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Leeds United Heidi Haigh

Heidi’s lasting love for the beautiful game

She’s been beaten up, abused, groped and chased by a gang of knife-wielding youths – but through it all Heidi Haigh’s passion for Leeds United has remained undimmed.

Brighouse Echo 2013

On 6 September 1975 before the Wolves match at Elland Road we had our pictures taken in the West Stand car park by the Daily Express (Sue, Carole, Linda and I) with a crowd of fans watching this happen. Carole had written a letter to them expressing how we tried to keep out of trouble by going on the service train but the coppers were adamant we had to go on the football special trains, but we had refused. These trains were put on specifically to take football fans to away matches, sometimes more than one depending on the number of fans that were going to the match. We had been on these trains previously, but we had decided that we wanted to stay out of any trouble and would find our own way to matches. We were being treated like fourth-class citizens just because we wear football club scarves and are young girls. The following week our pictures were in the Evening Post.

On 13 September 1975 we went to Stoke where we lost 3–2 with Lorimer scoring both our goals. Whilst we were on Selby station, an old man I knew from Carlton asked if we’d seen ourselves in the Daily Express. We hadn’t so we bought a paper. In Leeds we went to Terry Cooper’s shop and showed them the paper and they said ‘fame at last’. We travelled to the match on Wallace Arnold coaches. Violet was on coach two and some lads we’d seen at Sheffield pointed to us. Got in the ground and some lads said they had seen me in the paper. When we got to the top of the steps some more shouted, ‘it’s the Daily Express girls!’ We went down to the toilets at the bottom of the terraces with the Leeds fans chanting Daily Express to us. When leaving the coach park a fella in the coach behind us held up a copy of the Daily Express and pointed to our picture; although embarrassed, we did wave at all the Leeds fans. Saw the Donny coach opposite ours and some of them kept looking at us. Our letter was in the Green Post. Later whenever lads saw us they were always saying it’s the Daily Express girls.

March 1976 saw the visit of Arsenal to Elland Road. At the ground Sue, Carole and I went into the Pools Office, then the club shop and all these Japanese who had come to see Leeds started taking photos of us. Every time we tried moving away another one of them came up and asked us to stop for a photo. We went into the Peacock, spoke to the Kettering lads and some more Japanese took our photos again. As I got onto the station a lad grabbed my arm and said “you went to Wolves with us and used to wear a bib and brace (my dungarees) with badges on.” As I went onto the platform some more Japanese took photos of us and a fella grabbed my train ticket from me and read off it, “Queen of the fans”.

Travelling on Wallace Arnold, Mick Barker a Rangers fan from Seacroft was on about the Rank Xerox fella who came to where I worked at Croda to mend the photocopier. He had told Mick all about me and how he had come across this lass who went everywhere following Leeds. It’s funny how we ended up travelling on the same coach. Talking to Phil and Chris and a lad went past and said “hello Heidi”. Phil said, “You’d think you lived here, what’s it like to be famous?”

In April 1977 we ended up in the paper again. I went to pick Carole up and she said, “we’re in the Daily Express with the headlines We’re Terrified”. Prior to playing man utd at Hillsborough in the FA Cup semi-final on 23 April, Carole had written another letter to them complaining about man utd supporters being given tickets in our end at Hillsborough and the amount of trouble that it would cause. Their fans had just been involved in a lot of trouble at Norwich where they had wrecked the ground. Also Sue had stopped going to most matches by this time because of all the trouble at them. Carole was sat talking to Mac, Tony, Reeder, Douggie and others in the club. As soon as I walked up they started on about the letter and said we’d made Leeds fans out to be cowards and we said, “No way, the only ones that are cowards are us three (Carole, Sue and I), as trouble was following us everywhere and we were scared.” This time we had a lot of our fans having a go at us for this article saying they weren’t scared of man utd. It didn’t say that; there were only our three names there and no mention of anyone else.

At the beginning of the 1977 season, a group of fans including myself were asked by John in the Pools Office if we would form the Kop Committee. The Committee consisted of Leeds fans that travelled everywhere and John had asked us to join, to promote Peter Lorimer’s Testimonial year and help with events.

Heidi Haigh

 

http://followmeandleedsunited.co.uk - Follow Heidi on Twitter @FollowMeandLUFC - Facebook – Follow Me and Leeds United

 

"Leeds United supporter Heidi Haigh has written a book that provides a fascinating insight into life as a female football fan at a time when the sport was still regarded as a “man’s game”. Heidi’s memoir Follow Me and Leeds United, is based on diaries she kept while watching the Whites home and away during their glory years of the 1970s. It touches on the hooliganism that all supporters, male and female, had to endure throughout much of that decade. But it also looks back to some of the attitudes and occasional bad behaviour she faced specifically because she was a woman at football."

Yorkshire Evening Post 2013

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