As I’ve likely said too often, I’ve never been to the UK, so obviously I’ve not seen Elland Road. It’s a long-term ambition to go there, but last night, I had the next-best thing: I had a wildly inaccurate and bizarre dream about my first visit!
In the dream, my wife and I decided to take a vacation to England. My wife couldn’t care less about sports, but she knows what a big Leeds fan I am, so she agreed to go to a match with me.
Now, this being a dream, everything was wildly abstract. First, I’m not even sure I was really in England. This dream melded with another where I was on the West Coast or Hawaii, so while there were no palm trees, the whole dream had that California sun feel to it.
The details of how we got to Elland Road are lost to me, but it involved a long walk. Now, I’ve seen Elland Road on Google maps, etc., and I more or less know the lay of the land, but our walk was long and through an area that looked more like an American country fair than England. We walked by a ton of corrals for horses or cows.
I think the idea was that fans are sometimes led through a different process in the UK for matches than we are in America, so I think those pens were intended for us to go through to enter our seats, which were vaguely in the East Stand. (Correction: it was the South Stand.)
We get inside Elland Road and where concourses would normally be, there were ... more pens. It looked like the back side of Churchill Downs horse track where bettors can review the horses.
Somehow, my wife and I got separated and I could see from a distance she was already in her front row East Stand seat. I’m in a panic as, somehow, I got the idea in my dream that ticketholders had to enter the park at the same moment. I call her on the cell.
“Dammit, we had to go in together! This is England! They will kick us out of the stadium at least, maybe out of the country! Please bring me my ticket! So we can enter together!”
None of this makes any sense, of course, because I was already inside Elland Road.
As I waited for her to walk back to me, I noticed that Marcelo Bielsa was in one of those horse pens. He was seated Indian-style or not unlike Buddha.
I found out that, before each match, he answered fans’ questions and gave advice. And like his press conferences, he answered every one of them before the match could start.
At that point, a steward walked an amorous young couple in front of his position. They were caught having sex and they were on their way to being arrested.
“Stop! Bring them here,” Bielsa said.
Mortified, the young couple were embarassed to not only get busted, but have to share their embarassment in front of the great man.
“We’re sorry out passions got the best of us,” they told Bielsa.
“Nonsense!” Bielsa declared. “Passion is the lifeblood that flows through us and its meant to be shared! Passion in football, passion in all things. You should never be ashamed to express your passion! You should want it to consume you and to seek it in others! You should want to tear it out of one another!”
Confused, the couple, who were thick enough to get fucking at a match in the first place, said to Bielsa.
“So, you want us to fuck right now?”
Bielsa, unflappable and unfazed, showed no expression, he turned to them with a fatherly expression and said.
“Passion is vital, but if it’s the lifeblood, then patience is the heart. One cannot exist without the other. So, please, my friends, exercise some patience. You cannot express your passion if you’re locked in a cage. Be mindful of that, always.”
And with that, Bielsa told the steward to let them go so they could go on their way.
Momentarily gobsmacked by the scene, I began to ponder my own question, when my wife began to approach closer. Rather than make her way to me by normal means, she walked on the edge of the pitch where Leeds was doing its pre-match warmup.
The pitch was insanely muddy, despite the fact it was a sunny day. Think World War I no man’s land trench mud. It didn’t look like a soccer match so much as a bad day in Passchendaele. Yet the players merrily went on with their business.
As my wife negotiated the side of the pitch, an errant ball came her way. She played it on one touch and half-volleyed it towards the net. It scraped the top corner of the bar, just missing a sublime goal.
Oblivious, she kept walking, but the fans already seated chanted her name. Also, the fans were doing a pregame chant not unlike the University of Kansas “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!” chant, which is Gregorian and church-like before it builds to a crescendo.
When she approached, she gave me my ticket and I was floored. I said, “Do you realize Leeds fans were chanting your name? How fucking cool is that!”
At that point, I came to that point many dreams do where my real consciousness, somehow within the dream, realizes I’m having a dream about going to Elland Road. How fucking cool is that!
But then, as it typically does, that realization made me lose the dream. I never saw the match, nor even know who Leeds played or the result, I never got to sing “Marching On Together”. I never got to ask Buddha Bielsa a question either.
How totally bizarre, but it was my kind of weird.
"If you sell the refrigerator to buy the beer, where the fuck do you put the beer?"
"My only weapon is my pen ... and the state of mind I’m in.”