Boro Took the Mick, Mowatt Took the Chance, Leeds Took the Points – by Rob Atkinson


Gibson

This blog has had plenty to say over the past few months about the Football League and its attitude towards Leeds United. That’s a bone of contention that goes back many years, to the days of the late and, quite frankly, unlamented Alan Hardaker.

The current League v Leeds stand-off surrounds United’s temporarily disbarred owner, Massimo Cellino, for whom the suits appear to have it in, big style. Doubtless, many owners and administrators at other clubs will have had a quiet chuckle to themselves over the Leeds situation, particularly those who, unlike the oft-hounded Cellino, appear to be getting away with murder – or at least rape, grand larceny, money-laundering and making a cushy living from the distribution of porn. It’s usually open season on Leeds, and clearly even those of dubious scruples will feel free to have a giggle, if unobserved.

There’s a certain etiquette to this, however; you don’t publicly laugh and point a mocking finger, lest such an overt show of disrespect should rebound on you, leaving you with egg dripping off your face and looking pretty silly. After all, why antagonise and motivate a foe about to meet you on the field of battle? Why do their rabble-rousing for them? There’s little to be gained in making a joke when there’s a danger of that joke, ultimately, being on you. It’s known as “setting yourself up for a fall”, or as we might say in the Broad Acres, “Beggin’ for thi arse to be kicked”. It’s really not wise and best avoided. Most sensible people realise this and conduct themselves accordingly. Not so, it seems, Middlesbrough FC. They risked looking stupid with their “Fit and Proper” banner, pictured above. And, one smash and grab defeat later, stupid is just what they look – however fit and proper Boro owner Steve Gibson might normally be.

It really is rather difficult to understand the thinking, the strategic logic, behind such a pointless gesture. Alright, this blog has added its own six penn’orth with the text over the picture – but we’re in a position to do that. The battle is over, the winners are celebrating a seasonal haul of six points, the losers are licking their wounds and wondering what the hell happened. Now is the time to gloat and, if the gloating is done by throwing an unwise pre-match taunt back in the crestfallen face of the unwise taunter, then so much the sweeter it is. It’s the state of mind that convinced someone this was a good idea in the first place – that’s the thing baffling me. What’s to be gained? Very little, surely. But you stand to lose much if you psyche-up capable opponents by blowing raspberries before hostilities commence. You might very well lose the match, as well as a lot of face. This is what happened to Middlesbrough, and serve them right. Surely, someone up there in Smogland is regretting that banner right now.

In professional sport, this kind of stuff matters – more than you might think. There’s a fine line between victory and defeat, and every competitor strives for any marginal advantage. It’s by accruing those small gains that you enhance your chances of success. It’s hardly rocket science, but it is Sports Psychology. And line one on page one of that book reads: Do not hand your opponent the initiative by saying or doing something daft to rile them up before the game. That’s the First Commandment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting Leeds United’s victory at Boro down to one daft banner. Nevertheless, it could well have been a factor. A player in the United team might have seen it and thought “Cheeky gets!”, before mentally rolling up the sleeves and getting ready to demonstrate the unwisdom of taking the mick. Some of the wiser heads on the Boro side may equally have been having a little groan to themselves and damning the stupidity of whoever had risked winding Leeds up to give them a hard time. Even small factors make a difference.

It wasn’t that good a banner anyway – rather embarrassing if anything. The way it furled gave the impression that somebody had stepped on Mr. Gibson’s face whilst it was still warm, leaving it looking lop-sidedly ridiculous. A banner so large must have had club approval – it just defies belief that they should sanction such a blatant own goal.

On the evidence of the Boro game, I’m still fairly certain that the Smoggies will go up. They’re a seriously good side and – well as Leeds undeniably played – if Signor Silvestri had been in less miraculously-inspired form, we could well have been buried. I’d seen Middlesbrough performing well in Cup games at Man City and Arsenal and, realistically, I worried for us. But things went our way, we battled hard, our keeper looked as if he could show King Canute up and actually hold back the tide – it just went our way; well done us.

How much, if at all, did that banner aid our cause? We’ll never know, clearly. But I do know it’s not the sort of thing I’d like to see at Leeds. We have enough trouble winning games (with due deference to this great recent run) without doing the opposition’s team talk for them. It’s just not a good idea at all.

Silly Boro – really very silly. Many thanks for the six points, though. We’ll miss you next year for that much, I suppose – but not for your strangely daft, weirdly unfunny sense of “humour”.

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34 responses to “Boro Took the Mick, Mowatt Took the Chance, Leeds Took the Points – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I was overjoyed when Leeds won, and the Boro banner did err on the side of sanctimoniousness (if there is such a word). Am I the only Leeds fan, however, who wonders where OUR Steve Gibson is? I initially liked Cellino’s swagger and defiance plus the fact that he seemed to understand, in a way Ridsdale and Bates never did, what it means to be “Leeds”. But I don’t like him choosing players to sign, which should always be the manager’s job, and I think he’s in danger of being the sideshow that overshadows the main attraction. A seriously minted, fanatically Leeds-minded West Yorks version of Gibson, who invested and didn’t interfere with team matters, could take us back to the level where we belong. Anyone know one?!

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  2. We might meet them in the playoffs yet.I dare to dream.alot of points to play for yet.twists and turns a plenty.

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  3. Higher up the table now than the wendies and the dog botherers.

