Happy 71st Birthday to Leeds United Legend Norman Hunter – by Rob Atkinson

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Norman on the ball, his latest victim wondering what hit him

Another of the Don’s greats celebrates an improbably vast number of years today, Norman “Bites Yer Legs” Hunter marking his 71st birthday.  Norm has made a few marks over the years, plying his trade in an era when no quarter was asked or given, tackles were many and varied, ranging from the merely severe to the bordering on psychotic, and whinges were few and far between.  It was a man’s game then, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale would have been dismissed as hysterical fairies.

Norman’s lethal approach to the art of tackling was legendary, and yet he had the respect of his peers, noted for the quality of his left foot as well for as his utter ruthlessness.  No mere clogger of a hard man was Our Norm. No Peter Storey he.  If it hadn’t been for the incomparable Bobby Moore, Hunter would have won many more than his eventual 28 England caps (2 goals).  As it was, he was a member of the victorious 1966 World Cup squad, as well as that somewhat unluckily knocked out of the next tournament in Mexico 1970.  He finished with 2 goals for England and, eventually, a World Cup Winner’s medal. To be an Englishman with one of those, you have to be getting on a bit.

Norman’s prowess as a tackler and ball-winner tended to mask his enormous skill in the distribution of the ball after it was won.  He would be self-deprecating at times, saying his job was to take the ball off the opposition and give it to one of his own side who could play – a Bremner or a Giles, perhaps. They certainly could play, you didn’t take the field for Revie’s Super Leeds if you were anything but an accomplished footballer. Norman’s ability was recognised by his fellow PFA members when he was elected Players’ Player of the Year in 1974.  By this time, the legendary “Bites Yer Legs” nickname was spoken with affectionate respect; the professionals knew class when they saw it and Norman had absolutely oodles of class.

He would overstep the mark at times, but no more so than the other quite lovable hard men of the time, the Tommy Smiths and Nobby Stiles, even the likes of Ron “Chopper” Harris at Chelsea. Norman’s trademark angelic pose when whistled for an agricultural foul involved backing away slightly, hands behind back, apologetic smile fixed broadly across his face as the referee berated him.  It was hard not to like Norman.

He was every bit as likeable in his more recent incarnation as match summariser on Radio Leeds.  He plainly still loves Leeds United – it was always “we” and “us”, spoken in that pleasant County Durham accent – Norman is the Gateshead lad who gave his heart and soul to Leeds United. On the radio, he talked sense and didn’t neglect his duty to criticise when necessary, but his support for the Whites always shone through, and for me he was the very best of the old guard for that radio role, his delivery easy on the ear, his opinions commanding respect.

Of course, he will always be regarded first and foremost, by friend and foe alike, as the classic 1960s and 70s killing machine, a combine harvester of a player who would go for the ball and take whatever else was there too.  This was the sort of man around whom legends sprang up.  The classic story about him goes that he once arrived home with a bruised and bloody leg to find his wife horrified.  “Nasty, isn’t it?” grinned Norm.  “You’re not kidding,” agreed his ashen wife. “Whose is it?”

Every generation bemoans the lack of characters in modern-day football. It’s a sign of growing older; it’s one of those things your Dad did and you swore you never would.  But sometimes you wonder if it isn’t true, now, more than perhaps it was in earlier times. You look around now for the villains with the charming smiles, like Norman of Leeds, and you just find anonymous terminators who all look alike.  When you consider the likes of Big Norm, or Jack Charlton, Tommy Smith, Dave Mackay, Nobby Stiles and so on and so forth, it’s very tempting to say – if only to your ageing self – “They don’t make ‘em like that any more.”

Happy Birthday, Norman.  It was a pleasure and an honour to watch you play the game, even if occasionally it was through our fingers as we witnessed you sail into another sliding challenge, leaving ball, opponent and a few yards of rolled-up turf in your mighty wake. It’s a lost art these days, sadly. The game has changed, but probably not for the better. We shall not, I’m afraid, look upon your like again.  Have a great celebration and thank you for being one of my heroes.

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Decline of Man U Shows the Premier League Needs “The Damned United” – by Rob Atkinson

Giggs facepalm as Man U decline

Giggs facepalm as Man U decline

When the Premier League lost Leeds United, it lost more than just another member club. With Leeds went a focal point for all those nasty, negative emotions that are so much a part of a football fan’s essential make-up. Football has always been a source of catharsis – a safety valve, if you will, for the letting-off of pent-up steam – even back in the days when the game was a lot more tribal than it is now, when there was no steep financial pecking order, when players were a lot closer to fans both literally and economically.  Nowadays, under the all-seeing glare of perpetual TV coverage and in an era when every fan is in touch with every other fan courtesy of social media, it is even more the case that such a soap opera needs its villains as well as its heroes.

