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.
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.
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!
Despite the early Saturday alarm call, I really enjoy traveling away to watch Leeds United play. Today the journey to Yeovil was 170 miles from my home in Towcester. The rain forecast the night before was hiding and the trip down was one of hope as every grey cloud I passed had the potential to cause trouble to todays game. During my road trip I saw Stone Henge for the first time, it was a pretty impressive site even if it was from the roadside.
The kick off was at 12.15pm and despite the accident where a lorry lost it’s load of magazines I managed to make good timing on my first visit to Huish Park. Trying to navigate around the roads leading to the ground were tricky as everybody else had decided to park on the roads. I managed to get into Car Park B which was supposedly for Home Fans. For only £2 I couldn’t complain and I made my way to the ground.
This would be my first time standing on terracing for a game and the fact it was open to the elements meant I came prepared with my Waterproofs. The warm ups went well despite many balls flying over the stand, the mood in the Leeds team seemed buoyant. Noel Hunt even jumped over into the Away stand to retrieve a stray ball, it was a good atmosphere despite the stewards best efforts to cram the terracing. I was fortunate to be stood on the front row and had a prime position for the game.
The wind played havoc and the first half was not pretty viewing. The ball was a magnet to Paddy Kenny as every time he kicked it, the wind would swing it straight back. It really was a case of how much damage limitation we could manage and conceding only one goal was a relief. It could’ve been worse but for a terrible penalty conceded by Sam Byram. As the whistle went for half time we were grateful only for a small hail storm that pelted our faces. It was cold and some amusing chants regarding the floods couldn’t dampen out spirits.
As predicted Matt Smith was brought on at Half Time as the wind picked up again. Within 60 seconds we found ourselves level. A goal kick from Stich got caught up in the wind and dropped back on the edge of the keepers penalty area. Ross McCormack trapped the ball, turned his marker before duly curling the ball into the top corner. Ross ran along to where I was standing and I was caught on the Sky Cameras which was pretty cool.
The reply was immediate and it became obvious that we would benefit from the wind. Leeds continued to create chances and blocks from Stewart and McCormack denied us the second goal. The winner was an absolute beauty, wind assisted of course. Steven Warnock swung in a free kick from just inside the half way line and beat everybody including the keeper. I loved Warnocks celebration, he stuck his hand in the air as to say, it’s alright lads, I’ve got this under control.
Ross McCormack put in another man of the match performance and never gave up the cause. A lovely through ball to Kebe should have seen the clincher but despite a great first touch, Kebe couldn’t finish off a lovely move. As the whistle went after a painful 4 minutes of injury time the crowd rejoiced a fantastic 3 points. Brian McDermott came up to the away end and clapped our support, it was a lovely gesture.
The trip back home afterwards took just under 3 hours as the elements started to worsen. There were even signs of snow which capped off the four seasons in one day. It was a fantastic day out and it was so important to get back to back wins.