Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Home Again

Football is back and it’s time to steady ourselves for nine months of ritual chaos, joy and agony as we navigate another unstable voyage on the good ship Leeds United.

Welcome to my first official blog post for The Old Peacock; that bastion of refuge, inspiration and consolation for generations of match-going Leeds United fans.

I’ve been spending match days in the Old Peacock for over twenty years, pretty much since I was old enough to make watching Leeds United more pleasurable and bearable, via a few pints. The role of the match day pub has grown increasingly significant as Leeds United have put us through the ringer in recent years, and undoubtedly now it is a pretty much essential part of the 23-times-a-season experience. Home; a place of comfort and belonging.

Suffice to say, all the hardy souls that enter the Old Peacock on a match day are following in the footsteps of literally every generation of Leeds United fans. The Peacock has stood on Elland Road since 1826 – 93 years before Leeds United even existed -  and is perhaps, therefore, as much in the very fabric of the club as anything else; be it a player, manager, owner or fan.

Which is why Ossett Brewery are so dedicated to maintaining the success and prosperity of what is an institution to Leeds United fans; the embittered, often-forgotten but unflinchingly loyal body of people that breath life into the football club. 

To solidify that commitment, the management of the Old Peacock have not sat idly by as they count the proceeds of a guaranteed packed-out pub for every home game. They have invested this summer in making the match day experience far more comfortable for the legions of fans that walk through their doors.

This season Old Peacock regulars will see a new marquee in the beer garden with a full bar and the addition of four attentive staff. Capacity of the pub’s entire site on a match day is 1100 people, and the marquee won’t change that. What it will change is to ensure that those 1100 people can get served quicker and easier and can then relax in more spacious surroundings.

Other than that, Ossett are sticking to a winning formula; 1919, Yorkshire Blonde and Silver King, the full range of lagers, ciders, wines, spirits and soft drinks as before, and the hearty goodness of the ‘Match Day Menu’ fresh from the kitchen.

August looks to be an enticing introduction in terms of Elland Road home games, with two meaty ones on the agenda. This coming Saturday (8th) sees newly-relegated Burnley as the season’s first visitors before Sheffield Wednesday (22nd) arrive for a Yorkshire Derby fixture. Both games are scheduled for a lunch time kick-off and are live on Sky Sports, factors which routinely affect the attendance and atmosphere.

But early-season optimism is rife and if Uwe Rosler’s promise of ‘heavy metal football’ offers us one thing, it is that a few beers pre and post match sound like the perfect accoutrement. I’ve a feeling that life will not be dull under Rosler, and a gung-ho approach and talk of instilling a ‘top six mentality’ offer reminders of better times, and I’ll certainly raise a glass or five to that.

Life at the Old Peacock goes on between home games of course, and the range of menus remain in place during the week as usual. Following the success of the recent Norman Hunter and Duncan McKenzie nights, early September sees league title-winning goalkeeper John Lukic make a rare appearance (Wednesday 9th September at 7.30pm) for a Q&A session and autographs.

Lukic is a veteran of 431 games for Leeds and is member of an exclusive club, not just for winning a championship medal, or for having two spells at both Arsenal and Leeds, but also for skilfully maintaining the same hairstyle for over forty years. Come along in September to see if he still has it, hear some unique stories and meet a title-winner into the bargain.

All the best for now, enjoy the two home games in August and follow us on Twitter @oldpeacockleeds for news on what’s happening at the pub, match day competitions and plenty of photos, videos and posts on the history behind what makes the Old Peacock unique to Leeds United.

Jon Howe