Don’t Tar Leeds United Fans With the Man U Gloryhunters Brush – by Rob Atkinson


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Oh, dear…

A lot of Man U fans have to face quite a bit of stick for being southern-based gloryhunters who’ve hardly ever visited the Theatre of Hollow Myths, because – well, because they’re southern-based gloryhunters who’ve hardly ever visited the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  Fair enough then, really – for it does seem from all available evidence that these sorry types make up a significant portion of the fallen champions’ “support”.   Tune into any biggish Man U home game and, during Sky’s feverishly-excited build-up, you’ll probably see some home fans being interviewed outside the ground, making predictions for the match ranging between anything from a 4-0 win to a 7-0 win.  It’s the accents that strike you.  A thick Ulster brogue here, a lugubrious Brummie yow-yow there.  Norfolk, Suffolk, take your pick of the Home Counties, most will be represented.  North-easterners, Devonians, the distinctive sound of Cornwall.

gloryhunterShamefully, there will also be the familiar tones of Yorkshire here and there, South Yorkshire mainly, but you do get the hideous experience of warm, West Yorkshire dialect emerging from a smug face surmounting one of those awful red shirts.  It’s shudderingly disgusting. You get the obvious cockneys – and last (and distinctly least) you’ll get a smattering of Lancastrians.  And really very, very few actual Mancunians, who are normally identifiable by their distinctive speech defects – “lickle” for “little” – hosspickle, for hospital, keckle for kettle, and so on.  For anyone seeking justification for his or her own instinctive antipathy towards Man U, it’s a rich vein of compulsive, repulsive viewing – and as a sort of straw poll, it shows that the oft-quoted charge of Man U fans being largely out-of-town gloryhunters has plenty of merit.

The important thing here is not simply where all these fans come from, but wherein lies their motivation for following the team they follow.  The fact is that Man U are not the only club with a large proportion of fans from outside of their own city limits.  My own Leeds United also have a large and faithful body of support from all over the country, indeed, all over the world.  This leads many of a Man U bent to do their research and emerge, flushed and excited, with what they feel is a cast-iron rebuttal of the “Man U gloryhunter” stereotype, arguing that it’s a phenomenon common to many higher-profile clubs.  On the face of it, this is true.  But as regards the question of proportion, it’s undeniable that Man U have a greater degree of support from outside of its own immediate area than almost any other club you could name.  And, in any event, the “where” of it is really just a basic fact.  The interesting question is the “why” of it.  What motivates these eager aliens to travel so far to follow their club – or at least to lash out so much on a Sky subscription and a comfy armchair?  And this is where the “gloryhunting” factor can be seen in full play.  Moreover, the “glory” that’s being hunted is not just a matter of trophies and medals – a lot of it has to do with the “Love us because of Munich” line so relentlessly pushed by the Man U club itself over the past 55 years.

Other clubs have been successful in this period, during which the game has reached saturation point in the media, compared with the pre-Munich era when interest was confined largely to the cloth-capped working classes and the back page of the daily newspapers.  But no other club was adopted by the media to the extent of Man U after Munich, a relationship that started out with shock and compassion but has evolved and warped over the years so that – stronger today than ever – it is now more about the protection and exploitation of markets than it is about the mystique that allegedly surrounds the legacy of Munich.  Whatever the rights and wrongs about the furore that has ALWAYS surrounded the Munich disaster – leading many to believe that it was unique and the worst sporting disaster ever – there can be little doubt that many Man U supporters with no remote connection to the Manchester area can trace back the origins of their support to Munich, either directly or through a parent.

The out-of-town support of other clubs, most particularly Leeds United, have not had anything like the cushy ride accorded to the Man U gloryhunters. Whereas those of a red persuasion have read reams of copy glorifying their chosen club and giving them what might truthfully be described as an overwhelmingly positive press, the Leeds fans have had the opposite experience going back fifty years.  Hating Leeds in the press has been a national pastime for decades now, and it is against this background – and without the long periods of sustained success achieved, by hook or by crook, over at Man U – that Leeds fans of all backgrounds, from whatever point on the globe, have somehow sustained the fanatical and feverishly proud nature of their support.

No, there is no gloryhunting for those who make the pilgrimage to Elland Road.  A few peaks of success in fifty years, besides which all has been humdrum with spells of blackest despair as their beloved club plumbed the depths of the third tier, with long spells away from the top-flight limelight. For a Man U fan – feeling themselves slighted by accusations of gloryhunting, coming as they do from Torquay – to level a counter charge of gloryhunting at a Leeds fan from Norway or from East Anglia, is a shot in the dark, a wildly inaccurate attempt at a counterpunch which serves only to emphasise their own desperate culpability.  The Man U fan who has supported them from an armchair in Milton Keynes since 1993 – and there are many such – is bang to rights as a gloryhunter.  A “plastic”, as we say in the argot of football vitriol.  They may harp on about the Busby Babes, about the thirteen plastic titles on the sideboard since Uncle Rupert bought the game and gift-wrapped it for them – but their motives are transparently obvious and their local clubs look at them with contempt as traitors to the region.

