“We’re not famous any more” sing the fans of Leeds United FC, quite regularly and demonstrating a neat grasp of irony in a medium too often dominated by the literal and the just plain crass. The point is, of course, that we still are famous. Hugely so. Dirty Leeds. The Damned United. Super Leeds, the Mighty Whites. Nicknames equal notoriety equals fame. Our fans scattered all over the globe mean that wherever you go, you’re likely to see a visiting Leeds United shirt to provide a welcome relief from all the tedious Man U rags sported by the clueless locals. Listen to any Sky Live broadcast from the Theatre of Hollow Myths, and you’ll hear those wurzelly Devon accents mixing in with the nasal cockney whine as the Man U faithful describe how they “all ‘ate Leeds scam, innit”.
And the evidence is there in the ether too, as the web buzzes with references to our beloved Whites, ensuring that even the most facile and puerile of blogs can guarantee itself hits aplenty merely by mentioning those magic words “Leeds United”. Some have taken it to such lengths that their Leeds-related output has shoved the more mundane stuff about their own desperately anonymous favourites way into the background, which is peculiar, but hey – you have to provide your readers with what they want to read, apparently – and if possible you have to try to attract some of football’s most fanatical fans by being “controversial” – or as we might more accurately describe it: by talking bollocks.
The leading contender for “biggest culprit” in these dubious and unprofessional tactics is a poorly-constructed and ill-written blog, ostensibly concerned with minor London club West Ham United, and entitled “The Game’s Gone Crazy”, which has a specially-created page to allow it to burble on about matters which are, frankly, none of its concern. The Leeds United content of this page is out of all proportion to the interest you might expect the ‘Appy ‘Ammers to take in our beloved club, and of course it tends to paint the goings-on down at LS11 in the most negative light possible. He’s been at it again today, capitalising on the home defeat by Burnley to write another article which – naturally – consists of negativity piled upon negativity with frequent references to “Father Brian” – his clueless attempt at creating a soubriquet for our manager; God alone knows what his point is, and any disciple of Fat Sam is on thin ice when it comes to having a go at other managers.
Now, it must be said that a cursory examination of the contents of this upstart site (I’d caution you, gentle reader, not to waste too many of your valuable minutes on it) will reveal that the owner’s tactics are a hell of a lot sounder than his less-than-impressive literary ability. He manages to attract a lot of comment and abuse from outraged fans of other clubs, with Leeds obviously prominent among their number. The simple process of writing about Leeds, writing often and writing groundless rubbish, generates a lot of traffic for this site, traffic that its ‘Ammers stuff could not possibly hope to yield. So, from that point of view, the author is running a successful operation, but one which owes little to the merits of his creation – which are appallingly few. The sly Bubble-blower has fastened onto the global appeal of Leeds United to his advantage, and we should perhaps praise his acumen; it certainly far outstrips his ability to string enough sentences together for a decent piece of writing.
As you might expect, a number of his West Ham-oriented readership are a bit embarrassed about this craven behaviour – but their criticism falls on deaf ears by and large. It’s quite obvious that HF is preoccupied by getting as many reads as possible for his site and – only too well aware that his meagre talent is not going to get him far down that road – has opted instead for setting up as an irritant that will attract opprobrium and attention in equal measures.
It’s a back-handed compliment of course – the world knows that Leeds United is still big news out there, and any LUFC tag will pretty much guarantee a readership made up of Leeds fanatics (many thousands of us) and those who detest the very mention of our great club’s name (positively millions in the Devon/Cornwall hotbed of Man U support alone.) So we should perhaps be flattered by the attention – it’s better than the dreadful and depressing anonymity suffered by West Ham and other such small fry. And viewing it like that – not taking it too seriously and dismissing it as the unsubtle attempt to drag in readers that it undoubtedly is – we can smile ruefully and reflect on how much quieter a place the internet would be if Leeds United didn’t exist.
What would they all talk about then? And where would the hapless and not-terribly-good HF find his audience?? A word of advice: Man U are good for a pop, and they have lots of obligingly sensitive fans in armchairs everywhere. But beware – that’s MY target audience!