“Day of Shame” for Dirty Leeds, the Damned United – by Rob Atkinson


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Billy & Co: Hard, but fair

Certain traditions run like a golden thread through the pages of any clubs’ history, but these are strange times and events are taking a turn for the bizarre.  Look at West Ham, the so-called Academy of Football – managed by a brontosaurus of a coach in Sam Allardyce who believes that a 4-6-0 formation is the way forward.  None of this old-fashioned malarkey about scoring goals for our Sam; he’s going to get the ‘Ammers relegated his way.  What would Ron Greenwood think?

Then look at the Premier League “Fair Play” league.  Look where Man U are – right down there near the bottom as if they were just any old club.  Seriously, what is going on?  The referees must be giving fouls against them for goodness’ sake, and actually booking players in that red shirt that previously meant immunity from normal discipline.  Pinch me, I must be dreaming. What on Earth are they playing at?

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Clean Leeds? You’re ‘aving a larf, mate

But for a truly shocking spectacle, one that will blast the eyes of any football nostalgia freak and confound millions of armchair experts everywhere, just take a gander at the Fair Play league for the Championship. There, sat somewhat shamefacedly at the top, are the arch-satans themselves, the famously filthy Leeds United.  How that must have made Norman “Bites Yer Legs” Hunter choke on his cornflakes this morning.  Johnny Giles, known to many as a cultured performer with genius in his left foot, but by those who knew better as a pint-sized assassin, must have shaken his head sadly and wondered what things have come to.  This is not the Leeds United we all knew and loved, with blood on their boots and murder in their hearts.  What would Billy Bremner say?  Or, for those of an earlier vintage, Wilf Copping?

Just as the sound of leather on willow beguiles the senses of those sat around a village green watching cricket on a long summer evening; just as the sound of birds singing in a mellifluous dawn chorus brings promise of the balmy day to come – so the ghastly rattle of boot on bone and the anguished screech of yet another opposing player, nailed by a deadly-accurate but manifestly illegal lunge, would reassure the listener that they were at Elland Road with Norman or Gilesy going about their deadly business.  Some things just go with each other, like port and nuts, like Man U and arrogance.  If these traditions perish, what have we got left but some brave new world that we don’t quite understand?

Some will disagree, feeling that the appearance of Leeds United at the top of any league is long overdue and indubitably A Good Thing.  Those of a po-faced and purist turn of thought – the ones that yap away to each other unhappily if Leeds United rattle a few cages or shin-bones, or if earthier Leeds fans engage in verbal warfare with their like-minded counterparts at the Theatre of Hollow Myths – these more saintly people will welcome anything that further distances them and the Damned United from a bloodstained, strife-torn and controversial past.  Such tedious holier-than-thou types would like to see us as just another dull, routine club.  Look, they will squeak – we’re not Dirty Leeds after all.  We’re the cleanest and shiniest in the whole league.  They will nod a smug and satisfied little nod and then go on to remind you that we’re no longer a big club, either. Some people just have no feel for tradition.

There is some compensation for those of us with a more positive mind-set.  On a different page of the statistical website that shows Leeds in such a novel and incongruous fair-play position, we can see Ross McCormack sitting proudly at the top of the league’s scorers list, courtesy of his recent white-hot form in front of goal.  Now Ross is the kind of Leeds player any fan can warm to, outspoken in his regard for the club, ready to engage with the fans in social media – these are the sort of modern developments I can get along with.

If only those others in the team, those who bear the responsibility for defending United’s cherished tradition of “getting stuck in” and giving opposing forwards and playmakers a touch of gravel-rash from time to time – just to remind them they’re in a game – if only they could get their act together as Rossco has.  Maybe then we might start to sink towards our more accustomed place in the nether regions of the Fair Play league, whilst we’re rising slowly but surely towards the top of the League that really counts.

When I write of proud traditions in the context of getting stuck into the opposition, it’s not entirely tongue in cheek.  This “Dirty Leeds” reputation for dealing severely with upstart opponents really was a part of the culture of those early seventies times in particular.  You could hardly watch a sitcom without the name of the Yorkshire giants being brought into proceedings, by way of almost affectionate and decidedly respectful tribute.  We were quite the cultural icons.

