Leeds United AFC: Unforgiven…

After the “Molegate” farce, “Lutongate” was next to put a dent in Dennis Wise’s fight for survival in 2006/2007. With 11 games remaining, skipper Kevin Nicholls was mysteriously dropped for the 2-3 home defeat to the Owls. After the game, Wise revealed how the player had stunned the club by asking to leave & link up with relegation rivals Luton Town. Wise told reporters: “I’m gobsmacked that he wants to go back to Luton. I wasn’t interested at all in letting him go but he has made his mind up. He feels he made a mistake joining us”. Wise promptly stripped Nicholls of the captaincy before stating that his former club must repay the £700,000 we paid them for his services if they wanted him back…

The matter turned into a total farce over the next few days, as Wise & Luton boss Newell exchanged insults. Newell’s claims that the player had been offered to QPR, were dismissed in Wise’s usual fashion. Ironically, the Whites next game was to be against Newell’s Luton & Wise’s words simply fuelled the fire. Wise’s assistant Gus Poyet claimed the “door was open” for Nicholls & if the player resolved the situation with Wise, he would be available to play in the Luton game. Nicholls refused & never played for the club again. After a reported bust up with Johnny Douglas, tonight’s opponents Preston paid £750,000 for the player, before he finally got his dream move to Luton a season later…

In the aftermath of his move to Preston, Nicholls branded Wise a “bully”. Breaking his silence the player claimed “The manager wasn’t a particularly nice man to work for. He came across as a bully & I don’t want to work for people like that.” However, his words did little to rebuild any bridges with the White Army. After featuring just 15 times due to injury, he was seen as a key figure in the fight to avoid the drop. Many felt that, as club captain, he had a responsibility to see out the season before moving on. Nicholls was branded a disloyal coward & to this day, he remains unforgiven. Our last visit to Preston was Wise’s first away game as manager of the Whites…

The game ended in a comprehensive 1-4 defeat, with Healy netting the only goal. Even “Molegate” & “Lutongate” couldn’t cover up the fact that Wise’s side weren’t good enough to stay up. Tonight’s Preston side may have been looking less than superior at the foot of the division, but the joint Achilles Heels of our defence & midweek jinx, meant no one dare rule out a repeat of that score line. As it transpired, despite a scrappy performance, we clung on for what could be a season defining win. It was somewhat fitting that 24 hours earlier, Grayson ignored his defensive issues & signed attacking midfielder Bannan on loan from Villa. Many are excited at the players arrival, but question whether this the type of player we need right now…

In his only change, Grayson rested Becchio & gave Paynter the chance to build on Saturdays momentum. Yet, as the game got under way, it was clear that only one side had any momentum. Preston’s new stand on our left made the ground feel more imposing, even if the home fans didn’t & from the start of the game, the hosts belied their league position. Indeed, they had 4 gilt edged chances in the first 10 minutes. Treacy crashed the ball off the underside of the bar early on & the impressive Hume, who was a key figure in the 4-6 defeat at Elland Road earlier this season, hit one over.  Kasper was then forced into smart stops from Brown & Johnson as the Whites struggled to get going…

The Whites attacks were sporadic & it was 15 minutes before Max fired just wide after some determined play. Minutes later, Howson shot wide after a stunning piece of distribution from Kasper & it was against the run of play when we took the lead. On 30 minutes Snoddy’s first real involvement saw him skip down the right, but disappoint with his cutback into the area. The home defence half cleared but the ball fell to Kilkenny on the edge of the area. The goal shy midfielder returned the ball with interest & his first time shot flew in the top corner via a post, sending the travelling faithful fkin mental. The unlikely lead from an unlikely source sparked a short period of domination from the Whites…

Gradel saw a cross shot kept out by Lonergan, before Paynter saw his shot blocked. However, the defence still looked frail & Brown should have levelled the game with a header. Up the other end, Paynter could have killed the game on halftime, but his shot went just wide. The halftime lead was a tad fortunate, but then, so were both Norwich & Doncaster’s recent halftime levellers. The second half started in much the same vein as the first & after a weak Johnson freekick, Treacy forced Kasper into a brilliant save. At every opportunity, the hosts swung the ball into the box  & Brown had the ball in the net, only for assistant referee Miss Massey to show Keys & Gray she knows the offside rule…

As play swung back in favour of the Whites, Gradel twice had half chances, before the moment we had all been waiting for. Paynter turned his man on the right of the area & took a touch before unleashing a rocket into the top left hand corner that sent us into ecstasy. It was a finish of the highest quality & well worth the wait. Back came the hosts & Carter forced Kasper into another great save, before Preston nicked one back. Unchallenged & from just outside the box, Hume hit a wonderstrike that left Kasper grasping thin air for 2-1. The Whites should have responded almost immediately, as a defensive mix up gifted Paynter a chance to notch a game killing second…

However the striker stumbled into the chance & though he beat the keeper from 3 yards, his shot hit the post before being cleared to safety. It was to be the last real opportunity for the Whites & with the game wide open, the hosts pushed on for a leveller. Grayson threw on Becchio for Paynter in the hope of finding a fresh outlet, but we began to drop deep. Ellington & Hume both went too close for comfort as cross after cross, corner after corner rained in & at times it felt like the “Alamo”. Grayson took off Kilkenny to allow Bannan a debut & the lad looked promising but the last few minutes were all about the defence. O’Brien & Bromby cleared at vital times as we looked to run the clock down…

