It looks as if the good times are coming back to Elland Road and its very loyal but suffering fans. After terrible owners from Italy, Middle East and the tax haven of Monte Carlo there is light at the end of the tunnel.
On Sunday Leeds United Ladies entertained Chester le Street from the North-East and battling for a 1-0 win with a second half strike from Liuli Dyson after a lot of enthusiastic but poor finishing from the All White forwards. A few weeks ago I had taken the bus to Ripon City as they hosted United in a pre-season match. The skill and technique were terrible, but thankfully things had improved on the field. The new 'nice' Italian owner Andrea Raprixxani has brought back pride and dreams of a bright future.
He bought back Elland Road which was sold a decade agao when the club were in dire straights. He brought in a new, exiting Danish born Spanish manager Thomas Christiansen from the relative obscurity of the Cypriot League and many new players from around the globe. The crowds have come back and the men's team is undefeated in league and cup competition with exciting attacking football.
The Ladies were kicked out three seasons agao and due to enthusiastic and quick thinking action were reformed as Leeds Ladies, and what a superb job by many volunteers. Now they are back in the fold as Leeds United Ladies. The first team can train at Thorp Arch near Wetherby and are provided with support and uniforms and training gear. I used to watch them play up in Tadcaster, next to a big brewery, hosting Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool etc with a number of England stars including present Three Lionesses captain and Manchester City standout Steph Houghton, who now earns around £200,000 annually from playing and sponsorships.
Those days are gone after they pulled the application to join the new FA Womens Super League at the last minute and most star players left. I saw them play in League Cup Finals and more at City Ground, Nottingham with 20,000 crowds. Now they are in the 4th tier the FA Premier League Northern Division 1. Above is FAWSL 1 and 2 and Northern and Southern national divisions.There are 4 regional divisions in Division 1. www.thefa.com for more details. Also subscribe to www.shekicks.net the official Women's Football Media Partners for the PFA.
The John Charles West Stand central, lower section was opened with free entry and 850 fans showed up. Normally the Ladies play at Garforth Town with much lower crowds. They have been promised at least one more Elland Road appearance. With the International Weekend coming up there is plenty of time for the pitch to recover from these dainty warriors.
The men had a superb result at City Ground, beating a decent Nottingham Forest team 2-0 in The Championship. Despite selling Kiwi striker Chris Wood to Premiership Burnley for £15 million the goals roll in. Wood made a great entrance for The Clarets by scoring a late goal at Wembley to tie Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 on his debut.
Christiensen's team is multi lingual and multi talented. We have German goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald who has replaced Rob Green who has moved to Huddersfield Town and was signed from Wermer Bremen; Pontius Jansson from Sweden;, Spaniards Pablo Hernandez and Samuel Saiz; Mateusz Klich from Poland; Gaetano Bernardi, Switzerland; Ezgian Alioski, Macedonia; Vernon Anita, Holland; Ronaldo Viera, Guineau Bissau; Caleb Ekuban , Italy; Hadi Sacku, France; Eunan O'Kane, Republic of Ireland; Stuart Dallas, Northern Ireland; Liam Cooper from Scotland and the latest recruit from NEC Nijmenen in Holland ,6'4" Jay-Roy Grot.
Englishman Kemar Roofe, who scored a hat-trick against Newport County in a midweek cup tie, opened the scoring against Forest in the 17th minute and Alioski made a three point victory victory certain in the 87th minute and into 3rd place in the table.
The future is bright.