What a Day

Rob Atkinson:

Thoughts of a Brentford fan on recent events, including the impending loss of their winger Dallas to Leeds United.

Originally posted on The Bees Blog:

Yesterday, I started by writing about how we were set to lose not only Andre Gray but Moses Odubajo to Hull City. As the day developed the news turned even more sour with reports of Stuart Dallas being set to complete a move to Leeds Utd. Cue Twitter meltdown from bees fans, myself included.

I received quite a few a few messages from Leeds fans both asking about Stuart Dallas and plenty of commiserations about selling off your top talent. First things first though, nothing is complete and no one has gone anywhere so perhaps the outrage that we all expressed yesterday is a bit preemptory. Certainly though, the Dallas deal appears all but done. It’s a huge surprise to me that we’ve agreed to this sale, not least because of the seemingly low fee involved. Is this another transfer clause that we didn’t know about?

Leeds fans perhaps mistake…

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Leeds United “Reach Agreement” With Sunderland for Winger Buckley   –   by Rob Atkinson

  
Sources close to both clubs are indicating that Leeds United and Sunderland have agreed a deal for the transfer of former Brighton winger Will Buckley to Elland Road. If true, the signing would represent success for United Head Coach Uwe Rosler, who has made no secret of the fact that he has considered his squad short of vital width. 

The talk is that this transfer is at an advanced stage, with the deal being agreed between the clubs, leaving it down to United to sort out personal terms with Buckley. 

There may well be an update on this story in the next couple of days and possibly as early as tomorrow. 

Live TV Incentive for Huddersfield Town’s Cup Final – by Rob Atkinson

Huddersfield fans - a different breed

Huddersfield fans – a different breed

Excitement levels were rising today in the avenues, alleyways, streets and kennels of Huddersfield, with the news that their seasonal Cup Final against the club they’re utterly obsessed with, big brother from down the road, Leeds United, will be televised live by the Sky cameras.

Local boy Jack Russell was almost beside himself with gleeful anticipation as he gave his reaction to the momentous news. “It’s momentous news, this,” he yapped eagerly. “We have a bone to pick with Leeds after their two lucky wins against us last season. And it’s a bone that I’m off to dig up right now,” he added, before scampering off to cock his leg against the gas-lit street-lamp outside his owner’s ramshackle two-up, two-down.

Elsewhere, anticipation reached fever pitch amid a positive orgy of excited yelping and bottom-sniffing. The dark, satanic charity shops of West Yorkshire‘s most 19th Century spot were being stocked with Big Match merchandise: Town v Leeds collars, baskets and feeding bowls were flying out of the door as trade became brisk a few short hours after the news broke that the locals’ Cup Final would indeed be screened before the whole nation.

Huddersfield fans have mixed feelings about the comparatively long wait for their season’s high-point; the match does not take place until November 7th, with a lunchtime kick-off. But the feeling among the majority is that the league games leading up to the Final will enable Town to prepare adequately for a challenge they failed to meet twice last season. “It’s not abart results in t’other games afore t’Coop Final,” insisted local character Al Sation. “It’s all abart t’proper preparation, like, cos t’most impooortant thing is to beat Leeds, or at least gerra draw, or at t’very least keep it darn under three this time.”

Meanwhile, large areas of Huddersfield are expected to subscribe to mains electricity for the first time, in order to be able to use their new Sky TV subscriptions for The Big Day. Others have stated that they don’t hold with such new-fangled nonsense, and will attempt instead to run reconditioned Sky HD boxes off the gas supply or perhaps by steam. “If we gerrall this leccy nonsense tekkin’ a foot’old in t’Tarn, it’ll be t’beginning o’ t’end,” barked octogenarian rat-catcher Fred Bassett. “T’place’d go to t’dogs. Not that that’s a bad thing, tha knos…”

Leeds fans groups declined to comment specifically on the Huddersfield game, merely expressing mild surprise that the local derby against Sheffield Wendies had not been selected for live coverage. “We’re that used to being on the box,” said one world-weary Whites fan. “It’s getting to the point that we’re always on – but I suppose it is nice for the smaller clubs to have their time in the spotlight. Even Huddersfield!”, he added, chortling merrily.

The Leeds game will, in fact, be Huddersfield’s second live TV date of the season, in addition to Wolves away in October. But the John Smith’s Stadium outfit have admitted that the trip to Wanderers will now be treated as just another warm-up game in preparation for the real thing. Talk of fixtures against Leeds being treated as Cup Finals has long been a bone of contention among Terriers fans – but it certainly remains the case that this is the fixture that means more to them than any other. The televised Leeds game is set to gain the highest viewing figures of any TV event among Huddersfield viewers – with the possible exception of Crufts.

Top Ten Most Embarrassing “Celebrity” Spurs Fans – by Rob Atkinson

An Embarrassment of Spuds

An Embarrassment of Spuds

With undeniably cool fans such as Newsnight’s Grand Inquisitor Jeremy Paxman and Ralph Ineson (Finchy in “The Office“) behind the mighty Leeds United, it can fairly be said that we don’t suffer from an “embarrassing celebrity fans” problem. But, as I wrote just the other day, Man U certainly do – and on the evidence below, so do those other mid-table EPL also-rans, Tottenham Hotspur.

Celebrity fanship is a real phenomenon nowadays – much more so than back in the Eighties when being a football supporter was apt to have you marked down as a dangerous psychotic, fit only for a back-to-front jacket and the padded cell. But football is just so respectable these days – the social cachet is such that no decently self-promoting celeb can afford to be without his or her “lifelong love affair” with (insert name of club here). And whoever that club may be will come to be linked in the public mind with the celeb in question – so it’s a choice not to be taken lightly, and there’s some pressure to get it right first time or lay yourself open to charges of opportunism and infidelity – as with Zoe Ball who was a Liverpool fan but brazenly jumped ship to “support” Man U. Here are ten ‘celeb’ Spurs fans who, after another under-achieving season, might now wish they’d chosen more wisely.  Swift change to Arsenal, anybody…?