Grayson bolstered the back line as Snoddy made way for Naylor & all 3 centre halves played a role in the nerve shredding & frantic final minutes. The final whistle brought utter relief & a vital 3 points. So, it was a night where the result was far more important than the performance. Though it has to be said that the combination of the midweek jinx finally ending  & Paynter’s first goal meant that cracks were papered over. Especially after we heard that other results had lifted the club to 5th & just 3 points from 2nd spot.  We head into the game against Bullard inspired Ipswich hoping that “Come on Billy”!! can now build on his goal & fire the Whites to 3 more precious points…

Leeds United AFC…“Billy One – der Goal” … Keep Fighting…

Youtube clip thanks to GMAKAIWTY…

Posted March 9, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: Legendary…

When “Sniffer” Clarke opened the scoring in the home game against Southampton on 4th March 1972, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Even when “Hotshot” Lorimer lashed home for a 2-0 halftime lead, it looked like the Whites were simply enroute to a routine victory. However, as the game entered the last 30 minutes, the White Army witnessed a sensational 5 goal blast that is still talked about to this day. “Sniffer” & a “Hotshot” hat-trick made it 5  & with the Whites in cruise control, Charlton rose to head home the 6th. When Jones marked his 300th league appearance with the 7th, the game became legendary & tales of how the Whites toyed with the Saints have since passed down from generation to generation…

Revies team would go on to pick up the FA Cup, but miss out on the double in the infamous defeat away at Wolves, just 2 days after the FA Cup final. In the 39 years that have passed, no other Leeds United AFC side has managed to equal or better 7 goals in one game. In that period, the Whites have been on the receiving end of 7 goals twice, once at Arsenal (League cup 1979) & once at Stoke (League 1986). Given the way this season has gone, a 7 goal haul for ourselves or the opposition is not beyond the realms of possibility. As Doncaster rolled into town, we were happy to just nick a 1-0 win, as Rovers did on their last visit in 2008…

As it turned out, we were treated to 7 goals, but the 39 year old record remains intact. On the back of the Swansea defeat, Grayson saw fit to change the defence, however it wasn’t the predicted left back switch. Reverting back to the 4/5/1 formation, Bromby slipped into centre half. Johnson also returned, with both Somma & Bruce dropped to the bench. With perhaps a point to prove, the Whites set about Rovers with a ferocious intensity. Gradel’s shot was saved by Woods before Howson hit the rebound over. Snoddy was next to let fly as the Whites began to ease through the gears. The positive start was rewarded on 11 minutes, with both sides temporarily down to 10 men…

Becchio was having his head bandaged on pitch side as Gradel picked the ball up in the centre of the park. Driving forward the inspired winger saw a gap & blasted home from 25 yards to ignite the home faithful. The goal injected confidence & we proceeded to produce a master class that should have ripped Rovers to shreds. Gradel fired over from close range, before Kilkenny forced Woods into a fine stop. Becchio then shot wide, before the move of the match so far. Kilkenny linked up with Snoddy on the edge of the area & Snoddy’s quick feet bamboozled Woods, but the Scot lost his footing & shot wide. The slick passing must have transported some in the crowd back to that glorious 7-0 win, with even the odd ¡Ole! getting thrown in…

However, after Becchio fired over from a Gradel cut back, we began to wonder how many chances we would need to kill the game off. Those fears became reality in injury time as quite unbelievably, Rovers were level with their first real chance of the half. A poor clearance by Kasper got us into trouble &  gave Oster the chance to float a ball over the top. With the Whites defence easily undone, Kasper was only able to parry Sharps effort & the striker netted the rebound from a tight angle. It changed the halftime mood of the crowd from celebration to despair. It could have been 5-0, instead, the second half got underway at 1-1 with the Whites on the front foot. Snoddy fired just wide & it awoke the crowd, but also the visitors…

Just 3 minutes later, Shiels headed a simple ball over the statuesque Whites defence & Moussa took full advantage, slotting home for 1-2. Heads dropped, but Gradel raced 40 yards to retrieve the ball from the net, before racing back to take the centre. The Rovers fans were still celebrating by the time Howson battled & won the ball in the centre of midfield, before charging towards goal. With defenders closing in, Johnny lashed home from 20 yards for 2-2 & utter  relief soaked joy. However, that goal didn’t quite fire the Whites as hoped. Rovers had a chance through Mouassa, before Sharp forced Kasper into a save as the Whites defence continued to look fragile…

The game was opening up & Gradel had 2 wonderful chances to restore the Whites lead when sent clean through. Firstly shooting wide under pressure, before Woods  smothered the 2nd. Woods also saved from Kilkenny before Snoddy headed over. Just as the crowd began to get anxious, Bromby flicked Snoddys cross into the path of the unmarked Becchio. With Rovers claiming offside, Becchio smashed home for 3-2 & nervous jubilation. Still not looking safe, the game nearly took another twist thanks to the referee Probert, who had been pretty good. Woods went unpunished for pole axing Gradel on the edge of the area. Rovers broke & were awarded a soft freekick on the edge of the area, with Bromby adjudged to have fouled…

