Leeds United Fans – Why do Some Appear to Revel in Negativity? – by Rob Atkinson


Leeds, Leeds, Leeds!

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds!

I’ve read a couple of articles lately, both decently-written and making some good points – but both leaving me despairing over the massively negative attitude current among a certain section of Leeds “support”.  The tendency, in fact is not only massively negative, it’s eagerly, loudly, brassily negative.  It embraces negativity and holds it close like it never wants to let it go.  It’s the very antithesis of what support should be all about. It’s defeatism in its most depressing and demoralising form; if these articles had been written in wartime, they may very well have been taken out and shot.

The common theme of course, hammered home with relish and supportive statistics, is that We Are Not A Big Club Anymore.  The people saying this say it passionately and with conviction.  Not only do they wish to believe that Leeds aren’t a big club, the very idea that some fans may not believe this – may, in fact be holding dear the belief that United are still big – clearly upsets and offends them.  They crop up everywhere, these pallid little people, spreading their message of gloom and churning out invidious comparisons by the bucketload.  They’re becoming an effective voice wherever fans gather together to discuss matters Leeds.  In fact there’s only one real problem with their whole campaign. It’s utter, unmitigated bollocks.

The fact of the matter is, no club is bigger or smaller than its fanbase, its potential for support.  A very reliable gauge of this is freely available in these tech-savvy days we live in. It’s what is nattily called “online presence”.  Give your mouse some exercise and find out for yourself – if you don’t already know.  In cyberworld, second division, under-achieving, out-spent and unregarded Leeds United are absolutely HUGE.  This is the best barometer you could wish for of the measure of passion out there, the incredible hunger and thirst for any morsel of news, any topic of debate about the Mighty Whites of LS11. They’re out there, right now, all over the globe.  They’re clicking away at their computer terminals reading and digesting, or they’re writing in dozens of languages about Leeds past, present and future.  Our great days on the field are an increasingly distant memory, and a large proportion of the match-day support of a decade ago are marginalised and still priced out of actual engagement with the match-going experience, despite a return to relative sanity in the pricing structure.  But around the globe, in the ether, over the airwaves and most importantly inside the heads of millions of fanatics, Leeds United are top four, a phenomenon.

So, why this overweening eagerness to paint us as a small club?  Is it the tiresome need of social writers to dress themselves up as that bit different?  You know – slightly windswept and interesting, with that world-weary air of cynicism etching attractive lines into their fashionably-troubled yet intellectual brows.  It’s odd.  Any real pretensions to “cool” tend to be dissipated by the unseemly scramble to out-do each other in the negativity stakes, and they’re usually followed by eager-beaver starry-eyed acolytes who wish to attach themselves to any view that doesn’t qualify as mainstream.  Perhaps that’s the answer – are we dealing with an online football-flavoured brand of snob obscurantism?

I’m not advocating the other pole of this issue, by the way.  That worryingly Freudian habit of a certain Franchise’s fans to shout from the virtual rooftops about how they’re the biggest, the best and totally huge and wonderful throughout the world and all four dimensions of spacetime. I’ll mention no names here, but the initials are man u.  I’d be even more concerned if our collective attitude was as deluded as that, not least because – in the case of our acquaintances from over the hills – their Devon and Cornwall-based support have made of themselves a laughing-stock with such wishful thinking.  Certainly in Barcelona and Madrid, and in various other centres of realism too, not excluding Beeston.

No, all I want is for certain people to remember the basic meaning of the word “support”. It does not include the peddling of negative thinking, nor does it encompass unhelpful and misleading assertions regarding comparisons with such giants as Norwich and Dull City.  All of this is willful and groundless cant, calculated to spread misery and crush hope.

Support is about identifying yourself with the club you love, and spreading the word to those less fortunate who have not seen the light.  It’s about getting the shoulder behind the momentum of recent promising form – and being prepared to back it all the way, in the face of the withering carpings of naysayers as and when necessary.  Support is an overwhelmingly positive thing, and it needs to espouse and reflect positivity in everything it does.

Criticism is part of this, we are not simply a massive band of yes-men.  But criticism can be couched in positive terms too – this will not do for Leeds United, we said of Bates, and behold, he is gone.  The same applies to ticket prices, or transfer policy, or anything else we’ve been unhappy with from time to time.  We say “this will not do because We Are Leeds, and we demand better”.  So we can be critical – and that can be effective – but it’s still our overriding duty to be biased, and to talk the club up – because we’re supporters. Criticism that amounts to a wholesale belittling of the club relative to other clubs who may be enjoying some temporary success – that’s just ridiculous, and so counter-productive as to be a sin. Spreading alarm and despondency is not needed, not helpful, not to be embraced.  There are idiots enough in the media eager as all hell to do that, without people who are supposedly fans getting in on the act.

