By Shaun Stone
Every Leeds United fan should remember their first visit to Elland Road. Their baptism into the world of Leeds United. The first step into becoming part of a support, which in my opinion is the best in the world.
My first experience of Elland Road, was back in the 1990's when Manchester United came to visit. Prior to this game, I had gone along to Anfield to watch my beloved Leeds United get beat 3-0. I had not been to a football game before and a friend of mine, who was a Liverpool fan was able to get his hands on a couple of tickets. The only problem was that I had to sit in the Centenary stand amongst thousands of Liverpool fans. I didn't care because I got to see Leeds United play for the first time. It didn't stop me wearing my Leeds shirt either. I got a few strange looks from the Liverpool fans, but I didn't care about that either. I am Leeds and I am proud.
The game against Manchester United wasn't a great game to watch for a first time visit to Elland Road. We lost that one too, but the result wasn't the most important part of my visit.
The most important aspect was the feeling I had as I walked down the road towards the stadium. Being from Shropshire and surrounded by Wolves and Villa fans, there were not many Leeds fans around. This was of course not the case when I went to Elland Road. The sea of white shirts walking along side me was an amazing feeling, a real feeling of being united, part of a following, a real buzz.
Walking through the turn-style and up those stairs to my seat was another experience that was over-whelming for me. I am sure you all know what I'm talking about. As you walk up the stairs and slowly see the stadium before your very eyes. First, the top of the opposite stand and then the fans. The whole stadium opening up before you. It may sound strange to some of you, but that moment was a very special part of the day for me. Walking alongside fellow Leeds fans was one thing, but actually seeing so many of us like that, was an amazing sight.
I sat in the west stand watching the game and I soon realised there was a lot more to experience. The Kop. I was sitting in the wrong stand! I sat and admired the fans behind the goal and all I wanted to do was run over and be part of that group. I'm not saying that watching Leeds from anywhere else in the ground is not an experience you will forget, but for me it was clear that the kind of fan I am, the Kop is where I was meant to be.
Watching my team play as I sat amongst the Liverpool fans was something I will never do again. No fan should be away from his own, in my opinion. I would never tell any fan where they should sit, but I will say this...
If you want the very best experience of Elland Road, ensure you sit in the Kop. I would never sit anywhere but amongst these guys and girls now. We sing Marching On Together and being amongst this section of fans makes you really feel like you are doing just that.
That being said, no matter where you are, where you sit, where you stand... We are all Leeds.