If Leeds United Don’t Go Up, Let’s Hope Norwich City Go Down – by Rob Atkinson


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Hughton – that sinking feeling

Over the last few seasons of Leeds United frustration and mediocrity, one thing at least has become clear.  The quality of the scavengers circling to take advantage of our misery has declined since the start of our fall in 2003.  A decade ago, it was the likes of Tottenham queuing up to take stars and starlets off our hands at a price cut to reflect the desperation of our position.  Latterly though, it’s been little Norwich, a club that shared a common lift-off platform with us as we ascended out of the League One murk.

Norwich started that season with a sobering 7-1 home defeat to Colchester United. They promptly sacked the clueless Bryan Gunn, nicked Colchester’s managerial prodigy Paul Lambert and never looked back.  In the reverse fixture, Norwich won at a canter, went on to win the league and, accompanied by second-placed Leeds, prepared for Championship football.

There, the paths of Leeds and Norwich diverged.  Leeds went the austerity route under not-so-cuddly chairman Ken Bates, failing to invest in the squad and selling off their crown jewels to confirm their status as perennial under-achievers since 2010.  Norwich, on the other hand, seized the second tier by its short and curlies and breezed their way to a second successive promotion, gaining the promised land and munificent riches of the Premier League, unknown to them since the time of Delia’s tired and emotional exhortation to their fans for some sort of atmosphere.  And soon, the plundering of LS11 would start.

After a reasonably comfortable passage in their first season back at top level, Norwich set about planning a consolidation of their elevated status. Strangely, to some eyes, they appeared eager to accomplish this by recruiting – over time – the League One midfield of the club that finished runners-up to them at that level in 2010, Leeds United.  The first import was Bradley Johnson in July of 2011.  This created few ripples at Elland Road, but the next two similar transfers out were bombshells of seismic effect.  First home-grown hero Johnny Howson made the trip to East Anglia, in January 2012.  Howson’s local boy credentials, his untiring efforts in midfield and  his knack of popping up with a vital goal – notably at Carlisle in a play-off semi-final and at home to Bristol Rovers when his equaliser restarted the promotion express – were warmly appreciated by the Elland Road crowd.  Howson was Leeds through and through, and his loss was keenly felt.

Then, in July it got worse still.  Robert Snodgrass was no local boy – but he was the latest in a traditional line of Scottish talent to make a name at Elland Road, following in the illustrious footsteps of Bremner, the Grays, Lorimer, Jordan, Strachan and, erm, George McCluskey.  Snoddy was a real talent – he even left us with fond memories of a League Cup defeat to Liverpool when his treatment of a hapless Reds defender was so disrespectfully contemptuous that the lad had to be taken off with twisted blood.  His goals were regular and spectacular – Snoddy was a 24-carat Leeds hero.

Norwich City fans were catching on by this time to the regular humiliations their club were visiting upon once-mighty Leeds – and they were revelling in it, weren’t they just? Now, any given transfer window brought a barrage of tweets from Canaries fans, with the hashtag LUFC and a mickey-taking 140 characters wondering who the next import from Elland Road would be.  They were making hay while the sun shone and loving it.  Little Norwich in a position to humble former European giants!  It was unprecedented, the stuff of bumpkin wet dreams.  Norwich had hit on a rich seam of transfer success as they picked over the twitching corpse of each successive failed Leeds campaign.  They had become carrion Canaries, feeders off a bigger but seemingly moribund football club.

By last season, things appeared to have reached the stage where Norwich would take a player from Leeds, not because they needed him, but just because they could.  They swooped again in the January window for the disaffected Luciano Becchio, our top scorer, fobbing us off with the ineffectual Steve Morison and an insultingly small cash adjustment. Becchio went on to sink almost without trace at Carrow Road, Morison was a disappointment at Leeds and the whole deal was a failure, of benefit to neither party.  But the Norwich fans crowed anew.

