Leeds Players Disgrace the Old ‘Keep Fighting’ Battle Cry   –   by Rob Atkinson

The battle-cry of Legends

Look at the image above. It symbolises the commitment and passion of the great Leeds United sides of the past. Warriors all, if you cut one of them, they all bled – and as one they hunted down the offender and served up retribution. This applies to the Title-winning sides in my lifetime, and to any of the Revie Boys. You did not mess with those lads. If you wanted to play, they’d outplay you. If you wanted a fight – woe betide you. You’d be out-fought and then outplayed. You’d most likely be beaten either way. Surrender? It just wasn’t in their lexicon. 

Back, reluctantly, to the present day – leaving the memories of those beloved heroes in White back in the past where they dominated and triumphed, making us all proud to be Leeds. The cold and stark reality of today is of a very different breed of player. Too many of the current squad – the ones who should be setting an example to yet another batch of richly-promising youngsters currently emerging – would look at that picture at the top and think to themselves – Keep Fighting? What for? What’s in it for me? Can’t I just slide out from this and do something easier? Why not have a weekend off “injured”??

Six players have declared themselves injured on the eve of tomorrow’s game at Charlton Athletic. Count them. SIX. That’s to stretch the credulity of the fans rather far, surely – if not the medical staff. Don’t forget – these are fans that revere the fighters we’ve had down the years. They won’t have much time for wimps. 

Neither, it appears, do a couple of more recent United players in Messrs. Whelan and Matteo. Both are scathing in their criticism of any players who may have felt they can’t be bothered this weekend. When these men – men who have worn the shirt with pride – show their contempt and disgust, then why should the fans have any more patience, belief or faith? The fans have even more right to be disgusted – appalled – at such craven behaviour. Whatever is going on at the club, there is no excuse for desertion – and this situation stinks of precisely that. 

I exempt the club’s young stars from this criticism. They have done all that might be expected of them this season, and more besides. They have been let down abysmally by those they should be able to regard as role models and mentors – just as we, the fans have been let down. 

This, on the face of it, is rank betrayal of a stripe I’ve rarely if ever seen at Leeds United. Either that, or it’s a remarkable coincidence. The coincidence would be in the timing of all these supposed injuries, the origin of the players allegedly affected and the fact that the club is currently having a tough time. When the going got tough, certain alleged competitors seem to have waved the flag of surrender. That’s not the type of white flag we approve of at Elland Road

If what is being suggested all over various media tonight is true – then certain players should never wear the Shirt again. Perhaps, on the evidence, they don’t wish to. Either way, if they’ve chosen to claim falsely that they’re injured and unavailable, then they should do themselves and the rest of us a favour – and ship out. That type of player – cowards and faint hearts – are not wanted at Leeds. 

Never have been, never will be. 

If the WACCOE Forum Grew Up a Bit, Wouldn’t Leeds Fans Have a More Effective Voice? – by Rob Atkinson

WACCOE - could do better

WACCOE – could do better

One of the most potentially effective means whereby Leeds United fans’ discontent and opposition to the current Elland Road regime could be co-ordinated and focused is the wealth of fan forums out there. There’s the chance here for a collective voice of protest, for some kind of unified voice raised against the Fred Karno’s Army who are running things now. A much more effective army is out there and waiting to be mobilised. But, for the time being, all the potential thus afforded is being wasted in the insistence on one-upmanship, puerile and cringe-worthy humour – and the apparent need to nip in the bud any attempt at serious discussion of the issues that face our club.

The WACCOE Forum is a major offender. I should really declare an interest, as I have been virtually silenced on there for the crime of failing to go along with the right-wing, hard-of-thinking hard-core “laddish tendency” that seems to call the shots. That’s hardly going to have me singing their praises – but, the fact is that there are some seriously deep thinkers on there, people who could do a lot of good. If only they weren’t continually stifled by the Beavis & Butthead atmosphere that seems to reign. WACCOE used to be a lot more of a force for good than it is now – sadly, the overgrown schoolboys seem to have taken over, abusing powers of “moderation” on a whim, interested only in what amounts to a series metaphorical “weeing highest up the wall” contests, with each successive contributor desperately trying to outdo the one before, hoping against hope for a lol, or something similarly brainless.

It’s frustrating. A lot of the time, a topic will start off as something you think might go somewhere, and the first few responses develop a promising theme, with interesting points of view appearing. And then – somebody has to say something frightfully witty – and it degenerates from there. Very sad, and a waste of everyone’s time – particularly when you think of the urgent need for co-operation and a bit of constructive thinking. But the self-appointed guardians of the Forum ethos won’t have it, so it all ends up back at the lowest common denominator, with the chief offenders frantically reassuring each as to what fine and zany guys they all are. It happens time and time again, with wearisome predictability.

