Tomorrow sees the meeting of Leeds United and Barnsley at Elland Road, and it’s a game that as a Leeds fan, I’ve come to dread. It’s not because Leeds haven’t beaten them while playing in The Championship. It’s not because we got an absolute pasting away from home last year (5-2 if anyone remembers) and it’s not because my best mate is a Barnsley fan and perpetually tells me how much he hates Leeds! The un-nerving feeling of dread when playing the tykes comes from how much the game means to the Barnsley fans, the staff, and most importantly the players, in comparison to their Leeds United counterparts
Granted the majority of this impetus comes from the loyal Barnsley fans wanting to get one over on their ‘bigger’ Yorkshire neighbours, and without the presence of Sheffield United in the Championship this year, this game is arguably Barnsley’s biggest. Which then leads me on to thinking, “Why don’t Leeds care as much about this game as Barnsley?”
Gone are the days of Leeds fans looking for the Man U game when the fixtures are announced, or Chelsea for example. No doubting Leeds’ illustrious past and the heady ‘glory days’ of League titles, F.A. Cups, and Champions League appearances, but we’re not there now. Of course we’re going to brag about it and be proud of it but as Leeds fans we need to take a look around, take stock and realise where we are now a top 8 Championship team, top 6 at best. Leeds United’s fall from grace has been both spectacular and well documented, but we have to get our current place in the footballing world into perspective, and get excited about an upcoming game against another Yorkshire club.
Well what’s to get excited about? It’s a Yorkshire derby! There’s 22 miles between the two grounds meaning that Barnsley are the nearest club to Leeds in the Championship. Instead of dismissing this fixture as ‘just another game’ Leeds should have the extra desire to get one over on our Yorkshire rivals and attempt to cement our place as the biggest, highest placed club in the division. Especially bearing in mind our recent record against them! Barnsley will bring a decent following, despite the outrageous prices Mr Bates is charging them. Leeds should get a few extra bodies inside Elland Road, get the crowd up for it and make an atmosphere and spectacle that’s fitting for a feisty Yorkshire Derby.