Thankfully, Mills sent it just over the bar. Paynter replaced the hobbling Becchio & we looked to kill the game off. Woods pulled off the save of the game from Gradel, but minutes later, Max wasn’t to be denied. Snoddy’s cross found Paynter 2 yards out & the strikers shot was saved by Woods, but Gradel smashed home the rebound for 4-2. Seconds later, only a flying header from Johnson denied Paynter what would have been an easy goal. The ball went wide, but Bradley ended up tangled in the netting. Rovers so nearly got a 3rd through Coppinger, before a Revie Stand groundswell began to focus on Paynter. “Come on Billy” encouraged the White Army & it visibly lifted the goalless striker…

Indeed, Billy had a hand in the 5th goal as he chased back 40 yards to win the ball deep in the Whites half, before slipping the ball to Snoddy. The Scots peach of a through ball released Howson & the skipper kept his composure, blasting past Woods for the 5th. Naylor & Watt managed a run out for the 4 minutes of “Billytime”, but despite a header from a corner, the striker was to remain “Billy no goals” for at least another game. It was another 3 points won the hard way for the Whites & despite the fact we could have scored 10, no one was convinced we could hold on until the late 5th goal. With results elsewhere going our way, it was the beginning of what will need to be a robust defence of 6th spot…

So, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that a fix will be found for the defence & frankly, the view of “just enjoy the ride” is already proving a tough ask. Conceding 10 goals in 4 games is definitely taking this “Keeganesq” style too far & we head to bottom club Preston looking for a clean sheet win. To do that, we also need to end that midweek “Jinx”. Is it really too much to ask to get that particular “Job Done”

Leeds United AFC… “It’s almost cruel”… Keep Fighting…

Youtube clips with thanks to STEVIEDLUFC & LEEDSUNITEDRHINO – if you want your match clips used, email a link to keepfightingblog@hotmail.co.uk

Posted March 6, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: Chapman…

When Sgt Wilko’s promotion chasing troops began to stutter over the Christmas period in 1989/1990, the manager took decisive action. A combination of 1 goal in 3 games & injuries saw him swoop for Lee Chapman. Chapman’s impact on the season was remarkable & after scoring on his debut away at Blackburn, the big striker boosted the promotion challenge by netting 11 more times. If that was impressive, his goal scoring feats in Division One over the next 3 seasons were nothing short of phenomenal. Chapman netted 21 league goals as the side finished 4th in 1990/1991, before spearheading the Whites to the 1991/1992 Division One title…

Even in the struggling side of 1992/1993, Chapman netted another 14 league goals, before the striker was allowed to leave the club. Such is the players legacy, many are in no doubt that only Strachan can be placed above the striker in the list of Sgt Wilko’s “best buys”. The player was brought back on loan to the club in 1996, however, there was to be no “Second coming”. Chapman was sent off just 30 minutes into his first game against West Ham & A 0-5 defeat at Liverpool were Chapman’s only contributions before he ended up at today’s opponents Swansea City.

Our last visit to Swansea was in 2007 & ended in 2-3 defeat, despite the home side down to 10 men. Beckford & Thompson netted for the Whites, whilst a certain Andy Robinson played a starring roll for the hosts…

If the Whites were to increase our Play Off hopes, then a similar result would need to be avoided. As it turned out, the Whites never turned up in one of the most disappointing away displays since early September. Grayson hinted after Barnsley that a new face was likely to be on board by the time we headed to Swansea. Despite much speculation & unlike the aforementioned Sgt Wilko, no such decisive action was forthcoming. Speculation instead reverted to who would fill the gap left by Bradley, but nobody seriously considered Grayson would risk a 4/4/2 system given the midfield options available. It was either going to be a master stroke, or footballing suicide & within 5 minutes, we pretty much knew the answer…

The home side settled quickly & should have taken the lead early on. Dyer turned McCartney inside out & his cut back found Dobbie, who hit the post. Sinclair then shot narrowly wide & with barely 10 minutes on the clock, the fleet footed hosts were already passing us off the park. In contrast, we were wasteful in possession & at times were left chasing shadows. It’s unlikely that the (Liberty) stadium had been more ironically named as we simply could not escape from our own half. It was no surprise when the hosts took the lead as an incisive move started at the back & ended with Sinclair exchanging passes with Moore, before firing past Kasper for 0-1.The Whites were all at sea & Bruce had to make a decisive block from Dyer…

We needed a foothold in the game, but it was hard to see where it was going to come from. McCartney was having a torrid afternoon & his constant backing off gave the Swansea wingers time & space. Dobbie  also got past him before flashing a cross along the 6 yard box. With the game going against us, we started to lose discipline. Both Lichaj & Snoddy booked by Dowd in quick succession, giving the man in the middle the attention he so clearly craved. On 20 minutes good footwork from Snoddy got the Scot into a great position, but his final ball let him down. It had been the closest we had got to goal, but within seconds play switched up field & Kasper had to deny Dyer…

With only Gradel really showing anything resembling the standard we have come to expect, the only up side was the fact it was still 0-1. We did get some respite as all hell broke loose after what looked a great tackle from Bruce in the centre of the park. Dowd booked Bruce & told Grayson off for complaining, but it led to the best Whites move of the half so far. Bruce to McCartney to Kasper, who duly booted upfield. 3 magical passes without a Swansea player touching the ball, but it summed up our plight. After Snoddy was crowded out on the edge of the area, the hosts came straight back at us. Bruce headed a corner over his own bar, before O’Brien stepped in to clear from Sinclair…

