After an extremely busy week and with only one more week to go until Christmas, it was nice to be heading back to Elland Road for the first of two home games in a week. I was going in early with my daughter Danielle and granddaughter Hannah, as I’d arranged to meet up with some fans who were buying my new book. Although the temperature was below freezing, the sun was shining so I’d made sure I’d plenty layers of clothes on again.
The first stop was Billy’s bar but I was surprised to see that no under 18s were allowed in, but as I don’t normally go in there for home games I suppose it was understandable. They let me in with Hannah as I said I wasn’t stopping only handing my books out. As usual my thanks go to fans Kev from Ripon and Susan and also to Lynsey and Katie who did the same after the game, for their support in buying my book. The Chiltern Whites were in there too and I took a photo as well as some lads from Halifax. As I was going out of Billy’s Bar a fella shouted me and said he’d stood next to me at Hillsborough when we played man u in the FA Cup Semi-Final. He said there’d been with a lad with a beard with us and I had to cast my mind back to the game itself. I thought at first it was Collar but then remembered we’d waited for Mac from Shrewsbury to arrive so assume he was the one with us. Hannah asked me why I know so many people as I always stop and talk. I said it’s because I’ve been going for a long, long time to see Leeds United and I’ve met so many fans along the way.
As we headed to the Peacock I found I’d missed Terje On Tour Hansen. Today is Terje’s 200th consecutive home game which is a fantastic achievement considering he travels from just outside Stavanger in Norway for every game. We have many fans who have also got fantastic achievements following Leeds and I salute each and every one of you and am proud to have you as friends. It was nice to meet up with Aidan Montague who was over from America who was there with his brother and a friend (a Southampton supporter!) Of course I had to mention our 7-0 win didn’t I lol!! I met Aidan in Ireland with his sons a few years ago at our pre-season friendly where I took the usual obligatory photo as we walked to the ground.
We got into the ground in good time ready for kick off. I felt that we would be okay today and wasn’t too worried, just because I got the feeling some of the Norwich fans aren’t happy with the way things are going. I’ve seen something mentioned on one of the message boards but as usual can’t remember what! After falling asleep once more whilst writing my blog I realised I’d better get a move on. Some fans are waiting patiently for me to post it but also fell asleep waiting for the blog to appear on the internet last week!
The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Jansson, Roofe, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Saiz and Cibicki. Subs were Hernandez for Roofe (78), Grot for Saiz (81) and Pennington for Cibicki (85). Leeds won 1-0 with a goal from Jansson on 41 minutes. Attendance was 30,590 with 997 Norwich fans. Today was the first time we had the virtual advertising boards on all four sides of the ground and along the middle of the East Stand.
Norwich had a lot of possession in the first half. Although I wasn’t particularly worried, some of this was our own making due to passes being short and not having enough power to reach our players. The first half wasn’t the best and it seemed to drag but our hopes were raised when Berardi had a shot that went wide. Chants of “if Berardi scores we’re on the pitch” rang out. We had a couple more chances before Phillips made a crucial tackle to deny Norwich a scoring chance. He was also unlucky not to score at the other end when his shot hit the post. To be honest things were quite even on the pitch until just before half time when we won a free kick out on the right. Having recently got a free kick specialist helping to train the team, it looked like this was paying off when Jansson rose to head the ball into the net off the post. As he celebrated first in front of the West Stand, he came down to the Kop end and immediately tried to raise the bar with the atmosphere. This worked and we ended the half on a high despite Norwich ending up on the attack. Prior to the goal it had been pretty quiet on the terraces too in comparison to recent games, even Hannah said so and I said we needed to be the twelfth man and we also needed a goal which obviously worked. My friend Carole said exactly the same thing at half time; great minds think alike.
In the second half it was noticeable that we were guilty of trying to walk the ball in when we should have had a go instead. This half passed a lot quicker though and the atmosphere was so much better and that’s how I love it to be. We did have a couple of chances as did Norwich, with them having a shot that clipped the top of the crossbar. Wiedwald was called on to make a few saves before it looked like we were going to put the game to bed when Saiz won the ball to bear down on to the Norwich goal at the Kop end. As the Leeds fans cheered, this turned to groans as the ball came back off the post to be cleared. That was such a shame as he deserved to score. When Norwich came close as we waited to bring Hernandez on, I was just glad they didn’t score in the meantime. As Pennington was brought on I knew we were going to see the game out which the team did. There were a few doubts at times but I think we are learning all the time and making sure we didn’t concede in the last few minutes after taking the lead. Although the six minutes of injury time meant loads around me were agreeing that the South Stand keeping the ball had contributed to this. If we are only leading by a small margin it feels counterproductive. We got the three points with the win at the end of the day even though it was tough at times. Having been asked to take a video at the end of the game again for both BBC Radio Leeds and Sportsline, I decided to film before the final whistle so I could capture the reaction from the fans.
Before I finish my blog tonight I would like to pay my respects to David Zaman who was one of the fans who took part in our recent CD recording with his mum Gwen. She sadly died a couple of days after this took place but she will always be remembered as being part of the group of fans making history by doing this. Unfortunately for those fans asking, we will not be able to get the CD out for Christmas. Getting everyone together to finalise this has been difficult but also I feel we need to get this right so won’t rush it. As soon as there is any news, you can be certain I will share this with everyone.
Next week sees Hull City at Elland Road who have just got a new manager. As usual I’ve no idea who it is but let’s hope we can go into the Christmas period with another win. See you next week – 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