Blog Archives

First Football Away Trip

This Saturday me and my friends Chris & Steve continued the traditional attendance to watch our teams Leeds and Birmingham play each other. This time around it was slightly more special as both Oli and Luke (Chris and Steves sons) were attending their first ever away match to watch their team Birmingham play.

After the previous meeting this season in Birmingham, which saw our sides battle out a 1-1 draw both our sides have had differing seasons. My beloved Leeds United just can’t buy a win and find ourselves one place above the relegation zone. Birmingham City on the other hand are the “form side” and with a new management team in place are up to the dizzy heights of 12th. Not bad considering they were all set to struggle yet again after their dramatic last day escape act at Bolton last season.

We met up at Leicester services and despite arriving safely had the first drama of the day. I’d sat in the car far too long with the heating and radio on and because of this drained the battery. What followed were comical scenes as we tried to jump start a power steered car around a car park on the M1. At the second time of trying we got there and were all relieved as my car whirred into action.

The drive up was equally dramatic with various periods of black skies throwing down sleet and snow as we got further North. At one point we saw the clearest rainbow and almost passed the end of it. It was so clear you could even make out the Indigo band, sadly no gold pot was to be seen.

With the car finally Parked up we wandered down a familiar path to me with some new additions, each footstep closer the buzz of anticipation grew. A quick stop at Greigs provided us with cheap food and hot drinks to keep us going.

As we arrived at Elland Road I showed Oli and Luke around our club shop which in comparison to Birminghams is about ten times the size. We had a walk around the outside of the ground, saw the Billy Bremner statue and had our photo taken outside the stand of the ground.

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As we peered through the gap from inside out to the ground the snow was hammering down. A bitter cold swirl of air felt as we pondered finding our seats. We were welcomed by wet seats despite being under cover, the wind can be cruel. A quick dry with our hats and coats and we were ready. The anticipation evident with just under 24,000 fans sat down following their prematch ritual be it a beer or a pie, or both.

The game was frantic from the off and despite an early penalty given to Birmingham which was duly converted by Caddis, Leeds were always dangerous. As the first half came to an end Leeds were knocking on the door and a cross looked to have been bundled in by Belusci only to see it somehow clawed away off the line by Randalph. Oli and Luke did well, I know how difficult it is not cheering when my team has scored, they were unmoved.

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The second half saw both sides hit the woodwork and debatable decisions not go the right way. Three penalty calls were all turned away as the tension grew. As the game headed into the last five minutes Luke Murphy was the saviour. He maintained his cool and steered the ball home on the half volley from just inside the penalty area.

A draw was a fair result and one that keeps Leeds United unbeaten against Birmingham City over the last two seasons. Everybody enjoyed themselves which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.

Luke and Oli both ticked off a big achievement from the life list and I look forward to having them both back next season. That is if we can hang onto our status in the Championship this season!

MOT

Mark

2014

Sitting down in our local Tap House me and my fiancée were enjoying The Mills Winter Ale. The background, a buzzing atmosphere as many chatted away. It wasn’t long before we asked each other the standard New Years Eve question.

Now before I go into it, I must add that this was the first time since we’ve been together that neither of us were struck down with a cold and we were away from our house on New Years Eve.

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The question?…. “What are my highlights of 2014”

Immediately I dismissed it as a pretty standard year, 2014 appeared quiet and a lot calmer to that of previous years. It wasn’t until I thought a little harder about the question that it became apparent that 2014 has had its fair share of positives and some sad chapters as well.

In a year that saw a fantastic family wedding, an intimate In The Woods festival, camping trips and glamping in York, a birthday weekend away in Canterbury and many disappointing sporting woes from my beloved Leeds United it was hard to really answer this question with so much going on.

For those of you who have followed my blog since I started it in 2013, I’m hopeful that you’ve started to paint a picture of me and my life. I will always share what I feel comfortable with sharing and it’s because of this I feel that my followers understand how valuable I rate life. I will therefore answer this question honestly.

One of my main highlights of 2014 involved me and my fiancée moving into our first house together in February. I initially moved in with Lisa when I left Stratford and despite having a lovely place together then we made a decision to get a bigger place with our own garden. We have certainly benefitted from this and have spent most of the sunny days out in the garden cooking BBQs, growing plants and encouraging wildlife in to enjoy it with us. We have done many jobs to make this house our own and have just agreed an additional 2 year extension to our contract which is fantastic news.

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The bird feeder was one of my Christmas Pressies and despite the return of our resident scatty Wood Pigeon, it’s clear he isn’t afraid of heights and is giving it a go. Unfortunately he is just a bit too big to use the feeders. The scattered seed on the grass from other birds is his reward.

