Alfred, Lord Tennyson was so moved by William Howard Russell’s report of the doomed, yet brave, charge by the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaklava that he turned it into the poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’
One of its most poignant lines, aside from the usually quoted “half a league, half a league” and “there’s not to reason why, there’s but to do and die“, is the reminder that not all returned – “not the 600.”
Those that did, returned wounded and injured, ragged and much the worse for wear after their exertions – less than 200 answered roll call the morning after the battle. Decimated, cut down, but not beaten would be one way of summing up the brave survivors.
Enough of the history lesson, for now. Decimated is also a word that sums up the growing injury situation at Leeds United at the moment. A spate, nay a rash, of injuries has seen the Whites without four players. This quadruple hit includes both first-choice striker Kemar Roofe, his back-up Patrick Bamford, mercurial attacking midfielder-cum-winger Pablo Hernandez as well as Gaetano Berardi – four players sidelined for up to four months in Bamford’s case.
This was all announced at Marcelo Bielsa’s pre-Millwall presser earlier today as the Whites prepare to face the Lions at the Den in front of a sell-out crowd. It will have been news from West Yorkshire that would likely have had fans in SE16 rubbing their hands in glee.
Leeds United have been imperious at times, sweeping aside good teams like Derby County and Stoke City like you swat away annoying gnats. Much of that has been due to the probing of the likes of Pablo Hernandez and the finishing prowess of Kemar Roofe.
Losing that quartet of players is going to be a big, big loss for the Whites, an already pared down and lean squad now stripped back even further. It is a series of unfortunate events that will test the cross-position skills of the Leeds United squad to the fullest. Marcelo Bielsa is confident that his squad will old up to the scrutiny that Millwall will deal to them.
It will be a packed Den that greets the hated visitors from West Yorkshire. Whilst it won’t be the cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them and cannons to the front that will greet Leeds United, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be plenty volleyed and thundered from the terraces.
Commenting on the brave, yet eventually futile, actions of the Light Brigade as they charged up the Valley of Death to their decimation, French Marshal Pierre Bosquet said: “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre” (It’s magnificent, but it is not war). Without doubt it will be a war that Leeds United face tomorrow, with fans hoping that the ‘Charge of the Whites Brigade’ will be more successful than the Balaklavan variant.