Ross McCormack3,200 travelling self acclaimed ‘vile animals’ descended on South East London for what was to be a memorable day for many reasons. The London weather was relentless, rain, rain and yet more rain. Rumours circulated on the twittersphere that the game was off, fans panicked, cursed and threatened direct action at such ludicrous claims whilst all camps squabbled around in the quagmire to see if a football could pass along the surface. It could, and with a thirty minute delay, the game was given the go ahead.

Half an hour is a long time in a pub, and evidently there was time for two more pints which of course the travelling hoards happily obliged to drink. Upon arriving to the Valley the atmosphere was rife, this was football as it was meant to be, no ‘Ronaldo’ style quiffs and Bubbleheads prancing on the wings, today was about hard hitting, smashing the ball to pass it five yards and playing with the grit, passion and determination that would make the legends Gray and Lorimer (who I met on friday) thoroughly happy. Leeds were in great voice, as always. The staff in the ground were kindly serving alcohol to soften a delayed start, despite the cold hotdog I had to endure, the game was raring up, and to our seats we went, wading through crowds of jubilant Leeds, chanting ever louder in anticipation of the start of a game that would have suited Colin Wanker’s ‘long ball game’ to no ends!

The game kicked off, the rain still steadily falling on the pitch and the pitch still soaking up what it could, the ground was heavy and the passes were short, this would be a physically draining affair and one that McDermott had anticipated, with the inclusion of Michael Brown to the line up, the conditions perfect for a player with his ‘abilities’. Charlton seemed to adapt to the pitch quicker than Leeds did, and produced an early flurry of chances that could have tested Kenny, thankfully nothing too eventful happened and the shots whistled wide and over, to the cheers and jeers of the Leeds faithful. The closest of the chances fell to Callum Harriot who shot narrowly wide of Kenny’s post. Leeds however made the breakthrough, to the chorus of ‘WACCOE’ the new boy Blackstock headed down a long ball and number 44 was on the end of it to shoot hard and low under the rushing keeper. 1-0 to Leeds and the stands erupted, the man next to me ending up some three rows in front of his allocated seat. Brilliant.

Leeds decided then to sit back, which was frustrating to say the least, after 17 minutes a second goal could have justly killed the game on a pitch that would have suited water polo over football. Charlton enjoyed the spell of pressure, forcing some fine saves from Kenny, a keeper who looked in inspired form, reacting to one shot like a cat to block a point blank shot. Charlton could not find a way through the resilient Leeds defence, looking steady as a back five. However as the much needed break approached, Leeds were undone by a wonder strike from Charlton’s Cameron Stewart, the ball sitting up nicely and him volleying home a sublime equaliser.

Charlton’s attacking intent was now making Leeds panic, and they nearly took the lead just before the break, however the away side held firm and the fans helped the lads to get into the break level, phew, was the general reaction.

Half time came and went as the beers were now no longer on sale and the coffee brigade took control of proceedings, inside the belly of the stand the chanting continued as party mode took hold in the darkening south of London town. Those who had backed a draw a sites like bwin will have had one eye on their betting slips.

The second half began to the roar of’ ‘We all love Leeds’ and within two minutes the referee was pointing to the spot, Danny Pugh (a very much unsung hero from yesterday) was sent tumbling in the box after a gut busting run to collect McCormack’s flick on. The Scotsman stepped up and blasted the penalty down the middle of the net, much to the delight of the travelling army. Leeds looked in control, and the roar of ‘Marching on Together’ could be heard all over South London it was deafening! Leeds and Charlton then started on a middle of the park battle, big tackles and nitty gritty football that Barcelona fans would wince at. Kenny was once again called upon in the 55th minute as the ever present Stewart forced a super save out of the inspired keeper. The game was edging towards the midpoint in the second half, and the Leeds fans were as vociferous as ever, song after song belting out of the away end to the sound of silence from the home crowd, yet, against the script, captain Jackson equalised for Charlton with a tap in following some neat wing play from the home team. Kenny was visibly angry as three Leeds players failed to stop the cross or finish, the defence was dismal.

The goal had knocked the stuffing out of the Leeds fans somewhat, and despite McCormack’s best effort to run here, there and everywhere, the fans found little to shout about, the home fans came back into the game and the chances of a rare away win were slowly slipping by. But just as the tides were turning, Leeds, and McCormack broke through again, a neatly timed and superbly placed volley topped of the Scotland international’s first ever professional hat-trick! The Leeds fans really did begin the party now with “let’s go f**king mental” now resonating through the stand. Leeds, surprisingly, did not buckle though and kept the pressure on. This allowed the fans to continue the party without the usual end of game fingernail biting! And, after captain Austin was brought down outside the box on the 91st minute ‘Sir’ Ross McCormack was able curl home the best of his four goals from the resulting free kick. A sublime ending to a wonderful individual performance and a great team effort, Leeds prevailed on the worst pitch we have played on for some time, and the thousands of fans could travel home happy in the knowledge that we sit one point out of the play offs going into the international break.

Things are looking up. Marching on together.

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