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.
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.
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.
Bank Holiday Monday promised a day of sunshine and dry weather, this was the reason for deciding not to pack a jacket with me on our second day exploring York. I cooked us a couple of sausage sandwiches to ensure we started the day with a full stomach, the sun was out as we left the campsite to head back into the city.
Today was going to be another day of new adventures, one that started by walking around the first part of the city walls. 75% of York is surrounded by the original Roman walls and these have been modernized in parts and repaired to allow walking access along them. The turrets with arrow slots paint exciting Images in my mind as I could see the Roman Army defending York from these points in history. This is when the weather decided against following the forecast and the first light showers hit us. I was determined not to allow these showers put me off as we left the City Walls and headed towards York Minster.
York Minster is an impressive building, whose walls contains a lot of stories and historical events. Richard the Thirds young son was buried within these walls decorated with numerous examples of breathtaking interior design work. We decided not to visit the tower but that didn’t dampen the experience. There is a display that shows the work that is currently being undertaken with one of the largest stain glass windows. They are removing the panels one by one and cleaning them and resetting the panels. Each panel can take up to 1,000 hours with a cost of over £10,000 to repair. York Minster costs £20,000 per day to run and operate which is hard to imagine but after exploring it you can understand why these costs exist.
York Minster has had to have some major foundational restoration work carried out. The East wing started to sink with cracks appearing in it. The Minster was saved with hard work and over £250,000 raised to carry out the emergency work required. Some of the bolts driven into the foundations are visible as we walked under the basement of the Minster.
We grabbed a drink in the Guy Fawkes Hotel bar which is another historical landmark in York. Guy Fawkes stayed here before his involvement in the failed gunpowder plot. I learnt so much about the story of what happened, I didn’t realise he was Catholic and wanted to lead the revolt to put a Catholic head of the monarchy in place. We “plotted” our next part of the day before deciding to head into Stonegate.
At 35 Stonegate there stands another haunted house. This place has had some convincing reports and reviews so with some gentle persuasion I managed to persuade my Fiancé to join me. The woman who managed the place gave us a brief introduction before our tour started and we were left alone.
The tour lasted around half an hour as we were led around by audio commentary around the rooms. Some of the rooms were in darkness as I tried to take photos with my phone. There were a couple of instances where I felt a strange sensation. When I sat down on the bench in a room surrounded by old masks and various artifacts I felt a sharp cold sensation on my back.
The tour carried on up narrow stairs and darkened rooms. In the attic I thought I saw a golden sparkle in the corner of the room where a child’s cot sat. It was very obvious and something else that added to the feeling I was being watched. The final room had a large table with leather seats positioned around it. The table was set up for a seance with a glass globe positioned centrally on it, this room felt wrong. As we left Lisa my fiancé felt a bit faint as we made our way to The Punchbowl pub to grab some dinner. A couple of delicious cheeseburgers later and we were back on our way to explore York Gardens.
York Gardens have some amazing ruins and colourful plants within the grounds. We had a lovely walk around and couldn’t help but be amazed by how some of these arches were still standing. The sun came out as we enjoyed the calming atmosphere that these gardens brought us. We walked through them to the other side before we rejoined the City Walls to finish off our day in the city.
The final night chilling at our Campsite was enjoyable as we ate cheese and crackers whilst finishing off the film American Hustle. The weather during the night was terrible as the heavy rain bombarded our tent, fortunately for us this stopped in the morning. Getting the tent packed up in dry conditions was a relief and we were soon off on our way home.
Thank you York for a truly amazing long weekend, we did so much but have so much more to come back and do.
We decided to take advantage of the late May Bank Holiday break and packed up the tent for the first camping trip of 2014. The Destination was York, to revisit a city I fell in love with in my early teenage years. I’d hoped to study at Askern Bryan in York for my Diploma before a change of events put that dream to bed. Despite this disappointment I have always loved this city and couldn’t wait to explore it properly with my fiancé.
The weather forecast was mixed which suited us perfectly. This kept changing as we drove up the M1, M18 and finally the A1 as we were greeted by Wagtail Park and the hardest of grounds to pitch our tent on. We were asked to bring Rock Pegs which on first inspection seemed like overkill. It wasn’t until I cockily hit a standard peg into the lush green grass that I discovered it was merely a topping. What lay under this welcoming layer was a silt filled, rocky mixture of quarry type material. After a dash to the local camping shop we had enough rock pegs to erect our tent and canopy securely.
By the time we’d pitched the tent and got camp set up it was too late to wander too far away. There was a lovely fishing lake close by which we walked around and after we’d cooked some chili and drank a couple of beers we watched a film and called it a night. It wasn’t the coldest of nights, however as it was our first camping trip in nearly 9 months we needed to acclimatize. We survived the night and after a late breakfast which comprised of a bacon roll we headed into York.
