Supporting Leeds United from Scotland is a weird one these days, but in the days of the 70s, the Whites were littered with Scottish internationals, which is exactly why my Dad begun supporting the club.
And since then he’s seen the highs and lows of our great football club. From the Wilderness Years to the champions of England. The Champions League semis and the collapse. When I wandered into his room one evening as a young lad, an update on Leeds United vs Everton was on screen.
Little did I know that from this moment life would revolve around Leeds United, and having won 2-1 against a Premier League team I got a little confident, betting a tenner that we’d beat Chelsea in the cup. For a brief moment I thought I was on the way to a glorious tenner, but it wasn’t to be. Thanks to this moment, no prediction of a Leeds match has been made since, no betting companies have profited for my ill-informed confidence on Neil Warnock’s Leeds United.
My first match was Warnock’s last, funnily enough. Scotsman, Ross McCormack scored a belter as the game finished 2-1 to Derby County. The next season we watched Leeds beat Blackpool 2-0, with Luke Murphy scoring both - his first goals since that opening day winner against Brighton & Hove Albion. It was an abysmal prospect of watching a Leeds team that had lost the last 5, and a Blackpool side who were facing the drop, but a win’s a win.
We then saw Brian McDermott’s final game in a 1-1 draw against Derby, after an encouraging start that I naively believed would last forever. Then the Hock came in.
My hero at the time, Ross McCormack departed and I was heart-broken. I remember the one and only Hockaday victory at home to Middlesbrough, and painfully look back at what could’ve been with Billy Sharp in a Leeds jersey. I knew we had to be starting him, and looking back, it seems crazy we managed to get him in the first place.
Darko Milanic came and went and Neil Redfearn stepped-in. We saw his last match too (A less logical manager than Marcelo Bielsa may ban me from the ground at this point), a 0-0 draw vs Rotherham United, and a perfectly legitimate Steve Morison goal ruled offside, it would’ve been the first Leeds goal that we’d see live for a while.
When Uwe Rosler was appointed, I was over the moon, and when he went it wasn’t a surprise. And I remember the terror of seeing Steve Evans pull up to Thorp Arch, having seen him in a t-shirt and sombrero just months earlier. However, I grew fond of Evans, a passionate Scotsman who did much better than expected, and I was actually quite disappointed to see him go. Considering the effort he put in to connect with the fans and keep Leeds going, perhaps he deserved a chance.
When Garry Monk came through the door, my optimism heightened once again. Before the 2016/17 season, my naive optimism for promotion had been beaten down very quickly. However, a quite magical season under Monk was the kick-starter for the Leeds United we see today. I remember coming back home mid-way through that memorable night against Villa. When Souleymane Doukara of all people swung in that peach of a ball and Kemar Roofe finally got off the mark for Leeds United, it was magical. Chris Wood then finished them off, and many say this is the night when they could really start dreaming.
My Dad and I finally saw Leeds win for the first time since beating Blackpool in 2014, and we had been to five or six games before we beat Bristol City 2-1, the only time we’ve been able to get seats in the north stand. Wood and Pablo Hernandez got the goals, and it healed the scars of a great winning run being halted by Cardiff CIty a few days earlier.
I then somehow came back with my School. They couldn’t get the School trip tickets to any Premier League matches that day, and instead we went to see Leeds vs Brighton under the lights. At last, after trying to convince my mates who were Manchester United and Liverpool fans that we had the best atmosphere, and that we were actually a decent side, they were left with the unbelievable noise of Chris Wood’s header dipping into the far corner at the south stand.
That night was magical too, and my pals finally got to understand what a great club Leeds United is, especially after being ripped into again in my own living room as Ben Woodburn made it 2-0 at Anfield. Why would I invite the favourites into my own back yard? Perhaps because i truly believed, just like when we beat Everton and Tottenham Hotspur seasons before.
We went to wave off Garry Monk too, having had a torrid run that left us with the slimmest of chances, we set-off on another 9-hour round trip praying for a miracle. Just before half-time we were 3-0 down, and my mate who supports Norwich City was loving it.
As the third flew in, Elland Road rapidly emptied, almost as rapidly as Chris Wood got one back, and everyone at the exits swivelled round simultaneously and headed back to their seats. Kyle Bartley then scored the scrappiest of goals to restore hope, before the wizard, Pablo Hernandez hit a sweet free-kick that had me in tears, we were one goal away from sneaking back into the top six, as Fulham were a goal down.
Iit wasn’t to be, and my rage a month or so later when Monk resigned had me at boiling point. We were back to square one, and Thomas Christansen came in to try to restore our hope that we could go one better. He started strongly, he had us playing some good football and it was really promising, but when you lose the dressing room you’ll never get it back. Paul Heckingbottom followed him in and out. We saw his final match too, Roofe and Phillips scoring the goals to beat Queens Park Rangers.
When The Heck left all sorts of names flew around, but thank God that Bielsa arrived. He is more than a football coach, he is a man that makes us all better, when he speaks, we listen and take his advice as if he is speaking directly to us.
Some say that Bielsa is God, and they’re right. He is by far my favourite coach of all-time, and if you gave me a room of the best managers right now; Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone, Jose Mourinho, and whoever else you want in there, I’d take Bielsa every single time. If there is anyone to take us to the promised land, I hope it’s him.
It’s been a time to be proud of our football club for a while now, especially for us Scotsmen, Coops finally received his first Scotland caps. The results were of course disappointing, but Cooper showed himself to be the great player and leader that we know he is.
It’s been a rocky time to support Leeds United, no matter when you fell in love with the club. There’s so much more to go into, but it would take 100 years just to explain it.