There’s been a bit of a storm over the picture above, which I have reluctantly reproduced for the dubious benefit of those who may not have seen it so far. It’s understandable that people should be angry and upset over what is, even allowing for the dribbling idiocy of the two has-beens concerned, such a blatant example of ignorance and disrespect. Let’s face it, Keys and Gray are not the sharpest tools in the box. Sky viewers were unwilling witnesses to their developing bromance over far too many years as lynchpins of the Sports Channels’ football coverage. This came to an abrupt end when the gruesome twosome allowed the baser end of their base personalities to show itself in all its shameful horror with a short series of hatefully sexist outbursts in 2011. Sky dropped them immediately, and they have been relegated to marginal interest media ever since – though still hopelessly devoted to each other and to their “grinning schoolboy” manner of presentation. So clearly, we can expect moronic, insensitive behaviour from insensitive morons – that is their stock in trade. But the important thing is – what about the people who advise them? What sort of thought process leads up to the disgraceful picture above?
For the benefit of those who may be unaware, two Leeds United fans were brutally murdered in 2000 by followers of Galatasaray, an Istanbul club which glories in the slogan so proudly displayed by the leering Gray and Keys. That being the case, you’d have thought that some caution might be exhibited by two formerly mainstream broadcasters, or at least by whoever bears the responsibility of doing their thinking for them. The fact that no such caution was even thought of is down to the involvement of the media’s favourite hate figure, Leeds United I can state this with total certainty: if the fans so tragically killed all those years ago had been followers of Man U, or Liverpool, or any other club with the scandalous exception of Leeds United, then the above picture would not have seen the light of day. I am absolutely 100% clear about that. And therein resides the problem for all who love Leeds United. The level of hatred and disrespect for our club in the media, and in the football world and the country more broadly, is absolutely unprecedented. It is institutional in its nature, all-pervading in its extent and eagerly subscribed to in just about any organisation you might care to name. It goes back a long, long way and has affected the club in its dealings with not just the media, but the games authorities both on and off the field. I have written in the past about how this has manifested itself, both among referees (abroad as well as at home) – and in the broadcast and print media.
Ask yourself – and try to be honest. Yes, I’m talking here especially to those who disagree with this blog automatically, as if on principle. Go on – ask yourself. If the two murdered fans had been Man U supporters – would Keys and Gray have been allowed to perpetrate this moronic picture stunt? Would they even have shown any desire or agreement to do it? No, of course not. But because it’s Leeds, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s Leeds, the question isn’t even considered as to how appropriate or otherwise this might be, how insensitive, how callously, needlessly hurtful and insulting to those who were bereaved, and to the wider Leeds United community. If it had been two Man U lads murdered, hands would have been thrown up in horror at the very idea. No, no, guys – they’d have said – you just can’t do this. You all know this is true, and you all know the distinction being drawn in shallow, dishonest minds between Leeds United – the Damned United – and all the other clubs. It goes on everywhere, and it’s symptomatic of a national sickness where Leeds are concerned, manifesting itself in various degrees of shocking disrespect, overt, ugly hatred and a contemptuous dismissal of any protests from those of us who love the club. And then they have the brass nerve to call us “Dirty” and “Damned”.
We can look after ourselves and our own, of course. That’s what “being Leeds” is all about. Those who strike against us as a club, or as a global community of fans, tend to reap the whirlwind – especially in these days of social media. Keys is finding out about this right now. But still it goes on, time after time, year after year – so we always have to be poised and ready to defend ourselves against attack from the outside. Whether it’s a paranoid failure calling us all “vile animals”, or a complacent Match of the Day presenter waggling his ears in his eagerness to include every single managerial legend except the Don in a montage of Great Bosses, or even these two relative nobodies above, posing with smirks on their faces and those shameful shirts proclaiming their ignorance and contempt – it all comes down to the same thing. It’s the ultimate siege complex, Leeds United against Everybody Else. But we’re on our way back now, and they’re going to have to live with that. Keys and Gray in isolation are nothing – two annoying bugs to be swatted away. It’s what they symbolise in that embarrassing image that we have to be aware of – that’s what we have to be ready to deal with and oppose, especially when we are unwelcome top-flight members once again, back at the top table with the rest of them trying to pretend it hasn’t happened.
And deal with it we will. We Are Leeds, we’re Marching On Together. Stuff the lot of them. All we as Leeds fans need is to know our enemy. And that means accepting that the enemy are everywhere and that we only have each other to rely upon as we gate-crash that Premier League party. Let them hate us, let them show themselves up in these utterly disgusting and shameful betrayals of any class or dignity. Hate away and see where it gets you. You won’t be able to ignore us. We Are Leeds – and we’re on the way back.