Failure Varney Joins the “Couldn’t Handle Playing for a Big Club” Army – by Rob Atkinson


Andy Hughes, Leeds United Warrior

Andy Hughes, Leeds United Warrior

On any decent scale, there tend to be two well-defined extremes.  No scale can be effective without this; you need to know the Alpha and the Omega before you can properly ascribe values to what lies in between.  This useful little principle is identified by the scale which measures the worth to us Leeds fans of players leaving Elland Road for whatever reason.  What memories do they leave behind them?  What emotions do they evoke, now that they are gone?  In terms of recent departures, we’ve been looking for the negative end of this scale.  We’re talking outgoing players on the permanent staff here, not loans – otherwise the claims of Andros “Klingon” Townsend would be hard to dispute.  The positive, top end of the scale, I would humbly submit, is occupied by Andy Hughes, for reasons which will be clear to many, but which I shall nevertheless sum up below.  The arse-end of this scale, the epitome of negativity and bad grace, has just been claimed for his very own by the recently departed and very much unlamented Luke “Reg” Varney.

Everything you need to know about Andy Hughes is contained within the video interview linked to his name in the paragraph above.  For a player late of this great club to speak with such passion – let’s face it, such love – of his time at Leeds United, would bring a tear to a glass eye.  It’s inspirational, emotion-wracking stuff.  Andy Hughes was not the greatest nor the most talented player ever to wear the white shirt.  But he has a heart the size of the East Stand, and he always, always gave his all for the cause.  You can tell how he loved playing for the club, for the badge, for the fans.  He’s in a very small and exclusive group of players from the recent past who truly “get” what it is to be Leeds.  The fans at Elland Road have always loved a trier, someone prepared to go the extra mile and run his knackers flat for Leeds.  Hughes was such a player, is such a man.  He joined at an historical low ebb and felt privileged to do so, determined to do his bit and much more, to restore the club to a higher level.  He was part of many great performances and his commitment was the stuff of legend.  All hail Andy Hughes;  he is in the exclusive Alpha group of my recent ex-players scale, top dog with the likes of the Chief among the elite of this century.

On the other hand, there’s Varney.  Oh, dear.  He didn’t have the best of times at Elland Road, but then, it’s a tough place to perform for all but the most gifted or determined of players.  Varney was found wanting on both counts.  And yet, people did try to give him a chance, we tried to like him.  This man might score us some goals, we thought.  And if it doesn’t happen, maybe he’ll get his head down, work hard – earn our respect and regard that way.  Sadly, the Reg approach was more of the “OK, it’s not going for me, they don’t like me – I’m going to sulk” variety.

"Reg" Varney

“Reg” Varney

There were highlights,  A goal against Spurs in the Cup, for instance.  But by that time, the relationship between player and fans was already quite toxic; you felt he was at least as likely to flick two fingers at the crowd, after scoring, as he was to celebrate with them.  He seemed to have the respect and support of his peers; his team-mates at the club – but then again, football is a close-knit business, and the dynamics within the group have little to do with how the fans relate to a player, or vice versa.  But Varney never gave himself the chance to be a real part of the Elland Road experience – and the likes of Andy Hughes could teach him an awful lot about that.  Varney, though, since before his recent departure, has shown that he is incapable of understanding what it takes to play for a big club with passionate support.  Since our decline, sad to say, we have had far too many players like this – which explains why Leeds United have struggled.  We simply haven’t had enough of the big players, the big hearts.  It’s a salutary lesson for the future which is about to open before us.  Worthy of note too is the fact that Noel Hunt, another player who hasn’t exactly grabbed the fans’ imaginations, is quietly waiting and working for his chance.  Credit to him.

Varney finally cooked his own goose when his desire to get away first persuaded him to refuse to play against Ipswich – for fear of injury – and now has led him to giving the classic “bitter ex-player” interview to the first eager hack he’s tripped over in Lancashire.  The refusal to play for the club which was paying him thousands a week for a privilege that is but a dream for the legions of Leeds fans out here – something we’d be ecstatic to do for free – marked Varney down as a selfish mercenary, someone who put his own narrow interests ahead of his club, his contract, his team-mates and last – and very much least in his eyes – the supporters.  It’s difficult to imagine greater treachery; one can only hope that his pay packet ended up empty after that episode.

The interview doing the rounds today does Varney no credit either.  It’s all “me, me, me” apart from the word turmoil, which he has evidently only just learned and was eager to use as often as possible.  As a piece, it was designed to endear himself to his new club, and it dripped with indifference to the old.  He seemed to be trying to justify his decision to refuse to play – what his new fans and his new manager/team-mates will make of that is anybody’s guess.

