Happy Silver Celebration for a Leeds United Widow – by Rob Atkinson

June 3rd, 1989

Bear with me this once, gentle reader, as I thank my partner in life for twenty-five years of wedded more-or-less bliss – and for the patient tolerance with which she’s borne her status as a Leeds United widow all this time. It’s self-indulgent – but this blog feels the need to pay tribute.

You know you’re fortunate in the ladies that adorn your life, when they share in the joy and sorrow that visit you from time to time as a result of your preoccupation with what is a daft game in general – and one daft club in particular. So it is for me, and that’s why I’m so grateful to have the wife and daughter I have, lasses who will celebrate and commiserate with me as appropriate when really they’re both far more interested in The Great British Bake-Off.

This happy fact is illustrated by a few incidents over the years. When Man City won the Title a couple of seasons back, I was rescued from utter misery as it had looked as though the Pride of Devon were going to nick it in a typically undeserving fashion. So my daughter Kate (not pictured above, for obvious reasons) hurtled downstairs to celebrate with me when that last-gasp Aguero goal went in, knowing exactly how I felt, ready to rejoice in the tragedy that had befallen the scum. My ladies know that the love of Leeds United is closely enmeshed with an absolute hatred of everything concerned with the Theatre of Hollow Myths, and they are prepared to join with me in this, despite a female inability to understand or completely relate to it.

So also, twenty-two years ago, Mrs Rob was “over the moon” for me, as we football types say, when the Real United became the Last Champions. She came out with me to celebrate, dragging through to Leeds City Centre with me on a Sunday morning in those pre-car days when we had to hop a train to get anywhere. She shared the celebration of City Square and the Headrow as the team waved the Championship trophy at us and Eric Cantona told us deceitfully how he loved us.

It was so fitting that she should be there for that moment of achievement, despite her preference for matters less frivolous than football. She’d been the first woman I’d ever taken to Elland Road who hadn’t jinxed the occasion. After a series of relationship-ending defeats in the company of lesser ladies, I took my newish fiancée along for her Leeds debut with some trepidation. What if she let me down as so many others had? I’d shelled out for a ring and everything, after all. But, where several others had failed before her, the future Mrs Rob came through faultlessly. We beat Sheffield United 5-0 and John Pearson even scored a hat-trick. I knew then that she was confirmed beyond doubt as The One.

Much later, on holiday in the South of France, with a seven year old child in tow, Mrs Rob positively insisted that I should abandon them both on their camp-site to take a train to Barcelona and see us hammered 4-0 in the opening match of the Champions League proper, the year we went all the way to the semis. I ended up in 5 star luxury before and after the match, whilst she held the fort – well, the tent. I thought then, that was above and beyond the call of duty.

It was twenty-five years ago today that we tied the knot at St Peters church in Horbury on one of those “four seasons” days when we had a bit of everything weather-wise, but when the sun obediently appeared when the photographer demanded it. Some gave us linen, some gave us crockery, some gave us the traditional kitchen appliances. And some gave us six months. But here we are, a quarter of a century on, ready for another twenty-five years or so of life’s and football’s battles, tragedies and triumphs. Who knows what the future will bring?

That first year of marriage brought a house-move, a change of jobs for us both – and promotion to the top flight for Leeds United. That last thing would do for me this time around, the other two being fortunately off the agenda.

Happy Anniversary, love – and thanks for everything.

