alioski found himself in the book for a foul. Although there weren’t many chances for either team, it took for Brentford to hit the post with Casilla beaten that brought the game to life in the 24th minute. Leeds went to the opposite end with Klich striking a shot that brought a good save out of their goalie. Bamford then put a header over the bar after a great cross from Alioski before a second chance of a header that went past the wrong side of the post. Brentford brought a save out of Casilla just before the break as we went in on level terms. The first half had passed very quickly though and it wasn’t surprising that we had not found it easy to get past Brentford.

The second half saw Leeds up the tempo getting a couple of corners in quick succession. Forshaw brought a save out of their goalie and with him coming close to scoring in the last couple of games, I feel sure a goal will come soon. We had a lot of the Kop shouting for a handball in the area and a penalty, which didn’t come. It will be interesting to see a replay as I didn’t see it. Dallas ended up with a booking after running up to the ref calling for the penalty as his pleas fell on deaf ears. Costa came on as a sub with half an hour to go to replace Harrison before Nketiah replaced Hernandez. It was interesting to see the new rules in force, that any player being subbed had to go off the pitch at the nearest point. That to me looks a good thing as there is nothing more annoying than players wasting time by taking ages to get off the pitch. As Costa started to make an impact, Nketiah was brought on in place of Hernandez. As I hadn’t been sure who was on the bench, I found I was impressed that we actually had some players on the bench who could make an impact. As it was within five minutes Leeds took the lead after some great work by Costa on the left hand side in front of us. As he passed the ball across to the middle of the goal, we were all cheering before Nketiah had even put it into the net. I can’t remember the last time we had players on the bench that could make an impact and also put some speed into the attack, which were great to see and get us the reward of a goal. Leeds were quite comfortable on the ball and limited Brentford to any attacks, although they were still a threat for the last minutes of the game but we were able to come out with the win to stay on top of the league with another three points.

Stoke City away on Saturday sees us visit the Bet365 stadium again which wasn’t a happy hunting ground for us last season. A friend of mine who supports them said we will get two wins in a week as we also play them at home next Tuesday in the second round of the Carabao Cup. As always, I never take anything for granted and will make my judgements by what I see on the pitch but am hopeful we will put on a better performance this time. As Bielsa tends not to make too many changes, I expect him to put the same team out but we will see on the day. If we get to the ground early enough I hope to head to the Power League pub next to the ground where away fans are welcome and also to see my friends.

As we headed to the steps of the Kop to go out, someone said is that Heidi Haigh, the Queen of the Kop? Thank you for the compliment and although I was grateful for the praise, I’m sure that view will only be from a few fans. On getting back to the car I put BBC Radio Leeds on but was dismayed to hear someone slagging Leeds fans off who had been having a go at Bamford. I thought they should focus on the whole ground continually singing his name rather than some individuals who made their feelings against him known. At the end of the day they are entitled to their opinion whether we agree with it or not. See you at Stoke, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

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

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Wigan v Leeds United 17th August 2019 at the DW Stadium

Well it’s been quite a week. Wednesday saw me attend the Premiere Event for the documentary Take Us Home : Leeds United at the Everyman Cinema in the Trinity Centre, Leeds. Getting a VIP invitation was because I featured in the documentary and it was a great opportunity to be involved. My grateful thanks go to all those who made this possible for me. Please note though, it should have been a blue carpet as we don’t do red! I watched the remaining five episodes last night and had to keep watching until the end no matter how painful it was at times. I found it really emotional but did enjoy it because this is Leeds United my football club and fellow supporters. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took their time today to complement me on my performance in this or asked for their photo to be taken. As always, I appreciate all your comments.

For those of you who have been following my family challenges since the beginning of the year, finally we have some good news to focus on. My husband’s latest tests are fine and any residual changes are down to the treatment he has had for his cancer, with Huddersfield Royal Infirmary keeping an eye on him for the next five years. I know we aren’t the only people who have been going through this and good luck to any other Leeds fan/family who are going through similar challenges. My baby grandson is making good progress and should be transferred into special care shortly rather than being in intensive care. He is now over 3lbs and putting weight on which is good to see.