On a professional level 2014 saw me secure the biggest promotion to date in my working career. I became a Branch Manager in August and have been responsible in ensuring the Branch has finished the year in an excellent position. I work for a Builders Merchants and 2014 has seen the Banbury depot succeed at its highest level in recent history. Five months into my new job and I am fully aware of the numerous challenges that await, however it’s important at times like these to enjoy the successes and ensure I benefit from the welcome festive break. Time to recharge these batteries!

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With my new job I enjoyed my first Managers Christmas party and was very fortunate to be treated to a weekend around Cheltenham Races. It gave me the perfect excuse to get smartened up in a year that saw my fiancée improve my style and construct a far more fashionable wardrobe for me!

It is from this that 2014 sadly saw the passing away of one of my biggest influences in my professional career. In 2000 I started working in the Building Industry for a company called Underground Supplies. I was interviewed by the MD, a gentleman by the name of Andrew Bygate. I recall the meeting I had with the Recruitment Agency prior to this interview as if it only happened yesterday.

The lady at the Recruitment Agency advised me that Andrew was a positive man who admired forward thinking and driven individuals. I arrived with this in mind and following the interview Andrew simply said to me that he would be back in touch via the agency to let me know if I was successful. It was at this point I simply asked Andrew for the job. He looked at me, slightly perplexed by my forward nature before smiling and simply saying “ok then, the job is yours, well done”.

This was the start of nearly a decade working with Andy (Andrew was far too formal, once I started working for him!) Andy was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour in 2006 and undertook the biggest fight and challenge in his personal life. Andy fought hard and carried this on throughout 2014. Unfortunately Andy lost this battle in late 2014 but fought so bravely and inspired many people who crossed paths with him, this included me. Thank you Andy for inspiring me to succeed and play a major part in where I find myself today.

2014 saw one of my biggest personal challenges and one that me and Lisa were able to complete together. We had more than a few personal battles to overcome but on a bright dry day in Wales, we climbed and descended Mount Snowdon. If ever there was a challenge and one that needed team work of the highest order then this was it. Towards the end of the decent my legs packed in and I needed some heat pads and assisted stretches to keep me intact until the end. The important thing is we got through it and loved the breathtaking views and experience we shared together.

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So as we head into 2015 another book starts, one thing which is pretty certain is that we will be asking ourselves this same question again on future New Years Eves.

All I can say is I hope my readers and followers can take a moment to reflect and look back on 2014. It’s always nice when you can recall some stand out memories. Have a great 2015 and I look forward to sharing some more moments with you as I head into a big year!

Mark

Apologies for the Quiet

I must apologise to my followers for this moment of silence. I know there isn’t a need to do this, however I want to. I am extremely proud to have over 80 followers and I feel the very reason you followed me has been put on hold, well this has ended tonight.

As I appear from the shadows it is at the time of year the world we live in takes on a festive holiday filled feeling. So what have I been up to and how is 2014 concluding as we head into the final throes of the year.

I’ve had some fantastic weekends and day trips away with my fiancé which included a fun weekend exploring Leeds for a family members birthday. Leeds is a fantastic city and one that we both love. Who knows what the future holds with regards to this awesome city….

Last Tuesday we went to London and visited the Tower of London Poppies. We tried to go a fortnight ago but couldn’t quite battle our way through the crowds. This time around we were able to walk right around the tower and saw some amazing sights.

I have a couple of my favourite photos below:-
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I witnessed Northampton Saints lose against Exeter last Friday which was slightly surreal. It’s the first time I’ve seen them lose and now the disappointment that Leeds United provide has been mirrored at Saints.

Towcester Mill has had a handful of visits as the nights draw in, it’s very cozy inside. It’s a shame we can’t quite enjoy the long evenings in the amazing gardens. It’s a good job the Winter Beers are on tap, there will be some reviews coming up soon!

Our hedgehog who became our fourth family member has gone into hibernation. I do have a photo from last month below as he made the most of our feeding station. We also seem to have a new kitten who visits our garden. It’s all go round our neighbourhood!

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So what does the rest of November hold? Firstly it’s a certain special persons birthday. I can’t say anymore as it will spoil the amazing plans I’m rapidly compiling as next weekend approaches.

Work is going very well. I am into the fourth month of my new job and so far so good. I’ve always wanted to be a Branch Manager, now I have it, I won’t be letting go of it!

Ummmm oh and my Dad ran his first half marathon. He is running 2 more and his first Marathon as he raises money for Cancer. Please check out his sponsorship page and if you feel generous then please send him a message or even better a donation.

https://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Barrow3/

Phew! I promise I’ll write again soon! It’s far too hard trying to fill so much in one blog post!

