With high winds and an icy chill factor, we headed to Elland Road for the game. Due to some fans making mischief on WACCOE with the kick-off time, I decided I’d better check for myself just to make sure it was 3pm. Whilst my granddaughter Laura was having something to eat in McDonalds, I felt really tired and could have gone to sleep. As we came out of there, a man coming towards me said “it’s Heidi isn’t it?” to which I responded that it was. He remembered me going onto the Gelderd End in 1974. When I realised that was 46 years ago, I wondered where the time had gone especially when I’ve said I’m 35 for so many years.
In the Peacock I was chatting with the Goole Whites and reminiscing about travelling with the Selby Whites when I ran the supporter’s club branch. Our coach in those days started off in Goole, then to Snaith, Carlton, Selby, Monk Fryston and Sherburn before we set off to the away games, also picking up some of our RAF lads at Doncaster. We had a very loyal set of fans who went everywhere and it’s always nice to catch up with them. Thank you to Mick Glasby one of our Nottingham Whites for buying my book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United and I appreciate the support. From there we went to the club shop and whilst in there, I got chatting to a man who said I used to travel with them on the Hull coach when Rowan ran it. A few others started talking about me being in the Leeds United documentary “Take us Home” as well as my books and thank you for all your comments which are appreciated. A lad was handing out leaflets for a comedy-drama at the City Varieties called Billy Bremner & Me by Phil Differ. This will take place on Friday 17th April tickets £18. Follow @events105 on Facebook for further details. I am looking forward to going to this as Billy Bremner always was and always will be my hero. After going to the front of the Kop to get my customary photos and chatting to other Leeds fans, we got to our seats as the game kicked off.
The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, White, Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Costa, Bamford, Hernandez and Alioski. Sub: Roberts for Alioski (64). Leeds lost the game 1-0. Referee: T. Harrington (the fourth official from the Millwall game last Tuesday). Attendance was 35,162 with 519 Wigan fans.
The winds were still swirling, which was going to impact on the game today, but I had high hopes for us to do well. Leeds started off brightly enough and with a bit of luck, would have got something out of the game. Harrison beat their keeper with a shot but was very unlucky when it hit the post and bounced back out again. Wigan looked very strong and were always a threat. When they won an early corner, I was watching who Alioski was marking on the line and looking out for stragglers on their own, but we didn’t have a replica of Millwall’s first goal thank goodness. For some reason I didn’t feel comfortable watching through my glasses today, whether it was because it was so dull, I’m not sure. It was even worse taking them off as I couldn’t make players out so used my camera to zoom in instead. We got into some good positions but were unable to convert any chances. Bamford had moved out wide and put a great cross in, but Harrison was unable to put the ball into the net and Costa put another chance just over the top. Some other chances were way off target though, with an Alioski shot hitting the top of the stand. With some fans getting frustrated that we hadn’t hit the target, I thought the wind was playing havoc with some of the play. Wigan won a free kick at the edge of the box and the resulting shot hit the side netting as we went into the break level. It hadn’t been the best of halves despite having lots of possession.
Downstairs at half-time, my friend Margaret said that four Spanish fans from Madrid had come into the Peacock after I’d left looking for tickets for the game. They said as there were Leeds fans everywhere there were no tickets to be found. They had followed Leeds for a long time but were also Bielsa fans (one was wearing an Argentina shirt under his jumper). Margaret told them their best bet was to go around the ground and see if there were any to be found. I said that I would have headed to the main entrance, told them they were Bielsa fans from abroad and see if they could get in. In fact, they could have sneaked them in with the Wigan fans as there were plenty of spare seats there!
The second half saw us start off on the attack again, with some fans castigating Bamford when his header was off target. At least he was getting in the position to have a chance in the first place. Wigan headed a chance for us off the line and then they had an attack and won a corner. I zoomed in to see what was happening as the ball went across to the middle. The next thing the ball was nestling in the back of the net as I wondered why Casilla hadn’t had command of his area. Apparently, the ball took a deflection, but I’d like to see the incident again to see what exactly happened. Time wasting tactics started appearing with Wigan players going down like a sack of spuds time after time. I’d be much happier to see these players taken off the pitch and let the game carry on because half of the time there is nothing wrong with them which infuriates me. In comparison, any fouls on our players saw them get up without any trainers coming on to the pitch. Leeds fans shouted for a penalty with a handball, but we were awarded a corner instead. Unfortunately, with heads from fans in front of me I didn’t see it as it was at the far side of the goal and my view was blocked. It was nice to see Roberts come on as sub as we started attacking down the flanks but had no luck when the ball came into the centre of the box. Wigan brought a sub on to calm things down which was their prerogative, but it took the sting out of the game. We had to keep going and not give up and even though I was desperate for us to score, deep down I think I knew it wasn’t going to happen. The longer the game went on, it felt like the ghost of last season’s defeat which was the catalyst for me of us not getting automatic promotion, was having an impact. Wigan were waiting to break when our attacks broke down and with one, they were through and it looked like they had only Casilla to beat when Leeds won the ball back. They had come close before that when they had the rub of the green, but Leeds fought to get the ball back off them to start another attack. We didn’t give up despite lots of the passing across the goal not coming off and were very unlucky in the last minute of the game when Bamford’s header was cleared off the line and Costa’s shot then went over. It wasn’t to be, but loads of fans booed at the end of the game which I find very sad. I know it’s a kick in the teeth when we are beaten and it hurts, but I still believe in Bielsa and the team. There are always going to be ups and downs and we are still in there. After the euphoria at the end of the game on Tuesday, it was back down to earth with a bang today but fingers crossed, the blips will be outdone by us continuing to play good football.
Laura was very excited when I asked her if we should go round to the players’ entrance after the game despite the icy wind. As we stood there, I got talking to some fans about the Documentary who followed me on Facebook and then got talking to some others. There were a lot of fans waiting as this man came to the fence and shouted for everyone to get out of the way to let a van in. Someone shouted to him “where is the please, when there are loads of kids here waiting?” I was astounded with the man’s reply saying that he didn’t need to, which had everyone shaking their heads. He was so arrogant it was unbelievable. As the man behind me said you stupid, stupid man not saying please when there are kids about, obviously hit a chord because the next time he shouted something out, he said please. There is no need at all to treat any of our fans with disdain especially as we are all paying customers. With other club employees around there being so nice, maybe he’s got too big for his boots? I managed to get photos of Laura with a few of the players before we left as she was cold and headed home. I had to laugh as she’d told me not to take too many photos of her today, but she was very happy to pose with the players, especially Jamie Shackleton her favourite player!!
Next Saturday sees us head to Nottingham for the tea-time kick-off at Forest. We can and we will keep fighting. 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
- Out now: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited