I caught the train to Leeds on Saturday alongside my younger sister with a slight sense of trepidation. Firstly I didn’t want to get caught up in any mindless trouble – I much prefer hugs to hooliganism, and secondly I had a feeling that we would lose. I had somehow managed to encounter some thugs at the most unlikely location of Brentford and I expected at least some trouble relating to the Leeds game.
If you haven’t read my reports before, then they are as much a review of the general day out as of the match, as the experience is far more than the 90 minutes of football (or lack of football) – it is an adventure.
We had originally planned to spend the night there, get drunk, have a nice meal, stay in a shit hotel. Alas, the general expense of Christmas made this unviable so we set off with our free train tickets from an earlier refunded delayed train journey (cheers sis), accompanied by a mixture of Christmas shoppers and unidentified hoodlums.
I do love the city of Leeds. Outside of London, it is my favourite city. There is a vibrancy that many places lack, a great choice of pubs, some interesting beers on offer and it is simply a great night out. Plus it has a fantastic minimal techno scene…I am sure that you value that as much as I do.
Admit it, you love Leeds too, don’t you? Like in the same way the French secretly admire the English and really want to be like us, but would never admit that.
We had time for a couple of beers so found an old man’s pub which was still celebrating being in the 1979 Good Beer Guide, and had a damn fine pint of pale ale, followed by locating our recommended pub (thank you Sir Cornflake) called The Head Of Steam, which had a wide range of beers. I plumped for an American craft lager, the barman said it is £5.95, I said absolutely no problem whilst wondering what the fuck I had just decided. Two different but equally enjoyable beers…and pubs.
Speaking of questionable decisions, when I arrived into the crumbly Elland Road and looked on the screens, I questioned why we did not have a striker. I was very surprised. Were we going for a 0-0 draw? It was the kind of formation that I’d expect away at Man City. We should be the Man City of the championship. Maybe we are – they had just lost to Stoke.
And then more dodgy decisions. We spent a good 15 minutes queuing for a pint of shite, and a tasty peppered steak pie, and found somewhere slightly away from our yobs but still with good atmosphere – I admired the spirit of our yobs and appreciated that they were having a good time but I do question the wisdom of throwing away beer that you’ve spent forever queuing to buy. Then again, it was Fosters. The plod came up to keep a close eye to them and their inflatable penis – probably wise not to try to pick any of them off.
The game started slowly, Leeds having the best of any early action but clearly lacking any cutting edge.
Bruce going off was arguably the turning point. Replaced by Davies who didn’t look match fit – and not being close to 100% as a central defender is going to be problematic – it showed as Leeds snuck in to take the lead. Not entirely fairly, but we had been relatively abject to that point.
We quickly upped the abjectiveness (not an actual word but I currently give about as much fuck as did the players) and proscribed to plod around the field. Huddlestone was the master of sideways passing, Livermore looked lost – we were shaky at the back. Moses and Elmo just do not have any fluidity as a partnership – they both seem to want the same area on the pitch. Elmo appears threatened by his existence.
It wasn’t especially easy to see what was going on the rare occasion that we attacked the opposite end, Robertson made one or two promising runs but apart from that I have little recollection.
Part of the issue was that I became more interested in watching the Leeds fans behave like dickheads than the fairly dreadful first half. Until they scored, the banter between the two sets of fans was healthily disparaging, then I watched in fascination as a few of the fans decided to fight the stewards and the police, eventually being dragged out. Maybe they were one of the ones throwing the pies on the pitch.
They certainly weren’t one of the 17 fans that walked out on 17 minutes. Anyone else remember us trying a walk-out in the Fish Out Dolan Out era?
Any animosity the Leeds fans had towards the shambolic animosity of their owners, soon gave way as quick as any hope did, as a second goal was scrambled in.
My immediate thought was, again, that would not have gone in if Dawson was in defence. It would have been 0-0 with Dawson. Or even an on-game Davies.
I didn’t even consider going for a beer. I slumped into my chair and tried to think of something amusing to say on Twitter. And failed as miserably as Steve Bruce’s team selection. Not quite failing as spectacularly as 11 players though.