Over the past decade, in the absence of The Damned United, it has been Man U that, paradoxically given their numerous triumphs, have more often than not filled the villain’s role in the minds of many.  Of course, every team is someone’s villain, someone’s hero too. It’s a question of balance and degree; between extremes there are a number of comparatively pallid clubs which inspire nothing more than indifference in the minds of the masses, the likes of West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa who are hated or loved locally but largely ignored everywhere else. Some teams are much more loved than hated beyond their own provincial spheres: Liverpool and Arsenal for example.  And some are hated passionately for differing reasons of varying validity.  Man U and Leeds are two such clubs.

Obviously as a Leeds fan I have a view on what’s behind the hatred directed at both clubs. In the case of Leeds, it seems to be down to historical myths surrounding Don Revie’s grisly hard but enormously skilful and hard-done-by Super Leeds, with added seasoning provided by the misdeeds of some of our over-zealous fans down the years.  The case for hating Man U is, I would argue, down to what I can only sum up as “intrinsic detestability”. In other words, it’s just something about the institution; the attitude, the arrogance and the vainglory of club, employees and supporters alike.  The fawning of the media over them, the way they have capitalised on a historic tragedy to build a global franchise, while still, with no apparent appreciation of the irony of this, calling Liverpool the City of Pity.  The time-honoured tradition of favourable treatment by referees and administrators, the former group of gentlemen managing somehow to give 88% of 50-50 decisions the way of the Mighty Red Devils over an extended period.  “We’re Man United, we’ll do what we want”, you hear sung in mixed cockney and West Country accents, and it’s something the game’s authorities have seemed loath to dispute. Given all this, they’re easy to hate – for me and thousands of other discerning Leeds fans, anyway.

This visceral hatred was accentuated under the tyrannical reign of the former manager Alex Ferguson; the scum (as we fondly refer to them down Elland Road way) won more, they were more arrogant and reprehensible in their conduct, they got much more given to them on a plate.  Give or take the odd dodgy offside and penalty here and there, that era is over and, as the latest result shows – unseemly celebration over a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea – the illusion of invincibility and the assumption of superiority both seem to have gone with it.

The outcome is that Man U have now been drawn back into the pack and superseded by the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and, last season, even Everton and Spurs.  Champions League qualification is no longer a given; the edifice that the empire was built on may well be crumbling.  One effect of this is that Man U are going to be a lot less easy for some to hate as they further decline – it may well be that only those who have always hated them will still have this particular emotional outlet.

In 2008, a poll in the “Sun” newspaper still had Leeds United as the number one most hated club in the land; this was four long and harrowing years after the Whites had dipped out of the Premier League.  By 2012 another poll had Man U succeeding Leeds as most-hated.  Leeds had by now been out of the spotlight for eight years, but were still sung about in terms of extreme disapproval at grounds around the country, not least the Pride of Devon’s own Theatre of Hollow Myths. Man U’s continuing dominance, however, had seen them move clear as the number one hate target nationwide.

Now, it all seems to be up for grabs again as the fallen franchise appears likely to slide further away from the top of the game, with the tyranny of Alex McTaggart an increasingly distant memory. Over time, they will haemorrhage support, but there’s a waiting list of Milton Keynes mugs and suckers, so in the short term the turnstiles will continue to click as the glory-hunting hordes travel North every fortnight or so.  It is the notoriety of hate that they stand to lose, the perverse respect accorded to any club top of the nation’s most-despised list.  There will be a gap at the hate end of everyone’s emotions, a vacancy for a perennial panto villain.

As the Man U star wanes, it’s possible that other candidates for most-hated might emerge. Chelsea under Mourinho are the equivalent, for some, of fingernails scraped down a blackboard.  Liverpool – with Suarez on their books – seemed to have a certain potential, especially with the media smiling upon them again. But with Luis gone, their detestabilty potential has declined, with Balotelli more of a clown than a hate figure so far. Man City with their millions and billions may attract the envious aspect of hatred, but these days they’re being shamelessly out-spent by a desperate scum, who used to affect to look down their nose at such a sordid way of courting success. But for all this variable hate potential, I would suggest that none of those candidates really cut the mustard in quite the same way that Leeds United did, and still do.