I’m aware that there are other forums out there, some of whom may not have plumbed the depths to quite the same extent as WACCOE and, to a lesser degree, the Service Crew Forum. But I still haven’t quite acquired the habit of anywhere else, so it’s these two that I tend to use as a yardstick of how the Leeds forums online are conducting themselves – and of how effective they might be should the time come when the fans have no other choice but to mobilise against people who seem set fair to run our club into the ground.

Ironically, people on WACCOE sometimes point a finger at this blog, alleging that no other views than mine or those closely agreeing with mine are allowed. Well, for a start, this is not a Forum – it’s a blog – although it can occasionally act like a forum, as there are frequently lively exchanges of opinion in the response thread to many of the articles. Where I do refuse to print something submitted, it’s almost always because of the level of personal abuse contained in it; one of these days, I’ll put a few of the rejected comments together and open a few eyes. From the level of whinging about this on WACCOE, I can only assume that many of these abusive comments originate from the sewer end of their readership – well, just grow up a bit guys, and express yourselves like adults, and I won’t be deleting you – will I?

The fact is, though, that WACCOE was set up is a Forum – they don’t do articles as such, it’s all about topics for discussion. I would challenge the moderators to demonstrate that my few recent contributions were so offensive as to be banned from appearing – they weren’t offensive at all, of course. Mine is a blanket ban, because the sensitive souls who moderate the thing can’t bear being challenged or disagreed with. Which makes their allegations of censorship on Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything slightly ironic – to say the least.

The point is, of course, that everybody with the interests of Leeds United at heart needs to up their game right now – because it’s more than likely that we’re going to have to make ourselves heard as a fanbase in the near future – if things continue to go downhill at Elland Road. That cause is bigger by far than any petty disagreement between neighbouring internet locations – but it surely means also that there is some growing up to be done in places like WACCOE, where the emphasis currently is on sticking the head in the sand when anything serious is raised, and having a jolly good big boys’ laugh about it all – whilst seeing who can wee the highest, naturally. It’s as pathetic as it is unproductive, and you can imagine how it affects the silent majority. What you get is the usual suspects, over and over again, self-indulgently dominating and ruining what could be a very good and useful internet resource for Leeds United fans – if only it wasn’t so insistent on the clique approach, with in-jokes, puns and other frightful examples of schoolboy humour, against the background of a determinedly blind eye turned towards anything they don’t like.

This blog will continue to shout as loudly as possible and hope to be right at least as often as it’s wrong. There’s been some humble pie eaten here lately, as the position of the blog has switched from pro-Cellino to anti – but there’s nothing to be gained by refusing to acknowledge a mistake once it’s been identified. You have to take a deep breath, trim your sails for a new prevailing wind, and sail on, hopefully in the right direction. I was wrong to back Cellino. I’ve taken that on the chin after a real effort at being loyal – and now I’m seeking what I believe would be a better future for the club I love. I know that many will condemn me for that, but equally there are many who agree. The best you can do is call it as you see it and go with the dictates of your conscience.

If it does come to a gloves-off fight between the fans and the current Leeds regime, than I would hope that a massive proportion of Leeds’ massive support would want to be in there, battling for the right outcome and a better future. In which case, the more United we can be, the better it will bode for that future. And it will be a case of “the more, the merrier” – so I do think it would be a good idea if some of the saner souls over at WACCOE – and other forums – could possibly start thinking about getting some actual grown-ups into positions of moderation – so that a change of tone and standards might be achieved, from the annoyingly adolescent to something that could be incredibly useful in a unified Leeds fan movement. That seems like common sense to me. The way things are at WACCOE right now, it’s easy to pick holes in the way the forum is run and the consequent dumbing-down of content. But that gives me no pleasure – I’d rather see it as the powerful force for fan protest that it definitely could be.

Really – is that too much to ask?

Sticks and Stones? Leeds Fans Pay Dearly for Salerno’s Hurt Feelings – by Rob Atkinson

Nicola Salerno - a delicate little flower

Nicola Salerno – a delicate little flower

Without wanting to get over-simplistic about this, the facts are as follows. Steve Thompson, the assistant coach that boss Neil Redfearn so wanted at Leeds, a man he head-hunted from Huddersfield Town, was suspended and told his contract would not be renewed – sacked, in effect – apparently for being heard using a derogatory word or two about United’s then Sporting Director Nicola Salerno. Since then, Leeds – who had been doing reasonably well – have lost four games on the trot, with morale seemingly having plummeted across the whole spectrum of fans, players and staff. Right up to that lonely, newly-isolated, probably doomed figure at the top of the football part of the club, the man who carries the can for mistakes made above even his head, Redders himself.

