Well, well, well; what a turnaround Leeds United have had in 2015 thus far. They’ve gone from bottom two to the top half with just one league defeat – they’re flying. However, there should be some punishment for their behaviour in Saturday’s Championship match against deep-in-trouble Millwall.
Usually with Millwall, Leeds and behaviour being found in the same sentence, it would probably be a news headline associated with arrests and fighting. To be fair, it was quite the opposite – which is a good thing – but maybe it went a bit too far.
Ian Holloway, the Lions’ manager, was well within his rights to slam Leeds and their partnership with West Yorkshire Police Force for their harsh sanctions on Millwall supporters who wished to travel up to Elland Road for the relegation dog-fight.
Only 200 fans managed to make the trip from London up-north as they were forced, as they have done for the last few seasons, to collect their match tickets at a heavily policed and pre-determined motorway service station.
In the match, the tiny collection of away fans were not able to make nearly enough of an atmosphere to drive their team forward as a superb Alex Mowatt free-kick in the first-half proved to be the difference between the rivals.
As a club that prides themselves on having such a strong support on the road and at home, you would think that the club and Police together could have worked on finding a better solution.
In a way, their quandary is perfectly understandable. Clashes between the clubs down the years have been ugly, and nobody truly wants to see such scenes, but the problem has died-down a lot recently – progress has been made.
Modern policing methods have improved recently, so surely allowances can be made on letting a few more people through the gate?
You don’t see these measures in the biggest derbies elsewhere in Europe; imagine the uproar if only a few hundred Manchester United fans were permitted against City, or Liverpool fans were blocked from going down Stanley Park to Goodison… it wouldn’t happen, so a match between a team from London and Yorkshire shouldn’t be an issue either.
Neil Redfearn’s men had a massive advantage in a massive match at the weekend, and it isn’t really fair, is it? Holloway was convinced that fans of his club should be given a second chance to show that they have changed, and that it is time that they be given the opportunity to rebuild their reputation.
Hopefully it’ll be all change when these two next meet, however this result has gone a long way to condemning the Lions to League One…