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10. Warren Mitchell

Warren MitchellMitchell isn’t all that intrinsically embarrassing as he’s a pretty good actor both on screen and in the theatre, so he only just sneaks onto this list in the least-cringeworthy tenth position.  The point is, of course, that he is most famous by far for his portrayal of a West Ham fan as Johnny Speight’s brilliant satirical creation Alf Garnett.  Many of his legion of fans – or Alf’s legion of fans – think he’s a genuine loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant ‘Ammer. And all the time, he’s actually a loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant Spurs fan! Not that there’s any other kind of Spurs fan, of course – as we shall go on to see…but still.  How ironic is that?

9. Michael Fish MBE

Michael-FishMichael’s claim to fame is embodied in the letters following his name – which do not, as might be supposed, denote some anachronistic patrician honour. They actually stand for “Major Bloody Error”, and refer to the most outstanding meteorological cock-up of our times.

On 15 October 1987, Michael was quietly going about his business, guessing whether dark clouds might mean rain, when he mentioned that a woman had called in to the BBC, saying she’d heard a hurricane was on its way.  “… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”, smiled Fishy, reassuringly.

A few short hours later, the hurricane that Michael had failed to see coming hit South East England with a ferocity unparalleled in three centuries. Most embarrassing, of course, for Michael Fish – in fact he hadn’t been quite as embarrassed from that day till the times when “Hurricane Manchester City” and “Hurricane Arsenal” hit his favourite team Spurs and blew them away completely.

In later years, Fish fishily tried to excuse himself by claiming he’d been referring to a hurricane in Florida. Hmmm. It’s a shame Spurs couldn’t come up with so creative an excuse after that famous 0-6 debacle at the Etihad really – isn’t it?

8. Peter Purves

PurvesThese names are starting to get a bit cringier now, as we move away from the more mildly embarrassing end of the list. Peter Purves was of course one of the famous “Val, John & Pete” trio, still remembered by those of my generation as the quintessential, definitive Blue Peter team.  Sadly, Peter was best known for being neither John nor Val, inhabiting a sort of vague hinterland of anonymity as the other two made their names with sticky-back plastic or sky-diving. Poor Peter Purves was the least popular of the three by a distance, and indeed it is claimed that even Petra and Patch, the Blue Peter dogs, and Freda, the programme’s tortoise, got more fan-mail than he did. Purves is also reasonably well-known as an early Dr. Who sidekick, as well as for having a surname that sounds comically like “pervs”.

Speaking of which, in 2008, co-presenter on Blue Peter Val Singleton revealed that she’d had “a brief fling” with ‘Pervs’. Blue Peter indeed.  I’ll let you insert (fnarr) your own “Val’s knickers” jokes here.

7. Egil Olsen

Egil OlsenEgil Olsen is a man about whom quirky and diverse facts abound. He famously wears wellies to work, and was once sacked, partly for his scruffy appearance.  He is a fanatical adherent of zonal marking, and was seen after one match, head in hands, deeply despairing that his beloved system had been so ineffective – with atrocious marking leading to two out of three goals conceded by Wimbledon at Bradford.

He was sacked on another occasion, this time by mail, for being “too nice” – by the Iraqi national team, forsooth.  He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of geographical trivia, his nickname as a player was “Drillo”, and he was a player once and manager four times for a team called Frigg.  But most bizarrely of all, Egil is a Spurs fan.  Now explain THAT, if you possibly can.

6. Sid “RickAAAAAYYY” Owen

sid owenIt’s confusing about Sid. Some sources have him as a Spurs fan, others – like the ever-reliable Wikipedia, for instance – claim that he’s actually much more enlightened than that, following Arsenal.

I prefer to go with a gut feeling, and base my verdict on the verifiable facts. He’s a bit of a one-hit wonder as an actor, serving a long stint on “Eastenders” as “RickAAAAYYYY”, his character being mostly engaged in slinking away round corners as a foghorn-voiced ginger actress bellowed his name repeatedly. Such is the stuff of stardom, but Sid gave it all up in 2012 after 24 years, citing heavily traumatised eardrums. It is rumoured that Eastenders writers are still trying to come up with another line that Patsy Palmer can say convincingly.

All may not be lost for Patsy though, as RickAAAAYYYY may well be back – Eastenders seeming to be his refuge of choice after failed ventures, such as Strictly Come Dancing, elsewhere.  Looking judiciously at this record of poor decisions and embarrassing situations, the answer to Sid’s football-supporting conundrum appears fairly obvious: Spurs. As Jimmy Nail once said of suspected Tottenham fan Wayne on “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” – you can just tell.

5. Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton

BuntonEmma, the product of an unlikely union between a karate instructor and a milkman, has had a chequered life and career. She was making a reasonable impression as a wannabe actress, but showed signs of the direction she wanted to take when she turned down the role of a habitual drug-user, saying that she wanted to maintain a wholesome image – presumably she felt that the drug role on top of supporting Spurs would be just too much.

Emma then joined a pop group named Touch, becoming one of five girls united by a common determination not to let a total lack of singing ability prevent them from ending up as stars.  A swift name-change to The Spice Girls, and they were on their way.  Bunton was dubbed “Baby Spice” due to her pigtails, her babydoll dresses and her “girly girl” image.

As someone who has made a little talent, some freckles and a great deal of window-dressing go a mighty long way, Bunton may be seen as possibly the most outstanding example of the archetypal Spurs fan – but she’s a fair old way from being the most embarrassing out there.  Read on…

4. Rupert Grint

Rupert-Grint-139019As an outstanding success in the Harry Potter franchise, playing schoolboy wizard Ron Weasley in all of the films, Grint’s embarrassment coefficient really depends mainly upon his being ginger, and of course a Spurs fan – a lethally-shameful combination. Grint had landed the role of Ron Weasley at the age of 11 by sending in a video of himself, rapping about his reasons for wanting the part. Despite his previous experience amounting only to local theatre groups and school plays, the casting team asked to see him – and the rest is history.

As with the other two of the three main characters, Grint grew up with his role, and became closely identified with Ron Weasley. Rarely can an accident of hair colour – though the ginger gene is extremely dominant – have led to such a successful and unheralded career.

Rumours abound, and what is known as “fan fiction” too, about Ron’s supposed romantic entanglement with the disconcertingly cute Hermione Granger.  All of this would not normally cause too much interest in the world outside Hogwarts – but in the context of Spurs’ pallid performances since they sold their only half-decent player, it’s positively riveting.  And, let’s face it – we had to have at least one ginger in an embarrassing celebs article.

