Nov 23 2017

Wolves away 22nd November 2017

First of all I would like to give a big apology for forgetting to mention Wayne Ogden in my blog on Sunday who escorted me to Elland Road in his little yellow car. He recognised my beret as he passed my car and I recognised his registration plate so thank you lol!!

Today was going to be a late set off to get there after work. As we were going straight to the ground too it didn’t feel like I was going to a football match and later on Sue and I said we maybe should have gone to see the Christmas lights switch on instead. It’s funny how memories from the past can come flooding back.  As we passed a big roundabout outside Derby it brought back immediate memories of the mini bus I was driving getting attacked by Newcastle fans. Luckily I saw them crossing the road ahead of us and as there was a gap in the traffic I put my foot down on the pedal to get past them. They saw the scarves hanging out of the windows and banged on the side of the van and nicked a scarf if I remember right. A bit further along the way to Wolverhampton I recognised another roundabout where my mini broke down on the way to Birmingham. After a push we got it going again and managed to get to the ground before my friend Sue who had carried on in her car but got lost. As traffic was heavy we arrived just before kickoff and luckily the rain kept off whilst we walked down to the ground although I had to keep hold of my beret so the wind didn’t take off with it. I kept to the path at the top of the hill though as I had visions of ending up on my backside in the mud.

Luckily although loads of our fans arrived at the ground together we got in relatively quickly. After a couple of photos and putting my banner up I found my seat which was right on the half way line and near the front with loads of fans around me that I knew.

The team today was the same as on Sunday with Lonergan, Ayling, Cooper, Berardi, Jansson, Vieira, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski, Roofe and Hernandez. Subs were Ekuban for Roofe (68), O’Kane for Hernandez (68) and Dallas for Saiz (77). Leeds lost 4-1 with Alioski scoring the Leeds goal (48) and Wolves being awarded a penalty for their fourth goal. Vieira was sent off for a second bookable offence although I will have to see it again to see what happened.  Attendance was 28,914 with approx. 2,300 Leeds fans.

The game started off pretty even but we were guilty of some very bad passing from many of our players which meant the ball was intercepted too often. We’d had an attack before Wolves started coming at us and were breaking us down very easily and had a lot of pace. When it looked like a long pass would go out for a throw in, a Wolves player ran so fast he kept it in and the resulting cross meant Lonergan had to make a great save.  Wolves had shown what they could do though. Jansson passed the ball back to Lonergan which had me screaming at him to not do that as it put us under pressure, especially as he booted the ball up front and Wolves won it straight back. They attacked us once more but won a free kick outside the penalty area after a foul from Cooper. As soon as the ball left their player’s foot it sailed above our “wall” which had also left a big gap, into the left hand side of Lonergan with him having no chance of getting near the ball. It was very poor defending from my point of view with the wall. Wolves then took the game by the scruff of the neck with constant attacking. Although we had the same team as Sunday we needed to change the formation to close them down in the middle as we were constantly caught out with their speed. I said we needed to do this before they got a second goal which of course we didn’t. With Hernandez out of position over the opposite side of the pitch Berardi was left wide open with no support as they ran through to score a second goal. It was a good goal but something that we shouldn’t have let them get despite all the mistakes in passing, as we had a chance to change the formation and stop this happening. For the rest of the first half they ran rings around us. The ref as usual started booking our players as Wolves were let off. I don’t know when I saw their number 15 for the first time, but he was a giant of a player so it was no use hoofing balls up for Roofe to get as he didn’t stand a chance against him. It reminded me of games in the past where when we had a tall centre forward we would put balls along the ground and when we had a small centre forward as in Aidan Butterworth and David McNiven we would always cross the ball high into the box!

A couple of fans took off to the pub as they’d seen enough. If there’d been beer served in the ground I reckon many others would have joined others downstairs creating great gaps on the terraces and they’d have made a killing. As it was no one booed the team off at half time, I suppose because they knew we were playing the league leaders at this moment in time. Sue thought we would get beaten today though as she’d had a feeling whilst I thought a draw would be good and anything more than that a bonus. At times we had looked scared stiff of Wolves and that caused us to make constant mistakes.

