The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.
as usual, Matt has given a definitive match report so I will restrict myself somewhat...
Like every other Leeds fan in the ground I was overwhelmed by the relief of not only Premiership survival but also the prospect of our improved chances of avoiding the dreaded ignominy of the club going into administration, or even out of existence, such was the value of those ninety plus minutes of the game against Arsenal.
Before the match, I had failed to convince a couple of guys from Darlington that Leeds could win 2 nil, with Kewell and Dooks scoring the vital goals. Perhaps their disbelief was due to the highly questionable blond wig I was wearing at the time? Or was it the copious amounts of Adnams flowing down my gullet? Who knows - what was for sure though was that the Arsenal match was the ultimate occasion for unadulterated blind faith from all Leeds supporters.
We simply *had to* believe that we could win, any other attitude would have almost certainly guaranteed failure and an incredibly anxious day out next Sunday, desperate for a result against Villa - one of our bogey teams at Elland Road in recent years.
The last away match each season is the traditional occasion for the fancy dressers to come out of the closet. Last year we had a host of Elvis wannabes (aka Maverick Whites) at Derby. Yesterday, at Highbury, it was Jimmy Saville day for the Mavericks - and boy oh boy didn't Jim Fix It for Leeds, eh? Big Style.
I have some pictures of the day and will put them up on a well-known-website in due course - including the shot of Caddy taking a photo of me taking a photo of him taking a photo of me.
Oh, I almost forgot to add the cherry on the top to my experience of the big day out at the Library...
As I hurried out of the ground to catch my 7pm train from Kings X - I walked straight into Rory McGrath (lightning does strike twice - we found him in the pub after the GG cup midweek cup match, remember) so I shook his hand and simply said "Great season wasn't it Rory?" with a smile from ear to ear. He took it in good heart and realised I wasn't simply taking the piss.
I would have loved to hung around and soaked up more of the post-match euphoria but I had an urgent appointment with a bagful of Stella and a train.
Before I start on the euphoria, lets just stop to think. If you'd have told me at the start of the season that I'd be this happy after the Arsenal game, I'd have assumed that we'd have just won the league. In reality it's been a disasterous season and we've just got to be thankful that we have (so far) survived it intact.
Having said that. Yeeee-haaaah.
What a game. What a day. Probably one of the most important in Leeds United's history.
The list meet was well attended, if somewhat nervous and to be honest most of the talk was focused on getting a result next week, assuming that this game was a foregone conclusion. Light humour provided by Dunderhead and Steve and Robbie from the Scottish branch who had obviously misread the memo from the maverick branch as it being Rod Stewart day. We reluctantly wandered off to the game to find the Jimmy Saville's very much in evidence and with Matteo pushed into midfield and Harry upfront as Lucas returned.
A jittery start when Arsenal hit the bar within seconds, but within a couple of minutes we were on our seats in party mood as Kewell chased a long through ball and with a one in a hundred chance hit the ball early on the volley. Being right in line, I knew it was in as soon as he hit it. A goal of the season contender. Arsenal came back but Viduka and Kewell were still threatening on the break and we should really have gone two up, when Kewell was set free, got past Seaman but hit the side-netting. Our midfield were working their bollocks off, Kelly and Bakke making tackle after tackle, but it looked like a story of two dangerous attacks v two dodgy defences as Luzhny threatened to make Duberry look like Franz Beckenbauer.
We looked to have ridden the storm when Parlour was allowed to run with the ball unchallenged from deep and although Robinson knocked his shot onto the crossbar, Henry was on hand to nod in the rebound. We had visibly tired towards the end of the half and at half time the prognosis was we need to score early whilst we were fresh and then try and hang on. Well, part one came true, a rare free-kick in our favour from Alan Wiley and Harte scored his third free-kick in three years at Highbury. (With such a goal a game record he must be worth £10m to Arsenal). Again the celebrations were tempered with the "there's still a f*ck of a long time left feeling" and as Viduka and Kewell tired we were less of a threat in the second half. Although Arsenal had a lot of ball, the midfield were still working hard and restricting the amount of clear chances. When the ball did get through, Radebe was throwing his body in front of everything.
However, midway through, Pires got clear and crossed for Bergkamp to side-foot home, to be honest the team looked out on their feet and when Kewell's shot from 12 yards was brilliantly saved by Seaman following a Viduka back-heel we thought our last chance had gone. Henry hit the post from a breakaway and we waited for the inevitable, as an injured Kewell limped off taking our chances with him - or so we thought.
