Post-Leeds United Cup Final Syndrome is Reality for Huddersfield and Millwall – by Rob Atkinson


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Huddersfield’s Ground, pictured on a non-Leeds United match day

Both Huddersfield Town and Millwall have recently enjoyed league victories over the Mighty Leeds United – classic David and Goliath tales of tiny, grubby backwoods clubs enjoying their moment in the limelight as they contrive to overcome a world-famous footballing superpower.  The fallout was similar in both cases – joy unconfined, celebration and jubilation in excelsis, dancing and cavorting in the cobbled streets and who knows what other forms of primitive festivity.  It’s anticipated that there will be a sharp spike in the birthrate for both of these isolated communities nine months hence – though sadly the limited gene pool means it’s unlikely we’ll see any such augmentation of the average IQ figure.

All of this is quite understandable, given the chip on the collective shoulders of each respective band of David fans, where this particular Goliath is concerned.  It’s probably more acute in Huddersfield, whose fans have had to live their lives in the long shadow of Big Brother from Elland Road on the one side, and of the Pennines on the other, their only protection from the barbaric hordes of Lancashire.  But Millwall nurse their own grudge against Leeds, who they feel somehow outshine their own carefully-nurtured reputation for mob-handed naughtiness.  This is a misconception – the old Leeds wild boy tendency are mostly harmless elderly chaps these days, venting their spleen – if at all – from a computer keyboard.  Millwall fans seem convinced however that something nasty awaits them in LS11 – at any rate, they rarely bring more than a few dozen along to our annual meetings at Elland Road these days, and they spend their time sitting quietly in a safe area of the ground, shuffling their feet and hoping not to be noticed.

But whatever motivates these quaint if rustic people to nurse such savage hatred in their bosoms – and really, who could ever tell what goes on inside those misshapen heads? – there is certainly a galvanising effect on the teams they support.  Those guys can be relied upon to play well above their usual form and give even superior Leeds sides a terrible time.  The motivational aspect is undeniable and, sadly, it costs an unwary United points that should be there for the taking.  This happens time and time again – every time a Leeds fixture is in the offing, the drums start to beat, the blood stirs and an atavistic glitter is to be seen in the eyes of otherwise placid and useless players.  We Leeds fans refer to it ruefully as “Cup Final Syndrome” – much to the annoyance of the unwashed hordes in opposition camps.   The Huddersfield and Millwall lot would have you believe that Leeds is “just another game”.  But this is demonstrably not so.

Quite apart from the annoying regularity with which these dingy little clubs raise their performance levels against Leeds, another noticeable factor is the slump in performance immediately afterwards.  It’s as if the players, egged on by their desperate fans, have given every last drop of blood, sweat and tears and then gone on to draw on hidden reserves to complete the job, leaving them shattered and drained.  What inevitably happens next time out is that a team of pale wraiths take the field, wave and smile wanly at the applause due to them for beating Leeds, and then capitulate to whoever they are playing, simply too knackered from post Cup Final Syndrome to offer any resistance. Don’t take my word for it.  Check out the facts.

Since Millwall beat Leeds 2-0 on 28 September, they have played six games.  The first two after Leeds were away at Birmingham where they lost 0-4 and then away to Bournemouth, who tonked them 5-2.  Three draws followed and then the most recent defeat was at Bolton by 3-1. They’ve mustered 3 points out of the 18 available, registered not one further win and generally looked like exhausted relegation fodder.  Huddersfield have hardly fared better.  They’ve played only two games since beating Leeds, losing them both – away to Wigan by 2-1 and at home to Birmingham (1-3).  It’s especially notable that both teams have been easily beaten by a Birmingham side made to look like Sunday morning park footballers as Leeds murdered them 4-0.  Funny old game, isn’t it?

The truth of the matter is that this “Cup Final Syndrome” is a real factor, one that can distort results and affect the whole season.  As I’ve previously written, Leeds suffer more than most from the phenomenon – not that this is any reason for sympathy.  It’s something Leeds have to sort out and overcome, if they are to achieve anything in the foreseeable future.  It’s just the loud and indignant denials you get – from the clubs who experience Cup Final Syndrome – that amaze me.  They’re prepared to swear blind that there’s no such factor at play, and yet the figures speak for themselves.