At half time I met one of the lads who was at our song recording last weekend who sang a couple I didn’t know for me to record. I made a mess of this first time though as I don’t think the video worked argh! I also heard Kevin Sharp was on the pitch at half time but when I got back up into the stand I couldn’t get a good photo. Sue said she watched it on the screen, silly me never even saw that!

At the start of the second half there were no changes on the pitch so I said it was shit or bust basically and I hope Christiansen knew what he was doing. As we kicked off, straight away we were playing how we should with the ball on the floor and with more vigor; could it be a tale of two halves? When a lovely pass from Saiz set up Alioski when he beat their defender to volley the ball into the net and pull one back I hoped we could get a second and at least get a draw. Playing like this we started to get a grip on the game only for things to take a turn for the worse again with the Vieira sending off.  Another game with 10 men again and probably up against it once more.  Even though we kept at it we were on the back foot again as Wolves scored a third to really put the game out of reach. The score line then ended up even worse when Lonergan and their player tangled as he tried to stop them scoring just to the right of his goal. That was it then game over and a big defeat in the end.

It wasn’t unexpected for many fans but I was hoping we could have got at least a point out of it. The tactics in the first half really lost us the game because by not closing them down, they were running through us with ease. On Sunday we had Vieira and Phillips playing alongside each other making us stronger in midfield whereas today, one played more up front than the other. Back to the drawing board and although I shrug my shoulders and carry on to the next one, it is disappointing to see that for most of the game we weren’t even in it.

At least Jack went home happy having been giving Ayling’s shirt at the end of the game. As I went to leave the ground I realised I’d lost my little Toby Nye badge which gutted me so I went back in the stand to look for it. Hopefully I can get another and it is well worth the £1.50 I paid for it as it goes towards his cancer funding. Well I certainly found out I’m not fit; I suppose I shouldn’t have set off running, but as there were very few Leeds fans left in the ground at this point, I thought I’d better go quickly. All I ended up doing was puffing and panting all the way to the top of the hill; not good!

As I reached the road and glanced up to the right, I had visions of our earlier days of visiting Molineux especially of being in the South Bank when it was such an imposing stand. The game before we went to Paris for the European Cup Final in 1975 was terrible for us Leeds fans as not many of us went to that game. My friends and I had travelled by train going into a pub opposite the station first and then the one next to the subway by the ground  We saw Sally a Leeds fan from London get wrapped around a lamp post and her scarf pinched as well as kicked and punched.  All of this is written in my book Follow Me and Leeds United. Leeds fans were waiting for the gates to open when Wolves fans came up behind us and attacked us. Although the lads put up a fight, we were seriously outnumbered and in the end Sue and I ran with the others and I tripped over a wall in the process. There were continuous running battles after that and it was awful. Some things you never forget!

I thought we may get back on time with no detours this week as normally travelling back from away games most of the motorways end up shut at some point.  Well I was wrong; just as we wanted to pull onto the motorway a police car blocked our way due to an accident and we ended up on the toll road. At least we had a short service stop then as I could feel a headache coming on so a welcome Costa coffee beckoned.

Saturday sees another early kickoff and us going straight to the game. I do prefer the stop on the way to a game though or at least having a bacon sarnie in Billy’s bar before we leave. At least with getting back early (although no doubt we will travel all around South Yorkshire before ending back at the same place an hour later), I might go Christmas shopping.  I hope it is us singing that “you should have gone Christmas shopping” to the Barnsley fans and not the other way round. As it’s coming up to my favourite time of the year though I might as well make the most of it!

We’ll see what our visit to Barnsley brings this time. Last season we got an early goal then lost so it isn’t an easy ground to go to; in fact we’ve had some absolute shockers there. Hearing Nikki and her dog Rita haven’t got a ticket for QPR is sad as they go everywhere and are part of our loyal support. I realise fans want to see us play but loyal fans should always be looked after; these are the ones who stay with the team through thick and thin and are not fickle or supporters who only come when times are good. If Leeds can’t help get Nikki tickets, I wonder if QPR can. Let me know if anyone has any ideas.  See you on Saturday LUFC – Marching on Together.