Fast, fierce, fantastic – emotions run high as fans return to Elland Road

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on telegram
August 23, 2021
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    Scroll to Top

    Mateusz Klich, Leeds United, Elland Road, fansMateusz Klich's first-half strike was Leeds' first goal in front of a full house at Elland Road for 17 months

    If Leeds United's grand future plans come to fruition, Elland Road could soon cater for 60,000 fans on matchdays. Even if that capacity had been in place on Saturday, it wouldn't have been enough to satisfy demand, nor would it have produced as much noise.

    Whites fans have waited a long time for this – the first home Premier League game they could attend en masse for 17 years.

    Sixteen of those were spent in the relative wilderness of the lower leagues, followed by 18 months that have featured a long-sought promotion and a full season of enjoyable but frustratingly crowdless top-flight football.

    On Saturday, they came adorned in white, yellow and blue, ready to pack a year-and-a-half's worth of celebration into two hours, to roar on their side and remember those no longer with them, some of them giants upon whose shoulders the modern Leeds United stands.

    They didn't get the win they wanted, as Everton came ready to fight fire with fire, but they certainly served notice that Leeds are back in the big time and Elland Road is not a place for faint-hearted visitors.

    • REPORT: Leeds United 2-2 Everton
    • Everything you need to know about Leeds United, all in one place

    'They've missed us and we've missed them'

    In many ways, it was like fans had never been absent from LS11.

    Before kick-off, queues once more snaked away from burger vans surrounding the stadium, filling the air with the familiar smell of cooked onions; the tunnel at the end of Lowfields Road was again a busy mini marketplace for badges, scarves and the Square Ball fanzine; the bar at the Old Peacock was three deep; and Graveleys couldn't batter fish fast enough.

    The last time such scenes were witnessed at the ground, Luke Ayling later lashed in a volley, let down his locks and played air guitar as Leeds beat Huddersfield to go top of the Championship.

    Luke Ayling, Leeds United, Huddersfield TownLuke Ayling netted a thunderous volley in Leeds' last home game in front of a capacity crowd

    READ:  Chelsea discover Club World Cup route

    There have been moments of communal joy in the months since – a gathering outside the ground when promotion was sealed, including a static open-top bus salute from the players, and the admittance of 8,000 fortunate fans for a dead rubber against West Brom at the end of last season.

    Saturday, though, was something else. An overdue outpouring of joy, relief and recognition of all that has been gained in the last year and a half.

    As kick-off approached, neon yellow flags were waved in unison in every stand, club anthem Marching On Together belted out with vigour, and there was a pre-whistle roar to make even the hairs of neutrals stand on end.

    It was not lost on the players.

    "It was unbelievable to be walking out to that atmosphere and energy," Leeds captain Liam Cooper told Match of the Day. "The fans have been starved of football and we've really missed them.

    "If it's going to be like that every game, we'll be absolutely buzzing."

    Midfielder Kalvin Phillips, starting his first match since the Euro 2020 final for England, added: "It's been amazing. It shows how much they've missed us and we've missed them."

    Gone but not forgotten

    Elland Road, Billy Bremner statue, Leeds UnitedThe statue of Billy Bremner was awash with scarves and floral tributes prior to kick-off

    Sadly, there are those who will never return.

    The statue of Billy Bremner, on the corner where Elland Road meets Lowfield Road, was awash with scarves and floral tributes to those recently lost. A dad, a brother, a sister, "nana", all spelled in bouquets at the feet of one of the club's great heroes.

    Generations of fans, new and old, stood before kick-off to applaud those sadly taken before they could return here to enjoy the good times that have followed the bad.

    Some of the names resonate to the entire fanbase.

    A long list of former Leeds players have also been lost since the start of the pandemic, many of them legends from the club's most successful period on the pitch under Don Revie.

    No Leeds player has made more appearances than the 773 of Jack Charlton, who died last July; no other has anywhere near as many goals to his name in a United shirt as the 238 of Peter Lorimer, who passed this March.

    Norman Hunter was a regular here right up until the Huddersfield game. The south stand of Elland Road is now named after him, side-by-side with the one baring Charlton's, as they were for so many years at the heart of Revie's defence.

    Terry Cooper, Trevor Cherry, Mick Bates, Peter Hampton, Alejandro Sabella, Frank Worthington – many long-serving, all loved, each remembered fondly.

    Leeds United 2-2 Everton: We dominated the game but gave away too many chances – Bielsa

    READ:  'Scotland have 24% World Cup chance

    Fast, fierce and fantastic

    The game itself was the perfect tribute to those lost Revie stars, known as much for their bite as their brilliance.

    It was fast, fierce and fantastic, played between two sides targeting victory and not afraid to stick a boot in to attain it.

    Leeds needed a result. Last weekend's 5-1 hammering at Manchester United had already set nerves jangling within a fanbase quick to scare and all too familiar with the fate that befell south Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United in their second Premier League season following a promising first.

    Everton already had a win under their belts, courtesy of last weekend's home victory over Southampton, and twice edged ahead in pursuit of another.

    Dominic Calvert-Lewin's VAR-awarded penalty briefly silenced the home crowd before his celebration right in front of the Kop provoked ire.

    Man of the match Demarai Gray silenced them again early in the second half, finishing neatly to make it 2-1 after Mateusz Klich's parity-restoring chipped finish.

    But the final word belonged to Raphinha, Leeds' Brazilian forward, who made it three goals in three games against the Toffees to provoke a cheer that will have shaken silverware across Beeston.

    Raphinha, Leeds United, Elland Road, goal, EvertonRaphinha earned Leeds a share of the spoils with a superb curling effortEverything you need to know about your Premier League team banner

    • Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever before – here's everything you need to know to make sure you never miss a moment

    BBC Sport banner footer


    Putellas wins Women’s Ballon d’Or

    Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas won the Women's Ballon d'Or, awarded to the best female footballer in 2021. Putellas, 27, scored as Barca beat Chelsea 4-0 …

    The ex-DJ aiming for Jamaican history

    Benjamin Alexander: The former DJ hoping to ski for Jamaica at the Winter Olympics Benjamin Alexander's story tells of a life well lived. Born in …

    Chelsea discover Club World Cup route

    Chelsea qualified for the Fifa Club World Cup by beating Manchester City in the Champions League final European champions Chelsea will play Al Hilal, Al …

    Notify of
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    August 23, 2021
      Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
      Scroll to Top
      • Bookmakers Bonus

      Registration bonus up to 250 Euro!

      Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
      This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.