So, Did Leeds United Ever REALLY Sort That Gypsy Curse?? – by Rob Atkinson


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I worship the memory of Don Revie.  He’s probably my all-time hero; he took over a nothing club with a nothing history, famous only as a stepping-stone for the World’s Greatest Footballer on his way to success with Juventus as Italian football’s finest-ever import (yes, step aside, Platini, Maradona, Law, Greaves et al – John Charles is still the King for the tifosi).  Don took over at Elland Road, instituted a scouting system second to none and – let’s cut to the chase here – gave us the finest club side these islands had ever seen.  But in one respect, Don’s effectiveness is open to doubt.  A notoriously superstitious man, he became convinced that Elland Road was under a malign curse – so he recruited a gypsy from Scarborough (I can personally confirm that the place is crawling with them) in order to exorcise the spell and ensure success.

The fact that Revie and his team achieved far, far less than they should have has been put down to various factors over the years, but the possibility that the lady from Scarborough was off-form the day she went about her curse-lifting cannot be excluded.  It would, perhaps, be the most likely cause of United’s managing to finish runners-up so often with easily the best team around.  Always the bridesmaids, never the brides, it was often and cruelly levelled at the peerless Whites – and while some trophies found their way to LS11, that legendary team – dominant during a viciously competitive decade – never won its proper dues.  And when the talent drained away from Leeds in the wake of Don’s departure – well, then the curse really bit.

From the perspective of a half-century on, it’s possible to argue the theory that Don failed in his efforts to rid Leeds United and Elland Road of supernatural barriers to success.  It’s even arguable that, since those halcyon times, the strength of whatever evil influence pervades LS11 has actually increased.  How else to explain the fact that so many players over the years have done well in elevated company, but arrive at Leeds United and are immediately transformed into bumbling failures?  Or, indeed, the number of players who have served a spell with the Whites, looked hopelessly out of their depth – and have then gone on to do distinctly OK elsewhere?

As a club, we do seem cursed in some vital particulars.  Look at the effect we have on centre-halves, for instance.  They come in, they look good, they earn a permanent deal – and then they start playing like Frank Spencer in the 1970’s sitcom “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em“.  Likewise with managers.  Our last two were notable for the ease with which they have attained promotion from this league into the FA Barclays Promised Land.  But they come to Leeds, shine briefly before the Gypsy’s Curse gets under their skin – and they then start floundering horribly, unable to make a single coherent decision, at a loss to pick a winning team or choose effective tactics.  They end up at after match interviews or press conferences, looking like rabbits caught in the headlights.  It’s pitiful.

Never has this line of reasoning seemed so obvious to me as right now.  We’ve just had two home games against distinctly un-scary opposition – and we’ve contrived to lose both, heavily, with only late goals putting a rather flattering patina on the ugly landscape of abject failure.  We have an intimidating stadium, players who have been successful elsewhere – and who will doubtless be successful elsewhere in the future – we have the best fans in the world, we’ve had managers with proven track records.  And yet we’re still irretrievably, inexplicably crap.  What to do?

Maybe the Italian guy is the answer in more ways than just the obvious financial sense.  He’s quite a superstitious cove himself, is our Massimo.  Perhaps he will sense the malevolent ambience around the place and take steps of his own to get rid of any other-worldly nasties that Don’s Scarborough exorcist failed to blitz.  Maybe the key to Cellino’s revolution lies in his ability to follow his own superstitions, make whatever supernatural changes are necessary and see Elland Road emerge from under the cloud of an ancient curse and into a bright new future where we get a bit of bloody luck every now and then.  At least we can rest assured we won’t be sporting a purple strip, and we can hope against hope that Cellino’s lucky colour is all-white.

It’s got to be worth a try.  Let’s face it, we’ve tried just about everything else – and still the Gods have rarely smiled upon us.  Then again, they’re usually too busy sorting out a spawny late winner for Man U, damn them.  We’ll just have to hope it’s not too late to get rid of whatever shreds of curse are still left after Don Revie’s failed attempt to get us blessed back in the sixties.  And I still won’t have a word said against the Greatest Manager There Ever Was.  He may not have known how to pick an effective gypsy, but he sure as hell could build up a club from nothing.  How we could do with the Don of Elland Road now.