A return to the top flight for Leeds would probably fill this vitriol vacuum. All that is needed to test the likelihood of this is a swift look around the internet message boards on any occasion when Leeds play a top flight team in a cup. “Come back, we miss you” is the gist of it. And they do miss us – they miss the atmosphere, the raucous indomitability of our away support, the whole Dirty Leeds legend. They miss hating Leeds United.

The simple fact is, now that the most despicable British club of all seems to be descending into a more benign mediocrity, long bereft of their choleric Scottish dictator and his ability to give the rest of the game the hair-dryer treatment, they miss us more than ever.  And yet all we seem to do down at Elland Road is run around in small circles, victims of self-inflicted crises as the revolving door on the Head Coach office spins itself into a dizzy blur. Leeds United simply have to get their act together – urgently. In short, now that Man U are crap, the game is in sore need of that focus for hatred which we always so effortlessly provided.

So do the game a favour, Leeds, for badness’ sake. Sort yourselves out, get back up there and get on with being hated in your own inimitable fashion. Drive your enemies mad with impotent rage again as you make those of us who love you proud once more, in that deliciously perverse manner of the old days.

You know it’s your destiny – we all know it – and, now more than ever, you owe it to your public to fill that void at the very top of the Hate Parade.

Leeds in Crisis: Darko’s Failure is the Failure of Owner and Fans – by Rob Atkinson

Darko: hello, goodbye

Darko: hello, goodbye

A lot of Leeds fans will have woken up very happy this Sunday morning, following the shock sacking of Darko Milanic after defeat by Wolves yesterday. Perhaps they’re right to be; perhaps Neil Redfearn is indeed the Messiah and will in due course restore us to the promised land, serving up sumptuous feasts contrived of paltry loaves and fishes along the way, all washed down with copious draughts of wine produced supernaturally from water. It’s to be hoped so, for it appears that only a miracle or two will extend any Leeds United Head Coach’s tenure beyond an initial settling-in period.

Those happy Leeds fans who believe in and are confidently awaiting this miracle, though, should perhaps give their heads a shake. They should ask themselves about the wisdom of the owner in overseeing the dismissal of three hot-seat occupants in a season barely over a quarter of the way through. They should wonder about the ability of the club to attract high calibre candidates in the future, should this season’s second coming of Redders not prove to be that of a Saviour. In short, they should ask of themselves: “Is this really what we wanted?”

This blog is and has been a firm supporter of Massimo Cellino and all of his works behind the scenes at LS11 since he assumed control of Leeds United just a few months ago. Articles have been written praising his single-handed turning around of a moribund hulk, and the input he has had into the recruitment of several extremely promising signings, the potential of which we have all seen. But this blog begs leave to doubt whether Massimo’s genius extends to the recruitment and retention of a high-end coach – the kind of guy who is going to define the direction of the team and squad; the sort of achiever who can take a serial under-performer like Leeds and drag it back into the big-time.

Cellino is the man who makes the decisions; what he needs above all is the ability to back his own judgement, He needs to display some cool and some sang-froid – the propensity to avoid panic when the first signs emerge of the current plan going tits-up. It is this faith in his own judgement, this ability to control panic and suppress knee-jerk reactions, which currently appear to be missing from the Massimo make-up. That does not bode well. How many more times this season are we going to hear “I made a mistake with this guy – sorry, my friends…” – and how many more times are the fans going to sanction such boom and bust recruitment tactics?

The fans – a vociferous if not particularly large proportion of them, anyway – have to take their share of the blame for this latest farcical development. It has been alarming to see how so many of those fans, especially those highly active on social media, appear to have bought into the serial hire and fire policy that has appeared to characterise Cellino’s ownership of Cagliari and now Leeds. In many ways, Darko Milanic was onto a loser right from the start of his engagement, simply because so many supporters wanted Redfearn to get the gig, after his brief but productive interregnum. When Redfearn was overlooked, or unwilling (depending upon which version of events you believe) – the Redders supporters were disappointed and thus not disposed to give Darko much of a chance. That might be understandable – but to call (as they did) for the head of a new Head Coach a mere two or three games into the job, especially after the previous “permanent” appointment bit the dust only a few games into the season, surely smacks of the most arrant folly.

Even more worrying is the alarming possibility that Cellino is making the mistake of listening too hard to the fans in areas where the head should rule the heart. If the Italian is capable of being swayed by what might be called mob rule, then we stand a real risk of the lunatics taking over the asylum. What we can’t afford at any price is for the fans uncritically to take on board the excesses of Cellino, or for Cellino to be unduly influenced by the more extreme and hard-of-thinking section of the fans.

