Arriving at the Billy Bremner statue outside Elland Road on Saturday I was met by a singing, chanting group of protesters.
"You cheating bastards, get out of our club, get out of our club, get out of our club, you Chelsea bastards get out of our club". On a fence opposite was a huge banner '7 years of lies: Bates-out!!"
They sat down, then stood up and marked a few yards to the entrance to the new 'corporate and entertainment' entrance. "What a waste of money, what a load of rubbish"
What had set the fans off was the sale of local Leeds boy and club captain Jonathan Howson for £2 million to Premiership team Norwich City two days ago. It was the last straw as they viewed their club as a 'selling club', rather than buying to chase for the Premiership. What message did it send when a local boy would move away thinking that there was no big time future at his home town club?
It was bitterly cold with a stiff north-easterly wind that scattered burger wrappers and coffee cups across the pitch throughout this torrid Championship match with low lying Ipswich Town, who like Leeds had once won the top prize in English football, the title.
The first half was dreadful and the 23,000 hardy souls that showed up were silent for much of the time, apart from ceaseless chants aimed at the chairman's box. They will NEVER accept Ken Bates, the 80 year old former owner of Oldham Athletic, Wigan and Chelsea, and a dubious former Caribbean based 'entrepreneur' who loves Yorkshire so much that he lives in tax exile in Monaco. In 1982 he bought Chelsea for £1, changed the stadium and the club and sold out to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003 for £140 million. He wasn't in his usually seat, preferring a holiday in South Africa to this lousy match.
After a mistake by Leeds goalkeeper captain Andy Lonergan in the 34th minute it looked to be doom and gloom for the Whites when he fluffed Andy Drury's tame shot. NOT SO ! Leeds scored three times in the last 16 minutes after the Tractor Boys goalie Alex McCarthy ( a former six match United loanee) was shown a straight red card for handling outside the box, The poor lad knew his fate and was marching off before the red card was produced from the pocket of referee Geoff Eltringham.
Robert Snodgrass started the comeback in the 74th nminute when defender Ibrahima Sonko mistakedly passed for the Leeds tailsman to steer passed substitute goalie Arran Lee-Barrett. Six minutes later and another mistake between the goalie and Sonko and in steps Ross McCormock to take the lead. In the first minute of added time Luciano Becchio outmustled the defence to score from a tight angle and the boy from Cordoba, Argentina celebated with glee.
For hapless, under pressure manager Simon Grayson it was a lucky day, in which he hardly dictated the outcome. Waiting for the football special back to Leeds city centre the main topic of conversation was whether Robert Snodgrass, the 24 year old Scottish international would still be a Leeds United player by the end of the transfer window in a week's time?