The team: Casilla, Douglas, Cooper, White, Dallas, Phillips, Hernandez, Klich, Forshaw, Harrison and Bamford. Subs: Costa for Klich (76) and Shackleton for Forshaw (90). Attendance was 14,819 with 5,200 Leeds fans. Leeds won 2-0 with a brace from Bamford (34, 65).

As I got in my car to head to Leeds, the heavens opened and I thought we’d be in for another soggy day. It was nice to see the sun begin to shine when I got to the ground and luckily for us, it kept out all day plus it was quite warm. After ending up with freezing fingers at Salford during the week, it was a very welcome change to the weather. It was nice to meet Dean from Leyland during our pub stop and hopefully he managed to get into the ground. After getting a coffee I found myself in bad books as I knocked it over, soaking my daughter Dani with hot liquid as well as me. She wasn’t impressed with me and said I can’t be taken anywhere! We got to the ground with plenty of time to kick-off and as we made our way to the front of the stand, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to put my flag up. As Dani and I made our way to the front corner, we managed to hang it over the end of the stand. At that moment it was so blustery I was expecting the wind to take off with it so made extra sure that it was tied on tight.

There was a good atmosphere under the stand as I made my way back into the middle section to my seat. I was right behind the goal but had a great view. The atmosphere transferred itself onto the terraces which was great as I really enjoy the singing. It was good to see that Sean had made it too coming from Australia for the game. The first half started slowly and Wigan were at their most dangerous at this time. With Casilla chasing after the ball back towards the goal, I shouted at him to pick the damn ball up. Obviously I was nervous at that time as I swore at him too. Sorry about that. He made amends for me just after that when he made a good save to keep Wigan out. When Wigan hit the post we were able to clear the ball as we gradually began to take charge of the game. Wigan were doing their damndest to stop our players by fouling them with some challenges going unpunished but also getting quite a few free kicks. I said to the lad next to me that we don’t want them going down to 10 men this time as we know what happened at Elland Road last season. With Wigan’s next attack, the ref blew for a free-kick to them for a foul just before Bamford received a really bad one from their player already booked. The next minute after what seemed to be a message from his linesman to the left of us, he changed his mind and gave their player a second yellow then a red card. With Wigan down to 10 men once again, I thought we’d make sure we didn’t succumb to them in the same way as we did at Elland Road. Learn from your mistakes came to mind. Bamford hit a weak shot at goal when he should have put some power behind it. I said he needed some lessons from Allan Clarke on how to make any attempts into goals. Once he learns from him he’ll do better. A few minutes later he did indeed score as Forshaw’s shot rebounded off the post for Bamford to stick the ball into the net out of reach of their goalie. It was good to get the goal and put us in front on the day. Just after that fighting broke out in the main stand to our right as Leeds fans became under attack. I wasn’t sure if it was some of our corporate fans as I thought I saw some wearing lanyards who were then taken out through one of the boxes. Hopefully no one was badly hurt. Just before the break Hernandez had a shot saved meaning we went in a goal up at half-time.

It took ages to get underneath the stand to the far end where the ladies were situated. It wasn’t a surprise to see a few of the lads obviously can’t read when challenged as to why they were in there. As I made my way back to the middle of the stand I bumped into Ella before someone knocked some of her beer out of her hand. The next minute the same thing happened again before someone stood next to me found the same happen to him. The next minute we ended up with a beer bath as some was thrown into the air. Dani said it was Karma when I told her later, saying I couldn’t complain after spilling my coffee on her lol. By the time I got back in the stand the game had already kicked off.

The second half started with lots of free kicks given to both sides with many stop and starts. Wigan shouted for a penalty when challenged in the area but the ref waved play on. I didn’t think it warranted one though. When Leeds whipped the ball off the toes of a Wigan player, we were all mystified when they were awarded a free kick as it looked a perfectly legitimate challenge to us. Leeds were awarded a corner with many Leeds fans going mad that we should have had a penalty for handball. With the new rules changes, a penalty should be awarded for both a deliberate or accidental handball. As it was, from the corner, Bamford bundled the ball over the line for his second goal of the game to give us a little breathing space. Harrison was in constant space down the right hand side as Leeds kept attacking. Hernandez and Harrison both had shots saved to prevent us getting a third goal and Casilla made a further save to keep a clean sheet. It hadn’t been a pretty game, but I was happy to get the win and three points. It doesn’t matter how Leeds win as long as it goes in our favour.