It takes a certain sort of character to follow such a path, for such reasons. Some will be motivated by the need to be associated with perceived size and success, for whatever is lacking in their own lives that has left them with such a need.  Dr. Freud, it’s over to you on that one.  Some are best summed-up by a lady with a penetrating voice who rang in angrily to BBC 606 after a rare Man U defeat at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  “That’s not what I buy my season-ticket and travel up from London for!” she screeched in indignant tones of equine distress. “Any more of that and I might as well follow Spurs.”  She’s not alone in her rage and dissatisfaction, and one can only hope on her behalf that wherever she ended up, the prawn sandwiches were adequate.

It takes a certain sort of character too, to support Leeds, to tread that difficult path in the face of virtually universal hatred with very little in the way of tangible reward, team success – anything that might be described as glory.  For those who follow this rocky path from afar – the stalwart supporters from Scandinavia, the Leeds nutters from Norfolk, from Ireland, from pretty well everywhere you can stick a pin into the map of the UK – and much further afield – that takes a character rich in dedication and the ability to keep going in adversity.  There isn’t one Leeds fan I know who isn’t proud to be Leeds, and that pride, that passion, has survived some incredibly frustrating times when the future looked bleak – even at one point, non-existent.  And there are many Man U fans of pride and passion too – misguided souls of course, but still – proud.  Respect to them, but there are many, many who are more like that angry caller to 606, who throw a tantrum every time the club has a blip, who threaten to desert the ship with other, similarly morally bankrupt rats, before that ship shows even a sign of foundering.  Their current situation may well turn into more than a blip; the ship may not be buoyed up by quite as much media support and official wariness as in Ferguson’s reign – and it will be interesting to see how many fall by the wayside if Man U do fall away.

The comparison in the two basic characters of support highlights the bizarre ridiculousness of Man U fans throwing the “gloryhunter” charge back in the faces of Leeds fans for whom the glory lies in following their team through thin and thinner, and in simply being proud to be Leeds.  Gloryhunting is not primarily about geography, it’s about motivation too, and perhaps most of all, it’s about your own innate character and what you expect of yourself. If Leeds United won promotion this year, the “Double” next year and then the “Treble” the year after, I’d have a hell of a lot more to crow about – but I couldn’t be more proud to be Leeds than I am right now.  And I’m a local boy – and yet I know, with utter certainty, that those lads and lasses from further afield feel as I do, that the hairs on their necks stand up when they see the ground or hear the songs – and most of them have never seen us win a thing, but they’ll always be there and always proud.

The Man U gloryhunters, on the other hand, have seen them win a lot – that’s why they’re there.  But what will happen if the glory dries up, as well it might?  Where will the Man U gloryhunters be then?  They could easily be at Stamford Bridge or White Hart Lane, that’s where – or at least be wearing a different replica shirt whilst ensconced in their Home Counties armchairs. That’s the the character of those who attach themselves to the most convenient example of success, and it’s also the difference between them – the gloryhunting, plastic legion of the damned – and the proud and defiant Marching On Together brigade of Leeds United.

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83 responses to “Don’t Tar Leeds United Fans With the Man U Gloryhunters Brush – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Eat A Dick

    Nobody cares, enjoy struggling in the Championship with our cast offs

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  2. Well said rob.i wonder how many of there fans will continue to fill their ground,if they dont qualify for the champions league next year.me personally,i couldnt be happier.let the twats go bust.happy days.ha ha

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  3. I was at the recent RMC meeting at Elland Road. Their figures were – We have a fan base of 2 million in this country and 10 million worldwide.

    You pull into the East Stand car park to be met with coaches from Plymouth, Shropshire, Leominster, Surrey, Essex, Chilterns, Cov and Warks as well as plenty of northern based buses.

    I travel with the Thames Valley Whites. We have in the region of 200 members and you regularly see fellow Leeds fans around who still decide to make their own way to the ground.
    What amazes me is the amount of young lads who travel with us. 16-18 year-old who can surely only remember the downward spiral of Leeds United since the end of the 2002 season. I often wonder why someone living in Reading chooses to support Leeds United.

    I have followed Leeds United for 35-years. In that time we have probably had 6 or 7 decent seasons, so far from being a glory hunting fan.

    I have often got back home at 2.30am in midweek, getting up for work at 6am, wondering why do I do it?

    Leeds is a drug. I do think our fans have a certain mentality and I love being a part of that. I do think fans of other clubs when we visit must think, ‘I wish we were like that’.
    I believe In a lot of the loathing of our fans by other supporters, there is also a large amount of jealousy and respect.

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  4. Moyes is not a secious coach he don’t not how to lineup for games and he will change players at the wrong time also he has given money players he can not even our midfieders no of them can pass ball that is while manutd can not score moyes has break the record of manutd draw to and lose to game at same time is call remove in the club

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  5. I find this article very interesting. Mainly because I’m a Bolton born Leeds fan ! I admit I went to Bolton games around 1962 as a 12 yr old with most of the kids in the street. Didn’t take much notice of the game and at times left early thro boredom ! Then in 1964 Bolton and Leeds swapped places in the first division. Now at secondary school some lads loved all things manu but most hated them and even had quite a few songs about the events of 1958. This hatred of manu stemmed from the fact that the victorious Bolton team coach was stoned after leaving a station in manc in 1958 after winning the F A Cup !!
    So, towards the end of the 64-65 season Leeds were immediately challenging at the top of the table and were now rivals of manu. I found this amazing and brilliant ! And so that was me hooked on Leeds United ! A glory hunter ? Me ? No way, I say. Leeds had won nowt. Watching the 1965 cup final on tv was amazing ! When Leeds equalised I ran out in the street and jigged about with a mate (pre-arranged if Leeds scored) and went mental !!!
    And here I am , still a season ticket holder, 24 yrs on. My first visit to Elland Rd was march 1968. Still love it. Glory hunter ? You tell me. But I wouldn’t say going to Walsall away on a Tuesday night in league 1 was !!
    M.O.T and I still hate manu…..

