Elland Road set to be unmuted with Leeds United roar for the ages
Elland Road has been on mute since Leeds United beat Huddersfield Town 532 days ago.
Fans, some of them, made a return to the ground for the final game of last season but compared to the matchday atmosphere the stadium is famed for, it was a muted affair.If that victory against the Terriers feels like a lifetime ago it is because the events, drama and tragedies of the months between then and now have been sufficient to last a lifetime.
It is difficult to put the pandemic and the way it has impacted life for Leeds United Football Club and its fans into words, but the roar that rings around the ground just before 3pm today will speak to all of it.
It will touch on loss, the departure of Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry, Jack Charlton, Peter Lorimer, Terry Cooper and Mick Bates, men upon whose legacy the modern day club can stand proud.
Covid-19 did not take all of those men but it did take away the opportunity for a city and its football club to come together in one place and pay the proper respect.
Fans who helped fill the ground's seats on March 7 2020 have also passed on and others will roar on their behalf.
The roar will touch on victory, congratulating Marcelo Bielsa and his remaining 2019/20 champions.
It will welcome new heroes who have pulled on the shirt and represented the badge but not yet heard the roar, players like Raphinha who will have their eyes and their ears opened to Elland Road for the first time.
It will celebrate Premier League status and touch on the future everyone wearing the yellow, white and blue is dreaming of.
It will unite Leeds again after an intolerable amount of time apart.
Gordon Strachan describes Elland Road as one of a select few grounds that can take your breath away and lungs will empty all over LS11 when Liam Cooper leads his team out to play Everton.
For some youngsters it will be the very first time they have passed through the turnstiles and walked up the steps into the stand and for many of their elders it will be a day of the most familiar routines. It will be a special and poignant occasion for all of them, a homecoming and reunion.
Given all that has occured, all the context around this game and what it means for Leeds, the roar should rival any heard inside the ground in living memory.
It should be reminiscent of European nights against AC Milan and Deportivo, of Strachan's goal against Leicester City in 1990, of Pablo Hernandez' 16-second opener against West Bromwich Albion and the last goal scored in a full ground, from the boot of Ayling.
What happens from 3pm to 5pm, the details of the game itself will eventually fade but the noise should ring in ears for years to come.
Those who hear it will forever say they were there the day Elland Road unmuted itself and roared again.