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2 days ago
I've spent much of this week in down town Leeds. Being from Australia and all, getting used to the weather has been quite a challenge. But rest assured, come tomorrow night (or Sunday Morning Australian time), the locals will tear down the terraces at Elland Road
The city of Leeds has really come alive for the game. All of the major sporting outlets have stocked up on Great Britain equipment and from what was said when I spoke to a few of them, they are selling really well. With 40,000 expected at Elland Road, the colour is almost as important as the volume that the crowd will generate. The players have gradually rolled into town, on Tuesday I saw Gary Freeman and Steve Roach buying a cricket bat (I'd say as a gentle reminder of the season that they are currently missing) and on Wednesday I noticed Matt Sing, Luke Rooney and Willie Tonga getting stuck into some Leeds cuisine
Leeds is a funny place. In many respects, it is stuck bang in Yorkshire and is not exactly full of redeeming features. However, the general atmosphere of the city is brilliant. It is largely a working class area and the people are loyal and devoted and league fans
The Golden Boot award was held at the Royal Armouries Museum during the week, another event which drew solid coverage up here. It was hard to accept that Andy Farrell won the award, however I did not dare to voice my disapproval in front of the assembled audience. Despite the presence of a Zurich Premiership rugby union team in the district, it is quite clear that most people in Leeds are only interested in League and following the fortunes of their 1st division team as they strive for a return to the premier league
Elland Road is an awesome stadium. The fans are quite compactly boxed in and 40,000 people will generate a tremendous atmosphere. It is a pity that the Rhinos do not play every game here
So in summation, expect the best tomorrow night. Despite earlier assurances that I had a ticket, it turned out that my adventures to this area were fruitless and unfortunately, I will be watching the game tomorrow from an Aussie Pub in Earls Court (London). That said, I watched the Wigan game in London and the atmosphere was surprisingly large. I generally think the popularity of league in London is well understated, all it needs is some more promotion and a Broncos team that wins a few titles
Enjoy the moment, enjoy Saturday Night/Sunday morning and let me know if you have a freebie to Elland Road!
By Shane 'Moffo' Walker. Email from an Aussie in Leeds.