In my youth, I was fortunate enough to experience a capacity crowd at Elland Road. However, for the younger LUFC followers, this is something they wouldn’t have seen before; the bellowing of Marching On Together echoing throughout the ground and the euphoria that creates.
On Sunday, they will experience why Leeds is referred to as “a big club,” and why we should be a Premier league side. We have wallowed so long in the lower divisions, it’s sometimes hard to explain and defend the club’s status to those unfortunate enough to have seen it first-hand.
Thankfully, on the 20th November, Elland Road will be rocking as, for the first time since 2010, the stadium is sold-out as we welcome Newcastle United to Elland Road.
When the fixtures were released, this game stood out as a pinnacle fixture for Leeds United. Newcastle boasts a similar stature, in terms of fan base, as Leeds and with the Premiership quality players they have at their disposal, we all knew the game would be popular (even from a neutral perspective).
However, there was reason to worry the game wouldn’t be a sell-out at all.
Sky is obviously showing the game, which can convince some fans to stay home or at the pub. The fixture is a category A, so it’s expensive, and it’s on a Sunday afternoon at 13:15 BT.
However, these factors were not enough to stop our fans (and Newcastle’s) from showing up, which just shows you the importance the fixture has to both sides.
Newcastle sit top of the table, with three points separating them from Brighton and eight points separating them from third-place Huddersfield. However, in terms of current form, whether Leeds match the men from up North in this game will be an indicator of where the squad is truly at.
And that chart doesn’t include the win at Norwich. We’ve won four in a row, in case you forgot over the international break.
For me, the upturn in form is the biggest reason for the increased attendance. Garry Monk and his team are slowly building a team capable of being a real threat in the division.
I know some sections of the loyal Leeds fan base are commenting on the team performance and how there are fans appearing at Elland Road who may not have been there during less positive times and, to a certain extent, I understand their point. However, success breeds interest and interest breeds attention and attendance; which all benefits the club. I wrote about “Making Leeds ‘United’ again” the other week and I believe that filling Elland Road is a step towards that goal, whether you’ve been there for every dire game or not.
Throughout a successful campaign, you often have pivotal moments which define the season. Even though the game hasn’t even been played, Newcastle at Elland Road is one of those games: the importance of the sell-out is monumental. Thanks to recent results, our usually pessimistic view regarding our team has changed to an optimism we have not seen for some time, and the increase in the attendance feeds the optimism.
If we win on Sunday, imagine the feelings afterwards from that sell-out crowd. If we lose, well... let’s win.
The last 13 years have stagnated the club, but with a capacity crowd, we remind ourselves and everyone else who we are and what we are. Teams will now look at Leeds, not as a sleeping, unworthy giant but as a phoenix rising from the ashes and ready to return to its rightful place alongside the football elite.
November 20th at Elland Road is set to be a game to remember. MOT.