3. Bruce Forsyth

brucieWe’re getting to the really queasy end of the list now. It’s time to contemplate Brucie, so clamp your jaws tight to stave off the inevitable nausea – and have a sick-bag handy, just in case.

The stance of this article could be summed up in Orwellian style, thus: “Arsenal fan good, Spurs fan bad”.  But Bruce has gone way beyond the pale, claiming to be a fan of both clubs.  This heinous position is comparable to that of a solider who claims to support both Confederate and Unionist sides, or someone who claims to be – and I shudder to even write these words – both Leeds United and Man U.  Grooogh. It’s THAT bad.

Apparently, Brucie – known as “Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom” at the start of his 75-year (and counting) showbiz career – originally supported Arsenal, but when the Gunners’ ground was requisitioned in World War II for air-defence searchlights, their home games were played at Spurs’ White Hart Lane – and this apparently led the then youngish Forsyth to support both teams – the act, we may agree, of an unnatural freak.

In a lifetime’s career as an old-style vaudeville entertainer, Brucie has never been anything other than in demand, proving that, for the type of people who like Bruce, Bruce is just the kind of performer they like. Latterly, his act has been mainly about catch-phrases, speculation around the health of his various toupees, and the increasing prominence of his chin. He will still eagerly essay the odd dance step here and there, even at the age of 106 – before tottering off to his bath chair with his latest blonde nymphet.

Bruce may claim to live on both sides of the Arsenal Spurs divide – but with a CV like his – he’s just GOT to be Tottenham.

2. Richard Littlejohn

LittlejohnWhat we have here is a real-life Alf Garnett, and not the cosy, satirical creation designed to heap ridicule upon an ignorant, racist bigot – but the genuine article; a man whose views are so disgusting that it is a national disgrace he has a platform of any sort to expound them.

Should anyone doubt the depth of Littlejohn’s prejudice and hate, there’s a clue in the fact that he writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Heila publication that depends heavily for material upon the British Government’s many hate crusades, which they then faithfully preach as fact to their readership of nasty little suburban fascisti.  He previously contributed similar garbage to the Sun.

A count of the number of references Littlejohn makes to homosexuality in his columns has been recorded, in the Guardian‘s annual “Littlejohn Audit”. This stated: “In the past year’s Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to ‘homophobia’ and six to being “homophobic” (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to “gay sex in public toilets”, three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns – an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we’re begging you: talk to someone.”

Littlejohn was forced to adopt a temporarily lower profile when, in December 2012, he wrote an article criticising teacher Nathan Upton for returning to the same school – after announcing gender reassignment surgery to become Lucy Meadows – instead of going for a different post somewhere else.  In March 2013, Lucy Meadows was found dead, apparently a case of suicide.  A subsequent inquest found press coverage of her sex change to have been “ill-informed bigotry” and that Richard Littlejohn (a nom de plume intended to deflect attention from his embarrassing real-life name of John Littledick) had “…carried out what can only be described as a character assassination, having sought to ridicule and humiliate Lucy Meadows and bring into question her right to pursue her career as a teacher”.  Petitions calling for Littlejohn to be sacked gained 240,000 signatures.

Richard Littlejohn: hack writer, bigot, homophobic bully, racist, pedlar of hatred and, last and least, Spurs fan.  Not a pleasant creature, is he?

1. Iain Duncan-Smith

IDSAnd now we have one of the very few candidates for a person who plumbs even greater depths of depravity and loathsomeness than Littlejohn. Iain Duncan-Smith is the discredited Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in Cameron’s government. He is also a failed former Tory leader.

In his current role he, too, has blood on his hands, with his hated and widely-criticised “Bedroom Tax” driving many to the brink of despair – and at least one person allegedly to suicide. IDS is not a man to take disagreement or contradiction at all well. He tends to dismiss criticism of his policies with an airy “I feel I am right”, despite anecdotal evidence mounting up in support of the contrary view. If pressed on any point where he feels some difficulty in defending his position, he tends to resort to snapping curtly at the questioner, having a tantrum and stomping off. He has, however, been caught bang to rights in misrepresenting official statistics with a view to supporting his claims that the policies he has pursued have been effective. In this, he has been shown to be, at best, incompetent and deluded; at worst, a barefaced liar without any scruples at all.

Famously, when Duncan-Smith was asked if he would be able to live on state benefits of £53 a week, he responded “If I had to, I could”. Immediately, a petition was launched by Dom Aversano, a musician, challenging IDS to do just that. After the petition went viral and collected thousands of signatures, IDS beat an undignified retreat, calling the petition a “stunt” and insisting he had nothing to prove, having subsisted on benefits earlier in his life. It later transpired that, in at least one of the periods when IDS claimed he was living on the breadline, he was knocking off an heiress and living rent-free in her flat. Mr Aversano’s petition eventually closed with 482,756 signatures, which is certainly quite a well-supported “stunt”.

Iain Duncan-Smith is a testy former Tory leader, who appears to relish the misery he is currently inflicting on thousands of people who can neither hit back, nor defend themselves. He is a bully, a cheat, pathologically fanatical about punishing the poor and succouring the rich, and a proven liar. He is also a Spurs fan – which, contrary to my usual views, might just be the nicest thing about him. Since the overdue demise of Thatcher, (the Iron Chicken or ‘Attila the Hen’) IDS has risen to the very top of many people’s “Party at my place when so-and-so carks it” list. Needless to say, he’s top of mine. Speed that glorious day.

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Tottenham-Hotspur-logoEvery truly big club has its share of celebrity fans.  And, as you’ve seen above, so has Spurs. But some are just embarrassing and – as the more reprehensible end of this list has shown – some are truly appalling. I’ve had the odd go at Spurs in the past, largely because – even though I’m Leeds through and through – I have a great regard and respect for Arsenal. But writing this article has given me a surprising feeling of sympathy for Tottenham.  Any club with Richard Littlejohn AND Iain Duncan-Smith among its aficionados merits our empathy, our understanding, even our pity. No-one deserves to be tarred with that brush – not even Tottenham Hotspur.

Byram Is a Realisable Asset, NOT a Leeds United Necessity – by Rob Atkinson

Boy Wonder Byram

Boy Wonder Byram

Everywhere you look within the Leeds United blogosphere at the moment, people are gnashing their teeth, tearing their hair, rending their clothes and exhibiting other biblical signs of anguish and angst – and all over one slip of a lad. Sam Byram was an unknown to 99% of the support three short years ago. Then he had a dream pre-season, started off the Championship campaign in the first team – and stayed there, producing displays of a maturity and confidence far in excess of his tender years.