Battered would sum up the first 40 minutes, but as bad as we had been, we were denied a clear penalty & the chance to get back on terms. This time, we really did put our own incisive move together which ended with Somma feeding Snoddy on the right of the box & the wing wizard let fly. The ball was clearly handled inside the box by Tate, but a corner was the only decision & Kilkenny was duly booked for berating the assistant who missed it. Bruce headed over from the corner, but suddenly there was fight, suddenly we awoke & amazingly, we almost scored. Kilkenny’s freekick found Sommas head, but his free header smashed the bar & away. Bizarrely, halftime came too soon, but at only 0-1, where there was life, there was hope…

However, that hope was quickly extinguished in the opening stages of the second half Kasper saved under his own cross bar & the spark of fight was evaporating. On 54  minutes, it all but died as Gradel brought Dyer down in the box for a clear penalty. Sinclair sent Kasper the wrong way for 0-2 & moments later, Kasper came out to deny Sinclair a hatrick. On the hour, we had a real chance to get back into it against the run of play. Somma latched onto Kilkenny’s through ball, but saw his effort tipped over the bar. Grayson tried to change things, throwing on Watt for Becchio, but the let off only prompted the home side to raid forward in waves. Kasper had tipped a Gower freekick onto the post, before Sinclair fired one wide…

It wasn’t a shock when the 3rd goal came. Dyer & Dobbie took the pi55 before Moore was played through the heart of our static defence. The strikers sublime finish past Kasper killed the game dead. Parker ended McCartney’s traumatic day & Paynter came on for Snoddy, but it was all too little too late. The hosts continued to stroke the ball around with embarrassing ease & could have had more. With 10 minutes to go, the bemused & shell shocked White Army responded in the only way we could. A defiant “We all love Leeds” rang out from the faithful as the home team used us for pass & move practice. The final whistle came not a second too soon, bringing an end to what had already been a long & disappointing day…

So, whilst the penalty decision could have proved a turning point, take nothing away from Swansea, who were unplayable at times. Talk of 2nd spot before Norwich has now pretty much become a pipe dream & seems clear that we are now pretty much in a race for a Play Off  spot only. Given the run in we have, it will be no mean feat if that is to occur. We move on to the home game against Doncaster pondering what could have been, especially if Grayson had been as decisive in our transfer dealings as Sgt Wilko…

Leeds United AFC… “We’ve got to pick ourselves up & start again“… Keep Fighting…

Youtube clips with thanks to LUFCStephen94, TonyH55555 & Jontsta86

Posted February 27, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: Jinxed…

Whilst memories of that fantastic 1989/1990 promotion season are roundly celebrated, it’s fair to say that there were a couple of hiccups along the road to glory. The 2-5 demolition at Newcastle on the first day of the season & the perennial 1-3 Easter defeat at Oldham both readily spring to mind. However, it was the 1-2 home defeat to Barnsley that probably caused the White Army to despair the most. With just 3 games to go, Sgt Wilko’s boys were top by the slimmest of margins & one could have been forgiven for asking “Have you ever seen a defeat worse timed”. As the Tuesday night game unfolded, there was a distinct nervousness about the Whites play…

Whites defender Chris Fairclough netted, but it wasn’t enough & the defeat left the expectant White Army both shell shocked & deflated, leaving all eyes on the result from St James Park. Close rivals Newcastle & Swindon were battling it out & news of the goalless result was the only shred of comfort on a desolate night. A few days later it would be a different feeling & the rest, as they say, is history:

Talking of which, our last home meeting with Barnsley saw a certain Tresor Kandol net on his home league debut in a 2-2 draw.

A repeat of that result wouldn’t be a disaster, but after the draw against Norwich, many suggested the 3 points were simply vital. As it turned out, our joint Achilles Heels of the midweek “Jinx” & leaky defence combined to leave us once again bemused…

Those expecting Grayson to tinker with the side were in for a surprise. The same team with the same 4/5/1 formation took the field & were bullied by the visitors from the start. It was clear from the kick off that Barnsley were “up for it” as they hassled every player in White with aggressive undertones & their blistering start was rewarded within 2 minutes. The Whites porous defence was once again in an obliging mood & as a simple free kick from the right wasn’t dealt with in any way, shape or form, Shackell ignited the away end by smashing home at the back post. With the Tykes refusing the Whites any time on the ball, it was nearly 10 minutes before we got near the Revie Stand goal…

Snoddy’s shot over the bar was the closest to a response, until a soft free kick award just outside the area. After the usual battle of who would take it, Gradel sent a screamer towards the top corner. Steele touched it onto the bar, with the rebound hitting the keepers back & bouncing wide. It gave the anxious White Army hope & notched up the somewhat shell shocked atmosphere. As the Whites slowly found some rhythm, chances began to be carved out, Becchio slicing the best one wide from just 6 yards. However, the Argentine made up for that miss on 26 minutes. Kilkenny’s cross was misjudged by Steele & the striker was on hand to nod home at the back post to audible relief…

As the commitment levels of the Barnsley players began to recede, the Whites finally began to find some space. A flowing move was ended with Howson testing Steele from just outside the area. Shortly after, another move saw Gradel latch onto a ball in the area, but was upended by Hill. In what looked a soft award, Clattenberg gave the spot kick. The Barnsley protests were waved away whilst Gradel & Becchio fought over who would take it. Gradel won the fight & smashed it into the right of goal for a priceless 2-1 lead. That so nearly became 3-1, but Johnson somehow hit the post when a more composed strike would have found the net. At that point in the game, there would have been no way back for the visitors…