Two ends of the same stick – the end with the golden ornament, and the crappy end.  Alpha and Omega, Andy Hughes and Luke Varney.  That’s the scale that any future player departing our great club can be judged against.  Are you more of a Reg, or more towards the Hughsie, top end of things.  Most will come somewhere in between.  Thankfully, there aren’t all that many Varneys.  But oh, how we could use a player or two more with the heart and soul of Andy Hughes.

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34 responses to “Failure Varney Joins the “Couldn’t Handle Playing for a Big Club” Army – by Rob Atkinson

  1. OneTonyCurrie

    Nicely ironic that the ultimate headless chicken is signing for Venkys.

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  2. minimal1210

    Wow… And you’re calling HIM bitter? I don’t understand some of the spiteful comments on this Varney article I’ve seen today. I think it has been misinterpreted.

    He says he was told he was unlikely to get a new contract, he was no longer being played, he lost motivation and ultimately he was relieved to get an offer elsewhere and finally get it completed.

    What’s wrong with that?

    You can fantasise about a squad of players that happily endure life-changing financial, physical and emotional compromises, purely for the badge, but they don’t exist. Not in the modern game.

    The ones that appear to are generally those that settle – into the club, into the team, into the culture, into the area. It’s easy to be a die-hard when you fit in suits you, but it will never be for everyone, unconditionally.

    Besides, Varney is an extremely average player. Looked like a bit of a donkey whenever I saw him play. Happy to see him off our wage bill and onto a rivals!

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    • “Whats wrong with that?”
      He took the easy option rather that fight and stay.

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    • He was played though. Smith, Blackstock and Ross were ahead of him, that’s all. His attitude is ironic – I used to defend him for being averagely talented but hard-working. No problem with players leaving to get first team football, especially towards the end of their careers and to a decent club. But Varney’s revealed his true colours.

      I think Brian’s been building such a squad as you describe. I can see Ross, Smith, Stewart, Byram, Murphy, Mowatt and Lees going that way. It’s a tragedy we aren’t continuing down that route.

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  3. Adios reg , thanks for the Erm , memory

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  4. As you said we tried to like Varney, he needs to learn one thing. Leeds fans will support any player if he shows commitment and desire. He had a complete lack of respect towards the people who pay his wages and showed this on more than one occasion, at Birmingham in the cup, at Wednesday and his final act refusing to play against Ipswich. I would like to know if he got paid that week?
    Please move on Varney to somewhere that has no passion, where you can hide in the anonymity of soulless mediocrity and you can carry on taking your wages without giving back. No loss to us.

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  5. I never even tried to like varney,i could see it from day one that he was useless and a lightweight. I told anyone who’d listen,just like i do with hunt, norris and kebe. Wastes of space.

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  6. Sniffers shorts

    Best gone done his small part for us ….. He did score a couple on one occasion I remember ….. And won the game good luck to hime he was not that good in real honesty was he ….. We will have far better rest assured …. Don’t fall into hammers fan terrorism Rob you are better than that mate .

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  7. Ropey Wyla

    interviewer: “why did you opt to leave Leeds for Blackburn”
    reg: “aii, me like chickun”
    It’s good to get him off the bill and hopefully it’s an opportunity for Poleon to take his spot

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  8. exiled fevrover

    I had the very very rare pleasure of seeing Varney score a hatrick at Stevenage in pre-season. That was about his level, another barn door who might score you some in division 1 and 2 but no higher. I fear we have another in Mr Hunt. Hope I’m wrong or he will have to go too.

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  9. Varney is a pathetic player. He has to be the most underwhelming player to ever join leeds. He dives, slips over all the time, misses easy chances ( miss of the century) and collects yellow cards a lot more often then he scores. He is a player that would never stand out at any level whether it be league 2 or even conference. His only positive side is his work rate which even then is questionable. Mccormack has a high work rate and is always involved positively in attacking possession where as varney is never involved and is instead chasing his miscontrol of the ball

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  10. Haven’t listened to the Varney interview, but then again it would be a few minutes of my life I’d never get back. It’s not Reg’s fault that he’s not very good, nor that Colin brought him to us, or even that Bates/GFHC’s tightness would only fund such mediocre recruitment.

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  11. I’ve been waiting for Varney to come out with some statement or another, since going out on loan, because that is what Varney is good at, namely talking a good game off the pitch and freezing on the pitch.
    If Varney could play as good as he talks, he would still be playing for Leeds, but he is now playing for Blackburn, where there is absolutely NO pressure and nobody really cares what they do in the league.
    Varney always needed 10 chances to score a goal and would often blast the ball wide or over the bar, when he had a clear cut chance to score.
    I really think that players should be vetted more, before they are signed by Leeds, because far too many are not mentally strong enough and can not cope with playing for such a high profile, well supported club like Leeds.
    Andy Hughes was also a good talker off the pitch, but he always gave 100% on the pitch and that is the difference between him and Varney.

