Proud to be a Leeds Fan, Marching On Together – by Rob Atkinson


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Sometimes it’s really tough to be a Leeds fan.  Today is a good example when – despite a much-improved performance against Leicester City and some regained pride, it’s still the case that we’ve lost again.  Cue the mickey-takers from lesser clubs, delighted at our discomfiture, parading their lack of class by airing all the tired old jibes we’ve all heard and got sick of long ago.  It’s all part of the Leeds-supporting experience, the perennial fact that there’s a lot of idiots out there who hate us, without really knowing why.  It’s also how we distinguish ourselves from the mundane pack of everyday clubs – if you hate Leeds United, have a go.  And they do their poor best – but it’s usually distressingly feeble stuff, as witness today’s collection of social media misfits retailing their horribly unfunny shafts of “wit”.  We just have to put up with it and move on, serene in the knowledge that We Are Leeds.  I’ve been Leeds for most of my life – never really had any choice about it.  And for this, I give thanks daily.

Leeds United was just something that happened to me on the way to adulthood. By an accident of birth and timing, I found myself living 13 miles away from LS11 and the greatest club side in Europe (see above), just around the time I became seriously interested in football.  I’d misguidedly spent my pre-teenage years with my nose stuck in a succession of classic Sci-Fi novels, so the Glory Years mostly passed me by.  My Dad had been a life-long supporter though, and everyone at school was Leeds apart from the odd much-bullied Man U fan – so it was impossible not to go with the flow, and once I’d been introduced to that Elland Road experience, I was hooked for life.  The timing was particularly unfortunate however.  Unlike my golden-boy git of a brother, who’d waxed smug on the successes of the late 60s and early 70s, I started going to the match in the first post-Revie season, and my time supporting Leeds has been one of a long and heartbreaking decline, punctuated by the brief joy of the Wilko reign, and to a lesser extent, that of O’Leary.  So it’s been tough.  But it could have been so much worse.

I could, for instance, have been a Newcastle fan.  Imagine that.  My Dad is 86 now, bless him. Newcastle’s last title was won in the year he was born, 1927.  Alfred Hitchcock released his first film that year.  Communists were fighting bloody street battles with Nazis in Berlin. Charles Lindbergh became the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic.  In brief, it’s a long, long time for an allegedly big club to go without a League Title. Newcastle fans are famous for their blind devotion to “the Toon”, and it’s hard to imagine such fanaticism being so little rewarded over such a long period – although I do recall a crowd of 7,000 at St James Park after one of their frequent relegations had been confirmed.  It’s now the best part of fifty years since they won anything at all, and yet still the love affair goes on, fueled largely, it must be said, by a pathological hatred of near neighbours Sunderland.  Thousands of Newcastle fans know nothing but failure and empty-handed season upon season.  How awful must that be.  Still, they’re the biggest club in the North-East – which is a bit like being the tallest mountain in Holland.  At least Leeds fans have the history and knowledge of success, so that our expectations, whilst unrealistic, at least remain alive and kicking.  Newcastle’s are long, long dead.

Or I could have been a Celtic fan.  God – even worse.  Sure, they’ve won loads of trophies, but with one sparkling exception those have been gathered in the face of opposition that would shame the English second tier.  At best, they’ve usually come first or second in a two horse race, and now even that other horse has gone lame, as Rangers tread a perilous path back from financial ruin via the muck and nettles of Scottish lower leagues.  Celtic did of course become the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967 – and they did it, what’s more, with a team of local lads under the legendary Jock Stein.  But that one fantastic achievement is poor reward for having to witness year upon year of procession football as Celtic trudged on, one of two out-of-place whales in a tiny fishpond.  Who would be a Celtic fan now?  It’s not sport up there, it’s lambs to the slaughter with about as much entertainment value as watching Farsley Celtic reserves on a wet November night.  Scottish football remains a laughing-stock, and Celtic must take much of the blame for that with their perennial failure to make a mark on the continent, despite routine Champions League qualification.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change a thing about my years of supporting Leeds.  We have the history, the fan-base (still), the notoriety as “The Damned United”, and little of the Sky-era false glitz and glamour of the current crop of Premier League pretenders. You still see Leeds fans wherever you might trot around the globe, and no-one could call those lads and lasses glory-hunters – but they do have the pride of an honour-laden history which is denied to all but the most feeble and elderly Newcastle fans – and Leeds fans also have the serene knowledge that the honours and the history have been won in the white heat of intense competition, not by near-default as those worthless baubles up in Scotland have been soullessly accrued.

