I am a fan of Leeds United and if there is one thing that’s built into fans of our club, it’s the passion and tenacity to keep on going. There are also times in Football when the majority of supporters regardless of their teams colours stand together in support of each other when that time comes around.
Today (11th May) marks the 29th anniversary of the tragedy at Valley Parade. 56 supporters who were enjoying the match between Bradford City and Lincoln City never returned home. If ever there was a more poignant and harrowing reminder of how fortunate we are when we return home after each game we watch, this is sadly it.
This blog post is not for the sake of going into all the details or how, what and why it happened. This is to serve the purpose of remembering the tragic event and to make sure all people (fans of football or not) who didn’t know about it do so.
Watching the video footage of this event still brings tears to my eyes as what started as a small fire in the stand quickly erupted into a fiery inferno. Police and fans united in helping those frantically escape from the heat, flames and black smoke. Within a couple of minutes the stand was fully engulfed in flames with the stand starting to collapse.
The 56 who lost their lives included children and elderly people, normal everyday fans watching their team. Where the publicity of Hillsborough is always in the press for those determined to get the justice they deserve, it’s also important that we remember this disaster at Valley Parade. So please join me in taking a moment today to remember those who lost their lives in the most tragic way, just doing what the majority of us football fans do, watching their team.
I’ve intentionally allowed for some time to pass before I took to writing this blog. It’s not the first time I’ve watched Leeds United put in a woeful performance and I can guarantee it won’t be the last. The one thing that’s really left me quite scared and stunned is the manner and timing of this horror show at Sheffield Wednesday.
I like many was full of optimism and excitement at around 12pm today. Not only had we signed two new wingers, we were going to see them play in a new formation with a couple of other changes. The team on paper showed promise and I could almost picture our pacey wingers tearing up and down causing a lowly Sheffield Wednesday team no end of worries. It became apparent after 20 minutes that this wasn’t going to be the case and what unfolded in the next 70 minutes was quite soul destroying and extremely concerning.
Now I’m quite realistic when it comes to football matters and I understand it will take Kebe and Stewart to take some time settling into their new team. The one real concern is these two bright new sparks brought in to boost flagging morale were quickly absorbed by the mist of despair and looked completely out of place.
The turning point was quite clearly Smiths sending off within a minute of Brian changing tactics and bringing him into the attack. I was quite excited in all honesty, I really thought setting the side up with Smith as a target man could’ve worked as we frantically looked to find a way back into the game.
I personally think it was A Red Card, Smith was clumsy and never looked for the ball as he aimed his shoulder into the face of Johnson. It then caused a complete collapse as absolutely everything that could’ve went wrong did. In a nutshell:-
Paddy Kenny getting beaten at his near post, Mowatt & Austin misplacing passes in the middle, Zaliukas and Peltier trying their best to create chances for Wickham et all, A deflected free kick trickling in, A scuffed shot after our defense backed and backed away that went in off the post, Another Zaliukas error as he allowed Lavery to strike the 6th in injury time, Pearce trying his best to single handedly keep the defense intact, Kebe going off after an hour and looking like he injured his hamstring, Stewart wondering what he could do to stem the flow and Ross McCormack running around trying and trying with no reward.
I thought Brian McDermott interviewed very honestly and was quite frank about it after the game. There were far too many individual errors and the most alarming thing was how obvious it was that the towel was thrown in once Smith saw Red.
They will be at Thorp Arch tomorrow where I believe a full postmortem will be conducted. I personally think they should all pay £29 out of their pockets, sit down in a room and watch the entire thing just like we had to today.
It’s very easy to criticize individuals but after today’s performance I don’t think anybody did themselves anything of worthy note. Today was a complete team meltdown and one that Brian needs to address and understand how it happened. He is the right man for Leeds, maybe some of the team aren’t. Exciting times this week that could see some movements out of the club with a couple of new additions.
In other news, frustrating to see Wells score the winner in the 93rd minute of his debut for Huddersfield vs Millwall today. He is one player we really should’ve signed and for a fee of around £1.25 million someone we could have afforded!
Oh well it’s never easy being a Leeds Fan, we wouldn’t have it any other way!