The main question over Redders’ future now would appear to be: will he jump, or wait to be pushed? To say that there are mixed messages coming out of the United hierarchy, higher up than humble Head Coach level, would be a masterpiece of understatement. Massimo Cellino was going to stay away, then we hear he’s coming back. Salerno, having suspended Thompson for hurting his poor, delicate feelings, seems to have ended his association with Leeds since. Thompson remains suspended, Redfearn remains frustrated, isolated, powerless – so it seems – to do the job he desperately wants to do.

You might say it’s a mess – but, again, you’d be accused of putting an unrealistic gloss on the situation. It’s much worse than a mess. It’s a farce, a pantomime, a badly-written black comedy. Doomed Blackpool, with their rapist part-owner and their long-inevitable relegation, might almost look at Leeds and say to themselves – well, we weren’t the only chaotic club in this league, were we? Cellino now faces further court dates over the immediate future – a time when any proper owner might be looking at his club and wondering how such an abysmally disappointing season could be improved upon next time around.

Cellino has to accept responsibility, even in absentia, for the way the club is being – for want of a more descriptive word – run. The men making the decisions on the ground are presumably there because Cellino wanted them there. Events are not bearing out the wisdom of many of those decisions, and the Thompson fiasco is a case in point. As one glum social media user tweeted, we were rubbish, then Thompson came and we did OK – then he’s sacked and we’re rubbish again. It’s not rocket science.

Leeds United and its fans deserve far better than this. Alright, no-one should be unsackable, and insubordination is not a matter to be taken lightly. But there are degrees of appropriate response – and if a vital member of the back-room staff has been removed simply because one incautious remark caused some offence in one over-sensitive director – then the fallout from that decision is utterly disproportionate to the seriousness of such a relatively innocuous situation. Four games since then, little fight, chaotic organisation on the pitch and off, no points, decimated morale – all because of one man’s hurt feelings. If that’s the way to run a football club, then I’m a bloody Tory.

The sooner this bunch of clowns do the right thing and sell their interest in our club to someone better able to run the place – i.e. almost anyone – the better for everybody, maybe even the clowns themselves, not that I care a slice of pizza for them. There is far too much of a feeling that certain individuals think themselves bigger than the club – and that can never be true. If Salerno has gone, then we have one less of those individuals and that’s a step in the right direction – but then, why not get Thompson back? If he’d be willing to come back, that is.

Now, the rest of them, the rest of those clueless idiots in the boardroom, should get out. Because Leeds United fans – even those of us who were prepared to give this regime a chance at the outset – have had enough. Much more than enough. Yet again, it’s time for change; this time we have to get it right. Leeds United is a global name; when you look at what has been achieved at relatively small and unknown (with all due respect) clubs such as Southampton and Swansea City – surely, then, the potential at Leeds is huge and realisable.

Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany feels that the so-called Financial Fair Play rules will mitigate against the likes of Leeds and Forest ever being successful again. I’m not so sure about that. David Batty on the other hand speaks optimistically, stating that we’ll be back towards the top soon. I’m not too sure about that either. But somewhere in between is a level we can still hit – and yet, the way things are now, we’re a million miles away even from that.

As a wise man once said, a journey of a million miles starts with a single step, but all our steps right now appear to be backward ones – it’s very tempting to talk here about the proverbial Italian tank with no forward and fifteen reverse gears. And yet, really, it would be misleading to talk about cowardice – it’s not even as forgiveable as that. It’s incompetence we’re seeing, indulgence of ego against the interests of the greater good. That’s what’s so hard to forgive.

It hasn’t worked, this Italian experiment. With the League dead set against Cellino, it’s highly unlikely it can ever work. Let’s all just acknowledge that, all of us – the owners too. Cut your losses, sell up, bugger off.

We’re Leeds United – and we’ve got a future to carve for ourselves, somewhere a lot higher up the game than the humiliating rut you’ve got us stuck in right now. Just go. In the name of God – GO.

 

Welcome Home, Jonny: Howson Deserves Leeds Ovation   –   by Rob Atkinson

Leeds and he knows he is: local boy Jonny

Tonight sees the first return to Elland Road of prodigal son Jonny Howson, now of Norwich City. Roll out the red carpet, sound the welcoming herald and kill the fatted calf for, lo, he that was lost is returned to us, albeit temporarily – and under an enemy banner. 

Actually, we might have to amend these tributes, but only slightly. After all, we’ve lost a lot of prodigals over the past few years at Leeds United and, if we hang out the bunting every time one of them shows up back at the old homestead, it’ll be a bit of a strain on that emaciated post-Living-the-Dream budget. The red carpet’s a bit tatty from that time Uncle Ken used it to protect the tiles when he was having CCTV installed in the bogs. And we’re fresh out of fatted calves. We did have a fatted goalkeeper, but sadly he was cast out into the wilderness (transferred to Ipswich Town).

