Daily Archives: 25/05/2014

Orient’s Dream Goes West as Rotherham Head for Elland Road – by Rob Atkinson

Championship's newest stadium

The Championship’s newest stadium

What a cruel, almost barbaric way to have your season ended by shattering failure.  For, whichever way you dress it up, failure is what it most surely is, once you’ve come all this way, through 46 gruelling league games and two bitterly competitive play-off semi-finals – only to fall at the very last hurdle, thwarted by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.  Commiserations then to Leyton Orient, who have seen their Holy Grail snatched pitilessly from their grasp.

Meanwhile, it’s a case of “To the victors, the spoils” – and, as the TV commentator instinctively identified, Rotherham will be happily anticipating their trip to Elland Road next season above all their other fixtures.  We should welcome them to the Championship too, even though it means that our burden of chip-on-the-shoulder smaller Yorkshire rivals has been cut by only one, instead of two – as had seemed likely when Barnsley and Donny took the big fall. It’s up to the “new” Leeds United to cope with such inconveniences, as the team of the past few seasons has signally failed to do; basically, if we can’t take points from the likes of Rotherham (and the Wendies, and the Udders) – then we won’t deserve to do well.

All that is for next season, however.  Meanwhile it’s appropriate to congratulate Rotherham United – and their likeable manager – on a great display at Wembley and, of course, one of THE great Wembley goals of all time.  The Millers’ old Millmoor has been consigned to history, and I for one won’t miss that away end or the perilous alley behind it.  Their new stadium looks a fantastic place and, doubtless, the away end there will be packed out when it’s time for the Leeds United travelling army to visit the New York.

Well done Rotherham – see you next season.  Unlucky, Orient – and the best of good fortune in getting it right next time around.

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Rejoice! The Disgustingly Bigoted Daily Mail HATES Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Daily Heil - leaders of the gutter brigade

Daily Heil – leaders of the gutter brigade

Everybody knows that Leeds United aren’t exactly the toast of Fleet Street, or Wapping, or whatever geographical location you can choose these days as a symbol of the home and hearth of the English national press.  Actually, Fleet Street remains the single most appropriate spiritual location for the gutter end of our national newspaper industry – as the River Fleet was famously one of old London Town’s most noxious and disgusting open sewers.  Some things never really change.

Prominent among the Leeds-hating mainstream press is the scurrilous and disgusting Daily Mail – known as the “Daily Heil” by those of a discriminating nature who are all too well aware of this rag’s antecedents. The hacks at the Heil can always be relied upon to jump on the bandwagon of hating the Damned United in print and, these days, online too.  But it’s a fact that some publications are just so bloody awful that you wouldn’t actually want them printing a positive word about your beloved club.  It’d be a bit like getting a publicity break from Max Clifford.

The latest in a long line of articles with a distinct and rank anti-Leeds flavour appeared today under the byline of journalistic nonentity Patrick Collins, for whom you will search Wikipedia in vain – a damning indictment of the status and esteem of any “national” journalist.  This particular Patrick is not to be confused with Patrick Barclay, who is a distinguished and erudite sports writer. But the Lesser Patrick’s lazy piece, published by HeilOnline, was typical of the anti-Leeds genre – take a handy quote, put a conveniently negative spin on it, burble on a bit and then submit it, to an uncritical and tasteless editor.  Another day’s work done, another small addition to the Heil‘s record of shame.

One phrase ostensibly describing Don Revie’s Leeds United – and you can imagine the Lesser Patrick toiling over this until he thought he’d got it just right – went as follows: “Those of a certain age will recall a team of extravagant talent, irredeemably tainted by a taste for cynical brutality.”  Now there is rich irony here, albeit of the unconscious kind, something that will have sailed right over the empty head of your average Heil hack.  Because the fact is that, whenever such a wretched scribbler uses the words “irredeemably tainted”, readers everywhere will smile knowingly and think of the history of the Daily Heil. It’s not a story of which anybody but a moron such as Paul Dacre, or some of his allegedly noble and undeniably moronic predecessors, such as Lord Rothermere, could possibly be proud. The record of the Mail is littered with headlines which expose an editorial attitude that belongs in a Berlin bunker.  It is a history of abject shame and an utter poverty of proper journalistic and editorial standards.  If this is not true, then let them sue me.

Just to take the odd example from the past; in the 1930s, this “newspaper’s” proprietor, Lord Rothermere was vociferous in his support for various friends overseas, notably Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.  The Heil’s editorial stance towards these “heroes” of Fascism was therefore somewhat sympathetic, to say the very least. In January 1934, Rothermere himself penned an article headed “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” – and the paper provided details including an address to write to, in the earnest hope that “…young men may join the British Union of Fascists…” The Spectator commented at the time “…the Blackshirts, like the Daily Mail, appeal to people unaccustomed to thinking. The average Daily Mail reader is a potential Blackshirt ready made. When Lord Rothermere tells his clientèle to go and join the Fascists some of them pretty certainly will.”

