The previous afternoon’s meeting with Johan Boskamp was not the end of the FCV Dender experience. Johan had kindly invited me to return later in the day with fellow Leeds Stokie, Dave aka The Goat Major who was returning that evening from a stint in Sweden. Unfortunately we left it too late to visit that night, so Johan told us to turn up in the morning. We arrived at the hotel just as the Boss Man was sauntering in for breakfast and told us to join him at his table with Patrick Asselman, Dender’s Manager and other members of the coaching team. Johan declared he slept “like a block” until someone set the fire alarm off in the early hours. It wasn’t too early for a joke though as one of his assistants brought him some pills to take with his breakfast. “Ah my Viagra” he said with a grin as those around the table burst out laughing. One nice touch was that every member of the team coming down to breakfast shook hands with the people at our table including Dave and myself even though they had no clue who we were.
We were allowed to hang around with FCV Dender until the coach came to take them to Elland Road, Patrick asking me to take some photographs for the club website as they brought neither an official cameraman or even a camera with them. Johan set about drawing up plans of his teams and formations so we left him to it. However a shout and whistle across the bar from one of his coaching staff trying to attract my attention to get me to take a photo brought a furious response from the irate Boskamp, shouting back what sounded like “Hey this isn’t a football field now”. Any one who thought Boskamp was just a jovial clown best think again. When he’s at work he’s deadly serious, focussed, a disciplinarian and well organised. I’d wandered over to look at his team selections and said wryly “But there’s no room for Mama Sidibe in there”. I got an unamused grunt for a reply, so sidled away sharpish to leave him to it. As Dender departed we were invited to meet post-match behind the scenes in the changing rooms. After a pub lunch with two of Dave’s maniac mates at The Fenton pub near the University for a blast from the past, we all set off for the stadium and took our seats in the massive East Stand.
FCV Dender clearly suffered from leaving five key players behind, three due to visa issues, the other two being injured. They lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with centre forward Norman Sylla playing pretty much as a left winger, likewise for his team mate on the right leaving a large but slow target man in the centre in the form of Van den Eede. To be honest it never really worked. FCV Dender looked sluggish and disappointing in the first half, overrun in midfield and lacking potency upfront. Eraly on their keeper made three very good saves to prevent what looked certain goals. Martinovic’s brilliant one-handed save flicked Robinson’s rising shot over the crossbar with 17 minutes gone and a weak clearance which laid the ball to the feet of Beckford required a frantic block from Siebe Blondelle to prevent an opening goal which eventually came, three minutes later. Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick from the right wing was worked into the centre of Dender’s box with the help of Showunmi’s strength and Huntington arrived in space to drive a low finish past Martinovic.
This setback didn’t seem to raise Dender from their slumbers, but merely encouraged Leeds further. With 28 minutes gone Snodgrass aimed a corner into a crowd of players and Marques dispatched a simple header into the bottom of the net as the defence stood and watched. Leeds’ third goal arrived on 34 minutes, effectively ending the tie. Showunmi played in Beckford, who floored Dender’s keeper with a quick shuffle of the feet to clip home a tidy finish with some poise. Dender somehow reached the interval without sustaining further damage, in fact, they nearly scored when confusion between ‘keeper Casper Ankergren and former Stoke loanee Frazer Richardson, saw Sylla steer a lob past an empty net. Dender no doubt trudged off to a half time rollocking from the stern looking Boskamp.
However Dender scored within 10 minutes of the restart. Sylla collected a long ball on the left to run infield before driving a low shot against Ankergren, the rebound falling nicely for Van den Eede to curl a low finish into an empty net. Leeds might have been punished again were it not for a wasteful finish on the hour from Sylla, who chipped the ball over the bar with only Ankergren to beat. A plethora of substitutions by Gary McAllister dampened the tempo of the game, allowing Dender’s young replacements to express themselves and raise the team’s overall performance. It was rather unexpected and against the run of play when Leeds wrapped up the game four minutes from time, Huntington rising to head home a fourth goal from former Stoke City player Peter Sweeney’s corner. It had been a disappointing display from Dender, and didn’t bode well for post-match joviality from Bossie!
Leeds United: Ankergren, Richardson (Bayly 56), Marques (Michalik 56), Huntington, Sheehan, Snodgrass (Douglas 62), Prutton (Gardner 62), Howson (Sweeney 62), Robinson (Delph 62), Showunmi, Beckford (Parker 65). Subs (not used): Lucas, Martin.
FCV Dender: Martinovic, Deflandre, Filipovic, De Petter, Van den Eede, Wiggers (De Pever 46), Destorme (Jacobs 46), Neva, Sylla, Blondelle, Barbe (Copel 74). Subs (not used): Berthelin, Degroote, Vanderbiest, Wittesaele.
Dave and I blagged our way into the reception area of the banqueting suite, finding ourselves amidst Leeds’ souvenirs of better times (Billy Bremner’s shirt and all that), and waited patiently to see whether Johan would allow us “back stage”. Evidently the post match post mortem was not for our eyes or ears. What seemed an age passed and players started to leave for the coach. Patrick Asselman invited us to join them at the hotel but we were off to the wedding party of another Leeds Stokie, the Padster of Farsley. So it was one last shake of the huge hand of Johan, a quick autograph, a big thank you for all his hospitality, and we were off. I did get a final photograph alongside the very polite Norman Sylla, who on another day might have scored a hat-trick. All in all a very memorable weekend. Many thanks Johan, best of luck for the coming season.