Now we have the crazy and repellent situation where, every time a promising lad emerges at Elland Road, the gallows humorists dive out of the woodwork with increasingly weak jokes about him being destined for Norwich City, or more likely Norwich City reserves. These jokes are feeble and unwelcome – but they have the additional barb of that worrying potential to become “bad taste jokes” – by turning out to be true.  How Leeds fans have wished for a turning of the tables, to get rid of this monkey on our backs.  How we would love, even more, the chance to meet Norwich on equal terms again, our own problems sorted out, and to be able to bring these irritating yokel upstarts to account.

Yesterday, Norwich City – shorn of the injured Snoddy of blessed memory – went to Manchester City, and the Canaries got well and truly stuffed without so much as a tweet of resistance.  7-0 they lost.  It was the kind of score the vidi-printer used to choke on and then confirm in capital letters rather than numbers, for fear its accuracy might otherwise be doubted.  SEVEN NIL.  Some wantonly malicious blogs might even emphasise it in bold. SEVEN NIL.  The Norwich defending would have shamed a primary school eleven, they were hopeless in midfield and utterly punchless up front.  Could there have been a Leeds fan anywhere who saw that result and didn’t experience a frisson of delighted satisfaction?  Not this Leeds fan, that’s for certain.  This Leeds fan and this blog were cock a hoop with mean-spirited glee.

The Germans have a word for it – and as usual it’s a long and clunky one. Schadenfreude. It means delighting in the suffering of others and it’s not something, gentle reader, to which I’m usually prone – you’ll be relieved to hear.  But football is the modern take on the gladiatorial arena, in which you are able to see those you despise suffer, and can relish the fact of it without losing your essential humanity.  Or so I tell myself.  The unvarnished truth is that I want to see Norwich City have a shocking season, culminating in relegation.  I’d love to see us displace them in the top flight, but at a push, meeting them again in the Championship would do – ideally with Snods and maybe Johnny Howson back in white shirts as is only right and decent.  If what goes around really does come around, maybe that might happen.  On yesterday’s evidence of their slaughter at the Etihad, it’s not impossible.

How sweet, how very sweet, that would be.

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64 responses to “If Leeds United Don’t Go Up, Let’s Hope Norwich City Go Down – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Phil Allen

    Sad , sadistic, full of hatred, I love it! Hope they get stuffed 8 – 0 next time.

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  2. Norwich City ! Where do you start with little old Norwich City? To be fair to them a few seasons ago they weren’t even on my radar,nice little club in tractor land minding their own buisness with a massive catchmant area lovely,sweet,polite fanbase only them and Ipswich competing in that part of the country having their own personnel battles,wasn’t even bothered one little bit when fatboy Johnson left ( never really rated him) then yeah they became annoying taking our players every couple of months and every Leeds fan asking “why would any Leeds player leave here and sign for them” never understood it even when they are in the premier league just never understood it,even the other night in the cup dare i say it was hoping the scum at the dark side of the pennines were going to thrash them! It’s not a healthy hatred but then they just deserve it,I have no doubt they will be relegated this season and i will laugh and laugh and laugh !!

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  3. So, no bitterness there then. You might be better off supporting your team rather than wallowing in others misfortune, then you might lose the tag of everybody’s hated team. You see, only Leeds and Ipswich hate us, but EVERYONE hates Leeds.

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  4. Brilliant, Rob. Your stuff just keeps getting better and better!

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  5. As the old song says , chelsea have abramovich norwich have a drunken bitch…I hope they go down

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  6. Bosky Alexander

    What a load of sycophantic drivel.

    If Those good Leeds boys, Johnny Howson et al, were so LUFC through and through, why did they leave? Not because they suddenly fell in love with East Anglia, I’ll be bound.

    Any time that a player leaves of his own free will, as those guys all did – just wave them good bye and wish them well – their agenda is not yours, so grow up and get a life!

