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