So it might be a case of “modified rapture” when Jonny comes marching home – especially if he forgets his manners and scores the winner – but, nevertheless, this blog would like to think there’ll be a warm LS11 welcome in store for our former hero. By your deeds shall ye be judged – and Mr. Howson did manage a few notable deeds during the time he graced the iconic White shirt. 

Chief among these examples of unforgettable derring-do is, of course, the Howson Howitzer that broke the resistance of Bristol Rovers‘ embattled XI as the ten men of Leeds laid siege to their goal in an attempt to get out of a promotion-threatening emergency. 0-1 down and needing the win to climb out of third-tier purgatory, Leeds were becoming desperate when Jonny, our steely-eyed and über-cool marksman, fastened on to a ball laid back to him outside the box and simply lashed it into the Kop End net. The sonic boom of joy and relief fair sent the terrified Rovers into panicky disorder; they were softened up for the kill which Jermaine duly delivered – and we were up. 

Then, of course, there was that laser-accurate long pass at the Theatre of Hollow Myths for that same Jermaine to roll the ball in at the Beckford End and send the Pride of Devon, tantrums and all, spinning out of the FA Cup. And there was his late and massively timely strike at Carlisle to secure us one of our doomed Wembley play-off occasions. For a young, local lad, Jonny Howson made a mark on Leeds United history of almost Batty-esque proportions – and there can be little higher praise for a born and bred White than that ever so slightly exaggerated accolade. 

So, tonight – at last – Jonny is back at his spiritual home Elland Road. It’s a place printed into his DNA and somewhere I’m convinced – if we ever rid ourselves of fools, incompetents and charlatans – he will one day return to stay. The manner of his leaving does not weigh against the lad; in football, once “your” club has shown willing to lose you, there’s little point hanging around. Like a good pro, he went off to distinguish himself in a Premier League midfield; he went where the ambition and desire was, and away from the decay and complacency which pervaded – still pervades – Leeds United. Who can seriously blame him for that?

In the context of the 21st Century, Jonny Howson is a United Legend – not least for the moments recalled above, among many others. But he’s a legend too because, while he was with us, he epitomised what the spirit of United could and should be about. A Leeds heart beat proudly under that Leeds badge and it showed – in his general play and in his delightful knack of popping up when most needed, to strike decisively and turn the game Leeds’ way. 

One of my favourite memories of Jonny was a game at Scunthorpe when he struck what I still think of as the best example of the “perfect hat-trick” I’ve ever seen. A clean strike with either foot for two of the goals; the other a brilliant header. It meant little in the grand scheme of things, but it was a Leeds United youth product saying boldly: here I am, in the shirt I love, and this is what I can do. Sadly, Leeds didn’t appreciate what they had and, along with several other diamonds, Jonny left to glitter elsewhere. 

I hope he gets his due from the Elland Road crowd tonight. Under his pro’s facade, Howson will still care about what’s happening at Leeds – he’ll still hurt at what’s happening to Leeds. It won’t distract him in the slightest from his job this evening – but deep down, Jonny is still Leeds – and he knows he is. 

With our cheers and applause tonight for a departed hero – let’s show him that we know it too. 

Count On Leeds United to Knock the Canaries From Their Perch – by Rob Atkinson

The only good Canaries are dead Canaries

The only good Canaries are dead Canaries

If Leeds United‘s topsy-turvy season runs true to form, then tomorrow’s visitors Norwich City might just have a nasty surprise waiting for them at Elland Road. The Whites have already sent a few Championship high-flyers home, pointless and wondering what happened, in a season that has seen them generally under-perform. The challenge of promotion-chasing opponents, though, has frequently brought out the best in United on home soil – as Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Bournemouth and Derby County could readily testify.

Norwich would be a welcome scalp as far as United’s long-suffering fans are concerned. As a club, they’ve behaved towards Leeds in a decidedly uppity fashion over the past few years, taking advantage of a rare spell of league superiority to asset-strip our squad on an unpleasantly regular basis. While it’s true to say that Fulham have acted in much the same way, and more recently too, it’s also true that Leeds had Fulham for mugs over Ross McCormack‘s transfer, which has tended to mollify folks at this end. No such consolation where our backwoods, carrot-crunching friends are concerned; they’ve been really quite rude about openly enjoying raiding us and nicking off with some of our best players – as well as Bradley Johnson.

There was also that nasty little business earlier in the season, when serial victim Cameron Jerome made one of his occasional, ill-grounded racial abuse allegations against United player Giuseppe Bellusci. Jerome’s accusations on this occasion were so lacking in any supporting evidence that a Leeds player actually got off on a charge against him; something that hasn’t happened since before the Grand Canyon was formed. Norwich City, oddly, publicly supported their player despite the total lack of any corroborating evidence – and continued this stance even after the League verdict. Still, justice was done in the end – and Jerome sulked. It will be interesting to see if any lingering grudges are settled one way or the other tomorrow evening.

