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04/05: Reports:

Football League Division Two, 24/11/04, 7.45pm
Leeds United
Up norf
By Graham Walker

The New Scarborough turned out to be the Scarbrough Hotel but the beer was good and clambering on a shuttle bus to get us to the ground was a personal first! We then got the feeling that Leeds really did not want us to get in the ground. The ticket office is a pitch-length away from the away turnstiles, the ticket office is for home fans only and tickets for the away section can only be secured from the Ticket Enquiry office. So we queue along with a congregation of home fans who have... queries, and amicably inform us that this is our cup final.

Notwithstanding the above, the feeling you get is of a match operation on a completely different scale. Shuttle buses from the City Centre, nearly 26,000 for a midweek game against little old Watford, police at the railway station, security goons on pub doors, massed ranks of stewards, City rush hour traffic. The big time operation is all there, even though 'that was then, this is now'. There were even tables in the refreshment area underneath the stand (and great Balti pies). So we picked up a stray Norfolk 'Orn and went on in.

Were we awed ? Nah !We pulverised them in the opening minutes and Broooooooooooooce started as he continued, a man-mountain head-and-shoulders above the rest of the players, running everywhere, control immaculate, strength awesome. "Yellow Army" ringing around the ground, probably exercising the brain cells of many of the none-too-bright massed ranks of home fans as the only yellow in sight was the seats we away-enders (or rather, tucked-away-in-the-corner-enders) were sitting in.

Good game, another very good performance from the 'Orns, very unlucky not to win although a draw was a fair result. Brooooooooooce was awesome, mad H continually scared the s**t out of the Leeds defence, including the obligatory red-mist tackle that brought a yellow card (oh, all right, that's two yellow things) and a very good, solid show from the rest. I did think that Gatsby could have come on much earlier than he did as H seemed to lose either energy or some of the plot as the second half wore on. Leeds played some nice stuff and we were near our very best to deal with them. Good fortune that regular nemesis Brian Deane did not reappear after the interval, no luck at all, though, about Richard Lee's ability to keep us level and then, latterly, ahead. Thoroughly entertaining stuff.

So, my first trip to Elland Road since the days of Glyn Hodges and a less-intimidating atmosphere than used to be... thankfully. The Nazi "Bulldog" newspaper sellers no longer are allowed to own the approaches to the stadium (although I guess the same people who used to buy that filth still attend), armies of knuckle-draggers do not wait outside the visitors enclosure after the game and the usual agent-provocateurs who normally congregate near the away section in order to intimidate, hurl abuse and generally exercise their pathetic machismo were a mere handful in number (as were ours !). Having said that, you could imagine that on a "big" day (versus Man Ure for example), it could all kick off very easily, given the scale of things in the city and outside in the streets.

So, a point won rather than two points lost, although we were only minutes away from an excellent victory. Fine performance, however, on the pitch and on the terraces, the "We're gonna win 6-1" thrown back at them, the "Champions League, never again" and, for this particular exile, "Small town in Bradford" were amusing highlights from a very respectable terrace turnout, given the distance and the time of week.

It felt extremely weird the two of us walking back to the shuttle buses in one direction against a wave of 20,000 walking in the opposite direction. A couple of semi-celebratory pints in the pub and then the train back to Bradford, only to find that after 23.15 there is no train back to Bradford and hardly any train to anywhere else ! Oh, the joys of living "up norf".