The Leeds United dream is over as Rovers win at Wembley..

As game wound into the sixth minute of the four added on, it was apparent that the late rally that has served Leeds so well on countless occasions this season was not going to be forthcoming.  Their tired players were unable to muster the last minute charge that would have taken the play-off final into extra time and given their turbulent season a fresh chance of a fairytale ending.  

The whistle went, and it was the South Yorkshiremen from Doncaster celebrating their promotion to the Championship, leaving the weary battlers in white prone on the pitch, scenes of red and white celebrations washing over them to compound their misery.  It’s a scene I had no small degree of sympathy with, having seen numerous aborted promotion attempts by Forest over recent years, so I find myself somewhat impassive to the rampant gloating that seems to have swept the Internet.

Having amassed enough points to secure automatic promotion, the fate of Leeds was ultimately decided by the Football League’s decision to punish Ken Bates’ financial machinations, not by on-the-pitch endeavours.  Whilst of course, my own team profited from this by snatching an automatic spot on the last day.  It’s a pretty sad time for the sport when such off-the-pitch shenanigans have such an impact.

For Doncaster, of course, they are rising like a phoenix from the ashes of significant financial irregularities themselves – now ensconced in the impressive Keepmoat Stadium, they are a far cry from the side that played at the grossly inaptly named Belle Vue Stadium – once put to flame by a former chairman to get the insurance money.  They are worthy of congratulations for a monumental rise, just as I have sympathies with the Leeds fans, suffering for the deeds of their owners.

So what now for Leeds?  Well their remaining in League One isn’t exactly without precident, it took us three seasons to elevate ourselves from English football’s third tier – in our first season we didn’t even scrape into the playoffs despite a late rally.  To have achieved a playoff finish despite a fifteen point deduction, despite a squad thrown together days before the season kicked off, despite losing their assistant manager then manager part way through – it’s a pretty phenomenal achievement when you think about it.

As they contemplate their second season in League One it should be with some degree of confidence.  No deduction of points this season, no restrictions on player signings.  With better preparations then there should be an opportunity for them to go one better than us and achieve promotion at the second attempt.  And personally, I wouldn’t begrudge them that celebration – it is always the supporters who suffer at the hands of events like Leeds have undergone.

Of course, congratulations are due to Doncaster Rovers, who make up the last place in the Championship.  Numbering some 10,000 fewer in supporter numbers on the day, with their ticket office having to be closed after being laid siege to by Leeds fans desperate to get to Wembley, the odds did look somewhat against them.  Credit to them, they held firm and take a deserved place in the promotion party that has been raging in Swansea and Nottingham for some time.

It will be interesting to observe the ongoing saga of Ken Bates’ Leeds United.  Two entities joined and forged in so many football fans’ heads as things to dislike, you can almost see the irony in their coming together.  Whilst I’m no fan of Bates I’ve learned over the last year that the irrational dislike of the entire football club is oft misplaced, indeed, every Leeds fan I’ve encountered either in reality or in a virtual sense has challenged my previous perceptions of the club – as such, I wish them well next season.

Especially against Leicester City.

Breaking news: There is no news..

The pieces have almost come together, with the Championship play off final being decided by a Dean Windass strike sending Hull City into the top flight, it means we will have Bristol City to play this season.  We just await this afternoon’s League One encounter at Wembley between Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United to complete the list of opponents we will face next season.  I must admit that tempting as it is to follow the bandwagon of backing Doncaster, I do have some sneaking sympathies for Leeds too.  Should be an interesting game.

The last week has been a case of lots of rumours and no news at all; it would seem that Derby are pretty unimaginative when it comes to targeting players – being linked with obviously Commons, and also now Nathan Tyson.  Given the delay in any announcement, I would think that Kris is seeking options elsewhere rather than sign for them – I hope so, because it would be hard to stomach a supposedly self-confessed Forest fan going to that lot.  I don’t mind the idea of him leaving – because I don’t think he’s worth the kind of money being bandied about.

Similarly it would appear that Earnshaw is weighing up his discussions with Forest over his move in the opposite direction, as it’s all gone rather quiet on that front too.  We’ve also been linked with attempting to permanently sign Paul Anderson from Liverpool for £750k, competing with a season-loan move by Swansea (where the player spent time previously), which is at least a different rumour if nothing else!  He’s a winger, which immediately sounds suspicious since Smoulders’ preferred formation doesn’t involve wingers!

Off the pitch then you’ve probably had your season ticket renewal packs through, a swanky affair in red cardboard with a Forest tree and two silver stars.  I believe this is part of the emphasis on the 30th anniversary of our first European Cup win rather than acknowledgement in the form of Michelin Stars for the Chicken Balti Pie offering available in the concourses of the City Ground.  I was impressed that the carefully selected photos didn’t feature Kris Commons, as well as with the pack in general – well done Forest’s marketing team!

Certainly a marked improvement from the days of us being Serious About Promotion!

The remaining news was confirmation of another pre-season date with neighbours Notts County, this time it’s a late one – August 2nd at 3pm – which will be the week before the season kicks off.  Last season we won the fixture 2-1 thanks to two Luke Chambers goals, although the game will better be remembered for the hordes of pitch invading chavs scrapping with one another – so let’s hope that isn’t repeated this year, indeed, this week too the Post reported on the punishment meted out to a couple of chaps involved in the incident.

Speaking of Notts County, a reader sent in this picture they took when walking along a road in Mapperley, it perhaps is amongst the saddest sights you could imagine, and worst of all, the vessel in the picture hasn’t even undergone its wheel falling off… just a flat tyre!

And then finally, also from the Nottingham Evening Post, a kind reader sent me in this picture of Reds player of the year Julian Bennett clearly playing pool with Shaun Wright-Phillips – amazingly this hasn’t been picked up on the rumour-mills but clearly the Reds must be planning a shock loan move for the England player, perhaps taking advantage of Avram Grant’s departure from Chelsea and the subsequent confusion this will cause…

Okay, perhaps not.  It’s going to be a long summer, isn’t it?