Leeds United football director Victor Orta leaves fan 'gobsmacked' during Elland Road tour
Gwyn Aylott, a Leeds United fan for more than 50 years, has been paired up with a member of the club’s staff for weekly walks as part of its partnership with the charity Holbeck Together.
Here, the 68-year-old grandma tells us about why the work of the club and the charity has meant so much to her - and what happened when director of football Victor Orta took her on a tour of Elland Road.
"I was never into football until I got to about 16. Since then, I've been Leeds United mad.
"I remember when I went up to Billy Bremner's house with my two great nephews. He was laid out on the lounger in the garden after training. He looked up and said, 'How can I help you?' The lads are going, 'It’s Billy Bremner! It’s Billy Bremner!' He went inside and got photographs and signed them from him. They were over the moon.
"David Batty used to come into the snooker centre where I worked too. He said, 'I don't want any special treatment. You treat me the same as everyone'. I thought that was brilliant.
"I'm a people person and I’m a volunteer for Holbeck Together. I do befriending and volunteer for the Christmas and summer fairs.
"Holbeck Together has provided so much for its members and their families throughout this last year in lockdown. There are a few statistics - 8,527 meal delivered, 3,527 wellbeing phone calls, 110 walking group attendances, 579 young family activity packs, 33 one-to-one digital support sessions, 1,427 wellbeing activity packs for adults and 2,187 food parcels.
"It has all been appreciated so much during this lonely time - by me and, I’m sure, each and every one of us.
"Leeds United's chief executive, Angus Kinnear, and director of football, Victor Orta, came down to Holbeck Together as Leeds are one of our sponsors. Mr Orta rang me too as I walk one-to-one with Matt, who is a member of staff at the club.
"I go out with Matt every Tuesday. When I went down the other Tuesday, he said, 'I've got an ideal book for you, I'll bring it next week. It's Bielsa’s book. I've read it so you keep it and pass it on'.
The first time we walked, I said, 'How do you fancy wandering down to the Leeds United training ground? It's going to be down Brown Lane.'
"I was telling Matt a few tales as I was walking down. I used to live down in Holbeck. My son slept in the attic, a big dormer attic. My neighbour came over one night and said, 'Do you know your Steven is out on the dormer roof?' He was about seven years old. I said, 'What do you think you’re doing?' He said, 'I can see the floodlights better from here and hear them cheering'. I got him dragged back in and said, 'Don’t you ever do that again!'
"He was laughing like mad was Matt. He said, 'I could've done with you when I wrote the programme for the centenary!'
"Now every week we walk round Holbeck Moor, we sit down halfway through on a seat that we’ve got. We have a natter. He's a brilliant lad.
"It was through him that Mr Orta rang. What a lovely man he is to talk to - he put me at ease and it was like talking to an old friend, not the legend that he is at Leeds. He then invited me down to Elland Road for a tour of the ground.
"When we went on the tour, Mr Orta said to me, 'Put your arm through mine'. He knows everyone's name [at the club] and he's saying, 'This is my friend'.
"At one point, I needed to tie my laces and he said, 'Let me'. I was absolutely gobsmacked - to get down on his hands and knees and fasten my shoelaces! He actually offered to come into town to help me do some shopping too.
"He took me on the pitch, down the tunnel, the dressing rooms, past Mr Bielsa's office. While I was there, Mr Orta asked for the Championship Cup to be brought to the boardroom we were in and I had my photo taken holding it with Mr Orta.
"We went to the executive suite and Mr Orta invited me to come to the suite to watch Leeds United when fans are allowed back in the ground. He said, 'I'll bring a couple of players up to meet you Gwyn because this is where their families watch it.' I'll have to take some tablets before to calm down. I'm just over the moon.
"Back to Holbeck Together though. I'd like to thank all the office staff, kitchen chef and staff, and the delivery drivers for being such helpful, happy, smiley people. They make your day when you see any of them. A very big you to Holbeck Together for everything."
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