Naturally, being Leeds, this seeming success story is a double-edged sword. The presence of a boy wonder in the first team (otherwise known in LS11 as “the shop window”) more usually produces feelings of rampant insecurity among the Leeds faithful, rather than the warm glow that should accompany the sight of a youthful prodigy in the famous white shirt. We know our place in today’s scheme of things, and it is very much that of “feeder club”. Each successive hero has played his way into our hearts, prospered briefly in front of our adoring eyes and then departed for pastures greener, or more likely Canary yellow, with no sign of any adequate replacement.

It’s happened with Beckford, Howson, Snoddy, Becchio and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.  Local hero status is no protection from the Lure of Elsewhere. Howson supposedly had Leeds tattooed on his heart, but it seems to have been erased easily enough, and our last sight of him was as he wheeled away after scoring a winner against us. Byram could so easliy have followed the well-trodden path out of Elland Road a year ago; Southampton, awash with Liverpudlian money from their fire sale of last summer, were rebuffed after an offer of £4.5 million or so for Byram – but there are now rumours that more serious suitors might be willing almost to double that sum.

Sam is quite possibly the jewel in the crown of the Leeds Academy production line. Despite an injury-affected and form-blighted last year or so, he really is that good. It’s natural then that worries over his short-term future should be particularly unwelcome at a time when a maverick owner and the latest in a long and dismal line of “head coaches” are supposed to be building for the club’s eventual re-admission to the Promised Land of the Premier League. But really – should we be worrying at all?

We need to take a long, hard look at what is necessary to get us out of this division in the desired, upwards, direction. That list will include strikers who know where the goal is (Chris Wood?) and are proficient at sticking the ball therein; midfielders and wingers – all very much according to the prescription of our former gaffer Dr. McDermott, who had seen this treatment work wonders at Reading. We also need tough, all-action ball winners who are preferably not in the superannuated class (Tom Adeyemi??), and a solid defence who will be mean enough at the back to make sure that increased productivity up front results in a net force taking us a lot higher up the league.  What we probably don’t actually need, and won’t until it’s time to start plotting our approach to the top flight, is a potentially world-class performer on the right flank. It’s superfluous to our current requirements; we’re casting pearls before swine.

It would be OK, of course, if Sam did stick around.  It might even be better for the lad himself – too many fledgling superstars have gone up a level and struggled to stay afloat, look how Fabian Delph initially struggled at Villa.  He’s only now beginning to look the player that seemed likely to be evolving under the guidance of Gary McAllister – and he may be about to disappear into the black hole that is the fringes of City’s 1st team squad.  Byram might well benefit from another season at least of learning his trade at Leeds, or so the conventional wisdom goes. 

Looking at things realistically though – if there WAS an offer of £8 million for the youthful and richly promising Sam, and if that £8 million were to be made (don’t laugh, now) available for the construction of a team that would challenge strongly this season – might not that be a good option for Leeds? It’s the kind of money that, as was said about the fortune we mugged Fulham out of for McCormack, could easily fund the four or five quality additions that we realistically need to propel us into the very top echelons of the Championship. Whether such investment would actually be made is, of course, another matter entirely – but that still doesn’t make the case for hanging onto a valuable, possibly wantaway player. Once promoted, it’s a different ball game, but in the here and now the priority is actually getting there, and a lavishly-gifted Byram in a team consisting otherwise largely of uninspiring plodders doesn’t look like being enough to realise the dream.

A lot will depend on the attitude of the lad himself, and historically no sentimental feelings of attachment to the club that has nurtured their talent have persuaded previous uncut diamonds to hang around and be polished at Elland Road. So if Sam wanted to go to a Premier League club, would we, could we, should we, stand in his way?  My view is that you don’t sacrifice a lad’s ambition and desire to mix it with the best, on the altar of narrow club interests – such a policy is liable to blow up in your face, leaving you with a disaffected and depreciating asset on your hands. No, if Byram does want out – especially as his current deal is fast running down – we’re better off gritting our teeth, securing the very best deal for Leeds United – don’t forget that sell-on clause, Massimo! – and getting on with reinvesting the loot in a team that will do the job at this level. We can leave worries about how we cope in the Premier League for such time as it becomes a live issue, rather than the distant prospect it is right now.

We need to cast off that “Feeder club” image as the mortally humiliating insult it is. We Are Leeds, after all. But in order for that to happen, we may need to embrace the unwelcome label in the shorter term, and speculate to accumulate. And at least these days we seem of a mind to drive a very hard bargain, unlike previous years when the attitude has been disgustingly meek and humble as we accepted pittances for valued assets. If the departure of Sam were to provide the funds to finish the job, then that sad loss will turn out to have been a worthy sacrifice.

The ugly truth of the matter is that a stubborn desire to keep a luxury we can’t afford, and frankly don’t really need in our current situation, could turn out to be the ultimate example of short-termism, to the detriment of our longer-term prospects of life at the top.

We Hate Nottingham Forest, We Hate Liverpool Too – by Rob Atkinson

Let me start out by saying this: there is a place in football for hate

Now, that might seem rather a provocative, not to say controversial statement, in these happy-clappy days when going to the match is supposed to be all about families, and fun. When oompah bands, high up in the stands, are strategically placed so that the newly-gentrified population in the 48 quid seats should not have to hear anything raucous or profane.

But it’s true, nevertheless. Football is tribal, football is cathartic, football is where you get to let off some steam after gritting your teeth all week.

And, for all of that, you need someone to hate.

Hate is a much misunderstood, possibly demonised word these days. It’s not really to be found in the lexicon of the politically correct. It sends out the wrong message, don’t you know, and speaks of the extreme edges of emotion and feeling, where those of pallid personalities do not wish to be seen.

But hate is a real human emotion, and you can’t simply wish, or indeed legislate it away. Properly expressed, it’s just about the best catalyst for atmosphere at a good old traditional sporting fixture.

The professionals should stay out of it, and get on with the game – it’s not really within their remit to get caught up in the atmosphere a bit of hate generates (although it’s frequently more entertaining than the football when rival teams DO let the passion affect them). However, the real arena is in the stands – or on the terraces, as we used to say in happier times.