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    • Great stuff! My first away game was at Bolton in a League Cup tie we won 3-1, I got my scarf nicked and belted the thief – who still got away. Pleasure and pain.

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  6. sniffersshorts

    Rob, I am a southern Leeds supporter, it matters not where you come from, but the passion that prevails. By rights I should follow Shellsuit, Fulham like my late father, QPR or Brentford. being from West Landan but Was given a Div 1 winners pendant in 68/69…… I was 8…. id warmed planks of wood at Craven cottage when they were Div 3 before this . So I saw a bit of Glory as an 8 year old, I have never waivered since …. I knew friends that swopped from team to team when I was a kid … my best mate follows shellsuit …. and is constantly at me to change my colours and he has been told to feck off every time …. and in fact he got some ribbing today ref their loss to Stoke ha…. but any Yorkshire man from Leeds will never ever tell me I cant follow my team …. I have felt the pain, I have felt the Glory …. I ran round the empty streets of a Surrey town when we won the FA cup in 1972 on my own in full white strip I was 12 …. it hurts when we loose big time….. if we could get a 75,000 crowd at Elland rd from all walks and creeds Id love it ….. I don’t hate the Mancs don’t like em …. we are relevant to the division we play in and without another team to play….. it wouldn’t be football …. I don’t like Norwich, I don’t like West ham but I want to see them fail and us succeed again…. so I can take the piss …. oh I work with two Surrey Mancs bliss last two games…. and have another best Mate whos silence is golden at the moment….. his words on Saturday afternoon after a ribbing MAN UNITED ARE SHIT!!!!!! even better. I have been to Elland rd, and told to feck off back south, on more than one occasion wont stop me going…. and more away games than I can count, told to shut up if Leeds score at Stamford bridge, yea right… but get the picture my support will never ever die WE ARE LEEDS.!!!!!!!!

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    • I hope you can see in this article my endorsement of you and the thousands like you, Sniffers. I know that many local Leeds fans are in awe of those who have traveled so far and so often to see a load of shite (as it has been for much of the time). We collectively take our bloody hats off to you. MOT and We Are Leeds – all of us, from everywhere.

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  7. gloster white

    I started supporting Leeds back in the late sixties partly because my parents were from yorkshire but also because of their success. My dad also pointed out when you choose the club your going to follow, you stay through thick and thin and I have, and enjoyed the ecstacy of winning more because of suuffering the dark times, I actualy feel sorry for the ‘plastics, because they never truly experience the the real feeling of success.

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    • More fantastic feedback. Thank you. I’m finding these responses really interesting – I’ve often wondered how United’s vast following from outside of Leeds really feel about the whole issue of local/non-local support. I hope it’s clear from the piece that I have the utmost admiration for anyone who follows Leeds from afar, maintaining that passion and pride through some bleak years.

      This article may well form part of a book I’m working on – and the replies will figure heavily too. I’m really interested to hear as many views as possible from out of town Leeds fans, the more the merrier. Keep em coming, guys!

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  8. We’ll see if the Man U are still getting the day trippers from Hastings in five years time. With David Moyes as the equivalent of Jimmy Armfield after their years of success, the next few years could be a struggle for them. But if they do still go to Old Trafford in less successful times then fair play to them.

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    • The exodus before the end of the Newcastle day told its own chilling (but still funny) story. There’s a parallel for Man U closer to home than Armfield. Wilf McGuinness took over from Matt Busby and didn’t last long – Busby had to come back pro tem. Wonder if they’ll be begging Taggart to ride to their rescue? That’d be a wake-up call for the refs who’ve been living without fear. “Just when you thought it was safe to book Rooney….”

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  9. Rob,
    I’m a Wakefield boy exiled in S. Wales, I make the pilgrimage to ER as often as I can and usually pass fellow Leeds fans from Plymouth, Yeovil, Bridgewater and Merthyr to name a few. On the day we beat Bristol R to gain promotion you could not count the LEEDS in the Trowell services, outnumbering Brizzle fans by 10 to 1at least. Now I also work in Bristol with 3 Welsh reds who have a combined age of 150, they’ve been to Mancunia a grand total of 5 times between them and are now talking of sacking Moyes. Isn’t life great.
    MOT

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  10. Here’s a story: My little brother & I, one Tuesday morning in the mid 80s (can’t remember the exact year, maybe ’87? – I was about 18, my brother 16) hitchhiked from West Yorkshire to London to watch Leeds play Millwall in the Simod cup.
    We didn’t have tickets (or much money) but gathered with a load of Millwall fans on ‘jew’s bank’ – a hill outside the old Den where you could glimpse the game for free. I remember it was about this time of year so was cold and it rained: what a bleak place Millwall’s old ground was.
    The Millwall fans took the piss at first (we were quickly sussed out by our accents) but as the game went on most of the lads chatted to me & my little brother for the rest of the match (Leeds lost 2-1 by the way).
    A small group of Millwall lads invited us to a local pub in New Cross – we were like special guests and everyone in the pub heard our story & we were bought drinks all night: both of us ended up quite pissed – because of our pissed-up state an older lad called Gary let us kip on his sofa for the night (knowing we’d struggle to get anywhere near a motorway in the state we were in).
    In the morning he gave us money enough to get to the start of the M1 (he pissed himself laughing when he found out we had less than £2 between us – even calling his mates from the night before to let them know)
    To this day, unlike most Leeds fans, I’ve always had time for Millwall.

