Friday evening’s game at Odsal had been chalked up to possibly be the Bulls’ final game. Due to financial difficulties, the club was likely to enter administration if £500,000 could not be found before the end of the day – also the end of the tax year. A statement was due to be released the following morning. There had been an emergency auction to raise funds, alongside street collections and a telephone hotline set up to take pledges. A bumper crowd was expected to fill the historic Odsall Stadium, and the support did not disappoint. There was talk of season ticket holders leaving their entitlement at home, and paying extra for the privilege of watching on from the terraces.
Drizzle very much summed up the general mood before kick off, with many fans with glum expressions on their face. Kick off halted the rain, and turned the frowns upside down. The atmosphere was certainly something to behold. The travelling Leeds’ support was more numerous than normal, and volleyed for vocal supremacy with the home crowd. The first half however, did not provide too much in the way of on field entertainment with just the single Leeds try.
The break proved to be the required catalyst, and a dazzling second half performance from Bradford saw the deficit turned around. Tries from Ben Jeffries and Bull’s man of the match Jamie Langley saw the despondent home side record a morale boosting victory. Indeed, the team lap of honour following the final whistle suggested an improving mood in the Bradford camp.
Leeds had been the career starting point for the young Welsh man, and played a pivotal role in developing him into the man appreciated and loved by most football fans. The first game to be played at Elland Road following his untimely death was always going to be a poignant one.
Outside, tributes had been left at the Billy Bremner statue from the first few hours of the story breaking. A week later, and the tributes were still pouring in. Inside Elland Road, his family had been welcomed to the club and were in the old directors box. As the players came out of the tunnel and the remembrance minute began, the emotion was clearly too much for many of his relatives.
The entire stadium rang to the sound of applause, and a chorus of ‘There’s only one Gary Speed’ soon followed. The match turned out to become a side event, with the crowd vocally active throughout the 90 minutes – indeed, ‘Ohhh Gary, Gary Gary Gary Gary Speed’ echoed heartrendingly around for a good constant 10 minutes. The atmosphere was respectful and emotionally charged, and served as an excellent reminder as to how much football can touch thousands of peoples’ lives. Money and scandal does not come into it on days like today, football for the love of football.
Fittingly, Robert Snodgrass scored a second half brace to seal a 2-0 victory over Millwall on this most sorrowful of days.
An early morning drive up to the Headingley Stadium in Leeds was not something I was looking forward to on a Sunday, but with the weather proving to be better than expected, and a near enough unlimited supply of a branded stimulant drink on hand.. it wasn’t too bad!
The second one day international involving Pakistan against England was still to be somewhat overshadowed by the on going cricketing crisis. A recent name to be interviewed by police was spared active duty.
The game itself was a closely fought affair, with England pipping Pakistan to victory within the last few remaining balls. Andrew Strauss had a notable innings, earning himself another one day century.
Some images from my final day at the test match – it could have been the last day full stop, with Pakistan ending it with only 40 runs needed, alas, it rolled over in to the Saturday which I could not make!
Some action from day two at Headingley, Leeds.
The latest clash between these two visiting countries comes in the form of a 5 day test match, hosted by Yorkshire CCC at Headingly, Leeds. Having been out in the rain the previous night at Preston v Blackburn, I made sure not to be caught out again by going a little over prepared.. so much so I had to lose a few layers when the sun came out!
Australia opted to bat having won the toss, a decision they soon came to regret. Bowled out for 88 runs. One of their worst innings in recent test history. The rain eventually came, and stopped play for the day with Pakistan leading by a good 45+ runs for the loss of 3 wickets.. more to come tomorrow!
Having a commission on already for the Sunday, I wasn’t expecting to be called with a request to shoot the relegation tie between Leeds and Worcester. I could only manage to arrive for the second half, but bearing in mind the relegation struggle, the needed photographs were the joy and despair at the end of the game.
I was lucky enough to be at Elland Road (home of Leeds United FC) for this promising tie between two of the world’s best rugby league teams. What a tie it turned out to be! With Rhinos taking the early lead, Storm fought back and easily managed the win in the second half.