Oh brother! Leeds United game will be family affair for seven Norwegian fans

Atle, Torgeir, Espen and Oystein Leknes during a previous visit to Elland Road.
Atle, Torgeir, Espen and Oystein Leknes during a previous visit to Elland Road.

A magnificent seven brothers will be marching on together all the way from their native Norway to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground later this month.

The lads from the Leknes family – Kjetil, Oystein, Nils Arne, Karl Martin, Espen, Torgeir and Atle – are long-standing fans of United and have travelled to England to watch them in action on a number of occasions over the years.

But next Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Barnsley will be the first time that all seven have been to the same game at Elland Road.

It will also be a first ever visit to the ground for eldest brother Kjetil, 33, who started following the Whites during the 1980s and is responsible for getting his siblings hooked on the sometimes dubious delights of life as a Leeds supporter.

His 24-year-old brother Espen, who lives in Oslo, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s going to be a special occasion for us all to be there together.

“We’ll be coming over on the Friday before the game then travelling back on the Monday.

“When we arranged the trip, we were hoping the side would still be in with a chance of making the play-offs.

“That’s not going to happen now but none of us have seen Leeds lose at Elland Road so hopefully we can bring them some good luck.”

The Leknes boys’ love affair with United began when their cousin, Thomas Pedersen, found an old Leeds shirt and a pennant in an attic during the 1980s.

They had been brought back to Norway by Thomas’s grandfather after a business trip to the north of England some time in the 1970s.

“Kjetil started supporting Leeds after that and one by one we followed suit,” said Espen. “We had no choice!”

Memorable games attended by the brothers in recent years include United’s 5-1 win against Huddersfield Town in 2014 and the dramatic 1-0 victory over Brentford at the end of 2016.

Leeds have a famously large and loyal following in Norway, thanks in part to their matches regularly being shown on TV over there during the club’s 1970s glory years.

A number of Norwegian players have also served the Whites with distinction, with Eirik Bakke helping them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2001.

Alfie Haaland achieved cult status during his time at Elland Road in the late 1990s while Gunnar Halle made more than 80 appearances for United between 1996 and 1999.