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    • I have a similar story of a trip to Millwall – I’ll put it after this comment when I’m back on the desktop.

      Right – well, back in 1995 I was on a weekend in London with my wife – and I had been intending to drag her along to the Leeds game in the capital on the Saturday. But I’d seen us in a League Cup tie the previous midweek and we’d been so bloody offensively inept and awful that I thought, sod it, I’ll take her shopping instead. So it was that I came to miss Tony Yeboah’s hat-trick against Wimbledon, including THAT vicious shot and goal that some say (and I agree) was better than his goal of the season against Liverpool. Serves me right, as I’m sure you’d agree. Millwall must have been due to play on the Sunday at the New Den, so I decided we’d go to that instead. And it got rained off, so we turned up to an empty ground and a few stragglers outside. A couple of these were two people we’d met on the train down, who were Millwall fans from Derby, of all places. They insisted we join them in the pub by the ground for a drink, and we were glad to – until this bloke introduced loudly to the packed bar as “Leeds fans we met on the train south.” I could have died – I really thought I might, with the help of the assembled Neanderthals. But they were great, bought us drinks, had a laugh then dragged us over to the ground and talked a copper into giving us an unofficial tour of the control room at the new ground, plus a walk around the perimeter, just so the trip wasn’t totally wasted. We had a laugh, met some good and funny people, and didn’t have our heads kicked in once. It’s a good memory – but I still wish I’d have been at Selhurst for Yeboah’s second-most famous scorcher…

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  11. john palmer

    first game 1965 live in norfolk. still coming often, mid week, half day off home 2-30 am

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  12. London white....

    London born Leeds fan for over 35 years…fell in love with the star quality of the Leeds team coming out in the white Admiral tracksuits with the names emblazoned and who can forget those super cool sock tabs…..they were like the harlem globetrotters of the football world.extreme highs and extreme lows…..but Leeds are a drug that once your hooked…..theres no going back…Many a weekend has been made or broken by the result. …but any low only lasts until the next fix….

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  13. Good article rob , but I have to say some better replies ,, I’m only 10 miles from ER and you just have to take you’re hat off to the fans who travel hundreds of miles to come to games ,, MOT lads , I salute the lot of you

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    • Couldn’t agree more Mr O – this piece tapped into a rich vein of quality stuff from locals AND out-of-towners. Excellent material that I hope to be able to use next year in a book.

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  14. Last paragraph of this piece shows Boycott knows his stuff

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/25299181

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    • George Burton

      Just read it Yorxman. Bloody disgusting for a Fitzwilliam lad. Had I known he was to grow up supporting them I would have thumped him when we were at school.
      (Could do with him and his bat here in Oz at the moment though).

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  15. Andy Bentley

    I was born and bred in Castleford. As a young boy I was fascinated by an emerging team at West Ham but never got to see them play. My family were all Rugby supporters and I would go to see Cas play regularly. As soon as I was allowed, I went to see Leeds United with my best friend, who was the youngest of a Leeds supporting family. Once I had experienced the Kop, there was no going back… I was Leeds for life and despite living in Florida now, I spend hours every day on all things Leeds and listen to or watch every game, with the same passion, despair or ecstasy as any of the fortunate attendees at ER or whatever ground we play at!
    I lived in or near Donny for many years because of my work and could never understand why some of my friends “supported” Man U? They were from Donny and had a local team! Granted, Donny are never going to win the Champions League, but surely that isn’t what it is all about? Apart from their allegiance to Man U, they struck me as decent, intelligent, likable people! They were my friends! But clearly for them, supporting Man U entailed wearing replica shirts in the pub watching them on Sky. As good as that may be, I can’t help but feel they have missed out! Even watching Donny at the Keepmoat is better than their experience? And why, why, why couldn’t they at least follow a Yorkshire club!
    By the way… Even in the States, we have a healthy following of mainly ex-pats! Good times or bad… If you’re Leeds, it’s a life sentence! MOT

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  16. Living slightly closer to Bradford than Leeds when I was a kid my dad used to take me to watch Bradford Park Avenue but when I got old enough to be able to see if I stood on a little wooden box, a workmate of his who had a car said we should go with him. He didn’t support any team but was prepared to travel to see first or second division stuff. He took us to Burnley a couple of times (who were in the first) and Huddersfield, who had a decent second division team, but they didn’t appeal to me. Then came my first visit to Elland Road, I think it was around February 1962. Leeds were in serious danger of relegation below Division 2 for the first time ever; the ground was a real mess, a storm had uprooted the foundations of the Lowfields Road stand and it was roped off and shut. Jack Charlton played centre forward and looked totally disinterested, unlike a young Billy Bremner who gave it everything. We were beaten 3-2 by Plymouth Argyle but something clicked within me about this team in all white (so the Don must already have been the manager).
    I’ve had this club in my blood ever since and I convinced dad and his mate to abandon our travels and we only ever visited Elland Road thereafter. We got season tickets the following season, just in time for takeoff!
    Whats the connection with this article? Simply that in my school there were 2 of us prepared to admit we were Leeds fans. Fast forward only about 3 years and most of the school were “avowed” Leeds fans and those who didn’t support us constantly sniped that we were glory hunters. It annoyed the hell out of me as a teenager but I knew a lot of my compatriots were indeed glory hunters who’d never been to to Elland Road.
    But in later years, although a good proportion of those lads melted away (and in the 80s were “supporting” Liverpool, early 90s Arsenal before drifting to manu in the mid 90s!) quite a lot stuck with us and, after all this time does it matter what first attracted them?

