Wednesday, 28 May 2008

...Comes Crushing Disappointment

Sunday 25th May: So, by now, you will probably know that, despite the heroics at Carlisle, Leeds lost the League One Play-Off Final 1:0 to local rivals Doncaster. I'm not going to dwell on the match, or the result, too much. Basically, Leeds were poor up front and gave away a poor goal which, ultimately, means that they stay in League One next season.

The positives, from a football point of view, are that it is a totally new season - there are no (apparent) financial difficulties to overcome and we start on a level playing field with the rest of the division. Without sounding like one of the many, if not most, supporters who believed that we would win promotion at Wembley simply because it was LEEDS UNITED vs Doncaster Rovers (deliberate emphasis), I do believe that we have a very good chance of winning automatic promotion next season. And, let's face it, with the off-pitch trials and tribulations of the past season, it's a wonder we got as far as we did anyway.

Anyway, I will take away many memories of the day itself...
  • The three of us stopping at services during the drive down and finding hundreds of Leeds and Doncaster fans rubbing shoulders with no trouble at all.
  • The heart-stopping moment when, while I was doing 90 m.p.h. on the M1, a police car flashed me. And, at a similar speed, the same thing happening on the way home.
  • Leeds fans in Stanmore practically knocking on the car window to tell us to park up anywhere as the carpark was full.
  • Driving on to Harrow-on-the-Hill and finding it very quite with, apparently, no other fans around and parking on the main road near the famous school.
  • The posh exclamtion of "Oh my God" as the three of us (two wearing Leeds tops) crossed the road near a family out for their Sunday stroll. (We could see the next-day headlines: "Harrow invaded by football fans"...)
  • Walking down the hill towards the tube station and hearing faint Leeds songs.
  • Turning the corner and finding a small pub ( full of Leeds fans, happily singing their hearts out, especially at the security guard (Mr. T) and local (Jesus), who seemed quite happy to be the subject of so many songs.
  • Walking up Wembley Way (again) - something that always has a certain resonance.
  • The first sight of the interior of the new stadium - despite my personal misgivings regarding having the national stadium in London, I have to admit that it is very impressive.
  • The lump in the throat build up before the match.

Of course, the trip home was not the best part of the day - not only had we been beaten (which always makes the trip seem longer) but, because of the sheer number of people heading North, it took us about ninety minutes to move from Harrow to north of the M25.

So, a disappointing day but one I wouldn't have liked to have missed.

Bring on the 2008/9 season.

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