    Why did Steve Morisson transfer to Leeds? – because Warnock rated him highly and said so on many occasions – Truth is, and we all saw it, He just did not fit in here, any more than poor Becchio has down in Norfolk. Only difference is that Morisson is back where he is appreciated.

    There’s an old saying; “Pride comes before a fall” – I wouldn’t be so keen to gloat over the misfortunes at Norwich. We’ve had our bad times, and been hated by most of the footballing world too – Your words and dinosaur attitude do much to perpetrate that hatred.

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  7. Anyway, when would be best to take byram off your hands? Fancy making you look silly for pittance…again. Leeds history is just that.

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  8. And why does everyone hate Leeds? Because they want a history like ours. Because they want passionate fans like ours. Because they want to be us. But they can’t. Cos their is only one LEEDS UNITED. And little Norwich will always be little Norwich. Even when they steal our talent they are still little Norwich. 7-0.

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  9. Bosky Alexander

    Ok. now we both know what you are.

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    • Indeed – no need to use “Your Majesty” though, I like to keep it informal, even with the peasants. So I edited that rather creepy bit of crawling out. Be honest though – you’re one of those amateur comedians I referred to in the article, aren’t you? I can tell by your slight air of being a bit nettled. Anyone with an affected name like “Bosky” must presumably have set himself up as a bit of a wag – and we all know how tiresome that can be. Ah well – I’m sure you’ll be back to marvel at my next pungently-satitical piece. You may go now.

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  10. Come on, Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarritch fans! Stick up for yourselves!! Wheeeeere aaaare yooouu? Let’s beee ‘aaaaaaaavinn yoooouuu!!! *Hic!!*

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  11. Personally i couldn’t give a toss about Norwich. Apart from delighting in the misery it will bring to those people who are never off the frigging telly who are involved with the club. And after another fine performance from Rudy yesterday,they can keep Howson in that backwater thank you very much.

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  12. Howson is the only one of our former player I would like to take back if Norwich go down. Would be great to get him in our midfield again.

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  13. How sweet?!! How effin sad. And MOTD did put the SEVEN in bold…who gives a f**k? Obviously if we (ever) get promoted Snoddy, Johnny, Brads & Beccs will rejoin us to show us their Premiership class!! I’d rather sign Schadenfreude to be honest

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  14. Flicky Licky

    We may well go back down and rightly so if the first 10 games reflect our true worth. But we’re £150m better off than Leeds, £800m better off than Man U or Chelsea and will attract players in the Championship who want to live and raise families in a beautiful and peaceful part of the world. Leeds Utd will always play 2nd fiddle to Rugby League who couldn’t be arsed to outnumber ours in League One such is your ‘loyalty’ in spite of having a considerably larger ground and catchment area. So what is it, better pies at Norwich? Fuck all else to do on a Saturday? Hardly. Its having a club run by people, drunken or otherwise, give a flying fuck about the club and the community it represents. The string of football whore owners you allow to run your clubs leaves you open to the pathetic ridicule that 12 year old tweeters posing as Norwich fans feel so tough lambasting you with.

    Why do they do it? Because you bite like rabid piranhas ….. you let it wind you up. Grow up, mature a little, get rid of the fuckwits that sell your players and lay off the shrewd business people that buy them cheap.

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  15. kevin mathers

    Id love to see snoddy and johnny back at elland road maybe even becchio too if wed have kept all three there is no doubt wed be in the pl by now mot

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  16. DirtyLeedsBlog

    “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

    ― André Gide

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  17. Ooh! Ooh!! Ooh!!! Ooh!!!! Ooh!!!!! Ooh!!!!!! Ouch!!!!!!!

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  18. Patrick Hulson

    I think Norwich are more likely to go down than you are to go up. No-one born after 1992 have heard of you and every one else no longer gives a fuck.

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  19. Stop focussing on other teams..I prefer positive reports about LUFC!

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    • I have to tell you “Mike”, it’ll be a cold day in Hell when I allow some no-account oik to dictate the contents of my learned blog. Kindly insert that in your briar and combust it.

