By Mark Rasdall
In the spring of 1975 I travelled to France by coach with a group of other school children. It was billed as a 'French Exchange' but we felt like the prisoners, deep in the muddy darkness of Saint Maritime and the town of Aumale - our final destination. To keep us going we sang songs - as you do - but I was the only LUFC Fan so Marching on Together sounded a bit unitary and, well, hollow. Seasons in the Sun had been a huge hit for Terry Jacks the previous season and everyone was happy to adapt that in a truly on on on kind of way.
I mention this because Leeds United had just lost an FA Cup marathon against Ipswich Town which lasted over seven hours and ran to three replays (the nation hadn't generally encountered penalty shoot-out failure at that stage). Clive Woods, the Ipswich winger, scored a quite brilliant winner that night at Leicester City's old Filbert Street ground: a curling shot that flew into the top right-hand corner of our goal proving Gordon McQueen's observation quite wrong after he had previously announced on Radio 2 that our defence looked to be impregnable.
So, I was a bit sad (not sure how to translate understatement into French!) but quickly recovered with my French pen-friend, as we watched on television as Leeds beat Barcelona 2.1 in front of 50,000 at Elland Road in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final. I was ecstatic again but it was his turn to be sad as Saint Etienne could only draw 0.0 at home against that German team that eventually 'won' the trophy. The ups and downs of football eh!
I mention all of this because the thought of Ipswich Town always takes me back to those mid 'Seventies days where we had won the Cup three years earlier and they would do so three years later. We may have been on the down cycle after Don Revie left, despite Jimmy Armfield's best efforts (apart from in the European Cup final itself) and this would be the last year of our all-time greatest team, but Bobby Robson had Ipswich very much on the up. Don and Bobby - great managers both.
Sadly both have departed and our teams have been through hard times since then. I see and have seen Ipswich (like Cardiff, Millwall and Derby) as a bogey team away with two lucky wins against us at Portman Road in the last two seasons but am not confident about our success at Elland Road tomorrow either. If anything, Ipswich are among the most obstinate of opposition teams and have locked us out at critical times - with 2007 the most memorable, scoring two minutes from time to effectively seal our relegation to League One.
I do feel more confident about our team generally and not just because of the funding/ January window. But we will have to start much better than we did at Pride Park last Saturday because otherwise, as in 1975, the joy won't last 'because the b******s ran too fast'.