How quickly the last game of the season seems to have come round. I didn’t attend the player of the year awards on Friday but it was nice to see Peter Lorimer looking so well when given a Lifetime Award after overcoming his recent battle with ill health.
As we headed to Elland Road for our last game of the season, I cast my mind back 46 years to the day I was at Wembley to see Leeds United win the FA Cup for the only time in our history in the Centenary Year. I’m privileged to have experienced us winning the trophy and the memories will stay with me forever. That takes me back to our present day where sadly after a very hopeful start we petered out once again into a disappointing end. From the high hopes at the start of the season that never materialised into the finish we wanted, to the despair on the pitch. After getting off to our great start to the season where we saw some fantastic football played giving us great hope, we changed what we were trying to do. Sadly we will never know if persevering with the way we started would have worked but we never recovered after that, as it looked to me that we didn’t know what we trying to do from then on.
Firstly I want to thank all my followers on social media for taking the time to read and share my blogs over the season. I especially want to thank all our fantastic fans who have once again followed our club everywhere in huge numbers showing fantastic loyalty despite the ups and downs. Home games have also had big attendances with over 30,000 fans attending many of the games. Lots of our overseas fans were making regular journeys and in some cases attending every game which shows our fans are the best in the world in my eyes. I do my blogs as a fan for the fans as I enjoy taking photos which show the fan experience at games. Those fans who regularly want to be part of this experience by asking for their photos taken, shows what a great camaraderie there is amongst our fans and something I treasure. Watch out as it looks like I will be putting this season’s blog into another book for those who have been asking if their photo will be in it! I will include as many photos as possible as with all my books so fans can feel part of following Leeds United whether they can get to games or not.
I took a photo from some old photos from a Harrogate White who attended the Fairs Cup play off on 22nd September 1971 against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. I think I can just work out my friends Margaret and Carole on one of the photos for that game which was played just as I started to go to all the home games. I’d been asked to take photos of the youngsters waving the flags as the players came out as they had a relative taking part. Unfortunately as I didn’t know who was I was looking for, there are a lot.
The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Ayling returning from injury, Pearce, Jansson, Alioski, Cooper, Roofe, Ekuban, Phillips, Vieira and Forshaw. Subs were Pennington for Jansson (46), Ryan Edmondson at age 16 making his debut for Roofe (73) and O’Kane for Forshaw (86). Leeds won the game 2-0 with Roofe (30) and Phillips (47) scoring for Leeds. Attendance was 30,004 with approx. 800 QPR fans.
Just before the end of season applause for Leeds fans who have died over the season, it was sad to hear of the death of Lady Harewood our honorary club president since December 2017. The whole stadium joined in to pay our respects to everyone. As the game kicked off there were white shirts everywhere as the glorious weather meant no coats and no tops on in some instances. There was a typical end of season atmosphere as fans soaked up the sun and although I couldn’t see from the Kop, we had a crowd surfer in the South Stand. Early into the game it was surprising to see a steward suddenly taking one of the beach balls that must have come over the wall next to the pitch from the South Stand. He proceeded to carry it away to the West Stand corner to a round of boos with the South Stand singing they wanted their ball back. Why I’ve no idea as they weren’t doing anything untoward and it was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with fans enjoying themselves. When the same steward proceeded to do that again with another ball I thought he’d lost the plot!
On the pitch after a bit of initial pressure from QPR I thought we settled into the game well and whilst it wasn’t overly exciting, we started to go forward and attack them. It was good to see Ayling return to the side and he showed what we have been missing many a time when he got stuck in. We upped the pressure on QPR and were very unlucky not to take the lead with a massive goalmouth scramble in front of the South Stand. Just a few minutes later we did take the lead with a goal from Roofe after a corner was headed on by Phillips. With another chance just before half time, I felt we ended the half on a positive note.
Jansson didn’t return to the field at the start of the second half and Pennington came on to replace him. Within a couple of minutes we got a second goal as Phillips reacted well when a poor clearance gave him the chance to score a great goal. As we were firmly in the driving seat I didn’t want us to let QPR have anything as Peacock-Farrell deserved to have a clean sheet. On the whole we limited QPR to very few goal scoring chances despite the fact they were bearing down on our goal a few times. The ref was trying to make a name for himself by blowing up for a foul numerous times when we tackled their players but not giving us the same courtesy. Football is not a non-contact sport and you should be able to battle for a ball and win it. As it was we managed to see the game out and get the win and three points to at least give us a good end to the season in that respect.
We waited behind for the players to come around the pitch with their children and applaud the fans for their tremendous support this season. There were actually more fans waiting behind than I thought there would be considering. It was also nice to bump into some of our Northern Ireland fans after the game including Wesley Boyle who played for us in 1997.
Tomorrow sees a number of our fans flying out to Myanmar for the post season tour and I would assume the team too. Who will travel as part of the official party, I am waiting to see but I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable trip and I look forward to seeing some of the blogs from fans I know who are going out there.
What happens next over the close season will define where we are heading as a club. I always knew it was going to take time but had my hopes built up with our great start to the season before normality resumed on the pitch. Having had so many long term injuries as a team this season, that has been a great worry for me but along with suspensions, these have both had a great impact on the players available to play. This season has been a big learning curve for Radrizzani in running a football club, especially with the badge gate saga. As much as I love doing the salute, I don’t want it as our club badge and this was a unanimous vote amongst our fans. The refurbishment of Bremner Square will also be starting shortly and I am looking forward to seeing the end product, especially my Bremner Stone. Lewie Coyle who has been on a season long loan at Fleetwood should be returning to us after having a great season with them, winning the Player’s player of the year so well done to him. We have a spine of youngsters to build on with some old heads, once we have got rid of players who shouldn’t be here. I have no thoughts about specific players and will wait and see who stays and who goes before making any judgements. A few additional quality players and with another season before our Centenary Year, aiming for automatic promotion is a must and isn’t too much to ask, is it? See you next season – LUFC – Marching on Together!We cannot display this gallery
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