Redfearn cannot be exempt from criticism in this sorry mess either. To say he was coy over his wishes for the top job on a permanent basis is somewhat to understate the case. He waxed lyrical about his love for the development role, but then – when he didn’t get the head coach job – a faint tinge of sulkiness seemed to descend upon him; he was unwilling to be involved with the first team and, as far as I can see, he is open to a charge of failing to support and assist the new man. Now, it appears he will get his chance to be top dog under the Presidential shadow. Woe betide him if he fails to take it, and Leeds United must stand in very real peril of losing altogether a man in Neil Redfearn whose influence at the club has been one of the fairly few positive themes in the past year or so.

Sacking a head coach is a very serious step indeed, and we’ve now seen three such decisions taken since the last ball of last season was kicked – and still two months to go till Christmas. Who will be in charge then? Can any of us hazard a fair guess? We must hope it will be Redfearn, but who could say with any certainty – and what is being said out there in football land about the attractiveness or otherwise of the Leeds United post?

The dismissal of your manager is not guaranteed to pay dividends anyway. Yesterday at Leeds, the football in the first half was extremely easy on the eye, and United dominated a decent Wolves outfit. Then it all went wrong, and the next thing we knew Darko had his cards. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, the City team that had seen their manager sacked in midweek surrendered abjectly at home to Bournemouth, losing 0-8. The upheaval of one managerial sacking was clearly enough to absolutely destroy that team. How will the Leeds squad react to their fourth change at the helm, and only fourteen games gone?

Let’s not run away with the idea that Leeds United’s current plight is simply down to Darko Milanic, or even a shared responsibility between that gentleman and the hapless Dave Hockaday. The problem runs deeper and the blame must be ascribed on a much wider basis. Owner, staff and fans must hold up their hands and admit failure in their distinct and vital roles. The owner needs to hold his nerve now, have faith in his (latest) chosen man and refuse to succumb to panic and outside pressures other than in the most dire circumstances.

Given continuity and some steadiness about the place, the squad is easily good enough to hold its own in this division, and that’s what it’s all about for the current season. Consolidate and build as positively as possible for a real challenge next time around. The fans, collectively, have to refrain from carping at every little setback and making childish demands for heads to roll. Supporters should support – a significant proportion of Leeds United’s fanbase, especially online, appear to be completely unaware of that.

Disappointed after the home defeat to Wolves, I only learned of the sacking of Milanic when I received a text from a Radio Aire reporter asking me for a reaction. Gobsmacked, stunned – and above all worried – aptly summed it up. I’m extremely worried about the immediate and longer-term future and I’m pessimistic about the prospects of any coherent plan being given the time and opportunity to develop. How could I be otherwise, given the events of this season so far?

Change can be good, it can be bad, it can be disastrous. It should not be embraced for its own sake, neither should it be brought about too frequently, at the first sign of trouble. Some calmness is needed now – and a bit of faith in the people who are being left to pick up the pieces of a fragmented season so far.

I remain a Cellino fan and this blog will continue to support him in his ongoing fight to get on with the job of reviving Leeds United in the face of  petulant opposition from the buffoons of the Football League. I’m actually a fan of Neil Redfearn too, though I feel he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory during the brief reign of Darko Milanic. An examination of Neil’s four games in charge this season will reveal that he got a bit lucky on a  couple of occasions; we should have been buried alive by half time at Bournemouth and a couple of other displays lacked inspiration. If he can consistently hit the heights we attained against Huddersfield, then we’ll be cooking with gas. But there has to be some doubt that things will go that well.

Thanks to the strictures of the transfer window, the one thing that will remain a constant until the new year at least is the make-up of the squad. And I believe that there is enough quality at Elland Road for a formidable team to emerge out of the ingredients we currently have to play with. If that happens, and if the club is much more comfortably placed after Christmas, then Neil Redfearn will deservedly take plenty of credit for that. I hope it is the case – and I hope that there is less of an opportunity by then for a hostile press to pick away at the club as they inevitably will after this latest debacle. The likes of Robbie Savage and Phil Neville at the chimp end of the scale, together with Jeff Stelling, Gary Lineker and others further up towards the intellectual end, will all be queuing up to say “I told you so” in the next few days and weeks. The sad thing is, we’ve played right into their hands – and I do mean all of us.

