VERY much in the bracket of a senior player with his milestone 30th birthday arriving next week, Leeds United full-back Barry Douglas has witnessed plenty of what football has to offer.
Previous spells in Polish and Turkish football with Lech Poznan and Konyaspor respectively form part of the landscape, as do life-affirming experiences at two of the most famous names in domestic football in Wolves and Leeds – alongside representing his country of Scotland.
But seeing a midweek home crowd of 30,000 turn up for an early-round fixture in the Carabao Cup against – with respect – unattractive opponents with the season still in its relative infancy will have represented a first.
There was not the desired ending for the overwhelming majority who attended Leeds’s cup elimination on penalties to Stoke City.
Yet in a season when league matters overwhelmingly take pre-eminence after last season’s promotion near-miss, there was an unshakeable belief at the final whistle that the moving-on process to Saturday’s top-of-the-table Championship game with Swansea City was already underway.
When you feel that atmosphere, it does give you that extra boost and little momentum when you sometimes need it.Barry Douglas
Raucous support for Jack Harrison, whose effort struck the post in the fateful act of the shoot-out with the Potters, said as much on an evening when defiance was abound, even in defeat.
Douglas, who made his return from two matches out with injury, said: “There is a great buzz and aura around the city as a whole with the fans and the football.
“When you feel that atmosphere, it does give you that extra boost and little momentum when you sometimes need it.
“I do not know many teams who would bring 30,000 to a Carabao Cup second-round cup (tie) and it is a credit to the fans for showing up in numbers, and a boost for the players.”
Aside from the blow of bowing out of the competition on penalties, there was succour for Leeds, with their stirring second-half response to draw level after trailing 2-0 at the break speaking volumes about their innate belief under Marcelo Bielsa.
Douglas added: “The boys showed a never-say-die attitude and we have that belief we are never out of it. Even when we are one or two goals down, we know we are going to create chances.
“On another day, we would have scored more and gone through.”