Leeds United 2 —1 Blackburn Rovers
If only my Father could frequent every game. He has a perfect win record, since the start of last season: an anti-albatross; an inanimate carbon rod.
Nearly all the games he’s been to’ve finished 2–0, which would do nicely. He hasn’t seen Leeds concede in all the recent games he’s attended: not dozens of games but five or six.
Still, we know how it works with records and streaks at Leeds United: they mostly exist to be broken.
The creeping militarisation of football makes me uneasy. Poppies abound today. ‘Never Again’ is no longer the message, or at least that reading has little credence with vans outside the ground, ready to ship youngsters off to yet more wars. Football needs to look at this, just as society does; I’m aware this is a minority view, but the pageant is overbearing.
The silence itself, of course, is well observed, soundtracked by mournful bugle: wavering on its highest notes, a fitting tribute to fear.
We’re up in the gods of the Kop, in one of those sections that’s mostly quiet. A handful of pissed-up lads do their best to raise the volume. It’s weird being in those enclaves, doing your best to join in but never quite part of a crowd.
Problem is that full, unfettered emotion seems quite gauche in front of your dad. Especially when his left ear is buggered, just to the right of me. So this is a muted tension, a muted sense of joy. All very British and stiff-upper-lip; quite prim compared with my usual wildman act.
Leeds United dominate. Klich is everywhere. Tyler Roberts undulates, carrying the ball. His dribble and pass for Ayling’s penalty — soft but You’ve Seen Them Given — is reminiscent of (whisper it) Saiz. Patrick Bamford steps up, the whole ground chanting, and sends the keeper the wrong way. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an explicit display of support for an under-performing player. Fair play to Elland Road as Bamford runs off howling, eyes wild and white, exorcised and unshackled.
Unshackled indeed, as Bamford produces a wonderful couple of touches, cushioning Phillips’ long-ball and shoving a balletic pass into the path of Harrison. I said last week that Jack’s been using his right, and here he’s unerringly accurate, sticking it just inside the post with that supposed weaker peg.
Just as it seems the rout will come, Leeds finally rampant, Blackburn are right back in it. Of course it comes from a corner. The header is decent but Ayling should do better, as should Leeds from moments like these. Sort out set-piece defence and we’re practically unbeatable.
Well, this is more like it. That two-goal cushion had me questioning everything. Much more comfortable to take the familiar stance: mouth in frozen rictus, visibly terrified.
I needn’t have worried. Of course the comfort never returns, but neither, fully, does terror. Blackburn are Not Good. We prod them periodically; their attacks rarely stretch beyond a couple of passes. Perhaps we lose some structure when Cooper limps off for Berardi, but now I’m splitting hairs. One goal leads don’t come much more comfy than this.
What a luxury to have Hernandez on the bench. A cameo from the Spaniard — several silky touches, one or two trademark passes — and full time is upon us.
Dad’s record remains intact. I think I see that inverted albatross wink at me as we head pubward, part of the happy throng. Plenty of drops to drink.