Our next game is on Wednesday against Brentford which see Pontus return with the opposition team. Sorry Pontus but you need to go home empty handed with no points please. I’m not sure why we aren’t playing on the Tuesday evening though which is our normal day for mid-week games? We then go to Stoke next Saturday for the Championship game before meeting them again a few days later for the Carabao Cup second round at Elland Road. The away ticket sell-outs has reared its head again with loyal fans missing out on tickets. It can’t be right that someone who hasn’t missed a game since 2012, went on the pre-season tour to Australia, got a ticket for Salford then missed out on Stoke. The club must look after loyal fans and not take them for granted. I love our worldwide fan base and will always encourage our fans to come to games. Although it doesn’t affect me being both a home and away season ticket holder, I do care about other Leeds fans.  See you on Wednesday – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

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

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Take Us Home Leeds United Premiere Event 14.8.19

 

It’s not everyday you get invited to see yourself appear in the Leeds United Documentary, Take Us Home. Thank you for the invitation as it was good to see and I’m looking forward to the next five episodes.

I saw plenty of familiar faces on there too and just hearing the fans singing Marching on Together had tingles running down my spine.

Salford City v Leeds United 13th August 2019, Carabao Cup 1st Round at the Peninsula Stadium

With a new ground to visit on the horizon, I was looking forward to the game. Although there would be a lot of changes to the team from Saturday, it was a chance to see our fringe players in action including our latest signings in Costa and Nketiah. As someone who wants us to progress in the cups as winning breeds winning in my eyes, I didn’t want any banana skins tonight but a progression to the next round. With it only being a short journey over the Pennines, we got there before the gates had even opened but luckily we didn’t have long to wait before we were let in. Everyone was searched before being allowed in but I think some things were way over the top. When I saw one of our disabled fans being patted down I shook my head. The lady who searched me laughed at all my bags etc. but I even had to open my water bottle to prove it was water. Another lad was asked to open his wallet! Apparently they were looking for drugs.

I hung my flag up at the front of the barriers because I knew they wouldn’t be allowed along the perimeter due to advertising hoardings. We had plenty of flags on show as usual and with so many familiar faces there I had loads saying hello or asking for photos. It’s always nice to have a chat with many of our fans who I saw today, but I’m biased when I say we have the best fans in the world. There had been a lot of hype for this game by Sky as they were doing a documentary on Salford City due to the involvement of ex man u player Gary Neville and others. There is only one class of 92 and that was Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United who won the First Division, making us the Last Champions before the invention of the Premier League!

The team: Casilla, Berardi (Captain), Phillips, Leif Davis, Helda Costa (first start), Eddie Nketiah (making his debut), Clarke, Shackleton, White, Klich and Alioski. Subs: Alfie McCalmont (making his debut) for Clarke (70), Harrison for Alioski (78) and Bamford for Nketiah (78). Attendance was a sell-out 5,108 with 1,400 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Nketiah (43), Berardi (50) and Klich (58).

The first half saw Casilla tested early on before Phillips found his shot sailing way off target. It was worth a try especially as we were building up very slowly in our attacks. We had Davis to thank for keeping Salford out from a corner with a goal line clearance with Casilla beaten. We looked very shaky at that moment as defending corners once again nearly came to haunt us. It was only when Salford attacked us that I realised how tall their players were. With one corner Alioski looked like he was going to try and mark one of them which would have been another David and Golath show. Luckily the other players made sure White got to mark him instead. I’ve no idea why other teams always seem to have giants in them! Phillips’s next effort brought a great save out of their goalie and shortly afterwards he (Neal) prevented him scoring again. Salford always looked dangerous on the break when they were running towards us but Casilla did well to make the save to prevent them taking the lead. Clarke was the next one unlucky not to score when Neal saved a long range shot from him. Although we had a few chances we had kept the tempo low and I said it was like watching paint dry and we needed to up it. Just before half-time we did just that, when Shackleton sent a great pass out to Costa who beat his man at the by-line sending a great cross for Nketiah to get a goal on his debut. Klich was very unlucky not to get us a second before the break as his shot went past the wrong side of the post. The goal was just what we needed going into the second half.