Marching On Together.  We Are Leeds.  Thanks, Dad, for bringing me up to be Leeds, and for saving me from some pretty pallid alternatives.

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45 responses to “Proud to be a Leeds Fan, Marching On Together – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Whiterhino

    Solid stuff as normal Rob.
    After these horrendous last ten years or so it’s easy to forget the better times. There are those amongst us (and sometimes they have a point), that suggest to keep commenting on the past no matter how illustrious is folly? For me it is this very past that should set the platform and stubborn mentality for the future though.
    My first game was in 78 so even I have only seen two periods where you could say without reservation Leeds had a good side – all the same only one major trophy to show for it. My point though is that there will have been a generation of the support that left Elland Road today, pleased to have played ok, please we didn’t take a heavy beating and hoping maybe we can buck our recent trend next time out against Ipswich. And there is the danger – without those who expect more, who demand total effort, who look back and shudder at the thought of losing to Leicester at Elland Road, who wince at the lack of genuine class……….then being content with mediocrity is the only path available to us?
    Rejoice in our past,let it form our future and feed our expectations. If at times it makes us arrogant,demanding and a little unrealistic then so be it. We don’t have a god given right to win things, but Leeds as a club, city and fan base by its very nature should always be competitive.
    Pleased to lose to top of the league (in the second tier of English football I hasten to add!), but made a decent fist of it? Not me.

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  2. Bit of a sci fi fan myself actually. I haven’t heard or ready any smart arse remarks about our latest defeat today mind. Who are the gobshites this time? By the way Rob,shall we all chip in for a new ? key for your keypad?

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  3. ‘Tired old jibes we’ve all heard’…I’d read the paragraphs about the Geordies and the Green & White shite back to yourself if I were you

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  4. My Dad was a rugby league man and I grew up within earshot of Crown Flats, home of Dewsbury RLFC. I too came to football quite late and my mates were 50/50 Leeds & Huddersfield, so I got my Dad to takes me to Leeds Road to see the dog botherers play LUAFC – we won 0-2 got promoted soon after and I was hooked.
    I said to my wife not half an hour ago that I wished I could stop being a Leeds fan sometimes, but after 52 years I just can’t. In my time as a fan we’ve won just about everything and I’m glad I didn’t fall for Huddersfield.
    To all Leeds fans, keep the faith. To all other fans, your jealousy is understandable and amusing.

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    • Love the memories, love the moral – great stuff. Many thanks, please come back soon.

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      • Mr orange

        I grew up next door to crown flatts myself rex , and like you my old man was udders through & through , but my uncle took me to see Leeds v chelsea in 1971 and that was it ,hooked.. Rob , great post , lots of sentiment and I’ve always said , fans like you’ve mentioned have my full respect , like the youth of Leeds have my full respect too , we’re lucky , we’ve had the good times to look back on and remember , like seeing Leeds in cup finals and winning the league , the ones that have never seen that can only dream and to them I say , it is everything that you could imagine it to be , keep the faith it will happen again

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  5. I was jokingly referring to the sentence “How awful must that be”. Anyway, on the subject of question marks….kebe?stewart?brown? varney? In the presence of some of the Greatest footballers this country has ever seen aswell. How much longer can this go on?

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    • These are hard times, but I still think we need to allow a rebuilding period and have some stability. BMcD’s not had 12 months yet and still has quite a lot of the Warnock team hanging around. But there’s SOMETHING there when the shape and attitude are right. Build on that, I reckon – and accept we’re not going to be a force this side of 2016.

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      • I hope you’re wrong, because Nooruddin has said he expects promotion next season.

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      • Then he’ll need to make sure he backs that ambition with hard cash, and plenty of it. Fine words and lofty expectations butter no parsnips.

