LFW Awaydays – Leeds, Elland Road
Wednesday, 19th Jan 2011 16:22 by Awaydays
The roundup of Christmas Awayday reviews begins with a look back to snowbound Leeds in the middle of December.
On the pitch
After so long unbeaten it seemed that QPR just ran out of steam, and luck, in this game. In the opening five minutes Tommy Smith lobbed Schmeichel but the ball landed on the roof of the net, then a ball to the back post that could have dropped anywhere fell plum for Max Gradel and he scored. In the second half Adel Taarabt cracked a volley inside the penalty area that had top corner written all over it from the moment it left his boot but it deflected away to safety, Gradel then made it 2-0 on the counter attack soon afterwards.
That’s not to say Leeds didn’t deserve to win – they were in form and full of life throughout this match, playing much the better football and looking the more dangerous. But having escaped from Bristol City, Portsmouth and a couple of home games with draws without playing particularly well this game could easily have gone another way had those two chances gone in.
An impressive sight, but the former inhabitants of the top tier now spend their day at the Glasshoughton Shopping Complex.
Rangers were without Alejandro Faurlin and picked first Kyle Walker and then Matt Connolly in the centre of midfield ahead of him. Martin Rowlands was a more obvious option and the experiment failed in both halves firstly because it took Walker’s attacking threat out of the wide area, and secondly because moving Connolly forward meant Fitz Hall had to come into the backline and he was badly at fault for the second goal. QPR also relied too much on aimless long balls up to Rob Hulse who may have had more joy on the day had the woefully inadequate Alex Bruce not pulled up and been substituted in the first ten minutes – that, as much as anything else, told me it wasn’t going to be our day very early on.
Scores >>> QPR performance 4/10 >>> Opposition performance 8/10 >>> Referee performance 6/10
In the stand
To understand just how it felt to sit in the Cheese Wedge at Elland Road for this game simply take two empty ice cream cartons, fill them up with cold water and submerge your feet in them, sit out in your garden overnight while the water freezes solidly around your ankles, then walk around like that for a bit. Every year I go to a match where I think I’m colder than I’ve ever been before, usually at Oldham to be fair, and this is my freezing match of the season so far. When you undress at the end of the day to find your pubes have frosted together you know it’s been a bit cold out.
A picture you may find in future editions of the Oxford English Dictionary next to the term Hyperthermia
Elland Road is one of the most famous old grounds in the country but it looks a bit sorry for itself in a number of ways these days. Firstly, despite their current run of form and threat of a second consecutive promotion back into the Premiership Leeds still don’t have a need to open the top tier of the giant side stand. You cannot move down a street in the north of England without seeing some sort of Leeds shirt or cap – Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham, Wakefield, Castleford are all teeming with Leeds fans. So why aren’t they coming to see their team when it’s playing well? You can bet your last pound they’ll all be back in August if it’s Manchester United rather than Brighton and Hove Albion paying a visit. To be fair, Ken Bates’ infamous ticket price structure isn’t exactly going to pull any punters in – QPR paid £30 each plus booking fee for this one.
Champions of Europe. Or perhaps not.
Apart from that side stand the other three sides of the ground are looking their age, but you can almost smell the history coming off the place and the atmosphere during this match was as good as we’ve experienced anywhere this season. The QPR fans didn’t play much of a part, stuck up in the corner freezing their gonads off with only occasional ‘top of the league’ chants to warm them. When the Leeds fans realised they weren’t getting a response to their chants they took to whirling their scraves around in the air en masse and signing about being champions of Europe. Quite apart from the fact they never have been, and never will be, it was an impressive sight to behold and I’d love for us to be able to get something similar going at Loftus Road. That didn’t stop me literally crying with laughter a week later mind when I noticed on the highlights that Portsmouth scored mid-scarf whirl to start their comeback to 3-3. I’ve never seen 20,000 scarves come out of the air quicker.