For Leeds, with Head Coach Neil Redfearn having thrown down the gauntlet to his team following a pallid display against Cardiff, the team’s make up is anyone’s guess. Redders could challenge as near as possible the same XI to redeem themselves, or he could ring the changes. Either way, a Norwich side strengthened by the absence of suspended ex-White Johnson might be expected to have too much for a Leeds side shaken by recent events and lacking both motivation and morale – so it might appear.

Just bear in mind that habit of being party-poopers, though. Against all logic, it would be no great surprise to see Leeds emerge from their gloom and turn the Canaries into so many bones and feathers tomorrow. We’ll keep our fingers crossed at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything Towers – and make an only slightly tongue-in-cheek prediction of 3-1 to Leeds.

Oh – and Steve Morison to score…. FINALLY.

 

Leeds United 22401, Cardiff City 0   –   by Rob Atkinson

Cardiff fans turn up in "blue seat" fancy dress - or are they welshing on their team?

Cardiff fans turn up in “blue seat” fancy dress – or are they welshing on their team?

Sadly, the decisive victory indicated in the title tells the story of the differing levels of support enjoyed by the two teams – not the pallid battle, deservedly edged by the visitors, on the pitch. Leeds United did little to show they merit such loyalty and patience from their unfailingly magnificent support – while Cardiff City showed enough to make them feel that their fans have been a little uncaring, sending them alone into what is normally an intimidating arena at Elland Road

In summary, naive defending and a lack of ideas and execution up front cost Leeds dear – as has too often been the case in the last few seasons. A bright spot was a home début goal for young Kal Phillips as well as his promising performance, one that gained him a generous round of applause when subbed shortly after the hour. There was, quite frankly, little else to shout about

The away goals were greeted by an eerie silence, with none present inclined to celebrate them; mute reproach for the en masse decision of the Bluebirds fans to stay home. An odd occasion altogether, one that provided far more questions than answers. 

One particularly burning question has to be about the wisdom or otherwise of getting rid of an assistant manager in SteveThompson, who had been doing well in the job and who had been pursued vigorously and recruited by Neil Redfearn as the very chap for the job and the right hand man he wanted. Thompson appears to have gone for the crime of using a disrespectful word about one of the United hierarchy, Nicola Salerno, a man who has also, apparently, since departed. So Leeds have ultimately cut off their nose to spite their face, not for the first time, isolating their manager, frustrating their long-suffering fans and generally screwing up big time. The man who will ultimately carry the can for the team’s performance, the unfortunate Redders, was not consulted and remains thwarted and disappointed. Such is the crazy and unimpressive way of things at a world-famous football club which is slowly dying for lack of care

At the moment, Leeds do not deserve the loyal and fanatical fans. They do not deserve the jewels now being polished in and around the first team after the Academy unearthed them – and they don’t deserve the professionals trying to do a professional job – while hampered at every turn by clueless amateurs

It’s difficult to say, right now, what the future holds – as this season fizzles out into yet another damp squib of mediocrity. But it’s clear enough what we need. Someone who cares for the club, someone who will do what is right for Leeds United instead of pandering to their own ego. Whether we will get that, or anything like it, has to be an area of immense doubt. 

Time is not on Leeds United’s side. The legacy of glory and global renown will not sustain the club’s profile forever. Already too long in the shadows, a renaissance is urgently needed and somewhat overdue. A couple more humdrum seasons of empty promises, crudely-practised expectation management and barefaced lies – and it will probably be too late to salvage that big club aura.

One day, scarily soon perhaps, Leeds United might be a club whose fans think, “Sod it – we’ll not bother today. We’ll boycott it and browse the aisles in B&Q instead.” It can happen – we saw that yesterday. 

If Leeds United are to be saved from becoming just another Cardiff, Huddersfield or Blackpool – things need to change, radically for the better. And soon

Before it really is too late. 

Millwall Now Second to Cardiff in ‘Too Scared for Leeds Trip’ Stakes   –   by Rob Atkinson

Too soft to go to Leeds: massed Cardiff fans safe at home

Too soft to go to Leeds: massed Cardiff fans safe and well-guarded at home

Prior to this weekend, it had been thought that the seasonal award for “Scarediest Fans in the Championship” would have gone to the stalwarts of Millwall FC, after their entire away following for the recent defeat at Elland Road turned up on a skateboard and spent the match, pale of face and quivering silently, high up in the West Stand. 