Johnson then compounded his miss by being booked for a needless foul on Mellis, something that would prove as costly as his miss. The Whites entered halftime in the lead, but no one in the stands felt it was “Job Done”. However, the same could not be said of the sleep walking players in White who took the field in the 2nd half. Lessons hadn’t been learned from Barnsley’s blistering start to the game & within 2 minutes, they were level. The Whites midfield went AWOL, giving the visitors chance to pass the ball with ease through the middle of the park. A great ball from Doyle found Hill unmarked on the left of the area. With Lichaj also out of position, the defender smashed a shot past Kasper for 2-2…

Kasper was out smartly to prevent a quick 3rd & with the atmosphere inside the ground becoming more fraught, life suddenly became more difficult for the Whites. A 2nd Yellow for Johnson’s needless challenge on Mellis gave the visitors a man advantage & the Whites a mountain to climb. Kasper saved from McShane before play switched upfield & Bruce headed Kilkenny’s corner high, wide & not so handsome. With the game getting stretched & tired limbs beginning to tell, Grayson made a double substitution. Kilkenny & Becchio made way for Watt & Somma, with the hope of giving the Whites fresh impetus. Amazingly, within 5 minutes, we took an unlikely lead…

Watt had a hand in the build up as he & Gradel battled for a ball on the edge of the Barnsley area. After working some space, Max curled a fkin beauty into the far corner for 3-2 & pandemonium on the terraces. For a brief time, the goal took the wind out of the visitors sails, though they slowly began to claw back into things. With 10 minutes left, Kasper tipped an Arismeni effort over the bar, but when the corner wasn’t cleared effectively, Watt made a rash challenge on the edge of the area. In a central position & 20 yards out, it was going to take something special to beat Kasper. However Trippier’s powder puff shot sneaked through the parting wall, leaving Kasper wrong footed & furious…

The White Army got that “Jinxed” feeling again & the goal changed the complexion of the game. With the now whistle happy Clattenberg refusing to let play flow, it made for a nervy last few minutes. In the 5 extra minutes, Barnsley so nearly nicked it, but desperate defending denied Haynes, before O’Conner sent a half hearted effort well wide. Feelings were mixed at the final whistle, but results elsewhere meant that this was an important point gained. It gives the Whites a 3 points lead over 7th place & as highest goal scorers in the league, our current healthy goal difference over Leicester & Hull could yet prove vital. Still, the fact Barnsley have scored 8 goals against us in 2 games perhaps sums up our defensive season…

The current goals conceded tally stands at 52 & is the 5th worst in the division. However, given that Grayson et al seem hell bent on continuing with this “Keegan esq” philosophy of trying to outscore the opposition, perhaps its time we simply stop worrying about it & enjoy the rest of, what has been so far, a hell of a ride. So, as the Whites “Jinxed” midweek run moves to 10 league game without a win, we move on to high flying Swansea with excited trepidation. After all, we have scored 17 more goals than them, but they have conceded 22 less. The game has got 0-0 written all over it…

Leeds United AFC…“The Entertainers”… Keep Fighting…

Youtube clips with thanks to ChrisMedwell, SteakandSid, OoLUFCoO & WhiteChocAndy!

Posted February 23, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: Surreal…

Leeds United AFC: Champions of England – 1991/1992

Oh Scum…
Look what we’ve gone & done…
We’ve won Division One…
We are the Champions…

The build up to Norwich City’s visit to Elland Road in May 1992 was quite simply surreal. The title chasing pack had been filtered down to 2 during the run in, which had been a titanic tussle. The Red Enemy had failed to hold their nerve & as their games in hand slipped away, just 2 games each remained to decide the outcome. In the penultimate weekend, the Whites bizarre 3-2 win at Sheffield United in the early kick off, meant the Red Enemy needed to win away at Anfield later that day in the televised “Big Match” tussle. The watching White Army held its collective breath, but needn’t have worried as Liverpool’s comprehensive 2-0 win saw Sgt Wilko’s Leeds United AFC crowned Champions of England…

Of course, winning the title in those circumstances meant that the next game was a full week away & for many, the wait was akin to a child trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. With no 24-7 Sky or Internet coverage, it was left to the YEP or ITV’s Calendar to keep the faithful satisfied, whilst the national newspapers offered grudging respect whilst trying to hide their disappointment at the Red media darlings failure. Come the day of the game, many arrived at the ground early to be met with a heaving mass of sun bathed smiling faces for a pre-match sing along. Once inside, the atmosphere rocked & a week of pent up celebration was let out in unison as Gordon Strachan led the team out to lift the trophy…

With the presentations made before the game, it was easy to forget that there was still football to be played! As Champions of England, it would be down to the Whites to put on a performance. However it turned out to be an even game, with a definite “hangover” feel about it. The Whites won the game 1-0 thanks to a superb goal from Rod Wallace, but only magnificent goalkeeping from both Walton & Lukic kept the score line down. Norwich then slipped quietly into the shadows, leaving the White Army to resume celebrations that lasted into the evening…

19 years & a hell of a lot of “up’s & downs” have passed since that glorious day, summed up by Norwich’s last visit in 2009. With both teams in Division Three, the Whites nicked a dramatic 2-1 win thanks to Beckford’s fortunate injury time goal…

