Leeds United FC 3 Rotherham FC 0 – routine win. The match held a special meaning to me as it was the first match I have attended with my eighteen year old son. We chose a home game that Leeds were quite rightly expected to win. He is now a fully signed up Leeds United fan. As a father we live through our children. Like how my father took me to see Blackpool FC in the Seventies, I felt that sense of magic my son was now experiencing.
It was a long journey up the motorway with the fun of meeting, Leeds fans, rival fans, and other fans at the service station on their way to matches (Bristol City who we recently beat). That first visit where you approach the stadium on the skyline, to joining the fans as you walk around the stadium, to purchasing a replica shirt in the club store. It is all part of the moment of anticipation of what lies ahead.
That moment when you first walk inside the empty stadium and survey the vastness of it and how it will be filled to the brim. As we sat and waited for the match to start the preliminaries began. First, the team sheet was announced (unfortunately Dan James was still injured, but the new signee Connor Roberts was on the bench.)
As the stadium filled up, Meslier came out to warm up, and then the whole team. This is that moment when, having seen players on television, you recognise them live in front of you. After a brief hiatus, the five minute build up to the match started. After the build up with “Right Here Right Now” by Fatboy Slim. the teams come out. About 35,000 fans joined in to sing “Marching on Together” – you know where you are, all together behind your team. We are the twelfth man.
This was to all intents and purposes a match between top and bottom teams. The only reason the score line was not higher was that, at three goals up, Farke substituted five key players – with the FA Cup Leeds are currently playing three matches a week – with long journeys down to South West – the match was won.
My son was able to see all the players in superb form creating one after another goal opportunity. The game did lack that sense of danger with Rotherham FC only really looking like scoring at the end of the match when all the substitutions had disrupted the flow of the game – Meslier finally had to make an important save. After Bamford scored the early goal, parts of the stadium enjoyed the party but the fans were never really called on to rally the players.
Being in the West stand near the corner flag meant we were far away from the other end where Bamford scored his early controversial goal (handball?) but did see Summerville’s two goals (and a few missed shots). It was a special moment to see him celebrate his goals in our corner. From a distance we could see Farke, with little to be animated about, statuesque in his concentration.
It was a routine win for Leeds. Other than the goals the match had a few other moments – Gnonto was denied a penalty, Connor Roberts was introduced to the fans, and Farke celebrate with the fans afterwards i his now distinctive style. We left with hoarse voices and happy hearts. Leeds United will have far tougher opposition than Rotherham (Leicester City at home are coming up but I was 8,000 in the queue) to test their mettle.
Man of the match: Summerville for his return to form with an exquisite penalty goal.