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    • Just looked up that Plymouth game Chris, you may be interested to know you were part of a 8,554 crowd and that Charlton, disinterested or not, scored one of the goals! The other was from Derek Mayers, of whom I must confess I had never heard – then again, I was only 7 months old at the time…

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  17. goole whites

    spot on Daz king, mot

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  18. It’s funny you should say that as we were just talking about motd coverage of them today. Anyone watching man u, v The Toon on saturday night would be forgiven for thinking the home side not only outplayed their hosts,but won comfortably. In fact i’ll be very surprised if “betfred” didn’t pay out on a home win based on the beebs, bias. They’ll have to double the capacity at chelsea, Arsenal and numerous Irish clubs when all these plastic mancs jump ship soon.

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  19. Great article Rob!! I live here in Vancouver, and am proud to say I’ve been to more Leeds games this season than most of the glory hunting scum fans have in the past 5 years (One game against the Wendy’s).

    What sum’s it up for me is a day in 1986 when we traveled to Stoke City, and by half time we were losing 5-0 (the previous year we lost 6-2). We spent the whole half time period singing our hearts out, Loud and Proud!! It wasn’t about winning trophies, as much as it was about being a Leeds Supporter, always no matter what! If and when trophies came, then we deserved it as supporters.

    Now, I laugh my socks off as I see Scum losing 1-0 with 5 minutes to go, and the stadium is emptying out. They simply don’t get what being a football supporter is all about. Football Supporters are a culture, Scum Supporters are a status symbol, and one that is rapidly diminishing.

    MOT-Vancouver White and Active Supporter.

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  20. Hi Rob, I have followed LEEDS since I was a five year old, & still proudly stand on my seat & sing my heart out. My wife, daughter, & son have been brainwashed & love LEEDS with a passion. Our cars all have the famous crest on the back windows, & I have lost count of how many times we have been up & down the country & have had other Leeds fans show the Leeds salute. Born in London, live in Milton Keynes but Worship LEEDS.

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    • What more can a father do for his kids than brainwash them into supporting Leeds? My Dad did that for me (eventually) and, on balance, it was A Good Thing – though I sometimes wonder if my blood pressure would be healthier if he hadn’t!

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  21. Martin Blake

    Every year or two I get back to Yorkshire to see family and friends, and my season-ticket holding brother gets me to a game or two at Elland Road. Like most of you guys, I’ve ridden the LUFC emotional rollercoaster, saw the fab teams of the mid-late 70’s, witnessed Tony Currie’s wondergoal from the Kop, gone through the dark 80’s before migrating to Australia in 87, suffered the Ridsdale madness, the financial meltdowns and relegations, the Bates waste and vindictiveness, the TOMA and the renewed hoped under Our Bri. Last summer I was in England on holiday and the only match I could get to was pre-season at Farsley. That didn’t matter, I loved it and because ST holders were limited to one ticket each, my brother gave his to me so I could go, bless him. It was only a glorified kick-about, but I was happy as a King that afternoon. A few year back i went to a Kaiser Chiefs concert in Melbourne, and it was amazing the number of Leeds Utd fans in the pubs before the show. We are Leeds and we are Everywhere! MOT

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    • I was there for Tony, Tony Currie’s magnificent “bender” too – I think we said at the time that it was the best ever, better than any of George Best’s benders, which were apparently legendary 😉 Great memories – as you say, we are everywhere. MOT

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  22. A young Dubliner, I started following Leeds as an 8 year-old because of the legend that is Johnny Giles. Sure, there was the FA Cup win in ’72, the league in ’74 (and later, much to my delight, in ’92 under Wilko), but there were a lot of disappointments too. Relegated twice, down to what used to be Division Three. 40-odd-years of bloody misery. Irish Leeds United fan glory-hunter? Don’t think so. I think it’s nice that Leeds United’s support can transgress shire boundaries.

    MOT with BMD. Here’s to promotion, if not this season (and it might be), the next.

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  23. A young Dubliner, I started following Leeds as an 8 year-old because of the legend that is Johnny Giles. Sure, there was the FA Cup win in ’72, the league in ’74 (and later, much to my delight, in ’92 under Wilko), but there were a lot of disappointments too. Relegated twice, down to what used to be Division Three. 40-odd-years of bloody misery. Irish Leeds United fan glory-hunter? Don’t think so. I think it’s nice that Leeds United’s support can transgress shire boundaries.

    MOT with BMD. Here’s to promotion, if not this season (and it might be), the next.

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    • Another great example of exactly what I’m talking about – someone who refused to take the easy road and follow Man U as so many others succumbed to. Respect, sir and MOT

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  24. Quite a few Dublin and for that matter Irish whites on regular visits to ER…..Always MOT

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    • Something to be proud of, for the club, the fans as a body and the Dublin and Irish Whites in particular.

