It is over 13 years since Leeds fans visited St James Park for a league game.
Relegated in the 2003/04 season, the two clubs missed each other in 2009/10 because despite Newcastle dropping down to the Championship, Leeds had managed to drop even further and were then in League One.
The depths to which Leeds fans have dropped in these intervening seasons, was summed up by the fact that the game at Elland Road earlier this season was the first 36,000 league sellout they’d had for years.
Garry Monk says that his players suffered that day because they weren’t used to the big crowd/atmosphere and we’ll find out on Friday whether they handle fifty two thousand crowds any better, the game having sold out weeks ago despite a Friday night kick-off and live TV coverage.
However, their players get on, no surprise to see the Leeds fans getting a little bit excited ahead of the game.
It is now getting on for the best part of a generation since Leeds were in the top tier and on 7 January 2004 Newcastle beat them 1-0 in the last (Premier) league clash between these two clubs, with some fans who were still at school back then, now in their early 30s married and with a couple of kids.
Comments from Leeds fans via various of their message boards:
‘Is this the game everyone has been waiting for ?
The last time I visited St James Park was in a pre-season friendly. 5,000 Leeds fans witnessed Fabian Delph running rings around Nicky Butt, Joey Barton & Alan Smith as we gained a 0-0 draw.
Toon duo Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark will miss the tie if the Yorkshire Evening Post are to be believed.
They claim claim striker Gayle is ruled out of the televised St James’ Park fixture with a hamstring injury that could end his season. Clark will also be absent with the injury that has kept him out of Newcastle’s last four matches
Cooper serves his 3rd of 5 match ban whilst Sacko is also ruled out with an ankle injury.
Will Monk stick with a winning team or consider going more defensive using the likes of Bridcutt, O’Kane, Doukara or Dallas in our midfield ?’
‘I went to that friendly too but more recently attended the cup game where 6,000 sang their hearts out despite the defeat.
Newcastle can be a bit dodgy at home and have lost to some average sides. Teams who go there and attack tend to come away with something,
If it’s not going their way then the home crowd soon turn on them. Monk should know this and pick a forward thinking side as he did on Saturday, I’d start with the same eleven with defensive options should we start to get overrun.’
‘I suppose this is the game we’ve been mostly looking to.
Recently anyway, the one with and for me real feel about it, though hopefully we keep our heads and put it up to them.
I’m wanting to play Newcastle again quite soon this calendar year and don’t mean no friendly or cup tie either. Come on Leeds.’
‘I believe we lost the Reading/Brentford games & were poor at Fulham because of our negative tactics. We always look a better footballing side when we take the game to the opposition as oppose to sitting back putting immense pressure on our defence.
We need to be more direct & positive in games, players are not comfortable chasing shadows for 90 minutes.’
‘I agree. In any event sitting in a defensive shell and looking to counter attack is a losing proposition against this team and in this place.
They’re probably feeling more pressure than we are, what with the expectations of their fans and having fallen into second place. Let’s press early; the first goal in this game is going to be crucial.’
‘What’s the point in sitting back & wasting 60 minutes of a game or in our case wasting the whole 90 minutes in a few games. Drive on & be positive i say !’
‘I think Garry will set us up like he normally does against the league’s top top teams.
Meaning we might see two changes O’Kane (if Bridcutt isn’t fit to play) and Doukara.
I would guess: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Pontus, Berardi, Phillips, O’Kane/Viera, Roofe, Hernandez, Doukara/Pedraza, Wood.
I think we will be playing on the counter attack and trying to gegenpress them on the ball with the aim of trying stop Ritchie and Shelvey.
It’s all about balance in a game like this and we cannot afford to give Ritchie and Shelvey space.’
‘Travelling to St James Park for the first time for this match, really cant wait. Setting off nice and early with my friends given the expected 3 and 1/2 hour car journey from Birmingham and got a travelodge booked for the night so that we dont have to rush back after the game
Normally I would advocate an unchanged line up but given what transpired when Shelvey and Colback really outclassed our two kids in central midfield at ER, I think Bridcutt will be needed. Is there an argument to play Vieira, Phillips and the skipper possibly ?
One thing is for sure – Roofe has to start after an impressive performance on Saturday.
LEEDS AND FOREVER PROUD TO BE !!’
‘Well I’ve got my climbing boots,binoculars & oxygen mask packed to join up with 3000 plus loud Whites!
God knows what kit ‘ensemble’ we’re gonna turn out in this week
Their club stewards are briefing ER that they’ll be standing no nonsense of crowd goading end of – instant ejection.
So it’ll be a long,long climb down their 20 flight of stairs if you cross that line
Apparently the Toon Army has been very welcoming to ‘away supporters’ this season but not so sure about that when we visit – rare trouble reported has been after the games, so stay safe and hopefully we’ll have a good one.’
‘Took in a Newcastle game on a stag wkend last year. Thought the natives were quite friendly tho. Didnt have a Leeds shirt on, mind.’
‘St James Park atmosphere?
Totally surprised at their situation to be honest – hell it seems we are the last true bastions of fans who create noise home & away these days.’
‘Barcodes 2 Leeds 1.’
‘Newcastle 0 v 1 Leeds.’
‘3-0 to Newcastle..sadly.’
‘Would like to see us go 5 at the back at Newcastle,about time we gave the opposition something to think about,plus teams have won there by parking the bus and scoring on the break.We can be quick on the break.’
‘Newcastle, like many at the top end, have shown patchy form of late. Watched them against the Wendies and they’re no great shakes. I wont be one bit surprised if we get a result there on Friday.’
‘Newcastle will bounce back and win this one because they simply have to … if they play like they did against Wendies and Wigan then Leeds will turn them over.’