The Park & Ride is quite simply excellent value for money. To park the car and get a return ticket cost £2.70 each which is far cheaper than parking in the city centre. We used the Sunday afternoon to explore the streets of the city as well as sampling some of the local food and ales. We walked up the Shambles which is a quaint cobbled narrow street lined with shops on both sides. The hustle and bustle of the bank holiday crowd evident and we were caught on a wave of visitors.
We had our Sunday Beef Roast at The Golden Fleece which is the oldest pub in York. It is also the most haunted pub in the city, a claim backed up by the Most Haunted crew, who spent a weekend filming here in the pub/hotel. The place itself is typically quirky and feels very welcoming. There are a couple of skeletons that sit at the bar on a stool and also in the pub garden. All of the floors are wonky and slanted, so much so that my pint of ale was slanted and the gravy was trying to escape from my plate. A quickly constructed defensive wall using my mashed potato prevented any casualties. When we sat for dinner my fiancé did feel a cold sensation next to her side which hung around for a few minutes. It certainly backed up the claims of the owners and many guests who have stayed there.
We had a walk around Parliament Street which is the widest most open street in York and also had a tour of the York baths. This was conducted by a very knowledgeable Canadian historian by the name of Ryan, who not only told us about the Roman Baths in York, but also covered wars, deaths, Christianity and many other topics. By the time we left this small room which gathering heat the longer we stayed down there we were gasping the fresh air to celebrate our freedom. Joking aside it was well worth the £3.50 it cost plus a small contribution to Ryan’s education costs!
By a friends recommendation (thanks Aimee) we went to an off license called The House of the Trembling Madness. Above this there was also a bar which quite simply oozed class and style. The decor comprised of stuffed animals and randomly placed gothic designs framed by some stunning timber open framed roof trusses and beams. The place was busy and the small number of chairs and tables filled. The bar was small and quaint and the food smelled delightful. We helped ourselves to a couple of IPA’s and shopped till we dropped as I was reunited with some of my favourite Australian beers imported in their shop.
We returned to camp just before the forecasted rain and had a very chilled out Sunday night. We ate some cheese and crackers and watched Taken 2 and the first half of American Hustle. Following on from last nights shock chill factor I put on an extra layer in an effort to get a warm comfortable nights sleep to get me in good stead for Mondays day of adventure. Historical visits, walks, haunted sightings and more local pubs awaited us, we certainly had a lot planned!
One final York related story before I bring this 1st Part of the blog to a conclusion. There are cats all over the city on various buildings. It is said that any building that is graced with the presence of a cat, is a happy place. We spotted a couple of these cats with one been on the front of The Golden Fleece Pub. Based on this story, I think it’s safe to say that my fiancé encountered a good happy spirit!
To be continued…….
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.
Tonight I’ve been thinking about something that takes up a large proportion of my time everyday, sport. I am a sports fan, I love following different types of sport which in turn results in supporting different teams.
Everyday it starts the same. I will switch on my Bat 2013 Application just as my alarm goes to check how the Boston Red Sox are doing. It gives me a kick start or a knock back depending on the result. I won’t lie but this usually influences my mood during my car trip into work.
When I went to Australia and spent 2008 there, I watched Australian Rules Football. I didn’t just go to one game, no not me, I went to all their games and bought a Season Ticket. I went to training sessions, visited their ground and met the President and Trophy Rooms. I didn’t just want to be a bit involved, I wanted to make that team my own. For those wondering who I’m talking about, I chose the Carlton Blues. Because of this I find myself watching their games each weekend at the crack of dawn due to the time difference in Victoria, Australia.
I also love Cricket, I watch England play and saw England lift The Ashes in 2005. I follow Yorkshire and will always follow their scores be it, County Cricket, 40 Overs or Twenty Twenty Forms of the game.
I am a Rugby Fan of both forms, Union and League. I will go to Headingly and watch the Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie play. I will always watch their games on Sky Sports and follow the team news online. When I travelled to Bath this year I even went to the Bath v Leicester Game and had my photo taken on their pitch. I am a nut, I have to be involved and be part of the team.
This leads me finally to Football, my number one love. I am a massive Leeds United fan thanks to my Dad. I’ve been a fan since 1989 and have so many fond and not so fond memories of the Whites. I’ve been to so many games and will always check the games on Sky and Twitter when I can’t make the game. I do still wish I lived a stones throw from Elland Road but I don’t let that put me off.
My Grandad is a Leeds fan too but is a Hibernian fan as he grew up in Edinburgh. I will always look out for Hibernians results and this is partly because I love having the conversation with him on the phone.
In conclusion some will say I’m greedy but if there is one thing I can confirm, I love sport. In my eyes to show true commitment to my teams, it’s only fair that I give them all the time they deserve. I am still waiting for a weekend where they all win!
Oh and please don’t get me started on shirts. I have a huge collection of Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds Carnegie, Yorkshire, Carlton, Boston Red Sox and other sports tops which I will wear when necessary.