As my granddaughter Hannah and I headed into Elland Road for the early kick off after leaving at 8.30 am, I realised that despite feeling tired, many of our long distance fans would have already been on the road a long time before. I was due to meet Christophe a French journalist for an interview in the Peacock at 10.00 am but I hadn’t expected it to still be shut when we got there. As Bev and Steve from Bournemouth were in Billy’s bar and wanting my new book Back to Reality, I had to leave Hannah outside the door for five minutes in order to meet them. After bumping into Steve who said that he remembered me from the seventies, we headed back across the road just in time to meet Christophe. We headed into the bottom part of the garden to do the interview as it would have been too noisy at the top with the band playing. I’m looking forward to the finished article which he said would be sent to me and I am grateful for the opportunity. Thank you also to the ladies on the table behind us, who said that they had brought Frank with them who had come to the game from Australia and was celebrating his birthday tomorrow. I hope he enjoys his day and the game. A few fans stopped for a photo during the interview and my flag was got out at the end for more photos. Bev and Steve, Pete and Lily, Karl and Louie, Garry for Aiden and Dylan, Peter, Craig and Michelle are all the proud owners of my new book and my grateful thanks goes to them all for the support. Also, thanks to everyone who I spoke to who follow my blogs and asked for photos which are appreciated greatly. I was also given a LUSCOS badge from one of our Norwegian fans which was a lovely gesture too. Annette and her niece from Denmark were also here for a regular visit to Elland Road.
Once in the ground, having met up with my daughter Danielle, she found her season ticket ended up having a lucky escape as she dropped it and it nearly went down the loo! I don’t think things are that bad anymore lol!! As we got to the top of the steps, a ball kicked from the pitch was heading straight above us until someone hit it and it bounced down just missing us and I nearly fell backwards trying to avoid it. Was someone trying to tell us something? I left most of my things in my seat as I headed to the front. I knew Dean was bringing his little girl to the game and I wanted to capture the occasion. Bless her she was so excited and had wanted to know why her picture wasn’t in my new book? This means that I have to keep on doing these blogs and books because they tell the stories of Leeds fans following their team home and away. There were another couple of fans with Dean who had travelled from Australia for the game too. I then went to find Raymond who was being filmed for the programme The Undateables again as I wanted to get a photo. He was always found banging a tambourine at games over the many years he has followed Leeds.
The Team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Dallas, Saiz, Alioski, Klich, Roberts, Phillips and Harrison. Subs were: Forshaw for Klich (63), Jack Clarke (one of our youngsters making his debut) for Dallas (70) and Baker for Saiz (76). Attendance was 31,880 with 510 Brentford fans. The score was 1-1 with Jansson equalising for Leeds (88).
Once again for the umpteenth time this season, we had a “referee” trying to make a name for him when we were being shown live on Sky. How he can be called a professional with the way he conducted himself on the pitch is frankly unbelievable. It is about time that referees who cannot even get the basics right, have to be accountable for their actions and get demoted. It isn’t a case of sour grapes or a referee not giving the home crowd many decisions. When Alioski slipped and lost the ball with their man about a yard away, the ref blew for a foul in our favour! That was when I knew for sure he had lost the plot as everyone burst out laughing that the incredulous decision was given in the first place. All I want is a fair playing field, being allowed to challenge for a ball, win it without their player ending up on the floor and a free kick given even though we have come away with the ball. Football is a contact sport, but not receiving a head-butt from behind as happened with Alioski later on in the game. He went to retrieve the ball from the Brentford dugout so as to get on with the game, only for their coaches to play silly beggars and try and keep it and their player was totally out of order. When I think of the amount of times we have had players hauled over the coals after the games had finished by the powers that be, I genuinely cannot understand why players are allowed to get away with it against us? There were still a fair few of their players going down “injured” and time wasting but not at the same level as a few teams have done recently.