However, it has now emerged that the followers of Cardiff City have somehow contrived to out-chicken even those tragically faint-of-heart Millwall “supporters”, by bringing a grand total of zero fans to their away fixture at Leeds United. The trip to LS11 is generally accepted as the acid test by which other Championship clubs can measure their fan’s moral courage or lack thereof. Millwall achieved a rating of “lily-livered“, which was expected to see their supporters crowned “Most Frit 2014/15“. But the Cardiff score has taken them into the realm of the spineless, with a provisional rating of “Soft as an embryo jellyfish“.

A spokesman for the Bluebirds Travel Club, Dai Arrear, confirmed that there had been absolutely no appetite at all for a tough trip North. “The guys are staying in the Valleys, isn’t it,” he quavered, nervously. “They didn’t fancy it, see. So they’re stayin’ yer, boyo, where it’s a bit more peaceful, like.”

The response at Leeds was one of frank puzzlement. United’s away allocation is invariably over-subscribed and the club take a vociferous following with them, even for a midweek “bubble” match. “We thought that clubs like Millwall and Cardiff would return the compliment,” said one baffled Leeds “Barmy Army” regular. “It’s most upsetting and really a bit rude. We always plan a warm welcome for our visitors, as we invariably receive around the country ourselves. To have not one single fan representing you at an away match – it’s ridiculous. Shameful.”

Millwall fans will be relieved to have avoided the unwanted title of “Softest Cissies in the League” in what is expected to be their last season at this level for some time. But the fact remains that both of these clubs trade on what seems now to be an entirely unmerited reputation for exuberant feistiness. It is to be hoped that both will do better in their respective leagues next time around. Millwall are expected to be in League One for the 2015/16 season, and it may well be that trips to Barnsley and Sheffield United will be easier on their jumpy nerves than the Elland Road ordeal. 

Cardiff should have the chance to redeem themselves next time around and may well be encouraged by the thought that, having achieved a zero away following for this weekend, at least things can’t get any more embarrassingly shameful than that, next year.

For now, though, they will remain objects of ridicule, laughed at for being “as scared as David Camoron bottling a live debate with Ed Miliband“. Whether that rather severe judgement seems a little harsh is open to some doubt. But the once-notorious “soul crew” – long prefixed with the letter R in and around Leeds – do seem to be bang to rights on a charge of moral cowardice – and that’s not something they’d be proud to sing about in the Valleys this week.  

Tory Press To Use “Miliband’s a Leeds Fan” Smear Tactics??   –   by Rob Atkinson

Miliband - the dirtiest smear yet...

Ed Miliband’s a Leeds United fan – the dirtiest tabloid smear yet…

As the General Election draws closer, and the various tax-dodgers, fox-hunters and perverts who form the natural band of Tory supporters start to gibber quietly with barely-restrained panic, the brainless yet powerful moguls behind the country’s filthiest gutter rags are casting about for more dirty tricks to use against the Great White Hope of the Labour Party, Edward Samuel Miliband.

Great White Hope?? I hear you expostulate, outraged in your righteous anger. Isn’t that a bit – well – racist?? No, not at all – not in this context. Definitely not. Ed, you see, is a Leeds United fan – a true White – as well as the person adjudged this morning by the Financial Times as having an 82% chance of being the next Prime Minister. So May the 8th, or a few coalition negotiating days after that, could see our new leader giving the old Leeds salute on the doorstep of Number 10. It’s a thought to conjure with, right enough.

Meanwhile, the gutter press are unlikely to miss a trick in their quest to find any nasty little fact or fiction with which to smear the unflappable Ed – something they seem ever more desperately eager to do, despite the line being peddled not so long back that Miliband was a figure of fun and unelectable, so why bother. The Tories and their poodles in the Press are suddenly very much bothered and more than a little rattled and threatened – they need something salacious, scandalous or just plain unpopular to sling at the man who threatens to oust current incumbent David Camoron from his unelected tenure in Downing Street.

And what, in the dim and undemanding public mind, could be more disgusting or repellent than a chap being outed as a Leeds fan? We’re still the club they love to hate – still the name that pillocks such as Jimmy Greaves and various other has-beens can barely bring themselves to spit out with all the venom at their command. Unpopular doesn’t really begin to describe it. Leeds United, as an institution, is marginally less palatable for Joe and Jill Public than a slug sandwich.

And yet, so far, the Daily Heil and its bottom-feeding brethren at the sewer end of Fleet Street have failed to make capital of this. Instead, they’re concentrating on other, seemingly less damaging issues. Not all that damaging to Miliband, anyway. Today, it’s a peculiar non-story about the Labour leader’s love-life prior to his thirteen-year relationship with barrister Justine Thornton, his wife since 2010 and the mother of his two children Daniel and Samuel. It’s a shocker that, isn’t it? 45 year old man had relationships before he met his wife. A heinous crime.

