Today saw a poignant day for my family as we should have been celebrating my daughter Charlotte’s birthday. Despite her short life of 17 days when she was taken from us suddenly and unexpectedly, she found fame as a Leeds United fan. She attended her first game against Crystal Palace at six days old. On the day that she was born we played Arsenal at Highbury which meant I had another priority that day and didn’t make it to the game. Charlotte made headline news that day as her birth was announced live on TV just after half time by Greavsie. He said I’d seen more action that day than Leeds had! She will never be forgotten and will always be in our hearts!
Waking up to snow once again that had settled in the garden, it was nice to see that it was only flurries and the roads were clear. The icy wind chill and the fact the temperature was hovering around zero degrees or below meant it was going to be a cold one that’s for sure even though the sun kept coming out.
With another crowd above 30,000 expected, our support once more shows how extensive our worldwide fan base reaches. I was meeting DJ from Singapore coming to his first Leeds United game having arrived yesterday and a big thank you to him for buying my book the Sleeping Giant Awakens. Also, we had Sam and his wife arriving from Australia with other fans in attendance from Norway, Sweden and Ireland. BBC Radio Leeds said we even had some fly in from Iceland such is the pull of the name Leeds United. It’s just a shame that our team cannot match this fantastic support sadly.
The team was Peacock-Farrell. Berardi, Jansson, Pennington, O’Kane, Forshaw, Dallas, Alioski, Hernandez, Ekuban and Tom Pearce making his debut at left back. Subs were Lasogga for Ekuban (59), Grot for Pearce (77) and Phillips for O’Kane (78). Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Grot scoring the Leeds goal. Attendance was 31,638 with 2,039 Sheffield Wednesday fans. It was good to see that the scoreboard now has got the teams, score and time on it now!
Although I wouldn’t make any predictions of the score line, I still had high hopes at the start of the game that we could turn things around after our bad run of results since Boxing Day 2017. Talking of turning around, it was the first time we’ve changed ends at the start of a game for a while. We didn’t get off to the best of starts though as we let Wednesday have the run of the pitch giving them early chances to take the lead. Passes from Hernandez were badly placed at least three times but all of a sudden it looked like he upped his game as we started to gain more and more possession. We won a free kick at the edge of the box and as I had my camera poised, our free kick didn’t go where we all expected it and we were unlucky not to score. We got in another scoring position and Ekuban should have done better as he blasted the ball over the top of the goal when he would have been better hitting it low and hard. I thought Alioski was working hard and getting some crosses in and when someone shouted the opposite of my thoughts I said he was running around a lot. The lad in front of me turned around and said he’d run around a bit for £20,000 a week! As I said I don’t think he’s on that much, I did take his point of view on board. Despite having lots of possession, I’d just turned round to get my bag to go downstairs at half time when I heard the Wednesday fans cheering as the ball ended up in our net. As my heart sank the Leeds fans started cheering as the linesman put his flag up for offside. That was a relief as it meant we were still level pegging going in at the break.
As I came back into the stand I couldn’t believe what I was seeing with the snow and swirling wind. For some reason I was thinking the worst was over even though I’d seen severe weather warnings on the way to the ground. The two lads who stood in front of me and the lad to the left of me (he was expecting a defeat), didn’t come back in the stand for the second half. I’d said the game itself wasn’t a spectacle so I suppose it wasn’t a surprise that they hadn’t come back up to their seats. That lad to the left of me had said Wednesday were very poor and so were we and if we couldn’t beat them there was no hope for us. At that point I couldn’t see us scoring as we have to learn to take our chances when they are there and we hadn’t.
In the second half Alioski was getting crosses in and although we came close it wasn’t enough to put their goalie under pressure. They did have a chance earlier but then against the run of play, the taking your chances when they are there came back to bite us on the backside. Wednesday attacked and the ball came off the crossbar and they put the rebound into the net. Time wasting occurred then as they took ages to get back to the centre spot. That sinking feeling again as we had to come from behind once again. As the weather deteriorated into a snowstorm the team looked down and out. It wasn’t until we made two subs that we looked like an attacking side and four minutes from time with a second chance of a cross from Hernandez, Grot was on hand to head the ball into the net to equalise. At that moment in time I’d have taken a draw and a point. When six minutes of injury time was put up, the Leeds fans cheered as I shouted come on Leeds as I believed we could go on and win the game. Sadly I was very wrong as Wednesday broke away and got the better of Pennington to stick the ball into the net for the winner. Why oh why can we not stop conceding so many goals? My granddaughter Laura hadn’t wanted to come to the game today as she was tired after sleeping at a friend’s house last night. As her fingers and toes froze at the end of the game and I was shivering so much I couldn’t hold my camera straight, I could understand her reluctance to be there!
Talking to a few fans as we came out of the ground, all they can see is a downward spiral for the team and the worst position and performances for a long time. Having renewed our season tickets before the game I know I’m in it for the long term but I feel sure many fans are going to question their loyalty. Having got the great offer from Leeds United for the Bolton game of bringing a friend for free for season ticket holders, I am bringing my eldest daughter and all my granddaughters to the game. I’ve given up thinking we can rescue the season or can win, although it could get very close to survival even at this stage of the season. Thank goodness we did have a great start to the season because without that, we would have been relegation fodder already! See you at the Bolton game – 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