      I said in the piece that, if Leeds suddenly won a cartload of silverware over the next 2/3 years, I’d boast unbearably – but I couldn’t be prouder to be Leeds than I am right now.

      Well, I wrong. I now AM even prouder that I was this afternoon, having tapped into such a rich seam of fantastic support, people willing to share their devotion to Leeds and tell their stories. It’s been the single best response to any article I’ve put up here in the nearly 12 months I’ve been blogging. Fantastic, guys – it’s an honour to share an obsession with you all.

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  25. we are worldwide. true supporters. i post on a leeds site and posters come from all parts. common passion and love for our club. hardly glory hunters which bonds us together even more. best wishes with the book.

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  26. Been a Leeds fan since I was 6 (1968). Back in County Durham. Growing up there were a few of us at school but greatly outnumbered by Sunderland and Newcastle fans. The 1973 cup final was horrendous. Disappeared on me bike at the final whistle, down some back street to shed a few tears. Then had the humiliation of being taunted at school about it. First Leeds game at ER, was against Newcastle, when I was about 13. I went on a Mags coach, with my brother in law who was a Newcastle fan. Was just amazed by the crowd, but I was stuck with the newcastle fans! 1976, got a paper round, just so I could get to ER. Train was a quid and 50p to get in the Geldered end. Amazing atmosphere, amazing fans! Lived in Somerset for a decade and been living in Derby for 20 years now. Still a passionate Leeds fan, still get up to ER regularly and away games. Still ecstatic when we win, on a downer when we lose. Have a son who’s 20, born and bred in Derby but 100% Leeds United. People always ask why I support Leeds. I just tell them ” I was born a Leeds fan”!

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  27. …and why did a 5 five year old boy from America become a Leeds fan…definitely not because my team was good (even though they were in 1970.) it was because we had just moved to London, and a team in blue was playing a team in white for the F.A. Cup title. The team in white had a ‘smiley’ face on the top left of their shirt and I announced to my parents that I liked THAT team! The smiley face? An L on it’s side over a U!

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    • I think that iconic badge got us a good few fans Brad, on either side of the ditch 🙂 That’s one piece of history we should consider reviving IMHO. Glad to see you’ve kept the faith all these years, you precede me by some distance, and I was NINE in 1970!

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  28. I am 63 years old and have been an LUFC fanatic for 50 years.
    My weekend happiness is still dependent on our result and my wife still doesn’t understand!
    Leeds fans wear their hearts on their sleeves and are right proud of their team – win or lose we can take the flak from our jelous rivals because ‘we are Leeds’.
    I remember at Birmingham City near the end of our relegation season from the Prem. 3-1 down, we chanted WACCOE solid for the last TWENTY minutes and another ten after the final whistle until the riot cops threw us out. My hands were aching from banging on the stand wall and the BCFC fans couldn’t believe the noise. No-one will ever break our spirit, and the long wait will make the coming glory days even sweeter.
    MOT

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    • You’re dead right Rex – it happens so often that fans of lesser clubs (ie everyone else) regard with a mixture of shock and awe when we invade their grounds and monopolise the atmosphere. Great memories – We Are Leeds, how sweet that sounds. MOT and respect.

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  29. That’s it for me for today – thank you all for the wonderful comments on this piece, which have kept me busily moderating away – but what a pleasure it has been. Please feel free to keep them coming, I’ll be happy to see more comments tomorrow. MOT – you lot are amazing.

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  30. Wakey born and bred. Watched my first game at Elland Road the season after we lost to Chelsea in 70 Cup Final. First home game of the following season ..against Chelsea. Know what you mean about hairs standing up on the back of the neck as me and my mate queued outside the Kop. Lived in Sydney last 20 years but still get back every year or two and get to a game if I can. This year Burnley at home 1-2 damn. Once Leeds in your blood , always in your blood. Best club, best fans bar none.

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    • Great summary, Sharpeeee. I guess when you travel 12,000 miles for a game it’s a bit of a bummer when we lose! Still – it’s not the winning or the losing (much) – it’s the being Leeds that counts. MOT

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  31. Leeds fan since early 70’s, a young kid, loved the commentary ‘ L O R I M E R’ as he screamed a shot on goal! Therefore, I probably was a glory hunter at the age of eight. But, without question, I’m still passionate and attend whenever I can.
    Also, nearly forgot the most important reason I got hooked – those little numbers on socks!!!

    John – Midlands

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    • The sock tags were so important to so many. As for glory-hunting, the test is not how or why you started, but whether you stayed the course when things got tough. Give yourself some credit, mate.

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  32. Midday here in New Zealand and on my lunch break. I went to sea in 1971 and the 72 Cup Final would be the first I had missed since 1964. We were steaming up and down the Greek Coast on a fleet tanker and someone managed to get a grainy old black and white picture on the mess room TV. Only the 2nd Cook and I were Leeds fans. Others reaction at the final whistle, PRICELESS.

    I was in Mombasa for the Sunderland final with a fellow cadet from Sunderland, no TV but the World Service had it covered, more’s the pity.

    I was at Wembley when Billy got sent off, and I was back at Elland Road for the unveiling of the Don’s statue, standing alongside my Dad throughout the service. No-one traveled further!