In one episode of “Porridge“, for instance, the head screw Mackay claims to be “hard but fair”. “Yeah,” intones our hero Norman Stanley Fletcher, cynically – “Just like Leeds United”. And we get similar mentions elsewhere – “Rising Damp“, “Monty Python“, even.  Moments like that still give me that frisson of acknowledgement that I support a club outside the normal, humdrum, run-of-the-mill mainstream.  I support Dirty Leeds, the Damned United, and I’m proud of it.

So come on, Leeds – sort yourselves out and lets get the rest of football moaning and whinging about us again.  You owe it to those legendary hard-men of the past, all the way from Wilf Copping, via Billy, Norman, Big Jack and Gilesy, through to Vinnie and Batts. Where is that type of player now?  Maybe, after all, we should have made more of an attempt to sign Joey Barton.

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44 responses to ““Day of Shame” for Dirty Leeds, the Damned United – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Well I disagree Ron, I don’t want my team Leeds United to be known has “dirty Leeds”, or the “Dammed United”, to me that implies that Leeds United won by cheating or not getting the credit we deserved. I understand your point, but I disagree.

    I also hate it when the Leeds fans sing, “were not famous anymore”, when we are, its as though we are agreeing with the apposing fans who must have a right laugh at us, stupid or what.

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    • Thanks Niggle, for presenting me with a specimen of the kind of po-faced, sanctimonious preacher I was talking about in the article. Ugh.

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      • Just my opinion Ron, we are all entitled to One. I usually agree with your articles, but sorry not on this occasion.

        Nigel

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      • Niggle, Niggle, Niggle. How naive of you, how obtusely literal-minded. There was a bit in the article – you may not have read that far, you seem the type to go off at half-cock – where I said that I wasn’t being “entirely” tongue in cheek – which should have tipped anyone the wink that what I’d said was at least partly in jest. Lighten up a bit man.

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      • It’s a shame Rob that you resort to calling people names, if anyone dares to disagree with you? I will be the bigger man and not resort to this tack tick.

        Nigel

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      • I’ll be the petty man, Niggle, who says what he likes because he knows he has the ability to gag you. It’s good to be King.

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  2. What an utterly stupid and ridiculous thing to say. Port and nuts are an abhorrent combination!

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  3. Nigel, the chant ‘we’re not famous anymore’ I believe is in part ironic – the fact that when we play away the hosts usually have their biggest gate of the season. Sure the home fans can laugh at our recent demise but it’s not lost on the traveling Leeds fans that many of those laughing are here to watch their team playing a ‘famous’ team.

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    • “the chant ‘we’re not famous anymore’ I believe is in part ironic”

      Hi Adrian,

      Thanks for you reply, and very well put I must say, but I still disagree I don’t like the chant “we’re not famous anymore”, when to me we are famous, and always will be, also what must the Leeds team playing think of it, they could be thinking that the Leeds fans are having a go at them?

      GL

      Nigel

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  4. Remember a after dinner speech Big Jack gave and he said that in the whole of Eddie Gray’s career he never got a single card and for a Leeds player that was a f!%$ing disgrace. Dirty Leeds was a figment of the sarvan media we were no dirtier than any other side of that era when a ref wouldn’t police a game Leeds made sure the opposition couldn’t take liberties. Getting back to Eddie he was as hard as nails I watched him getting kicked up in the air never reacted just let his feet do the talking also never allowed the opposition see if they’d hurt him.

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    • Totally agree with this. And not everybody in that team was “hard” in the same way, as you say – but there were no cry-babies. And if you cut one, they all bled – and they would all rally round. That was the atmosphere and togetherness the Don fostered – which is why he is the greatest manager ever.

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  5. A 2-0 win with 8 men, plus 5 further bookings, will only do at Blackburn tomorrow me’thinks

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  6. Well said Rob. Couldn’t agree more – bring back the blood stained boots. I love the fact that we are hated. Nigel – what would you have us do when opposing fans chant ‘you’re not famous anymore’ – appear downbeat yet agreeable. We aren’t famous any more, but who really gives a f**k if we re or we aren’t – we’re Leeds United, we don’t give a f**k.