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  20. I think that some of the articles on this site are very good, but I don’t hold with craving misery for other people/fans. Lets be more sportsman like and look at the performance of our own team, who are improving. Also, don’t forget that those players left during Bates’s reign at ER. That was a miserable depressing time for players and fans alike. We never knew who was leaving next, which freebie was to replace them and whether the manager would be the same in fortnights time! Leeds was not the place where any self respecting player wanted to see out their young careers! We had teams which were capable of going up with a bit of support and cash injection at the right time, but each time Bates let us down by selling our talent out at vital times. The good teams were made weaker with every move by the club. Managers despaired, fans despaired, players despaired. Bates has gone, so lets stop the hatred of other clubs!

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    • Totally disagree. You need a bit of good old-fashioned hate AND a grudge or two borne manfully here and there – it all combines to provide that edge on the atmosphere. If you had your way, we’d all be sitting around the pitch like old buffers round a village green cricket boundary, mellow and benevolent, murmuring “Good shot, Sir” and wondering if there’s honey still for tea. There’s a place for all that – but it’s not Elland Road!

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      • Jon Plows

        With that comment, you have justified why all other clubs fans hate Leeds. You also demonstrate why after every generation of my family supporting Leeds, I will not take my young lad to Elland Road and it hurts me as a fan of the fabulous football club. Catch up with the 21st century, football, sport, is for all to enjoy.
        Hatred has no place in sport, banter yes, but hatred absolutely not. We need to learn from our egg chasing friends, banter, fun, high spirits, but all done in a respectful manner.

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      • You seem to like pronouncing on various matters, with some spurious air of being an arbiter – strange. I wonder what it’s based on? Is it a reaction to being bullied at some point?

        I’m afraid you’re a symptom of the gentrification of our game that has insidiously taken place in the Murdoch era. Perhaps you’d be happier at Twickers with the Hooray Henrys you seem so anxious to emulate.

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      • No Jon, I’m not going to get into one of those pointless circular arguments where the attention-seeking party, your good self, merely falls back on “ha ha with that reply you have merely proved my point, blah blah”. It’s futile, vapid and boring, so I refuse to inflict it on those who read this blog. Your latest little self-serving gems have therefore gone un-published into the ether from which they should never have emerged and you’ve had your little minute in the spotlight. Run along now and chase some eggs.

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      • Joe Stamber

        Spot on Rob. Keep up the good work!

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  21. Forgot to say that if they do come down they will have a parachute payment that will make our budget look like Chips!

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  22. As a Leeds Utd fan, I usually enjoy your articles, but I’m not with you on this one I’m afraid. Can’t blame Norwich for plundering our club for cut price deals, if we had any small amount of money we would do the same to others, in fact, relatively speaking we have (Crewe for Murphy, Oldham for Smith) a that’s just the way of the world. Leeds fans talk about the size of our club, fan base , history, but fact is we are a well supported club with success in the past and currently have a poor team. We have no right to be in the Premier League, Norwich have earned the right, as have Palace, Stoke, Southampton and all the other ‘lesser’ clubs that currently enjoy the trappings of the EPL. Congratulations and good luck to each of them.
    No wonder other supporters hate us, we have an unfounded superiority complex, showing little respect to other fans such as Yeovil, Norwich etc when what we should be doing is learning from these clubs.
    I’m going to focus my energy on supporting my club, not hoping for other clubs to fail (Man Utd & Chelsea aside of course)

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    • Well I hope you have enough energy to spare for your sanitised form of support (leaving aside Man U and Chelsea of course, for whom you think it’s acceptable to long for their demise on the grounds that you wish it). Or am I exaggerating the extent of your egocentricity? It’s always interesting to read the views of those who cry shame at my prejudices whilst wishing to advance the case for their own.

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  23. That’sa what I love about Leeds fans, always the victim. You are no longer a big club and you deserve what you get, but for the love of god stop moaning about it.