So please, those who peddle pessimism or deal in negativity, think again.  Think not only of whatever you’re getting out of venting these frustrations of yours, but also of your obligations towards the club you’re supposed to be supporting.  Let’s not give our enemies, among rival clubs’ support and within the media, such a cheap advantage.  If you’re a fan, then act and speak as one.  Support your club as a supporter should.  After all – We Are Leeds United, and we are the best.

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27 responses to “Leeds United Fans – Why do Some Appear to Revel in Negativity? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. All i know rob is on saturday morning , After a couple of hours bag packing in our local super market for a football team our 14 year old plays for , both me and him will be setting off to blackburn to join the 6500+ other Leeds fans to SUPPORT our team , And i can’t bloody wait rob , on and on MOT

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  2. Dave Fallon

    Well said Rob. Here in Australia Leeds are a massive club, albeit a club struggling to find its way back to the top. The success Leeds have had with Australian players over the past 15 years has driven the support Down Under. Having visited Asia recently I also know how big we are there too. Everything is in place for the Leeds brand to re-launch itself to an unimaginable size when we are back in the EPL.

    For us to protect our brand we need to think big, expect big and support our club big!!! I want to go to my grave knowing I did everything possible to promote the Leeds brand. We only get one shot in this life so make it a White bullet and shoot straight……

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  3. A club’s size is determined by more than internet clicks and away support. Surely, league standing, squad value and bank balance, (maybe even trophieS won), are more important components of the metric for determining size. You’ve honed in on the one area where Leeds still have some standing in the football community and suggested it provides sufficient grounds for the club to be classified as ‘big.’

    Maybe it does but I can’t see how fans suggesting we are a small club in terms of league standing, squad value and bank balance are dismissed as ‘pallid little people, spreading their message of gloom.’ Hardly fair.

    You can spout, ‘we are best’ as often as you like but realists see it in a very different light.

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    • Defeatists in wartime would have called themselves realists too. But when you’re battling for hearts and minds in a highly competitive arena where it’s dog eat dog, you can’t afford too many people like this.

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  4. Allan Winterburn

    Despite our distractions such as earthquakes and super typhoons devastating the local area the first thing I do every morning is log on to LUFC websites or the latest news and opinions. As Dave Fallon said above, Leeds are still very big in Asia and will no doubt remain so in the future. Another excellent article from you Rob. Leeds “fans” have always been top of the class when it comes to moaning and negativity.

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  5. Rob, I moved to New Zealand a year ago. I work as a PE Teacher and 1st xi football coach in a small town called Whakatane. When I arrived at the school not one student had heard of Leeds United. Since then every form period on a Friday we do Leeds United predictions where each kid has to guess the Leeds score for Saturdays game. They all arrive Monday after checking the scores over the weekend to tell me how they got on !! In addition, the school football team used to play in blue…..they now play in all white !!! The gospel that is Leeds United is being well and truly spread this side of the world!!! Keep up the great work Rob…..love reading your stuff !!! Marching on together !!!

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    • That’s fantastic, Jon – great comment. I’d love to get a blog from you enlarging on that, and possibly a picture of your school team in their all-white strip? It would run on here under a title like “spreading the LUFC gospel down under” or similar. How would you feel about that?

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      • Cheers for the comments folks, I’m not in work today…the dog has had a massive reaction to a bite from a New Zealand bee and looks like John Merrick !!! When I get in Monday I’ll have a route through and get a team pic out!!
        To be honest the main reason for me pushing the mighty whites so much over here is that people are force fed “elite” premier league clubs and have no idea the size and history of our great club!!! They know now !!!
        The big problem for me over here is getting up at 3am on a Sunday to catch up with games. The plus side is if we win I get to savour the result all day !!! Does wreck my day if we get beat though !!!
        I honestly do think this is our year though….just got a gut feeling we are gonna get stronger as season goes on……if we go up I will be officially on the razz for three days !!!!
        Fingers crossed for 3 more points on Saturday and I genuinely wish I was part of the 7000 strong Ewood invasion this weekend!!!
        Ps……just for good measure I called my dog Mac for obvious reasons!!!
        Marching on together !!!!

