Beesotted contributor, Nemone Sariman, looks back at a great victory against Leeds United.
One of my most memorable away games, for all the wrong reasons, was the one last season at Elland Road. Yes, that one. The one featuring that Patrick Bamford late equaliser. I struggle to remember details about most matches – when fans describe that 2-0 home win against Leeds with Maupay and Canós on the score sheet, I nod sagely and smile but have no idea whatsoever – yet I do remember THAT match.
As football fans are aware, a late equaliser feels as glorious as a win when it’s in our favour, and as heavy as a loss when it isn’t. We left Elland Road feeling moderately deflated, but confident that Leeds would be in such a good mood that they’d forget to give us any grief. As we walked back to the car, we were approached by a scary lady in her late fifties, in a bright yellow raincoat, shaking her fist and calling us a string of expletives too rude to post here.
Now, I work with teenagers, so I have been called much worse. But I was mystified as to why she was so incensed when Leeds had managed to score a point from us. Another Leeds fan – a lady of around the same age as me – tried to offer us a few words of support, until she was grabbed by the arm and marched away by her son/nephew, in his twenties, who reprimanded her as if she were a child, telling her that she shouldn’t been seen talking to the likes of us (or words to that effect).
I probably shouldn’t have expected much more from fans who throw rubbish onto the pitch at their HOME GROUND, but this didn’t exactly leave me with a warm glow in my heart. Yes, I am grown-up enough to know that these incidents don’t reflect the feelings of the players, the club or the majority of the fans. But isn’t football supposed to be fun? We have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful fans of visiting teams, even sharing a table with them in the pub and walking down to the stadium together. And, when we were still in the Championship, we walked into a pub in Wigan to find it rammed with hard-as-nails home fans. Being brown, southern and wearing a Brentford shirt, my expectations for a warm welcome were low-to-zero, but the Wigan fans turned out to be the friendliest and most delightful people.
Why are Leeds fans so angry? Why can’t they just enjoy it?
The week after SwearyGate, I mentioned the experience to my Leeds-supporting colleague, hoping for a sympathetic ear and an apology on behalf of his countrymen. But it didn’t happen.
Him: “How did they know you were Brentford fans?”
Me: “From my scarf, I guess.”
Him: “You wore your colours to Elland Road?”
Me: “Erm … yes …”
Him: “Visiting fans NEVER wear colours to Elland Road!”
Him: [Chuckles and shakes head]
So it was … my fault? Surely this isn’t football: intimidating people to such a degree that they can’t wear the CLOTHES they want?
After this, and after the hugely anti-climactic final game of last season in which we had the chance to send them packing but didn’t, it seemed that Leeds United were fast becoming my nemesis: the Voldemort to my Harry Potter, the Lex Luthor to my Superman, the Tonya Harding to my Nancy Kerrigan. Damn you, Sweary Lady, Unsupportive Son/Nephew and Victim-Blaming Work Colleague. Damn you, Litter-Droppers. And, as for Patrick Bamford, I don’t know whether I should be damning you or thanking you; had you not scored that late equaliser, perhaps the mood would have dropped even further, resulting in us being beaten to death.
So, last Saturday, I wanted nothing less than vengeance and bloodshed a big win.
But Leeds United gave us more than that. In many ways, shaky refereeing decisions (both for and against us, if truth be told) aside, I think they gave us all the ingredients for A Match To Remember.
Obviously there is no one recipe for A Match To Remember. But, if there were, I think it would look rather like this:
Take 1 x small but atmospheric stadium and a team of staff who are hungry for a win. Fill stadium with assorted fans.
Add 11 x Bees, reserving 5 for later. Using Bees who have also played for the visiting club will add an extra kick.
Mix in a hefty dollop of acrimony.
Drizzle goals liberally. It is important to do so in the correct fashion otherwise the dish will be bitter and leave a long-lasting, unpleasant aftertaste.
Worldies, penalties and hat-tricks are optional, but the dish will taste much sweeter for them. Use any or all, as desired.
For extra spice, add a scattering of cards. For mild warmth use the yellow variant but, if your taste buds can handle it, red will provide some powerful heat. A managerial red, although a very elusive ingredient, will ensure that guests talk about this dish for years to come.
VAR sometimes enhances flavour but it may also cause the dish to burn. Use with caution.
Stir and cook at a high temperature for at least 90 minutes. Optional: increase heat towards end of cooking until Wissa is on fire and defence is terrified.
Serve piping hot, with a dusting of magic and a Freed From Desire chaser.
We could recreate this recipe as closely as possible when we visit Leeds in January, yet not have quite the same result; as any baker will tell you, it’s always a little iffy when you’re using someone else’s oven. But I am confident that the Bees will deliver us another showstopper.