My Leeds United: Longing to get back in line for fish, chips and peas en route to seeing Whites
THE YEP's series 'My Leeds United' brings you the personal stories of familiar and not-so-familiar Whites, their matchday rituals and why they're Leeds.
Amitai Winehouse is an online sports journalist for Mail Sport who previously regularly contributed to the YEP as part of work experience.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been getting fish and chips in the same spot.
With my dad, back when it was called United Fisheries, and then with my brother before he decided he preferred McDonald’s to Graveley’s.
It always used to be a family affair. I don’t get back to Elland Road as often as I used to these days – where I live and my job limit my opportunities there – but now I see more contemporaries in that queue when I do.
We stand there in winter, bundled up in coats, the styrofoam containers in our hands acting as our own little personal heaters.
We discuss the line-up, which inevitably comes out while we’re queuing, recent form and why, exactly, we’ve gone for our various combinations.
Some go for a fish butty. Others want chips and curry sauce. Personal preference? Fish, chips and peas. If Marcelo Bielsa is the high priest of the high press, then I’ve taken on a role as a messenger for the mushy stuff.
Nowhere does them better than that little shop in LS11. A friend recently said that it was worth the trip back from London just for that.
That meal with friends was the first thing that came to mind when the season was suspended – what will happen to Graveley’s? It must be a business that relies on match-day income.
Sure, football will come back one day, but what about the places around the ground?
It’s not just at Elland Road either. I snuck in a final away day before the campaign was put on pause. We travelled up to Hull and watched four goals fly in.
One of them – Tyler Roberts’ first – must be the best move I’ve seen from the stands.
Yet even now, when the WhatsApp chat goes back to that day, someone inevitably brings up the fish and chips we got hold of near the ground.
It is always a ridiculous conversation. The big picture is so serious. People I have watched large chunks of this season with are doctors who have been on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.
But even they still talk about the football. A doctor I know texted me last week over his fears that the season might get abandoned when he might have more on his plate.
Yet there’s plenty to miss in life right now and of the little distractions, football is the most important and best of the lot.
Leeds in particular. It’s been strange not being able to watch one of the best teams – in terms of pure style – I’ve ever seen.
What has also been weird is the absence of the stuff around it.
There are now no pre-match pints, no group chats that involve spectacular fallings out over a player’s form and – most crucially – no peas.
I miss it all. Who knows how the planet will change the months it will take to return to normality?
Whether with my dad, my brother or friends, that queue has been one of the constants of my existence. I hope I get to wait in line again soon.