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    • Ironic that you take the trouble to moan on in print about what you perceive as moaning. Well, it could be irony, or you could more likely be thick.

      PS – are you Italian?

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    • sniffersshorts

      WTF are you saying … prey tell me if you follow whores witch that you are a big club, wheres your history …. shall we compare a list of achievement we are GIANTS MOT one being big Norman first players player of the year for starters…. think we stuffed Southampton 7-0 nil once …. frankly played them off the pitch bit like City and thee …. oh how we laughed.

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  24. Ha ha, honestly norwich city are insignificant. They were a minor irritation in the early 90s with that Goss chap scoring his wonder goals against us but thats it. They can gloat as much as they want about plundering our players but a fat lot of good it’s doing them. Next season it’ll be brown,pugh and norris heading down the “yellow prick road”.I would take pleasure in stephen fry and delia smith getting pissed off though.

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  25. Hey, Rob. Any chance you might just, conceivably, be wrong for once? There’s an old saying in football and, over more years than I care to remember, I’ve noticed, time after time, after time, how very true it is. “Take one game at a time. Keep your gob shut. Let your football do the talking. And the results will come”. I paraphrase but you’ll get my drift.

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    • Wrong? Ooh no, I don’t think so. That’s never happened yet, so it’s not likely to happen while I’m in the business of enlightening the football community. Wrong about what, anyway? You really should try to be specific but you were probably over-eager. Poor effort though. You must try to do better.

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      • snowjoke

        Thing is, Rob, like it or not, Norwich are up there and we’re not. Do I envy them? Yes, I really do. But do I begrudge (let alone hate) them for it? That’s different and no – to be honest, I don’t. They’re in the Prem on merit, as a team and a club. Okay, they’ve cherry-picked some of our best talent. Disgracefcul! But didn’t we do the same to Pompey, Crewe and Oldham? Presumably not disgraceful?

        One of the few pleasures of being a Leeds fan during the last ten years has been watching us bring down a successaion of arrogant, Big-Time Charlies in cup-ties at Elland Road. But seeing almost any other Championship side do the same to a top-tier club leaves me just as chuffed. It’s that old David-and-Goliath thing and simply not being able to enjoy football as a neutral. You either geddit or you don’t.

        But returning to that 7 – 0 scoreline, didn’t Man. City do pretty much the same to us, last season (4 – 0 and we hardly got a kick) as theydid to Norwich last Sunday? So what’s to crow or gloat about, anyway?

        Sorry about the late submission.

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      • sniffersshorts

        EH What planet are you on, Citys Millions and our tuppence team. Norwich have spent but they are complete rubbish, other than a few, and our old boys are just not up to the prem other than Snoddy…. the Becchio farce hasnt worked for them as he aint prem class …. they will go down and we will gloat bloody paracites …. as for Portsmouth they had to unload we did not nessarily have to ….

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  26. YorkshireWhite72

    LMAO! Loved it, with a size seven smile over me face, Disagree about ‘with Snods and maybe Johnny Howson back in white shirts’ I don’t want our League 1 midfield back. As for Bechio, used to sing his name every week, now we should sing, “Luciano Bechio, Where the f*** did he go?”

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  27. Marc Baulk

    Fantastic blog. An engaging and well written piece that hits the nail on the head harder and harder with each syllable.

    Like

  28. DewsburyWhite

    Loved your article. Although I think you forgot to mention the score on Saturday. I’ll remind you it was SEVEN NIL. (Chuckles).

    Always nice to see what a stuffed Canary looks like. Hope we see a few more this season

    MOT!

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  29. Win for Norwich yesterday. How did Leeds get on? (I don’t follow the lower leagues)

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    • Bless you Hollie – you’ve had to wait a while to use that little gem, haven’t you. So I take it you’ve only followed Naaaaaaaaaarritch since they rose above their natural level? That makes you a bit of a fair weather fan I’m afraid. I hope that now you’ve started, you’ll stick by them in the lower leagues after this season.

      Like

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