Has it been 30 years?
I was born and brought up in Leeds and have been a fairly apathetic supporter of The Whites for most of my life. I’ve had some poorly-judged dalliances with both Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in my youth, but my home team has emerged as my chosen supported football club. I tend to follow most games via the BBC text if I can, but I otherwise don’t really make any effort to make it to any games.
I am the archetypal armchair supporter, for which I do not apologise. There are higher priorities than football, and I’ve pretty much put my other activities (brass banding especially) above standing amongst several thousand sweary men at Elland Road.
Anyway, my Dad took me to my first game at Elland Road. This was either very late 70s or early 80s, I can’t quite remember, but it was against Nottingham Forest and we lost 3-1 (if I remember correctly). Leeds were on their first slump out of the top division since the Revie heyday. For some reason my Dad knew David Harvey and we ended up meeting him on the day. I had no idea at all who he was, but I remember him having a nice ‘tache.
This was my first visit to Elland Road, but it took me around thirty years to visit again. My sister and her family visited from Toronto over Christmas and my brother-in-law Phil and I both got tickets to the Leeds v Bolton Wanderers game as gifts. On New Years Day Phil and I were dropped off for my first game in about three decades. Phil has been far more frequently than me and he lives in Toronto!
I had a lot of fun and I will not leave it another 30 years before I go again. It was great to stand in the South Stand and take in the atmosphere, although it would appear that the Bolton fans did most of the singing in the first half. Things are not exactly ticking along nicely at Leeds and the fans are frustrated. The quality of the football by both teams was absolutely awful, almost like a Sunday League game. There was a stray McDonald’s bag rolling around the pitch in the first half that was showing my footballing skill than most of the players on the pitch. The second half was slightly better, and Leeds won a penalty (converted by the mighty Luciano Becchio) to win all three points, but as games go it was bloody awful.
Still, Phil bought me some Bovril and a pie and it was fun just being there. If I lived in Leeds I would most certainly go a few times a year. I might even try and make some games when they visit Nottingham in the future. I’m not convinced that 2013 will see Leeds promoted – there needs to be some incredible improvement in quality – but I will be keeping my fingers crossed during every game.