Here is where the mutual dislike, felt in extreme measure in some cases, can safely be vented. Two sets of supporters, bound by a common loathing, hurl insults of gloriously inventive vulgarity back and forth, each seeking to outdo the other in a contest outside of the on-field engagement. The feeling is atavistic, and there’s no actual need for it to spill over into physical confrontation for honour to be satisfied. The occasion as a whole is enhanced by these pieces of human theatre.

The modern tendency towards crowd interaction being drowned out by super-powerful P.A. systems, pumping out crap music, has detracted from this phenomenon, as have the silly drums and trumpets they call “bands”. My own beloved Leeds United made an ill-advised decision a few years back to promote a “band”, but the masses behind the goal did not approve. The occasional toot and drumbeat were heard, only to be swiftly squashed by a throaty “stand up, if you hate the band”, and the experiment died an early and unlamented death. Rightly so, too. Bands at football stadia prosper only where the indigenous support lacks the moral fibre to resist such contrived attempts at a “nice” atmosphere. Sheffield Wednesday is the obvious, sad and sorry, example of such cardboard measures.

Sadly, it appears that the good old days of free expression, where a cadre of like-minded fanatics could express their hatred of “that lot from ovver t’hill”, are soon to be behind us for good. Yet there are still football clubs and historically tense fixtures which can conjure up some of that old atmosphere, so deeply do feelings run.

I’m glad to say that dear old Leeds United is one such club, so pathologically hated by so many other sets of fans, and so willingly disposed to return that sentiment with interest, that our matches against a select group of old enemies roll back the years, and set the blood pumping with an almost-forgotten vigour. Long may that remain the case – these are the real football clubs, with the real fans, and it’s this unreconstructed minority which is striving to hold back the tide of plastic, family-orientated, embarrassingly artificial bonhomie that so threatens to dull the palate as the 21st Century progresses.

It’s not P.C. It’s frowned upon by the self-appointed guardians of “The Good Of The Game”. And, admittedly, it too often spills over into taboo references, or actual violence, which is never something to be condoned. But come the day when they finally kill the last wisp of hate-fuelled atmosphere, at the last old dinosaur of a non-modern non-Meccano stadium, they’ll be well on the way finally to reading the last rites over the corpse of the game as we used to know it.

And then – why, I’ll throw in the towel, say my goodbyes to Elland Road, and sulk off to watch Frickley Athletic play those bastards from FC United of Manchester – confident that there will be enough curmudgeonly old reprobates on both sides who will be happy to spit venom at each other for 90 minutes – just for old times’ sake.

No Leeds United Welcome for UK Returnee Harry “Judas” Kewell – by Rob Atkinson

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 almost any other, certainly as far as anything these islands can provide. 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 real United, of Elland Road. Figuratively speaking, as well as almost literally, they had sold their souls to the Devil.

But really, all that “treachery” stuff, as applied to a small group of misguided men is just so much nonsense. In some cases, it’s even an injustice – Alan Smith, for example, made his move against a background of a Leeds United desperate for money (does this sound familiar?) He even waived his own cut of the deal so that his former club could derive the maximum financial benefit. If that’s treachery, then Steve McClaren is a Dutchman.

For real treachery – allied to on-going bad taste and a degree of insensitivity that makes expenses cheat Maria Miller look like Mother Teresa – let me commend you to Harry Kewell Esq, formerly of this parish. Kewell, wearing the number 10 shirt, was one of the Leeds United side that emerged into a cauldron of seething hatred as the stricken Whites were forced to play the first leg of a UEFA Cup semi-final against Galatasaray mere hours after the savage murder of two of their supporters. The home side refused to wear black armbands, demonstrating utter and callous disrespect. They would later demand that the second leg should be played at a neutral venue, should their disgusting fans be banned from an Elland Road return.

The players of Leeds United looked up to the crowd that night and saw snarling faces, disfigured by feverish hatred, fingers drawn across necks in the time-disgraced but locally admired “throat-slitting” gesture, the whole nightmare scene played out against a backdrop of “Welcome to Hell” banners as the bestial home fans taunted the United support, who simply turned their back on proceedings at kick-off in what must count as the most dignified display of protest in recent history.

Kewell cannot possibly have failed to absorb that evil miasma of hate and malice. He cannot have failed to appreciate the intentional hurt inflicted by the Galatasaray club – and especially their cowardly fans – to the feelings of everybody concerned with the Leeds United cause, especially of course the bereaved families of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight. Kewell must, surely, have felt as threatened and disgusted by the atmosphere prior to and during the game as any other United player that night. It was a match that, in the circumstances, should not have been played. Not that night, not so soon after those lads’ life-blood had been spilled. Perhaps never. Only the buffoons of UEFA could have made such a ridiculous decision as to rule the game should go ahead. It was an infamous night in the history of football.

If, on that night, you had predicted that any United player would, at some point in the future, willingly embrace that atmosphere, happily align himself with such a notoriously uncivilised set of “supporters” – you could have offered odds of ten thousand to one, and no takers. You’d have been laughed out of court, possibly with a few bumps and bruises for your own bad taste and lack of judgement. And yet, a few short years afterwards, Harry Kewell – “Mr. Anywhere-For-A-Fat-Contract” himself – elected to join that awful club and play for those despicable fans. It was an act of calculated disrespect to the victims, their families, their friends, the wider Leeds United community and decent football fans everywhere. It was base treachery in the raw; the act of a man who cannot see beyond his own narrow interests and who, frankly, could not give a damn.

At the time, he spouted a few mealy-mouthed platitudes about wishing to reconcile two sets of fans divided by tragedy. Yeah, OK Harry. Nothing to do with money after all, then? He could not have more effectively alienated Leeds fans everywhere if he had sat down and thought about how to do so for a year. It was an act of a vain and stupid young man whose God-given talent had set him up financially for life, but whose poverty of taste, sensitivity and loyalty would make the poorest beggar in the street look rich. Any player who had ever been connected with Leeds United should have realised that such a move was the ultimate in terrible ideas. It’s not something that should have needed explaining, not even to the meanest intellect or the most self-involved and vacant young man.