Really, it’s just too laughable for words – and resounding testimony to just how worried the Tory press has become of late. The Daily Heil, by the way, is owned by Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere – who, interestingly, is a non-dom – a category of tax avoiders who have been much in the news this past day or so. The fact that the gloves are now coming off may not be entirely unrelated to this issue.

So it is laughable – except for the people incidentally involved in the revelations about Miliband’s pre-current relationship history. One of those people just happens to be a woman who was recently bereaved of her husband and is therefore currently going through a very dark and lonely time indeed. She’ll need all the sympathy and support she can get right now – but there she is, on the front page of Viscount Rothermere‘s toilet roll of a so-called newspaper, being shamefully exploited because Jonathan Harmsworth doesn’t want a Labour government interfering with his opportunist taxation arrangements. Pass the sick bag, do. The reference in this article to Ed Miliband and his impeccable choice of football club is intentionally light-hearted – but really, I’d rather they used that, for all the good it would do them –  instead of intruding so callously on the grief of a woman whose only “crime” is once to have been involved with the man who will probably be our next Prime Minister.

I want Ed Miliband to be the next Prime Minister. We all should really – we’re all Leeds, aren’t we, after all? And yet I’m aware that, in the demographic of Leeds United support, that ain’t necessarily so. There are plenty of you out there who, for reasons I just can’t begin to fathom (unless you really are slavish believers of tabloid tripe), intend to do all they can to vote this incompetent and corrupt shower back into the power they should never have had their hands on in the first place. Which, I feel, is a shame.

But if I can do my bit, through Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, to highlight some of the nasty-minded, shamefully-motivated tricks that are currently being played by the rich and powerful to protect their own vested interests – then this article will not have been in vain. If it results in just one or two people thinking for themselves, instead of believing what they’re being fed by self-interested and greedy owners and editors, then all of the pixels and fonts thus invested will have been worthwhile; indeed, cheap at the price. Especially if that all ends up with a tick going in what I firmly believe to be the right box on May 7th.

Ed for PM! Let’s have a Leeds fan in Number Ten, not least because it will further annoy and discomfit all of those rabid Whites-haters around the country and the world. For all the right reasons, of which there are many – and even some of the less serious and more light-hearted ones –

VOTE LABOUR THIS TIME.

Man Utd Fans – a Scientific Study From a Leeds United Perspective – by Rob Atkinson

Image

From Amphibian to Armchair

Statement:

Having previously published an article which sought to convey certain very pertinent truths to the Football community at large, I have noticed a backlash of distress and resentment from some lower forms of life who can broadly be classified as “ManU fans“. These creatures are not normally capable of communication as civilised people understand it, but since the Why Liverpool are Still the Greatest Champions article saw light of day, various undercurrents of discomfort have been perceived, as if a species lacking in any sentient capabilities has been attempting, en masse, some form of primitive self-expression. In order to understand what is being conveyed, we should perhaps seek a greater understanding of the species as it exists in the wild.

The most common breed of “Man U fan” is Scummus Australis Gloria-venator (southern scum glory-hunter), to give the full name of the genus in its most prolific form. This is a manifestation whereby parasitic colonies are to be found almost everywhere outside of the Mancunian conurbation. The more hardy rival species Urbis Rex Urbus (City, King of the City) tends to keep down the Scummus numbers in this one isolated location, but elsewhere they are prolific and they thrive particularly in the south, with unusually nasty infestations in Devon, Cornwall, the Home Counties and Milton Keynes – not to mention Singapore where their steadily growing numbers appear to correlate directly to an increase in reported cases of Dhobi Itch.

The genus is vaguely humanoid in form, even in this most lowly class, and some authorities believe it may actually be a sub-classification of Homo sapiens itself, being the result of selective in-breeding between males of the long-extinct “Newton Heath Man” and lower human females of a less discriminating nature. This theory has gained some currency after isolated and hotly disputed “demonstrations” of a reported ability in certain Man U fans to count up to twenty; to recall events from as long ago as 1993 (but in most cases no further) and, in some cases, even to grunt simple sentences.

Whether they are really capable of original thought has been the subject of hot debate, but there appears to be very little empirical evidence to support the arguments of those who say that this is indeed so. (Citations needed)  Examples have certainly been given of individuals being able to make grunting noises approximating to actual speech, and some observers have claimed to detect genuine phrases such as “Biggest in the world”, “Liverpool granny-stabbers” and, most notably of all, “We all hate Leeds scum“.

It has even been suggested in certain circles that this latter manifestation may give a hint as to the existence of a rudimentary sense of irony, but this has been dismissed as fanciful by most competent authorities, who tend towards the opinion that any noises recorded when a pack of ManU fans gathers are mainly for mutual reassurance, low-level male bonding and to attract the attention of higher species in Leeds, Liverpool and North & West London.