The managers of those clubs concerned might see things in a different light; they might argue that if their team can reach such heights and expend such effort when they play Leeds, then they could and should do it all the time.  But that’s the point – they can’t. They almost literally do give that hackneyed 110% against Leeds.  It is their cup final. They try and they try – and they come off the field, maybe victorious, but shattered and run down, their batteries as flat as the top of Wayne Rooney’s head.  They’ve nothing left to give, with predictable consequences next time out as they get royally stuffed.  It’s all there, in those results.

Maybe the Millwall and Huddersfield fans would rather have a more consistent level of performance – and in that case, maybe they’d tolerate a less superhuman level of effort against the arch-enemy Leeds United.  But do you know, I somehow doubt it?  I have this sneaking suspicion that they’d rather continue to settle, grumpily maybe, but settle nonetheless, for mediocrity and runs of defeats for most of the season – just as long as they can have those wins against Mighty Leeds.  That, for them, is what it’s all about.  It’s not as if they’re going to go up anyway – so they need those Cup Final victories, they’re a validation of sorts.  It’s a defining characteristic of the type of club they are, with the type of fans they have.

So, you small-time, small club, small-minded envious pariahs – next time you hear Leeds United fans singing to you about “your Cup Final”, and feel moved to utter an offended bleat of protest – just bite your lips, and pause a second or two.  Think on.  You might just realise that what we’re singing to you is almost literally true.

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62 responses to “Post-Leeds United Cup Final Syndrome is Reality for Huddersfield and Millwall – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I’ve said this for years, though not so eloquently, brought a smile to my face this Monday morning.

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  2. DirtyLeedsBlog

    It happened last season. Town sneaked a late win at Elland Road and then danced around like they’d won the league, when in actual fact they they had just about retained their elevated status for another season.

    As it turned out they didn’t win too many (if any) of their remaining games and were saved on the final day by a Crystal Palace penalty!

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    • Town were safe no matter what with a draw and it wasn’t a penalty for palace it was a header. Get the facts before you talk a load of rubbish. We won some big games after beating you. You lot need to get over yourselves. 3-2 in your cup final, you’re the ones who come out of nowhere when Huddersfield are in town. Our attendance against you wasn’t much bigger than usual

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      • Based on the Udders’ average attendance, I must have rattled pretty much ALL their regular fans with this article. You lot are even touchier than the Miwwwaww scum!!

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      • Every game in this league is a big game to you when your punching above your weight. You are minnows with a crap support and even think that you are somehow better than Bradford. They have reached the premier league in the past, and you have about as much chance of ever reaching there as man has reaching Titan. We take fans everywhere we go and here is a few statistics for you. We were winning titles in 74 in the modern era whilst you were scraping in 2,522 against Wrexham in division three. We have never had gates of 1,680 and never spent a season with gates of an average of 2500. So pray tell. How comes in 1971 your gates doubled from 21,000 against Man City to over 43,000 against us, then somehow 30,000 fans disappeared by the time Wolves played you in front of 13,000 all in the space of 2 weeks? It was a working mans game back then and cheap to get in. YOUR CUP FINAL.

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  3. Raymond Hellier

    Everytime I read your comments they make me laugh more and more how can you call Huddersfield a small club they have won the league 3 times and the cup maybe you need to reserch your football knowledge abit more.

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    • Yep, I can just hear you laughing – can you post some video of these league titles, just to emphasise your point? Oops, sorry – it was a few decades before video, wasn’t it…

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      • You still need a telly to play it on Rob and even that wasn’t invented while 1926 on their third and final title win. Can you imagine watching their season reviews in grainy black and white photo’s stuttering everywhere with that dramatic piano being played and the captions popping up to explain that George Brown had scored? They even managed to get a massive gate of 7, 285 against Liverpool on 25/11/1925. That is why I do not take title winners that far back too seriously. All you needed were your own boots, the ability to clog and not be riddled in consumption and smoke less than 50 a day and last 90 minutes.

