With the international break last week, I took the opportunity to spend some time with my daughter Emily and grandson Freddie. A visit to Elland Road was a must as well as having a photo taken at Billy’s statue to meet my hero. I also received some great news during the week, when I found out that I will be meeting Marcelo Bielsa before the Boro game next week to have a photo taken with him and my new book. I’m so excited and what an honour to be able to meet him. With the book bought by Big Kev Wilky who I bumped into in Halifax and Nikki who I assisted at the game today, my grateful thanks go to both of them for the support. It was also nice to hear that one lad had bought all my books and is waiting to get Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. I know this has been put on some fans’ Christmas lists too, so I just wanted to remind fans that all my books will make great Christmas presents. Well done to the LUFCTrust who have extended their exhibition in the Merrion Centre until Christmas although only on weekends or when Leeds are playing. They have been able to get more things to exhibit and I was more than happy to let my things stay on display. I was also the lucky winner of a signed print from the 1972 FA Cup Final from the WACCOE forum draw and due to Mark, I was able to get this today. Another prized Leeds possession for me.
After picking up Mark in Halifax we headed to Leeds to pick Nikki up before heading to the ground. With a nice stop in Bedford we got to the ground 30 minutes before kick-off. As I was Nikki’s carer today, after Danny’s comment that I needed to bark, I had the coach in uproar when I asked him if he was calling me a dog? It was funny as we had a right laugh at the comment. It wasn’t the first time I was told I had to bark today either. With Rita now retired and Annie still in training, Nikki is hoping that the Boro game will see Annie making an appearance with her at Elland Road. As we got in through the gates, the lad gave up trying to see what I had in my bags and let me through without even looking at our tickets.
The team: Casilla, Berardi, White, Dallas, Klich, Hernandez, Phillips, Roberts, Harrison, Bamford and Ayling. Subs: Cooper for Berardi (59), Costa for Harrison (65) and Clarke for Roberts (71). Leeds won the game 2-1 with Bamford getting a brace (51 and 90) although the winner was deemed to be an own goal by some. Attendance was 10,068 with 1,035 Leeds fans.
With the smallest allocation of away tickets this season, I hadn’t realised that we had Luton fans in with us as I’d headed towards the no man’s land area. It was nice to see little Nathan from Halifax be our mascot today as he came out of the tunnel with Bamford. As there have been a few away games this season where we have had no mascot, it was good to see today. As far as I could remember, it was also the first time this season that we have been turned around at the kick-off so Leeds were attacking our end.
The game set off at a fast pace with both teams trying to attack. Although we didn’t have many clear chances, we had a couple of opportunities where striking a first time ball at the goal may have resulted in us taking the lead. Their player went down in the penalty area but I thought we took the ball cleanly as they shouted for a penalty. Bamford brought a save out of their goalie as Leeds had a lot of possession, before Luton won a corner. A fleeting thought was I hoped they wouldn’t get a goal against the run of play which luckily for us didn’t happen. A flurry of opportunities just after this saw Leeds unlucky not to take the lead when Bamford’s shot came back off the post before first Phillips, then Harrison saw their keeper deny us the lead. Their keeper denied both Bamford and Roberts another scoring opportunity as we went in to the half time break on even terms. With the rain pouring down, Leeds had played well on a tight pitch that just wasn’t long enough for Harrison to get on the end of some of the passes. With it being an old school ground, we had to come through the houses to get onto the terraces. With talk of Luton moving grounds in the future, this will certainly be a relic of the past. I can remember going in the opposite end when Leeds fans were banned on some Luton season tickets and also we went straight to the game at Luton on our way back from Anderlecht during our European Cup run in 1975.
The second half saw Leeds attack the far end and their keeper once against made a save to keep us out. When Phillips won the ball from Izzy Brown who was now playing for Luton, he went down looking for a foul but the ref said play on. White won the ball and sent a delightful cross for Bamford to run onto and stick the ball into the net to put us into the lead. We came close to a second goal before Luton had an attack. With Brown now on the left of us, he managed to get his cross in which was headed into the net to equalise. With our lead lasting only three minutes that was a disappointment. Their goal gave Luton the impetus to start attacking us and they had a couple of good runs when Casilla made an important save. With their next attack, the ball ended up in the net in front of us as my heart sank only for the Leeds fans to start cheering as the linesman had his flag up for offside. What a relief. I was very disappointed then with the reaction of a Luton steward, who made the Leeds lad move off the steps who was doing filming for the club. He had been there all game and it looked like he was moved out of spite to me. We had a few more shots on target which their keeper saved but with one shot, a bit more power behind it would have caused him problems. I suddenly realised that Luton, despite their early time wasting, would be happy with a draw as they hung back in the middle of the field. In that moment I thought that Leeds could go out and get the winner and to keep fighting until the final whistle blew. With the whole 90+ minutes of the game going really fast, Leeds had another attack and as if in slow motion, Bamford’s shot after Klich’s pass, crept into the left hand side of the post. That was the cue for the Leeds fans to go wild tumbling down the stairs, as I was trying to keep my feet and take some photos. When my toes were crushed by someone standing on my foot, I tried to move back across the front of the stand out of the way. Luton tried to attack us with one final push but we were able to keep them out to gain the win and three points.
It was good to come away from the ground knowing we had got a winning goal in the final moments of the half. With another game at Reading and then Boro next Saturday, I will take each game as it comes. Go out and do your best Leeds and get as many points as possible whilst I keep an open mind. We can do it so just keep going. 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