Posted: 12/29/2009


      Marching on Together is the fighting song of Leeds United fans, who had to march to Elland Road the day after Christmas-Boxing Day- as there was little or no public transport, no trains in Britain, and none of the usual Football Specials. So much for serving the public!!

     It was icy and cold so I caught a cab to meet my friends Morten and Joachim from Lorenskog IF who had got up at 3.00am in 2 metres of snow to drive to Oslo Airport and come and support The All Whites. We met at the Billy Bremner statue and sat in the John Charles West stand. John was the star in the 50's and also the Gentle Giant for Juventus and Wales and was at World Cup 1958 in Sweden.

      My taxi driver was from Kashmir, and indeed I took 3 taxis that day and all were gentle Kashmiris. There aren't any English taxi drivers in town and many wear Asian dress, play with worry beads and have long unkempt beards, and are probably on the 'NO FLY' list of most of the world's airlines.   It might have been like FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa as far as transport was concerned.

      Hartlepool United from the North-East were the visitors and have never beaten Leeds. Their mascot is a Hanging Monkey! During the Napoleonic Wars a French ship ran aground near Hartlepool and the only living thing found on board was a monkey dressed in a French naval uniform. Since it was an enemy combatant and possibly a spy it was given a quick trial and hung from the yard arm! in 2002 H'Angus Monkey aka Stuart Drummond, ran for mayor on the platform of  'free bananas for school children' -and won. He also won re-election. The legendary Brian Clough began his managerial career there in 1965.

    Anyway, Leeds are flying this season in Division 1, the third tier of English pro soccer. At the beginning of the decade they were facing Valencia in the semi-final of The Champions League, but have suffered many misfortunes. It was the first anniversary of their new manager Simon Grayson, stolen from Blackpool FC, nicknamed 'Larry' and a former Leeds player.  Over 30,000 fans showed up on this winter's day, a full house almost apart from the unused upper deck of the East Stand which seats 8.000 and will surely be used if, and probably when Leeds get promoted.

      The visitors actually opened the scoring in the 25th minute, much to the delight of their traveling fans, from a corner by Richie Humphries which Armann Bjornsson converted but the home team fought back and had 2 lucky goals by half time. The equalizer at 38 minutes found Neil Kilkenny's shot go in off Jermaine Beckford's heel.

       An even luckier goal put Leeds ahead on half-time from Argentinian Luciano Becchio. It finished 3-1 with a crisp pass from Becchio to Beckford who shot a sublime goal past Scott Flanders in the 69th minute. The match ended a little scrappy, with more cards shown than I received for Christmas.  Six points clear and a game in hand over 2nd place Charlton Athletic. 

      In fact it got much better two days later with a 4-2 win at lowly Stockport County, and with the London club only getting a point, United lead by 8 points with a game in hand, while they go into the New Year and a lucrative 3rd Round F.A. Cup tie January 2nd at Old Trafford. I am sure they would do settle for a draw and a replay back over the Pennines.