26 responses to “Happy Silver Celebration for a Leeds United Widow – by Rob Atkinson

  1. sniffersshorts

    Congratulations Rob, loved the jinxed bit, funny that they do generally seem to jinx the situation when it comes to football, not only do they tell you, you will never win this game for your own club ….. its England as well, my missus is always England don’t win anything, but come the day they are playing, they want to be in the room ……. talking about all and sundry ….. and just as they do, you get distracted and the opposition scores ….. and its told you so, then they bugger off out, we get a goal 5 minutes from time, and they are in the room again to give cheer…… for gods sake bugger off is going thru me mind ….. I love her really but Jinx off …… please sweetheart …… shit they have scored again ….. oh well you can take me shopping now grrrrrrr


  2. Congratulations too; the purple patch of my wife’s support for all things Leeds United came 27 years ago when she came to a good number of games at ER as well as the Charlton play off and the semi at Hillsborough. Since then; nothing. Do the maths; it figures (married in August 1987….). Or perhaps I’m being cynical.
    I’ve not replied to your blog before; every article is a great read. Witty, perceptive, incisive. And the rest.


    • Many thanks for the kind words and for sharing your experience of how Leeds United fits into a marriage! I appreciate the advice and feedback too – which I won’t carry on the blog, but will act upon. I’d had my doubts about that, so it’s useful to have some users’ perspective. Thanks again – MOT


  3. Just gone 26 years for me Rob. Believe it or not we met in the Gelderd End.Hher support has drifted but she knows better than to question mine. A la Barnstoneworth, the crockery is hidden when we take a hiding, and she and the kids know that treats will come with LUFC success. I think she knows that she is a close second, and is happy with that.

    Congrats on the silver


  4. It’s hard to find a good footballing wife. Never managed to get mine to go to any games but she has always supported me going, although it did get a bit dodgy when I went when she was two weeks overdue with our first born. This was before mob phones so I did the honorable thing and gave her the number for Elland Rd.


    • I well remember the occasional tannoy plea for Mr So-and-so in the Gelderd to nip off to LGI where his good lady was in the throes of labour. There was always a good-humoured blast of ribaldry as the guilty man either made haste or stayed put, depending on the order of his priorities (and how Leeds United were doing). Mobile phones have a lot to answer for.


  5. All I can say is your better half deserves a medal of some sorts! Congratulations to you both Rob. The old adage is true, behind every successful man is a good woman! Sadly my other half follows Man City (don’t ask, Julian Goater or some other farm animal being the reason apparently) here’s to your next 25 mate.


  6. Congratulations Rob I wish I could guarantee my hubby and myself reaching 25 years.
    After disastrous marriages we found each other again years after we both used to go with my father to Elland Road aged 11.
    We have a joint love of all things united .
    It’s wonderful being with someone who cares as much as I do about our team.
    This year is our seventh and we hope for many more.


    • Most kind, Jan, thank you. Yours is a lovely story of “meant to be”, I’m glad you shared it – and I’m sure you both have many happy years ahead of you 🙂 MOT


  7. I took my wife to watch leeds playing Zurich , we stood in the gelderd end where I always stood this was in the mid seventies. We were 5 nil up at half time she turned and said to me ( it would be nice if the other team scored) . Everybody round about just looked at her. It was the beginning of the end that great side. ,Gordon McQueen had a fight with David Harvey and went to Man.u shortly afterwards. Congratulations Rob to you and wife . IT’S our 45th this year, time flies when your having fun. Have a great anniversary.MOT


  8. congratulations rob ,,
    Mrs atkinson looks a picture , here’s to the next 25 mate……


  9. keith white



  10. Many congratulations Rob, it was August 82 for me in The Minster church Dewsbury. It felt strange, a Wakefield boy getting hitched in Dewsbury but here we are almost 32 years on and she still puts up with the grumpyness when the whites lose.
    I took her once when the boys pen was in the Kop, I told her it would be a good game against Spurs 1980 or 81 maybe. However it was a boring 0-0 and she thought it was too rough.What? 0-0, boys pen, too rough. She never wanted to come again so I was left in peace with my Leeds obsession, BLISS.
    MOT for another 25 years at least.


  11. Well done Rob I know how you feel I am on 27th year and I am glad to say she has never said Its Only A Game>>>>. cheers and all the best MOT


  12. belfastpete

    Lovely Lady


  13. You should frame your tribute, it must have got you some brownie points! Congratulations, Rob and Mrs Rob


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