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32 responses to “So, Did Leeds United Ever REALLY Sort That Gypsy Curse?? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. The best footballing side that has ever been,total football before the Dutch put their name to it. And much maligned.also some of the worst refereeing decisions that has ever been.lets get this club sorted out.

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  2. not only did revies team not win what they should have but have you ever seen a team win the league , the charity sheild then look relegation in the eye all in the space of 12 months like wilko’s team did ? , also what always amazed me was the young team in o’learys era , when you look at the likes of wigan winning the FA cup , sheff utd or Hull in the cup final !! how the hell didnt that team ever win at least a league cup ?

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    • I know they were the best over 42 games one calendar year – just never quite made it, and then we bought Seth Johnson and it all turned to crap. We’d have been better off with Seth Armstrong!

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  3. “Being a Leeds United fan is horrible” – with this quote my nephew greeted me this morning following another home loss to Reading. How do I respond? I have been through the history – the cheating referees in the Cup Winners and European Cup Finals, how the visionary referee Tinkler introduced a new offside law some 25 years early, how the FL power brokers made Leeds play a season defining league match 2 days after an FA Cup final, the Dirty Leeds propaganda – what else can I inform him about? He only knows about 25 point deductions, the sale of the Elland Road Temple to offshore corrupt businessmen, the sales of Snodgrass and Gradel for peanuts, the hiring of Warnock, the sacking and reinstatement of our manager, the Cellino revolution. His history is relatively new but I and so many others are aware of peculiar circumstances going back 50 years and more!
    So Rob, I am with you. It’s time to stop blaming corrupt and thieving owners of the club, incompetent managers and useless players. It was the Don that failed to rid Elland Road of the dreaded curse! So let us start a worldwide search on this blog for the Guru of Guru’s in Curse Ridding! I for one happy to donate a few dollars (sorry pounds) to get the right man or woman as Curse Buster!
    It is the only way Rob as I can never ever see Leeds United being owned by wealthy and visionary owners, having a manager that can see potential superstars written all over 15 year olds, the Football League ever holding up Leeds United as the role model for other clubs to follow, referees that give Leeds United penalties just for fun.
    Rob your on a mission (probably from God) to find the Guru of the Damned United.
    Now where is my Prozac!

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  4. It wasn’t the Gypsys fault,she needed “Stability” at the time and couldn’t concentrate on her job due to various parties trying to buy her caravan. If Don has gave her another 5 or 6 years she may have got it sorted though.

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  5. Phil Allen

    Maybe it is 40 years of bad decisions. What if ?Don had stayed for 5 more years or Giles had been given the job.Taylor had gone with Clough or Clough had just kept his mouth shut.King Billy had been given more money or had won the playoff against Charlton. Wilko hadn´t sold Cantona.Ridsdale hadn´t spent so much money or we had won the Champion´s League semi.Bates had given Larry more money in 2011.The list goes on and on.

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    • Excellent stuff. I feel a “What if” alternate history blog coming on…

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      • Peter rishworth

        Rob Can you organise it so every leeds fan can show with an open letter how much we appreciate Mr Cellino, how much we need him. Rob we need every forum and supporters clubs all over the world to come together and vote, so we can show him how much we love him. Italians are very proud and passionate people we need to show him how much we all care.

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      • I only wish there was such unanimity, but it seems not – dissenting voices everywhere and, as ever, every single person thinks they’re right.