A similar result today would have gone a long way to cementing the Whites play off hopes, as it turned out, we had to take a point & comfort in a heart warming performance. As the unexpected snow fell, Grayson looked to combat Norwich’s free flowing football with the same team & 4/5/1 formation that has worked so well this season. Playing towards the South Stand, the Whites flew out of the blocks & could have been ahead within 5 minutes…

Howson collected the ball just inside the Norwich half & his rampaging run ended with a low shot that crept just past the far post. Minutes later, Becchio’s head met Snoddy’s freekick, but the big man was denied by the post. Norwich didn’t know what had hit them & it was no surprise when the Whites took the lead. A swift move on the left saw McCartney feed Gradel & the wingers cross was flicked on by Snoddy before Becchio rammed home with a back post header that sent the White Army fkin wild. Norwich were clearly offended at Becchio’s dodgy dancing celebration & were nearly level seconds later. Fox’s cross was nodded onto the outside of the post by Ward & it was the signal for the game to begin to open up…

Kasper had to be at his best to tip over a rasping drive from Fox, before the Whites should have doubled our lead. A brilliant move down the right saw Snoddy feed the impressive Lichaj on the overlap. Lichaj’s cutback was met by Howson & on the second attempt, his shot crashed back off the underside of the bar, before the rebound was sent wide. The Whites domination & play deserved better, but we were left to rue missed chances just on halftime. A simple deep cross into the Whites box was met by Holt & his knock down was swept home by Lansbury for 1-1. It was a cue for another dodgy dancing celebration & a bitter blow that meant the faithful endured a subdued halftime of “If only”

Yet if the players in White were feeling as anxious as the White Army, they certainly didn’t show it. In a bright start to the second half, both Gradel & Snoddy whipped early crosses in, but there was no one around to take advantage. Gradel & McCartney also forced Ruddy into saves as the Whites built up a head of steam. Brilliant wing play has become the hall mark of this team & with just a touch more care on the final ball, the Whites would have had some great chances. However, failure to punish Norwich gave them a lift & with Hoolahan becoming a growing influence, the visitors began to hit back. Hoolahan himself forced Kasper into a save before it was the Whites turn to be saved by the woodwork…

Holt beat Kasper, but not the post & it signalled some sustained pressure by the visitors. They went on to take the lead on 67 minutes as the Whites defensive Achilles Heel struck once again. Crofts fed Hoolahan on the right of the area & with McCartney nowhere in sight, the midfielder slotted past Kasper for 1-2, despite a desperate attempt to keep it out by Lichaj on the line. It was a painful lesson in clinical finishing, but the Whites almost responded immediately with Snoddy having a shot well saved. Seconds later Grayson changed things, taking off Kilkenny for Somma & reverting to 4/4/2, though it’s doubtful even Grayson could have predicted what would happen in the next 60 seconds. Bruce’s long punt was headed on by Becchio & the ball hung in the air for an age before Somma volleyed home from 20 yards…

It was Somma’s first touch & the “Yeboahesq” goal was a thing of beauty that sparked wild celebrations on the terraces. It gave the Whites new belief & they went looking for the winner. A stunning cross from Johnson was so nearly met by Somma, but brave defending from Whitbread denied the chance. As time ticked down, Grayson threw on Paynter for Becchio & it was to be the substitute who went closest to a winner. After a Howson header had got the ball into the danger area, the strikers played a neat one/two which saw Somma slip a ball through to Paynter. The striker was onto it in a flash, but his shot was tipped just round the post by Ruddy. It was the last action of a breathless game…

The hard earned point ensured the Whites didn’t lose any ground within the top 6. Much more than that, it was a performance that should fill the White Army with hope that, despite the ongoing defensive frailties, a Play Off berth may not be out of reach. So, as the White Army try to walk the line of high excitement not becoming high expectation, we move onto the midweek Yorkshire derby against Barnsley. Revenge for the 2-5 hammering will be on the mind, but perhaps more important is to finally end the midweek jinx. With no win in 9 league attempts, it’s been as much of an Achilles Heel as our defence. Mind you, if the Play Off games are on a Saturday…

Leeds United AFC… “Sgt Wilko’s Barmy Army”… Keep Fighting…

Posted February 20, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: The 92…

For many football supporters up & down the country, doing “The 92” is seen as the ultimate challenge. “The 92” is of course attending a game at each of the current 92 League grounds in England. “The 92” list changes season upon season as clubs come in & out of the league, while the introduction of new build grounds also adds a twist to the challenge. Different variations on the theme do exist as many fans go to grounds as neutrals to see a game & tick it off the list. Others will only visit a ground if their team is in attendance. A mad few try to do all 92 in One season, whilst others have no time scale at all. Most do this just for satisfaction, but for those interested, there is even a “92 club” you can join if you adhere to its entry rules…

Leeds United AFC’s Division Three adventure presented members of the travelling White Army the opportunity to travel the country & visit locations we would probably have never ventured. Whilst enjoying both the best & worst of times, we were able to tick grounds off the list in the process. Though frankly, some trips deserved a badge of honour in there own right, such as the Friday night trip to Yeovil! If you have no desire to join any club, making your own rules is easy. For example, with only games that involve the Whites counting & no time frame required, today’s visit to Ashton Gate was to become English ground (old & new) number 84 for yours truly. Though it may take a couple of lucky cup draws to complete the full list…