Some people have managed completely to forget about the meaning of that “Marching on together” theme song we’re so justly proud of. Cellino, the maverick,  can be excused for not having the club’s culture ingrained in him to that extent. The fans can have no such excuse – and it is down to us now to support the club through thick and thin – and to support the team and the management, instead of hollering for change at the first sign of an ill wind. The team and the fans represent the most likely influences for calm steadiness and some much-needed continuity as we try to go forward. Let’s all remember what “support” means – and let’s get on with delivering it.

Are YOU One of the 5,226 Loyal Leeds Fans to Fight Harvey and the FL?? – by Rob Atkinson

Harvey - the spectre haunting Elland Road

Harvey – the spectre haunting Elland Road

The other week, rumours were growing by the day that the buffoons of the Football League, under the grievously bent leadership of Shaun Harvey, were about to throw a spanner yet again into the works at Leeds United. Despite things clearly being on the up at Elland Road, the League seem determined still to get their man, that elusive quarry being il Presidente himself, Massimo Cellino. Ignoring the active presence of rapists, pornographers and sundry other unsavoury types at other football clubs, Harvey and his bunch of senile dotards are determined to seek revenge on Big Mass (I call him this because I know it aggravates the WACCOE.com idiots) for thwarting them on appeal earlier this year to take control at Leeds.

So, as tends to happen, a petition was launched. The thing is, this particular petition was really well-worded, straight to the point and advancing the highly relevant argument that the so-called “Fit and Proper Test” should not be applied retrospectively. In other words, once Cellino is in – no matter how he got in – he should be left to get on with it as long as he’s doing a good job and not being naughty.

This was precisely the argument I’d used just days previously, in a blog entitled “Fit & Proper Test’ Should NOT Apply to Leeds Chief Cellino“. So I could hardly wait to sign and publicise such an obviously well thought-out petition, and I subsequently wrote another article encouraging Leeds fans to sign it and share it, so as to attract as much support as possible and show the League they will not be allowed to act without accounting for those actions.

The petition has gone on to be extremely well-supported, with – at the time of writing this – 5,226 signatories since it went live. That’s brilliant – but the thing is, it’s nothing like enough. So, if you’re one of those loyal 5,226 people who have taken the necessary few minutes to show your support for the revolution going on at Elland Road (and your disapproval of Harvey and the League) – then well done. But – what more can you do? Well, tell people, get them to sign too. Share this article, share the petition. Get friends, family, fellow supporters involved. This could be huge – but only if people who love Leeds United are willing to put in the effort to make it work.

If you haven’t signed yet – then please do so, if you feel able. The consequences of Cellino being forced to sell the club are dire at best. The method whereby this sale would be forced is not clear at the moment. What would such compulsion do to the sale price? Who would repay Cellino’s investment so far? Who on earth would end up owning us next? We don’t know, but we can fearfully speculate. The League doesn’t know either – and it doesn’t seem to care. The League seems entirely comfortable with the idea of setting Leeds United off into another fog of uncertainty, losing money and playing staff alike, sliding down the leagues like a greased pig and heading – for all any of us know – for yet another administration. After all, causing clubs to enter administration is rather a speciality of Shaun Harvey in his disaster-strewn and corrupt career so far.

The League doesn’t give a tuppenny toss about the outcome of its intended actions. Stung by losing in court to Cellino, these pompous idiots simply want to regain lost face and show who the bosses are. If Leeds United AFC were to be a casualty of all of this – then you can count on it, none of them would lose a minute’s sleep. Perhaps Harvey and Bates would even share a conspiratorial chuckle between themselves in a smug telephone conversation after Leeds are no more.

Cellino and his legal team can certainly handle themselves – that much we have seen, and it’s quite probable that Harvey and his sorry, discredited mob will yet again be biting off more then they can chew. But it’s up to us fans, too. Please join over 5,000 Leeds United fans in signing and sharing this petition. Do all you can to ensure that everyone who might support it, sees it – and has the chance to register their own opposition to this pathetic and needless League vendetta.

Remember: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing. Doing nothing is not an option if we really want to look out for our club. Support Leeds United – support the petition. Do it as soon as you can and share it with as many as you can, so they can do it too – and so on and so forth, till we have thousands more angry Leeds fans, up in arms, making our feelings known, telling the League to get stuffed. Be in no doubt at all – it really does matter.

MOT – and thanks.

