Stepping into Garforth Town’s ground on a cold and fairly dull day, the air was filled with a distinct sense of emotion following the passing of a truly special man, the original Leeds Ladies FC “Superfan,” Barry Colman. Barry passed away earlier in the week and was honored by a minute’s applause from both sides before the match, as I’ll talk about later.
As I walked towards the pitch, emotions started hitting me when I looked around, but I almost could hear his voice in my ear encouraging me to keep on with the photography. I saw the players training outside the ground on the fields behind and decided to go start my photography for the day by snapping them doing their warm-ups.
I had some good banter with Aimee Routledge our goalkeeper. “Where’s my Jager-bomb?” she exclaimed (jokingly!) whilst I stood there startled. I had a cup of tea for the head coach’s son, so Aimee demanded to know where her drink was. I did point out that I don’t think drinking before a game is tolerated!
I walked back into the ground and noticed that it had started snowing. I instantly knew it was a sign from Barry and I smiled with tears in my eyes as I thought about him. I then started preparing myself for the game even though my fingers were now resembling the colour of a lobster and I couldn’t feel them at all.
Emmie Johnson (the head of the media team) arrived with balloons and a bucket to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and also for The Little Princess Trust which Aimee is raising money for by having her hair cut. Please donate to both charities as they are very special and deserve credit for their hard work.
I knew that this would be a tough day for all involved at Leeds Ladies so when the players came onto the pitch and took part in a minute’s applause for Barry, I felt the tears coming and I struggled to keep it together. Not long after that chants of “There’s Only One Barry Colman!” from the Phoenix Faithful bellowed around the ground and little Lucas was there and he brought his singing voice once again!
Thank you to Guiseley too for observing this so well.
A reassuring hand on the shoulder from Emmie helped me get my bearings again and I soon focused on the game between Leeds and Guiseley who we already had taken points off in our first league fixture against them of the season.
The game started at a frenetic pace and we tried to settle down as quickly as possible but Guiseley scored an early goal. Aimee tried to stop it from going in and would have done, but she suffered an unfortunate injury which meant she had to come off. Defender Eden Pedersen stepped up and took her place in goal and she actually did a grand job at it (England’s no 1, England’s England’s no 1!).
Guiseley’s goal however sparked Leeds into life and they soon started putting together what their beautiful passing game. Some fantastic runs by Arianne Parnham, along with slick touches of Helen Wagstaff, Veatriki Sarri and Simona Petkova and crunching tackles from Harriet Jakeman meant Leeds began to up the tempo and keep possession. Carly Hoyle who always does her duties so well helped Jodie Hunter and Cath Hamill along with Megan Maxted and Shannon Beal (who took Eden’s defensive role while Eden pulled on the goalkeeper’s jersey) keep Guiseley at bay but before half-time a penalty was awarded to the Vixens, and poor Eden could do nothing about it so the score was 0-2 to the away side at half-time.
Still, the fans were in full voice, singing their hearts out. Hearing it was a joy to behold as it was exactly what Barry would have wanted.
Second half arrived and Leeds came out absolutely firing. Guiseley looked shocked and they struggled to contain the oncoming attacks from Simona, Veatriki and Harriet who all combined at times to create superb chances. Before long, Waggi (who has become the master of world-class strikes two weeks on the trot!) scored what I believe is one of the most beautifully struck goals this season for Leeds and it went over the stranded Guiseley keeper and into the back of the net to give Leeds hope at 1-2.
We carried on after the goal with more attacking play but the ball just wouldn’t go in again for the ladies in White. The closest they came was a shot which the post denied; surely the entire ground could be heard for miles with the collective sound of “OHHHHHH NOOOO!” at the sound of the ball smashing the post. It was just not our day on the pitch and as the full-time whistle blew, the Leeds Ladies walked off the pitch knowing they had put in a solid performance.
They applauded the fans right at the end. More chants of “There’s Only One Barry Colman” were heard and again I was moved to tears. We all moved into the club bar after the game where lots of laughter, hugs and banter were had. It was a wonderful day despite the result and I know in my heart Barry would have been so proud of the girls. I’ll forever hold him in my heart.
Massive credit to the fans for bringing their voices to the game. Adam, Gary, Brendan and everyone else, Barry would have definitely been laughing and smiling at that!
Barry, thank you for everything you did for the club and for everyone you knew. I will miss you sorely and you are a true #WhiteWinner.
TIAT Player of the Match: Harriet Jakeman for her constant endeavour to get her foot in when tackles needed to be made, again she was everywhere and constantly thriving to get attacks going. Well done Harriet.
Leeds Ladies are away next week to Liverpool Feds, and I truly believe if we put in a performance like we did against Guiseley, a positive result can only be the one outcome for the team.
The u15’s were playing earlier in the day against Horsforth and I was only there for the first half but despite plenty of endeavour from the girls and plenty of chances too, the score remained 0-0 when I left to go to Garforth. I found out afterwards they had managed to overcome a battling Horsforth by 6 goals to nil so well done again to the team on that win. Whatever Ben Peters said at half-time obviously worked. Excellent work once again.
The u16’s are playing next week in their cup game against Garforth FC at home in Temple Newsam. I wish them all the best of luck and Michael Heppelston too. Go get them Ladies!