Now, fifteen years after the murders in Taksim Square, and with his football career at an end, Kewell is once more involved in English football, for the first time since a dilatory and uncommitted stint at Liverpool, as a member of the Watford FC coaching staff. Leeds fans will not welcome his return; for us, his copybook is blotted beyond any hope of redemption. Kewell put himself beyond the pale by the manner of his leaving Elland Road, when he and his agent held the club to ransom (in stark contrast to the example of Alan Smith, cited above) ensuring his pockets were well-lined, to the detriment of the club that gave him his start. His subsequent betrayal of the soul and spirit of Leeds United, by signing for that tawdry outfit from Istanbul, added gross insult to what was nearly a mortal injury.

Words like “Judas”, “traitor” and “treachery” are bandied about a bit too freely, sometimes. That tends to become obvious only when you see a glaringly obscene example of the real thing – only then does it stand out that some dubious acts thus labelled are actually as water unto wine when it really comes down to it. So forget about those who have crossed the great divide between Elland Road and the Theatre of Hollow Myths – their defections mean nothing at all in the grand scheme of things. We have been amply repaid over the years anyway – luminaries such as Johnny Giles and Gordon Strachan have made the opposite journey and have found glory in all-white. At the end of the day, all of that is just about football – and beside the matter of life, death and justice, football remains very small beer indeed.

Life and death were the issues on that April night so long ago, and events panned out such that two lads, who simply wanted to follow their heroes at a football match, never came home – and have never received real justice. One of them had a son, George, who has had to grow up without his Dad, and who, once upon a time, angrily wanted to point out to a thick-headed footballer the betrayal he believed that footballer was guilty of perpetrating, by his thoughtless act of offering a Galatasaray shirt as a prize in an online competition. George Speight received no apology, no understanding, no acknowledgement from Kewell – just a casual insult and a hollow accusation of racism. There is no greater treachery than that, no baser example of ignorance and poor taste. And now the traitor is back among us once again. It’s very difficult to wish Watford anything but ill-luck and failure, just on this one account. 

Harry Kewell: one-time Leeds star, has-been footballer – and the worst example of self-seeking treachery it’s been my misfortune to witness.

Leeds Utd’s Luke Murphy Puts Loyalty Before Pounds Sterling   –   by Rob Atkinson

  
Luke Murphy has seen his stock rise dramatically among the demanding constituency of Leeds United fans of late – and not just for his markedly improved form during the latter part of last season. That upping of his game, to more nearly approach what is rightly expected of a man with a seven-figure price tag, was certainly welcome enough, and warmly received by the Elland Road congregation. The resulting blast of approval must have been music to the ears of a man whose tepid earlier displays had earned him more brickbats than bouquets. But these recent accolades have, of course, resulted primarily from Murphy’s willingness to sign a new deal – reportedly on significantly lower terms. 

Just run that by yourself again, with the stereotypical modern, mercenary, grasping footballer in mind for the purposes of comparison. Take Raheem Sterling, for example. That young man’s surname bears more than a coincidental similarity to the unit of currency in these islands. This is a young lad of sublime talent who has proved himself, by his actions of late, not big enough to play for a club like Liverpool FC, much less their rabidly fanatical fans.

Sterling will have benefited greatly in financial terms from his move to Man City. He may even win a Cup or two in the seasons to come, as he sits on the bench for Manchester‘s premier club. But he has lost far more in terms of reputation and respect – though exactly how much that means to today’s young, deeply shallow, relentlessly materialistic Princes of Association Football must be open to grave doubt.

So there you have Sterling on the one hand. And there’s our own Luke Murphy on the other. You might wonder what options there were in front of young Luke, before he committed the next four years of his career to Leeds. It’s a fair bet that there will have been an agent hovering somewhere close by, whispering blandishments of temptation into those callow ears. It’s good, after all, for agents when footballers move on – and if Murphy could be persuaded his future lay elsewhere, then you can be sure that Leeds would have been looking to recoup their £1m outlay. And that’d have meant some wedge for Luke – and any agent – quite apart from the terms he might expect from a prospective buying club. 

But Murphy has opted to stay, and what he has gained in increased security by the greater length of his deal, he has largely lost by virtue of a reduced weekly wage. He’s still remarkably well-off, clearly, compared to other lads of his age – or mine, come to that. But it does warm the cockles to see a young pro prioritising where he wants to be, over what he wants to be paid. 

The contrast between Sterling and Murphy is stark, and it goes way beyond matters such as ability and potential. Sterling has – it’s blindingly obvious – had his head turned to a degree which makes that poor young lass out of The Exorcist seem comparatively stiff-necked. It is a pity that such a major talent should have been so poorly advised as to treat the greatest club and the greatest fans he will ever play for, quite so shoddily.

Luke Murphy, in that precisely identical situation of playing for the greatest club and fans he’ll know in his career, has chosen to show respect rather than contempt, humility rather than arrogance. It’s an attitude that deserves reward, and this blog wishes him a triumphant season, crowned with success. As for Sterling, we wish him not too many splinters in his arse as he bench-warms his way to cups and titles with Citeh. 

It does rather beg the question of whether we Leeds fans should perhaps be wary what we ask for, the danger being that we might get it. Obviously, we all want promotion, followed by establishment as a Premier League power, with silverware and continental domination, for preference, as is surely our Don-given destiny. But, should that come to pass, will we really be able to relate to and respect the wearers of those iconic white shirts? You do have to wonder. 

Sadly, when Leeds do become successful again, the squad we’ll be supporting is likely to contain rather more Sterling-like characters – eye on the main chance and sod the supporters – than it will the good, honest Murphy type. That, we can assume, will be part of the price of success. And we all crave success – don’t we?

The thing is though, this story of two young footballers, Sterling and Murphy, leaves me wondering if that success would really be worth the price we’d most probably have to pay. 