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  6. Rob, where TF have you been. The world continues to get crazier and crazier while you have been away. Not just the thrashings and the total capitulation by the Leeds United defenders, if you can call them that (defenders in this case being a loose term for someone who thinks that they can kick a ball). But let’s get to the story. The FL are not sure id Cellino is fit and proper by their rules. Well, let’s just step back from this for a minute. We are talking about a very wealthy, very successful business man. We know the extent of his wealth and we know where it came from, right! He is not a drug baron who has made it rich in the last six years! Oh no! Apparently he is well respected for his business acumen and love of the beautiful game. So why the problem with the FA? Even if he was convicted of avoiding tax, so Ffing what. We are talking about complex taxation laws in a world where the man deals in hundreds of millions of pounds! As his lawyers says, these are essentially administrative issues and they are right! Now let’s get down to the respected business men in the UK. The really wealthy don’t pay tax according to well trusted sources. In fact most of the Tories mates pay less tax than the working man, so why pick on a Cellino. When you see all this absurd shit going on you realise the depth of incompetence and betrayal by the FL. I can’ t get my breath. God they are so stupid.

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  7. (….loads of irrelevant crap…)

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    • I’m afraid this is not the place for you to flog your hobby horse to death, Damo. Do it somewhere else. You’re closing in on a complete ban. The morning after a bad defeat is no time to be subjected to your irrelevant “I told you so” bollocks.

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    • If you don’t like the site which I get the impression you don’t maybe you should go post somewhere else instead?

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  8. Kelly hxwhite

    Think it’s wrong to say we don’t av any luck Leeds get loads trouble is its all bad luck we seem to get sh it refs as the song goes we also r capable of making a mountain range out of a grain of sand wen it comes to getting our share of bad luck nobody said life was easy but try being a Leeds supporter if u dare. MOT

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  9. I’M afraid its not a curse just a lot of (Grayson excluded ) clueless managers signing rubbish over the last years.There are players like Sam Baldock playing at B.City( &VARDY at Leicester was in non league football,) Neil Danns & Burke were up for grabs in our price range you don’t need big moneyif you know aplayer re: Burnley,look who BMCD choose, even getting Wickham, is he better than SMITH who he had already?When he 1st came Lees & Peltier were c.backs Diouf & Poleon &White were playing AND more important AUSTIN was out injured,things looked good, then he put his stamp on it & look what we have iTS the paying fans that are cursed

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  10. Ah yes, Gypsy Rose Lee wasn’t it? Bloody charlatan!

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  11. David Smith

    Rob – listened to the match on LUTV last night and never have I heard Eddie Gray and Thom Kirwin so disconsolate and dejected in their commentary. Brian McDermott in the post match interview, sounded like a beaten man and I fear will not be long at LS11. Never mind touching a lucky rabbit’s foot, we need the whole bloody rabbit !

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  12. Reality Cheque

    Morning Rob, another good observation of all things Leeds United since I began supporting them in 1965 (oops hope I’m not the jinx/cursed one!!!). Perhaps our best bet may be for Cellino to replicate his blueprint from his current Italian club and get us to play all our ‘home’ games hundreds of miles away whilst slowly ever so slowly bulldozing sections of our cursed ground to rubble and blaming it on Leeds City Council’s Planning Officer’s broken promises?? Might just do the trick and turn our fortunes around better than Don’s gypsy. On a more serious note Rob, I actually think that our curse travelled down to Highbury with our fans for our last visit whilst in the Premier League and saw a great opportunity, ie; to keep itself occupied teaching a hitherto very successful manager how to really go on a trophy losing run!! So maybe, just maybe our curse will become too pre-occupied darn sarf to bother us any longer. Fingers and toes crossed. MOT