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  6. john palmer

    I actually witnessed theRevie years even that was frustrating constently being cheated into r.up spots.1st. half to day got me over last weeks show ,peltier for Pearce,Murphy for Austin,Poleon for Stewart and we are playoffs

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  7. RoystonLUFC

    tell you what though, at least Newcastle gather a decent crowd regardless of their lack of success. But look at us. The glory-grabbers who jumped on the o’Leary bandwagon, then ruined our club by joining LUST and making Elland Road a laughing stock. I’ll never forgive those lot: they should support the red scum from across the pennines because that’s all they’re fit for. Boo hoo we lost a game, I’m going to cry and boycott Elland Road until we win again! That’s real support.

    But it’s good to know that there are still some of us who support the team through thick and thin, through ups and downs (ups and downs). That’s what real support is. I hope we can re-build our fan base with real supporters now and edge out the johnny-come-lateleys known as LUST.
    MOT

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    • If thousands hadn’t boycotted the games during the Bates era he would still be here sucking our club dry…. he left because he was losing money…wake up you muppet !

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    • Steady Ken, Steady!!!!

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    • on yous go

      I was hooked on Leeds United because my late lamented dad and my uncle Harry (a season ticket holder in the early 60s) were Leeds and football fans. I was 6 when England won the world cup. I was already a Leeds United fan by then. I was hit in the gob by a forest fan the day we knocked them out of the fa cup, when Hankin creamed Shilton and we won 1-0. My brother’s chased the bastard back into the forest fans till he hid. The forest fan, not Shilton. When Bates was in charge I joined LUST to oppose him. Was this wrong? A jonny come lately I am not. This football club is my heart and soul since I was a child. Don’t try to tell me what I should think about this club and which organisation I should be a member of to get my views across.

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      • I remember that Forest game well, but it was league, not cup. Us beating them 1-0 that day was their last league defeat of the season, even though it was only Oct or Nov, as they went on to win the title in their first season up. As you rightly say, Hankin clattered Shilton and then scored a minute or so later while Shilton was still groggy. We never beat them in the Cup – lost in League Cup semi both legs ’78 and FA Cup 3rd Round ’79.

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  8. Much better performance today, with a much improved tactical system, but it’s all relative. We have far too much dead wood, and I still have seriously grave concerns over McDermott. At 70 minutes the game looked ripe for Mowatt and Diouf to come on and use their respective vision and trickery to unlock Leicester, but instead McDermott held off making any changes until the game was almost over. It suddenly felt like I was watching a Warnock game again, as he also rarely made tactical substitutions (only time-wasting ones). Just want us to get through the rest of the season without getting relegated, then we need to ditch Brian and clear out the guff.

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    • Sorry Joe . I have to say you’re wrong , the tactics were right yesterday and we were ‘mugged’, no way did we deserve to lose that one ..

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      • Tactics were *better* but like I said, that’s after two of the worst results in the clubs history. McDermott is getting off too lightly here by your’s and many others’ standards. The display against Wednesday spelled out how tactically niave the manager is, and yesterday’s tactics were a nod to the critics more than anything. Do we need to get pounded 6-0 for him to realise a system isn’t working? I think we could have easily had the 3 points yesterday- Leicester were allowing us to get the ball down and pass it around, and that would have suited Mowatt and Diouf. The manager should be spotting these details long before most of us do. He might talk the talk, but this man will never get us promoted. He’s like a rabbit caught in the headlights at Leeds.

        Of course many of the playing squad are just not good enough too – it’s not all down to the manager. He inherited a squad of absolute tosh from Warnock.

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      • Passionate and well-argued if slightly harsh. I respect your opinion but hope you’re wrong.

