With an early start beckoning, what I didn’t expect was to be wide awake for most of the night. With my Fitbit showing I only had 1 hour 21 minutes sleep, I felt like death warmed up. As I got to Leeds I realised why I’d been cold as the temperature was at a low eight degrees which is not something we’ve been used to of late. The good thing though, the sky was blue and I got a fantastic photo of Billy’s statue and the ground in glorious sunshine. Luckily for me I was able to sleep most of the way to our pub stop in Thetford where LUSC Fullerton Park members raised a toast in remembrance of our two supporters Paul Turner and Keith Horner, who both died during the close season and were regular travelers with the branch.
On arrival in Norwich at 2.15pm, we got straight in the ground and I went to the front of the stand to put my flag up near the corner, before taking some customary photos. I’d said to my daughter Danielle that last season my flag got soaked due to the rain; I obviously tempted fate because the next thing the heavens opened but luckily it didn’t last too long and the sun came back out again.
The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Phillips, Hernandez, Douglas, Alioski, Saiz, Klich, Roofe and Jansson coming in for his first league game of the season after Cooper’s injury. Forshaw and Dallas are also out due to injury. Subs were: Bamford for Roofe (77), Harrison for Hernandez (79) and Baker for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 3-0 with Klich (21), Alioski (26) and Hernandez (67) scoring the Leeds goals. Attendance was 25,944 with approx. 2,500 Leeds fans.
Norwich had painted the away changing rooms pink in an effort to unsettle us as a team, although the dug outs remained the same with the Leeds team warming up at the far end of the pitch. It took about 15 minutes for us to get a grip of the game as Norwich set out to attack us. The Leeds fans were in fine voice despite there being no alcohol served in the ground. Once we got over the early pressure from Norwich, Leeds turned on a fantastic display of football going two goals up in the first half. After Alioski’s header was saved by their keeper, the ball came back out to Klich on the edge of the area and he hammered the ball past their goalie for our first goal. When Alioski got the second one the Leeds fans upped their singing even more, enjoying the display being put on by the team. Although Norwich threatened a few times, Leeds were playing as a team and fighting for everything meaning we were able to nullify any threats as we went into the break in the lead. There were lots of smiling faces and happy Leeds fans with many wanting their photos taken.
When our fans were singing we were top of the league and also Leeds are going up, I refused to sing it as I wasn’t going to put a jinx on things. We were playing some great football and running rings around Norwich who at times were chasing shadows. We’re taking the p**s sang the gleeful Leeds support as Norwich, although they kept plugging away, were no match for us as we fought for everything. When Hernandez sidestepped their player in the penalty area, I knew the ball was going in as soon as it left his foot to put us three goals up and game over. At that time unbeknown to me but near where Danielle was standing, the celebrating Leeds fans fell down the rows and the steps with many fans at the bottom of the pile including Norwich stewards. If ever there was an advert for safe standing this was it. Unfortunately someone we know was hurt in the melee and was taken to first aid with an injured back. Someone at the end of the game was being helped down the steps by two lads as he was limping badly with another celebration injury. Hopefully both of them and any others who were hurt will be okay.
At the end of the game all the players came over to the Leeds fans but there were so many stewards stood in front of us I couldn’t get a clear view but it was nice to see both Alioski and Jansson take off their shirts to hand to fans. I then noticed that young Jack one of our loyal Welsh Whites was the lucky recipient of Jansson’s shirt. To be fair though the stewards had been very relaxed and happy for me to take photos of all the flags and many of our fans. I was also able to go and get my flag near the end of the game.
It was a very happy and satisfied support walking back to the coaches that’s for sure. As I mentioned numerous times in my blogs last year about our lack of fitness, it was a unanimous vote that our fitness levels this year under Bielsa are going to make a difference. Whatever is thrown at us, it will be exciting to watch I’m sure of that!
With Tuesday’s game against Preston at Elland Road in the next round of the Carabao Cup, there will be a number of changes to the team with those who haven’t had any game time given the chance to shine. We then finish the week with Friday’s second home game in a week against Middlesbrough. Bring it on and I’ll see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!