Having got the vital break of a goal, we only had to wait five minutes in the second half to get another. This time Berardi scored his second goal for Leeds when he got on the end of a corner to beat Neal to put us two up on the night. He ran straight back to the other end to celebrate probably because when he got his first goal at Newport he got booked for celebrating with the Leeds fans. Klich came close to giving Leeds a third when he should have kept the ball down but volleyed it over. Casilla then made two great saves to deny Salford the chance to get back into the game. Leeds then broke free from the corner and came charging towards the Leeds fans with Klich in the driving seat. He kept going and sent a fantastic shot into the top corner of the net to send the Leeds fans into overdrive especially in the no man’s land in front of the barriers! We had Casilla to thank for another save before Berardi made our second goal line clearance to keep Salford out. Luckily they were unable to score from a rebound with the goal at their mercy after another Casilla save. Keeping a clean sheet and getting a 3-0 win was good to see and now we meet Stoke at Elland Road the week after we play them away in the league.

When one of their fans ran onto the pitch and went to score he slipped and missed which had the Leeds fans jeering at him. As he slipped back into the crowd, his jacket was thrown back onto the pitch as he mingled with their fans. Surprise, surprise though he wasn’t challenged at all by their stewards. There again those at our end did try to move our fans out of the no man’s land after our second goal but gave up rather quickly. He was the second fan to end up on his arse as one going out at half-time to the left of us was trying to be clever and fell over too. Must be something in the water over there! One thing I didn’t hear until after the game was Salford fans mocking the deaths of our two lads in Turkey. I’ve no time for imbeciles like that and although not a violent person would love them to get their comeuppance!

Saturday sees us back in league action with the away game at Wigan where we have a big following of over 5,000 fans. Keep scoring goals Leeds and get us another win. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

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

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Leeds United v Nottingham Forest 10th August 2019 at Elland Road

My granddaughter and I headed to Leeds for our first home game of the season as for once this didn’t include any pre-season games at Elland Road. It was good to be back having got in the mood for football by playing Paul Wilson’s King of Elland Road all the way from Halifax. We bumped into the 100 years of Leeds United documentary crew as we headed to Billy’s statue to meet my daughter Dani but had to arrange to meet both my sisters there after the game. Due to car parking issues now prevalent at Elland Road, they were told they couldn’t park in Car Park A due to it being for VIPs only, even though there were plenty of spaces. Luckily they got onto the park and ride site but I know these parking issues have been felt very much by many of our disabled supporters.

I went to the Peacock as the Dani and Hannah headed into the ground and stood talking to a Leeds fan I knew outside. As we were stood talking, a photographer arrived to take our photo. It was nice to bump into Monica from the Philippines who was over for the game and also to hear that she enjoys reading my blog. I was also asked to take a photo of some fans over from America, with another one an avid reader of my blog. I managed to catch up for a chat with a few others including Paul one of my Selby Whites and want to thank my “counsellor” for his support which was greatly appreciated. After taking photos of fans I decided I wanted to get into the ground early to ensure my season ticket worked although by the time I chatted to a few people I only got in just before the team came out. After hearing Bielsa’s lookalike young Freddie from Ireland was going to be mascot, I also wanted to capture photos from him coming out with the team. When I’d seen there was a chance for other kids to be a mascot for the game with proceeds to charity, I was all for giving my granddaughters the opportunity until I saw the price. £750 per mascot is a heck of a lot of money and out of my league sadly and many others too from what I read online. Elland Road was buzzing in anticipation of what this season would bring. With the transfer window now closed, our final signings for the season are French goalie Illan Meslier aged 19 from Lorient and Striker Eddie Nketiah aged 20 from Arsenal both on season-long loans. We also lost Roofe who was transferred to Anderlecht but the good news is that Phillips is here to stay which is really important as he is the mainstay of our team.

