Hahnemann was there
By Peter Smith
Get up early. Nervous? No. Put on my 04/05 away shirt, but it is white,
wrong colour, so put the BSaD ten years red shirt over it; that's better.
Getting a bit nervous now. Matt (my sixteen year old son) comes in should he
wear his first team shirt as he's never seen a team he supports lose while
wearing it; good omen okay, do it. Drive down the M4, take photos of the
road signs - "Watford Millennium Stadium use J29"; listen to Matt reading
"The Inspector calls" aloud (GCSE exam on Tuesday). Text my Leeds
supporting colleagues from work - "May the best team win, but hey what a
season" just in case I need to face them on Monday.
Severn Bridge Toll - never use the right hand lane again, utter gridlock.
More gridlock as we leave the M4 all the way into Cardiff; for a city which
has hosted these types of games over the last few years, it's utter chaos. Park
in a side street and walk to the stadium, very nervous now. Half an hour to
go, find our seats Block U33, the toppest of top rows...just like Wembley in
'99, another good omen. Can touch the roof from here, side of the pitch dead
in line with the penalty area, great seats.
Game starts, early pressure, cannot understand why we have two forwards
attending each corner, DeMerit scores and I can see why, it takes two Leeds
defenders to mark us so there is no-one on the Leeds line we lose one
player from the penalty area melee, they lose two brilliant.
Leeds' tactics seem strange - 4-5-1, one attacker for a one-off game? Also,
standing a player in front of Foster at set pieces to intimidate is
pointless any goalmouth scrum and the ref is bound to give it to us as by
definition the goalkeeper is bound to have been impeded.
Halftime, this is surreal; last year, we lost to Leeds in the dying weeks
of the season and I thought we were gone, now we're at the Millennium Stadium 10 up
and on our way - surreal.
Second half - can we hang on? Will we make the mistake of going into our
shell and defending our lead? No chance. More pressure, Chambers' "goal".
Lucky? You have to be up there for it to go in! Delirium, complete
and utter, this is not real, I'll wake up in a minute. Realise I haven't
sat down for the whole of the second half, toppest of the top row
Watching the clock now, counting it down. "Come on lads, come on, not long
now, not long."
Marlon gets the ball right hand side of their penalty area, just holds it,
holds it, asks for it, just asks, Derry obliges, goes for the lunge, twat
PENALTY! That's it, it's over, Darius isn't going to miss he doesn't -
it's ours, we're home. Text from wife Tina - "well done"; lucky it was a text as
I've no voice left, just like '99. But this was different - no surprises, no
overhead kicks, no running counter-attack, just planning, preparation and
hard work and more planning, preparation and hard work.
Hug Matt for the third time - "This is better than your lot winning every
week," I say, and he agrees. His first team shirt has a Reading badge on the front
Hahnemann on the back never seen them lose all season, but this is better,
Off to practice my "magnanimous" for my Leeds colleagues on Monday. It's
going to be hard.