An afternoon at Elland Road,Leed United AFC

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September 21st 2013
Published: September 25th 2013
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The day dawned with great promise with a clear sky although this didn’t last long and cloud soon appeared and covered out the sun again. Such has been our experience of most of the week we have been in the UK.However we need to remember that this is now autumn and the days of the short British summer have passed. The temperature though was a bit warmer than it had been and there is now an absence of any breeze which will take out the wind chill factor when we are outside.

Janet and Stella joined us for breakfast again before Rhona called around to take us to Pudsey station for the short train ride into Leeds while she then went on to take Janet and Stella to the airport as they were due to return south today.

A month or so ago when we had been talking to Iain one morning on Skype and had been discussing the opportunity of taking in the Leeds vs. Burnley match which was on the Saturday we were to be in the area, Iain had told us that his son Greg would be able to get us tickets to the game. This would save us the trial of trying to buy tickets on the internet.

So we had had contact with Greg and he had arranged to meet us at Leeds station and get us involved in the warm up to the game by visiting a couple of pubs on the way to try a traditional ale or two and then the bus to the ground and the game against Burnley from over the Pennines.

We had time for a short stroll around the shopping area close to the station before we met Greg and took in the Corn Exchange building, a listed building that opened in 1863 and is one of three such buildings in England that still operates as a marketplace albeit that today there are shops rather than trading in corn.

A little further on and we came to the Leeds Kirkgate Market which today has over 800 stalls selling just about everything you could want. The market started in the open air in 1822 but as the years went on it progressively came under cover and today it is fully enclosed although it retains the flavour of openness as the roof is so high making the voices of the various stall holders and merchants sound booming.

We crossed the road to a modern pedestrian open air shopping mall and watched buskers and an Army band performing at various spots along the 500 metres of wide pavement before it was time to return to the station and meet Greg.

We had never met Greg before but had seen his photo last night at the Fish and Chip dinner. But he recognised us first, perhaps looking like ‘lost Kiwis’.

He introduced us to a couple of his mates who were going to the football too and we called in at a couple of pubs in the area around the station. There were a good number of supporters in Leeds shirts at the second pub and with 30 odd minutes to kickoff we joined a short queue to catch a bus from the city to Elland Road, the home of Leeds United FC.

Billy Bremner, with his trademark curly ginger hair, used to be one of my favourite players from the club from the 60’s and 70’s being an uncompromising player who always gave the game his all. So with that in mind we had a quick photo opportunity at his statue along with another photo with Don Revie,probably Leeds most influential Manager during his period at the club from 1961-74 after which he went on to be England’s Manager for 3 years.

Greg has a 20 year ticket for his seat in ‘The Kop ‘behind the goal at the North End of the ground. This is where all the fervent Leeds United fans enjoy their football from. Greg had got us tickets a couple of rows in from of his seat and we found our place with a few minutes to go before kickoff.As we looked out over the pitch we had a quiet moment for a great friend from Golf Croquet in NZ,Mike Barker,an absolute out and out Leeds supporter who passed away recently while we have been on this adventure.

The Burnley supporters were at the opposite end of the ground on the side and given they were relatively few in number compared to the Leeds supporters they still gave good voice when their team hit the lead after 20 minutes with a rather soft goal.

Worse was to come for Leeds when Burnley scored again not long before half time and the day was starting to look black for the locals even though the sun had come out and was shining brightly.

After a couple of substitutes and with about 15 minutes to go Leeds hit back after controlling much of the second half with a well taken goal from a set play. Try as they might Leeds could not get the equaliser and the game ended with a 2-1 win to Burnley.

Despite this Gretchen and I still thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and are now much more in tune with all the songs that seem to ring out from the home supporters ends at football games we have watched on TV over the years. Given that Leeds unfortunately lost you can imagine there were some home supporters not that happy as the game progressed and Gretchen has learnt a few more choice words that you usually wouldn’t hear when there are ladies around. However, it all added to the slice of England that we had been hanging out for.

It was amazing just how quick 26,000 odd people can disperse from a stadium even though we had to wait a little while for a bus back to the railway station and the train ride back to Pudsey.

Eric picked us up from the station and we joined them again for dinner but this time with 3 of their long time friends,Wilf and Brenda who ran a Post Office at the same time Rhona and Eric ran one too while, Bob, who was a remarkable 92 year old with a sharp mind and wit and more funny stories from ‘life ‘than either Gretchen or myself could ever hope to try and recall.

Again Rhona put on a delicious spread for dinner including ‘to die for ‘Thornton Chocolate rolls for desert which we are sure we will be trying again before our time in England comes to an end in 4 weeks.

We had a great evening of conversation which topped of a great day and once we got back to the hotel it didn’t take long to get to sleep.

All in all another most memorable day with family in Yorkshire which is fast becoming our ‘second home’.


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