By Andrew Butterwick
I have been writing this blog since the start of the 2008/9 season and it's fair to say that in that time I have chronicled some of the most dark and disturbing chapters in the history of our great club but nothing as dramatic or remarkable as what I have witnessed over the past month. At the start of the month the perpetual never ending takeover was apparently a done deal and funds were available for Brian McD to trawl the transfer market for much needed quality to boost his flagging team. He announced excitedly that he had a list of 4 players he was confident of bringing into the club and whilst the vultures were hovering around our top goal scorer, Ross Mac, you got the feeling he was going nowhere. Fast forward 4 weeks which, included humiliating defeats on the road to Wednesday and Rochdale plus the arrival of two loanees, and suddenly the club was in turmoil as the Sport Capital group takeover collapsed and Massimo Cellino and his Italian chums rode into to town to fill the void and apparently buy the club. Cue the sacking of Brian McD and a number of staff on the eve of the big West Yorkshire derby which ended with the new owner being chased around Elland Road by furious Leeds fans in a scene reminiscent of a bad Benny Hill sketch. You couldn't make it up!
As the dust settled on the previous nights incredible turn of events I prepared for the trip to the Theatre of Despair with the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and Brother Chris. Why can't we have a stable club? Will we ever have another "normal" season? What is it with Leeds and finding some decent owners? It's like having a beautiful and intelligent daughter who keeps bringing home boyfriends with the intelligence of a Shrew and less prospects than your average resident of James Turner Street in Birmingham.
As you'd expect we had plenty to debate and discuss as we made our way to LS11. Just who is in charge at present? Why hasn't the club made a statement? and Who will be in charge of the team? As kick off time approached news that Nigel Gibbs would be in the dugout with Neil Redfearn supporting him added a bit more confusion to the mix. Where is Uncle Festa who reportedly is the Italian's choice to manage the team? The 31,000 fans who had packed the old stadium were still in the dark as the game kicked off. Leeds had gone with a 126.96.36.199 formation with Ross Mac up top, Kebe, Stewart and Austin supporting and Murphy and Mowatt playing deep midfield. Byram, Lees, Pearce and Warnock formed the back four. Despite or possibly because of the last 24 hours shenanigans the atmosphere was tingling as Leeds started brightly playing into an awful swirling wind. Clearly the sacking of their gaffer had had a positive affect on the team.
Cameron Stewart wasted a glorious chance after just 3 minutes when he side footed a first time shot wide after good work by Austin and Byram. This might not be a bad afternoon after all I thought as the first of numerous chants of Ohhhhhhhh Brian McDermott rung round the ground. There was an initial sharpness in the Leeds play that had been missing in recent weeks but Town looked dangerous on the break. Norwood, Wells and Ward all had good chances that they failed to take advantage of add that to two fantastic goal saving tackles from Byram and the Town looked the most likely to snatch the all important opening goal. Leeds were struggling in the centre of midfield to get any possession. Both Mowatt and Murphy were chasing shadows. Paddy Kenny pulled off a terrific save to keep the ball out of the Leeds net. This wasn't looking good and on 23 minutes the space Leeds were conceding down the Town left flank led to the first goal as Ward found himself alone in the box and calmly slotted the ball past Kenny. 1.0 Town and the visiting fans went wild with delight. An uneasy silence besieged the home fans. Memories of the hammering at Wednesday came flooding back. Could the rudderless Leeds team dig in and repel the rampant Puppy Dogs?
Town continued to have the better of the game with the exception of a Ross Mac header that drifted over after a storming run from Austin. Kenny's post was hit with a low shot as the dark clouds of depression circled above. Then as the game stuttered to half time Leeds were thrown a life line. First a sweeping move freed Ross Mac who got beyond the lumbering Town back four only for his left footed shot to go tamely wide. "Ross McCormack doesn't want to stay" taunted the travelling Puppy Dogs fans. A song they bitterly regretted two minutes later when the Leeds captain pounced in the box to knock home an equaliser before peeling away to the Town fans kissing his badge. Love it. 1.1 at Half time.
After a disappointing first half laced with all our recent shortcomings but finished off with a late Ross Mac goal I eagerly headed for the Half time debate with the Urinal philosophers. Most of the talk was still about the farcical events of the last week "this lot couldn't run a f****** bath" Wriggy moaned while another fan thought "first half was a shambles......just as usual" Mmmm still not much positivity. "what I can't understand is that we've gone 8 games and only won one point and yet everyone's still singing McDermott's name?" Good point well made I thought. Leeds needed an inspirational half time team talk. I wondered if a horse's head had been wheeled into the dressing room and some Italian was shouting "if you don't want this in your bed in the morning get out there and smash them Puppy Dogs"
What ever was said and who ever gave the talk it worked. Leeds flew at Town like men possessed. Ross Mac and the rejuvenated Kebe swapped delicate passes on the edge of the box before Kebe steered the ball past the flailing Smithies. 2.1 Leeds and the ground erupted. "One nil and you fucked it up" was tumbling down from the kop and south stand alike............a bit early for my liking but Leeds were now on fire. Kebe and Byram were tearing the Town defence to bits on the right flank whilst in the middle Austin was once again purring like a well oiled engine. The swirling wind was now in Leeds favour as dozens of crisp packets blew across the pitch. Leeds were moving through the gears smoothly ignoring the fact that Huddersfield were still creating and spurning chances. For a team in crisis Leeds were now unbelievably playing well.
On the hour Ross Mac finished off another bout of adventurous attacking by Leeds by converting a cross from Byram to put the game out of sight for the now wilting Town side. 3.1 Leeds and the large home crowd were now in dreamland after starting the game in utter despair. Kebe and Byram were now creaming Town down the flanks as confidence visibly drained from the away team and grew in the troubled home team. Ross completed his hat trick with a well taken goal on 72 minutes after a tricky run from Stewart to make it 4.1. How the away fans must have regretted their earlier taunts to the Leeds captain. Mowatt rounded off the scoring with a lob into an empty net from 30 yards after Smithies dropped his usual clanger against Leeds on 81 minutes. 5.1 Leeds and the whole ground was celebrating............except for the away fans who came with great expectations and were now creeping away with their tails well and truly between their Puppy Dog legs. Leeds finished with a bout of keep ball that had the home fans shouting Ole with every touch. Now you wouldn't have called that at the start of the game.
A remarkable game in lots of ways and for lots of reasons. Leeds came from 1 nil down to win 5.1 with a clinical 2nd half performance that had fans wondering why they can't play like this every week. Byram, Kebe and Austin were outstanding with Ross taking the MOM for his hat trick. Yes the defence still looks vulnerable but this was a very welcome win. The crowd gave the players a standing ovation as they left the pitch. As we streamed away from the ground Leeds fans were singing.............something I can't remember happening for a long, long time. Then news that BM had been re-instated as manager or more to the point he hadn't been sacked in the first place and he would be back at work Monday morning? What? It could only happen at Leeds. So despite nobody knowing who was actually running the club or who was managing the team Leeds pulled off a famous derby victory. Funny old game isn't it?
Next week we've got a 5am start to get to Yeovil in time for the lunchtime kick off. It's anybody's guess who will own the club or who will be managing the team. One thing for sure is that the away end will be full to bursting with the extended LUFC family.