Another area of dispute has been the way in which evolution is working where this species is concerned and, indeed, in which direction? It’s well-known and universally accepted that nearly all species, particularly the higher primates, follow a linear evolution whereby the organism tends to advance in both body and mind over an extended period. There is, however, evidence to suggest that some strains of the ManU fan have actually been formed by a process of degradation as illustrated at the head of this article; a higher species has in effect decayed to form an inferior strain; fish has become armchair.

This runs contrary to the vast body of accepted knowledge in the anthropological sphere, but there is some hard evidence that some individuals of the ManU fan species have superior, albeit decayed, genetic material in their recent ancestry. It is not known how such a relatively swift and drastic deterioration may have taken place, though some theories postulate that the injection of a malign bacterium from the Govan area of Scotland may have corrupted some previously sound stock around the late 1980’s resulting in mutations in gene pools wherever this highly volatile and destructive bacterium was detected.

What seems certain is that, despite an almost complete lack of intelligence or conscious thought on an individual level, this species is able to communicate certain simple emotions when acting together, much as is the acknowledged case with lower creatures such as ants or even bees. The possibility of a “colony intelligence” should not lightly be dismissed and it may well be that ManU fans are able to co-operate in this manner, and that one day – maybe not for a long time – they may succeed in achieving some sort of primitive interaction, perhaps as a result of some species-wide distress or sense of grievance.  For the moment, it is true, the effect is merely that of incoherent noise in a very basic and simple pattern, repeated ad nauseam without any apparent higher motive and utterly unworthy of publication or retention. The possibility of some limited increase in coherence and content cannot, however, be dismissed out of hand.

This being the case, I have undertaken to publish, on an experimental basis, more material investigating the hierarchy that operates within Football, and the extent to which this has been perverted by the advent of the “Murdoch Syndrome” in 1992. Such material will be scrupulously researched and the findings presented in such a manner as to render them scientifically impeccable, as has ever been my intention. But, given the feedback received after the Liverpool piece – diffuse and muted though it was for lack of clarity and intellectual content – efforts will also be made to monitor any increase in activity among lower orders generally and the sub-species “ManU fan” in particular. Naturally, I intend to remain accountable at every stage of this process, so I will as ever welcome comments and constructive contributions via the usual channels, though manifestations of incoherent noise and repetitive gibberish will continue to be deleted, except insofar as they may provide useful data in the context of these investigations.

Statement ends.

Leeds Blog Statement: The Football League: an Apology   –   by Rob Atkinson

The Football League board - definitely not muppets

The Football League board – definitely not muppets

Over the past year or so, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, in common with other, similar online publications which are motivated by their sometimes emotionally-fuelled support of Leeds United AFC, may have given the impression that the Football League is somehow unfit for purpose and should not, in fact, be entrusted even with such a relatively minor responsibility as organising a piss-up in a brewery.

We further may have led readers to believe that the League is run by vicious and vindictive old men who are motivated by some long-standing grudge against Leeds United; that these old men are buffoons who exhibit symptoms not inconsistent with late-onset Alzheimer’s; moreover, that there is some Machiavellian plot within the League organisation to do Leeds down and impede their development and progress at every opportunity.

Headlines such as “Football League Seeking to Destroy Leeds“, “Time For The Senile FL Buffoons to be Put Out to Grass” and “The Football League: Why Even the Tories Have More Integrity” may have unwittingly reinforced the idea that this blog was not 100% behind the English Football authorities’ attempts to assess the suitability of Massimo Cellino to be in charge of a League Club. 

We now realise, in the light of recent events, that there was not an atom of truth in any of the above. We are happy to make clear that Football League governors are not “senile buffoons” as they have been previously and incorrectly referred to, but are, in fact, almost saintly men of impeccable wisdom and unfailing kindness, motivated only by a desire to see good practice flourish among member clubs.

We would like to take this opportunity to state for the record that Leeds United as a club have received entirely fair treatment from the Football League in the course of what was definitely not a vendetta against the club. We can further assure our many dozens of readers that any impression previously given, to the effect that Signor Cellino is some latter-day Messiah, is and was absolutely unintended and erroneous. We can confirm our unshakeable position that Cellino is a convicted fraudster, something far more heinous than certain rapists and money launderers who adorn the Football League family, and that he should be publicly pilloried and then frogmarched into the Channel to take his chances on swimming home. 

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is a reputable internet resource that knows which side its bread is buttered. We trust that our position is now both clear and unambiguous – and we look forward to continuing to bring you The Truth as we may, from time to time, see it over the coming weeks and months.

Statement ends

Dictated by our Satire & Litigation Executive, and signed off (in his temporary absence on a sabbatical at Private Eye magazine), by a handy minion.