Why is it that everything about Leeds United is seemingly anchored in the notion of “slow arousal”? When Bates first penned this immortal phrase in his programme notes in reference to the rebuilding process at Elland Road, it was reluctantly accepted that under his reign, this represented the best case scenario supporters could hope for. Then suddenly, back in May, a ray of light – TOMA!…
Suddenly Leeds fans the world over, cast aside thoughts of painfully slow progress (if we were lucky) and were ready to jump straight from the initial metaphorical cock teasing stage to the moment of full on release, ready to shower the rest of the footballing world with the sticky residue of hope, joy and glory… except it hasn’t happened. Having suffered over 7 years of almost unbroken footballing flaccidity under Ken, we’re now heading towards our ninth week of a painfully extended takeover foreplay period, as we STILL wait on news of his departure – even f**king Sting, employing all his yoga skills, would struggle to keep his pecker up for this long.
So thank God for the return of the actual football to provide a little light relief; hell, I was even feeling quite well disposed toward the prospect of seeing Danny Pugh again last night, even if it was only because he was guaranteed to provide me with an alternative focus for frustration and despair.
It was fitting that the pre-season campaign should start against Farsley, a club with which I’m sure Bates can wholly identify; they too lived the dream, reaching for the stars in the dizzy heights of the Blue Square Conference, before crashing, burning, liquidising and then resurrecting themselves in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division; they too have sold off training pitches for residential developments and possess a large corrugated hall/sports centre that masquerades as conferencing venue; there are even whispers of a “One Team, One Village” season ticket campaign…now if only they had any space to build a Travelodge.
Ahead of the game, spirits were good, helped no end by the freak dry weather and the short queues at the bar in the sports hall; being charged less than £3 for a pint at a Leeds game was certainly a novel experience too, as was watching one worse for wear fan, attempting to have a piss in the communal shower area in the changing rooms.
In the build-up to kick-off, Farsley kindly obliged the visiting support with a selection of tunes from the ‘Leeds United’s Greatest Hits’ album, albeit come 7.45pm the home team appeared a little less welcoming, intent rather on kicking the shit out of anything that moved in a Leeds shirt. The aggression for the most part, only lasted for the opening few minutes – it seems that’s another thing Farsley and Leeds have in common.
As the game settled down, Leeds took a grip of the proceedings and comfortably controlled matters, though had little to show for it, other than a number of Calverley-bound long range efforts on goal. The initial impressions of the new signings were good; Kenny in truth had nothing to do, while Pearce and Crainie were also relatively untroubled. I did like the look of Crainie though, even if it was just because he bore a slight resemblance to a caveman, a bit like a better groomed Olaf Mellberg, if you will. In the middle of the park, Paul Green confounded expectations by looking relatively composed and offering a threat going forward, while up front, Andy Gray capped a decent opening half hour by sparking a sudden goal rush.
Gray’s first came on 31 minutes as he ran onto McCormack’s slide-rule pass to loop the ball over the keeper from 14 yards. Ross then nodded back a deep Tom Lees cross moments later for Gray to head home a second, then on 36 McCormack again was involved (anyone would think he had a point to prove), his clipped ball found Michael Brown, who picked out therobbierogers.com who nodded in from close range – SCORE!! It was seminal evening for the American who was rocking the pirate look with a degree joie de vivre; not only did he score, he survived an entire half on the pitch and left without the aid of any medical staff.
It was also a good night for Tom Lees who in his right-back role appears to have re-discovered an ability to cross the ball that was last in evidence, last August. Aidy White celebrated his realisation that no club is going to pay £10k+ a week for a Forrest Gump clone with another stint on the right side of midfield, and although he again offered little in the way of product in the final third, at least his pace did attract one lunge that sparked a chant “Same old Farsley, always cheating!”- Irony isn’t dead.
The queues for beer were rather longer in the sports hall during the interval and for a passing moment at least, a degree of tension was tangible as the pumps ran dry… cue the arrival of a local hero, appearing from the fire door, stage right, with box upon box of cans, looted from the nearby Asda store; cheers rightfully acknowledged his arrival.
The second half held rather less interest than the first in truth, in fact Warnock chose to bugger off minutes after the team talk, leaving Ronnie Jepson to overlook a second eleven that were a mish-mash of youngsters and some senior players who most supporters were hoping had departed by now. That said, those who persevered were rewarded with another goal from Billy (let’s just gloss over the misses) that came sandwiched between a weakly defended Farsley effort from a corner and a rather better 25 yard second for the opposition; sadly for Farsley’s Ryan Watson, in the closing moments, Sanchez Payne found himself channelling the spirit of Fabian Delph, cutting in from the touchline and unleashing an unstoppable long range effort of his own into the bottom corner – upstaged!
So one encouraging work-out down and now onwards to Cornwall: will the torment of the takeover continue to drag on during our time in the South West? We can only hope it doesn’t, but for however long it does, the sentiments will remain the same…and courtesy of Mr ‘We Beat The Scum 1-0’s’ now infamous banner, the message will be there for all to see in Tavistock, Bodmin and Torquay.
I cannot help but think that I maybe should’ve removed it from my window before falling asleep last night…then again, maybe I’m not the only sickpot in the cul-de-sac? Heck! Let those neighbours talk!