With Douglas out injured after Hull City, it meant there would be a change to the team and Dallas came in to replace him at left back. I wasn’t particularly enamoured about him playing so far back but once again I put my trust in Bielsa to make the right decision. The fact that he wants players to be able to swap and change all over the pitch doesn’t give me the same feeling of dread that we had under previous managers, when it was square pegs in round holes situations. As Brentford set off on the attack and Peacock-Farrell had to make a great save from them, we were going to have to keep on our toes today. That said, until the referee started blowing the whistle over any challenge that saw their player end up on the floor, I knew we were going to be up against 12 men again. With every challenge being given Brentford’s way, when we did eventually get a free kick, the referee was met with loud cheering from the crowd. Brentford had most of the chances in the first half with Peacock-Farrell being called on to make numerous saves to deny them a goal. As our players had to run back and defend in numbers after being caught out of position when we attacked, it was good to see everyone working together in packs to win the ball back. We had a great chance to get a goal just before half time but Saiz’s shot went wide after some great play between Alioski and Harrison.
The second half saw us trying to get a goal and were unlucky not to score after their keeper fumbled the first shot but managed to stop Phillips get the rebound into the net. After a Brentford attack towards the South Stand, it looked like their chance had gone as the ball went past the post. With the fans going mad behind the goal I realised he had given them a penalty! I haven’t seen the action again but everyone said that their player was already falling before it got near Peacock-Farrell but the ref decided he’d fouled him. 10 minutes after this incident it came up on Danielle’s watch that Ayling had been booked for dissent! Unfortunately for us Brentford scored the penalty sending our keeper the wrong way which sadly meant we had to come from behind again. When young Jack Clarke was brought on to make his debut, I said that maybe Ayling should come off as his passing had been quite poor today. I was wishing later on in the game that he had come off as the ref sent him off for a second bookable offence after a foul in the last minutes of the game. It was definitely a free kick but when some of their players got away with fouls, why was Ayling not just given a talking to as it wasn’t malicious just bad timing? As it was Dallas came off so I said Ayling may play better now which he did until his sending off. Clarke had an immediate impact with a great cross into the box. We started to put the pressure on and I was particularly impressed today with both Alioski and Jansson. Alioski played at left back at times once Dallas had come off, but the chasing down of balls, challenges and putting some great crosses in, often bypass some of our fans. As the referee was getting lambasted by the Leeds crowd, this heightened the noise levels and upped the atmosphere. After winning a free kick two minutes from time, the Elland Road crowd went wild when from it, Jansson headed home to equalise. As the players celebrated with the fans a few went onto the pitch which resulted with one lad getting taken out. We were very unlucky not to win the game when it looked like Baker’s header after Alioski had crossed the ball, was going straight into the net. Unfortunately it crept wide at the wrong side of the post so the game ended in a draw. It’s a long time since I’ve heard chanting against the referee all around the ground. We’ve had plenty of poor ones over recent years but this one today, got up everybody’s backs for his inept performance!
It was good to meet up with our Johannesburg Whites from South Africa after the game, although two have moved back to Yorkshire now to enable them to attend Elland Road more. It was nice to meet up with our West Coast Whites too who are friends with one of our old Halifax lads, Daisy. When it was pointed out to me that they had three Bremner stones in the vicinity of mine I couldn’t believe it!
With the International Break upon us once again, the next game will be on 20th October with another early kick off for our visit to Blackburn. With a massive following of 7,650 Leeds supporters my granddaughter Hannah is also coming to experience the away game with us. The last time she was at an away game was when we played Huddersfield the other year but was sat in the opposite end to us Leeds fans. With two of my daughters Michelle, Danielle and granddaughter Laura, they had to keep their mouths shut when Leeds scored. At the end of the game though Hannah forgot where she was and cheered that Leeds had won, oops! Let’s hope we can get the win at Blackburn! See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!
Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years
Author of the following books:
Follow Me and Leeds United
Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18