Sunday, 5 April 2009
Colchester United v Leeds United April 4th 2009
The car was the transport of choice for today's journey to deepest Essex for our clash with Colchester, so with yours truly on driving duty and with the Happy Chocker, Jason and East Hull's finest, Turkey Twizzler, on board we set off bright and early as the sun tried to break through the weak cloud cover. With at least one horse expert on board, not me, the discussions on which nag to choose for my annual bet on the Grand National covered the first part of the trip. After much deliberation I plumped for the 66/1 outsider Idle Talk and as the Happy Chocker rang the bet through I could just detect a hearty laugh from the bookie! Mmmmm perhaps not the best choice? Nobody was expecting any changes to the team from last weeks demolition of Wimbledon despite Rui returning from injury and Robbo scoring in his midweek game with the reserves. Larry has been consistent in sticking to a winning team to good effect during his time in charge and today was going to be no different. As we got nearer to Colchester and the golden "pre-match anything is possible" time we went through all the different ifs and buts from today's results and confidently decided that with 6 points from today and Tuesday's game we could be 4 points behind the Posh in 2nd spot. Brilliant!
After a detour to Braintree to pick up some tickets for the Orient game, courtesy of Turkey Twizzlers contacts, we arrived in Colchester. Parking at the station car park in order to pick up the shuttle bus to the out of town new stadium we went in search of refreshment. Jason and Turkey funded the local Taxi benevolent society as they got a lift into town while HC and I took a 2 minute walk to a nice big pub full of..........you guessed it Leeds fans. So far so good. After waiting 30 minutes to get served whilst the paltry number of bar staff tried to serve the thirsty hordes with not enough beer glasses or speed I was thinking maybe we should have gone into town...............however once we finally got our drinks we met up with similarly frustrated Wakey Warriors and Jonty with fellow 606ers from Norwich. As the warm sun shone down everyone was exuding confidence in the team something I've not felt for a number of years. Sammy SodOff has capitulated himself to cult hero in the space of one game for his willingness to head anything that moves, I'm sure if 747 flew by he'd head it away. Jonty was rightly pleased that Larry had moved swiftly to secure his services. So everything was right with the world for once as we walked to the shuttle buses. The long snaking queue at the bus stop was the first indication that the planners of the new stadium had probably done the transport to and from bit on a Friday afternoon after a good session in the pub!
The stadium itself is impressive for a 10000 capacity and with the 4000 Leeds fans ensuring their first ever League sell out a good atmosphere should have been guaranteed but in practice other than the usual boisterous noise wafting from the two stands the whites fans populated there was little else.
In the pre match warm up Rui endeared himself to the travelling fans by signing shirts and programmes before going to warm the bench although Turkey Twizzler failed in his attempt to catch the Angolan's attention.
The match kicked off in bright sunshine on a well shorn slightly bumpy pitch. The opening exchanges were a bit scrappy and it took Leeds a while to get into their stride. Colchester's giant centre forward, who had caused havoc at ER, was well marshalled by Sammy and Bam Bam. Some of Sammy's clearing headers nearly burst the ball and he lapped up the adoring praises raining down from the away support. He's definitely my type of no nonsense player.
Colchester were playing a high defensive line and this gave opportunities for Jermaine to use his pace and foil the offside trap but for once his finishing was not at his best as he spurned the first of what would be 3 or 4 one on ones with the goalie. At the other end Casper was having one of his more assured games of the season as he made a couple of crucial saves early in the game and even looked confident in coming and catching crosses, with the one exception when Sammy headed the ball out of Caspers hands to the halfway line!
As the half progressed the Leeds midfield quartet exerted more control and in doing so were creating a stream of chances so it was no surprise when on 30 minutes Lucciano curled a sublime shot into the far corner of the despairing goalie's net to send the Leeds fans into raptures. The half drew to a close with Leeds in comfortable mode and as they disappeared down the tunnel every thing was going to plan.
The Happy Chocker used the HT break for an appointment with Hughy as he lost his battle with the rather dubious meat pie that he had ravenously devoured before the match!
The 2nd half started with Leeds playing towards their massed fans but the hoped for increase in the lead to a less worrying 2:0 didn't materialise and as Colchester snapped at our heals, literally, we started to get bogged down in a attritional midfield battle. Nobody in a yellow shirt was taking a backward step though Killa was at his effervescent best ably supported by Howson and Delph who was having another excellent game. Snoddy was his usual elusive self causing alarm bells whenever he touched the ball. We even had the ball in the Us net twice only for the linesman to chalk them off for offside. Despite all this Leeds were struggling to get out of 3rd gear.
The Colchester crowd who had been deathly quiet started to murmur as their team pushed on for an unlikely equaliser as they did a rather large gentleman in the Colchester stand adjacent to ours did his best to both lift his own fans and taunt the away fans............but a couple of choruses of "Your shirts too small for you" seemed to shut him up! Even though the home team huffed and puffed they didn't really test Casper in the 2nd half and my last 10 minute nerves were more down to the fact that we were only one up rather than any threat from the team in blue. Hughes, Dickinson and Robbo came on for cameo appearances near the end but when the final whistle sounded to confirm a 5th straight win and stretch our unbeaten run to 9 the fans made their appreciation known in no uncertain terms.
The only blot on the landscape was the news that Posh, Wall and Wimbledon had all won thus it was very much status quo in the chase for 2nd spot. Leicester conceded a late goal to Carlisle which leaves them a mere two points in front of Posh.
Now back to the stadium planners. First the fans who had parked in the stadium car park, including big Steve, were held back while pedestrians and the shuttle buses cleared the area. That would be fine but for the fact that the few shuttle buses that were on duty were immediately caught up in traffic jams as they tried to get back into town leaving approx 2000 fans not so patiently waiting in line for their return. Once they eventually returned I had lost the will to live and the Turkey Twizzler was beginning to worry he would miss his connection at Selby. Finally we got back to the station car park, after a few hearty choruses of "we all love Leeds" on the bus only to be confronted by the largest queue to get out of a car park I'd ever seen.
As we were now at the end of the mile long queue this was time for some lateral thinking and I dispatched Turkey and Jason to inspect the possibility of fooling the exit contraption on the entrance to car park, ie go out the wrong way at the risk of grounding the car on the reverse ramps. After working out that if we manually flattened the floor plates one by one we might just be able to do it. By now I knew how Steve McQueen felt when he was sizing up the motor cycle jump over the wire in the Great Escape. However with the choice of waiting another 45 minutes for the car park to clear or chancing our luck over the reverse ramps we went for glory.
Helped by the now gathering crowd and other imprisoned car owners we picked our way over the ramps. The final one requiring flattening was under the car as opposed to the side but a unknown volunteer, who was clearly caught up in the moment, stuck his leg under the car to hold the ramp down! When I pointed out that the car was heavy and his leg was rather "squashy" he came up with a response that will go down in the annals of history "it's OK I've got a twizzly leg so I can pull it out before you run over it" and he was serious! So with the ultimate in team work I carefully gunned the car over the last ramp and to safety. By now blood was pouring from "twizzly leg".........................Sorry no it wasn't just my joke.............a big cheer greeted the freedom bid. We stopped to help Jonty with the same operation and then left the rest of the potential escapees attempting to exit the car park.
I dont think we stopped laughing until we got past Grantham and buoyed by an in depth and searching examination of the UK's record industry ably lead by Turkey we eventually got home in time for his train.
A brilliant away day, another 3 points and back in time for Match of the Day and to top of it off it was sunny. Doesn't get much better than this.
Roll on Tuesday when we are back down the M11 to Leyton Orient and another 3 points.