By Keith Ingham
I've been lucky enough to get the chance to watch a few games in the company of LUTV commentator Thom Kirwin and Leeds United legend Eddie Gray, it is quite an experience and the view 'up there in the gods' is incredible. Unfortunately I've never seen them win when I'm in my lofty perch and am beginning to think it might be down to me. You see I am quite superstitious on going to football matches, I always wear the same shirt if previously we've won, on Tuesday it was the new home shirt and on my way I gave Billy Bremner's knee a tap and asked him to bring luck to his old team. Alas it wasn't much good as the wearers of the said new shirt performed shockingly awful this Tuesday and a very handy Brighton team deservedly took three points off us, ending our home record early after two successive wins against Accrington and Middlesborough.
They say a lot can happen in football in a week, well in a few days things that seemed good totally went left of centre, alas I do put a certain blame at the door of myself. Let me please explain as I boarded the 17:32 train to Leeds I pulled out my iPhone and picked what I thought was a good enough team to beat Brighton. Matt Smith replaced Doukara at centre forward and Michael Tonge came in at the expense of Nicky Ajose, my reasoning was that it seemed 'Sully' would not shake off the ankle injury he sustained in the victory over Boro' and I thought Tonge did enough in his substitute appearance to warrant his inclusion into the eleven. Whether the 'coach' follows my Tweets or it was just blind luck Hockaday picked the same eleven in the favoured diamond formation he seems to prefer. It looked good on paper but little did we know it would be crap on grass!.
After a walk around to the club shop to try on a new blue away top on, lads and lasses I warn you now they are smaller than the home shirt and it didn't leave not a lot to the imagination if you purchase a shirt that's too small. I've never really been one to get players name on my shirt but in celebration of Billy Sharp's weekend winner I sought to get said player on the back of my free members gold shirt. With shirt printed It was either a quick pint or the option of making my way to West Stand, collect my pass and join the assembled press to drink a pot of tea, I choose the latter had a photo sat behind the desk Mr Hockaday sits when he does his weekly press gatherings.
When you get to the 'gantry' as it's called you realise what a great ground we luckily have, yes it's old but it is a stunning sight even after over forty years of following the club. Up on the 'gantry' there are different stations where the media set up to report on games, the LUTV station sits directly across from the half way line and is a just big enough for three people. Thom, a Leeds United fan before he got the job is aided by Michael and both have always made me feel welcome on these special nights. Eddie Gray, player and manager of the club is a gentleman and his knowledge of football is up there with the best. A really good group that do their level best to entertain, inform and produce a coverage by fans for fans.
The match itself was a massive disappointment as Brighton in a luminous orange shirt seem to dazzle the lads in white so much that it seemed they had an extra couple of players as Leeds chased shadows for the complete first forty five minutes. Brighton went ahead early on as Liverpool loanee Teixeria beat the Leeds back line after a impressive build up. Leeds were just second best and even Stockdale in the Brighton goal had time and space to play the ball out as casual as you like. The boos at half time might not be what people like to hear but the showing deserved no better. The second half Hockaday replaced Smith with Ajose to inject hopefully some pace into attack, Leeds improved slightly with a lovely move that gave Tonge a great chance but he hit it wildly wide. Lua Lua got another from a free kick that the Leeds wall jumped over, final score 2-0 Brighton. This was another Tuesday night to forget and if many more like this are served up the 'bromance' between Cellino and Hockaday will be a short lived one. Myself I feel he is just not up to the job.
After the game, Eddie Gray had his usual post match chat with Hockaday while I watched on and listened to the coach's comments about the game. His (Hock) interviews are usually full of little clichés as he reacts to the game. Very sure of himself and he thought Leeds were 'brave' in the second half. Eddie is generous tonight not too many hard hitters, myself I would have loved a chance to ask a question or two about what I had witnessed.
A long wait at the bus stop was curtailed when two charitable fans shared a taxi to Leeds City centre so I could get my train back home, one a Geordie lad who was best mates with one of the Brighton players Lua Lua. It is a fantastic experience and was only spoiled by what I witnessed out on the pitch but there's nothing I could do about that. Let's hope Massimo Cellino sees, in my view his mistake and rectifies it quick with a more experienced coach.
Thank you Thom, Eddie and Michael.
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