    Keep up the good work Rob. Regards from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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  33. My first game was in 70/71Leedsv Wolves.I was 12 years old.myself and two lads were allowed a supervised visit to Elland road from approved school,Stockton hall.Stockton- on- the- forest.near York.i remember thinking.bloody hell,look at the size of him when the players came out of the tunnel.It was derek dougan he was standing next to bremner.Dougan was tall and skinny with long hair and a large moustache.I dont remember the score,i think it was 0-0.I was stood on the lowfields road, I remember looking at the kop and was fascinated with the noise,singing,and clapping in uinison.That was 43 years ago, and i,ve been a fan eversince. MOT.

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    • I totally know the feeling, got similar memories from my own first match – though I was stood on a milk-crate in the Lowfields “middle shelf”! MOT

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  34. My first game was on 28 Dec 1965 against Liverpool, my dad and uncle who had followed Leeds for many years thought it was time for me to go and watch Leeds with them and I was hooked from then on. Although we lost 1 – 0, I was amazed by the fanatical support. Even though we had played at Anfield the previous day (can’t see that ever happening again nowadays) there were still nearly 50,000 in the ground and it was rocking.
    The following Christmas my dad got me a Leeds shirt from Jimmy Frews sports shop in Harehills, as they supplied Leeds with their kit in those days, and I was the envy of all my mates at school; proper replca shirts were still a long way off, but the guy who owned the shop saw an opportunity, and soon loads of my mates got one. We all went down to the Soldiers fields on Sunday mornings, and it was Leeds v whoever we had played the previous day, those kids who didn’t have a White shirt were the opposition
    No other team even entered my mind to support, why would it, I was a Leeds lad and
    In later years when I worked for Umbro I was asked to design the new Leeds kit after Admiral had pulled out, and I have never been so proud as to see the players come on to the pitch in their new white with blue/yellow pinstripe shirts I had designed. Pity about the RFW on the front.
    Although I am now over 3000 miles away from Leeds I still get a tingle when I watch the games on TV and listen to Eddie on the radio, and wish I could be there with all the thousands of true fans that follow our great club.

    WACCOE MOT

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    • I always liked that pinstripe “relegation” kit, despite the fact it wasn’t the luckiest! That was you, was it? Your place in history is assured 😉 My daughter actually got me a replica one of those a Christmas or two ago, bless her. MOT

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  35. Martin Adams

    Being a Whites fan born and raised in Australia has not always been easy.
    I learned about and fell in love with Leeds at an early age, The men responsible for this was my Grandad William Guest (born in Doncaster but raised in Leeds before his eventual migration to the land half a mile from the sun) and his brother Larry (who continued to live in Leeds his entire life).
    Between them they conspired to teach me about the team that would become my life long obsession, Birthdays and Christmases seldom passed without some little trinket from Leeds ending up in my possession (a 1972 FA Cup badge & a 1968 Fairs Cup pendant being my favorites).

    Being born in the mid 80’s both of those famous games were well before my time but my passion was well and truly cemented when I was staying with my Grandad at the end of May 1992 (I would have been about 6 at this stage) He was doing his usual thing of reading the morning news paper when something strange occurred, his face spread into the biggest grin that I had ever seen and a tear rolled down his cheek, I asked him “What’s wrong grandad?” he replied “Nothing, nothing at all Leeds have just won the title”. That pride and passion was transferred to me that day.

    I have only been fortunate enough to make it to Elland Road once for what most would describe as a bizarre game (BMCD 2nd home game in charge) against Brighton last year that saw 3 reds and Leeds lose to a sucker punch at the death. The atmosphere was incredible even after conceding an early goal the fans were as loud as ever drowning out even the most vocal away fan and that was only a stadium at half capacity!!

    I have been labelled a glory hunting fan before mostly during the high flying late 90’s and early 00’s by plastic supporters of other clubs (namely Man U fans) who I always felt were defecting their insecurities about their own choice of allegiance.
    I have followed Leeds to the dark depths of League 1 and the reign of disillusionment under one Master Bates and my commitment to the club has never wavered.
    5 losses from 15 and 2 on the bounce and the same cannot be said for the Man U fans who used to tease me so.

    As the famous old song goes.

    We’ve been through it all together,
    And we’ve had our ups and downs (UPS AND DOWNS!)
    We’re gonna stay with you forever,
    At least until the world stops going round.

    MOT

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    • That song says it all, and your point about the insecurities of plastic scummers is extremely valid – I’m always harping on about that. I do believe that the club you support (unless it’s purely for tribal/location reasons) says a lot about your character – and that’s why there are a lot of deeply inadequate people who “support” Man U, largely because they need to be identified with what they see as size and success. I really think someone ought to publish a learned medical paper about this…

      MOT

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  36. Dave Hinson

    London born, but lived in Ilkley for a couple of years as a kid in the early 60’s which started it all off. Then 44 years in Scotland, trying to get to games 3-4 times a year and also attended the famous European Cup semi-final at Hampden Park in 1970 (crowd 134,000).
    Now live in Thailand where we have a keen local group of supporters.
    A couple of years ago I was in London waiting for my kids to come south on the train from Glasgow, luckily it was late, so was able to watch Leeds play MU away in the 3rd round of the cup. At full time I dashed out of the pub back to the station, my kids had just arrived, I lifted my scarf high and proud and (to my 2 boys delight and my daughters horror) roared out “we won”
    The whole of Euston erupted in cheers – less love for us than dislike for you know who – but a moment I will never forget.
    All the Premier League games live on TV here in Thailand, our favourite shot of the Newcastle win was of Bobby Charlton looking like he’d swallowed a wasp!
    MOT

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    • Euston sounds a good place to have been that January 3rd! Some of you lads really do get around the globe – I am sure you’re spreading the gospel of the Whites far and wide in Thailand. MOT fella.

