Leeds United ended their travels for the 2011/12 season with a long trip to South Wales to take on play-off bound Cardiff City. Trips across the border to slay Welsh Dragons have been pretty fruitless for the Whites in recent times; in fact it has been 28 years since Leeds have returned home with the spoils.
That fact alone would be enough to dishearten most supporters from making the long trip from West Yorkshire to South Wales. When you throw in the fact that the game was a 12.30 kick off, that Leeds had absolutely nothing to play for, and for the last few weeks have looked like they were planning their summer holidays then you would expect a pitiful turn out from most clubs.
But Leeds United are not most clubs and over 1400 hardy supporters set off for the 4 hour journey to Cardiff. Whilst not one of the largest contingents to follow the Whites this season, it was still a remarkable number of fans to travel to a game, which to all intents and purposes meant absolutely nothing.
The level of support the club receives on its travels is perhaps one of the reasons that the away form of Leeds United has been their saving grace this season. When on the road, it is a given that you give the team your unequivocal backing, and get behind them, no matter what.
At home things have been hugely different. Ten defeats at Elland Road tells its own story. That is not to say that the fans have not got behind the team, but with the support spread around a ground which has been sparsely populated for most of the season, it has been difficult to generate the febrile atmosphere the ground has been known for.
There are many reasons for the lack of spark from the home fans this year. Attendances have generally been relatively poor, in the main due to the prohibitive ticket prices. With the cheapest ticket generally around the £26 mark, it has been a case of pick and choose for most supporters in these difficult economic times. This has seen attendances fluctuate from the 33K who turned up for the match against West Ham, to the paltry 19K against Birmingham and Peterborough.
There has also been the split between fans at how the club is being run. As was seen from the comments following my last post, there are differing opinions as to the success of the Ken Bates regime. A series of protests at how the club is run took place around the turn of the year, and although there has been a truce in recent weeks following the appointment of Neil Warnock, it can be taken as read that should there be no investment in the side during the summer, then the protests will return.
It does seem that there is to be a huge revamp of the squad. Following the release of Mika Varaynen and Ben Parker early last week, Darren O’Dea had his loan from Celtic cancelled on Friday following his dismissal in the 1-0 defeat at Blackpool.
The Republic Of Ireland international was rumoured to be interesting Neil Warnock next season to join the club on a permanent basis, with initial talks taking place. However that deal is now dead and Leeds look to be on the verge of making Jason Pearce of Portsmouth the first addition to the squad for 2012/13, especially now that Pompey have been relegated to League One.
If Pearce does sign it is a signal of Warnock’s intent, looking for hungry young players to rise to the challenge of playing for a big club. It’s that sort of signing that will excite the fans, and get them back behind the team next season, restoring Elland Road to the fortress it once was. With the fans behind them home and away, Leeds United will be a different proposition to the team that has been masquerading as them this term.