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Sunday, 5 August 2018

Start of a new season and end of an era.

Today marks the start of another season in the Championship for Leeds United and as ever expectations are running high amongst the mighty Whites legions of fans including yours truly.  Can Bielsa work his magic in the Elland Road Bear pit?  Will Bamford, the prancing Unicorn, flourish in a Leeds shirt? Will this year be Leeds' year?  All questions that will get answered over the coming season.  It is with a heavy heart that although I will be there in person every step of the way I won't be blogging my musings on the games.  After 11 years I have decided to retire Travels of a Leeds Fan together with the Urinal Philosophers with immediate effect.  Work and family commitments have made it more challenging to devote the time needed to produce the blog and with social media awash with Leeds United blogs, podcasts and websites I feel now is the time to gracefully retire.

It's been a blast writing the blog from the depths of depressing trips to Histon, Sutton, Hereford, Sheff Wed and many others to the sheer adrenaline fuelled elation of seeing Beckford's goals against Man U, Spurs and Bristol Rovers, Becchio's against Millwall and Boro and a certain Mr Delph's at a rain soaked Withdean against Brighton.  There were many more highs and lows but one constant has been the humour, loyalty and sheer bloody mindedness and passion of my fellow Leeds fans during my travels.

Thank you for reading my blog over the years.  I will still be going home and away so I will be there on the day they finally get promoted.................whenever that will be.  For now I would be happy with  3 points against Stoke City to get the juices flowing for another difficult season ahead.

Can't wait.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Leeds Utd v QPR 6th May 2018

Elland Road was bathed in glorious sunshine against the bluest of blue sky's as I parked my car for the last time this season.  Yet another Groundhog season for Leeds who at one time promised so much, not least of which when we beat today's visitors at Loftus Road, but in the end delivered a reheated version of many of the disappointing campaigns from the last decade and beyond.  The only surprising thing is that the loyal and emotionally battered fanbase continue to turn up in amazing numbers.

The need for change throughout the club has never been as pressing with a squad sadly lacking in quality, leadership and sheer bloody mindedness coached by a Head coach lacking in experience and success at championship level overseen by Owners who's overall plan for the future is baffling at best.  It's difficult to see where the improvements will come from I'm afraid.  Still supporting Leeds United is easy and hugely rewarding...................said nobody ever!

Today I was joined by an old school friend and his son from the deep south, Surrey in fact.  We reminisced about Clarke's goal at Wembley, the magnificent 7 against Southampton and lots of other joys of following the mighty whites in those halcyon days in a different century.  Misty eyed we took our seats in readiness for today's pauper's feast at the same ground Bremner, Giles, Lorimer et al strode in their pomp.  PH had rung the changes for the last game.  Ayling made a welcome return at right back, Ekuban started up front with Alioski and Roofe out wide.  Phillips, Vieira and Forshaw formed the midfield triangle.  Tom Pearce kept his place at left back with Cooper and Jansson at centre backs.  16 year old Ryan Edmondson was on the bench.

The pitch looked in perfect condition as ever as the game got underway with just over 30,000 inside the sun bathed Elland Road.  The opening salvos were typical of an end of season game with nothing at stake but Leeds did look to have a bit more spark in them than in recent outings even though it was against a QPR team who looked desperate to get the game finished and away on their holidays.  Just before the half hour Ayling made a barnstorming run before unleashing a shot that tested the QPR goalie.  This was shortly followed by a goalmouth scramble ignited by an Ekuban shot on target that was blocked before QPR conceded a corner.  From the corner Roofe finished spectacularly as he hooked in a loose ball home from close range to open the scoring for Leeds.  1.0 Leeds and all of a sudden life was just a little bit better on Planet Leeds.

Leeds continued to have the better of the game and could have gone into the half time break with more than the one goal advantage as first Roofe and then young Pearce rifled in shots that had the QPR goalie pulling off decent saves.  Pearce's shot especially had the Elland Road faithful purring.  Alioski also nearly added a second but saw his header just drop inches past the post.  Half time 1.0 Leeds.  The urinal philosophers were already on the beach.  Leeds season finished a long time ago and it seemed nobody could be arsed complaining about anything.  The combination of the lovely sunshine and a reasonable first half display from Leeds had pacified the notoriously critical philosophers.

Pennington replaced Jansson as the 2nd half got under way.  For a big strapping lad the Swede doesn't half pick up his fair share of injuries of one sort or another?  Any fans who were late back from their half time refreshments missed the 2nd goal.  Under pressure the QPR goalie made a complete hash of his clearance and passed it straight to Phillips 35 yard out.  Mr Pineapple head coolly controlled the ball advanced to the the edge of the box before despatching his shot clinically past the forlorn keeper. 2.0 Leeds and all was well with the world.  QPR didn't seem to have the heart to fight back as Leeds took control of the game.

Leeds were playing some nice football at times with Ayling making a huge difference to the Leeds right flank and young Tom Pearce looking dangerous every time he went forward on the left.  Vieira was in good nick in the middle ably supported by Forshaw and Phillips looked more comfortable in a more advanced position.  Ekuban was again struggling to make any impact up front though.  Bailey Peacock Farrell was sat in a deck chair lathered in factor 30.  On 72 minutes Alioski was so unlucky as met a superb Roofe cross only to see yet another good save from the goalie deny him a goal.  Shortly after Roofe left the field to a well deserved ovation to be replaced by 16 year old Ryan Edmondson.  Now this lad is a big lad and I mean a big lad especially for just 16 years old and he immediately secured a rousing ovation himself as he obliterated the QPR full back in a tackle that would have made Norman Hunter proud.  He received a dubious yellow card for his troubles as the QPR player played dead on the turf just long enough for the ref to book him before jumping up and walking away.

Minutes later Edmondson nearly brought the house down as he found space in the box to hammer a cross goal wards only to see a deflection from a desperate defender's leg prevent a debut goal.  On this evidence he has a bright future.  There was just time for a Leeds breakaway by Alioski to be stopped by a foul on the edge of the box.  Alioski then despatched the free kick into the Kop before the ref brought the curtain down on the game and Leeds season.  FT 2.0 Leeds.

I'm glad we finished with a decent performance albeit against a poor QPR team.  Our final position of 13th tells it's own story though.  There are some useful building blocks in the squad already but the need to add quality and experience is there for everyone to see.  Ayling was my man of the match today with good showings from Roofe, Forshaw and Vieira.  An interesting summer ahead for Leeds and as ever we will be looking to try and find a formula that will make Leeds competitive in the championship once again something we haven't really seen other than our first year after relegation from the Premier League which was a long time ago.

Thanks for reading my musings on Leeds United this year and hopefully I'll do it all again next season.  In the meantime fingers crossed for some positive signs of progression over the summer?

Can't wait.


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