Scores >>> QPR support 5/10 >>> Home support 8/10 >>> Overall atmosphere 8/10 >>> Stadium 6/10 >>> Police and stewards 6/10
On the roadImagine a world where people who cannot afford to bring up children had their tubes tied rather than being plied with benefits to support their brood, where mums who think it acceptable to put Coca Cola in a baby’s bottle are carted off to the hospital by force and where anybody who has ever been on Jeremy Kyle is given a hysterectomy on the way out. “Human rights” people would cry, “it’s barbaric” said a Lib De spokesman, “the day a country lost its soul” the Guardian headline mourned over a picture of a peroxide blonde teen in her pink tracksuit being carted off to the sterilisation truck as it passes through Dewsbury town centre.
This is extreme right wing rhetoric that not even the most objectionable of our political parties would ever put their name to. But the thought of just how wonderful the country would be if it became reality was the only thing that kept me going on the half hour train journey from Scunthorpe to Doncaster before we changed and headed north to Leeds. Do I support this drivel? No, of course not, it’s vile and completely unreasonable. But for 30 of the longest minutes of my life on that train I not only supported it, I’d have performed the operation myself using only a bookmaker’s pen and sheer determination.
I blame myself. My desire to travel by train wherever possible through fear of flying, seasickness and a dislike and distrust of other road users does leave me open to exposure to other members of the travelling public. And I don’t really like people, I don’t know if this comes across in my writing at all. There at 6.6 billion people in the world and I reckon I like, genuinely like, about 30 of them.
It was also my fault that we got on the train at Scunthorpe – balking at the extortionate train fares being charged by East Coast for a London to Leeds return Lindsey and myself decided to go up the night before, when it was decidedly cheaper, and spend a pre-Christmas weekend with my parents. Scunthorpe is a place where you either make steel, wait for somebody who does make steel to come home and give you a slap, or sign on and consequently it produces scum at a greater, more pungent rate than the most stagnant of stagnant ponds. Still, there was no sign of what was to come as we waited on the icy platform for the delayed 10.10 service which was to be rammed with pre-Christmas shoppers heading for Meadowhell.
A warm welcome after a morning immersed in pure Chav
We managed to get a seat, but almost immediately wished we hadn’t as a family comprising a mum and her friend (there’s never a dad) and two girls aged about 15 and 11 sat on the adjacent table. And so began half an hour of conversation and ear-splitting music that would have been hysterically funny had it been a scripted television show, but was actually face-tearingly irritating for somebody sitting there trying to read a newspaper and later, on reflection, terribly sad when you consider that these are actually two young lives that exist out there. If you can call it existing.
We should have known they would be problem passengers when it became apparent they were going to Doncaster for their Christmas shopping, which is a bit like going to Lidl for your meat – and I sense they probably did that too. But nothing could prepare us for what was to come.
The 11-year-old went first, and though I’m prone to exaggeration at times she was certainly no more than that and probably a good deal younger, telling her mother quote: “I’ve gorra boyfriend but I’m going to dump the c***, he wants to fuck me and I’ve told him no.” The mum didn’t flinch. “I wanna wait until I’m 13 like you did mum.” As the 11-year-old then started to run her Mum through some of the things she had permitted “Kyle” to do other than shag her, and it was an extensive list that basically consisted of everything but, her sister grew weary and decided to pop on some music. Now by pop I mean pump out at great volume with the bass turned up so you could hear it from inside the toilet at the other end of the carriage (where I sought refuge for a brief time) and by music I mean Scooter. If you’re not familiar with Scooter then you’ve clearly never been to Scunthorpe where 97 per cent of his downloads originate and you may wish to treat yourself to a quick blast (and that’s all you’ll be able to cope with) of him on You Tube.
