The latest in a series of increasingly bitter and skewed anti-Leeds articles under the byline of Harry Wall appeared today, seeking to capitalise on the current Russell Crowe rumours. Harry writes – on tennis, mainly – for the pisspoor online outlet “Give Me Sport” – otherwise known by exasperated persons of taste and discernment as “Give Me Strength“. The GMS output is characterised by lack of depth, an absence of any real research and a tendency uncritically to publish bile-ridden rubbish written by hopeful kids seeking to gain entry to a world plainly beyond their capabilities. Harry has settled on tennis as his main area of incompetence – but he just can’t resist having the odd ill-directed and misconceived pop at Leeds United from time to time. It’s like an itch he simply has to scratch – and he’s not shy about making a fool of himself in the process. Sadly, as someone once said about Geoffrey Howe – “it’s like being savaged by a dead sheep”. History shows that Geoffrey bit back – but poor Harry simply lacks the teeth.
If you trace back Harry’s online GMS portfolio just a few months, you will find (interspersed among his clueless tennis stuff) many articles – for want of a better word – about his football obsession, Leeds United. The tone of these pieces is invariably uncomplimentary; we are left assuming that Harry is one of that sad, lost legion who “all hate Leeds” – but have no idea as to why. Usually, it turns out that Daddy told them to. Should you, perchance, be a victim of insomnia, I would invite you to trawl through these articles – you’ll almost certainly find a temporary cure for your condition and the relief of blessed sleep. Otherwise, perhaps, you might be content with my potted summary further on.
Our beloved Whites have, it seems, kept young Harry quite busy over the past three months, as he attempts to refine what is a one-dimensional and ineffective writing style. If frequency of output counts for anything, then perhaps he’d be due an award of some sort – but sadly, the lack of any real quality makes it overwhelmingly likely that he’ll have to seek a living elsewhere. Meanwhile, as an aspiring thorn in the side of a great football club, he does make a mediocre tennis correspondent.
So what has beginner scribbler Harry had to say? In truth, not a lot – but he’s had a good few cracks at his favourite target. All of his attempts share the time-saving advantage of the headline having more content than the article – once you’ve read the banner, that’s pretty much it. If we go back three months, we can count 23 spiteful little sallies against Leeds among Harry’s stock-in-trade tennis rubbish. That’s a lot, even for an obsessive – or maybe young Hal simply knows what it takes to catch the eye of people who might otherwise be tempted to give his stuff a wide berth. Mention Leeds in a negative sense – and the Leeds-hating thousands will gather, buzzing about eagerly, as flies do in the vicinity of dog-crap.
Starting those three months ago, Harry first inserts his foot in his mouth with his verdict that Leeds made a mistake selling Ross McCormack for £11m. Riiiight. Shortly afterwards he explains how the Whites were wrong also to sack a “top manager” … in Neil Warnock, believe it or not. Well launched now on a path of foolish fantasy, Harry goes on to advise that the Leeds promotion plan should involve the sale of their young stars. This is Harry in optimistic mode; he seems to believe that somebody might be listening. Next, he’s eagerly predicting relegation unless “big money is spent”, along with his opinion that Neil Redfearn is “not the right man for Leeds”. Then there’s an upset silence as far as United is concerned, which coincides with improved form for Leeds – but just over a month ago, Harry is back with a hopeful piece opining that the Whites’ relegation worries are not yet behind them: a “serious test” awaited – apparently. Then, there was his laughable opinion that United deserved punishment for their “poor treatment” of Millwall fans (he is silent on what happened when Rotherham United treated them rather more leniently – and suffered a riot as a result).
Lately, Harry has sulkily abandoned any hope that Leeds might yet go down, and has focused his woefully meagre talents on trying to drum up interest once again in the club’s young diamonds. Alex Mowatt, it seems, is “playing his way towards an Elland Road exit” and is also “Just what Man Utd need”. Mischievous, maybe – but the tone and standard sadly still fail to rise above that of a spiteful schoolboy. The next club Harry was trying to sell Mowatt to was Liverpool – and then, this morning, he concludes that the Russell Crowe talk is irrefutable proof that Leeds are now “a joke”.
Twenty-three pieces of time-wasting guff – probably a total of five minutes of blandly forgettable content; five minutes of my life that I will now never get back – but at least I’m getting a blog out of it and having a little giggle to myself. As we can see from the picture at the top, Harry is a beardless, fresh-faced youth – and we can perhaps excuse him much on that account. He’s trying to make his way in the world, and he’ll be neither the first not the last to take his first few faltering steps down what is clearly the wrong path. Later in life, when he’s abandoned his pipe dreams and settled for mundane mediocrity in some other, less demanding field, he may look back on these fledgling efforts, and be glad he didn’t pursue those goals, courting inevitable disillusion and disappointment. But that, after all, is a matter for him.
Of greater concern is the fact that an online outlet that purports to be a serious source of sports-writing can rely so heavily on such inexperienced and naive contributors. Nobody’s best interests are served here – not the writer, whose inadequacies are cruelly exposed; nor his targets, who may find the naive out there actually believing some of this rubbish; definitely not the readership, opening articles under different headlines, only to find the same old repetitive nonsense – and, surely above all, not GMS themselves, who shall find that by the standards of their contributors shall they be judged. Long term, no online outlet can afford to compromise on quality – that way a fatal loss of credibility lies. You can’t fool all the people, all the time…
Meanwhile, it seems likely that poor little Harry will be chuffed enough with himself to continue having his infantile pokes at a club with whom he has no apparent connection. I’m aware that a lot of people will feel that this piece is merely drawing attention to an attention-seeker – and I’ll probably get and ignore the usual spam content in reply – but I think it’s worthwhile, simply to establish that there is a common factor in a series of Leeds-bashing pieces that have run on this particular excuse for a sports news outlet. At least now, if we see another such on the same substandard site, we can think to ourselves: “No need to read this – it’s just daft little Harry again”.
Which is probably best for all concerned.