One of the most potentially effective means whereby Leeds United fans’ discontent and opposition to the current Elland Road regime could be co-ordinated and focused is the wealth of fan forums out there. There’s the chance here for a collective voice of protest, for some kind of unified voice raised against the Fred Karno’s Army who are running things now. A much more effective army is out there and waiting to be mobilised. But, for the time being, all the potential thus afforded is being wasted in the insistence on one-upmanship, puerile and cringe-worthy humour – and the apparent need to nip in the bud any attempt at serious discussion of the issues that face our club.
The WACCOE Forum is a major offender. I should really declare an interest, as I have been virtually silenced on there for the crime of failing to go along with the right-wing, hard-of-thinking hard-core “laddish tendency” that seems to call the shots. That’s hardly going to have me singing their praises – but, the fact is that there are some seriously deep thinkers on there, people who could do a lot of good. If only they weren’t continually stifled by the Beavis & Butthead atmosphere that seems to reign. WACCOE used to be a lot more of a force for good than it is now – sadly, the overgrown schoolboys seem to have taken over, abusing powers of “moderation” on a whim, interested only in what amounts to a series metaphorical “weeing highest up the wall” contests, with each successive contributor desperately trying to outdo the one before, hoping against hope for a lol, or something similarly brainless.
It’s frustrating. A lot of the time, a topic will start off as something you think might go somewhere, and the first few responses develop a promising theme, with interesting points of view appearing. And then – somebody has to say something frightfully witty – and it degenerates from there. Very sad, and a waste of everyone’s time – particularly when you think of the urgent need for co-operation and a bit of constructive thinking. But the self-appointed guardians of the Forum ethos won’t have it, so it all ends up back at the lowest common denominator, with the chief offenders frantically reassuring each as to what fine and zany guys they all are. It happens time and time again, with wearisome predictability.
I’m aware that there are other forums out there, some of whom may not have plumbed the depths to quite the same extent as WACCOE and, to a lesser degree, the Service Crew Forum. But I still haven’t quite acquired the habit of anywhere else, so it’s these two that I tend to use as a yardstick of how the Leeds forums online are conducting themselves – and of how effective they might be should the time come when the fans have no other choice but to mobilise against people who seem set fair to run our club into the ground.
Ironically, people on WACCOE sometimes point a finger at this blog, alleging that no other views than mine or those closely agreeing with mine are allowed. Well, for a start, this is not a Forum – it’s a blog – although it can occasionally act like a forum, as there are frequently lively exchanges of opinion in the response thread to many of the articles. Where I do refuse to print something submitted, it’s almost always because of the level of personal abuse contained in it; one of these days, I’ll put a few of the rejected comments together and open a few eyes. From the level of whinging about this on WACCOE, I can only assume that many of these abusive comments originate from the sewer end of their readership – well, just grow up a bit guys, and express yourselves like adults, and I won’t be deleting you – will I?
The fact is, though, that WACCOE was set up is a Forum – they don’t do articles as such, it’s all about topics for discussion. I would challenge the moderators to demonstrate that my few recent contributions were so offensive as to be banned from appearing – they weren’t offensive at all, of course. Mine is a blanket ban, because the sensitive souls who moderate the thing can’t bear being challenged or disagreed with. Which makes their allegations of censorship on Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything slightly ironic – to say the least.
The point is, of course, that everybody with the interests of Leeds United at heart needs to up their game right now – because it’s more than likely that we’re going to have to make ourselves heard as a fanbase in the near future – if things continue to go downhill at Elland Road. That cause is bigger by far than any petty disagreement between neighbouring internet locations – but it surely means also that there is some growing up to be done in places like WACCOE, where the emphasis currently is on sticking the head in the sand when anything serious is raised, and having a jolly good big boys’ laugh about it all – whilst seeing who can wee the highest, naturally. It’s as pathetic as it is unproductive, and you can imagine how it affects the silent majority. What you get is the usual suspects, over and over again, self-indulgently dominating and ruining what could be a very good and useful internet resource for Leeds United fans – if only it wasn’t so insistent on the clique approach, with in-jokes, puns and other frightful examples of schoolboy humour, against the background of a determinedly blind eye turned towards anything they don’t like.
This blog will continue to shout as loudly as possible and hope to be right at least as often as it’s wrong. There’s been some humble pie eaten here lately, as the position of the blog has switched from pro-Cellino to anti – but there’s nothing to be gained by refusing to acknowledge a mistake once it’s been identified. You have to take a deep breath, trim your sails for a new prevailing wind, and sail on, hopefully in the right direction. I was wrong to back Cellino. I’ve taken that on the chin after a real effort at being loyal – and now I’m seeking what I believe would be a better future for the club I love. I know that many will condemn me for that, but equally there are many who agree. The best you can do is call it as you see it and go with the dictates of your conscience.
If it does come to a gloves-off fight between the fans and the current Leeds regime, than I would hope that a massive proportion of Leeds’ massive support would want to be in there, battling for the right outcome and a better future. In which case, the more United we can be, the better it will bode for that future. And it will be a case of “the more, the merrier” – so I do think it would be a good idea if some of the saner souls over at WACCOE – and other forums – could possibly start thinking about getting some actual grown-ups into positions of moderation – so that a change of tone and standards might be achieved, from the annoyingly adolescent to something that could be incredibly useful in a unified Leeds fan movement. That seems like common sense to me. The way things are at WACCOE right now, it’s easy to pick holes in the way the forum is run and the consequent dumbing-down of content. But that gives me no pleasure – I’d rather see it as the powerful force for fan protest that it definitely could be.
Really – is that too much to ask?