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  12. Totally agree with the sentiments about Hughesy though. Once his Charlton days are over it would be great to have him back in some capacity. I’d add from recent times Nayler and Kisnorbo to that list. They “got it” too.

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  13. Rob, don’t waste your energy on Reg, once he decided not to play, he should have been (has been) erased from our memory. Even Colin described him as a
    ‘Worker’, and he signed him! What an insult to any player…let’s face it, he left Barkley in the bench and recently admitted he didn’t know how to use Barkley!? (How about play him for start?)
    Let’s put our energies into those that are with us and will continue working to get us to the play offs. MOT

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    • I forgot to add, totally and utterly agree about Hughes, every game he looked as excited about playing as though it were his first ever game if football. Great man and great heart!

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  14. Agree 100% about Andy Hughes – but not Luke Varney – he was treated badly by the fans and he tried, but it was to no avail, if the fans, management & club are ignoring you why would you give everything for the badge ? ‘We don’t want you and won’t offer you a new contract, oh and now smith is injured and we suddenly need you, will you please jeopardize a move away to a decent club just to fill in for one game ? what would you say !! and he never refused, he just said he didn’t want to play in case he got injured – its a nonsense to rubbish him so intensely – good luck luke varney and I hope it works out for you, just like every human needs support and encouragement or they lose their faith and drive – I prefer to see it as good to start offloading the large squad of ok but not ultimately good enough players – good luck to Paul Green too.

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    • sorry not injured – suspended !

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    • You give everything because you’re being obscenely well paid to do so, that’s why. AND for the fans AND for your mates. It’s a complete no-brainer.

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      • even though i wrote what i wrote – i agree with you lol -err what does that mean ? well i guess as obscene amounts of money for doing not a lot, there is a minimum expectation – and in that case I think Michael Brown deserves a medal cos he stayed for a wage cut and allways tries – why do we all resent him so much then ??? Its Ken Bates fault not Michael Browns fault !

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  15. Good riddance. He was still a Leeds player when he did a no-show for a vital game. Like far too many players these days, the attitude seems to be in inverse proportion to the talent within.

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  16. Martin ?
    “will you please jeopardize a move away to a decent club just to fill in for one game ? what would you say !! and he never refused, he just said he didn’t want to play in case he got injured ”
    Oh yes just your employer , just your team mates and I’m not refusing just don’t want to play today!!!! What planet are you from, try it tomorrow at work “No thanks boss ,I don’t fancy working today because I would like to work somewhere else!” I’m just guessing but you’d probably get your wish!!!
    Just like he did!

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    • if it was out of the blue you would make perfect sense – but if I was crap at my job, I knew I was and now they had found out and were gonna get rid of me, but by some miracle i got offered another decent job, i wouldn’t want to jeopardize a lucky escape as it were. if he did play & got injured and lost out and ended up unemployed he would be pissed off – sadly it is the individual that has to live indide their own head. Varney was average at best, the best thing has happened – thank god the cull has begun !

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  17. After starting the season well he was frozen out by McDermott.

    McDermott then brought him back against Leicester and he was man of the match.

    McDermott then decided to let him go to Blackburn.

    If he didn’t want him then why did he want him to play against Ipswich?

    It suited both parties for Varney not to play with a transfer lined up.

    McDermott turned the fans against Varney in a pathetic, spiteful act.

    Varney was an average player who gave his best and did okay for us.

    There is no need for you to run him down in this way.

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    • Whatever gymnastics you adopt to try and twist this positively, the fact remains that an employee earning thousands a week to be available when required, CHOSE not to be available because of his own narrow interests. That stinks, however much you try to sweeten it with sugary sentiments and hypocritical platitudes. I’m afraid that you’re merely talking bollocks for the sake of being “different”.

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    • agree with all of it, except Big Mac didnt spitefully rubbish him, he said it how it was – how can he force a player to play who is not committed to the cause

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    • Brian wanted him against Ipswich because Smith was injured and Varney was third in the reckoning. We pay him, he should prove himself to us. I’ll defend any Leeds player who fights.

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  18. How ironic Rob that when ‘Hammersfan’ called him ‘Reg’ Varney we found this spiteful. Now that he’s on the outer,it’s quite acceptable!

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  19. He really must have some gall to keep calling himself a striker.

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  20. Rob, it’s pretty lousy to allow my post but then to not allow my response to you.

    No wonder you’re such a fan of McDermott, you’re cut from the same cloth.

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    • I’m flattered by that – you obviously consider me a man of integrity. Your previous comment was binned because it was clearly bollocks – more of your occasional habit of stating this and that as fact, based on zero knowledge and insight. This blog will not be a conduit for such crap.

      Like

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