Leeds fans Marching On Together after 16 years in wilderness

Most Leeds United fans in Malaysia are well into their 40s or 50s. But the man who started the Malaysian Leeds United Fan Club 16 years ago is only 33-years-old.

Sidek Ahmad was so heartbroken to see ‘The Whites’ doomed to relegation at the end of the 2003-2004 season that he decided to form a fan club.

“I became a Leeds fan when I was 11. I watched them come from a goal down to beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield in 1998 and thought ‘wow, that’s a great team’,” said Sidek.

“My friends were Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, supporters. I wanted to be different. After the Liverpool victory, I started following Leeds.”

It was three glorious years of football as Leeds fought on all fronts and even reached the 2001 Champions League semifinal before things went pear shape.

It got into financial trouble and was even demoted to League One – the third tier of the English game.

Even then Sidek and his fellow Leeds fans kept the faith.

He was devastated when Leeds missed out on promotion at the end of the 2018-2019 season but elated when it won the Championship a couple of months ago.

Even that was a bittersweet celebration. Sidek had planned a visit to Elland Road to celebrate the title victory but the trip had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Maybe I can go next year if everything settles down. I’m determined to see Leeds play on home turf,” said Sidek, who has a 15-month-old son.

“My hope for this season is for them to avoid relegation although I have a feeling they can be among the top 10.”

Sidek said he was surprised Leeds splashed the cash after earning a promotion. But he admitted it is a good gamble due to the financial benefits of remaining in the Premier League.

Norwich, who won the 2019 Championship, played it safe and was relegated back to the second tier.

The outlay on players such as Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Cody Drameh, Crysencio Summerville and Spain forward Rodrigo has given Sidek hope Leeds can beat Manchester City on Sunday (12.30am).

“I’ll go for a 3-2 home victory but will take a 3-3 draw!” said Sidek.

“I loved the way Leeds attacked Liverpool on the opening day of the season. The players didn’t show any fear and narrowly lost 4-3. I’m expecting the same fighting spirit against City. It will be a high-scoring game for sure.”

No matter the result, you can bet Sidek and his Leeds fans will be “Marching On Together”.

Fixtures (Malaysian time)

SATURDAY
Chelsea vs Crystal Palace (7.30pm)
Everton vs Brighton (10pm)

SUNDAY
Leeds vs Manchester City (12.30am)
Newcastle vs Burnley (3am)
Leicester vs West Ham (7pm)
Southampton vs West Brom (7pm)
Wolves vs Fulham (9pm)
Arsenal vs Sheffield United (9pm)
Manchester United vs Tottenham (11.30pm)

MONDAY
Aston Villa vs Liverpool (2.15am)

Main image: Leeds United fans in Malaysia during a gathering last year.