Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Football’s Coming Home

Fabian Delph parading around an Elland Road pitch that he had just graced with a majestic England performance and giving the Leeds salute to all four sides of the ground, was a perfect ending to quite a month at the Old Peacock. Wall-to-wall sunshine, bank holidays, family fundays, end-of-season parties, world title boxing and then England’s triumphant send-off for the World Cup, all eyes have been on our little part of LS11 and we’ve loved every minute of it.
The curtain finally came down on a pretty turgid season at Leeds United, but at least they had the courtesy to win their final game against Queen’s Park Rangers, and the EFL had the good grace to stage the final game on a bank holiday Sunday with a lunchtime Kick-Off. So the Old Peacock beer garden was awash with people very happy to see the back of another wasted season and the party atmosphere lasted long into the night. 
Since then of course, we have had the strange post-season tour to Myanmar and manager Paul Heckingbottom has been relieved of his duties and as I write, we await the identity of the new manager. But on face value it appears that Leeds United have finally decided ‘enough’s enough’ and are attempting their version of ‘going for it’. We await confirmation of what that actually is. 

While we have attempted to put Leeds United in a small box under the stairs for the summer and go out and actually enjoy life, there have been plenty of other things to occupy our time. Preparations for the Josh Warrington fight were surrounded by some uncertainty at the pub. It was a pretty unique event for us and for Elland Road, and it was difficult to predict how many people would be around the pub and what time they would start coming. 
Of course there were things happening around the ground all afternoon and the fights on the undercard started quite early, but the main event was not until nearly 10pm. Consequently, we took a bit of a flier on how many bar staff we needed and at what times, and all in all, it went really well. We were blessed by the weather and naturally, Josh’s win was celebrated long and hard. It was a fantastic night for the city of Leeds and a real festival of what we do so well.
Our Family Funday soon followed on the next bank holiday weekend and once again, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The beer garden was overflowing all day and the pub was a hive of activity with face-painting, tug-of-war competitions and live music all day. There was plenty to eat and obviously the beer was flowing too, and it seems that everyone there, including the kids, had a great time. 

We finished off a hectic few weeks with Elland Road’s staging of an England international, for the first time since 2002. We are used to seeing sell-out crowds at Elland Road, so this was nothing new to us, but it was good to see fans of several different clubs mixing nicely in the pub both before and after the game. We saw flags from clubs like Arsenal and Hull City in the beer garden, but everyone had England on their minds and there was a real positive atmosphere.
The staging of the game was a real coup for Elland Road and Leeds United, given the number of high profile grounds there are around the country, so having the world’s eyes on us once again was a big deal and everyone passed the test with flying colours. A lovely, sunny evening saw a sea of colour around the ground and the positive vibe surrounding Gareth Southgate’s squad was evident both inside and outside the ground. Occasionally it takes something like this for us to realise how truly special Elland Road is, and coupled with the Josh Warrington fight and the amazing feeling around the ground then, it hopefully gives the club even more incentive to create its own days and nights like this. What a place Elland Road will be when Leeds United eventually gets it right…………..

And so now we move on to the World Cup itself. We’ve played our part in sending the team off to Russia with a wealth of goodwill and positivity behind them, now we sit back and watch it unfold. And you can do that perfectly well in the cosy confines of the Old Peacock.
We will be showing every game of the 2018 World Cup on our big screens throughout the month long tournament. There are few better feelings than taking an afternoon off work and settling down in your local with a pint and something special ordered from our menu and having a feast of football played out before you. That can be you and if previous tournaments are anything to go by, the Old Peacock is going to be a pretty special place over the next few weeks.   
England might not win the tournament, but a reduction in expectation and a bit less of the usual OTT hullabaloo hopefully means there is a little less pressure on the team and they can go to Russia and express themselves naturally, without feeling the weight of the nation on their shoulders.
All we know is that you can watch it here with us while supping your favourite beers, with your favourite people and in your favourite place. It’s been an amazing month, but the fun times haven’t ended yet, because football’s coming home to the Old Peacock.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Sound Of Good Things To Come

Where does a year go? This time 12 months ago Leeds fans were coming to terms with another wasted season as a play-off bid that had looked nailed on for months spectacularly hit the buffers. It was with a mixture of pain and frustration, but at least an element of pride, that we waved the season off in a seventh-placed position that ultimately brought us nothing. One year on and we’re battling exactly the same disappointment, except the pain and frustration came a lot earlier and there was absolutely no element of pride.

To say the 2017/18 season has been disappointing is a monumental understatement, not just after last season’s near miss but also after the positivity of last summer. Let’s face it, mistakes have been made and performances have been nowhere near good enough. You can point the finger in various directions because there isn’t one solitary reason for Leeds United’s failures this season; football isn’t always as simple as that and there aren’t many individuals at the club who can look at themselves and say they performed to an acceptable standard throughout a campaign that brought such little cheer.
So yet again, Leeds United face a huge summer of re-building. We do believe there are some elements of a decent side within the first team squad, but that only amounts to about half a dozen players. However, with a raft of promising youngsters emerging and three or four key additions, things can very quickly look a little more positive, as long as we can clear the decks of a lot of the dead wood that habitually ends up hanging around Elland Road.

A key ingredient of any successful team is to build some camaraderie and team spirit and that seems to have been badly lacking all season. This team isn’t a ‘team’. There hasn’t been much evidence of fallouts or visible ructions within the squad, but equally, they don’t look like a squad of players that would die for each other, who know exactly what each other’s role is and who are organised and well-drilled. It doesn’t help when nobody knows from one game to the next who is going to be playing, and while a lot of this is down to coaching and management, a major reason why the team is so fragile and afraid to perform at Elland Road is also down to personality, and for that reason character, attitude and experience is as important in this upcoming transfer window as ability. 

One thing that we can’t complain about at the Old Peacock is the crowds at Elland Road this season. Even when it became perfectly clear that the season was going down the pan, the attendances for home games rarely wavered. I guess we were helped by the league leaders Wolves visiting in midweek and a couple of Yorkshire derbies, but all the same it is impressive to maintain an average home crowd of around 30,000 when you’ve won only three games in four months and are spending yet another season achieving absolutely nothing.

Home games at the Old Peacock have continued to be special occasions and our resident house band The Snapp have again proved to be incredibly popular. So much so that they have warmed the crowds before the two Leeds Rhinos games recently and we hope they will be providing plenty of tunes and getting you all geared up for the Josh Warrington world title later this month, and for the England friendly versus Costa Rica in June.

Speaking of Josh Warrington, we are very much on the countdown to May 19th and we are getting prepared for what is going to be one hell of a day. With the Elland Road gates opening at 4pm and an undercard that includes the darling of Leeds – double Olympic champion Nicola Adams – we are sure to be having a busy afternoon in the pub. Add to that the Royal Wedding, the FA Cup Final and Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers in the Magic Weekend at Newcastle and this is all building up to a quite unique day that will certainly be keeping our bar staff occupied.

Ticket sales for a chance to see the crowning of the first World Boxing Champion from Leeds are looking pretty good and we are certain there will be a very special atmosphere awaiting the current title holder Lee Selby as he enters Elland Road on the night, and we will be doing our best to add to that, so get yourselves along early for what promises to be an amazing sporting occasion in Leeds.

Before all that though, don’t forget there is one Leeds United home game remaining before the players head off for the summer, or if they are really unlucky, to Myanmar. Queen’s Park Rangers are our visitors on Sunday May 6th, which is a bank holiday weekend, and as we have a 12.30pm Kick-Off we will have The Snapp performing after the game, and not before as normal. So as to keep noise to a minimum we can’t have the band on too early, so why not make a day of it and join us after the game? Early indications suggest the weather should be pretty good too, so what better way to toast the end of the season than a glorious sunny afternoon in the Old Peacock beer garden listening to some quality tunes?

And of course, if you are not satisfied with just the one bout of ritual disappointment and humiliation, England are heading to Russia next month for the World Cup, so in our next blog post we will be telling you all about our plans for the month-long football jamboree, that fingers crossed might retain some home interest longer than a fortnight.

But for now let’s raise a glass to the 2017/18 season, wish it good riddance and party on to the sound of good things to come.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Searching For A Magic Moment

It seems like I’m only allowed to celebrate one Leeds United win in each of these monthly blog posts. Last time out we had just beaten Brentford at Elland Road for Paul Heckingbottom’s first win as Leeds boss, and it looked like we had finally turned the corner. Sadly, it’s been another case of ‘what might have beens’ since then and Leeds are exiting the Easter period just far enough away from a wide open play-off race for us to play no meaningful part in it, but close enough to look on with rueful regret and green with envy.

Yes, it’s that familiar time of year when we can write the season off and start planning for the next one. Again. I guess we should be thankful that we are pressing the reset button at the end of March rather than in February as normal, but the significant fact is that it’s much earlier than last season, when at least we carried the fight right until the last few fixtures. It’s the failure to build on that platform that rankles the most and there’s no escaping the fact that Andrea Radrizzani might have done plenty of good things off the pitch – if we ignore the abomination of that badge, and we really want to – but on the pitch it’s been a waste of a season.

That’s not to say it’s been a complete disaster. There are some players in the squad who can still contribute something to the standard of team we really need in this division, but not many, and it’s the lack of standout moments that really tells us everything. Usually you can point to games, goals and moments that make your hairs stand on end even if, ultimately, it all counts for nothing. But this season there’s largely nothing to write home about, save for a run of seven games unbeaten at the start of the season, which ended up being the biggest false dawn since…..erm…….since someone dressed us as Dawn and it turned out they weren’t called Dawn at all.  

We’ll save the full post mortem for May’s blog post, but for now, when the moments most people recollect from a season are a 4-3 home defeat to Millwall and your star player being sent off for spitting in an FA Cup defeat to a League Two side, and then banned for six games, you know it’s time to draw a line through another campaign in this godforsaken division and move on.

Except of course, we can’t. At least not yet. In typical Leeds United fashion, we have another three largely pointless home games to endure. Although the last one gave us something of a shot in the arm in the form of a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers, and maybe if we’re being super positive and maybe a tad over-optimistic we could suggest that ‘the’ magic moment hasn’t happened yet?
Leeds showed something of the free-flowing, attacking spirit we’ve longed for since those heady days at the beginning of the season against Bolton, and the atmosphere in the pub both before and after the game was especially buoyant. It was Good Friday, I guess, and at least this set the Easter weekend up nicely for everyone.

April arrives now and offers us two Saturday afternoon home games, a rare treat in a calendar month, although I guess that demonstrates quite clearly how even Sky Sports have lost interest in meddling with Leeds United’s season. On the 7th we welcome a Sunderland team who look to be heading straight down to League One, but they will be sure to bring a huge following with them to Elland Road. Fixtures with Sunderland always seem to have a traditional edge and this will be no different, and I’m sure there are many Leeds fans who would take a particular liking to banging another nail in their coffin.

Following that we have Paul Heckingbottom’s reunion with the Barnsley side he left to join Leeds in February. This takes place on Saturday 21st and again, I’d expect a decent crowd to turn up for this local derby, particularly as Barnsley are also fighting relegation and have plenty to play for.

Usually at the Old Peacock we start to feel quite sad at this time of year, another league season passes by and the pub takes on a whole different personality for the summer months as, well, just another pub. And we all know that’s it’s not just another pub. So that’s why we are particularly excited about the events coming up over the summer in 2018. We’ll talk about these in more detail in our May and June blog posts, but we have Josh Warrington’s World title fight with Lee Selby coming up on Saturday May 19th and then England play their last friendly before the World Cup against Costa Rica on Thursday June 7th. These will each be huge occasions and, as always, we are right in the thick of it and intend to play our part in making the Elland Road atmosphere something special. After all, that’s why these events are being staged here, so we have a duty to do our bit.

We like to think we contributed something to the amazing Super League game between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers at Elland Road last month also. In the second of the Rhinos’ two ‘home’ games being staged here while their Headingley Stadium is re-developed, we saw a brilliant spectacle as Cas ended up 25-24 winners in a nail-biting climax. Clearly there was an edge to the occasion due to the locality of the two teams, mixed with a bit of a grudge element after the Rhinos steamrollered Cas in the Old Trafford Grand Final last October, but no one quite expected the quality of game that we saw.

It was also brilliant to see fans of both clubs mixing happily in the pub before and after the game. There is definitely a different kind of relationship between rival fans in rugby league that we will probably never see in football, and while the Peacock will always be packed before Leeds United games, whether we allowed away fans in or not, there’s a mutual respect between teams in RL that is quite unique and to be admired, while at the same time we wouldn’t change the tribal football rivalries one bit.

We wouldn’t have it any other way, and we are proud of the role we play in making the Elland Road atmosphere so special, and we can’t wait for the next few months to play out so we can show it to the whole country, and maybe even the whole world.      

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Never-Ending Seasons

So March begins with a blanket of deep snow, unrelenting Siberian temperatures and enough wind chill to allow Iceland to turn all their freezers off and save a bit of electricity. Just last week we were talking about seeing the first shoots of daffodils and feeling a bit of warmth in the sun, it felt like Spring wasn’t far away, but now it feels more distant than Leeds United in an FA Cup Final.

Our last blog post was written during the short interim period between Thomas Christiansen being sacked as Leeds United boss and Paul Heckingbottom being appointed. So first and foremost we’d like to welcome our new manager to Elland Road and extend the traditional invitation to incoming appointments at the club. Hecky is welcome to pop over for a pint any time he likes, and without pandering to stereotypes too much we’d wager he is more partial to a nice pint of ale than his predecessor, indeed he may even have sampled the odd Yorkshire Blonde in his time already.

Off the pitch we have seen Leeds manage to steady the ship after the badge-gate fiasco and the appointment of Heckingbottom appears to be a shrewd one. We have noted some pleasant characteristics in his gritty and down-to-earth demeanour and have already drawn some favourable comparisons with our last manager from South Yorkshire, Howard Wilkinson. It would be wrong to heap too much pressure on our new man though, and the game has changed so much since Wilko took over the reins in 1988, but certainly it would do Heckingbottom no harm at all to follow a similar blueprint to success, and of course we wish him all the luck in the world.

Initial results are slowly picking up, but it’s as much about the attitude and organisation and we have seen some promising improvements in that regard already. One defeat in four games in charge is definitely a positive, and with a bit more luck and without some silly mistakes at the back, we could have been looking at a very fruitful return from Hecky’s first few games.

We saw three home games in February and despite not winning since Boxing Day, there was no let-up in the big crowds flocking down to Elland Road and packing out the Old Peacock. It’s fair to say that results improved dramatically over the course of those three games. They started with a traumatic 4-1 defeat to Cardiff, which was the result that signalled the end for Christiansen and was made all the worse for seeing Neil Warnock’s gloating face afterwards.

Next came the strange circumstances of the late Sunday afternoon Kick-Off against Bristol City, and it was a pretty extraordinary day all round. A couple of defensive blunders and it looked all over, but a stirring second half turned it around and we actually left the ground gutted that Leeds hadn’t won. It was the same feeling in midweek after a second consecutive 2-2 draw, this time away at Derby, but then Hecky finally saw his first win as Leeds boss with the 1-0 defeat of Brentford.
We are confident now that the team will continue to improve, and while we might not always get the results we want, it looks like a standard has been set and this new man will get a certain level of performance from the team, and that’s all we ask. Whether that will be enough to maintain a charge for the Play-Offs remains to be seen.

The tough run of fixtures continues into March, and the next opponents at Elland Road are Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have been tearing up the division pretty much all season. That’s a midweek contest on Wednesday 7th, but then we have a couple of more presentable home fixtures with the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 17th and then Bolton Wanderers on Good Friday, which is March 30th.

Yes, that means it’s nearly Easter, and while a quick glance out of the window might cast some doubt over that, it does mean that the end of the season is once again upon us. Believe it or not. It’s been a very strange season in many ways, the crowds we have seen at the Old Peacock on matchdays have been unprecedented, and yet there has been so much frustration and disappointment about results, and in some ways, the season has never really got going, despite such a brilliant start.

Before the end of March we will also be welcoming the Leeds Rhinos fans back to the pub. They entertained Hull Kingston Rovers on a very damp Thursday night early in February, but on March 23rd they welcome Castleford Tigers for a mouth-watering re-match of last year’s Grand Final at Old Trafford. It was great to see some different faces in the pub and there was a very lively atmosphere pre-match, which we expect to see again for the local derby against Cas. These are quite unique fixtures, while the Rhinos’ Headingley home is redeveloped, and we are more than happy to put the welcome mat out for our cross-city friends.

In closing, just a short note about our Family Fun Day, which is returning for Bank Holiday weekend, Sunday May 27th from 1pm. This has proved to be a great success over the years, with special barbecue food, a bouncy castle, face-painting, tug of war and a sack race for the kids, and with three bands playing live music in the beer garden. It has always attracted a great range of family and friends and we hope to see you all there again on May 27th.

Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the weather and a few snow days off work, and keep dreaming of those sunny days in the Peacock beer garden, they will be here before you know it.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

New Year, new stuff at the Peacock, same old Leeds United

‘New Year, new me’ I think that’s how the saying goes. We all like to turn over a new leaf at this time and attack a new calendar year with a different approach and with focus and determination; be it to lose weight, save up some money for something or to find a new job. This can be a life-changing, watershed moment, or it can all collapse over a box of Milk Tray and some internet shopping after a rough day at work.

For us at the Old Peacock, obviously we’re not big advocates of Dry January or anything like that, but we appreciate people like to make a considered lifestyle choice every now and again, and if you have abstained from alcohol for the past 31 days since New Year, then well done and welcome back, we’ve kept the place ticking over nicely for you.

In terms of Leeds United, I guess the saying is ‘New Year, same old Leeds’. It’s fair to say that 2018 has been an unqualified disaster so far; a trail of destruction you can trace back to Boxing Day. We have yet to win since the clock ticked over into the new year, and on the way we have been knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle by League Two Newport County, lost the mercurial Samuel Saiz to suspension for six games, had three other players sent off, conceded four goals at home to both Millwall and Cardiff City, released a new badge in a complete and utter PR disaster and then hastily un-released it and then finally we have sacked our manager Thomas Christiansen.

We don’t do things by halves at Elland Road, and what we can pack into a month is enough to keep the hacks at most regional papers occupied for a whole year. At the Old Peacock we’re personally a little sad to see Christiansen leave; he was a decent, honourable man and navigated one of the most challenging jobs in English football with integrity and decorum. The fact that he never took us up on our invite over the road for a pint or two might have something to do with that though……

Unfortunately he was clearly out of his depth and has had to endure an unbelievable run of bad luck with injuries and suspensions, but things were clearly not working out and he leaves with everyone’s best wishes. By the time you are reading this we may have the latest incumbent already in the Leeds United hot seat, but certainly we would like it to be someone with a higher profile, more of a personality and some real credentials for being able to achieve what we all want to achieve.

We’ve been lucky with a couple of Saturday 3pm Kick-Offs over the last few weeks, and despite the on-pitch woes the visits of Millwall and Cardiff City still attracted crowds of over 30,000 on both occasions. The remainder of February sees us take on Bristol City at Elland Road at the pretty inhospitable time of 4.30pm on a Sunday afternoon, while our only other home fixture is on Saturday 24th when we welcome Brentford to LS11.

Throughout all the troubles of the recent weeks, pretty much the only consistency you can find is in the pre-match atmosphere at the Old Peacock. The band plays on whatever the weather and we all have a good time; win, lose or draw. Whatever life throws at you as a Leeds United fan, you can be sure of one thing; a warm welcome and a great time at the Peacock, and we will be extending that famous welcome to fans of the oval ball this week as Leeds Rhinos come to Elland Road.

The Rhinos have been a great ambassador for the city of Leeds over the last few years, not just winning everything in sight, but also doing it in the right spirit and showing unbelievable powers of mental strength and being able to overcome adversity. They really are a sporting institution with some special ingredients over there at Headingley, and as the famous ground gets re-built with two new stands taking shape over the winter months, we are more than happy to welcome them to Elland Road for a couple of ‘home’ games this month and next.

Thursday February 8th sees Danny McGuire make a swift return to the city as he brings his new Hull Kingston Rovers teammates to Elland Road, while March 23rd sees the Castleford Tigers attempt to avenge that amazing Grand Final defeat to the Rhinos last October. For both occasions we are expecting big crowds and we are setting up just like a normal Leeds United matchday, with our usual matchday food menu, all our bars open and our resident live band The Snapp ready to get your foot tapping and keep you warm in the beer garden.

Of course, the two Leeds Rhinos home games are not the only out of the ordinary events being lined up for Elland Road in the coming months, and it looks like we will be having a busy summer at the end of the regular football season. As soon as Leeds United play their last home game on May 6th (Play-Offs permitting………….) the ground will be transformed into a Boxing venue, ready for the IBF World Featherweight title fight between Lee Selby and Leeds’ own Josh Warrington on Saturday May 19th. This might just be an occasion more rowdy than a Leeds United home game and will certain be a special night for Leeds as a city.

During major international football tournaments the pub is always well attended, particularly when England are playing. We like to push the boat out for the home nations and the month-long tournament in June and July is always something to look forward to, with every game shown live in the pub, this year from Russia. Imagine our delight though when Elland Road was chosen to stage England’s final warm-up game before the World Cup?

In a major coup for Leeds and Leeds United, England will face Costa Rica at Elland Road on Thursday June 7th at 8.00pm. We will certainly be putting the red carpet out on this occasion and hopefully the summer climate will be kind to us and the beer garden will come into its own.

We’ll be announcing more details about these special occasions in the coming months, but it’s certainly an exciting time at the Old Peacock with plenty to look forward to. New Year, new me I suppose you could say, and we certainly like this new version of the multi-talented, all-welcoming Old Peacock.   

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Near-misses, new beginnings and progress: a look back at 2017

Happy New Year and a big welcome to 2018 from everyone at the Old Peacock and Ossett Brewery. What a year 2017 was. For anybody in the pub trade the busy days and nights can seem relentless, and obviously the festive period can be intense and seemingly lasts forever. When you factor in that we are also a football pub that could not be any closer to the football club that we serve, and that club regularly attracts crowds of over 30,000, then you can imagine that life at the Old Peacock is something of a whirlwind.

Depending on how our staff want to look at it, 2017 couldn’t have gone any better. From a Leeds United perspective it has been the usual rollercoaster of emotions. The year started with Garry Monk’s team looking certainties to reach the end of season play-offs, and the attendances at Elland Road reflected that. By April, however, all was not well and Leeds dropped out of the top six at the very last.

It is inevitable with Leeds United that there is always interest in whatever they do, good or bad. It comes with the territory, and even as it looked like the wheels were coming off, the attendances didn’t drop, we were still seeing hordes of fans swarming all over the pub and making matchdays a unique and very special experience.

Typically with Leeds United, it wasn’t particularly quiet over the summer either. Andrea Radrizzani completed his 100% takeover of the club as soon as the season had ended, Garry Monk resigned and Thomas Christiansen was appointed, plus a tidal wave of backroom staff, executive staff and playing staff came into the club. But undoubtedly the most significant event of the summer and the one that felt most poignant to us at the Old Peacock, was when the club bought back Elland Road from private ownership.

Many people might not know this, but the Old Peacock pre-dates Elland Road by many years. For a long time the various guardians and staff of the pub looked out only on open fields and a dirt track. The pub can be traced back as far as 1826, but there is no evidence of a sports field where Elland Road now stands until 1878, and of course the ground didn’t start to develop properly until Leeds City took it over in 1904 and then Leeds United in 1919.

This shows that the pub has always been a central part of the community and has always served the various industries around it. The football club and the numerous local businesses, and even the motorway network, have all arrived since the Peacock first opened its doors. So we only became a football pub when Leeds United grew and grew throughout the 20th century. However, we know how special Elland Road is and we know our place in serving its customers. We like to think we are just as much a part of the fabric, and as important to some fans, as the ground itself.
So when the ground was bought back by the club is was a very special night, and we did find that the pub was busier than usual, on a filthy night shrouded by biblical rain, with fans just wanting to be at the ground and wanting to be part of such a historic occasion.

Talking of historic occasions, Leeds United were top of the league just a couple of months later as we started the 2017/18 season like one of those greyhounds that used to race down the road. It was an amazingly exciting time, and while it didn’t last of course, we do feel that there is something special happening at the club now. There is a different feeling about the place and an air of optimism and pride that has been notably absent for a few years. On the pitch, maybe we won’t necessarily achieve everything we want to straight away, but fans can at least see the club moving in the right direction. Off the pitch, the external areas of the ground look so much better and we are really looking forward to the Bremner Square development starting soon.

In between matchdays we continue to serve our regulars, plus staff from neighbouring businesses, including Leeds United, and of course fans who just love to make a midweek pilgrimage, and our food nights continue to be a great success, we also sold out our Christmas Day menu weeks in advance. In 2017 we established live music in the beer garden on matchdays, to really maximise the atmosphere that is created. The reaction has been fantastic. We have also introduced new bars, barbecue food on midweek nights when maybe you haven’t had chance to grab something at home in your haste to get to the game, and to help relieve the big queues on matchdays we have introduced two-pint pots, which have also been gratefully received.

So we are all geared up for another blockbuster of a year in 2018. We ended 2017 with a run of home fixtures, as Norwich City and Hull City visited Elland Road on consecutive Saturdays, while we have already chalked off our first big game of the new year as over 32,000 came along to watch Nottingham Forest on January 1st. The outlook from now is decidedly more low key, however, with only a visit from our friends at Millwall to look forward to on January 20th. The only certainty is that life will never be dull around here, and even if Leeds United are largely responsible for that, we know that their fans can also bring something to the party.

In closing we would like to thank all our fantastic staff for their hard work and patience throughout 2017, they really are the best in the business. They play an absolutely vital role in what we do and until you have worked an Old Peacock matchday I don’t think you can appreciate what a truly unique experience that is, and what a brilliant job they do. So thanks to all the staff and we know they are prepared for another year of fun, laughter and pulling pints. See you soon.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Leeds United's Christmas Message

It almost feels like this football season hasn’t got going yet, but here we are approaching the halfway point. The blistering start from Leeds swiftly turned into a stutter and in recent weeks it has levelled out a bit, but add in the numerous international breaks and it has all been a bit stop/start and it is hard to draw any conclusions. Yet as I write, Leeds have played 20 games and will soon be facing the home straight to the end of the season once again.

