Like many branch secretaries and admin folk today, 10.30am was spent watching the Leeds United website slowly tick down until tickets could be ordered for Blackburn Gold members. In the back of my mind was Sutton in the Cup, as well as Huddersfield.

Don’t get me wrong, since the news of the draw broke out many minutes have already been spent looking at the logistics of either Sutton or Wimbledon away. The aa route planner was, as usual, the first website visited, followed swiftly by an email to the coach company. Either ground looked like a long haul to get to and we simply  cannot dodge the parking lot that is the M25, so the only blessing is that it will be on the Sunday and traffic might not be as bad as what it could be. There are already people speculating about how our team will fare on the 3G pitch, but apparently Thorp Arch has the same pitch anyway, like most pitches in Scotland actually, and at least it won’t be as bad as that miserable excuse for a pitch at Histon. Incidentally, a game which should NEVER have been played, and in fact probably was only played because ITV Sport wanted to show it. Which says a lot about why football should not be governed by TV companies.

Going back to Sutton in the Cup, the main problem is the lack of tickets to these small grounds. Whilst in the build up to all of the cup draws, the usual people are wanting “glamour ties” or grounds that they have never been to, so they can tick them off, I much prefer home games all the way to the quarter final. Boring, yes, but at least I can be assured of a ticket and there is less chance that the branch will lose a load of money organising transport to a game where tickets are in short supply. For people who travel independently, or at least don’t have the responsibility for ordering tickets for other people, these little grounds are no problem, especially if they have the luxury of an away season ticket.

I say luxury, and I mean it. Not many of us have the funds to fork out the money for our season tickets and an away season ticket at the same time. I appreciate if you really want to devote your life to Leeds United, these are the lengths that you have to go to, but sadly, not everyone has the opportunity or the means to do so. So, the lucky few can make it to every single game if they can afford it. The rest of us have to rely on our own phones/laptops/devices or some very helpful branch admin person who is willing to devote their time on ticket ordering day to do it for them.

Needless to say, I really don’t like ticket ordering day, as I am the unlucky one who gets to sit in front of the screen watching the little yellow time bar go down from 10.30am onwards, sometimes an hour or more goes past, an hour that I will never get back. The build up to 10.30am consisting of worrying about whether the broadband will go down or not, if I have missed anyone off the list, if I get the tickets ordered in the correct order so people can sit with each other, etc. etc.etc. Before the updated Leeds United website, the added factor was if the ticketing process servers would cope with the strain of the number of tickets being ordered and the number of people trying to order. Thankfully, Leeds United have made improvements and have also very helpfully used their “Away Games Tracker System”. I know many people are against the use of this tracker system, but given it allows the loyal few who go to the majority of the away games through the season to be guaranteed a ticket, most will struggle to hold a valid argument against it.  There continues to be the few who moan that they can’t get tickets to away games, but considering Bristol, Cardiff and Brighton games were still selling on the day and more recently Blackburn ( to press these tickets are still on sale) haven’t sold out yet, I don’t think these people have a leg to stand on really. What they actually mean is that they selfishly want to be able to pick and choose which games they want to go to over and above anyone else, regardless of whether they have made the effort to any other games or not. Harsh but fair. Sadly, this is true for home games as well. I was one of the paltry 8000 who turned up to the 3rd round Blackburn cup tie at home. Although the Club admitted that the pricing could have been better for non season ticket holders,  there were still 14,000 or so tickets were up for grabs for £15. The crowd was disappointing to say the least. The following Cup game (Norwich 2-2 but beat we them on penalties) didn’t really start selling until we beat Wolves the weekend before, despite them being a very reasonable £10 for season ticket holders and £15 for non season ticket holders. On the night of the Norwich game, the queues at the ticket office at Lowfields were horrendous apparently, but anyone who was lucky enough to be there witnessed a cracking game, which unfortunately signalled the start of Norwich’s decline into mid table mediocrity. Had we got a home fixture in the next round instead of Liverpool away, there would be no doubt at all that Elland Road would have sold out. I don’t begrudge anyone who is starting to come back, I am happy that they are. There are many who for their own reasons chose to stay away from Elland Road, some just simply could not afford to come back and some can only make it to a few games because of geography etc. The team and the manager and the owners are keen to reaffirm their commitment to and their appreciation of the fans, so the more the merrier I say.

On Sunday 29th January 2017, the branch will have it’s day out in true Harrogatewhites fashion, and a good day out will be had by all. In previous seasons  it would be at this point where I would add, “before it gets ruined by the 90 minutes on the pitch”, but this is just not the case any more. For too long have those words been a stock phrase when it comes to talking about Leeds United, and I am very glad that I don’t have to churn to them any longer.

buzz lightyear_div1