Blind football fan tells why the Leeds United family has a special place in her heart

Chants, cheers, laughter and tears all contribute to the special feeling of camaraderie that comes with life as a Leeds United fan.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 10:53 am
Nikki Allan with her guide dog Rita.

And, for Whites supporter Nikki Allan, the memorable moments that bind together the United family in good times and bad have particularly precious value.

Nikki, who is blind, attends Leeds games home and away, accompanied by her faithful and much-loved guide dog Rita.

Nikki Allan in the short film Blind Faith.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The 64-year-old, from Churwell, says her passion for football has helped her overcome fear and isolation since losing her sight in her 20s.

And today, as she became the latest person to feature in the Yorkshire Evening Post's Marching on Together series, she told why her fellow supporters hold a champion place in her heart.

Nikki, who sits in the fondly-named 'cheese wedge' section between Elland Road's East Stand and South Stand, said: "The spirit is lovely, the fans always look after me.

"I have so many friends at Leeds – obviously it's quite isolating not having vision, but people introduce themselves, help you out and tell you who they are. It's a very inclusive club.

Nikki Allan in another scene from Blind Faith.

"I sit at the front of the cheese wedge [with fans in wheelchairs] and they all move along to give Rita her own space. It shows how much camaraderie there is."

Nikki's inclusion in our Marching on Together series isn't the first time that her inspirational story has made headlines.

She was the subject of a short film, entitled Blind Faith, that was directed by Leeds fan Glen Milner in 2014 following a commission from Channel 4.

Then, last month, footage of Rita barking excitedly after Jack Harrison's winner for United against Sheffield Wednesday went viral online.

She has been a loyal presence by Nikki's side since 2011 but is due to retire from guide dog duties in the next few months.

And that means Rita's final Leeds game could – depending on how United fare in their next two matches – be the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

"She's an absolute celebrity," said Nikki. "I'm dreading giving her up."

The YEP is asking readers to nominate special United fans, young or old, to feature in future editions of Marching on Together.

The series has been launched to salute stalwart supporters during the final stages of one of the most exciting seasons at Elland Road in years.

To make a nomination, ring 0113 238 8463 or e-mail [email protected]