El Mago, por favor

Play-offs Sans Pablo? No Bueno

Written by: Steven York
Artwork by: Eamonn Dalton
Pablo Hernandez staring intently while playing for Leeds. He's either about to do something brilliant or contemplating his past

Leeds fans of most ages have a deep understanding of the club’s propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Simon Grayson’s side losing 6-4 against Preston is so deeply ingrained in my personality that even when things in life look as good as being 4-1 up at home, I still expect disaster.

For most of my adult life I’ve been watching Leeds try to get promoted. I’m 39, so while I was old enough to enjoy the David O’Leary years as a teen, my entire adulthood has been spent watching us implode, getting relegated twice, then trying to climb the divisions. The 2006 Watford play-off final. The 2008 Doncaster play-off final. The 2009 Millwall play-off semi-final. The times we so nearly got what we wanted, but stumbled. Even that incredible promotion-winning game against Bristol Rovers in 2010 felt very ‘Leeds’, going 1-0 down and Max Gradel getting sent off early, with the promotion spots so very tight I remember checking my phone for news of other results like my life depended on it.

We do things the hard way. We can look good for 90 per cent of the season and then fumble the last ten yards. It’s almost a defining characteristic of the club, and a significant factor behind my choice of ‘I Hate Leeds’ as my social media identity. Because as much as this club is a core part of my existence from a young age, I bloody hate it. But I love it. And I hate it. The duality of man.

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