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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Leeds United v Millwall May 14th 2009

The Happy Chocker was on driving duty for this vital 2nd leg game against Millwall.  Nervous apprehension is the best way of describing the atmosphere in the car as we made our way down the M62 after a detour to pick up another two Chockers from Pontefract.  One of them, Jamie, had yet to see Leeds win this season so his comment regarding not being a Jinx on the team didn't improve the nervous tension in the car!  
With 37000 fans due at ER it was no surprise that the journey in was a little more crowded than usual and certainly Graveley's Fish & Chip shop on Elland Road was doing a brisk trade feeding the fans who had dashed from work for this vital game. With our routine already shattered due to the closure of the members bar and rendezvousing with long lost friends to pass on tickets for the game there was only 5 minutes to kick off when I finally took up my usual position in the Kop.  
The atmosphere was already take note Millwall this is what a proper crowd looks and sounds like!  The 1000 travelling fans struggled to make them selves heard above the cacophony of noise that greeted the kick off and away we went.  90 minutes that would define our entire season.
Leeds started brightly attacking the kop and the hoped for fast momentum was to the fore as buoyed by the crowd the whites tore into the Lions.  Early robust challenges on both sides reflected the high commitment by both teams  but it was Leeds who were getting the better of the opening salvos.  
The Quiet one was extra quiet due to feeling a bit under the weather but his Dad was looking slightly more at ease as Leeds continued to push on for that all important first goal.  As the early Leeds pressure squeezed Millwall Sammy appeared to be wrestled to the ground at a corner.  "Surely that must be a penalty Mr Referee" I politely enquired but to no avail.  The cut and thrust continued with Snoddy going close but his shot didn't match his excellent approach play.  Last season's play off hero Jonny Howson was in the thick of the action but often his final ball landed at the feet of a blue shirted player.  In all the hustle and bustle Neil Kilkenny was taking a battering and he limped out of the action just after the half hour to be replaced by Robbo.  Much as Leeds pressurised the Millwall back four they were fighting a  resolute rear guard action ably led by Zak Whitbread.  The half finished with more Leeds pressure and Fabian went close with a shot after good work by Robbo leaving the score still tantalisingly goaless.
Both the HC and I felt that we were playing well enough to win the tie and all we wanted was a breakthrough and we could go onto to win.......simple!
As both sets of fans raised the decibel level as the 2nd period started the game moved up a notch.  More Leeds pressure on the Millwall goal and a bit more pushing and tugging in the box and.......................what's he given? It can't be a goal kick the ref's pointing to?  He's only given a penalty.................get in.  Now I wasn't the only one surprised as JB strode to take the kick.  Surely Snoddy or Robbo should be taking it?  50% of the fans around me couldn't bear to watch..............and with good reason as Mr Beckford had his weak effort saved by the Wall keeper.  Cue wild celebrations in the cheese wedge!
This seemed to spur Leeds on if anything and we were soon knocking on the door of their defence again.  As the Lions broke away on a rare attack a ball over the top was well covered by Ben Parker who turned and set off on a length of the field run..........after swapping passes with Robbo he crossed invitingly for Becchio to slide in the opener.............get in!  Grown men were hugging complete strangers as the capacity Leeds crowd celebrated with gusto.
Leeds were now on the front foot and Millwall were definitely rocking but play came to an abrupt halt in what was to prove a key moment.  Whitbread appeared to collide with his goalie and lay motionless on the pitch.  By the players reaction it was serious and it was a good 6 minutes before thankfully he returned to his feet and carried on.  The thing was Leeds seemed to lose the momentum they had and Millwall battled and scrapped their way back into the game and although they still didn't look to threaten Casper in the Leeds goal they had quelled Leeds' purple patch.
Then just when I thought we were looking like snatching the winner tragedy struck.................slack marking on the Leeds right allowed their tricky wing to cross to the back post and when the ball came back across the goal Abdou stabbed the ball home causing a fatal wound to Leeds promotion hopes.
The silence in the kop was deafening and the travelling fans were in wonderland.  All was not lost though and to their credit Leeds pushed on for one last hurrah.  Bradley Johnson fired a rasping shot inches wide but when Casper joined the attack for the last minute we knew it was all over.  As the ref brought proceedings to an end the Millwall players celebrated a hard fought victory in front of their fans.................and for Leeds desperate disappointment.  Simon Grayson had turned round a team that was quite frankly going nowhere fast when he took over and he has turned them into the form team of the league since the new year.  Promotion wasn't lost at ER tonight it was lost in those dark days of December when we lost 5 games on the trot.
Strangely although obviously gutted at losing out on another crack at the play off final I was relatively resigned to the fact that Leeds had battled well over the 2 games and come up just short.  If that penalty had gone in it could have been different.  All that was left was for the team to get an ovation from the fans who had stayed with them to the end even if promotion was once again illusive.
Back in the car and reunited with the two Chockers, including Jamie the Jinx Mmmmmm!
I rang Andy Ritchie on Radio Leeds and had a rant after some knobhead had rung in slating Grayson and Ben Parker, not sure which game or games he's been watching this year but Parker must be the most improved player this season and his run to create the goal tonight was awesome...................and as for the guy who said Grayson was a disgrace and should be sacked I just hope he got back to the asylum before they locked the gates!
So after all the games and all the ups and downs of the season it's over and we're still in Division 3.  Lots of other fans will delight in this but if I may pinch a song from Millwall.....We don't care because we are Leeds United and we will return someday........when that day will be I'm not sure but it will happen.
So roll on York City in the pre season friendly......can't wait.
Thanks to all the regular blog readers who have followed our travels this season.  I hope my little blog has given you some of the atmosphere and feeling of match days, especially those fans who can't get to matches and those who are dotted all round the world in France, Canada, USA, Barbados, Singapore, Taiwan, Sweden, Oz, Qatar, Spain, Belgium, China, Russia, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Japan & New Zealand.  Thanks to the 606ers who read and inevitably anyone else I've missed.
God willing hopefully I will continue next season.