The last visit to Bristol City was in 1997, which saw a 1-2 League Cup 2nd leg defeat. However, Hasslebaink’s goal was enough to see the Whites through 4-3 on aggregate. Given lack of recent history between the two sides, the amount of riot police in attendance was a surprise, as was the cattle shed away end that greeted us. Still, first impressions were good & as ever, most would take these over soulless arenas such as the Reebok. Grayson had dipped into the loan market during the week, snapping up Eric Lichaj as cover for the injured Connelly. Grayson also reverted back to the trusted 4-5-1 system, which was harsh on Somma, who must now be totally familiar with the Whites motto “Side before self”

Lichaj made his debut at right back, whilst Kilkenny re: joined the midfield Three. The pre-match entertainment comprised of the boys pen to our right trying to out sing the loudspeaker & their youthful exuberance continued, helping give the game a “cup tie” atmosphere. The game had a scrappy start that neither side benefited from. It was 8 minutes before the first real chance to either side as Pitmen was allowed to get his cross in from the right & Keogh headed wide. It woke the Whites from their slumber & after a few minutes of possession football, with both Gradel & Snoddy showing great touches, we took the lead. Gradel fed Snoddy on the edge of the area & the Scot took the p*ss out of the city backline…

Snoddy made space for himself with some magical footwork before slipping the ball past James for 1-0 & pandemonium in the away end. It was pandemonium in the home end to our left too, as undercover members of the White Army couldn’t contain themselves, causing all hell to break loose. One fan was manhandled by 4 riot police & 2 stewards, causing an angry reaction from the travelling White Army near to the incident. With more riot police called to calm the situation down in the away end, the atmosphere had a tinderbox feel to it, whilst the game carried on. The Whites were on top & Snoddy forced James into a full length save with a rasping drive on the half hour, before Bruce shot just wide minutes later…

Lichaj also showed a great turn of pace as he rampaged through the middle, with only his final ball letting him down. As Halftime approached, the hosts had a couple of half chances, the best from Elliott, but the Whites got to halftime with Kasper yet to make a save. The boys pen to our right provided more entertainment at halftime & they had more to shout about in the early stages of the second half. The hosts took the fight to the slow starting Whites & after a couple of corners, Pitman slammed a shot into the side netting. The Whites took full advantage of the let off on our first real attack of the half. Snoddy showed more magical skills, cutting inside from the right & his shot was blocked…

The rebound was pounced upon by Gradel who drilled a shot through James legs & into the net for 2-0, sending the White Army fkin mental. It sparked a period of dominance in which Snoddy & Gradel excelled. More great wing play from the untouchable Snoddy saw his cross met by the head of Johnson, but James touched it over the bar. The Scot himself then had a free kick headed off the line & it was beginning to look all too easy. However with no killer 3rd goal, the home team began to find more fight with 20 minutes to go. Most of their attacks came down the Whites left, with McCartney beginning to have a torrid time…

Bruce was forced to head clear over his own bar & from the corner, a combination of Kasper & Becchio saved well from Clarkson‘s blast. The hosts tails were now up & The Whites attacks were becoming sporadic, with the lack of a final ball hampering the cause. Howson broke free down the centre, but was caught in Two minds with options on both wings. Back came Bristol & we will never know how they failed to score. Kasper pushed Caulker’s back post header onto the post & it fell to Adomah. His shot was cleared off the line before the ball finally fell to Elliot, but his 6 yard shot hit the underside of the bar & was cleared. The Whites were 2-0 up, but looking decidedly uncomfortable when Grayson made his first change…

Kilkenny made way for Somma, but again it was Kasper to the rescue, saving well from Pitman. By this time, McCartney had given up & Adomah was having a field day. It took great blocks from O’Brien & Bruce to spare the left backs blushes. Kasper made another save in the dying minutes before Grayson slowed the game down with Becchio making way for McCormack. 4 minutes of injury time saw a chance that Somma should have at least got on target, but the Whites held on for the points & somehow a clean sheet. The 3 points cemented the current position in the top 6, with a healthy gap between ourselves & 7th place. Most would agree that the win see’s the club now complete mission “Survival in Divison Two”...

So, the Whites can take heart from a 3rd clean sheet in 5 league games, even if the Whites were again a tad fortunate to do so. One thing is for sure, with sharp shooters Norwich & Swansea, along with a dreaded midweek fixture to come, improvement is still needed at the back, even if Lichaj had a more than promising debut. If the Whites remain in a play off berth by the time we enter March, then who knows where this rollercoaster season will take us…

Leeds United AFC… “Grounds for satisfaction”… Keep Fighting…

Posted February 13, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized

Leeds United AFC: 1982…

By replacing Jimmy Adamson, Allan “Sniffer” Clarke became the first of Revie’s dream team to have a crack at managing the club. After overseeing a top Ten finish to the 1980/1981 season, hope was high that he was the man to bring back the good times to Elland Road. At the start of the 1981/1982 season, Clarke fuelled that hope by paying a then record fee of nearly a million quid for West Brom winger Peter Barnes. Yet in the season where the football league introduced the 3 points for a win system, that early hope was quickly extinguished. An opening day 1-5 rout away at Swansea was the start of a disastrous run which saw the side win just once in the opening 10 league games…

