Leeds fans set to return home after 16 long months
20 Aug 2021 08:04 am, by YorkshireSquare
On Saturday afternoon, Elland Road Stadium, home, will host its first Premier League game with a full crowd since Saturday 8th May 2004. For the first time since March 2020 a full cohort of Leeds United fans will resume their usual matchday rituals. Waking with butterflies in the stomach, unable to sleep, impatient for what is to come. There is always a nervous anxiety on a home match day, an excitement simmering and building throughout the day. The morning drags, its existence seems pointless, futile, for everything that you care about, the reason you woke rose this morning is yet to come.
It’s nearly time, you go to the wardrobe and choose your battle dress. This seasons brand new crisp adidas offering with those Premier league patches on the arms? Dazzling yellow Strongbow to celebrate our return to the top flight? Or retro, Thistle Hotels with a football in a Yorkshire Rose? Three stripes it, with a scarf of white, blue and yellow draped around your shoulders. From all across the city fans embark their chariots; the 1, the 51, the R2 from Sovereign Street. From the north, south, east and west and further afield the crowds descend on Beeston.
With headphones in, The Square Ball podcast on the bus winds through the city, filling with more and more yellow, white and blue with every stop. Disembarking at the Drysalters or Whistlestop, a swift pint (or two) with friends old and new. The noise rises as the gaggle grows, suddenly the chants break out; “Marching On Together, We're gonna see you win, Na na na na na na, We are so proud, We shout it out loud we love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!”
Quarter to three, it’s time. The walk down Wesley Street or up Elland Road, the crowds growing and growing as you get closer and closer. The police horses trot by as the smell of cooking onions from the burger vans waft past, the scarf vendors and fanzine sellers jostle for your hard earned as you round Billy Bremner and walk down Lowfields Road. In through the turnstiles, stopping for a Balti pie on the way, along the concourse then out into the arena. Stopping at the top of the steps, you take it all in, home at long last!
The noise builds, the chants ring round the ground until that moment just before kick-off, then silence… The whistle blows and a thunderous roar erupts around the stadium, here we go, “Come on Leeds!” On days like this there is no better place, no louder place to be than Elland Road. But this season it is different, after sixteen years of waiting for our return to the top flight, over a year waiting to get back inside it’s going to be one hell of a cauldron of noise!
To celebrate this occasion, BBC Music Introducing in West Yorkshire and BBC West Yorkshire Sport have teamed up with Leeds rapper Graft to create a song to mark the monumental event for BBC Radio Leeds. Leeds rapper Graft was recently crowned the winner of the BBC Three’s Rap Game UK and is a passionate supporter of his hometown club. In fact, Graft (Jovanni Sterling) spent two years at Leeds United's Academy before making the decision to focus fully on his music. BBC Music Introducing in West Yorkshire presenter, Emily Pilbeam and Radio Leeds Sports Editor, Jonathan Buchan, tasked Graft with writing a tune to celebrate the return of fans to Elland Road - something that we know the fans and the club have been longing for. ‘Welcome Home’ is the result, and it is a triumph.