Team: Casilla, Dallas, Cooper, Douglas, Phillips, Klich, Forshaw, Bamford, Harrison, White and Hernandez. Subs: Alioski for Harrison (73) and Costa (his home debut) for Klich (80). The score was 1-1 with Hernandez scoring the Leeds goal (59). Attendance was 35,453 with 2,001 Forest fans.

After one minute’s applause for those fans no longer with us at the start of the game, we attacked the South Stand in the first half. Leeds set off on the attack putting some good moves together and also spraying excellent passes across the field. With an early appeal of a penalty after Forshaw was brought down in the area ignored, first Phillips with a save by their goalie then Douglas found his attempt blocked as Leeds piled the pressure on. With numerous corners we couldn’t manage that breakthrough early goal but we did limit Forest to any chances. Their goalie denied Bamford a goal when he made another crucial save. Forest had deliberately kicked the ball away three times without the ref even speaking to their players which annoyed me.  When Phillips brought their player down with a mistimed tackle he was straight in the book as their player made a meal of it rolling on the floor. Stop being a namby pamby and be a professional with no play acting. When a similar tackle on one of our players didn’t get their player a booking, I’m positive that was only because he got up on his feet straight away instead of rolling about on the floor. Dallas was body checked by their player on the edge of the box but didn’t even get a free kick. Although we’d seen a lot of the ball and had loads of possession we weren’t able to make it count as we went in level at half-time.

It was nice to catch up with friends at half-time as Carole and I wished each other happy birthday. I’d also seen Tony from West Midlands who’d said the same. I said he never looked a day older than when I first met him all those years ago in the seventies.

I hoped we’d be able to get on top of things in the second half as we attacked the Kop. Bamford came close twice with one shot off the crossbar and another effort needing a bit more power on it as his chip went wide. Once he starts scoring at home I’m sure the goals will come. He is putting more effort into his game now and just needs to up his confidence. There may be large expectations when playing at Elland Road but he couldn’t fault the crowd for getting behind him. Forest had a rare attack but the ball went over the crossbar. All of a sudden Klich put a fantastic ball over the top of their defence for Hernandez to run on and I knew he would score. As the ball hit the back of the net Elland Road erupted as a blue flare was let off in the Kop. In the pandemonium I saw stewards at the front of the Kop motioning for assistance so I thought someone must be hurt. Eventually they were stretchered out of the ground so hopefully they weren’t too badly hurt.

As Forest brought on their three subs early on in the second half (although at different times) I couldn’t but help notice the size of them. It was like David and Goliath when I saw their player against ours. This also came to haunt us when they won a corner in front of the South Stand. In the melee the ball was eventually put into our net for them to equalise. Although I haven’t seen it, others said Cooper had been fouled in the build up to the goal but it was allowed to stand. My husband confirmed this when I got home too as well as confirming we should have had two penalties. One where Costa had three of them on him in the penalty area probably wasn’t one from my point of view, but another where he was brought down was a cast iron one conveniently ignored by the ref. Cooper had a push in the back which was ignored too. He went for the ball then ended up a few feet away from where he jumped so that was blatant to me. The bad foul on Dallas was even worse but ignored by the ref too. There were many bad fouls from Forest and it looks like our team are going to face a battering again this season. When teams can’t beat us they will not hesitate to foul us instead. Some of them should have been bookings but luckily for them the ref let them off.

Once again the referee was very poor in many aspects and the officials should be accountable for their inactions. He went off at the end of the game with the Kop booing and giving him stick for his inept display on the pitch. Although it was disappointing not to get all three points, at least we won’t have other clubs baying to claim the end of our unbeaten run.

We met up with my sisters Karin and Erica at Billy’s statue before heading home. Luckily we managed to get away easily although we didn’t go straight home. Hannah sent a tweet to Susan Smith after the game as she’d broken down and didn’t manage to get to the game. She’d been looking forward to getting a photo with her but that will have to be at the next game instead.

