"We've already bought our flights for Wembley": Leeds United fans fly from Ireland for crunch Derby County clash

Gerrard O'Byrne, left with friend Bob who had travelled over from Dublin on Wednesday morning.
Gerrard O'Byrne, left with friend Bob who had travelled over from Dublin on Wednesday morning.
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Fans from Ireland and Northern Ireland have arrived at Elland Road ahead of United's second playoff match against Derby County.

Shane Crutchley, 31, had travelled from Coleraine, Northern Ireland to watch the match.

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"As long as we go through, that's the main thing." he said, "I think we'll draw tonight but getting to Wembley is what's important."

A lifelong Leeds fan, he had travelled with his dad and brother.

"Dad's always been a Leeds fan so there's a family connection.

"We come over for about five or six games a season."

They group plan to fly back over for the final at Wembley if Leeds go through.

United also have a strong following south of the Irish border.

"It will be on in every in pub in Dublin tonight," said Gerrard O'Byrne, "But you can't beat the atmosphere being here."

Mr O'Byrne had travelled over from Dublin on Wednesday morning.

He added: "70 per cent of the flight was Leeds fans this morning and there's another few planes coming through the day."

He predicted a big win for the Whites, saying: "I do think we will win. I think they could have one of the biggest wins of the season.

"Derby have been humiliated three times by us already this season. I'm very optimistic"

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Though Mr O'Byrne was optimistic, he said it was frustrating they hadn't managed automatic promotion.

"I was at the Wigan game when we started to unravel. But that's football.

"It's swings and roundabouts."

He was full of admiration for the team's new manager.

"We may not have the best players in the league but we have the best team.

"That's what Bielsa does, he makes a team. United have played the best football since Don Revie under Bielsa.

"He doesn't hog the limelight but really he should be managing Barcelona or Real Madrid."

Mr O'Byrne first started coming to Elland Road in 1972 as a teenager.

He said: "Leeds were the best team in the world then, and Johnny Giles drew a lot of attention from Irish fans.

"Apart from Manchester United and Liverpool I'd say Leeds are the biggest team in Ireland, they're definitely bigger than Chelsea and Manchester City."

Not worried about tempting fate, Mr O'Byrne had already bought flights for Wembley.

He explained: "We've already bought our flights for Wembley.

"They were only 80 euros, and if we get through they'll go up to 300.

"If I lose the 80 euro I lose it but I think I'll be flying over to watch us play Villa at Wembley."

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