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      • Mr orange

        I’m affraid you know very little about my *standards* , the point I’m trying to make is that yes bmac got the tactics wrong against Wednesday , he favours the system he played against them and paid the price for his commitment to it , I happen to think its a good attacking system and would produce the kind of fluent flowing football we all crave at ER , the problem is for bmac is that he doesn’t have the players to play that system , yet !! And his biggest mistake was to firstly give his players too much credit that they could play that way and secondly he didn’t give Wednesday enough credit to counter the system , a bad day at the office id say ,
        Yesterday was the right system against the league leaders and to me the best team lost , as for making subs too late , maybe you’re right but my feeling is he would be dammed is he did and dammed if he didn’t in certain fans eyes

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  9. Leeds fans are eternal optimists……forever hopeful. I don’t know another club which harbours such huge ambitions but often, very often comes up short.
    To be a leeds fan in the true sense means having thick skin and enjoying being part of a very large ‘minority’ that enjoys being the hated ones….it makes us unique. If everyone liked us would it feel the same ? I think not.
    On and on til the good times roll !

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  10. Very unlucky today, though I’m also unsure of the sub policy. Mind you he doesn’t have much on the bench.

    Against that, seeing Pearce, Peltier and Austin in Leeds shirts makes me choke. The first 2 shouldn’t have played, though I can understand why he picked Austin today. I hope we end up with Green and Murphy in the middle in a couple of games time – or sign someone. Today showed how thin our squad is.

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  11. Very unfair to the carToons Rob. If they aren’t a big club then very few are.

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    • Well – very few are.

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      • Let’s imagine the Premier League is invented from scratch, for the biggest clubs only (as might have happened, before the FA pre-empted things). Who? Obviously Scum, Citeh, Liverpool, Arsenal & Chelsea would be involved in starting the thing and Tottering would be invited. Now you could take the view that those are the only biggest clubs. But I think that Everton, ourselves and Newcastle would be automatic choices. That’s only 9 so to get 10 Aston Villa, permanent members of the Premiership thus far and winners of the European Cup in the 80s would probably be included.

        You might argue that Villa are more a medium-sized club but how different are they to ourselves, Everton and Newcastle? Newcastle were competing at the top at the same time we last were, kept at it a while longer and seem to be back as established members of the top 10, with a higher capacity stadium than ourselves.

        I think our more recent honours tip the scale but I wouldn’t want to run the cartoons down from the position of being a Leeds fan.

        I do think we should have a new PL. Football just isn’t played as much in England as it once was and the Premiership & League together is just too big, especially with 3 up 3 down. The English game has shrunk, and if we want to improve things for potential England players we need a steadier top division with not less, but even more TV money going to it. The rest should be viewed as minor league (which we were basically all agreeing after we kindly gave the Wendies 6 goals.) I think 18 clubs: West Ham have a big ground, an identity and a history. I think geography should be considered, so Forest, Cardiff and Swansea, Blackburn, Ipswich not Norwich, and Southampton make 17. Christ knows who the 18th would be but it’s clear that’s enough. I’d keep 3 points for a win but end automatic relegation – maybe make clubs stand for reelection if they implode financially or finish bottom twice in 3 years. Perhaps we could even have a 2nd division of 18, have 2-up-2 down between the two and tell the rest to go amateur or wind up.

        Anyway, England has 9-11 big clubs (I wish we could get Scotland’s 2 involved), a bunch more who’ve done things in living memory, along with another group of 7 or 8 who’ve done things in the more distant past (e.g. Wolves, Huddersfield, the Wendies) and a load of also-rans.

        Am I wrong?

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      • There’s no wrong, really, is there? Not in the mainstream of thinking, away from the lunatic fringes, anyway. There’s just opinions and ideas – and you’re clearly a deep thinker.

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  12. I remember going to St. James’s on the first day of the season after we’d signed Vinnie jones . We got stuffed by their latest fat boy No 9 sensation Micky Quinn . But the thing that sticks in my memory was 5000 leeds fans and the gate was only 23000 . I always say to Geordies that even when we were in the third tier we’ve more chance of winning the premier league than you ! They don’t like the truth ha ha !

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  13. London white....