Tuesday sees our Carabao Cup tie at Salford which will be a new ground for me before the away game at Wigan next Saturday. Our away following will be contrasting at both games as we have only a small allocation of tickets for the former with approximately 5,000 for Wigan. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

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

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

Bristol City v Leeds United 4th August 2019 at Ashton Gate

Welcome back everyone to my Follow Me and Leeds United blog that will take you through the Centenary season for Leeds United. As a home and away season ticket holder this will be done game by game where you get an insight into an away day and lots of photos of the fan experience. Please feel free to share any posts or photos but if you can give me acknowledgement for anything shared that would be appreciated.

For those of you who are already avid followers of my accounts, we will know shortly how the treatment of my husband’s cancer has gone but he is making good progress. Also my baby grandson made a very early appearance yesterday as he didn’t want to miss all the action. His mum had a season ticket before she was born so I made sure he had his Leeds United kit ready for him to grow into before he was born.

With everything going on in the background with my family I haven’t had time to think too much about the new season but am saddened by both the Jansson and Peacock-Farrell sales. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I stand by my point of view that we should have built our team around Peacock-Farrell. Bringing others in on high wages to the detriment of players already here was always going to upset the applecart. 

As always I will make my judgements by what I see on the pitch. With Bielsa staying that had to be the best news I wanted to hear as it brings the continuity I crave. Getting off to a good start will be key to how our season progresses but being amongst our fans once again during our season’s journey will be priceless. Make sure you ask for a photo when you see me if you want to be part of the blog. After a stop in Gloucester with lots of Leeds United discussions and good company we arrived at the ground in good time for kick-off. It was great to walk down to the ground saying hello to lots of Leeds fans and seeing lots of familiar faces. The bottom tier of the stand was cordoned off which is a shame as we could have sold extra tickets today no problem. As it was most fans put their flags on show in this area which was good to see.

The team: Casilla, Cooper, Bamford, Douglas, Dallas, Klich, Phillips, Ben White (making his league debut), Hernandez, Harrison and Forshaw. Subs: Costa (making his league debut) for Klich (76), Alioski for Douglas (79) and Davis for Harrison (85). Leeds won the game 3-1 with Hernandez (26), Bamford (57) and Harrison (72) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 23,553 with 2,126 Leeds fans.

After a few free kicks going Bristol’s way we settled into the game and there was some great pin point passes across the pitch. Casilla managed to have my heart in my mouth a few times again today with his charging out of the area runs. With one clearance in the first half it went straight to their player on the edge of the box but Casilla made amends with a great save to keep Bristol out. Leeds started to look comfortable on the ball and I was impressed with young Ben White who was quick to show some nippy footwork giving a good account of himself. We were able to keep a lot of possession and didn’t look too troubled by Bristol when they tested us on a few occasions. The game turned on its head when Hernandez scored a fantastic goal at the opposite end to us on the half hour mark to put us into the lead. I knew as soon as the ball left his foot it was going into the net. The Leeds fans had been in good voice even before the goal and upped the noise with great celebrations. We nearly got a second on the stroke of half-time when Forshaw’s shot just went past the wrong side of the post. Very close but not close enough to score. I didn’t feel unduly worried about Bristol in the first half as we played some good attacking football as we went into half time with a one goal lead.

The ref caused some controversy when Klich was fouled and stayed on the ground, he played on. When the same thing happened with one of the Bristol players, he blew up and stopped the game. Just remember officials, I want a level playing field this season and not one rule for Leeds and one rule for everyone else. Also when we are getting our shirts pulled right in front of the linesman, he needs to open his eyes because if I can see it in the stand then there is something wrong with his eyesight!