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  13. Been thinking long & hard after the Bolton game & last night. These ritual humiliations are not a recent trend, they have been happening for years, irrespective of who the manager or owners of our club are. So, what’s the only common factor? It has to be the players, those lucky enough to wear the white shirt and play In front of the best of fans. Basically, they have just not been good enough. Not talented enough, not tough enough – mentally & physically, not fit enough. Not fit to wear the shirt.
    And who can we blame for this; certainly for the last decade, step forward Kenneth William Bates. The man is the earthly embodiment of the gypsy curse. A serial con-man & street-smart genius who has spent his whole life separating ordinary working people from their hard earned money and diverting it into his multi layered overseas companies. After ripping off the unfortunate Irish with a failed (successful for him) bank project, he realised that footy fans are even easier to con than the rank & file working class, due to their ‘rose tinted’love of their club. He almost bankrupted Chelsea, but got lucky with Abramovich. Then, like the demon of the curse, set about fulfilling his promise to ‘wipe the Leeds scum from the face of the earth’. When our best manager of recent times (SG) did manage to unearth a few players of the right calibre, they were sold off and replaced with men of clay and the proceeds siphoned off to Monaco. After almost totally unravelling the infrastructure of the club he sold it to an Islamic bank with cash flow issues and no experience of English football, but not before mortgaging two years worth of season ticket income – wonder where that’s going to end up?
    So, replacing BM is not the answer. Even Mourinho could not succeed with the players we’ve got.
    Let’s just hope Cellino gets FL approval soon, and shows the passion & resilience needed to rebuild the club almost from scratch. Otherwise he will walk, and want his £10 million back. Then the demon Bates really will have succeeded in ‘dragging us to hell’.
    Time to pray.

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    • It’s a fact that, since we came back to the 2nd tier, we’ve had at least one battering at home EVERY season. It’s plainly not good enough. I agree with your verdict as to the Principal Villain too. I’d have a financially-backed SG back in a heartbeat.

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  14. It’s Bm,s bold pre-match proclamations that bewilder me. Prior to the boro and qpr games we were going to go “all out attack”. We scored once. Prior to the Bolton game the players were told to “embrace” the club and the occasion. We know what happened there and before last night he’d told them to “relish” the badge and shirt etc. Well Reading had us on toast WITH RELISH. His tactics DO seem to be working though however,after the re-shuffle we only let in 4 this time. Any decent intelligent coach can have various systems and these will work even when working with players of limited ability,thats why teams like Wigan can get the better of teams like Man City. What we have at Leeds is a “Speak Your Weight machine” who seems to select a team after perusing social media then comes out with the same old tripe post hammering. I feel sorry for the younger players who are associated with and have to work with these over-paid ponces and shirkers,i include Mcdermott and haigh in that bracket too. Well BM has vowed to fight on now, so god help us at the weekend. One more thing,i wish those who wish to pick out Austin would give it a rest,he may be limited but he doesn’t give up.

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  15. CantonalovesSardines

    Bonjour my liitle sardines, awhow arre youu’, my inglich iz not so gud eh no……I ce youu arsz like ze fish in se cee eh………waiting forze ze trauwlerz to com…. ahh zooon my Plumes amis, zooon………but…. becarfuul youu arze not canned an zold inze meerkat az a chicken ow yu sey oh la la!!

    Ze Historei’ repeeatative itselfee. We……no!?……..

    Avoir peur…..Plus tard, mes amis pour mon prochain philosophie … adieu

    MOT CELLINO IN

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  16. Belfast White

    Just wondering…would O’Leary be too identified with Ridsdale to ever be welcomed back? I would have much more blamed ‘Propaganda Pete’ for our demise than his ‘best young manager in the country’. From memory he was sacked when we were about 5th in the PL. Would he bring the ‘luck off the Irish’?

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    • Never did all that much at Villa – I think he got lucky with a fine crop of juniors at Leeds. I never went for all that “Moy babies” blarney either. Several expensive disasters in the transfer market.

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  17. Wicklowjoe

    Is it too late to reverse things get Johnny Giles I believe our troubles started when the board did not give him the job another very good and honest rob wicklow joe

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  18. Giles not getting job was the start of a decline all those years ago ,& I’m supprised fans who appreciated his skills are happy with aplayer like Austin with acclaim to fame being he tries ,have we slumped so far that we think its ok to have poor technical players as long as they run for some of the game & crash in to a couple of tackles(put aLeeds shirt on most lads in the crowd you would get that) ,admittingly favourable to the recent crew who don’t even bother to try. another m ystery, a lot of the people who like Austin don’t like Brown( or Johnson when here) both much better at that type of m.field play

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