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    • nice one jon, you need to teach all over the world!

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  6. lordatlufc

    Well said Rob some people seem to have got so wrapped in the Evil Santa era that they can’t let it go it seems to burn like a fire you can’t put out, strange.
    I say let it go lads and come back into the fold because TOGETHER as the song says we can recreate a great club again.
    It’s all good mate in Humpty we trust mot.

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  7. Well said Rob!
    How depressing it is to read such negative comments from so-called “supporters”. Every day there are doubters who continue to drag down the name of the club by peddling negative cr*p.

    Look back over the past eight years and tell me when there was a more POSITIVE time to support the club we supposedly love. Yes, there was 2010, but we still had Bates and we were selling everything that moved that was saleable and mortgaging everything we could hope to take in revenue over the following 2 years.

    Look at us now – and honestly tell me you would prefer to have those times back all ye who continue to knock our great club!
    GerryCwmbran

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  8. The LUST brigade lost their nemesis Bates, and now are just firing off their rage in any missguided direction they can think of. Thankfully there are many more levek headed supporters who just get on with it. Support is about taking the good times, and taking the bad times with equal ambition.

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    • LeedsForLife

      Yes, LUST is a big part of the problem, and has been throughout. LUST seems to be about promoting LUST, not about supporting Leeds United. It seeks to influence the gullible, ne’er-do-wells and misery-guts, and thrives on making them miserable and negative rather than excited and positive. I don’t know what its real membership is, but I strongly doubt it represents very many real Leeds fans, and I know for sure it doesn’t represent all of us.

      Bates has gone. It’s time for LUST to accept it has no purpose and shut up, lie down and die. But then what would certain people do without the platform for their self-aggrandisement?

      It’s always a pleasure to read your postings, Rob. An articulate, thoughtful football blogger is something of a rarity.

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  9. Hi Rob
    went to Northern Ireland recently and according to B and B owners son, Leeds still have huge support over there – not far behind Liverpool (understandable) and m** u*****(unforgiveable)
    Agree with theme of your article but sheer size of club and good times memories, I’m in my fifties, can stand against us.
    Current run is fantastic and weve got to keep it up, but its the bannah skins that we historically slip on that are so hard to take. I was beside myself when we lost to Huddersfield – its the inability to shut up our Yorkshire “rivals” that stokes the negativity.
    Once this united team can see of these sides, then we are all going to finally come together.
    Lets hope that after beating Blackburn on saturday that the media pick up on the largest away following any English side will be carrying this weekend.
    Cheers
    Les

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    • Let’s hope we DO beat Blackburn on Saturday! Even I can temper my optimism with a dash of realism here and there…

      As for our glorious history – some see it as a millstone around our neck. I view it as a great foundation upon which to build. The phrase “proud history” has a real resonance for United fans.

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  10. Continued rants about that club over the Pennines aren’t helping those who argue for positivity though Rob.

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    • Don’t be daft Mick. Having a hated rival is one of THE most positive things that any body of support can have going for them. man u have their hated rivals and sing the name of Leeds United in that context at every single game. I can never understand the tight-lipped, disapproving attitude of some people who would seemingly have me and other bloggers sanitise our work to the point where there’s no lashing out, no having a go, no fun at all. It beats the hell out of me.

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  11. Andy lufc 65

    Well written from land down under get behind the lads we will b back mot 4 ever

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  12. I’m not tight lipped and i’m certainly not in favour of sanitising blogs, but i think people including yourself go overboard with their hatred of them. For a start them and chelsea haven’t been our rivals for ten years now and most Yorkshire clubs are only rivals for a short time anyway as they regularly go down and occasionally up. SO WHAT if other teams want to sing about us,take it as a compliment. I’m absolutely sick of hearing songs at ER about chelsea this,man u that. Remember what you wrote about careless talk the other day? Its sad but with the internet and opinions being ten a penny,things can escalate quickly. Just look at the reactions that idiot on the games gone crazy site provokes.

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  13. for me the negativity is always by peoplel who dont actually go to football and come up with excuse after excuse for not going…deriding the club its position, the cost etc is just another excuse. personally i can feel a bit of a feel good factor coming back to elland road a little like 1987 when the crowds started slowly coming back and that momentum carried us through to the 90 s and behind

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  14. Every club is ‘big’ in the eyes of its own suppporters. For me, Stenhousemuir has always been a massive club.

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  15. Pingback: “Day of Shame” for Dirty Leeds, the Damned United – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, The Universe and Everything

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