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Lost in London - A recurring Leeds nightmare?
Monday, 10th Feb 2020 17:05 by Tim Whelan

Our trips to the nations capital so far this season have resulted in five defeats in five games. Is this a curse, or can we get a result at Brentford to break the run?

It’s fair to say that Yorkshire folk are very fond of making dismissive comments about that London at every opportunity. Whether it’s the way the media play up the importance of the south-east, the way the ‘home’ counties get all the investment (billions spent on Crossrail while Leeds has to suffer Northern Rail) and the perceived lack of friendliness, we all love a good moan about London.

We hate the way that nobody talks to each other on the tube whenever we visit that London. And even the weather gets a look in. Legendary Yorkshire cricket captain Ray Illingworth used to complain that the southern counties had an advantage due to the drier weather daan saaf. Finally, one lass of my acquaintance moans that chips with gravy isn’t even on the menu in London eateries.

And when it comes to football, Leeds United have at times had a less than spectacular record in London, even in the Revie days, though this season we seemed to have plummeted to even lower depths. In five games in all competitions we’ve suffered five defeats, numerous poor decisions against us, and several disciplinary issues of varying severity.

Our tale of woe begins at the Valley in late September, with an all too familiar 1-0 defeat in a game when we dominated possession and did everything but score. And not for the last time, an incident in London was to bring a Leeds player before the FA, after Kiko Casilla was accused of saying something inappropriate that was overheard by Jonathan Leko. I’m sure it was all due to cultural difficulties.

We were back in South-East London only a week later, to face Charlton’s noisy neighbours. Our rivalry with Millwall developed into a full-blown hatred around the turn of the last decade, when the two clubs had a few battles in the race to get out of League One. With their ‘no one likes us’ stance they are basically a southern version of us, but with a much smaller fanbase and with no history of winning any trophies.

As ever the natives worked themselves up into a frenzy and it seemed to get to the referee, judging by his ludicrous decision to award a penalty and send Berardi off when Tom Bradshaw fell over in the box. At least on that occasion the FA saw sense and rescinded his ban, but that was too late to help us on the day. Having to play with 10 men from the 14th minute onwards was the main reason for our 2-1 defeat.

After two and a half months off for good behaviour, we had to come to London again just before Christmas, this time at Craven Cottage. And we suffered another contentious penalty decision on the way to a 2-1 defeat, when our share of the play deserved at least a draw. And after the game we learned of yet another disciplinary issue that would bring a Leeds player before the FA.

This time it was Liam Cooper, charged with using insulting language to a ball boy in the tense closing stages of the game. Cooper was let off with a warning after giving a grovelling apology, saying how bad he was to swear at someone of such a tender age. But I think that if the lad was intentionally time wasting Cooper was perfectly entitled to tell the little **** to **** off.

Thankfully the only FA involvement in the next game was that we were playing for their Cup, and we got plenty of plaudits from far and wide for the way we conducted ourselves at Arsenal. But it was yet another 1-0 defeat in a game when we had plenty of chances, especially in the first half. The media purred over how we would enhance the Premiership, but first we have to get there.

Which we won’t if we have too many more days like our visit to QPR. Again losing 1-0 after missing several chances, and again the victims of a dodgy decision, with the Rangers goal that would have been disallowed if the officials had seen the handball. And again there was a disciplinary problem, though Phillips took his straight red card like a man, and didn’t trouble the FA with any appeal against his three match ban.

So, we now have one more game in London to set the record straight and avoid a 0 per cent record in the capital for an entire season. Our last ever visit to Griffin Park is a vital game against an improving side, and of course we lost there last year during our desperate finish to the season. My head says it’s not the kind of fixture where we can expect to break our losing run.

But now that I’ve made that last comment to finish this article of doom and gloom, Leeds are bound to make me look like a tit by storming to a brilliant away win, by at least 3-0. Won’t they?


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