Converted to a striker, Barnes was failing to live up to expectations & results had not vastly improved by the time Coventry City visited on February 6th 1982. The Whites were hovering precariously above the drop zone & in what turned out to be a horrendous 0-0 bore draw, only the agility of Whites keeper Lukic ensured a precious point. The Whites went on to win only 4 of the remaining 21 fixtures, the last of which a 2-1 comeback win over Brighton on the penultimate game of the season. It left Clarke’s boys needing just a point away at West Brom to ensure Division One survival. Sadly, a 0-2 defeat saw the Whites slip into Division Two with a whimper, though the same could not be said of rioting elements within the White Army…

Barnes played 30 times that season, scoring just 1 goal & was loaned to Real Betis for the next season. Barnes returned to play 32 more times for the Whites, scoring 5 goals, before being sold to today’s visitors Coventry City for a paltry £65,000 in 1984. The last visit from the Sky Blues was in 2007, in which the Whites sneaked a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Douglas & Healy. With the current sides knack of finding ways to draw matches, no one was putting money on a repeat. Grayson had spent the week defending the teams vulnerability at the back, suggesting that the sides cavalier attacking approach was partly to blame. he then defended his back Four more robustly than they themselves had managed most of the season…

As it turned out, Grayson’s faith in his leaky back line was finally to be repaid. By naming an unchanged line up & 4/4/2 formation, Grayson gave the Somma / Becchio partnership another chance. The visitors, wearing a kit similar to Wilko’s 1994 Green &Blue stripes, fielded a side without controversial striker Marlon King & ex: White Mcthingyabob on the bench. Chances were few & far between in a gritty opening 15 minutes, Kasper saving from Woods header, before Somma smashed a half chance over the bar. However the game began to open up & the Whites took control in frustrating fashion. Both Snoddy & Gradel ran the visitors ragged & they fashioned 3 gilt edged chances…

Snoddy’s trickery & inch perfect cross found Becchio 6 yards out, yet he missed what was a sitter by his standards. Next up it was Gradel’s turn to shoot wide, after a rampaging run down the left presented him with an opening. However the best chance of the 3 once again fell to Becchio. Gradel caused havoc down the left before finding the supporting McCartney & his cut back was again side footed the wrong side of the far post by Becchio. Coventry responded to the let offs, showing a resilience you would expect from a Boothroyd side & they even had a half chance of their own when Jutkiewicz fired over from the edge of the area. Despite looking the more likely, the Whites couldn’t find the break through,entering halftime level…

The White Army feared we would rue missed chances & that fear looked well founded as the Sky Blues came out quickest & Platt’s header flew just wide of the post. However Gradel decided enough was enough & took control. At times if felt like the winger was on a one man crusade as he took the p*ss out of the City back line & on 55 minutes, he enabled the breakthrough. A driving run ended with a pin point cross to Howson at the back post. Johnny showed brilliant awareness to take the ball down & slide it along the 6 yard box for the on rushing Somma who really couldn’t miss. The outpouring of relief from the terraces was palpable & it was hoped that the Whites could kick on to tear the visitors apart…

That onslaught wasn’t as immediate as hoped, as Jutkiewicz found room to shoot wide just minutes later. The defence had stood up to the limited City raids pretty well, but given our defensive record, at least 1 Coventry goal was expected. As ever with this Whites side, the best form of defence is attack & Snoddy was trying to replicate Gradel’s actions on the other wing. On 65 minutes he forced Westwood into a full length save after brilliant trickery, but after that let off, Gunnarsson went close up the other end. The Whites needed a second goal & we thought we had it on 73 minutes. Becchio flicked a long ball into the path of Somma & the striker chipped Westwood for a superb finish…

Sadly, the goal was ruled out & nervous tension began to fill the White Armies hearts. Boothroyd threw on McWhinger in a bid to change the game, however the Whites wingers were still running the show. Just a tad more care at times with the final ball would have led to a hatful of chances. However the next opportunity came from the unlikely boot of Bruce, who turned well & hammered just wide from the edge of the area after a corner. Soon after, Grayson replaced Somma for Kilkenny, leaving Becchio, Gradel & Snoddy to carry the goal threat. Kilkenny slipped into the middle to aid Howson & Johnson’s good work. Bradley had shown great discipline in a more defensive minded role that assisted the back line…

Shortly after, the game began to suffer from stoppages. A Becchio head injury saw the striker change his blood stained shirt & shorts, whilst the impressive Connelly hobbled off with what looked like a thigh injury. Bromby came on to fill in at right back & Grayson slowed the game down further by finally replacing Becchio with Paynter. In the last few minutes, Snoddy again tested Westwood, yet after missing so many chances, the boys so nearly paid the price. Kasper was the hero with a finger tip save from Platt to deny a certain goal. The 5 minutes added time became “Snoddytime” as the Scot had 2 good chances to seal the win. Only a Westwood save & a last ditch defensive block denied him notching…

The Whites were not to be denied & held on for 3 vital points. The win moved the club to 5th, with a healthy 22 point gap from the relegation zone. More importantly, it takes the side to 49 points, which has been enough for any team to avoid the drop in the last 5 seasons. The Whites travel to Bristol City safe in the knowledge that this seasons original mission statement of “Survival in Division Two” is almost complete. So, we can relax a little & enjoy matters as the business end of the season slowly begins to unfold. Yeah right – this is Leeds United AFC after all – mind you, a play off berth is in our own hands…

Leeds United AFC… “We get knocked down, but we get up again”… Keep Fighting…

Posted February 6, 2011 by keepfighting in leeds united, Uncategorized