Glittering Success and Glory Are So Close for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson


Leeds, monopolising the silverware

Leeds United are not that far at all from a team that carries all before it, dominating the domestic scene with a clean sweep of sparkly honours, and looking set fair to succeed on the world stage. How good does that sound?

Sadly for most Whites fans, that glory and success, so close at hand that we can absolutely smell the silver polish, is represented by a different team in a rival sport, just a few miles up the road in leafy Headingley. Super League Champions, League Leaders and back-to-back Challenge Cup Holders Leeds Rhinos are the undoubted Kings of Rugby League, monopolising the cups, trophies and other baubles for both team and individuals. They have brought a sense of pride to the city of Leeds in a way that United used to do once upon a time, long ago – a way that the hapless and misdirected Whites can only dream of now.

That’s a bitter pill for followers of the round ball game in Yorkshire‘s biggest and best city. It’s a pill only slightly sweetened for those who, as I do, happen to follow Leeds in both sports. For those die-hard United fans who have no love for what they might term egg-chasers, it’s an unwelcome reminder that, quite frankly, we’re no longer top dogs on our own patch. And there’s very real danger inherent in that unpalatable fact.

The problem for Leeds United is that, in a proud city where there is fierce rivalry between devotees of competing sports, continued failure and monotonous mediocrity are simply not sustainable. Watching top level professional sport is an expensive business at the best of times – and the current times are patently not the best. With continued failure and disappointment, there is no feelgood factor to lessen the sting of high ticket prices. There’s no warm glow of value for money – and that’s a matter of real concern to any citizen of the People’s Republic of Yorkshire, where traditionally pockets are long and arms are short. There is a much-told tale that copper wire was originally discovered by two Tykes fighting over a penny. Apocryphal as that may be, there can be no doubt that denizens of the Broad Acres are careful with their brass, and will sniff out value for that commodity with a bloodhound’s zeal. Like it or not, there’s precious little value in Leeds United these days. 

If you’re a youngish person of limited income but some breadth of mind – someone whose memories don’t stretch back as far as real success for Leeds United – what are you going to do? Where will you go, if you fancy spending some of your hard-gained cash on a match-day ticket? The lure of Headingley and the rampant, success-sated Rhinos must surely be hard to resist. As for the football down at Elland Road – well, would you? With cash in short supply? It’s asking a lot, especially of youngsters who simply cannot know what a rocking stadium behind a successful United side is really like. 

Some people attempt to defend football’s ludicrous prices, citing pricey theatre tickets and the like. But you don’t set out to watch Swan Lake and end up coming home depressed on a cold, wet night, after watching a bunch of overpaid, under-motivated failures slide to yet another drab, morale-sapping defeat. Ultimately, in the quest for the Holy Grail of value for money, people will tend to vote with their feet – and that tendency will increase with each additional year of disappointment, disillusion and broken promises. Add into this mix of bleak depression a glittering counter-attraction just across the city – and the clear and present danger to a complacent and decadent football club is all too easy to see. 

The day might not be far off now when the Leeds Rhinos, masters of a vibrantly exciting, brutally committed, compelling spectacle of a sport, could well be not only Rugby League’s class act, but the top of the bill in their own city, on merit, with only feeble opposition from a poverty-stricken and dystopian LS11. And, Rhinos admirer though I gladly am, that’s a day whose dawn I really do not wish to see. 

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9 responses to “Glittering Success and Glory Are So Close for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Pingback: Glittering Success and Glory Are So Close for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson | Sports Droid

  2. would love to know the average age of are supporters because i get the feeling that we are a dieing breed thanks to years of mismanagement

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  3. Bornawhite

    I like your analogy of a Yorkshireman – nearly as funny as a Yorkshireman who drops a penny usually gets hit on the back of the head by it as he goes to pick it up.
    Incidentally, I am from Leeds so I cannot be guilty of regionalism.

    Despite the current doom and gloom around the team and the shocking treatment of Byram I will remain optimistic that we are but one good result away from going on a run and turning the corner – there is enough quality in the side to do so.

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  4. Hi Rob,
    Following on from Leeds 72’s comment. As a 5 yr old, l saw,my first United match, spending most of the time sitting om my fathers shoulders. Two years later l was fortunate to be given a free schoolboys pass to stand on the cinder bank ( now the lower part of the Revie stand. Most weeks after, l got that pass and was hooked for life. Not only did that pass capture me, it made me determined to get into the school team as a 9 year old Mimmicking my on field heroe. After leaving Junior school all of my pocket money paid for my fortnightly home match as being a rugby schoo, there were no more passes.
    The point of the free pass worked.
    Every week we have thousands of empty seats. How much better would it be to have them filled by thousands of children, They are the CLUBS FUTURE.

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    • Could not agree more!

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    • It’s a very good idea and one that you would think has been run past our very astute owner by his equally canny and expert advisors.
      Maybe Massimo himself has discussed the option at the boardroom table with his experienced, accomplished football administrating sons and Florida lawyer. Oh yeah, hang on, what am I thinking?
      Clubmen around the globe know that youngsters are usually accompanied by at least one parent. You know, the ones with the wallets and purses that come out to purchase the overpriced food, drinks and merchandise.
      Why play Thursday night matches in front of banks of empty seats, with all the atmosphere of the local lending library after closing time?

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  5. Scally Lad

    In recent years, I see fewer and fewer young folk at Elland Road. I think the quest for a new generations of Whites fans has already been lost. We’re a side no one follows because we’re not in the top tier, our owners and managers have been embarrassments, and ticket prices are out of reach for younger lads. Who wants to put out real dosh each year just to see a lackluster side struggle to avoid relegation? I just hope we can stay out of the relegation zone, or a return to League One – and, again, perhaps for several years – is going to be on the cards at the end of the season.

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  6. Why not just make it children 12 and under free when accompanied by a paying adult. You’d fill the seats. Well maybe if the football improves. Glad I live in Australia at the moment, at least I can turn to the sun and the beach after looking at another depressing result when I wake up. Don’t miss the cold and rain at the moment with the team playing the way they are. Ho hum.

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  7. Asim Siddiq

    I’m also a fan of both, supported lufc for 35 years and the rhinos for around 25 years and to be honest I spend slightly more of my time watching the RL club rather than the football club. For a long time there had been success lacking at Headingley but I always knew it would come good and boy has it! 7 times play off winners, challenge cup winners last 2 years and the treble this year to cap it all off. The football will surely come good and when it does success will flow.

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