Date:Monday March 1 2010
Steve Griffin the main man behind the Thames Valley Whites regional members club is going to write a regular feature on Vital Leeds giving us his take on all that happens at Elland Road.
Some of you may remember his tales of the branches trip to Old Trafford in January (don`t think I went to that one!)
This week he takes us through the branches day out at Huddersfield on Saturday.
Thames Valley Whites regional members club made an earlier start then usual for this game with the bus picking up at 6am at Reading train station before winding its way through Berkshire and Oxfordshire for a 12.30 kick-off.
An almost full bus, we headed up the M40 onto the M42 skirting towards the M1. One of our newer members missed the bus due to his car breaking down on the M4.
Lucky for him with the early start he was able to be towed back home and jump in his wife`s car and get to the game with only ten minutes gone.
For the rest of us we trundled up to Leeds for our pub stop at the Plantation in Middleton, Leeds. This is the base of the South Leeds Independent Supporters Club, which is also run by the landlord, Dean.
Both sets of branches socialised with each other, where we was able to purchase bacon butties and moan about the lack of away tickets for the last remaining games.
A few pints later we stood outside the Plantation and watched a group photo of the South Leeds lads posing in front of their coach adorned with their flags and banners with young and old giving the Leeds salute to the photographer.
One of the Thames Valleys grabbed our bus sign and sneaked to the rear of the group photo shot, making sure we will be seen later in their memento picture.
Soon everyone was aboard both buses by 11.15am and we headed off towards the M62 for the final leg of our journey.
Huddersfield away was going to be hostile with the locals regarding us as one of their big rivals even though this wasn`t going to be replicated by Leeds fans. As we approached the coach car park outside the ground we were flanked by the hordes of Huddersfield fans making their way to the game and their hostilities were soon directed towards us hemmed in the bus leaving me worried that none of the idiots outside caused damage to our bus.
We entered the coach park unscathed and handed a leaflet by the stewards asking us to return straight back to our buses as we were to be given priority on leaving after the match.
The Galpharm stadium formerly known as the MacAlpine is one of the first new rebuild stadiums built in the 1990`s and with its four curving stands, seems better than the burst of rebuilds of late, however it did make a welcome change to some of the places we have had to endure in League 1.
The Huddersfield programme looked like a posh catalogue and I heard someone comment that it must be a special big match edition, as I doubted that this was what they sold on another typical match day.
With the away end typically full with over 3500 Leeds fans, most making the relative short trip across West Yorkshire, the game kicked off.
Both sets of fans made a noisy start to the game with Leeds belting out Marching on Together and the Huddersfield fans singing the typical we all hate Leeds scum.
You knew you was in League One regardless of the stadium once you heard the 'We have no atmosphere` drum being beat that always seems to be on the side of the ground where your stood.
The game got off to a quick start and Leeds started lively and looked like they had got over their dismal performances of late however it was Huddersfield who struck first blood with a shot from Anthony Pilkington that cruelly took a deflection and left Casper Ankergren motionless as he watched it drift past him into the goal.
You could feel the sense of frustration ripple through the Leeds fans and the sense of here we go again. The rest of the first half saw Leeds frustrated with Huddersfield pressing and almost making it two when both forwards missed a decent cross into the Leeds six-yard box.
By now Leeds fans started lose their vocal support and the Huddersfield fans upped theirs as they sensed yet another victory heading their way.
The second half saw the Leeds players enter onto the pitch early where I suspect Simon Grayson had given them a real ear bashing, minutes later the second half was under way.
Leeds seemed to look sharper in this half and were starting to press for an equaliser. We wasn`t to be disappointed when Jonny Howson put one into the back of the Huddersfield net and the Leeds contingent went mad, at last something to cheer about on our travels.
So imagine the elation when Snoddy crossed in the 66th minute for Becchio to head into the near post and send the white army into raptures. Now our West Yorkshire counterparts were left with their heads in their hands and the Leeds fans made it clear we was watching their hurt.
Well this was until the 85th minute when an attack saw Huddersfield equalise and set up a tense last five minutes. This was a game that eventually emulated the game at Elland Road with the honours being shared in another 2-2 draw, a score line I would have taken before the game.
After the game we all headed back to the coaches with most discussing how we looked awful in the first half, to be honest I never saw two goals coming from Leeds and almost had to pinch myself when we did take the lead. Soon we was all onboard the bus again and eventually the Police escort led off the 30 or so coaches out of the coach park towards the M62 with Police waving us through red traffic lights and snaking our way through Huddersfield until we was freed onto the motorway slip road.
We discussed the recent performances but all agreed we would have taken our position back in August and we all still have that belief we will still be in an automatic place come May.
Our only other Highlight to the day was being buzzed on the M1 by a middle aged Huddersfield fan in his Audi R8 waving his scarf dementedly at us for about ten minutes. Apparently were not famous anymore………
If you are interested in joining the Thames Valley Whites:
Thames Valley Whites Regional Members Club was formed early March 2009 and became an Official Members Club during the last home game of the 2009 season against Northampton Town.
Thames Valley currently has over 80 members and is growing fast. All are welcome to join whether you travel or not.
The branch organises travel from around the region for all home matches.
Price is a reasonable £20 per person.
Pick-ups are Reading Train Station, Wallingford, Didcot, Abingdon, Oxford,
Kidlington, Bicester and Brackley. Other pick-ups will be considered.
Travel is by a large mini-bus (ungoverned), and when demand meets then by a 49-seater coach.
Arrival at Elland Rd is generally by 1pm. Return travel is straight after the game with last drop offs usually by 8.30pm.
There is usually one stop at Leicester Forest Services on the M1 motorway.
Membership is currently free on completing an application form.
Club Chairman is Paul Keeffe
Secretary is Steve Griffin(Griff)
Treasury is Dale Norman
Contact the Branch by email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Date:Monday March 1 2010
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