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  37. oldcomrade

    Used to go to Donny games in the early 60s with my then girlfriends Dad. A mate told me that Wallace Arnold were running a coach to Leeds home games, so we decided to give it a go. Well, that was it.No more Donny Rovers for me, i was hooked, the atmosphere, the football, everything about the club was a world away from what i had been used to, 50 years on, I,m still as proud to be Leeds as i was then, two of my sons and their sons are season ticket holders,as i am. Naturally i get stick from my mates and neighbours in Donny and i wouldnt have it any other way, and i’ll be there in the Leeds end on Saturday,givin’ it some wellie, come on Leeds !!!!!

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  38. redheadedanimal

    I’m Leeds born and bred and was taken to my first Leeds game aged 6 -Boxing day against Sunderland – 1985. Who I supported was never in question. My dad saw to that – as it should be.
    Fast forward a few years and I made the move down to Surrey – did that stop me making the pilgrimage to ER – Of course not! I regularly got up at 5am and got home at 2am, spending more money than I could really afford. Leeds first – worry about getting there and back later! My Leeds based mates thought I was nuts – but I know if they were in the situation, they would do the same.

    It definitely wasn’t the glory games either – 3-0 defeat home to Swindon, 2-0 home to Tranmere, Walsall, Gillingham, Southend away all spring to mind. Each time the wife would say – what a waste of time that was. I would look at her with the eyes I give to non Leeds supporting friends of certain plastic clubs over the Pennines and say they just do not get it.

    The Mrs also asked me a question recently – Would you rather you won lots of trophies or have the best fans. I answered immediately – Best fans. Why – because football isn’t about winning. Its about what you do win, lose or draw. It’s about showing passion and commitment to the club that you love. It’s about having identity with solidarity with your own set of fans. I was one of the 7000 that did this at Blackburn the other week. How many Blackburn fans and fans of other clubs looked on a little jealously?

    Would I trade that for mid-table in the prem, whilst the owner wants to change the clubs name? Or to have our name on a few more trophies? No chance.

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    • Those six words – they just do not get it – sum it all up. And the answer you gave your wife, too. Brilliant. You’re a shining example of why we’re proud to be Leeds, and what it says about us as free-thinking people as opposed to mere merchandising fodder. MOT and thanks.

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  39. Steven emsley

    Rob I once recall visiting Bristol back in the 80s we drove past a stream of supporters along a road , at half time I was talking to some guys and I told them about this long line of people he said that was them walking to the ground the had two train fulls of fans all from London I could not understand why they all supported lufc from London that is true support in my mind we were shocking during those years but we still all went and supported our team let’s hope we now have the right mix

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    • It’s a phenomenon, isn’t it? Such support for so long with such little reward, and with previous generations always telling us about the Revie era. Quite incredible. Maybe brighter days are finally coming! MOT

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  40. Pingback: Kenyan Man U Fan’s Suicide Harks Back to Famous Shankly Quote – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, The Universe & Everything

  41. Seamus Naughton

    West of Ireland Life long Leeds fan, now living on the east coast of US.
    Started following in the early ’70’s, in 1 channel land (we didn’t even get MOTD until the ’80’s!), surrounded by scum & pool fans. There were always a few of us lurking around but we were proud of our team through thick and thin.
    Worst xmas pressie ever? My gran got sent to do the shopping, got me a kit, not knowing anything about the game, and you all know what happened.
    Of all the kits in all the world she came back with the scum one! This was back in the day when no one would even think of returning anything so I wore the shorts (plain white !) and even at the age of 8 would not let that shirt sully my body!
    Some day I will make it to Elland Rd., it will take a while but I’ll get there,
    but in the mean time I’ll support the Portland Timbers at every chance, cos their supporters have the passion for their team that’s as deep as ours for Leeds. Of course they are 3000 miles away from me but who said it was going to be easy!
    The interweb makes it so much easier these days, especially for us supporting from afar, so remember when you grace that hallowed ground your singing for us too. We are on the way back, lets not rush it, we have faith(now that the beardy bastard is gone), future glory awaits!
    My american wife almost left me after Beckford scored that goal against the scum, she had never seen celebrations like that before!
    HAPPY TO BE A LIFER! MOT!

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  42. I’m 23 and living in Hastings and have followed Leeds as long as I can remember, thanks to my Dad. It all started when he was at school in the 70s when he went to an away game with a mate who supported Leeds… he was hooked from then on. Naturally when I was born, I was to be Leeds, brainwashed as mentioned in other posts lol… I had Leeds stuff bought for me, like bibs and clothing etc. Not been to a great deal of games but have made it up to Elland Road twice, first time in November 2001 when we beat Tottenham 2-1, and several away games as well as two play off finals… it was a long drive home from Cardiff when we lost to Watford 3-0! The atmposphere at all Leeds, either home or away, is brilliant though. I often get questioned why do I support Leeds. I always say why not? Can’t imagine following anyone else! No matter where we are in football I will always follow Leeds and I hope to attend more fixtures in the future.

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