I’d given Gaz and his daughter Ella a lift into Leeds for us to catch the Fullerton Park coach today. It was nice to see that that the timeline outside Billy’s Bar had been updated with our 1974 League Champions win although our European Cup Winners Cup Final in Salonika in 1973 is still missing. I tweeted the club after the Preston game to say these needed adding to the timeline. We left Billy’s Bar at 12.30 pm and headed for our pub stop in Green Hammerton at the club there. The Welsh contingent were already there when we arrived and I went to talk to Brian Bevan and a couple of others. Brian had brought my book Follow Me and Leeds United last time we were there on the way to Newcastle and it was nice to hear that he enjoyed reading the book, so a big thank you to him for the feedback. We had a nice chilled out time there and I enjoyed my pie and peas which reminded me of the old Supporters Club building on Fullerton Park where we always used to go in during my early days of following Leeds. Pie and peas were always served in the social side if I remember correctly.
We had a group photo prior to leaving the club at 3.15 pm and it seemed no time at all that we arrived in Sunderland around 5.00 pm in readiness for the 5.30 kick off and live Sky game. As we got off the coach it was a bit windy but we were soon climbing the stairs to the top of the stand where luckily it was sheltered. As the front two rows of the stand were not to be used by our fans I was able to put my banner up with lots of others. I love it when they can all be displayed showing where lots of our fans come from. I didn’t feel safe stood up at the front of the stand though so was glad to go and find my seat a little further back in the top part. Although it was a good view I felt it is too high up and you are far away from the play. Looking at the Sunderland fans turnout which looked pretty poor, I reckoned they could have given Leeds fans the whole stand and I’m sure we would have sold them all, especially when the allocation was sold out in minutes once again.
The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Anita, Alioski, Saiz, O’Kane, Hernandez, Phillips and Ekuban. Subs were Roofe for Hernandez (25 went off injured), Dallas for Ekuban (62 went off injured) and Klich for Saiz (81). Wiedwald was booked and Leeds won 2-0 with goals by Saiz (21) and Dallas (76). Attendance at the Stadium of Light was 31,237 with approx.3,000 Leeds fans although I would never have guessed there were that many fans at the game overall due to all the spaces on the terraces below!
It didn’t take long for us to see that the team were up for it today. There was some brilliant footwork going on especially from Saiz and Alioski and lots of quick passing amongst the team. Phillips was getting stuck in too and this was replicated by other members of the team. The fans were in good voice too which was good to hear who sang for the whole game. The Sunderland fans in comparison were as quiet as church mice. Today’s game saw us up against Simon Grayson who was now the manager of the opposition but with the Leeds fans chanting his name, hopefully it meant that being Leeds tugged at his heart strings! Leeds were attacking towards the Leeds fans in the first half and time and time again Alioski, with some pace, was bearing down the wing in acres of space. Each team member was fighting for the ball and backing the other players up and this looked so good. Leeds launched another attack and Alioski passed the ball the Saiz to hit the ball past their goalie to put us into the lead. Great celebrations from the Leeds fans and the noise from us became even louder! Just after we scored Hernandez went off injured and Roofe came on. It took me a while to realise who had replaced him though. The first half belonged to Leeds and we were all over Sunderland and although they had a couple of chances they never looked like scoring. It was good to go into the break in the lead.
I went downstairs and on the steps some young lads stopped me asking for a photo. They love reading my blogs and that makes me feel really happy that I am doing something right. Obviously I obliged with the photos as many others asked for photos too. I had a chat with Gary Edwards at half time before heading back into the stand. The second half started where the first half left off and Alioski was getting some great runs down the right hand side. What is good to see is the pace we have now got, the players playing as a team and long may it continue. Things became more difficult when Grayson made a double substitution and it wasn’t so easy to run rings around Sunderland. After settling back into the game we had another attack when Ekuban and Roofe won the ball. Somehow at the end of this Ekuban ended up in the back of the goal injured. Eventually he got half way across the pitch before going down and after treatment was more or less carried off the pitch. That was such a shame as he looked in a lot of pain and he was just getting on top of his game I thought. Vieira who was warming up at the side of the pitch had renditions of his song sung to him. Ohhh Ronaldo Vieira, ohhh he’s only a teenager, ohhh he never gives the ball away 1, 2, 3, 4. It was nice to see him show his appreciation to the fans above him. Dallas came on to replace Ekuban and after another great attack by Leeds Saiz crossed the ball for Dallas to head the ball into the net to send the Leeds fans into raptures once more. As the Sunderland fans streamed to the exits the Leeds fans chanted “is there a fire drill” at them. The gallows humour from our fans once again took over when we sang “Leeds, Leeds are falling apart again”. As they attacked us at that time I had an anxious moment thinking they would get a goal back. They repeated a move from the first half where they put the ball across the box but none of their players could connect with it thankfully.
I am chuffed to bits for the team today as they played some great football with precision passes, were able to fight for the ball plus scoring two great goals to give us the three points. A win that put us into fifth place and as I’ve said many times, aspiring for that automatic promotion place. The attitude and commitment shone out today and there was a great togetherness from both the fans and the team especially at the end of the game. I still think no other fans can touch us for our loyalty through all the ups and downs we’ve had and now, fingers crossed, our future is looking bright. The atmosphere was brilliant today too and I love being part of this. I’d gone down to get my banner at the end of the game so was stood at the front when the team came to clap us. A very happy buzzing Leeds support came out of the stadium as we headed to the coaches. All of a sudden we were hit by a gale force wind and I had to hold on to my beret. It must be the design of the ground that had created a wind tunnel there because it came out of the blue!
As we dropped our Green Hammerton fans off we heard that there was someone locked in the toilet on the coach. Eventually after getting a screwdriver from the club the driver was able to release him. As he had been in there for at least 10 minutes he was quite shaken up. I’m glad it wasn’t me who’d got locked in! As we got to Leeds I got off the coach and ran to my car. As I was putting my bags in the car I suddenly realised that I hadn’t travelled alone this morning and waited for Gaz and Ella. They’d thought they were going to have to get a taxi instead and I said no way they’d have had to ring me. Unfortunately my memory is shot half of the time as I’m doing that many things at once and multitasking that I forget these things very easily. I just need reminding and honestly I don’t mind lol!
Tuesday sees the Newport EFL game at Elland Road and then the away game at Nottingham Forest, both games which unfortunately I won’t be at but hope to get the stream for Tuesday and find a pub to watch the latter. On the way to Sunderland today I’d said that we would be winning our away games and drawing at home in the league which has obviously happened so far. Once we’ve learnt how to overcome teams that come to frustrate us at home, I reckon we will be a force to be reckoned with. Here’s hoping! See you all at the Burton game. LUFC – Marching on Together!