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      • Response of the year right there – class. Thank you.

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      • Can you post dvds of the last time we won silverware? When are you going to get it in to that thick skull of yours that we aren’t a big club any more.

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      • Well, yes I could – do you even have a point there? You’re either a fake pretending to be Leeds – I get a lot of those – or the kind of “fan” we need like we need another Bates. A pretty shameful waste of DNA, either way.

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  4. Yes Rob, but Hudders proudly wear three stars on their badge presumably to remind us all that they won the First Division three times back in the 1920’s and since then……………………………?
    Their chairman has a fixation with being better that Leeds which will probably bankrupt him. Meanwhile I have somehow gained a confidence that we will get automatic promotion this season!

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  5. Nigel Cohen

    What a great article Rob, you hit the nail on the head. Brilliant!

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  6. Get off your high horse pal what a bitter, narrow minded article. Leeds were shocking against Huddersfield and deserved to lose and I know that as I was there. Face it all Leeds are is an average championship team held together by the fact McCormack can score a few.

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    • So where would the dog botherers be without Vaugn. They’ll sell him as soon as they can just like Rhodes. The problem they have is that no one actually wants to play for them. They raise their game against LUFC because they know that there will always be a number of scouts looking at Leeds players and they hope that they too will be noticed so they can get away from that god awful place called Huddersfield.

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    • McFourmack

      And Huddersfield are just a below average championship team just reaching out of relegation because James Vaughan has scored a few

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  7. Don’t give up the day job you’d never make a journalist

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  8. Brilliant article !!

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  9. I am a Town season-ticket holder and nobody can deny that the rivalry is far more impoirtant to us. You call it our cup final, but it doesn’t offend me in any way because it is understandble. When you play Manchester United, it is your cup final. They are operating on an entirely different level to you and have been for some time, but that game is still massively important to you.
    We love beating you (we are not the only ones), and you claim to not care about us, but why are you then writing about my tiny club two weeks after the game has finished.
    Remember that those three stars on our shirt represent three top flight titles (the same number as you) and we also have won the FA Cup as many times as you. So for this tiny waste of space club I support, versus the ‘Goliath’ of Leeds, we must be punching way above our weight. See you at the next cup final – we might finish off your feint chance of the Play-Offs, just like last year.

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    • I think you mean you must once have punched above your weight – back in the days when Bakelite was still a futuristic dream and even Newcastle won the League. Not really much since – which is why (like Millwall) you define success as beating Dirty Leeds. Man U hate us every bit as much as we hate them, listen to them singing in that distinctive cockney whine “We all hate Leeds scam” – and they’ve been bitter ever since we won the last real Title in 92, denying them that place in history.

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  10. David Smith

    As always another great read on a rain soaked Monday morning – I must confess, I had to look up the meaning of the word atavistic though. I shall try and work it into conversations today!

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  11. Counte Of Monte Fisto

    Rob, add to that list the worst of them all ‘Baarnsalay’ a club so mired in mediocrity its unbelievable. One game at home and they become Real Madrid then they become well ‘baarnsalay’ again.

    That said its a very real fact we have to deal with, its one of the reasons why a S Crainey looks pish here leaves then plays in the premier league. Playing for Leeds must be an intense thing, the away support is majestic, you are hated by the opposition (everyone) & have to be at your best in every game.

    To be fair I can sort of understand the hatred that comes to us from people of my age lets say the 35-45 year olds. Brought up on Leeds local domination, the media obession with us & lets face it some rather naughty behaviour from us in the 80’s & early 90’s.

    What makes me laugh though are the slack jawed 18-25 year olds, all they have ever known is a weak, crap Leeds. So without using the word SHEEP tell me why they sing we all hate Leeds scum & profess to hate us so much?