Top 10 Embarrassing Celebrity Manchester United Fans – by Rob Atkinson

As Leeds United fans, we will all know at least one Man U “supporter” who – let’s face it – is a bit of a knob.  You know the sort – they never go to the game, but they drone on and on about “Nitid” to anyone who’s unlucky enough to be trapped in conversation with them.  Most of them can name David Beckham and Eric Cantona, but they’re not too sure about more recent names.  They’ve ALL swallowed the “Biggest Club in the World” myth, all of them.  Hook, line and sinker. They’re pretty dismal individuals. Now, fame and money don’t normally improve a person – so how much worse are the Pride of Devon’s celebrity fans?  I mean, loathe them or hate them, you can’t deny there’s some things their fans are good at, and being utterly dislikeable is right up there. Take a look at these prize specimens, presented here in time-honoured descending order of detestability…

10. Mick Hucknall

There’s a website entitled 1000 People More Annoying Than Mick Hucknall. A whole thousand. That’s not bad, really – out of a world population of seven billion or so – and it shoots him straight to the bottom of this list of horrors.  In truth, Hucknall only just edges in here in 10th place, as he actually has a couple of redeeming features. He’s absolutely from Manchester for a start, which for a Nitid fan means he should probably be stuffed and put on display.  He’s also a Labour Party supporter, which is the next-best thing to being a socialist.  With Mick, it’s probably mainly his support for Man U itself that makes him annoying – apart from those ginger dreadlocks and the silly “slept with 1000 women” nonsense. As a human being, Hucknall is faintly ridiculous – as a Man U fan, he’s just about the best.

9. Steve McFadden

Born in Maida Vale in London, McFadden therefore exemplifies the standard Man U fan demographic. His acting career has been mainly characterised by pretending to be hard, an echo of the qualification condition for membership of the so-called Red Army, a group of 1970’s Man U fans who roved around the country from their southern base, looking for stragglers and scarfers to attack in numbers. When his stint pretending to be hard in Eastenders came to a temporary halt in 2005, McFadden turned to documentaries, mainly surrounding violence, in which he pretended to be hard.  He later returned to Eastenders, and resumed his accustomed role of pretending to be hard.

8. Michael le Vell

Another rare and exotic beast – a Man U fan from the local area, Newton Heath – which was the original name of the Salford club. Michael le Vell has had to endure a tough and humiliating period of his life a while back when, during a court case he was outed as a fan of the Theatre of Hollow Myths outfit. “I have to admit,” said le Vell, “I did find that a lickle bit embarrassing.”  A former winner of “Most Ridiculous Moustache in Soaps” award, le Vell (real name Michael Robert Turner) started his acting career at the Oldham Theatre Workshop. During the 1980’s, he gained a following as a gay icon due to his daft ‘tache and also the skintight jeans which he wore mainly to ensure the high-pitched voice of Mancunian indignation which he used for the majority of his Coronation Street lines.

7. Brian Blessed

Born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, Blessed is one of that sorry Legion of the Damned, the Man U fan from the God’s Own County, or the Tyke Scummer, as they are sometimes known.

Blessed has made a very successful career in theatre and TV, managing to circumvent the normal requirement for some talent by building upon his childhood discovery that he could shout.  Since then, Blessed has managed to shout his way, aided by an immensely passionate love affair with himself, to public recognition as a loud-mouthed huge person capable of dominating even modern 50″ TV screens simply by filling them.

Blessed lists his chief preoccupations as “Shouting, climbing mountains, shouting, growing a ridiculous beard and voice projection (shouting)”.

6. Zoë Ball

As with many a child before her, Zoë followed the football team her Dad supported as is quite right and proper – most of the time.  In her case, Dad was Kids’ TV guru Johnny Ball, and the team was Liverpool FC. So far, so good.  But as the years went by, and Liverpool’s star fell somewhat – alongside the fact that Man U were in the ascendant –  Zoë realised that being blonde, passably pretty and having a famous Dad wasn’t going to be enough to bring her the media success she craved.  How, then, to enhance her public profile?

And behold, a new Man U fan was born.  Zoë tumbled to the fact that the Pride of Devon were BIG in media circles and she noticed that lifelong Nitid fans were crawling out of the woodwork everywhere.  Joining that degraded crew, she decided, could be good for her career. So it came to pass. Whenever she needed a new job, or to impress some vacuous hack or TV exec, she now had the choice of referring to her famous Dad or to her newly life-long support of Man U. Enough of them were pleased enough with what they heard to give her a leg-up, so to speak, and her career blossomed out of all proportion to her mediocre talents.  It just goes to show – if you want to succeed, Opportunism Knocks.

Dad Johnny remains a Liverpool FC fan.  Whoever hears of him these days??

5. Roger Moore

We’re heading rapidly for the more despicable end of the list now.  Roger Moore is not only notorious as the Worst James Bond Ever, he’s also a prominent supporter of David Cameron’s Conservative Party, a well-known brown-noser of foreign royalty, universally acclaimed as the only man ever to have been comprehensively out-acted by Tony Curtis (in TV’s  The Persuaders!) and worst of all – whisper it softly – a Man U fan.

“I love M.U,” said Moore in one TV interview, using his Spitting Image parody voice and creaking one eyebrow upwards. “I nearly went to a game once.” Spitting Image figured large in media piss-takes of Moore.  The satirical latex puppet show featured a Bond movie spoof, “The Man with the Wooden Delivery”, with Moore’s rubber character receiving orders from Margaret Thatcher to kill Mikhail Gorbachev. Many other comedy shows at that time ridiculed Moore’s acting, Rory Bremner once claiming to have had a death threat from an irate fan of Moore’s, following one such routine.  Some people have simply no sense of humour.

4. Geoffrey Boycott

Into the top four most embarrassing now, and the standard of these pieces of human flotsam continues to decline steadily.  What can we say about “Sir” Geoffrey, folk hero to the dafter kind of Yorkshireman, professional Tyke and shameless exploiter of anything to do with the White Rose county, particularly in a “creekkit” context.

Geoff’s lop-sided grimace and tortured accent have become familiar annoyances to anyone who follows the sound of willow on leather, and the unashamed forthrightness of his views is far more famous than any worthwhile content or relevance that might occasionally be detectable. Boycott used to be a Nottingham Forest fan, due to his admiration for fellow gobshite Brian Clough; after Cloughie’s ignominious exit from the City Ground following relegation in 1993, “Boyks” jumped ship with the alacrity of a trained-up rat, settling on the Evil Empire for his devotion from that time on, blithely ignoring his supposed Broad Acres affiliation.

Together with fellow “Pro Yorkshireman”, Michael Parkinson, Boycott continues to capitalise financially on his home county whilst lending his dubious support to Man U. Parkinson possibly deserves a category of his own, due to his self-promotion as a fan of lovable little Barnsley; his early defection to Man U to worship and write about future dissolute waster George Best is less well-known.  It’s only right that two such examples of base treachery should share one item though.  May they be happy together in their wretched infidelity.