December is traditionally the time when the league table really starts to take shape. The inhabitants of the play off places at the turn of the year are quite often the same ones at the end of the season; unless one of them is Leeds of course, but it’s up to us to change that. Right now we are two places and five points outside the play-offs zone and face a pretty favourable run of games in December, so you could conclude that Leeds are quite well placed for an assault on the top six in the second half of the season, and December could see them send out a message to the rest of the division.  

 The last month has seen a bit of a turnaround in the club’s fortunes after a pretty horrific October. While there were two away defeats at Brentford and Wolves, Leeds won their only home game against Garry Monk’s Middlesbrough and also notched a rare Yorkshire Derby win at Barnsley. This has stopped the rot and instilled a bit of belief in both the team and the management, something that had gone badly AWOL and left us all a bit confused after such a brilliant start to the season.

It seems that almost every game is either live on Sky or on a beamback at Elland Road at the minute, so we are certainly feeling a part of the action at the pub, as fans can’t resist the urge to pop in for a pint before and after the game, to savour that matchday atmosphere they know and love. Naturally we will always welcome this and whenever and wherever Leeds United are playing there is always someone at the Old Peacock cheering them on.  

November has been a pretty quiet month at the Old Peacock though, with just the one home game against Middlesbrough, and that on a Sunday lunch time. We had to forego our usual pre-match live band in the beer garden due to the early kick-off time, and of course we couldn’t serve our traditional Sunday lunch either, but it was all worth it as the lads came straight out of the traps and secured a much-needed 2-1 victory. It was great to see a big crowd again and the club’s efforts to re-engage the fanbase certainly seem to be paying off. We have always welcomed families at the Old Peacock, but more and more we are seeing the younger generation coming to the games with parents and it is fantastic to see.  

We are hoping this continues into December too, and for once the fixture computer at the Football League has been pretty kind to us. Okay, Sky Sports are responsible for the Aston Villa game being moved to a Friday night, but after that we have Saturday 3pm home games on two successive weekends, all in the run-up to Christmas. It’s to be hoped that you guys are doing all your Christmas shopping online, because there won’t be many trips to the shops with Leeds being at home two Saturdays running.

Norwich City are the visitors on Saturday 16th and then Hull City come to Elland Road on the 23rd. With Leeds seemingly back in the hunt for the play-offs these are sure to be big occasions and we will certainly have the welcome mat out for the 30,000-plus crowds expected. Leeds then see the year out with away games at Burton Albion and Birmingham City, before Nottingham Forest come and visit on the first day of 2018. But let’s not worry about that for now. With two Saturday 3pm fixtures lined up, we are busy getting stocked up and all our staff prepared for what are sure to be two mammoth occasions in the run-up to Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, as usual, our Christmas Day menu sold out in no time at all and we are now fully booked for the big day. We have always felt that the festive season is about more than just getting together on the 25th however, so we designed another Christmas menu for the run-up to Santa coming and this has proved really popular in recent years. More and more people use the festive season to get together with friends and family they perhaps don’t see too often, and of course there are numerous works parties at Christmas time, so we designed our Christmas Fayre menu specifically with this in mind. Now you can sample a flavour of Christmas at your favourite venue and with your favourite people. It will save you washing up and it certainly won’t cost you the earth. At two courses for £13.50 and three courses for £15.50 you will be hard pushed to find better value anywhere in Leeds. There is a choice of traditional Christmas dishes mixed with some old classic favourites and over the years we have hosted some memorable evenings with people who keep coming back year after year.

Please call in and speak to us in person or phone us up (0113 2715962) to book a table for the Christmas Fayre menu and we will make sure we can accommodate your party.

So another year at the Old Peacock comes to an end. It has certainly been a busy one and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We hope to see you for the Norwich and Hull games and again at some point over the festive period, but we would also like to take this opportunity to wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Leeds United fans and to all our customers everywhere.