The second half saw Bristol come out with more fight in them and it took a while for us to settle. It wasn’t long though before Hernandez did some fantastic weaving in the penalty area on the left hand side of the pitch and crossed for Bamford to head the ball into the net in front of us for our second goal of the game. I’d said before the game that if Bamford gets one hopefully that will give him confidence to score more. We were on top at this point and looking good for a win. This was made even better when Leeds scored a third after a great counter attack involving Dallas then Klich before Harrison put the ball into the net. With some fans singing we are top of the league, I thought back to last season when I wouldn’t sing it in case I jinxed anything. I thought maybe it would be better if I was optimistic and just sang it anyway. With approximately 15 minutes left on the clock Costa was brought on in place of Klich which left us seemingly disjointed as we lost our prowess in midfield. This immediately gave Bristol the impetus putting Leeds on the back foot and under pressure, so it was no surprise when they pulled one back beating Casilla at the near post. With them then piling further pressure on us and coming close to a second, I thought we better not capitulate and let them get another otherwise we’d be in trouble. It took a while for us to calm down and get control again but luckily we stopped them scoring another goal so we had a winning start to our Centenary season with a 3-1 away win. Hernandez got a deserved Sky man of the match with his magical jinx and fantastic goal which was well deserved.

It was lovely to see Phillips coming over to the Leeds fans and handing his shirt over to young Jack at the front of the stand who was really happy. This was also caught by the Sky cameras too which was lovely to see. Apparently in the warm up the ball had hit Jack and this was his way of saying sorry. Well done to both.

When we got back to the coach I went onto the roadside as a lad I know was being helped along the road but was in a very bad way. His injury looked really bad and the police were going to get a car to take him back to his coach but in the meantime was leaning on ours. Sadly I had to get back on the coach as we were leaving but I really hope he is okay.

We had a relatively good run back to Leeds and I was home in Halifax before midnight. After having really warm and dry weather on our way down to the game it was a surprise to hit rain again on our way home. Our first home game of the season is the early 12.30pm kick-off against Nottingham Forest next week. It will be good to get back onto home soil, as this is the first time in many years we haven’t had a home game in any of our pre-season friendlies. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

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

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

York 10th July and Guiseley 11th July pre-season games

York City v Leeds United 10th July 2019 at Bootham Crescent

Welcome back to all my followers and I hope this season brings us the rewards we are all craving. Last season’s ending hit many of us very hard and it has taken a while to get over not getting automatic promotion. We have brought Costa from Wolves who will have to hit the ground running for me purely because I am not in favour of expensive loans, but as long as he plays for the shirt and stays injury free they will be plus points. I’d been rather down due to Pontus Jansson being sold to Brentford this week which had been preceded by Jack Clarke’s sale then loan back from Tottenham. Instead of building we seemed to be dismantling what we had so I will wait and see what transpires on the pitch. At least it looks like we are getting rid of a lot of the fringe players who shouldn’t be here.

Going to York straight away rekindled the passion of following Leeds for 50+ years in what will be our Centenary Year. As always I make my judgements by what I see on the pitch but it was good to be back amongst our support with many familiar faces. It was also good to see that Nikki still had Rita her guide dog with as we thought she’d been retired at the end of last season. Rita is a Leeds fan through and through who barks every time Leeds scores a goal.

The team for the first hour: Kiko Casilla, Stuart Dallas, Gaetano Berardi, Liam Cooper, Barry Douglas, Alfie McCalmont, Adam Forshaw, Pablo Hernandez, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Kemar Roofe.

Substitutes en masse: Robbie Gotts, Oliver Casey, Ryan Edmundson, Bryce Hosannah, Jack Jenkins, Clarke Odour, Pascal Struijk, Kun Temenuzhkov, Rafa Mujica and Liam McCarron.

Leeds won the game 5-0 with goals from Harrison (3, 44), Roofe (22), Hernandez (34) and Forshaw (53). Attendance was 5,108 with 2,162 Leeds fans.

Leeds got off to a great start when Harrison put the ball in the net to give us the lead in the third minute after York failed to clear Hernandez’s cross. Bamford had a shot over the bar but shortly afterwards was unlucky not to score when his shot hit the post. Harrison was playing well and his cross from the byline was met by Roofe in the box to put us further into the lead. Leeds were in fine form not giving York much of the ball and it was no surprise when we scored again after a great build up from Harrison and Bamford which enabled Hernandez to get on the score sheet. After a rare shot from York just before half time that went over the bar, Leeds increased their lead with a second great goal from Harrison from outside the box. Leeds being 4-0 up at half time had made it an enjoyable start to this pre-season friendly game.