Signature

“Art of Football”: a Fitting Souvenir of THAT Yeboah Volley Against Liverpool – by Rob Atkinson

Art of Football Yeboah Tribute shirt detail

“Art of Football” Yeboah Tribute shirt detail

As Leeds United fans, we’re accustomed to wearing our hearts on our sleeves. We like to go even further in honour of our beloved club, wearing our badge proudly over our hearts. Now, thanks to a brainwave from Art of Football, you can actually wear on your chest one of the iconic goals of the last generation. It’s a goal most Leeds fans – even those who were too young to appreciate it at the time, or who weren’t yet around – only have to close their eyes to see. The ball comes out towards Tony Yeboah as Leeds attack late on at the Kop End of Elland Road. The Ghanaian watches as it drops towards him and instantly shapes to hit it on the full – and his effort rockets into the back of the net off the crossbar with Liverpool keeper David James beaten all ends up. Goal of the Season! Check it out here…

What a goal! It was a moment of pace, power and consummate brilliance. A packed Elland Road under floodlights is pure football theatre at any time – but with the red shirts of Liverpool standing between United and victory, with time fast ebbing away and with a striker of Yeboah’s lithe and muscular presence exploding suddenly into action – it was an instant of football history which stood out immediately as one destined for immortality. I was lucky, blessed, to be there that night, right behind the line of the ball as it rocketed into the net. It’s been a treasured memory for me and for thousands of others, ever since.

Yeboaaahh!!!

Yeboaaahh!!!

The t-shirt produced by Art of Football to commemorate this unforgettable strike is in itself a thing of beauty and a worthy tribute to Yeboah’s virtuosity. The one I have is white – I have a thing about white – but they do it in navy and royal blue as well. Whatever the background, Yeboah’s volley is there at the instant of impact between the ball and that amazing, thunderous right foot; a split second later Leeds were ahead and the crowd was thundering its approval. Tony Yeboah, in the first flush of what was a purple patch of spectacular goals for Leeds in the early part of that season, wheeled away exultant, knowing that he’d produced a moment of pure genius. Happily for the fans, there would be more to come.

Tony Yeboah’s time at Leeds United was too short, but unforgettably sweet. He left us memories of just about every type of goal you could imagine – but he definitely favoured the spectacular over the more mundane tap-in. He claimed to be more naturally left-footed, but the goal so evocatively captured here by the Art of Football, together with efforts against West Ham, Wimbledon, Monaco, Sheffield Wednesday and others, confirmed that he was eminently capable with either foot, head – you name it, Yeboah would belt the ball into the back of the net with it.

Yeboah’s was a cameo role in the history of Leeds United, but nonetheless memorable for that – and his goal against Liverpool shines as brightly in the memory now as it did when it emblazoned headlines all over the national press nineteen years ago. If ever a goal deserved to be marked by a quality item of wearable memorabilia, then surely Tony’s was one that stands out as a worthy candidate. The t-shirt has got pride of place in my Whites Wardrobe, and doubtless it’ll solve many a Christmas gift dilemma for those with a Leeds-supporting loved one to buy for.

If YOU fondly remember that masterblast against Liverpool, I’d recommend you treat yourself – or perhaps include it in a note to Santa. It’s not often I’m moved to plug a product, but this quality piece of merchandise, also available as a print, definitely carries the Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything seal of approval.

Why Kewell is Leeds United’s Only REAL Judas – by Rob Atkinson

Rob Atkinson:

Harry Kewell has been tweeting his bizarre admiration for that scum club from Istanbul and their sub-human “fans” again. What a shallow, vapid creature Kewell is. No loyalty, no sense of decency, no redeeming characteristics at all. Just a pea-brain with room for thoughts only about the most important person in his life: Harry “Judas” Kewell.

Here’s an article I wrote earlier this year about why the IQ-minus Aussie is such a disgrace – and why, the rival claims of Ferdinand, Cantona, McCormack and McQueen notwithstanding, he’s Leeds United’s only REAL Judas.

Originally posted on Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything:

Leeds fans United in grief and dignity

Leeds fans United in grief and dignity

Alan Smith. Eric Cantona. Rio Ferdinand. Three Leeds United players who opted to transfer their allegiance to the Evil Empire over the wrong side of the Pennines. In so doing, they attracted hatred and brickbats aplenty from Leeds followers. After all, they’d gone to the club we despise above any other. So too, much earlier, had Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen, along with the less-well remembered examples of Arthur Graham and Peter Barnes in the relatively small collective of former Leeds players who have identified themselves with the Pride of Devon and their repellent supporters. These individuals, heroes to Leeds fans at one time or another, were held individually and as a category to be traitors to the United of Elland Road. Figuratively speaking, they had sold their souls to the Devil.