Meanwhile, Leeds United blasted out shit adverts to drown out any semblance of atmosphere. Corporate bullshit. Why do football clubs insist on destroying atmosphere by playing shit music, or worse, fucking adverts at Leeds United?
Things picked up in the second half as Livermore took hold of the game and showed the battling spirit required to win a game of football – and hopefully come back to at least equalise.
We fairly swiftly pulled one back thanks to a header from Elmo, who had otherwise been disappointing.
The pendulum had swung to the Tigers (nice to feel able to use our nickname) and the pressure continued but we could not convert possession into goals. Good chances came for Livermore, Aluko, Diame and others, in the box, but we did not have that cutting edge. How many times under Bruce have we said that we need a goal scorer?
Leeds wasted as much time as possible and I started to assume that I would miss the 6:40pm train, let alone the 5:40pm train. Eventually the game was up and we quickly left as the Leeds fans celebrated their cup final.
I’m struggling for a man of the match, but my best shout would be Livermore, for a second-half performance full of energy and some fight, albeit the occasional error. McGregor pulled off a couple of good saves and was let down by his defenders.
Aluko was shocking. Some occasional flashes of the old, but time and time again he fell down under pressure and stayed laid down for the best part of a minute, as if the referee would then turn around and give him a free kick. His lazy attitude and petulance summed up a poor team performance but he really stood out. How he was not taken off at half-time I do not know. That has to be his last appearance unless we are winning 3-0 and he comes on as a substitute. Sorry, Aluko, but you need to work your arse off if you are going to be appreciated. If you get bundled over, get up and chase the ball, or get into space. Laying there, forlorn, is not an option at our club.
My patience with Huddlestone has expired. We don’t need the game to be slowed down in central midfield. Passing sideways is not required. That said, he did look comfortable at centre-back – maybe he has accidentally found his future with the injury situation at the back.
Diame is not a striker. We clearly should have played an actual striker up front, and ideally Diame in midfield.
But, as time has ticked on since the game, one recalls that in our play-off promotion season we got hammered by Southampton. The last time we got promoted, we lost abysmally at home to Peterborough. This is the Championship and we are all well aware of the unpredictability.
Results mostly went our way too. We are still 4th. The sun occasionally shines even in winter, women still have boobs and we can still get promoted.
I remain 100% in support of Steve Bruce. He made glaring errors on Saturday. But he has a proven track record of promotions, and even more importantly, knows how to get money out of Allam, which will be key next month. I am sure that I do not need to write him a letter to advise that we need another striker – and I am not suggesting Gavin Gordon.
The rest of the evening didn’t pass without incident. Walking back to the town centre (not entirely sure how wise an idea that was), a group of young hoodlums just ahead of us appeared to jump some fans and start kicking and punching – the police arrived within a minute and arrested at least one, the other hoodlums involved walked on.
Sadly when we walked past the hoodlums (again probably not my brightest of ideas), they had Hull accents. Very sad to see such pathetic actions – if you want to fight people, then go join UFC, or a boxing club. 99% of football fans do not want this bullshit. Props to the police for jumping on it very quickly. I cannot remember the last time I praised the police.
The rest of the evening we spent firstly in a bland gastro brewery pub, then in a German market full of excessively overpriced tat, alongside stalls of beer and mulled wine.
As our train was running late, we popped into another pub near the station with smashed glass everywhere. The bouncer informed us that it was football-related and not to worry. Then he asked us who we supported. I declined to answer. Seriously people, why?
By time we arrived in Hull, the train was well over an hour late (I look forward to my refund), due to a passenger being ill and the total incompetence of Northern Rail in the scenario. And I was too late for fish and chips.
Overall it was a good day, despite the defeat and abysmal first half performance. Leeds remains a great city, a vibrant, fun place for a day or night out.
Leeds United remain scumbags, we all hate Leeds scum, but secretly on a public blog, I do have some empathy with them and their battle against an uninflatable penis of an owner. Whilst I hope that they get relegated, I also hope that their owner stops dicking on them. Although a Hull vs Leeds Premier League derby would be quite something.
Bolton next at home is massive. It is the kind of game that #typicalcity would lose and they will be scenting their opportunity. Surely we cannot lose?
And I’ve just realised that nobody will have read this because everyone will be trying to forget about Saturday.
Next game for me: Fucking Burnley.