LAST Saturday’s 90 minutes at QPR unquestionably had an after the Lord Mayor’s show feel to it for Leeds United and their hosts.
When the FA verdict that all of a Rangers persuasion had been waiting for was finally delivered around an hour before kick-off – with the West Londoners fined, but crucially spared a points deduction over the signing of Alejandro Faurlin – a promotion party was triggered at Loftus Road and the game became a mere side show.
For United – holding the slimmest of play-off prospects – a goal inside 30 seconds for the hosts, allied to a quick-fire strike from Nottingham Forest at Crystal Palace, soon rendered the outcome as academic.
But the match did at least provide one big winner – as Robocop defender Patrick Kisnorbo, finally put to bed his much-chronicled injury nightmare.
The 30-year-old had been chomping at the bit to make his return the previous week against Burnley at a packed Elland Road, but had to cool his heels for another seven days after making the provisional party to tackle the Clarets but not the match-day squad.
However, the old adage that everything comes to he who waits certainly rang true a week later in the capital with Kisnorbo – out since March 2010 after rupturing his Achilles – entering the fray for Richard Naylor with 11 minutes left of United’s 2-1 final-day victory.
Few would begrudge the Aussie, something of a cult hero among fans who voted him their player of the year in the League One promotion campaign of 2009-10, his moment in the sun after what he had gone through, and he enjoyed a happy end to a season of gruelling rehabilitation.
The relief afterwards was palpable for the centre-back with several team-mates breaking into an impromptu chorus of “you’ll never beat Kisnorbo” in the post-match interview area, just as the 1,700-plus United fans had done earlier when their man returned to centre stage on the pitch.
Some 411 days after his last appearance for the Whites, Paddy was finally back.
Kisnorbo, who is expected to take up the option of a short-term deal which will hopefully yield an extended contract when he proves his close-season fitness, said: “It was probably one of the most defining moments that I’ve had, in a bizarre way.
“It was fantastic. It was just great to be back. I was trying my hardest in training, hoping to get that chance and thankfully I did and I’m grateful for that.
“That 10 minutes at the end was fantastic for me. It’s nice for people to sing about me, just to say that I’m back, and hopefully I’ll be playing for those fans again.
“The manager believes in me and, hopefully, I’ll pay him back.Obviously, we’ve both got to agree on everything, but they’ve helped me a lot and I want to repay them and hopefully I can do.”
On the ups and downs of a physically and mentally challenging road to recovery, Kisnorbo added: “The first thing for me was to just start running and kicking a football again after the injury. It’s been such a hard year and to get back after missing out for so long is the best feeling in the world.
“The realisation that I’d ruptured my Achilles and then missing out on the World Cup was such a big thing. Missing out on promotion, even though we got promoted, was hard as well.
“I wondered if I’d get back a lot of times but through hard work and dedication, and working with my physio Harvey (Sharman), who is a top physio, I’ve got back. Him and everyone in the backroom staff believed in me and worked so hard and so long with me and it’s finally paid off.
“Hopefully, there are more highs than lows to come.”
A booming header, which travelled almost as far as most people can kick a ball, reminded everyone what United had been missing against the Hoops and there was another in the shape of Kisnorbo’s trademark head bandage.
“It’s tradition and you can’t break tradition,” he declared. “I got a bit of stick before the game, but that’s me and I’ll continue to wear it.”
On his off-season plans, the Melbournian added: “I haven’t been home for two years, so I’ll enjoy that. I’ll work hard to get back to fitness, but I think I’m pretty much there, it’s just games I need.
“Hopefully, I’ll come back for pre-season here and see where it takes me.”
The Socceroos international is also confident United, after their seventh-placed Championship finish, can last the course next time around, sentiments he will also echo about his own seasonal hopes for 2011-12.
“Before the season, I think everyone was happy to consolidate. Obviously, we’ve just had a good season, but unfortunately haven’t made the play-offs. But it’s a learning curve and what we’ve done and learnt here, we can take into next year, “ Kisnorbo said.
“We’ve got a great core to the squad and some great people working here.”