    The remedy to this is for the board to back Brian in Jan & go for promotion. If we went up it wouldn’t stop this but we woukld put some distance betweeen ourselves & these yokels.

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  12. Steve - Brighouse

    Fantastic article Rob, living in the midst of a load of small dog followers completely agree – they’re still celebrating even though they’ve lost both games since. As for the Shane’s “don’t give up the day job quote” – very touchy lad!

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  13. I was looking at Huddersfield’s history from 1956 onwards and they have only had 2 top flight seasons during the early 70’s and have been pretty much crap ever since. Just to point out the cup final mentality of Huddersfield. They drew in a crowd of 21,922 against Man City on April 10th 1971, then on the 12th of April they got 43,011 against Leeds. Their next home game against Wolves on the 24th of April attracted 13.580. Your only here to watch the Leeds definitely rings true with Huddersfield and it has done for over 40 years.

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  14. Raymond Hellier

    Seems to me that this artical could have been written by a man united about leeds united as I seem to remember you treat them as a cup final and they don’t even recognise you.

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    • So you’d like to think, Raymond – and yet they were singing about hating us (as usual) yesterday against Arsenal. As with so many injured, knee-jerk replies – yours is bollocks.

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  15. I worked in huddersfield for a lot of years and can honestly say you’re right rob , it is their cup final , it is the first fixture they look for when they come out in august and as you say they know they won’t go up so they measure their season on firstly how many points they can take from Leeds and secondly by staying up….

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  16. A very clever and wickedly funny piece, Rob. Perfect end to a perfect weekend. And an excellent antidote to a thoroughly grim northern morning. There is, though, a very real problem, here, And it’s not just the local derbies.

    I was at Turf Moor the last time we played there under Grayson and it really struck me how extraordinarily “up for it” a pretty mediocre Burnley lot seemed to be. Enough, for sure, to unexpectedly control the game and look completely comfortable taking a one-goal lead into the last quarter. Exactly the scenario you describe, with another three of “our” points being trousered by inferior opposition.

    On that occasion, they did suddenly ran out of puff and focus while we surged and snatched a win with two late goals from the great Robert Snodgrass. Nevertheless, the unlikely, implacable challenge presented by that very ordinary Burnley side has stayed with me from that day to this. Because, flattering though it may be for these minnows to be tranformed into sharks by the mere sight of our team bus, the result, all too often, does seem to be points down the drain. Not to mention points subsequently gifted to potential rivals who don’t suffer the same handicap – and may even benefit by taking easy points from teams exhausted by beyond-the-call-of-duty exertions against us. Little wonder many of us are conspiracy theorists

    Luckily, BMD seems a very throrough Manager and I’m sure he’ll already have identified this particular problem as a dimension of our away-form frailty and be taking action to fix it. Sure hope so. Otherwise we appear doomed.

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  17. Davey-Boy Dave

    If recent history dictates, Oakwell could be another case to come….

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  18. I really hope the point of this article was just to get a rise out of a few people.

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  19. Bob Heckmondwike

    I enjoyed the article, Rob. Well written and a really good reflection of how Leeds fans view our club, fans and this fixture in particular. Your regular readers might like to sample an alternative view from the Town angle. Hope they enjoy it.

    http://www.htfc-world.com/reports/Leeds6/leeds261013ios.html

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  20. You lost to Huddersfield becasue you were crap on the day, I agree with you though that the game means more to Huddersfield. Think it depends what age you are, no United fan under 30 that I know would ever think of Leeds as their main rival, Liverpool and City far far more so. Your home support went up nearly 10k when we played you after you had played Yeovil a few years ago. Will admit you away support is class!! If i supported Leeds am sure I would feel the same as you, something to cling on to i guess.

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    • It’s good to see you thinking that way as it appears you may well need something to cling onto yourself in the next few years – if you stick with the Pride of Devon, of course. It’s an option for the kind of fans your club has simply to jump ship and support whoever’s winning.

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      • I am a Town fan mate just surrounded by United fans living in the north west. Leeds picked up gloryhunters back in the day too though hence why your away support is so good all over. Think its major lack of investment rather than teams raising their game, more so now anyway now that the Leeds novelty factor has worn off. You will be back one day don’t worry!

