Elland Road - Leeds United
Wednesday 1st January 2003
V Birmingham City, Premier League 3pm
By Robert Parker
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be)?
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground:
My main thought was how most of the ground resembled the infamous lions-den of the Sixties and Seventies, whilst the East Stand towered over the rest of the ground, looking very much the picture of the architectural excellence to which we are quickly becoming accustomed in this country. Away fans were housed in one corner, between the South and East Stands. Apart from the East Stand, the Stadium was showing its age, looking tatty outside and not at all impressive for a Premiership ground. There were a number of supporting pillars in the West and South Stands, and in those parts of the grounds where the corners had been filled in. One good feature however was a video screen in one corner. The blend between the traditional and the futuristic make this an intriguing place to watch your football.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc:
After a terrible 2002, Leeds got of to the right start to the New Year with a morale-boosting win. The fact that they got an early goal helped them, though Birmingham, despite staying in the contest with a battling display, did not have the class to give the cutting edge to their hard work. Leeds imposed themselves increasingly as the game wore on, and notched a second goal with twenty minutes left. Once again stewarding at a football match was sensible and restrained; all staff members I encountered being friendly and helpful when required. A half time trip to the toilet revealed one of the strangest sights I have witnessed at a ground: I walked straight into the gents toilets and didn't have to wait at all, but when walking back down the concourse to my seat, spotted a huge tailback from the Ladies loo, consisting almost exclusively of men! Bizarre. There were some huge queues for refreshments at half time so I gave it a miss, instead chewing on a Mars Bar I had brought for the occasion. One complaint I would add would be excessive volume of the PA system. Legroom however was better than average.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
We left slightly early to get ahead of the crowd, but by the time we arrived back at the car park, we found that the cars had been jammed in like sardines and that we were blocked in until almost everyone else left. To add a touch of irony, the exit road from the car park was by then clogged up with cars leaving the official car parks, the very ones we had rushed out early to beat back onto the motorway! Luckily the policing of the roads was very well handled and we were back on the motorway making our way home (in surprisingly light traffic) in good time, given the nature of the initial blockage.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
In my view, this is a 'must' for fans of grounds as they were back in the heyday of the troublesome yet romantic hooligan culture that existed back in the 1970s. Stands such as the West and Community Stands evoke feelings of the historic nature of our game, and add a very earthy feel to the match day experience. Despite this, they are disappearing at an alarming rate, being replaced by visually impressive but essentially soulless structures, devoid of the character and charm of grounds such as Elland Road. My visit was trouble-free and I found the atmosphere to be impressive. I would recommend a trip here to all football fans.
an away or general football fan who has visited Elland Road recently?
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