The Somercotes branch photo mission ( Derby away 15th October 2016) finally resulted in some decent group pictures. It took a little bit of time to organise everyone to be facing the same way for a start, however, persistence prevailed and here are the results of the photoshoot. The branch flag in a rare outing, is still going strong and looked good at 11.30am on a cold, misty, autumn morning, the same cannot be said for some of the branch members! Included in the picture are members from the Ripon LUSC, who travel with us on a regular basis. Some of the members even managed not to have a drink in their hands for at least 5 minutes, so not a bad effort at all on their part.
Our thanks have to go to Mandy and all the staff at The Crown Inn, Somercotes, as well as the neighbours of said pub, who were treated to an impromptu and lively version of Marching On Together.
…take it eeeeeasy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
It’s times like these that any fan of Leeds United is happy to write about. From the well deserved win over Wolves, to the amazing team effort on Tuesday for 90 minutes plus. Players that gave their all, and then some. What a fantastic result, probably the best way to win that game, it was a true nail biter to the end. What a penalty for young Vieira to step up to, he will struggle to score a better penalty under more intense circumstances. Plaudits of the night however, have to go to the outstanding, magnificent Marco.
Both teams had made 8 changes from the teams that had played at the weekend. I had figured that Garry would make some changes, but not as many as that. But Marco made his mark with that save early in the first half, and that was his statement of intent. Both teams had their chances, despite the changes, Norwich on top for the first half hour or so, scoring from a header from one of the smallest guys on the pitch. A Bartley goal disallowed as Kyle clearly batted it in with his hand, and all he got was a yellow card for his efforts. But we got back into the game after a bit of nifty footwork by Roofe on the byline. A lovely placed cross to The Duke from Roofe, and The Duke duly set up Antonsson for his tap in, in front of the empty South Stand. It was hard fought in the second half, but we had the edge. If Mowatt had his shooting boots on, we would have won in normal time but alas it was not to be, and with only the keeper to beat, Mowatt hacked the ball into the Kop. Garry had gambled on getting the job done in 90 minutes, using all his subs, so when Coyle landed awkwardly in the penalty area in added time, we all feared the worse.
So the scenario was extra time with only 10 men. The atmosphere was so intense, it was like being crushed under a giant Canary. The burden was being carried by our very young side and we were being battered by a side who were much bigger and quicker with the luxury of fresher legs. When they scored, we looked doomed. All the hope was gone and the majority of the Kop were resigned to defeat, but this team just does not know when it is beaten. Grimes, who had been relatively anonymous throughout the 90 minutes, put the ball through to Sacko and the whole of the Kop waited to see if he would shoot. It looked like he did, the keeper came out but only parried the ball to the waiting Chris Wood who slotted home, and the crowd went mad. Minutes later, it looked like Sacko had another chance, racing goalwards with three men crowding him out, the ball went out for what we and Chris Woods thought looked like a corner, but the ref blew and penalties loomed. Everyone was wondering where they would be taken and all we could hope for was that they would be in front of the Kop. Our wishes came true and all we could do was try to put off the Norwich players as much as we could, and hope that we could score. There was no one who honestly thought Marco would save a penalty.
After all the stick Silvestri took last season from people booing him for not catching the ball when he punched it away, he had to have balls of steel on Tuesday to stand there. Moans about his distribution on the pitch and even his own defence having a pop at him for not commanding his area, let alone the fans, marred that whole season. This, despite him single handedly keeping us in the game at Boro two season ago. Marco won LUSC Player of The Season that first season, his trophy was given to him the following season, on the pitch by Johannesburg LUSC amid cruel cries of “Don’t drop it” , “Butterfingers” etc. etc. etc. yet he still played on and his girlfriend, Sofia, stood with Leeds fans steadfastly. Sadly, Monk brought in Green, and he lost his place, in my mind undeservedly.
Honours were even after the first attempts and then Marco stood his ground and saved the second, Roofe slotting in his to give us the lead. A dive to his right, stopped the next Norwich penalty and all of a sudden we are in with a chance. I have to say, when young Kalvin Phillips stepped up, I think the Kop thought it was going to be easy sailing, with “We Are Leeds” joyfully ringing round the rafters, but Ruddy pulled off a brilliant save to deny us the two goal advantage. We were clinging on after Oliveira scored and Grimes ballooned his shot, but the giant of the man that Marco is, stepped up or rather spectacularly dived to his right give us the edge.
