One of the perennial bonuses of a nice solid away win at one of Yorkshire’s lesser clubs is the comical, toxic fallout via Twitter and other social media – as the fans of whichever pit-village team it is we’ve put to the sword go into a bitter meltdown of tears, tantrums and recriminations, spiced with protestations of how they’d been the better team and were – wait for it – “unlucky”. Doncaster yesterday was a typical example of this as their deluded supporters drank deep of the bitter whine produced by the sourest of grapes.
These were the kind of balanced observations you get from having a chip on both shoulders. The more you read – and it really was worth a good old peruse of the Twittersphere in the wake of yesterday’s routine 3-0 stroll – the funnier it got. If you gave it an hour, you could actually feel the health benefits kicking in. The scientific basis of the theories surrounding the endorphins produced by hearty laughter must be beyond all doubt. After sixty minutes or so trawling those dank corners of the internet where Donny fans could be found chewing away at the virtual carpet, I felt positively wonderful. They really do build themselves up for these meetings with Big Brother from up the road – but then if it all goes wrong, they simply can’t handle it – and it’s just so funny to see the teddy bears come flying out of those paltry few thousand cots. Laughter really is the best medicine.
A few gems: “We played by far the better football”. “The goal was miles onside and if it had counted things would of (sic) been different”. “We dominated the match but they had a goalscorer.” And much, much more in this bottomless pit of comedy gold. All of them did their little bit to prove the one central truth in the relationship between Leeds United and those lost souls who support other clubs in Yorkshire: namely that they hate us with a passion, while we can hardly be bothered to notice them – unless we have to soil our studs with the indignity of actually playing them.
This is a deeply painful fact of life for your average envious pariah in Bratfud, Donny, Cleckhuddersfax or in that city of warring pigs, Sheffield. Barnsley, too – they will roll up at Elland Road next weekend suffering from an appalling run that sees them rooted to the bottom of the league – but if they can eke out a win (as they usually do in their Cup Final), it’ll be banquets and open-top bus parades agogo, with souvenir clogs, whippets and flat caps on sale and doing a roaring trade.
Barnsley aside, the intense need to do well against Leeds has often worked against us in the past; our record in Yorkshire derbies is hardly the best. But it’s not too healthy for the tiny but defiant likes of Huddersfield either – they tend to psyche themselves up for the Golden Occasion, all passion and hard, unstinting effort, roared on by their desperate fans – and if they win, they then embark on a miserable run, knackered by the superhuman effort it took to beat the Damned United. Look at Huddersfield’s results since that 3-2 win over Leeds. Classic case of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”.
I’ve often said that, if United can overcome this frailty against inferior but massively determined opposition, they will prosper. Yesterday’s win at Donny, apart from reducing their hopeful home crowd to bitter tears and tantrums at the scale of the defeat, went a long way to confirming this. On the back of generally improved form lately, United produced a classic away “derby” performance against motivated opposition, taking the lead, weathering the inevitable storm without undue alarm and then smoothly going through the gears after the introduction of a midfield enforcer in Brown. The two late goals emphasised the effectiveness of the approach rather than flattering Leeds; they simply had too much all-round for a committed but out-classed Doncaster side.
If a similar display can be produced against a fired-up Barnsley side next weekend – and this is a game which may well take place on the back of some long-overdue good news for the club – then surely three more points can be expected to send everybody with yellow white and blue blood coursing through their veins into Christmas in a state of good humour bordering on exultation. We’ve said it before – we’ve dared to dream before – but the rest of this season might just be the best time to be a Leeds United fan for a generation.