Leeds Away - Chasing a Playoff place

Newcastle away. April 2017

To set the scene, it was a Friday night game, Leeds away to the promotion dead certs Newcastle. We were hoping to secure a place in the playoffs having been away from the top league for so long (those were the days eh). 

crack open the cans - Leeds Away Days

We always take it in turns to drive to away games, so that we all get our turn to crack open the cans en route to our destination. Now, this was a big away day trip, Newcastle and Leeds are always one to get people up for it, and it was clearly the one everyone wanted to go to, for the day out as much as anything. So, of course, it ended up being my turn on the rota to drive! 

What’s more, seven of us then got tickets and I had the responsibility to drive us there. I had a feeling we all weren’t all going to squeeze into my yellow seat Ibiza, but luckily for me (and them) my Dad has a people carrier and I managed to blag it for the trip. 

Leeds Away in Newcastle
"Leeds United" flickr photo by Ungry Young Man https://flickr.com/photos/markusunger/30605451457 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Some lads aren’t on the route out of Leeds, so they were told to be at Leeds station where I’d pick them up. Considering how long everyone had been buzzing for this day to arrive, it was no surprise that the cans started flowing instantly. As much as I wanted to be a passenger and be enjoying the ale myself, the A1 was clear and this seemed like a good day…

Then we approached Scotch Corner with its never-ending average speed cameras and often unexplainable traffic jams, and it took a good hour to do five miles of travelling. With a car full of pissed up lads it, of course, meant a piss stop.

As stressful as these can be, we managed to get on the way and make it to Newcastle with no more issues. 

Tom Zanetti - You Want Me

These days we can use social media to find out where other away fans are likely to be, and all talk was that Leeds fans were gathering in the Gotham Bar, opposite the Central Train Station. That was good enough for us, so we parked up and headed to the party. 

This party was an all-day party with “let’s go fucking mental” being the floor filler. This floor filler ensured that everyone’s’ plastic glass emptied at a fast pace and even in between the “going mental” renditions, there was no room for respite. A song was being continuously played; a popular dance track at the time that just so happened to be a creation by a Leeds local. You Want Me by Tom Zanetti was the anthem, and the Leeds fans duly changed the words to “Enoch Showumni”. Showumni was a player from our League One days, we can all relate to these cult references! 

It had been a good few hours of madness before we eventually agreed it was time to head to the stadium to watch a game of football. St James’ Park is in a great position geographically, towering over the city centre. The away fans are (as we all know too well) placed high in the upper tier behind the goal with a view of what seems like the world in front of you.

Leeds Away At Newcastle

Newcastle dominated the game and eventually took the lead in the 67th minute though Jamaal Lascelles. They looked good for the win. Then there was a moment that sparked, surely, one of the greatest feelings known to the human race. One brought on by when your team equalises in the fifth minute of injury time. Chris Wood turned in Kamar Roofe’s cross to send us away fans into delirium. 

We all know those games feel like wins, so to say us Leeds fans were ecstatic is an understatement. Leaving the game at the end, walking down the million steps in a buoyant mood makes it feel a whole lot easier. Arriving at the bottom of the steps, Newcastle fans were leaving the bottom tier of the stand ensuring there was a lot of posturing between the two sets.

A bit of posturing at St James' Park

We told each other to stick together during the commotion as bodies were starting to fly all over the place. But Wardy, one of the younger lads (by ‘younger’ I mean he was only 18!) decided he was going to do the opposite of these instructions and go posture some more. 

Yeah, we lost him. 

The police and stewards ushered us all apart and Wardy was just nowhere to be seen. We tried to ring him but his phone wasn’t reachable. Once outside the stadium, we did laps of the stadium looking for him but just couldn’t find him. We tried to ring him again without success. Then after about an hour decided to head back to the car hoping he might have been there. 

He wasn’t.

After another half hour waiting, we decided we would have to head home.

This had been a great day but we felt uneasy, until halfway down the A1 we got a phone call, “lads it’s Wardy I got lost and my phone died. I had to go somewhere to get it charged. Anyway, I’ve rung my Mum and Dad to come from Rotherham to pick me up”.

It was a hilarious end to a great day out. Although I don’t think Wardy’s dad was too impressed to get that phone call so late on a Friday night.

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