Mark

Leeds United battle Blues

Saturday 13th September saw the first live football match of the season for me. Leeds United have had what some would call an eventful season both on and off the pitch. The die hard supporters like myself would argue that this is quite simply the norm. The away trip to St Andrews is always a pleasure if not solely for the fact that Birmingham City seem to be treading on similar grounds to us.

The sun was out for what turned into a pleasant trip to the ground as me and my friends who are all blue noses greeted the lunch time kick off with similar uneasy expectations. The Sky cameras had their typically unwelcome effect by keeping some fans on their sofas at home. This however is not the problem for Leeds United as we managed to easily sell out our allocation of 2,600.

I was once again undercover sitting in the Home end with my friends and an uninspiring first half saw Birmingham take a deserved lead as the game headed into the last 10 minutes of the first half. The most entertaining moment to come from this dire situation was the fact the shot broke the post holding the net up. After almost 9 minutes the net was repaired and we were put through the torture of 9 minutes of fruitless injury time.
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The traditional half time Bovril couldn’t lift my mood as Birmingham City’s fans around me were talking positively of their first half exploits. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was because they were playing amazingly or more likely it was the fact that we were piss awful.

As the second half started our caretaker manager Neil Redfearn who is more commonly known on Twitter as #doitforredders threw an extra man in midfield which immediately put Birmingham on the back foot. A couple of changes at around the hour mark saw Doukara and Austin introduced to add muscle to the side.

It worked immediately and the slim line fuel efficient Austin seized control in the middle of the park. Doukara oozed power and purpose and the hard working Antenucci never gave up. Ironically it was a mistake my Birmingham that presented my man of the match Alex Mowatt with the opportunity to burst into the box and slot the ball past their keeper. This was a neat finish and a deserved equalizer.

As the game headed into the final ten minutes it became an end to end battle with Birmingham going the closest to snatch the win. A penalty call that bizarrely went our way prevented the opportunity to lose a hard fought point. It wasn’t a penalty but you just don’t expect those decisions to go your way when you are the away side. Another late chance saw a header flash wide and a superb goal line clearance by Warnock.

The whistle brought the game to a well deserved share of the spoils. Birmingham have certainly improved on last season whilst Leeds United displayed some fantastic quick passing moves which resulted in some positive attacking moves. Overall I was very happy with the point and am now very excited about the prospect of visiting Elland Road for the first time this season on Saturday against Huddersfield.

Leeds managed to follow this draw up with a splendid 3-1 at Bournemouth which saw caretaker boss Redfearn earn his 7th point from 9. Leeds United find themselves in the lofty position of 13th heading into this fierce Yorkshire Derby, it will be one titanic battle for sure!

MOT
DarcyB

Buzzing after beating Boro

Wow, that was an amazing performance and one that’s left me buzzing so much I still feel tingles through my fingers as I write this. How many times have we Leeds United fans had to sit through so called experts talk about the disarray at our club? Leeds United didn’t have a chance today, well that’s what everyone outside of our club thought.

I rarely write straight after a games finished but today it’s different. There was something fundamentally different during this game, everyone was playing for Leeds United and our new coach David Hockaday. The performance from players who have looked past it were a joy to watch.

I found myself getting annoyed listening to Pete Beagrie on Sky Sports but then again he was there to do that very thing, he hasn’t got one good thing to say about Leeds, why would he? The one things for sure, today showed the footballing world that we are not going to be relegated and secondly we have a coach who deserves the right to be allowed to coach away from the constant spotlight.

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We had our moments and were fortunate to see a perfectly valid goal chalked off for dangerous play, however I must state when have we had luck like this last on our side?

The players were fantastic and I’ve not jumped off my sofa in such a dramatic and emotion pumped way since Becchio netted our first against Derby in our first season back in the Championship. Football is back and despite last weekends disappointment my opinions in the set up at Leeds have not changed.

David Hockaday spoke sense and all three of his tactical changes worked. Warnock was rightly man of the match and Tonge controlled the middle of midfield with a degree of authority at his introduction to the game. All the players put in a shift and it was perfect to see Billy Sharp net the winner at the death, a perfect way to close out your debut.

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We certainly have some decent match winners amongst our ranks and the determination to work the ball along the ground wherever possible was equally encouraging. The season is only two games in, but I’m certainly going to savior this feeling for as long as possible.

Well done today Leeds! Super Leeds United.