But really, all that “treachery” stuff, as applied to a small…

View original 1,148 more words

Doctor’s Orders: Warrior Bellusci Should Modify Goal Celebration – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci - sitting on a problem?

Bellusci – sitting on a problem?

Shortly after the home draw against Sheffield Wendies, I wrote an article expressing concern about Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci’s potentially damaging celebratory routine. He has this habit of showing his delight at scoring by executing a singularly ungraceful wheels-up landing from an altitude of approximately four feet, impacting Mother Earth on his unprotected tailbone, or coccyx – as we medical anoraks call it. Bellusci had already performed this trick once, after his worldie free-kick down at Bournemouth. Now, having notched a point-saver against the dee-dahs, he was at it again. Wincing, I took to my computer and penned a cautionary piece, never dreaming anyone would take it seriously.

To my surprise, however, there was some professional interest out there in Twitterland. No less a personage than the highly respected American “Tailbone Specialist” Dr. Patrick Foye, M.D. – Director of the “Coccyx Pain Center” at New Jersey Medical School – commented on the article, asking: “Can anyone point me to a video clip showing this athlete doing this celebratory display where he lands on his tailbone /coccyx region?” Happily, one of my remarkable band of regular readers, D. Bowden, was considerate enough to post in the same comments thread the following video clip of Giuseppe’s Bournemouth crash-landing.

The good doctor was clearly most alarmed. “Yikes!” he responded. “Definitely an avoidable risk for tailbone pain! In the world of risks/benefits, we all take risks, and sometimes it’s just to look cool. But this doesn’t look cool at all. All risk; no benefit. Good soccer skills though. Thanks for the video share.

Once I’d got over my surprise at an actual doctor taking the time and trouble to address a concern raised by my humble blog, it occurred to me that this was as near to wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth as we’re likely to get. In short, it’s expertise (given freely and without thought of recompense) that anybody running this risk will disregard strictly at his peril. It seems to me also that, as his employers, Leeds United might do well to review Bellusci’s post-goal conduct and perhaps have a quiet word with him about it.

After all – as ever with Leeds United – we have no shortage of problems, controversies and other issues both on and off the pitch. There is no need to go courting ill-fortune at the best of times and, at Elland Road, it’s always in plentiful supply anyway. Even if we were a mundane and boring football club, like certain of our Yorkshire neighbours, we wouldn’t be looking to the playing staff to enliven proceedings by inflicting orthopaedic disaster upon themselves. Better, surely, just to consider the matter and perhaps arrive at a more tranquil alternative for the celebration of future goals. And let us fervently hope that there are many more to come for, defender or no defender, Bellusci has the potential to be a Leeds United hero in the opposition’s penalty area.

My thanks to Doctor Foye for his valuable input and expert advice; I hope it reaches the ears of our Warrior in time for him to adopt a slightly more circumspect approach in whatever moments of joy and triumph the rest of this season may hold.

Sky Sports Exclusive: Leeds Star Adryan “Wants to Leave United to be Fast Food Server” – by Rob Atkinson

Adryan: "Don't gimme no KFC, man"

Adryan: “Don’t gimme no KFC, man”

News is emerging from a Sky Sports interview with Brazilian starlet Adryan, that will rock every Leeds United supporter who is gullible enough to believe it. Remarkably, after a mere few weeks with the Elland Road club, and no first team appearances, the Flamengo youth product wishes to leave Elland Road to work in a fast food restaurant …. serving burgers!

The incredible truth of the matter is to be found in an exclusive interview given to this channel by Adryan, in which he admits that he simply adores a famous American brand of hamburger. “The truth is that this snack is close to my heart and always will be,” stated the blond boy wonder. He went on:

“It’s impossible not to think about burgers. I have a lot of affection for this food. I can’t think of eating any other kind of junk nourishment. I am a burger eater, so let’s see what happens in the future. But burgers and the cholesterol they contain will always be in my blood.”

These dynamite revelations must surely mean that Adryan’s Elland Road days are numbered, as he heads off to seek his fortune as a minimum-wage purveyor of mechanically-recovered meat products, fried and served up in mouth-watering helpings of convenience-food heaven. You can trust your Super Soaraway Sky when we tell you: Adryan wants OUT of Leeds! You heard it here first, folks.

