Date: 3rd January 2012 at 7:56pm
Written by:

Leeds United have made an habit of scoring late in games in recent seasons and after scoring twice late to come from behind and beat Burnley on Monday, it once again got me thinking?Just why do people leave games early?

It is something that has mystified me for years and still do not understand. You see it every game, home and away. It is not just a Leeds thing; it is fans of clubs up and down the country – week in, week out.

Some say fans do it to avoid the mad dash away from the ground at the end of a game. By leaving five minutes early then they have a head start on those staying to the very end.

One example I have always likened it to, is going to the cinema. You have sat there and watched the plot line build for 90 minutes only to then walk out just as the plot line unravels.

I do not think I have ever seen it happen at the cinema, so why when a game is tightly balanced do football fans feel the urge to go.

The game with Burnley is just a prime example. Ok, after recent results and Mikael Forssell missing a guilt edged chance with just five minutes remaining, maybe fans had started to think, it is going to be one of those games again.

Enter a great own goal and the Leeds United great escape was on. The Burnley own goal levelled things with just two minutes remaining and then a dramatic winner deep into ‘Fergie time` claimed all three points for Leeds.

So, you are sat in your car or on a bus, happy with yourself that you have beaten the mad rush away from the ground, only to then either get a call, text or hear it on the radio that Leeds have won 2-1.

Was it worth it? You have just watched 80-85 minutes of a game and then missed the best bit of the action and game defining moment of the game.

When you look back over the years, I can remember a number of games involving Leeds that have seen dramatic finishes and turnarounds.

Probably fans of two clubs will never forgive themselves for leaving games early in major European finals.

Look at them from across the Pennines, who did their usual injury time antics in the Champions League final in 1999. How many of their fans had left the ground thinking about a flight to get back to their London flat, rather than staying to the end as they scored twice in injury time to beat Bayern Munich 2-1. I actually have to admit to having a mate who went and he said amazingly, even with their record of ‘Fergie Time` goals, there were those that were leaving before the end.

A number of Liverpool fans openly admitted leaving at half time in their champions League final against AC Milan in 2005, when they trailed 3-0 at half time.

Those that left missed probably the greatest comeback in a European final as Liverpool eventually won on penalties after it finished 3-3.

Back to Leeds, I remember in the promotion season of 1989/90 at Oxford United. A shocking first half performance saw Leeds going in at the break 2-0 down. There were people in the away end who had decided enough was enough and they would sooner frequent the local hostelries rather than watch the second half.

Four goals in seventeen minutes during the second half saw the most unlikely of comebacks by Leeds but those who had stayed were there to witness it, a game they would talk about as a season defining game in many ways as Leeds clinched the title on the final day on goal difference from Sheffield United.

Southampton away in 2005 was another game that saw probably the most dramatic comeback involving Leeds.

Many Leeds fans were heading for the exits with twenty minutes remaining as Leeds trailed 3-0.

Some were leaving just to go and sit back on the coach that had brought them nearly 300 miles to the south coast.

It is almost a fair-weather thing to leave because the team are losing heavily with plenty of time remaining.

So imagine how they must have felt on their trip back up to Leeds when, Paul Butler (71), Robbie Blake (77), David Healy (84) and Lee Miller (86) won the game for Leeds.

Whilst I can almost understand people`s logic when we are three or four down late in a game and leaving (although I still wouldn`t) when it is a close game, those who choose to leave early always amaze me.

The most amazing one for me was the last game of the season in 2010 against Bristol Rovers.

In over 30 years of watching Leeds United, I do not think I can remember a day like it. Yet, with the game precariously balanced at 2-1 to Leeds and needing a win for promotion, there were still people leaving with five minutes remaining. Admittedly, not as many as we usually see at a game but how could you leave that game before the final whistle. That was not just leaving a 90-minute game five minutes early it was leaving a 10-month battle for promotion!

This season we have scored eleven goals in the last seven minutes of a game. Four of these have come between the 83rd-90th minute of the game and seven have come in time added on.

Out of the eleven goals, only two have been meaningless, in the games at Southampton (90+5) and Barnsley (90+1), when we have gone into time added on for stoppages 3-0 and 4-0 down respectively.

Of the other nine goals Leeds have scored, they have earned us three draws at West Ham (90+1), Brighton(90+2) and Watford (90+5).

We have turned five draws into wins against Doncaster -Carling Cup (83), Crystal Palace (84), Bristol City (86), Peterborough (90+5) and Burnley away (89).

Burnley must now be sick of the sight of Leeds United after Monday, when goals in (88 & 90+7) turned a defeat into a win. It is the third time in four games between the two in the last two seasons that Leeds have come from behind to beat Burnley with a late winner.

So, if you have been to every game this season and left with less than ten minutes remaining, you have missed 11 of Leeds 44 goals scored in all competitions.

You have also missed them earning an extra 14 points and also progress in a cup competition.

Next time you decide to leave early – Is it worth getting home thirty minutes earlier than what you would if you stayed to the end?

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