And do you know what? Everybody just sat there. Nobody complained about the extreme language and sexual content spewing forth from an 11 year old girl, nobody objected to her sister (who’d clearly been tapped several thousand times already in various back alleys) playing the world’s worst kind of music at huge volume without headphones, nobody ever once went over and punched the mother straight in the face as hard as they could. We give the Americans some stick but I can’t believe they’d have got away with that sort of conduct over there without at least being shot a couple of times.
You’re not allowed to shoot such worthless pieces of shit in this country, because there are strict licensing arrangements around having a gun. You have to pass a couple of tests to get a license to drive a car as well because, like a gun, a car is a powerful machine that can ruin people’s lives in the blink of an eye. But kids? Yeh find yourself a functioning cock and you can have, and ruin, as many of those as you like. Strange world we live in.
Scores >>> Journey 2/10 >>> Cost 8/10
In the pubBefore beginning the brief story of how Owain’s brand new, top of the range, fresh out of the box iPhone came to rest in a pot of garlic mayonnaise at the Shooters Sports Bar and Grill in the Headrow in Leeds I feel I should explain some of my brother’s previous form.
Paul is the person who once ruptured a blood vessel in my aunt’s eye when he tried to attach a Blue Tooth headset to her ear and missed by a good few inches and stuck it in her retina instead. He is also the person who upon arrival at a hotel in the South of France believed the door to the shower to be “a swinger” when it was in fact “a slider.” Having ripped it clean away from the unit he decided to have a shower anyway before telling anybody about it, thereby adding flood damage to the cost of repairing the shower itself.
And perhaps most notoriously of all Paul is the man who upon arrival at our hotel in Sorrento for the QPR tour of Italy managed, in the time it took me to unload our bags from the coach, check in and find out room, to do the following:
- Find the room himself and gain access to it by means known only to himself.
- Decide that the room was too hot and that the air conditioning wasn’t working – it later transpired that the air conditioning unit was programmed not to operate when the windows were open.
- Remove the air conditioning unit from the ceiling, lay it out on what would later be designated (by him) as my bed, remove the plastic cover and start removing parts that looked like they may be broken and generally rendering it broken beyond all repair.
- Realise that he is not a qualified or trained air conditioning unit repairman and so decide to have a cold shower to cool himself off instead.
- Rip the shower curtain down after slipping on the bathroom floor and grabbing onto it to break his fall.
- Have a shower anyway causing six inches of cold water to build up on the bathroom floor.
- Come up with an ingenious solution to the air conditioning problem while drying his hair whereby the hotel’s built in blow dryer was stretched from its wall mounting in the bathroom, through the six inches of cold water on the floor, out into the bedroom and left on the floor on full power on a cold setting.
- Take his seat on the balcony with a magazine and await my arrival as if nothing had happened or was wrong.
So with that form in mind it was probably not the best idea for Owain to give him his iPhone “to look at” and the only surprise really was that it lasted as long as it did on dry land before being dunked in the mayo.
What? This is meant to be a pub review? Well what wasn’t to like? It had football on several hundred screens, the food was edible though little more than that and the garlic mayo had a metallic taste to it for some reason, and there were plenty of places to sit down. Like everywhere else in Leeds it was miles from the ground and full of people from Leeds but the staff were friendly and it was close to the station so it’s probably one we’ll use again.
The hunter gatherer returns from his day in the wilderness
We had, earlier in the day, attempted to go in The Wellington on Wellington Street which is a much nicer, more traditional pub with decent food and live football although as it turned out it didn’t open until 1pm – which seemed odd on a Saturday. I say “as it turned out” because we actually stood outside it for 15 minutes in the snow waiting for it to open at 12 while the bar staff member inside casually held up her index finger every now and again – we thought she meant ‘one more minute’ rather than 1pm, would it really have killed her to stick her head around the door and tell us? Or better still, open the bloody pub?
There was a party at somebody’s flat after the match, but everything was a little blurred by then.
Scores >>> Pub 7/10 >>> Atmosphere 6/10 >>> Food 5/10 >>> Cost 7/10
Final Score 86/130
Photo: Action Images
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