I don’t know how young Vieira felt walking up for that penalty, I don’t think he will easily forget it. It was fitting that one of our home grown academy players won us that shoot out. A fantastic team effort and one of the best games I have seen at Elland Road for quite a while. I hope this will be a continuing theme for the rest of the season. I admit that when the substitutions started, I was doubting Garry’s decisions, but I am very glad to be proved wrong.
The only sour point for me was that I was unable to enjoy the game from the luxury of my season ticket seat. I know that the Club were reluctant to open all the stands for fear of a repeat of the last (Blackburn) Cup game, where barely 9,000 loyal fans bothered to turn up. I had emailed them about it when the tickets were announced. To be fair to the Club, they had cut prices for season ticket holders and members to encourage a good attendance. When I arrived at the ground, the queues at Lowfields were circling right round for people who were picking up their tickets. As I got to my non preferred seat in the Kop, I saw that the Captains Corner was open, and I was fuming. Admittedly, I don’t know how The Club would have been able to transfer me or anyone else who had been forcibly relocated to other stands, back to our original seats, but frankly I don’t care. Leeds United should have more confidence in their own product, and realistically should have opened the West Stand initially, along with the two stands (Kop and East Stand) that they did.
At the time of writing, we do not know what the quarter finals holds for us. If it is a home tie, please, please Leeds United – be proactive, for all our sakes.
Until then, lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand, find a place to make your stand…
To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn. There is a season…. and this could be ours!
This time last week we were coming into the Wigan game with a decent display at Derby, and all was good. Unfortunately, after the 1-1 draw, the world was full of despondency once more. At the death, our defence failed to clear and Wigan equalised in the 91st minute, a draw snatched away from the mouth of victory. It felt like we had lost the game and people were calling for Garry Monks head, baying for blood.
A week later, here we are again. After a hard fought team display on Saturday at Wolves, and an own goal from Sacko’s bewilderingly placed cross in front of the gaping goal, we emerged victorious. Back to tonight, and following a poor start to ticket sales initially, Leeds United have been forced to open the West Stand Upper Tier to cater for more purchases. This is good, after our poor support at the Blackburn home tie, with less than 10,000 punters turning up. Yet season ticket holders continued to complain that they wouldn’t attend as “their stand” wasn’t open. This despite the £10 a ticket for adults and a very competitive £2.50 for children / £5 for OAPs. What more could the Club do?
Should we win tonight and get another home tie, there is only one solution. Just open the whole ground up.
Regardless of whether the team are doing well or not, it looks like we cannot fill the ground for cup games, that is unless we get a “glamour” tie. Bizarrely enough, despite only getting 23,000 for the last few league games, the Newcastle game is selling like hotcakes!
I am a cynic of the highest order, therefore, I need to stop discussing this any further for fear of upsetting folk. My parting shot is that, should we progress, I hope the Club discount the tickets for anyone who bothered to turn up for the Blackburn home cup game.
As Keats said, To Autumn – the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun, conspiring with him how to load and bless, with fruit, the vines that round thatch-ed eaves run.
For those of you who never did English Lit at O level; as is with Leeds United, the team are maturing slowly under Garry-with-two-Rs leadership. There still is plenty of room for improvement before the winter cold sinks in, so let us just consider how far we have come before we start nit picking.
Our defence, which in previous seasons has seen us produce net negative figures generally, has gone from strength to strength. This, despite the loss of our Premiership standard right back – who hasn’t chalked up 3 starts in a row since he left us for the Mighty ‘Ammers. The usual Media scrum around losing our other Want-Away Taylor has died down some, since the emergence of the Terrible Trio of Capt Bartley, Jansson and Ayling, silencing the critics. It may even be possible that they are not wanting to press his departure for fear of unleashing a better defender, who may well be the last brick needed in the unstoppable defensive wall of the Mighty Leeds. Incidentally, I would still have Silvestri back at the drop of a hat.
