January 3rd, remember the date…
…so the song goes, and enough Leeds United fans still sing it loud and proud, even six years on, to make you realise that most of us see the famous FA Cup win at the Theatre of Hollow Myths as an occasion well worth commemorating. Which, of course, is just as it should be. We went to the home of the champions as a third tier team, unwisely dismissed by Man U’s own official website as “minnows”, with the general opinion among the gloryhunters from all across the south of England being that here was a good chance to play a few kids, enjoy the day and still give Leeds United a damned good thrashing. And we won. 1-0 it was courtesy of Jermaine, but it could so easily have been three; Beckford again and Snodgrass going agonisingly close in the second half. The Pride of Devon were beaten fair and square in one of the biggest shocks for years. It remains one of Leeds United’s comparatively few genuine giant-killings, with us having more usually been the giants.
It seems natural that such an achievement, against such despised foes who had been so confident of brushing us aside, should be celebrated as a beacon in our history – and especially so in such a very murky and depressing part of that history. We’d come through administration, points deductions and the experience of having the whole of the game trying to kick us while we were down (this sounds very familiar over half a decade later). We’d recovered, somewhat, from the very brink of extinction. We were at a low ebb, but still in there and fighting. These are experiences that no Man U fan has ever had, or ever will, the kind of episodes in your club’s existence that makes you realise what it truly is to be a fan. Of course we were right to celebrate such an iconic victory and of course we are right to mark its anniversary. It goes without saying – or so you’d have thought.
Incredibly, though, there is a small but vociferous minority who appear to cringe away from any reference to the whole January 3rd thing. They don’t like it, and they can be seen in small pockets everywhere across social media, yapping unhappily that it’s “tinpot” to mark the occasion. These are the people, of course, who feel that they know what’s right and what’s wrong and never hesitate to tell others what to do and think. When they see anyone taking pride in a past achievement, it rubs them up the wrong way – and then their instinct for being killjoys and trying to suppress this celebration really kicks in. They crop up on Facebook and in the various Leeds United forums. They are evident on Twitter, trying to pack their desire to control how others act into 140 characters. They are everywhere, and they are quite vocal – because they hate the thought that people out there are getting any pleasure out of remembering a great day. It really does get their backs up.
Well, good. I’m delighted every year to see January 3rd marked with pride and joy. It gives me a buzz when people post the text of the commentary to Jermaine’s goal at the Beckford End, or if they put up the video to enjoy all over again. It’s a feel-good thing, and something to relish when Christmas and the New Year are done and dusted. And it’s all the more enjoyable if it offends the killjoys – that certainly eggs me on to make sure I get full value out of the anniversary of the day we became the Ultimate Scum-busters. Don’t forget, because of the “Biggest in the Universe” accolade they award themselves, the gloryhunters will never experience the fierce pride and joy of going into a match as such rank underdogs – and emerging victorious. It’s a pleasure they have denied themselves, and the very best of hard cheese to them. And, believe me, they hate it when their noses are rubbed in this humbling defeat every 3rd of January. They absolutely loathe it.
So tell me, what better reason than that for making sure that we really go overboard about it? A famous General once advised that, if in doubt, do what you know your enemy doesn’t want you to do. In this case, the inescapable conclusion is that January the 3rd should be shoved down the throat of the scum fan in your life, mercilessly and as often as possible. There’s no comeback for them from that. A League Cup victory at Elland Road a couple of years back isn’t even in the same ballpark, and they know it. The giant-killing honours and bragging rights are ours for as long as we want them, so those of us who wish to should continue to celebrate as we see fit. It won’t please the “Tinpotters”, of course. But, really – who gives a toss?