A few notes from my visit to Leeds last weekend.
Let me set the scene. I was going away with Katie for a rare weekend with no children. We have a friend in North Yorkshire so thought we would go and see them and therefore take the opportunity to try to see Jermaine at Leeds, as they were at home too.
So I wrote to Shaun Harvey, the Leeds CEO, and asked whether we would be able to take up the offer of a pair of tickets for a match. My expectations therefore were for a couple of tickets and maybe access to a lounge to possibly meet up with Mr Beckford – who subsequently got suspended after this widely publicised elbow incident.
We did indeed get two tickets but actually for whatever reason, Leeds rolled out the red (or should that be white) carpet for us. We were invited to be guests of the Chairman, Ken Bates, to have lunch before the game with him (as well as hospitality at half time and after the match), a prime car parking space and two seats in the directors box.
When we turned up at 12.30 we still didn’t know what to expect. We were greeted by the familiar face of Ken Bates and introduced to his wife, to Shaun Harvey and some others. Our table for lunch included Ken and Susannah Bates, who couldn’t have done more to make Katie feel welcome, and also the Earl of Harewood, the 86 year old President of Leeds United together with his wife – it turns out he is a member of the Royal Family (1st cousin to the Queen), and other people we met included Gwyn Williams, Leeds’ technical director (a former teacher of Gordon Bartlett) and Leslie Silver a previous Leeds Chairman.
Our seats were in the second row of the directors box and Shaun Harvey gave Katie and I a tour of the stadium including the LUTV studios and a walk down the tunnel onto the pitch, all the time looking for Jermaine who unfortunately was nowhere to be found.
I was so impressed that they went to so much trouble for us, it was both unexpected and a fantastic experience, soured only by the texts coming in from Carshalton around the time Ashey missed the second penalty.
The pre-season friendly is very much on – date to be confirmed fairly soon – and discussions with Ken Bates, who let’s face it is known as one of the most controversial characters the game has ever known – were very interesting. My take is that he is a guy who knows what he wants, says what he wants and typically gets what he wants – and doesn’t worry about what others think about it. Ken is only in the UK 90 days a year and although I expect it is unlikely I hope that one of them will be at Ruislip for the pre-season game.
As for Jermaine, let’s hope he continues to score lots of goals. Had he played on Saturday I am sure Leeds would have won by more than the 2-0 result.