Plaudits as well for the matching of O Kane (good swap for Lewis Cook) and young Kalvin Phillips. The pair of them are a good unit and despite their size and relative inexperience, they have carved out their midfield role with Ninja like precision. The rest of the midfield is where the maturing sun and Garry need to focus their attention on. We desperately missed Dallas on Saturday against Derby. I still think Sacko, Hernandez, Vieira and Roofe have skills, guile, speed and agility, as much as the next man, Mowatt. But they haven’t gelled yet and they need the likes of Dallas and the out of favour Murphy and Diagouraga to put in the extra challenge that is needed. The need is especially apparent when playing teams like Derby and Huddersfield, with a strong midfield. Mooy was unstoppable, and whilst the referee wasn’t giving us anything against the South Yorks Chihuahuas that day, his presence on the pitch was something that our team was sadly lacking.
Our finishing in the final third has also been underwhelming of late. Chris Wood works hard and he chases the ball down, like a goal hungry striker should. I still think we should play two up front, unpopular as it is nowadays. It’s all fair and square getting your wide players to put a cross in, but in my mind, there should be an option of a second man for the killer touch, in true Lee Chapman poacher style, should the keeper only manage to parry the save.
Our set pieces, especially from corners have got better after the shaky season start. Captain Bartley could have scored not once but twice at The Ipro, in his Weatherall-esque role in front of goal. We should have scored from that Antonsson shot as well, only the bar saved Derby from a draw, which would have been a fair result after the goal from Greens blunder early in the second half. Silvestri had his critics last year, I still think Garry should give him the Number 1 shirt back.
Thanks to Mandy and the staff at The Crowne Inn, Somercotes for the hospitality and the photos, which were posted on facebook before we all got back inside the pub. It is on days like these that we have to thank the Home Clubs for giving us the allocation we need.
The day was marred by poor Police and stewarding after the game, right in front of the coaches. I didn’t witness anything myself but apparently fans were being attacked. I am not entirely sure who was attacking who, as during half time a fellow Leeds fan threw a punch at one of our female members. 20 years ago, taking a picture meant a trip to Boots and waiting a week for them to develop it, I hope that social media was put to good use on Saturday, so that those responsible are brought to book. But after the tear gassing at Hull and the Norwich and Bradford flare incidents last season, I doubt if any of the footage will lead to appropriate action being taken against any of the perpetrators. I know there will be criticism at what I say, but some of our own fans need to take a long hard look at themselves before they start blaming others.
Considering Derby were one of the first clubs in the country to have a second generation, purpose built new stadium, there’s always had problems there post match – biggest ensemble of Elvis’s I’ve ever seen. Long gone are the days when rival fans were able to leave stadia in relative propriety together. After “The Cheese Wedge” was put out of commission for away fans during the Bates Era as a money making scheme, there has been continuing issues for our disabled / less able fans trying to leave the ground via The West Stand. The Club say that they, and the Police think it is better and safer for away fans to be housed there, after all £37 in advance or £42 on the day, is bound to be better. I don’t think there has been any difference in the activities of the Numskulls who stand on the corner outside McDonalds, shouting at anybody and everybody, since the change, and there certainly isn’t a reduction in the presence of the Police vans who are parked up opposite The East Stand. They all still seem to be sat inside, not doing very much or standing within three feet of the vans doing a very good job protecting themselves, most match days.
Finally, tickets. My apprehension about Norwich was unfounded, with the grand figure of 2400 being announced, and at £40 per adult, all I can say is, good ( nearly £100,000) decision Norwich! Leeds United, thankfully, has also made the game a loyalty one based on their “Away Tracker” system. Given that it was based on “3 or more away games” so far, this was an excellent idea, as the first 7 away fixtures included 3 long away games to QPR, Cardiff and Bristol and the Forest loyalty game. This is music to the ears for all hard working LUSC branch secretaries and other non season ticket holder dedicated fans. It is so disappointing to let down loyal fans when tickets are short and I hope that The Club will continue on this road. I have some sympathy with people who are just starting to travel away, but there are plenty of opportunities through the season at the larger allocation grounds, to get your loyalty points up for the next season. Any dedicated fan who travels from Harrogate to Bristol City on a Tuesday night or Brighton on a Friday night, deserves a ticket over the “one away per season” part timer. With any luck, Leeds will continue with this and the rest of the Championship (Premiership in the near future) clubs will treat the Leeds fixture as a money spinning cash cow, and give us a decent allocation for the coming seasons and years, or at least until I stop being the Branch Ticket Orderer.