Paul said...

I have been reading your blogs after stumbling across them recently,and an excelent read they are too,keep up the good work.I do get to the odd game but still enjoy your comments.

Keep marching on together,we will go up next season,Paul

BzhTyke said...

Thanks for a all your views on the matches this season.
Its been a pleasure reading about your travels around the country following the mighty Whites.
Roll on next season and automatic promotion.

Keep the faith

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks mate and I hope your right about next year.

Thanks for the comments and again I hope your confidence in promotion is well founded. Just out of interest what does the BzH stand for? I saw a car with a Leeds scarf out of the window with the reg BzH on our way back from Leyton Orient at some ridiculous time in the early hours?

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work.

Gutted about last night but the lads gave their all.
This is the first site I read on Sunday Morning and just want to say cheers for keeping us expats informed.

Amos, Marbella, Spain.

Andrew Butterwick said...

thanks for the feedback and good to hear that you put ramblings to good use in Sunny Spain. I just wish we were gooing to more exciting places than Exeter next season.

Peter said...

Hey MOT, you forgot the Irish in your world roundup!!! But you are forgiven, given the circumstances. Gutted here but got that bad feeling after the first game last Saturday.

If we can keep the squad together we will definitely go up next year. A good manager and team at long last, looking forward to next season already.

Totally enjoyed reading your blog over the last few months and catching the goals. Wonderful job. Oh and saw you on TV last night with your blue and yellow afro, bad hair day huh, lol??

Jeez it would be much easier following Man U or Barca but not half as much fun. Slán mate.

Nic said...

I've read your blog since I discovered it around Christmas time, which means you've been my eyes for the games that I couldn't get to. Even the ER games when I'm in the Family stand, it's been great to read the view from the Kop from someone who sounds like they've been following the Whites for at least as long as me (1971 in my case). There were some stupid things said on Radio Leeds last night but it sounds like yours was one of the voices of reason that I heard. Larry has been fantastic for us this season, many of our players have been immense (and they can all have off days, can't they), and it seems strange to hear people judging the huge achievements on the basis of one night's poor result (it was only the result that was poor, not the performance). Beckford will be low for a while after the penalty and his work rate can be frustrating to watch sometimes, but his goals have been essential to us this year. Let's hope Larry is able to deliver on his desire to retain the key players.
Already looking forward to following your blog through our automatic promotion campaign from August.
Enjoy your summer away from the keyboard.

Andrew Butterwick said...

A thousand apologies to all our Irish fans......I knew I would miss someone out but it was 1am when I eventually got to the blog!
I think your right about keeping the squad together though and definitely spot on about it being "fun" following Leeds lol.
Incidently there was a lady stood behind me with the blue and yellow afro so you maybe did see me.
Thanks for you comments about the blog and here's to a successful season next year.

Andrew Butterwick said...

I agree with everything you say. The idiots who were slagging off Beckford, Grayson and Parker on radio Leeds made me mad but I suppose the one thing about football is that everyone has an's just that some peoples opinion's are more valued than others. The constant sniping at Beckford amazes me. how many other teams would want a 30+ goal striker in their team? Everyone. Problem is if he ironed some of his minor faults he'd be a 40+ striker.
And yes 1971 was the year i went to my first game!
Thanks for the comments and lets keep marching on together.

Matt said...

Loved every minute of this; thanks for a great year of write-ups.
Since last night though I still can't unearth my brother, who eats, drinks, sleeps and breathes Leeds. I think he's gone and put his head in the cooker. I've been so low today and since last night that I might ask him to budge up and save the last bit of gas for me.
Yes, roll on York City. We'll be back - we are Leeds!

Andrew Butterwick said...

I know how your brother feels! The present Mrs Marching on Together has described me as "walking round with a black cloud over his head all day"
Appreciate your comments on my year of sharing the passion, excitement and frustration of supporting the best team in the world.
Just hope York City have more than one dustbin this year!

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is my first time reading one of your write ups, to say that i was bitterly dissapointed after the game this write up cheered me up a bit. Im already looking forward to next season as im sure you are.
Id like to just refer to te bit you said about the nob head on the radio, i listend to that as well, i was in dismay and it was a disgrce saying all that about Douglas, parker and Grayson. That must have been his first Leeds match for 10 years cos that tit ant got a clue what hes on about, yer we was all dissapointed and gutted but what he said was an abomanation.
anyways keep up the good work, ill certanly be reading you match reports next season.
P.s - i hope so to dustbin wise lol ^^^^

Andrew Butterwick said...

I'm glad I cheered you up a bit but I would have been happier if I'd cheered you up a lot and you were looking forward to my next report from Wembley!
Thanks for the feedback and let's look forward to going one better next season.
Roll on Dustybin time

BzhTyke said...

BZH is the abbreviation for Breizh in Breton(Native language of Brittany) for Bretagne "Brittany in English"
The Bretons are very much like us great people from Yorkshire very proud of of their roots where they are from.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Cheers Bzh,
I know what you mean regarding the similarities between us and them. I did some work in Quimper last year and it struck me that I could have been in gods county.....but for the rather strange French dialect!!! have a good summer.

jocwhite said...

just found this site very good read
was a long drive back up north for us two jocwhites that night, but we will be back next season, cant wait

Andrew Butterwick said...

It's always longer going home when we lose. Glad you like the blog. I have aimed it more at the "exiled" fans who can't get to every try and relay a "virtual atmosphere" to their PC.
Thanks for reading.
Roll on York City.

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