MOT
DarcyB

The new season is finally here

Last season it lasted approximately 12 minutes before Ulloa silenced the Elland Road faithful on the opening day. All the expectation, anticipation, excitement and faith extinguished quickly before most fans had even sat on their seats and familiarized themselves with the new players. Fortunately last season we turned it around and one of last seasons successes Luke Murphy scored an injury time winner to see Leeds win 2-1. Those same feelings extinguished after 12 minutes returning for at least until the next game.
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This blog isn’t about the criticism of last seasons debacle but to highlight what most people in this country are feeling this morning as we sip our morning coffees and teas. It is the first Saturday of the new season and how bloody exciting is it?

We have been pretty fortunate to have a World Cup to keep us entertained during this break, one that for best parts kept our football fix satisfied despite England’s expected early failures. I for one am gutted that the magic disappearing spray (the World Cup highlight for me) won’t be gracing the Football League this season. Mind you knowing our luck it’ll probably end up destroying the sacred grass on Elland Road, let the Premiership boys try it out first on our Non Brazilian Grasses!

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Leeds United fans are used to football dramas on and off the field and despite the change of ownership at Elland Road nobody could’ve scripted the latest change around. In a Summer that’s seen our new Italian owner Cellino dramatically change every detail possible in a bid to stop the club rotting away, every day has had it’s fresh challenges.

An unknown coaching team have been put in place to replace the failed Reverend McDermott and sidekick Gibbs. Thorp Arch was closed during the off season in a bid to reduce running costs and the players asked to take packed lunches on their pre season tour. Back room staff and old Leeds greats slashed off the wage bills. These things have managed to take a chink out of the rediculous running costs that had drained our club of any chance of survival. Of course the trashy tabloids found it hilarious and in an attempt to rile the majority of Leeds fans by reporting on every minor event happening.

In a summer that saw us release the dead wood, prevent previously agreed deals from going through, seeing our captain sold to a rival championship club and since announced they are the biggest club he’s played for, we have seen it all. Many fans have been vocal in support for the new regime, I’m certainly one of them.

Cellino has been a breath of fresh air and now after 3 months of hard work we find ourselves here, waiting for 3pm to arrive. On most days a trip to Millwall would engulf passion based purely on our rivalry and quite extreme hatred for each other, today it’s got an almost calming and surreal feeling to the seasons curtain raiser.

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Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Stuart Taylor, Tommaso Bianchi, Nicky Ajose, Steve Morison, Souleymane Doukara and Zan Benedicic welcome to Leeds United. Embrace the opportunity you have to play for our club. The first day of a new season awaits and you guys all have the chance to be part of something big. This feeling is amazing and one that just sits there and becomes even more prominent as the clock ticks ever closer to 3pm.

To all fans around the country feeling the same about their own clubs it doesn’t need me to tell you to savior the moment. We all have our own expectations and targets for this new season and I’m pretty sure they all start with 3 points on the opening day and the hope the new signings prove to be as exciting as we’d all hoped.

Let’s hope for Leeds fans today the expectation and excitement lasts longer than 12 minutes!

MOT

My Blog is 1 Year Old – Happy Birthday

A year ago I decided to start my blog, over 80 posts, 5,000 views and 70 followers later I have never felt more accomplished than I do right now.

I must once again place my thanks on record to my friend Jaki Jelley whose similar minded approach to her blog gave me the final push I needed to start my own. So what has happened this year and have my random ramblings really entertained my readers or drove you to despair? I’d personally like to think it’s been a mixed ride with many different topics covered.

So what have been my highlights? Well this year I’ve written about Leeds United on quite a few occasions, I am still hopeful that I will get a piece published by one of the fans pages this season. I’ve had some fun adventures and holiday trips with my awesome fiancé, mainly involving the tent.

I’ve written about my travels, gardening and nature stories including our ever so near attempts to get a blue tit nesting in our garden right through to creating a hotel for our bee to lay it’s eggs in. I’ve cooked pickled Beetroot, attempted to grow tomatoes and even written up a couple of my favourite recipes.

I’ve managed to get an article on the Autumn Towcester Beer Festival published on the about my area website and have written further blogs about my love for local ales. There have been some exciting pieces on Music Festivals including the surreal In The Woods Festival.

I’d like to thank you all for taking that little bit of time out of your busy days to read my blog and I promise that this second year will see even more stories from my crazy world and the life I lead.

On one final note I’d like to share some awesome news with you all. I secured my promotion at work and have finally become a Branch Manager. This is something I’ve wanted these last three years and from the beginning of August I’ll finally be there. This is a big deal for me and I am so proud of myself and also would like to place on record my thanks for the support my fiancé has given me throughout my career.

So as we embark on another adventure this weekend in Snowdonia, I can already feel my next piece formulating together in my head. Here is to the future and the exciting times it promises to bring.