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  4. Spot on like when the dog botherers painted Billy prior to getting beat 4.0, wish all teams were as stupid

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  5. Terry Walls

    We may have been a little fortunate yet we could quite easily, with a little luck, have scored two more. A keeper is there to stop shots. He did a magnificent job. The Leeds United work ethic proved to be superb, with everyone showing a great desire. They actually looked proud to wear the shirt. Long may this continue.

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  6. This league is still wide open , yesterdays results prove that , the jan window was a good one for leeds and i still think a play-off place is up for grabs with so many points still to play for ,, the next 3 games are massive and will decide our season…

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  7. AllWhiteNow

    what sort of a bumhole club and supporters put time, money and effort into a banner that size lauding An Owner – A MoneyMan. LUFC has been cursed and mismanaged by a succession of MoneyMen with only a very few exceptions to prove the rule.
    Great performance by our lads – Bamba plays with the style and focus of a young Radebe about him – oh how we would wish that his captaining the side augurs the start of something as majestic and inspirational as the sainted Lucas. MOT

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  8. RoystonLUFC

    And another thing, That drummer. Leeds fans don’t need artificial means to generate an atmosphere and nor should any other club. I just hope that if some fools ever decide to become the Leeds band, that they hobble out of the stadium with their instruments surgically implanted.

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    • I remember it was briefly tried, loudly booed and then sheepishly abandoned. All they got from the Kop was “Stand uuup, if you hate the band!!” I’ve always thought of it as a very Wendy thing to inflict on a proud old stadium and set of fans.

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  9. Great blog and some great comments. Hope the current run of success continues. Onwards and Upwards.

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  10. sniffersshorts

    The look on wan king karanka said it all at the end , his paltry acknowledgement of redders at the end of the game just said sore loser. We were battered but resolute and our keeper was atonishing , Mr Cellino told us so on this guy, boy wonder. Some times you ride your luck , and I will take this win on the basis we scored they didn’t , goals win games defending your line after you score wins games. Their pathetic attempt to rile us was just that , I stick to stiff fingers up to borough may our hex continue. MOT

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  11. Cellin-who, we are better off without him. Redfearn WILL be buzzing after that game for the resolute way we withstood there attack, its a bigger buzz as winning 5-0

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  12. Great blog as always. It’s time for self righteous “saddo’s” at other football clubs, to concentrate on their own football clubs, instead of watching and commenting on every move that Leeds make and wringing their hands in disgust, like they are all “goody two shoes”, which they are certainly not.
    People like that fat bloke at Rotherham, should also mind their own business.
    On the subject of that terrible ill fated Elland Road Band. I remember singing “stand up if you hate the band”, during the mid 1990’s, when they were embarrassingly positioned in the South West Corner of the South Stand. They soon vanished, after that mischievous taunt.
    I also remember, during that same period, the right and left sides of the Kop, taunting us in the front section of the Kop, with “Cardboard give us a song”.

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    • I still can’t get over the sheer, dribbling daftness of it!

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    • sniffersshorts

      Paul I do so agree Fatty Evans, is just typical of a manager who at the start of the season got a result over us, as we always say cup final mentality. he really does shoot himself in the foot everytime, well we are pulling clear it is your lot that are in the crap. after a 5 nil mauling at Wolves he still bemoaned how unlucky he was and oh the injustice…. best get back to div 1 mate whinging prick ….. STFU … gloating pig your true Jealousy shows

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  13. belgian white

    Putting the banner to one side rob, more worse was the boro c*** wearing a galatasaray shirt..so not only the bermondsey scum are at it then, when will they learn that it only makes us united!!! Over for the blackburn game @ easter MOT from belgium

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  14. Aaah, I remember in misty-eyed sentimentality a time when Leeds United had the ability to go 1-0 up, and it was “good-night Nurse”, because we had the players who could shut the gate and the opposition rarely got back into the game. Three away wins and two away clean sheets on the bounce. A bunch of rapidly improving, hard-working youngsters giving everything for the shirt and for the unproven manager who showed faith in them. A truly “united” squad. I’m getting a bit giddy, but this all looks vaguely familiar!

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  15. Helen LUFC

    Seems a bit ironic that since Cellino has been away we have started playing better and winning.mshows his interference in Redfearns work is counter productive.

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    • I wondered about this, but someone else pointed out the good run also coincides with Redders having an assistant at last. Pays yer money, takes yer choice. But it’ll be interesting to see how things go when the Sheriff’s back in town…

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      • …and the addition of Bamba. A stellar signing. Great blog by the way ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Thanks, and I agree about Sol. We MUST keep him!

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      • sniffersshorts

        have to agree the introduction of Thomson he has been instrumental for a winning formula, I am a little worried Massimo may start asking why many of his compatriots are not playing, the almost all home grown turnout just lately, save Ruddy, your starter for ten thanks Bamba, and our amazing keeper has the Don Revie style written all over it. But what I am loving is you need to play for the shirt, you don’t perform in training and if you don’t apply yourself you don’t play in the first team even if you are Brazilian, its the strong Yorkshire ethic at work and why I have always loved Leeds United, even though I am Landan born, I am a Yorkshireman a heart. as we always say if we see a good shift we appreciate it, winning is the cream the cat gets. am loving it. lets hope we get a result away to the shirt lifters MOT I think Cellino will be grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire cat (sic)!!!!!!!!!!!!

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