By Tom Wilson
Leeds United supporters are turning out in astonishing numbers this season to urge their team into the Championship play-offs.
Elland Road sold just over 36,000 tickets for the match against title favourites Newcastle United, who won it 2-0, while 32,000 turned out to witness Leeds’ 2-0 victory at home to Villa.
To put those numbers into context, 36,000 is the second highest in the Championship this season, behind Newcastle United’s 52,000. If Leeds were a Premier League side they would have the ninth highest record attendance this season and would rank 14th in the average figures. This would place them higher than Premier League clubs Crystal Palace, West Bromwich and East Yorkshire outfit Hull City.
The Yorkshire side were down in 22nd just three months ago, but eight wins from 13 games has put them firmly in contention for a play-off spot.
Stuart White, 57, a lifelong season ticket holder and member of the Leeds United Supporters Club said of the figures: “It’s great to see, it makes the atmosphere so much better and I think it drives the players on.”
But 21-year-old Anthony May, part of a minority of fans who only attend away games, said he feels like the atmosphere at Elland Road never has anything on the away days, despite a sold out stadium.
He said: “Home fans are so boring, the atmosphere as the away team is much better.”
May feels that it’s the support on the road that is spurring the team on. “It’s harder to win away, our support in away games is the reason we’re doing so well this season.”
United’s EFL Cup visit to Liverpool saw 5,300 Leeds fans inside Anfield, filling up the away end. This isn’t for the first time, as Leeds boss Garry Monk told Wales Online that his fans “took control of the stadium” in their fixture with Cardiff.
The Yorkshire side are eyeing a return to the Premier League after 12 years and midfielder Kalvin Phlillips told the BBC: “It would be a dream come true for me to be in Premier League with this team.
“When I was younger, Leeds were in the Premier League and you could see what it meant to the fans.”