Daily Archives: 19/08/2015

Leeds Let It Slip Late; But Sky Should Sack Disgraceful Paul Walsh   –   by Rob Atkinson

Chris Wood celebrates his first United goal

For those of us trying to keep up with events at Ashton Gate via Sky’s Soccer Special, it was relatively simple to gauge the progress of Leeds United at Bristol City – simply by listening to how hopeful, depressed, bored, hopeful again and ultimately jubilant was the demeanour of the most disgracefully biased match reporter, in Paul Walsh, that it’s been my misfortune to witness. 

Hating Leeds is a media preoccupation, we know that. But do they have to be so awfully blatant about it? Walsh was transparently hoping against hope from minute one that Bristol City could get a result. When Mirco Antenucci gave United the lead from the penalty spot in the first half, the ex-Liverpool striker sulked and pouted that the advantage was undeserved. Then Chris Wood doubled the gap after the interval, applying a fine finish after cutting inside a defender. Walsh was distraught; from that time until City’s late comeback, he was morbidly resigned to defeat. When Leeds missed a half chance to go three up, he admitted he knew little about it as he’d actually started watching one of the other games. 

Only when the home side scored what looked like a last-minute consolation did Walsh perk up and show some enthusiasm and faint hope. After that, we could tell that City had gone close again but missed without even going to the game – it was clear from Walsh’s clearly audible agonised gasp off camera. Then, at the end of six minutes injury time, Walsh got his reward with a scrappy equaliser – and smiled broadly at last. 

I’m not going to dwell on yet another Leeds capitulation, it’s too depressing. We know this was two points needlessly dropped; there is some consolation in Wood breaking his duck with that fine second-half strike. For the rest, it was flattering to deceive, late panic and surrender – the usual United stuff we’ve all seen far too much of. 

The stand-out point here, the factor diverting this blogger from bemoaning another sub-standard Leeds performance, was the unforgivably amateurish and biased display of Leeds-hating from yet another old pro in Walsh, who has evidently been well-paid for the sole purpose of rubbing our noses well and truly in it. That’s just not good enough, and I’ll be contacting Sky to complain. 

I’d urge anyone who agrees that Sky are basically taking the mick to add their voices to a chorus of protest. Paul Walsh should be sacked – he’s not of the standard we have the right to expect. Our protests will fall on deaf ears, of course. But the very act of having a go might just make us feel a tiny bit better on yet another let-down of a night for Leeds United. 

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Is Watching Leeds Rhinos More Fun Than Watching Leeds United These Days? – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds Rhinos: Magical Entertainers and perennial Winners

Leeds Rhinos: Magical Entertainers and perennial Winners

Bear with me now, as we awake to another Leeds United match-day, if I write of the conflict between my feelings for the Whites and a whole other club in a whole different sport. Let me just put this painful dilemma out there.

Whilst I appreciate that by no means all the readers of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything will be Leeds Rhinos fans, nor yet even Super League followers, nevertheless there will be plenty that are. I happen to have a foot in both football and RL camps, so I feel a certain tug-of-war going on deep inside, where my loyalties live. And, even given my dual affiliation, which goes back many years now, it was still the case not so long back that I’d have considered it to be strictly no-contest between Leeds United and any other sporting interest. But now, I must confess – I’m not so sure any more.

As I said, many of you out there will not be Super League fans. Feel free to be excused, or maybe just chat amongst yourselves. Still others will love Super League, or RL anyway, as much as I do. But perhaps you’re Cas Tigers followers, or Wakefield or – God forbid – Hull FC or even Saints (spit). Again, this isn’t primarily aimed at you, though I’d love to hear your opinion if you can be bothered (and if you can set aside your petty hatred of the Rhinos…!)

But the real target audience here is made up of those, like myself, who follow Leeds in both sports. Do you feel the 13-a-side game exerting an ever greater hold over you? Do you find yourself continually on the edge of your seat when watching the Rhinos – and sometimes on the point of dropping off when Leeds United are playing? Worrying, isn’t it?

The problem – if it really is a problem – may, of course, be wider than just a Leeds thing. There may be Hull FC and Hull City fans who find themselves wondering which sport offers the most. It’s just fairly acute for us double Leeds fans at the moment, because the Rhinos are undoubtedly the team in Super League, whereas poor old United appear to be settling more and more for mediocrity. Even Herr Rösler’s promised “heavy metal football” is coming across so far more as senseless noise, than anything with a real beat. It’s very worrying – and not a little unsettling, too.

The issue I have at the moment is the contrasting way I feel when I’m watching the Rhinos, compared with United. Watching the Whites still gets me wound up; the desire and passion are both still there, but there’s this nagging subtext of frustration a lot of the time – of exasperation at misplaced passes, of annoyance with the tedium of the game as our heroes currently play it. Horrible though it is for me to say so, I’m sometimes actually bored watching Leeds United – and even that’s preferable to the fear and resentment I feel when we’re getting a good drubbing off the likes of Hull or Millwall or even Bradford.

Watching the Rhinos though, can be literally breathtaking, win or lose. There’s such an insistent, throbbing, ebb and flow tempo to the game of Rugby League, and there’s also the awesome realisation of what those lads are putting their bodies through for eighty minutes. Watching Jamie Peacock ploughing forward with three defenders dangling from his frame – or Ryan Hall using his power and strength to surge unstoppably over the line – these have been the sporting moments over the last few years or so that have really got my imagination and passion fired up. It’s difficult to recall too many moments like that watching Leeds United – and, believe me, I truly hate saying that. But really – aren’t there some of you out there who, if you’re honest, feel exactly the same?

I’m not here to wind anybody up. It’s a niggling, worrying issue for me, and I’m genuinely interested in how others feel, whether they agree, or violently disagree. My passion for Leeds United goes back forty years – I’m bound to feel a bit like an errant lover, trying to seem less obviously guilty about his younger mistress. But the truth is that Leeds Rhinos have come to mean a hell of a lot to me as well. Is this wrong? They’re two completely separate sports, after all. So am I being unfaithful to United, or even to the Beautiful Game itself?

I’d love to hear your views, and I’ll try to be gentle and restrained when moderating comments in an area where feelings may understandably run high. But I’m in a real quandary here and it’s actually a bit heart-wrenchingly painful.

Fellow sufferers – and others – it’s over to you.