The second half saw us carry on with the same team and Harrison was unlucky not to get a hat-trick when he was denied by their goalie making the save. Leeds did get a fifth goal when Forshaw chipped the ball over the keeper after being put through by Hernandez.

There was a mass substitution after an hour with only Casilla staying on the pitch who became captain. Youngsters McCarron and Mujica were making their debuts for Leeds. There was no let-up in play as the youngsters carried on where the first team had left off and I was impressed with the way they slotted in to the way Bielsa wanted. The one player that stood out for me was young Alfie McCalmont as he played the holding role that Phillips normally plays in for the first hour. He didn’t look out of place and has a bright future I’m sure.

It was nice to set off with a win despite York not really putting up any opposition. See you at Guiseley.

Guiseley v Leeds United 11th July 2019 at Nethermoor Park

Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Costa (69) and Bogusz (80). Attendance was approx. 5,800.

The Team: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Kamil Miazek 45), Helder Costa making his debut, Mateuz Bogusz, Kalvin Phillips, Gjanni Allioski (Niall Huggins 86), Ben White making his debut (Nohan Kenneh aged 16, 74), Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke, Leif Davies, Mateusz Klich and Jordan Stevens.

Substitutes not used: Bobby Kamwa, Stuart McKinstry and Theo Hudson.

We missed the build up to the game as I’d to wait for my granddaughter Hannah to get back from a school trip. We also had to pick our tickets up for the game from my nephew’s house who lives near the Guiseley ground so at least we had somewhere to park. We got into the ground just as the teams were coming out so stayed at the corner where we arrived with Hannah and Vinnie getting a place at the front of the stand.

It was a different team to York yesterday with more of the youngsters playing but it was good to see Kalvin Phillips there. With all the rumours flying around that he was going to be sold, I’m hoping that’s all they are as he needs to be in our team going forwards.

It didn’t take long to see that Guiseley were going to be a different side to York as they were up for it from the start and were very quick on the attack. Phillips found this out when he was bundled off the ball and Peacock-Farrell was then beaten on a one to one to put Guiseley into the lead on nine minutes. Guiseley continued to put us under pressure and there was no free flowing football from us that had been on show at York which was a complete contrast to that game. It was taking time to get a grip of the game as we went in at half time a goal down.

As we started the second half better, we thought Alioski had equalised only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. We should have had a penalty when our player had his foot taken from under him and although the referee was poised with his whistle looking to blow, he decided not to give one. It took us until the 69th minute to get level on the night when Costa scored on his debut after some good individual work. Miazek who had come on for the second half in place of Peacock-Farrell was called on to make a save to prevent Guiseley from taking the lead for a second time.

Leeds took the lead for the first time after Shackleton and Costa combined to give Bogusz the chance to score. It took a few minutes for the scoreboard to update and we thought that Guiseley wanted to pretend we hadn’t scored. Guiseley didn’t give up but Leeds were able to hold on for the second win in two days.

As the final whistled sounded on 89 minutes, kids all over the ground ran onto the pitch as that was the sign for a pitch invasion. It was quite funny listening to the tannoy announcer pleading with everyone to get off the pitch, even saying he’d put a notice up on the scoreboard.

Even though this hadn’t been a good game it was good for the players to start their build up to the season. Unfortunately Alioski went off injured and White was taken off with a knock. Let’s hope long term injuries are banished this year as that was our downfall last season.

I just want to wish all the fans going to Australia and Sardinia a wonderful and safe trip to either or both. To say I’m not jealous at all would be an understatement as sadly I am not in a position to go to any of the ones abroad this year. I’m looking forward to seeing all the photos from those fans who are there though and see our fantastic support on show once again.

I’m now looking forward to the season starting in earnest on 4th August with our trip to Bristol City. Come on Leeds, we can do this! See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – Author of the following books:

  • Follow Me and Leeds United
  • Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
  • Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United, Leeds United in the 1980s
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
  • Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
  • Working on my latest book which will hopefully be out soon

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh @followmeandleedsunited

 

Fan Girls Dissertation by Hatty Jones

I was asked to take part in this Dissertation by Hatty and thank you for the opportunity.

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