Reading 1st April 2017

Not a great start as I was setting off to Reading when I saw my car tyre was as flat as a …… Just what I didn’t need! Luckily I had allowed myself plenty of time to get to Leeds for the coach as I tried to get a lift. I didn’t want to drive the car as although I knew it had a slow puncture that I was aiming to get sorted next week, the fact it had gone from full the previous night to zilch meant I didn’t want to risk it. 

After hurrying my other half up who was having a shower first before taking me, he chastised me for my priorities. Well of course, I was catching a coach to Reading that was leaving Leeds in an hour! As we reached the M621 there were blue lights flashing on the opposite carriageway. Despite some traffic still passing by in the third lane that was gradually being stopped, the sight of a car with no roof on facing the other way meant things didn’t look good. With the traffic straight away queuing up behind, it meant a detour home for my other half.

We had a decent journey down to Windsor where we were visiting the Queen for our stop today. It’s always a lovely place to visit and somewhere we have come for the last few years. That just reminded me of a conversation I had with my granddaughter Laura this week. She asked me if I was going to football this week and I replied I’m going to London at the weekend. With that she said Oma be careful on the bridge, four people were killed on it last week. I said I would but the fact a six year old knew so much about the recent terrorist incident at Parliament saddens me greatly. Such a horrible thing to happen to the people involved too.

We had parked in the coach park and although the castle looked a long walk away we were there in no time coming up the steps next to the pub. We thought it was great to see a welcome for us Leeds fans with blue, yellow and white balloons everywhere. The landlord a QPR fan said it was because he knew we were coming! It was nice to get a friendly greeting. As I went to get a glass of water a couple of men started talking to me saying the water had come straight out of the Thames, was full of vodka and there had been fishes swimming around in it recently! I still maintain that by wearing my Leeds things it always makes me approachable, as the amount of people who strike up a conversation is great. It happened again when I went for a further glass of water and I had a conversation with a Crystal Palace fan who introduced himself as Paul and another chap. I said I hoped to have my flag up in the ground and Paul had said there shouldn’t be any issues with that so I told them to look out for it on TV. A big thank you to Ella for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and it’s nice to see the younger generation of Leeds fans taking an interest in following Leeds in the seventies. I was a female in a man’s world at that time but I wouldn’t change anything for the world (apart from all the trouble) as I had the privilege of seeing the best team ever play. Billy Bremner always was and always will be my hero!

As we pulled off the M25 and queuing on the short journey to the ground which took ages, all of a sudden all the fans behind us on the coach were shouting he didn’t touch you. There had been a small bump and the second car had a Leeds fan driving. Not a good start to the game for him. As we pulled up at the ground we found out that Burton had scored in the 97th minute to win against Huddersfield. Our coach dropped us off more or less outside the turnstiles and we  got in the ground very quickly. With approx 20 mins until kick off I put my flag up behind the goal before heading up to my seat. We also heard Jansson hadn’t got off the team coach either when he’d been with the squad earlier. I’d seen a tweet earlier saying he’d tweeted a transfer then deleted it but assumed it was an April fool then heard it was a hamstring issue. Whatever is going on in the background I feel it is to the detriment of the team. Also I feel there is a lot of spin going on again sadly.

The team today was Green, Berardi, Taylor, Bartley, Cooper, Vieira, Bridcutt, Hernandez, Sacko, Pedraza and Wood. Subs were Doukara for Sacko, Phillips for Pedraza and Roofe for Vieira. Attendance was 23,055 with 3,546 Leeds fans. I’d seen a Reading tweet earlier saying today’s game was a sellout to which I’d responded “You’re only here to watch the Leeds”. Therefore it was a big surprise to see so many fans disguised as seats in the Reading end! There had also been a lot of brinksmanship going on before the game with Stam the Reading manager. When the game kicked off the Leeds fans started singing something which I thought at first was something about a family club. I realised how bad my hearing had got with the recognition of what they were actually singing, oops.

I had high hopes that despite the international break that we would turn up for this game. It took only 20 minutes to realise that this was not the case. Although both teams didn’t start off well, we seemed to be standing off Reading preferring to watch rather than get stuck in. Because of this it gave Reading the chance to start putting us under pressure but at that time it seemed they’d left their shooting boots at home. But that didn’t last long as they took a quick throw which concluded with a goal despite Green’s efforts to keep the goal out. Reading had the luck of the ball running for them and two or three of our players being unable to get rid of the ball. Despite this we had a couple of chances and we really should have buried them. You cannot afford to miss these, as opportunities were few and far between. We got a corner and proceeded to waste it by taking a short one. When you can’t get into the box that’s a mistake I feel. Just before the whistle blew for half time Reading broke away and luckily for us the ball hit the post with Green beaten and bounced away. The first half had been absolutely dire though.

The start of the second half saw a more positive start and Wood started to put Reading under pressure. This also saw the ref get worse. He had not let the game flow in the first half but was guilty of letting play carry on when fouls were committed against us. He was terrible and already had a reputation of never doing well against us prior to the game. Every little push was given against us, then Reading resorted to cheating to slow the game down and waste time when their player went down like a sack of spuds with a non-injury! Time wasting but damn right cheating which I hate! The Leeds fans were getting very angry which was understandable but why all of a sudden we have some throwing bottles onto the pitch is not. Come on we are better than that, we don’t need to have any repercussions coming our way through doing it. This happened at least four times unfortunately. The last two when I was standing near the front having gone down for my flag. The worried look on the female steward’s face meant I told her I was going to get my flag and not run on the pitch. To be fair she was decent and let me get it. I did clap the players off the pitch despite my disappointment with the result. Having met Valencia White, Scandinavian Whites and Dublin Whites they probably had more reason to be disappointed with the miles they had travelled to the game!

The journey home was a nightmare with diversions sending us all over the country, well it felt like it! Fingers crossed we’ve gone through the last one at 23.30! With Brentford away and then Preston at Elland Road next Saturday I feel this will be a big week points wise. I never take anything for granted and want as many points as possible. Our tactics today were very poor in my opinion and the team choice wasn’t good either. I feel if we’d have come out and put Reading under pressure from the start then they would have crumbled. It’s a shame the weak shot from Doukara that was fumbled by their keeper and went under his body was on the wrong side of the post too! Never mind, luckily for me I forget how bad things have been very easily. I also said I was going daft as well as deaf. As the board went up at half time with the stoppage time, I glanced at the TV screen to the right of me and saw 18.16. I thought no way is it only 18 minutes in to the game as that means it will be a long game. As I looked again I realised it said 44 minutes to the right of the screen. As I exclaimed out loud that I’d looked at the time on the left instead of the minutes played on the right, it brought a laugh from everyone around me although one said it was my age lol! I found out later that some others were confused by it too so I wasn’t the only one.

Tuesday will be the anniversary of my baby daughter’s death and amidst my sorrow my heart will go out to the families and friends of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight who were tragically killed in turkey. All will never be forgotten, RIP.

At least I managed to get home and a big thank you to both my daughter Emily and future son-in-law Alex for picking me up when I got back to Leeds. Instead of mum’s taxi it was taxi for mum! See you next week LUFC – Marching on Together!