3. Usain Bolt

Some Man U fans, blissfully unaware of the irony of what they’re spouting, will often drone on about “not choosing your team, but your team choosing you”. We’re meant to nod, acknowledging that yes, of course, Man U are the biggest and the best – and that’s why they’re a natural to be supported by such a damn fine chap as whoever the plastic gloryhunter might be that’s coming out with such self-aggrandising crap. Dear me.

Man U fans for the overwhelmingly most part are sensitive little souls, slightly inadequate and socially inept, desperately insecure and in need of a morale boost and some reassurance – natural victims who need in their own minds to be identified by what they see as size (let’s not get too Freudian here) and success. Supporting Man U gives them a vicarious feeling of good times and well-being – or at least it used to – and they hope others will see them in this light too.

Tragically, as they walk down whatever southern high street in whichever of the current half-dozen Man U shirts they’re wearing, people are just looking at them, sighing, shaking their heads sadly and thinking “Tosser”.  But we need to recognise these character defects for what they are and not be misled by any outward display of bumptiousness or arrogance.  It’s almost never what it seems – except in some very isolated cases.

Usain Bolt, undisputed fastest man in the world and self-proclaimed living legend, is one of the genuine articles.  So utterly self-obsessed and convinced of his own wonderfulness that the world actually has a guilty feeling it should be turning around him, Usain is a case study in arrogance. He is not above a little bragging in much the same way that the sea is not above the clouds.  He follows Man U, we might surmise, not to make himself feel better, but to do Man U a favour; Usain’s support might, he must reason, make Man U look good.

He feels that, when he retires from running, he might decide to play for Man U. This is a deeply, deeply self-involved person – not a typical Man U fan at all. Just the living embodiment of the arrogance the lesser Man U mortals so dearly would love to radiate. And yet for all this natural talent and detestability – he’s still only the 3rd most repellent Man U fan.  Oh dear, Usain. Fail.

2. Terry Christian

Terry, for his sins, takes the most mangled, nasal, godawful accent anywhere in the British Isles – and performs the almost impossible feat of making it sound ten times worse after the Christian treatment. Add to that grievous assault on your ear-drums the hooded eyes, the arrogant “bollocks to you” Salford lad smile and – oh, just bloody everything else about the man, and you have a person who could make your very soul bleed at 500 paces.

Nothing is needed here about his career, or his piss-poor book, or anything except just the persona of the man, his carriage, his attitude.  There’s a phrase some Man U fans use to describe, by their own lights, a desirable and cool human being.  “A clued-up, clobbered-up Manc”, they say in tones of awe and deep, abiding love. Obviously the rest of us can’t imagine anything more nightmarish – but this is the image Christian projects. Just too, too horrible for words.

Christian chooses to define himself by his support of Man U, so I’m afraid it’s a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword”. It’s important to point this out, otherwise it might seem harsh to rip a man for supporting what is his local club. But Terry is just so offensively Man U, he embodies so absolutely everything that people love to hate about the most intrinsically disgusting club in the Universe, that it’s difficult to imagine just what there might be about him that anyone, anywhere, could possibly love.  Apart from other Man U fans, obviously.  And, equally obviously, they don’t count.

1. Eamonn “Feckin'” Holmes

This is The One.  He out-scums Christian, he out-oils even Moore. He’s a rabid Man U fan who comes from Northern Ireland and lives in London. He pronounces “Fiona” as “Fye-owner”, for Christ’s sake.  He makes feeble links and uncomfortable connections in the course of his daily work to give him some reason – any reason – to drone on in his annoying voice, with a smug, annoying smile on his smug, annoying face about Man U, the source of his violently unhealthy obsession.

It gets worse.  He’s friends with S’ralex, which is enough to exclude him from polite society everywhere.  Your typical Man U fans hate him, but feel they can’t admit it for fear of being disloyal to such a rabid, gloryhunting obsessive.  So they give themselves hernias trying to find something nice to say about the loathsome Holmes, ending up with something feeble along the lines of “Well, he’s certainly Man U frew and frew, innit – and he’s S’ralex’s mate you know, squire.  Cor, blimey, stone the bladdy crows an’ lavvadack.”

There is no excuse for Eamonn Holmes.  No shadow of any justification for the look he gets in his eyes when he thinks he has something clever to say, no allowances to be made for that annoying little smacking of his lips he does prior to delivering another laboriously-prepared ponderous one-liner to be dutifully laughed at by his long-suffering colleagues.  And I know it’s wrong, but I hate the way his features stay the same size as his face expands.  It’s nauseating, as is everything else about him.

More than anyone else on this list, I would say of Holmes – he deserves to be a Man U fan.  There. You just can’t be more offensively downright cruel than that. I feel spiritually cleansed.

-o0o-

These are the ten worst I could think of.  There are many who could have qualified as “dishonourable mentions”, people who would deserve the utmost denigration if associated with any other clubs.  In the soul-less, dismal ranks of Man U fans, they are merely ordinary and unremarkable. Michael Parkinson, who actually got a dishonourable mention in there. Michael Atherton.  That blonde wench on Countdown who can’t add up quite as well as la Vorderman (also a Scummer of Convenience, a Career Scummette).  Bill bloody Clinton.  The Neville chimps.  There are many. But these ten, I honestly believe are the worst of the worst, and they each merit inclusion for their own particular, despicable reason. I would be interested, though, to hear of any other nominations.

Happy Birthday to The Don: Simply the Best Ever  –   by Rob Atkinson

  
No need for any flowery prose here. No possible dispute about the sentiment in the title of this brief piece. 

Don Revie was the greatest English manager of all time. He single handedly raised Leeds United from mediocre nonentities, famous only for John Charles in the forty-odd years of their history, to the most feared and respected club side in the world. Leeds United were the last club to emerge from obscurity to attain the status of giants; there have been no additions to those ranks since. Don Revie brought this about, a success story from humble beginnings that no other manager can match. 

On the 88th anniversary of his birth, let all Leeds United fans raise a glass to The Don – The Greatest. Taken far too soon over 26 years ago, but still loved by those who matter, still revered by those who know – never forgotten. 

Don Revie – simply the best English football manager ever.