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