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