Thank you.

DarcyB

Cellino revolution gathers pace

This week I listened to the latest interview with eccentric Italian owner Massimo Cellino. Chronic hay fever put aside it was one of the most passionate and exciting interviews I’ve heard since the Champions League years. With Cellino in charge we most certainly seem to be going in the right direction. We have heard many people spout out words in the past with very little substance, ever since Cellino fought the football league to take control he has backed up everything with action. A well known saying actions speak louder than words, Cellino certainly delivers both which is quite exciting in all honesty.
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On our Italian tour Leeds United played their first preseason friendly against a local amateur side FC Gheirdeina. The scoreline of 16-0 certainly raised a few eyebrows and the photo above confirmed that United were dominant from start to finish. Most encouraging moments included a first half hat trick for Noel Hunt and a second half double hat trick for Matt Smith. The latter has been subject to a bid from Millwall which Cellino dismissed immediately by saying I like Matt Smith, he is one we can build a team around. Let’s see where this one goes.

Cellino followed up by saying that he would like to build a stronger team spirit and can’t believe that the squad turns up to home games from their own homes. A team coach is the next purchase on his list and he has also made it clear that he expects all players to live in Leeds. This is music to my ears, I love the passion that our owner is expressing, it all makes complete sense. Massimo also confirmed in one of the most encouraging snippets of his interview that Leeds are nearly debt free pending a deal with GHFC, it’s all positive.

Despite selling Ross McCormack the squad has seen three permanent new signings who are now training and involved in our Italian preseason tour. There are also a couple of loan deals that have options to extend if their season proves to be successful which is a shrewd move. Cellino has sold the dream to the Italian players and stipulated that they must learn English to be part of Leeds United. This is a special project and they want to be part of it. One things for sure we are potentially attracting better players on lower salaries. The overpriced UK market was confirmed by the £11m that Fulham paid for McCormack, I still find it laughable but I’m not complaining.

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Above we have Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara who have joined on a 3 year deal and 12 month loan respectively. These are in addition to Matt Taylor and Marco Silvestri who have joined on 2 year and 4 year Deals.

I will repeat myself by saying it’s very exciting right now with Leeds United and I’m hoping the small number of negative twitter trolls get on board and move along, this is the best option for us suffering fans. It’s never dull at our club, let’s see what this week brings.

MOT
DarcyB

I’m still in love with Leeds United Ross

So it has finally happened, Ross McCormack today engineered his well publicized move away from Leeds United. Ever since the curtains drew down on last seasons debacle and Cellino started to make his changes to the money leaking ship LUFC, poor old Ross has fallen out of love with the club he declared himself in love with.

I had already accepted this fate well before the news came out confirming his £11m move to Fulham this morning. Initially I was full of praise for how Ross conducted himself over these last four seasons. I couldn’t have said a bad word against our Captain who single handedly kept us up last year (see my post – without Ross McCormacks goals, from 15th to Bottom) http://wp.me/p3Nw2L-8K

The memories of his performances from last season filled my head, he was surely pushed out of the club by Cellino, surely…?
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This was until Ross came out with a typically Ill timed and misjudged statement. In a report published online Ross explained that he had to leave the club, he cited it because Leeds United were no longer the club he fell in love with. Sadly when the Capital city comes a calling and they offer the money it’s easy to fall out of love with anyone or anything.

Ross I would like to put on record my disappointment in this statement. If anything It also confirms the one big difference between players and fans other than the ridiculous salaries. A player will never truly love a football club, unless you are Steven Gerrard who knows only of Liverpool. A player should never say this, the fans love a club, hearing a player say that will always sound out their critics, it’s safe to say you now have plenty of your own.

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Obviously there are two sides to every story, however I’m not really concerned about what you will say now the truth has come out about your feelings. Fans will never leave their club, if we all adopted the same approach we wouldn’t have a club. Going back to my previous point, no player can or will ever love LUFC, that’s the fans job. The ones who do will either stay for their entire career aka Gary Kelly or leave to save the club they love aka Alan Smith. Sadly Ross you have done neither, it’s at this point I’d like to say goodbye to you.

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Fulham FC you are welcome to Ross, he will probably score you some goals and you will probably go back up to the Premiership. One things for sure, the mighty Leeds United will carry on doing what we always do. We will plug on endlessly selling out every away game and singing the boys who play for us week in week out. Cellino is the man who wants what we all want, passion, values, belief and a hard days work for an honest days pay.

The world will never stop turning around, but the love for a club is a fickle word used by many, sadly Ross that includes you.

MOT
DarcyB

Tragedy at Valley Parade

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.

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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.

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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.

Thank you.

DarcyB