Thursday, 6 August 2009
The Ashes, Exeter & Darlo
This week's news has been dominated by Fabian's departure to Villa Park. Whilst his exit in the end was inevitable for someone so talented it is also a stark reminder that the team we all love are still stuck in Division 3 and no matter how illustrious our history exceptional talent will always be prised away by Premier League riches. If there was ever any doubt that Fab was ready for the big league that disappeared as he dismantled a full strength Blackburn midfield piece by piece in the recent friendly at Elland Road. So it's good luck to Mr Delph and I hope he continues to progress and fulfill his massive potential under the astute eye of Martin O'Neill. I will always remember his goal at Stockport and the solo effort at Brighton as typical of what he can do. He will always be a Leeds fan and I can just imagine him giving the Leeds salute as he cracks in the winner against the Salford Yanks at the Theatre of Excrement!
Anyhow that's enough about Fab........what about this weekend. Firstly I'm lucky enough to have a ticket for the first day of the Ashes test at Headingley, thanks to Welly, followed by the game of the weekend at ER against Exeter and then the Monday night televised game at Darlo. It doesn't get better than that!
Cricket at Headingley always evokes memories of my distant journeys to the home of Yorkshire cricket in another century when the players only wore white and a snap tin full of meat paste and tomato sandwiches and Blue Riband biscuits seemed compulsory. I was there when Boycs got his hundredth hundred and also when a rather irate Rodney Marsh, a bit peeved at his LBW decision, smashed the door of the dressing room as he "closed" it behind him. Sat on the bum numbing wooden benches you were always guaranteed a good days crickeet.
Those days are long gone though and things will be different tomorrow, not least the price of the ticket £50 ffs, and as the Happy Chocker and I are on the infamous Western Terrace I am expecting plenty of beer snakes, stupid fancy dress outfits and automaton stewards acting like a cross between an SS officer and the most pedantic traffic warden imaginable. In between all that I should hopefully see some good cricket and quaff a few beers! Roll call is in the Headingley Taps at 9.30am for breakfast.
Assuming I survive the cricket the following day I will be back on the train to Leeds for the season opener with Exeter City. Now much as I think we've had a very strong pre season we need to be wary of the Grecians who are fresh from 2 back to back promotions. We saw last season how 2 of the promoted teams, Wimbledon and Posh, took the League by storm. So with my cautious head on I might wager a crisp fiver on Leeds to win.........say 6:1.......because once the pre kick off hour arrives and the optimism shoots through the roof there will be no stopping Leeds in my eyes.................just hope this season proves me right!
Interestingly Larry has swooped to secure the services of Mickey Doyle from Coventry to bolster the midfield area in the absence of Fab. Not sure he will throw him straight into battle against Exeter though. After what I've seen of the pre season I would think the team will line up as follows:
GK. Shane Higgs
RB. Jason Crowe
CB. Patrick Krisnorbo
CB. Rui Marques
LB. Ben Parker
RM. Robert Snodgrass
CM. Jonny Howson
CM. Bradley Johnson
LM. Andy Robinson
CF. Jermaine Beckford
CF. Lucciano Becchio
leaving Grella, Enoch, Prutts, Lubo, Casper and Doyle on the bench. Expectation will be high at ER I'm sure and this hasn't always helped the team in the past but on the back of last seasons unbeaten run at Fortress ER I think the team have matured and will relish the large crowd especially if we get an early goal. Exeter will bring a large number of away fans for the arduous journey north from Devon and will be looking to start their campaign with at least a draw so Leeds will need to be on their mettle to avoid a repeat of last year's home opener against Oldham!
A few things you may not know about Exeter:
- In 1914 they toured South America and played Brazil and Argentina.
- Ex Leeds playboy Lee Sharpe played a few games for Exeter City.
- Both Terry Cooper and Noel Blake have managed the Grecians
- It's a bloody long way to Exeter.
So after the usual long and lifeless close season the first game of another "must win" season is upon us. All the nerves, worries, hopes and expectations will float to the surface between now and 3pm on Saturday. Who cares we're still in Div 3? Who cares we're only playing a team that has never played higher than this level? When the whistle blows to start the game 28k fan's hearts in the stadium will beat a little bit faster and thousands more around the globe will be listening, streaming, texting, surfing, tweeting, reading my blog and phoning to find out what's going on and we'll be off on another rollercoaster season full of hope. That's supporting Leeds United, the one and only Leeds United...........................................................................................C'mon Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds.