The Scratching Shed is delighted to welcome Doug (Chicago White) from the Leeds United Americas, for a look back on their recent trip to the Emirates for the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

On a cold January 6th I headed to Chicago O’Hare on a short return back to Blightey to watch Dirty Leeds take on the mighty Arse at the Emirates, after connecting through Boston I arrived early Friday morning in rainy Larndan.

LUA setup base in the Crowne Plaza near Victoria station. At 4pm I got a call from Binny & Dodie who had flown in from LA and it was arranged to meet up with Wiggy, a LUA member on loan to Newbury via Northern California & DC. The venue decided was the aptly named Colonies pub where we were also met by #twitterwhite Mr @webeatscum1_0 who was made famous in the general election for running under that name and garnering a respectable vote tally. In all about 10 Leeds fans were in attendance with the LUA whites all wearing their LUA tops which elicited attention from some locals – a few who were Leeds fans and also a Millscum fan who was shocked that we had fans travelling in from the Americas. A great night was had with lots of vigorous discussion especially between yours truly and @webeatscum1_0 as we have had a fair few twitter debates (even though we agree on about 98%).

Game day and an early start at Spoons Victoria for a full monty breakfast, I’d just ordered breakfast and was awaiting for Wiggy, Dodie & Binny when about 20 Leeds fans walk in, see my shirt give the obligatory salute and ask if they could join us. The down side was they insisted (forced me) into having a Guinness at 8:30am and of course once you start it is difficult to stop. By 9AM GB had made it in from LA and the LUA posse was nearly complete, we were hoping to meet up with Charlie from the ATL & Mark from Houston sometime during the day but drinking and travel issues got in the way.

Anyway 3 pints of Guinness later and it was decided to head North for a meet with the TSB posse. Unfortunately due to train delays the TSB meet never happened and we instead headed to Highbury & Islington tube station as we had to collect our tickets from the Arse ticket office. Leaving Highbury & Islington station and following the throng of Leeds fans for the 5 minute walk to the stadium, this was my first trip to the Emirates and I have to say, it’s an impressive looking stadium on the outside all metal & glass.

Programmes were purchased, tickets collected and into the ground we went. Our tickets were in the lower level to the right of the goal as we faced the pitch, the Leeds end was already full but the rest of the stadium was deserted. A quick 4 quid chicken balti pie and the atmosphere was rising well with the Leeds fans, but we were starting to wonder whether the Arsenal fans were turning up. Thirty minutes to go Leeds fans packed in and in great voice singing the praises of the lads as they warmed up. Just time for a few pic’s before the start of the match and the teams were announced.

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Five minutes to go and as the teams come out so too do the Arse fans, the team line-ups are announced. Strangely the Arse starting 11 are announced by 1st name only which seemed a little effeminate to say the least.

Leeds kick-off and are playing away from the Leeds fans to thunderous noise from the travelling Whites and deafening silence from the Arse. A pretty cagey first 20 minutes but Leeds were holding our own with no clear cut chances but both sides comfortable in possession. Arse, as typical when they did have possession tried to walk it into the Leeds box. First real and only chance in the 1st half was when Arshavin was put through on goal and Kasper stood tall and made a great block, Leeds looked good on the break but never got that final ball. Arse forced a few corners late in the first half and Jonny did clear off the line for Leeds to scramble clear.

This was predominantly a midfield battle and Leeds were not being embarrassed by what I believe is the best midfield in the EPL. So all even on the pitch at half time but only one winner on the terraces as the Leeds fans never stopped singing and the Arse fans never bothered to start. Two good renditions of the Dom & Radebe songs and great choruses of MOT & WACCOE were the highlights.

Second half and Leeds start strong playing into the faithful. We saw some of the lads we met in Spoons earlier, all of whom had there shirts off while doing WACCOE. Arse also start strongly with lots of possession but again no real penetration and Leeds were looking dangerous on the break… Then it happened, Watt takes it down the left but is forced to play it to Snoddy in the left-corner who flicks it back to Gradel. Max jinks into the box and is tripped by Denilson, Dowd blows for a penalty, Snods steps up and blasts under the left hand of the Arse keeper into the net in front of the rapturous Leeds fans. The Leeds fans go delirious and Leeds are on the front foot attacking the Arse and controlling midfield to such an extent Voyeur brings Song off for Fabregas.

Arse now with lots of possession but Leeds look really dangerous on the break, a ball out to Johnson wide on the left see’s his cross tipped over the bar by the keeper. From the resulting corner an awesome header by Becchio is saved by the keeper. Voyeur subs Chamak for Walcott who goes out right to play on Parker who’s already on a yellow card.

Another attack by Leeds and Becchio fouled just outside the box for a free-kick.Snods steps up and belts one that swerves just around the post – so close. Larry subs Watt who has taken a knock on his head and brings on Bromby, then a few minutes later Voyeur makes his last change with Vela coming on for Rosisky. Ten minutes to go and Leeds are on the back foot without Watt and his pace as an outlet. Again Arse have lots of possession but little penetration. A great break from Howson who finds Gradel who crosses for it just to be taken off Becchio’s toe.  That would be Becchio’s last contribution to the festivities as he is subbed for Somma.

Five minutes to go and everyone is starting to wonder if we can win at the Emirates?One minute before full time and Walcott breaks into the box and goes down – Dowd signals penalty but then waves it off as the linesman signals Bendtner offside and Leeds are let off, only for Walcott to go down again 30 seconds later. It looked like a dive but Dowd gives Arsenal a lifeline and points to the spot. Fabregas steps up hits it down the middle but Kasper has decided to dive to his right. If he’d stood still it would have bounced off him but no blame can be pointed at Kasper. In the dying seconds Kasper makes a very good save to his right to push the ball around the post and not long after Dowd blows the whistle for an Elland Road replay.

A very good result and a great performance by the lads who immediately run over to celebrate with the Leeds fans who had never sat down or stopped singing very much to the shame of the Arse fans.

Arse now head to Elland Road for what is bound to be a cauldron of an atmosphere, the Emirates is an awesome stadium but I will take ER everyday just for the atmosphere that it generates.

Highlights – the Leeds players to a man were awesome, the Leeds fans were just incredible especially songs such as “your just a small town in Tottenham”, “ITV is f*&^%ing shit” & “Your just our feeder club” standing out.

Post game, a quick meet up outside the Emirates with the Thames Valley Whites to give a gift to a very special TVW who couldn’t make the game but I’m sure was there in spirit then on to the Dolphin pub near King Cross which was packed out with Whites and where we drank late watching Everton stuff our next opponents and then to larf at the barcodes as they lost to Stevenage.

Next day GB & I went to The Stage Door to watch Cess vs Scum and another dodgy penalty, Gerrard committing GBH but not getting away with it and then the 4th round draw.

Monday and Dodie, Binny, GB and myself met up for breakfast before GB & I headed to Heathrow for our long journey back to LA & Chicago – weary, liver damaged but pretty happy.

On a sad note LUA White Barry Jackson, who I first met when Leeds played DC United, lost his fight with Pancreatic cancer. Also good luck to MikeB who is having surgery this week – all our thoughts are with you Mike.

For anyone living in the Americas please check out LeedsUnitedAmericas. Membership is free as we derive revenue through merchandise sales and offer various services to our membership including tickets home and away, regional and national meets, a very active forum and gameday chat room.

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