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  21. Good article, containing a lot of truth, though it would have had more impact if we had actually beaten Huddersfield. I remember BBC-TV doing a vox-pop outside the ground when we played them a couple of years back and an earnest, nay indignant, Hudders fan was outlining why he hated Leeds. “They have this chant ‘We are the champions, Champions of Europe’, but they’re not, are they? And they never have been.” To me it summed up a huge difference between our fans and those of the clubs who imagine they are our rivals — the brilliant, often dark and self-deprecating humour. Yes, Barnsley could be another banana skin – let’s hope BMcD can do what W*rnock and Grayson abjectly failed to do. And is it too much to hope we might beat Derby again one day? Preferably 3 May to clinch a play-off spot.

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  22. I have a few colleagues who are town fans., this is a glimpse at their mentality. Question “beat Leeds and get relegated or loose to Leeds and stay up”?

    Answer, you guessed it “beat Leeds and go down” Nuff said.

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  23. Brilliant as always Rob. Huddersfield, Just a small town in Leeds

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  24. What a load of one sided bitter dross. No wonder the article has a massive 2 stars.

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  25. Call me pessimistic rob but apart from doing a good job of winding udders up admit it you’ve been itching to get Atavistic in a post !

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    • It’s a fair cop. That word “atavistic” was probably the ultimate desideratum for this humble blog, and now I shall be forced to explore new landscapes, in a literary context naturally.

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  26. dansdad1919

    Good read as always Rob, now here’s a bit of truth for you. 20 or so years ago at a football training session at RAF Leeming I actually heard a boro fan say and I Quote.

    “I don’t give a F###K if we go down so long as we F#####G beat Leeds.

    Who was this Smog Monster?? Not an uneducated amphibian creeping from the chemical slime of the boro! No he was in fact an engineering officer of Her Majesties Royal Air Force.

    Looking forward to stuffing them soon.
    MOT

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  27. “It’s not as if they’re going to go up anyway” – it’s not like Leeds will be doing either though.To be completely honest the whole buzz over the Leeds game has disappeared recently hence why the attendance for our ‘cup final’ has gone from 22,000 in League One to 18,000 in the Championship.

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  28. If this is an attempt at humour, congratulations. My upper lip quivered in how deluded you Leeds fans seem to be…. blah, blah, blah (next 79 pages deleted for reasons of extreme tedium)

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  29. O Rob. I seriously love you and want to have your babies. How great thou art. Love and drooly kisses from your No. 1 fan

    Paul

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  30. Bob Heckmondwike

    In the run up to our next Cup Final at Elland Rd, it was interesting to see how you lot have performed since beating Doncaster(a).

    Curiously, since the 14th December, you have gone 8 games without a win.

    Does this mean that Doncaster is now your Cup Final?

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    • No, it means that your Leeds United obsession means you can’t stay off this board even if it means admitting we ARE your Cup Final – which becomes more painfully obvious with each meeting.

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  31. Bob Heckmondwike

    Ok, Rob – it was just the striking similarity of one team putting in such a big effort to win against a local rival that they then suffer a succession of poor results.

    I think this was the criterion you used to define a club’s Cup Final. I can remember a time when Leeds would remember a Cup Final as the culmination of a long winning run in a Cup competition.

    Good luck with the takeover!

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    • You’re comparing a pattern identified by myself and others whereby a number of teams seem to regard us as a Cup Final, try like hell, get a result and then collapse – with one isolated bad run which happened to follow a win at Doncaster. It’s not big and it’s not clever – but if it makes you happy, then I wish you joy of it. I understand that all of this is down to that small club chip on your shoulder. You’ll probably win in your Cup Final this weekend – be content with that. But bear in mind that we’re at a low ebb in our history and that a farce is being payed out at the club. And yet only by beating us at Elland Road will you edge ahead of us in the league. But as that is how you define success these days – then congratulations in advance.

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