Daily Archives: 31/01/2015

Huddersfield Complete Hat-Trick of Cup Final Defeats – by Rob Atkinson

2-1 in yer latest Cup Final...

2-1 in yer latest Cup Final…

Almost exactly a year ago, Huddersfield Town rolled up to Elland Road confident of easy pickings against a Leeds United side traumatised by the events of “Black Friday” – the eve of the local derby when a new owner-in-waiting sacked the manager and all of a sudden moves were afoot among the media to get our captain to declare he wanted out.

Bad times, as anyone would agree. Could the Whites bounce back and do a job on their mad-keen neighbours Huddersfield? For lowly Town, this was always one of the big fixtures – their fans demanded a victory over the Goliath from the big city. At first all seemed well for the minnows – they were ahead and, in one corner of the stadium their small pack of fans yapped and barked gleefully, prominent among the songs being a taunt about Captain McCormack not wanting to play for Leeds.

Prescient as that appears now, at the time it was a joke too far and McCormack, with the help of his team-mates in white, rammed the quip back down those doggy throats as the Terriers were eclipsed 5-1 in a stunning comeback. McCormack scored three, and it was a silent and bedraggled pack of hounds that sloped off back to their kennels that night.

Poor Huddersfield fared no better on their next visit to Elland Road, earlier this season, when Leeds put three past them without reply and could easily have had more. Again, the away support was silenced early as Rudy Austin slammed home an opener in front of the South Stand. Then Bellusci struck a sublime chip against the Town bar, the rebound dispatched firmly by Antenucci – and it was Antenucci again to complete the scoring after the interval. For me, the day was embellished by corporate hospitality and selfies with Terry Yorath and Massimo Cellino himself. It was a particularly good day for Leeds – but for Town it was their second Cup Final trouncing in just a few months. Surely, things could only get better for our canine friends?

Sadly for dog-lovers everywhere, today illustrated the fact that there has been no improvement in the fortunes of West Yorkshire’s poor relations – dogged though their efforts may be, they are seemingly doomed to failure. At their Meccano stadium, Town must have been hoping it would be third time lucky after two fruitless trips to Elland Road. But Leeds set about them early, hounding the poor pups for every ball, and were soon rewarded with a neat finish from Sam Byram to give the visitors the lead.

Town rallied, scoring from a corner before the interval and it was a fairly scruffy battle in the second half, decided late on when sub Billy Sharp hurled himself at a cross ball to bury his header in the Huddersfield net. With time about up, it seemed a certain winner, but a nasty-looking injury to Town’s Tommy Smith delayed the end of the game as Leeds held out through an interminable period of added time. The final whistle eventually signalled United’s third successive victory over their humble neighbours and, with better news of the stricken Smith coming later on, the day had ended well for Leeds at least.

So, despite all that desperate doggy desire, despite those troublesome chips on Town shoulders where Leeds are concerned, it’s been business as usual today, with Leeds taking the spoils – and so, the poor dogs had none. These are bleak times for Town fans, for whom each season is all about whether they can possibly snatch a rare victory over Leeds. That’s gone for another year – so what now for the Huddersfield breed? Can they bounce back? Will their manager survive yet another Cup Final defeat? Will any of them watch the highlights on the BBC?

Never mind any of that. Leeds won. Again. So who really gives a toss?

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Celtic, Rangers and The Old Firm: the Enlightenment of a Leeds Fan – by Rob Atkinson

Old Firm - healthy rivalry?

Old Firm – healthy rivalry?

Following on from yesterday’s Old Firm piece which was provoked by an advert placed by Celtic fans in the Scottish Sunday Herald, I find myself one day on having taken quite a lot on board. I’m somewhat bewildered by the strength of feeling on both sides of the argument, considerably better informed as to the legal position insofar as it defines the status and existence of Glasgow Rangers FC – and not one whit persuaded away from my original position that trying to wish or argue a rival football club out of existence is just plain wrong.

I’ve been accused of many things by those outraged over yesterday’s piece. Some of these people have been Leeds fans – the very last people I would expect to support the idea of football fans wishing the worst that can happen to rivals – to lose their very history. One Leeds guy asked me why I was speaking up for the Rangers end of things “as Leeds have far more links with Celtic”. It’s difficult to know whether to take people seriously at times. Am I really to be guided by the irrelevant fact of which clubs are closest or more nearly linked to my own team?

