Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Turning the January Blues White
Welcome to January. I write this on a miserable, grey Monday morning. The wind is lashing rain against my office window and normally motivation would at an all-time low. January is traditionally the longest month of the year, not simply in the number of days of course, but in the energy-sapping way in which it drags interminably. December fair skips by in comparison and there is always real momentum going in to the end of the year, but that hits you hard like a Pontus Jansson sliding tackle at the turn of the New Year, and January appears on your doorstep knocking rather too loudly and carrying a suitcase full of bills, work, bad health and a mountain of other problems.

Is it the third Monday in January that is cited as the ‘most depressing day of the year’? When people have lost the zest of all the festivities over Christmas and New Year and can only see a very long road ahead, even though the mornings are getting ever-so-slightly brighter each day. Well in 2017 that Monday falls three days after Leeds United play Derby County at home in a vital fixture that could further cement our place in the play-off places, and may even see us close the gap further on a spluttering Newcastle United in second place. For that reason, it is perfectly possible that Leeds United fans will continue sailing through January on the crest of a wave, fighting off the traditional January Blues with a vim and vigour borne from a superb string of displays over the festive period and a surge of optimism that doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon.

Not this year are we worrying about our ‘New Year, New Me’ diets, or boycotting our favourite pub in a misguided and fatally flawed attempt at a ‘Dry January’, and no longer are we looking forward with dread at the endless treadmill of work, sleep, work, sleep. Instead, Leeds United fans are looking forward with a beaming smile even Lucas Radebe would take inspiration from.

Two wins and a draw out of three games over Christmas and New Year was a far better return than Leeds fans usually expect, from a busy period that traditionally saps the festive spirit like a lump of coal on Christmas morning. Add to that the 50% ownership change at the club, with Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani finally concluding his deal last week, and arriving with a flawless track record in every sense, and there have been few better times to be a Leeds United fan since we were marauding fearlessly across Europe at the turn of the Millennium.  The sea change in commercial activity, media output and stability in management this season has brought its own rewards which are clear for all to see. And we are hopeful the strength and solidity of the club will only improve with this latest change in the boardroom. Being honest, we don’t expect Mr Radrizzani to pop over and join us for a drink at the Old Peacock, we think he is more likely to keep a lower profile than our previous owner, but he is definitely welcome, and indeed we will certainly be toasting the new ownership regime if results continue as they are.

It is true that previous ownership changes have come about at a time when they have been absolutely necessary, and they have found Leeds United on the floor and picked it off the canvass looking bloodied and beaten. Right now, the club is in great health and everything is in place to take it on and make it work. This ownership change has come as a boost, at a time when momentum is taking Leeds United forward like an un-manned bread van hurtling down Wesley Street, and it could be just the tonic we need to carry us over the line.

And ‘boost’ is the operative word in January. Rather than looking ahead with fear and dread, we are taking everything in our stride. That goes for us at the Old Peacock too. We aren’t changing too much in 2017, we are maintaining our high standards, happy to keep serving the hordes of happy, smiling Leeds fans that turn up on a match day, and delighted to be seeing and feeling the general buzz around Elland Road all through the week at the moment.

Of course we have already navigated one hectic match day at Elland Road this year. January 2nd saw one final blowout before we all returned to work, and there was certainly no evidence of a Dry January pre-match in the Peacock for the Rotherham United game. A 33,000 crowd ensured the festive spirit kept flowing for a few more hours, and the lads did the business on the pitch too, with a fine 3-0 victory setting 2017 off on the right foot.

Friday 13th will be unlucky for Derby County if Leeds continue this rich vein of form. We have seen some major occasions at Elland Road in recent weeks, with 30,000 plus crowds for the visits of Newcastle, Aston Villa and Rotherham. But in terms of vital points and administering psychological blows to near challengers, the visit of Derby is arguably the most important home game since our promotion from League One. We are expecting another busy evening behind the bar but after that, January could return to being a bit of a long one, with the team’s progress in the FA Cup meaning there are no more home games this month.

Our weekly food events are still proving extremely popular. After our Christmas Day service sold out in record time, we also enjoyed a busy run-up to Christmas with lots of you taking advantage of our Christmas Fayre menu to host your parties with friends, family and work colleagues. Our Curry Night, Steak Night and Sunday Lunch menus will continue in 2017 and of course we have our general menu available all week as well. We are always keen to hear feedback from our customers and we have been really honoured to have received some lovely reviews from people who have visited us in recent weeks. These can be viewed on our Facebook page, where, along with our Twitter account, you can also keep up to date with all our events and any information about match days.

For now, keep your chin up, enjoy January and confront the things that get you down with the gusto of Chris Wood fending off that Rotherham defender to turn and smash the ball into the roof the net; eat my goal. We’ve been through it all together, as the song goes, and we will beat January together. 

All the best.