Believe us. Adryan wants to make it in the burger-selling game. We should know – we’ve been serving up Whoppers since the late eighties, and what’s more we know that when you add two and two, you frequently end up with thirteen and a half.

Colonel Sanders is 149.

Man U to Appeal to FA Over “Cooler” Leeds United Nicknames – by Rob Atkinson

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“The Damned United” – über-cool nickname for The Last Champions

In a shock move designed to placate millions of loyal and bewildered fans across the world, some of whom have even visited the Theatre of Hollow Myths, Man U – famously celebrated as the “Pride of Devon” – are to appeal directly to the Football Association in the matter of what they see as a gross injustice, whereby Leeds United have far cooler nicknames than Manchester’s second/third club.

The matter is being taken very seriously due to an outcry from distressed armchair owners the length and breadth of Cornwall and clear across to Milton Keynes.  A spokesman for Man U was quoted as saying “Some of our fans are very upset indeed.  They’ve heard Leeds United being referred to as “the Damned United” and even as “the Last Champions”, and they fear that these nicknames have a ring of cool credibility that our own branding sadly lacks.” But what about the traditional nicknames for Man U such as the Red Devils? “That’s a problem too,” said the spokesman, glumly. “Too many football fans from other clubs have sussed out that we originally nicked that from Salford RL when we re-branded and stopped being Newton Heath.  The realisation that we’re not the only, nor even the first United – that’s also come as a blow to many of our faithful Sky TV followers. There’s a lot of disillusion out there, especially now the team is so crap…”

The protest to the FA will contain a number of key proposals, including but not limited to new “Branding Fair Play” regulations.  “We’ll also be asking for a right of veto as to nicknames being applied to other clubs,” said our Man U contact. “Nicknames deemed by us as just too cool for anyone but our own Man U will be appropriated and patented as Man U copyright. Sadly, it’s too late for that with the two Leeds nicknames, they’re already solidly identified with that lot from Elland Road.  It’s not fair, it’s not right – but there’s not a lot even we can do about it.  But you tell me how we’re going to convince even our fans that we’re the biggest and greatest in the world when we don’t have the biggest stadium, the most fans, the most money, a winning team – and now we don’t even have the coolest nicknames??  It’s JUST NOT FAIR. Time was we could do what we wanted…”

At this point, the spokesman tailed off, sobbed a little and flounced off for a lie down – but an FA source was able to confirm for us that an Official Whinge had indeed been lodged.  “We are considering the matter,” the FA stated. “Frankly, we feel we should help Man U in this, if at all possible.  We’re aware that our referees haven’t perhaps been as co-operative this season as they have been in the past – and we’ve all been a bit at sea since S’ralex stepped down as Supreme Commander.  We’ll certainly look sympathetically on whatever representations are made to us.”

A Man U supporters group had been prepared to talk to us, but changed their intentions at the last minute after we advised them we’d have to reveal they are based in Kent.  They issued a short statement which read: “We have quite enough people taking the piss out of us already without all this, thanks very much.”

When we contacted Leeds United, they were slightly more forthcoming: “We have no objection to being known as “The Damned United” if that’s what people out there want to do,” we were told. “Furthermore, we can confirm that, as everyone knows, we are the Last Champions and that we’re also the only Damned United worth bothering about, my friend.”

Ticket tout Bobby Charlton is 103.

If You Love Leeds United, You SHOULD Sign this Petition – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey: pisspoor

Shaun Harvey of the FL: pisspoor

I wrote an article the other day, about why the Football League’s pisspoor and incompetently applied “Fit & Proper Test” should not apply retrospectively to a man in post who has comprehensively demonstrated that he is the best thing to happen to his Football Club in many a month of Sundays.

The club is, of course, Leeds United and the man is our very own Massimo Cellino, genius, nutter and saviour of us all. Now there is a petition calling upon the bewildered old men and corrupt younger ones who make up the Football League, under the dubious leadership of the appalling Shaun Harvey, to see sense in this matter and leave well alone.

If ever there was a time for the supporters of Leeds United – those who can see the good that Big Mass has done anyway – to band together and act collectively, this is IT. Please read, sign and share the petition by clicking HERE.

It’s highly likely that Cellino and his legal team will be able to thwart the FL as they did before. But it is for us, the fans, to make ourselves heard too. One way of doing that is to get this petition supported, in numbers as great as possible.

Please READ this, SIGN it and SHARE it among as many fellow supporters of Leeds United as possible.

Let the buffoons of the Football League know that they are in for a real fight.