A new season means new hope for Leeds United, who avoided relegation from the Premier League on the last day of last season. A new manager and a raft of new players brings hope and some trepidation as to what’s to come at Elland Road.
For some though, it’s a ritual that goes back years and win, lose or draw they will be cheering on the Whites in the famous old ground whatever.
Leeds United have a fanbase all over the world, so when that fan base turns up in LS11 for a home match where to go?
Unlike Leeds United itself (formed in 1919) the Holbeck Working Men’s Club or just ‘The Holbeck’ has been around much longer. Although this building opened in 1877 an earlier club was started in 1871 situated in the houses just off Holbeck Moor. President and Committee Carol, Ian and Dennis greet Leeds fans before and after the match for refreshments.
One regular Terry told me he had been coming to the Holbeck since before the war. His Grandad used to use the excuse of taking his grandson for a walk around the moor before popping in for a few lunchtime jars. He remembered coming to the Holbeck to celebrate the great John Charles playing for Leeds. One of the true all time greats of the club.
Leeds have a big following in Scandinavia and a mix of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish fans now frequent the Holbeck. One supporter Aspjon has been following Leeds since the late 80s and was looking forward to seeing Leeds’ new Danish signing Rasmus Kristensen making his league debut.
Around two hours before kick-off the Holbeck gets noisy as the Shropshire Whites turn up in their bus. Chief Shropshire White Gaz told me that fans come from all over the county to watch Leeds. As well as fans from Telford and Shrewsbury some supporters drive up from South Wales to come on the Shropshire White’s bus.
One fan John had come from Tredegar and won the Shropshire Whites Supporter of the Year.
When asked ‘Why Leeds?’ Gaz said that he’d been following the White’s since the early 70s (the glory period) and after the 1972 FA cup victory over Arsenal became hooked. The All White kit was appealing, but on his first visit to Elland Road in 1979 his clergyman father was unimpressed by the foul language. But now it’s ‘in the blood’ for him and the Shropshire Whites follow Leeds everywhere.
The Holbeck was full to bursting before kick off and I spoke to fans from places such as Walsall, Stoke, Cheshire and Southampton.
Ian from Southampton travels up for most matches and although born in the West Midlands was brought up in Wakefield and the love of Leeds United was born.
Most supporters were sad to see former Coach Marcelo Bielsa go, but were looking forward to the new season. Brendan Aaronson seemed to be the most exciting prospect, but quite a few would still like to sign a back up striker for Patrick Bamford.
Ian from Milton Keynes says it changed his life coming to The Holbeck: “The people are welcoming and Carol is the best president ever.” he said.
The Holbeck itself is going through changes with the departure of performance group Slung Low, but with an upcoming Freddie Mercury Tribute Night on September 16th and plenty more Leeds home games the club will still have plenty punters through the doors.
Today’s (6 August 2022) game against Wolverhampton Wanderers ended in a 2-1 victory for Leeds, so the celebrations will go on long into the night at The Holbeck before everyone makes the long journey home only to do the same again in a fortnight’s time.