Now then now then, who'd have thought it. With a couple of minutes left, Matteo (who had looked spent to me) picked up a loose ball and drove forward, he chipped a great ball out wide to Viduka, who took the ball on, jinked (yes I know it was Viduka) past the last defender and curled it into the far corner. Pandemonium, I hugged most of the list and a couple of random Jimmy's as we celebrated one of the most crucial goals in Leeds history. The Arsenal fans left in droves, though a slight panic attack occurred as the 4th official told us there were 5 minutes injury time to play, but we survived it without too many alarms and the season was safe. It should never have come to this, but it was a great victory and the Leeds fans sang and danced for a good twenty minutes after the final whistle. Harte, Kelly, Robinson and Radebe going as mad as we did on the pitch.
Robinson 7 - Did nothing to disuade his future employers.
So we gave Scum the title, who cares. Look at Gary Kelly's face, Leeds are what counts and we survived, maybe not just in the Premier League but maybe forever.
Dedicated to Anthony and the lads who broke down at Leicester Forest and paid £165 for a taxi to make kick off on time.
Today was a perfect example of why football is so bloody amazing, bravado aside none of us expected a win, a battling draw perhaps. Yet we did it and the experience of being there was pretty amazing, the shared experience of pure joy is one thing we have experienced in the last few seasons, but added to an enormous sense of relief, it was almost orgasmic. Sharing that with 2,000 fellow Leeds, most with no hair and lots of tattoos is a buzz that will remain with me for some time and possibly make it into film one day.
Football's great like that, something so utterly unimportant and pointless can generate such feelings. The list has read like a Monologue from Pvt Fraser for the last few weeks, "We're Doomed We're Doomed" and all that, but football is forever lifting you and and dumping you again. Even if we were relegated to the West Yorkshire Sheep Shagging league, we'd still have times of great joy and of great desponancy, thats why we do it, you can't appreciate the good times without suffering a bit (please note this does not apply to life).
We played fairly well most of the match and showed a lot of commitment, Kelly was a god and Radebe and Dubes did OK, when you consider they were against the French National Strike force. Harry scared the shit out of them but missed an easier chance than the one he did score. Mills was still in headless chicken mode, but had a few decent runs and didn't get booked. Like last season we were under the cosh quite a bit, but unlike then we were on top for a fair amount of the game and I don't think the score line flattered us. Has anyone else scored 3 against Arse this season at Highbury.
Now its been offen mentioned on the list that I know nothing about Football (Enjoy your holiday RichW?) and thats true, but if you were to ask me what has been the difference over the last few weeks, its been the fantasic support from the Leeds fans (away at least), regardless of the shit served up most of us gave our all for the Team. not very cool and trendy, because we really ort to be more analytical shouldnt we. I have to say I thought of Billy a bit during the game and that whatever he would of thought of the teams performance this season he'd be proud of us.
Several new superstitions were started today, me not wearing any LUFC branded clothing, Caddy bringing the smallest of his kids, Steve Sims Staying in the Pub, Jimmy Saville Wigs (or Peter Stringfellows in Dunderheads case), Robin wearing the same clothes as last year, Blokes in Kilts with Burberry luggage......
I reckon we were outsinging the gooners for a good 80 mins, we seemd to get a bit quiet after we scored each time for 5 mins.
Best chants of the day "If you hate Jimmy Saville 'av a go!" "We're not going on a Nationwide Tour".
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/05/2003.
It was Arsenal's last punishment in the Premiership to relive in miniature the torments that have torn the title from them. Here again, in a transfixing match, was the élan in attack that could not quite atone for fragility in defence. There was delirium in the Highbury stands over an exquisite winner but the joyous pandemonium came in the visitors' corner of the stadium.
The perfect strike by Mark Viduka, in the 88th minute, keeps Leeds United in the top flight because they have a bullet-proof goal difference to preserve them from harm next weekend. The forward may have an indolent mien but he has excelled when the Elland Road club's plight has been at its gloomiest and this was the 13th occasion that he has hit the net in his last nine Premiership appearances.
He loped dismissively past Oleg Luzhny from the right and curled a drive into the far corner of the net. It was an incident to make everyone marvel once again that Leeds could ever have brought such anxieties upon themselves and the moment when Arsenal's dream of creating history by retaining their Double died in its first instalment. With Harry Kewell excelling, and registering a gorgeous opener, Leeds had quality in attack that any club might envy.