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    • “bring back the blood stained boots. I love the fact that we are hated. We aren’t famous any more, but who really gives a f**k if we re or we aren’t – we’re Leeds United, we don’t give a f**k.”

      Well Les, I must say your comments say a lot about you. Enough said.

      Nigel

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  7. niggel ,,, we sing were not famous anymore because we clearly are ,, its called irony

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  8. Whatever Next…short diagonal passing movements,followed by swift counter attacking and balls play along the ground…don’t worry Rob, it’s a lapse brought on by fatigue ie not worrying about
    the Gaffer’s next blame and shame

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  9. Rudy Austin fits the bill, with the occasional blood-curdling tackle and the cool death-ray stare.

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  10. I agree with Nigel, the ‘we’re not famous any more’ is definitely sung without irony and in agreement with opposition fans.. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit apparently.

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  11. LUFC is an Institute whether you like or not. 1st reflections from 1960s when first B/W TV was installed in our premises. MOT via BBC was the ignition for my support. What comes to “Dirty Leeds” well one for the boys ……DRs players were and will be one of a kind.

    Tare

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  12. No one hates Leeds anymore. No one gives them that much thought, to be honest. They’re been ‘avoiding’ headlines for years now whilst occupying the never regions of ‘Championship’ football. Not up. Not down. Just existing. Only to be heard of amongst the rest of the crowd during the classifieds. Not Dirty Leeds. Not any Leeds. Just… Leeds. Same as all the other failing Yorkshire outfits. English football’s back water… Yawn.

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    • John, admit it. You make that regular pilgrimage from Devon to the Theatre of Hollow Myths and sing “we all hate Leeds scum” with the rest of the glory-hunters – don’t you. Come on, ‘fess up. The truth shall make ye free.

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      • Ha ha! Couldn’t be more wrong, my good man. Not everyone who doesn’t wank over Leeds supports Manure. I’m just an average football fan from an average part of England who supports an average club in the Prem who, relatively speaking, is doing immeasurable better than… What are they called again? Oh yeah, Leeds. You can’t say I’m wrong, surely? To be honest, I’m actually slightly jealous of you anonymity. My clubs name seems to crop up everywhere. Even on sites like this, quite randomly (or not).

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      • But you’re clearly ashamed to say WHO you support? Or at least you’re being remarkably coy about it. And yet you devote your doubtless valuable (arf) time to reading and responding to a Leeds United blog? Methinks the desperate weirdo doth protest too much.

        I suspect you’re hactually a henvious ‘Ammer.

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      • Check out the rhetoric! Superb! Bitterness personified. What diference does it make as to what team I support? The sentiment remains the same. Well, I’ll not waste anymore of your clearly valuable time. As you didn’t actually try to dispute any of my opinions directly I’ll assume you begrudgingly accept them and I’ll retire back to the sanctitude of my ivory tower for a hot bath and some of the finest wines known to humanity, wearing nothing but a smug grin of satisfaction at a case well made. By the way, my bath is filled with the tears of Yorkshire football fans… 🙂

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      • Yes, you run along – duly chastened and with your tail between your legs (unpleasant image alert). “I’ll not waste anymore of your time” has long been the defeated coward’s parting shot. Tata.

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    • Why you on a Leeds site then watching over such a non entity me thinks you protest too much!

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  13. 70s hard men could play, barton can’t and it’s only him who thinks he’s hard ,but yes he would give us instant hatred if thats what people want

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  14. austin is not th e hard man, iwould say warnock has the tackle to leave a shudder

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  15. Jim Greenwood

    We are LEEDS and we always will be. We love being hated. Call us what you want, we,ll come back time and time again. Marching on Together.

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  16. Great article, with some humour…..I have a particular liking for “Man u and arrogance” and “Theatre of Hollow Myths”…….Keep up the good work!!!

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  17. David Dean

    Rob, sorry to be pedantic – Johnny Giles may have had magic in his left foot as he was a two- footed genius but a natural right footer nonetheless.

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