Today I was heading in early to Leeds with my daughter and granddaughter following later. My first stop was at the Peacock to meet Rob who was joining me at BBC Radio Leeds for an interview regarding a community project. Big congratulations to Katherine Hannah and her husband on the birth of their baby girl and I look forward to seeing her back at Elland Road with a new Leeds fan! Following this I headed back to the Peacock to meet a couple of guys from a media company in London to do an interview about why both clubs are hated. I’ve no idea how I will come across as you have to think on your feet but I didn’t agree with the comments from a couple of Millwall fans who they interviewed last night. They said that we were the Millwall fans of the north!! I don’t think so! The one thing I did forget to say was about us getting ambushed at the services by Millwall fans on our way back from Fulham in the 80s. They had come over to our side of the motorway at Leicester Forest to wait for us when all the Leeds fans turned up. As I went and hid in the ladies loos, they were returned to the other side of the motorway pronto with some even risking their lives by running over all six lanes of the motorway! After completing my third interview for All Leeds TV I can honestly say that I’ve been in demand today! I’d been asked what I thought the score would be today but I said I wouldn’t predict anything as I always get it wrong but hoped for a win. When I was told that Millwall hadn’t won away all season I immediately said, that’s the worst thing to hear because it always works out the other way once it’s mentioned! I’m positive that they’ll raise their game to play us too. When Dani and Laura arrived later I headed up to the White Rose to pick them up, having a quick chat with my friends Sue and Paul on the way before going straight into the ground on our return.
There was great news for little Toby Nye this week. To hear that through the pleas of the club, everyone including fans and players had done a fantastic job and raised the £200,000 for his next treatment for his Neuroblastoma. Saiz donated the last £25,000 after his recent misdemeanour at Newport for spitting to enable the total to be reached. Well done to everyone involved and I’m proud to see this has been achieved. Toby was also going to make his last appearance at Elland Road today before starting the treatment next week. It was lovely to see him being carried out by Liam Cooper before getting the chance to run about on the pitch. Good luck little man and I look forward to seeing you back at Elland Road in the near future.
The team today was Wiedwald, Berardi, Cooper (sent off straight red), Jansson, Laurens De Bock (making his debut at left back), Roofe, Lassoga, Hernandez, Phillips, Vieira and Alioski. Subs were Pennington for Vieira (43), Dallas for Roofe (74) and Shaughnessy for Lasogga (83). Attendance was 33,564 with 1,285 Millwall fans (bubble trip removed for this game). Millwall won 4-3 with Leeds scorers Lasogga 46 and 62 and Roofe 55.
The first pass from De Bock was fantastic right across to the far right of the pitch to the feet of our player. That was an impressive start in my eyes. Wiedwald was called into an early save before we had two great chances to take the lead in the opening minutes. Lasogga had two clear chances to score, the first one a header straight to the goalie and the second one saved by the advancing goalie where a chip over him may have resulted in a goal. I can’t even pinpoint where things changed because all of a sudden Millwall took charge. They scored a goal and as they celebrated, the Leeds fans started cheering as it was disallowed. My fear then was because of all the jeering they would come back even stronger. Sadly that turned out to be as they scored another goal more of less straight away, well it felt that way! How Morison our ex player got away with antagonising the Leeds fans in the Kop and North East lower I will never know. When Berardi got booked for celebrating his first goal at Newport the other week with his own fans, how could someone who was deliberately goading the opposition fans to get a reaction be ignored? Morison was never good enough for us and swapping Becchio for him was the worst deal ever at the time.
They then got a second wind where they were stronger, bullying and intimidating us. A push in the back by Phillips was silly and gave them a free kick but I expect consistency from referees. As usual two that happened to us were ignored. I didn’t realise until they had a corner how tall some of their players were with one being 6’ 7” or so I heard after the game. We were struggling to contain Millwall by the end of the half and then a third red card in three games happened when Cooper made a late challenge on their player. I don’t think he’d been having a good game but Millwall players immediately surrounded the referee which then resulted with him being shown the card. The Millwall bench also took off to our bench although I didn’t see what or how this happened but both teams had an assistant manager sent to the stands. It baffles me how we have had straight reds for fouls when others just get a yellow card for doing the same thing? Down to 10 men once again and to make matters worse just as we were looking to make a sub they scored a second goal. Morison once again goaded the fans with the referee completely ignoring his behaviour. This is another time where we were going to bring a sub on and the opposition scored. At this point we looked down and out as the half time whistle blew after three minutes of injury time. To be honest I expected about six!
At half time I think my friends and I were a little shell shocked as there was no answer to the way we had collapsed. As I was going back into the stand Susan said a 2-2 draw will do and the lad next to me agreed that a 3-2 win would be better.
Well our 10 men stood up to be counted in the second half as within 30 seconds Lasogga had scored to pull a goal back. That got the fans revved up and between our players and the fans on the terraces; we joined forces to rack up the pressure. I suddenly realised that Berardi had gone back over the left hand side of the pitch. He had been playing in his normal position at right back now we had cover at left back and Ayling was out injured. We started playing with vigour and putting some great attacking football in. Whatever Christiansen had said to the team at half time, it worked. Although Millwall hadn’t given up at this point with Wiedwald called into action, we got an equaliser after a massive scramble on the goal line after their goalie spilled a shot. The noise ramped up to a crescendo all around the ground as Leeds fans celebrated. We had the upper hand at this stage and the Leeds fans were sent delirious when Lasogga got his second goal of the game to put us into the lead. With 10 men we had played better than with 11 and to score three goals in this way was unbelievable. I just hoped we could keep going. Roofe was subbed first and then Lasogga who had been fouled earlier went off too. For me it was too early to defend a lead with seven minutes of normal time left and four minutes of injury time. As our best form of defence had been attack this depleted our attack and personally I wouldn’t have had a defender on. Someone fast up front to run at them would have taken the pressure off us. Unfortunately this proved to be our downfall as Millwall got their equaliser and then deep into stoppage time won the game with a deflected goal.
Although the first half had been horrendous for us, this was another game where we didn’t deserve to get nothing out of it. Having 10 men in the end probably cost us. Despite the result, we have shown what we can do and have to learn to do this for 90 minutes and not 45. Also keeping 11 men on the pitch would be good too although you can’t help but think referees have an agenda against us! For those who think the Kop doesn’t sing, well I can assure you every Leeds fan did their job in the second half creating the fantastic atmosphere which is something I love. Eddie Gray got his rendition of oh, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie Gray by me on the 70th minute and others a few minutes later. We may have been beaten in the end but I saw hope today, that we aren’t dead and buried even though the score line says we lost. I’m proud to be a Leeds fan as always. With no game next week due to the FA Cup 5th round the Leeds team are having a break in Murcia I think Christiansen said. Hopefully the warm climate will do some healing as despite the players being out through suspensions (with Phillips joining them as well today), we seem to be thin on the ground.
As an aside and I know I mention the ladies loos in the Kop don’t have seats, I think we can add leaking toilets and locks missing to them too. I look forward to the day I don’t have to moan about this!
Time will tell what happens next with the rearranged game at Hull coming the day before the end of the transfer window. See you there 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 2016-17