I should say yet again that I am not a Rangers fan. I’ve never really been able to decide who to back in Old Firm games, but I’ve always watched them for the sheer spectacle. So I’ve tended to hope that whichever team seems currently to be playing the better and more attractive should prevail. I’ve generally enjoyed the blood and thunder of these fixtures. From now on, though, I’ll probably be hoping (vainly, I’m sure, on Sunday) for Rangers success whenever these two meet. I’ve just been so shocked and horrified by the sheer spite and malicious venom displayed by the majority of Celtic fans who responded.

The thing is, I know what it is truly to hate another football club. I find it hard to describe the depths of my loathing for Manchester United. I despise them and all they stand for – I feel they’ve been instrumental in bending our game completely out of shape this past two decades. But wish them out of existence? No, not at all. I want that rivalry, I want them there so that I can carry on hating them. I’ve published articles decrying their debatable achievements since Murdoch bought the game and skewed it in their favour – but I wouldn’t want to be without them. They’re the gift that keeps on giving for someone who relishes a bit of sporting hatred.

So the attitude of so many Celtic fans simply baffles me, as well as leaving me a bit cold. I can’t relate to such dog-in-the-manger lack of empathy with fellow fans, it is alien to me – and I hope to most proper fans of the game. I’m also persuaded by a lot of what I’ve read in an extensive comments thread that not only do Rangers have a tradition and history case for claiming to have survived as a club – this appears to be the legal position too – despite the wishful thinking clung to, against all logic and precedent, by so many Celtic fans.

I hope the Old Firm game tomorrow is a good one. I expect Celtic to win – and it will be interesting to see the fans’ reaction when they score, against what they are claiming is a new club with no history and no tradition of rivalry with the Celts. And yet I’m willing to bet there’s not a ticket to be had with a sold-out Celtic allocation – and that they’ll celebrate with joyful abandon any goals scored against a team they now deny makes up the Old Firm of glorious tradition.

Hypocrisy, a lack of feeling for the game and what it means to be a fan – and rank, vicious hatred not just for Rangers FC, but for their history and the fact that they have out-performed Celtic over the century-plus of the Scottish League. That sums up what I’ve gleaned of the green and white psyche this past twelve hours or so. It’s not something I’d have thought anyone could be proud of – whereas everything I’ve heard from Rangers fans has rung with pride and passion – despite their long fall and slow climb back.

Enjoy the match tomorrow, may the best team win. And may we have many more Old Firm games in the future.

Gotcha!! Football League Torpedo Enemy Ship “General Massimo” – by Rob Atkinson

The sinking of the "Massimo" - as reported by "The Scum"

The sinking of the “Massimo” – as reported by “The Scum”

In a terse communique issued at 0001 hours Saturday 31 January 2015, the Football League spokesman Herr M. Thatcher confirmed that the enemy Italian vessel known as the General Massimo has been torpedoed, with eye-witness reports saying that the stricken ship has sunk without trace.

This military attack was ordered at the highest level, Obergruppenführer Harvey himself having authorised the strike personally. It has been confirmed by the Football League High Command that the Massimo was seen and photographed well inside a pre-defined 200 mile exclusion zone drawn around the Leeds United team. Claims that the Massimo was in fact steaming away from the team at the time the torpedo was launched have been dismissed as frivolous. Herr Thatcher insisted: “In our opinion, the Massimo still presented a clear and present danger of positive motivation to the Leeds team – we had no choice other than to strike hard and decisively in order to obviate this deep peril.”

Sadly, the League have also confirmed that a more covert operation, whereby a special agent was infiltrated into the Huddersfield v Leeds game in the guise of a referee, has failed to bear fruit. The despicable Leeds side tragically struck in the 90th minute to score what turned out to be the winner – despite Agent Foy adding on 55 minutes of overtime.

To add insult to injury, it is now being reported that the Commander of the General Massimo, one Captain Cellino, has escaped the wreck and was last seen heading for safety aboard the lost ship’s principal life-yacht, the Nélie.

More on the Huddersfield v Leeds game will follow later.