    2 weeks ago I had an invite to a party. I was looking forward to going and letting my hair down so to speak. That Saturday evening I didn’t feel in the mood so went to bed early.
    last week I was looking forward to going out for a football match with my team then a boy’s night out. Again when the time came I decided to not go and went to bed early.
    The reasons for the change of mindset on both occasions? ……
    Anyone remember Rochdale and Sheffield Wednesday. ……
    you see even after having a family, a lovely fiance, running my own business and having multiple other interests, 40 years of supporting the best club in the world still has a habit of overriding everything else in your life for a while. Even though we’re currently used to the downs more than the ups LEEDS UNITED has an unusual effect on me a 48 year old Caribbean lad born in London surrounded by Arsenal and Tottenham supporting family. Often the butt of multiple jibes of supporting a second rate team up till a few years ago my retort was at least my second rate team won the European cup….despite what others might think….
    MOT. .FOREVER

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  14. Your faith in BM is commendable Rob, but i’ve noticed several aspects of his management style that suggest he is not the one for us. Did anyone notice his post match interview? I watched it when i got home and he was asked about the play-offs. He said-“forget about the play-offs” he then started to talk about the play-offs. I don’t think he really knows what he’s doing/saying. For those crying out for stability your wish has been granted,you can’t get more stable than the same result every week. BMs signings are duff too,we were playing with 9 men effectively. I expect more from TWO wingers,little things like crosses,going past your man. Not schoolboy step-overs and sitting on your backside all afternoon cos you don’t have the right footwear. I know we’re stuck with warnocks signings still but BM keeps picking them. At least Rudy silenced his critics yesterday,that was one bright spot at least.

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  15. john palmer

    its not Warnocks rubbish anymore Brian ‘s signed 6 or 7 and prefers Austin and Pearce he’s getting away with murder 6 defeats in a row is always the sack

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  16. Counte Of Monte Fisto

    Much better performance today, much better formation. We need serious investment if we are to go up any time soon, for me a midfield general and another good striker to help out Ross. Varney did well and kebe was ok first half but tired second. Next few games crucial we need points quickly. Growing up in Snaith East Yorkshire with a family of Leeds nutters life was always centred around the whites. I left there 21 years ago and now it’s dropped from 99% leeds to less than half. Sad days, these last 10 years they have sapped the strength of many fans. We do need a real kick start to spark everyone’s interest. Despite living in enemy territory both my kids go to school wearing Leeds scarves and both have shirts with 4 bremner & 11 gray emblazoned on. No Pearce, Austin or varney rubbish but real heroes who I grew up worshipping. As the song says everywhere we go people want to know, who we are, who we are, shall we tell em……shall we tell em who we are….. I will leave you all to finish the rest

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    • Fantastic stuff, just the inspirational shot in the arm I love to see. I’m a big fan of legends’ names on shirts – you know they’re forever Leeds whilst more mundane players come along, pick up their money and move on when it suits them. Bremner 4 and Charles 9 for me. We Are Leeds.

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  17. Can’t believe all you armchair footy experts calling for B.Mac’s head. The man has spent a lifetime in football and knows the game inside out. We all might be passionate, but we know nowt. It will take years and a lot of good luck to rectify the damage that the parasite Bates and publicity Pete did to OUR club. Keep the faith and get behind the team & management.
    Oh yes, and actually winning trophies isn’t all that, because that’s what was expected anyway. Being a Leeds fan is a mugs game, the lows are way down and the highs not that good. However, it’s addictive and I can’t kick it.

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  18. BTW – anybody have any idea who the player we spoke to on Friday is? Apparently we are making him an offer, but it’s ‘complicated ‘

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  19. Armchair Leeds fanns eh? If only. I make a round trip of over 200 miles for home games,more for away games and my little boy has to suffer it aswell occasionally. Unfortunately the club has preyed upon the blind loyalty of supporters such as myself for far too long. I have backed all Leeds managers,even warnock and wise (to a point). Everyone is entitled to their opinions although i wonder if these “fans” who accuse others of being armchair critics actually go to ER themselves. Its a free world of course and if folk want to follow that shower with blind adulation then thats up to them. But it’s not looking good,BM has reportedly told one of our better players that he is free to leave,meanwhile no such conversation has been reported regarding norris,varney,green or hunt.

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    • Well done mate well said. I earn £300 a week and cannot afford to waste a 1/3 of that on such utter shite. MTLTL

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  20. My next Leeds Shirt will have on the back “MADELEY” and where the number goes it will say “ANY”.

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