More recently, the Heil has further immersed itself in disgrace and infamy with a series of headlines attacking minorities – usually conveniently vulnerable minorities – with absolutely no scruples as to whether or not their content contained any truth at all.  One example of this was the trumpeting of the alleged discovery of a “gay gene” which, the rag hoped, might lead to abortions of those pregnancies which could supposedly be identified as leading to the birth of what they would presumably refer to as “gay babies”.  The mind boggles painfully at that – but it’s pretty standard fare, sadly, for the Heil. Columnists in modern times have tended to include those who might be relied upon to continue the not-so-grand Heil tradition of bigotry and ignorance in print as well as online; the prejudiced, ridiculous and brainless Richard Littlejohn is an apt example of this policy.

For all of the reasons referred to above, I’m never all that bothered when another clueless and talent-free Daily Mail hack has a go at my beloved Leeds United. It’s an irritant, nothing more.  And the good bit is that it gives me the kind of excuse I’m always craving to have a go, in my small and humble way, at such a very despicable and diseased organ.

So keep it coming, you modern representatives of Rothermere’s shameful legacy. I’d hate to be identified in any positive way with such a very tawdry publication, fit as it is for nothing better than wiping rear ends; it follows that I’m almost always glad to see the football club I love attacked so regularly by the likes of the Heil.

After all, just as we are defined by the quality and decency of our friends and allies, so too can we be judged in the best possible light by the bigotry and stupidity of our critics and enemies. ‘Twas ever thus – and long may it continue to be true.

Simeone’s Tantrum Must Have Been Real-ly Sweet for Beckham – by Rob Atkinson

Mr. Angry "Cholo" Simeone

Mr. Angry “Cholo” Simeone

Atlético Madrid 1, Real Madrid 4 (aet) – Champions League Final 2014

David Beckham must have permitted himself the slightest of malicious smiles in the wake of his former club Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph over city rivals Atlético, who were coached by Beckham’s World Cup ’98 nemesis Diego Simeone. Those of a certain age will readily remember how the wily Argentinian fouled Beckham, who petulantly kicked out at his antagonist instead of getting up and getting on with it.

Beckham was foolish, but Simeone had exploited the situation to his best advantage, admitting later that he feigned injury from the kick in order to get the England player sent off.  That’s exactly what happened, and the gallant ten men of England ended up going out on penalties in a familiar hard luck story. The unfortunate if misguided Beckham was vilified at home for his immature reaction to Simeone’s deliberate provocation, something he took years to live down.  Surely he must have harboured some resentment ever since?

If he has, then that resentment might just have had the edge taken off it at the end of the Champions League Final in Lisbon at the weekend.  Leading 1-0 deep into stoppage time, Simeone’s Atlético team were cruelly pegged back by an equaliser in the 93rd minute.  In extra time, Real’s class told as they ran out 4-1 winners – all of which proved a touch too much for the temperamental Simeone, who completely lost it on the touchline and appeared to be trying to get at the referee or others on the pitch who had offended his sensibilities.

For Beckham, it must have felt like the ultimate pay-off.  He’d had quite a bit of his own back for the disaster of ’98 by scoring a penalty against Argentina to defeat them 1-0 in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup, which would prove to be Simeone’s last appearance on that exalted stage. But to see one of his former clubs in Real inflict such a hammer-blow on his old enemy must have been a moment of great satisfaction – human nature being what it is.

Simeone, who has had great success this season as his team won la Liga, consigning Real to the ignominy of third spot, felt this reverse as a bitter blow to which he clearly reacted bitterly.  It’s almost certain that he will face UEFA sanctions for his unseemly display as Atlético’s defeat was confirmed – and the way in which the baser end of his nature was revealed will long be remembered by those who were queuing up to praise him in advance of the Lisbon final.

It had even been suggested in that run-up to the game that a film should be made of the rise of the Madrid underdogs, with Burt Lancaster playing the part of coach “Cholo” Simeone.  Quite apart from the fact that Lancaster would find this a difficult role to play, on account of having been dead these past 20 years, it may now be felt that he wasn’t in any case an appropriate actor to portray Cholo’s complex mixture of passion, slyness and thuggery.

Vinnie & Eric

United old boys Vinnie & Eric

As to who possibly could play this demanding role – a cross between former Leeds United stars turned film actors Vinnie Jones and Eric Cantona might just be ideal, if impossible to find outside of this blog’s imagination.  It’s just a thought, after all – but apart from the errant Argie portraying himself, I just can’t think of a better candidate.