Leeds Utd Players Take Note: April 5th is NOT Just Any Day – By Rob Atkinson


Leeds Fans

We Are Leeds, We Neither Forgive Nor Forget

There have been many famous rallying speeches over the whole history of combat, whether it be in the theatre of war or merely a matter of winning a game of football. We can all name the famous motivators in each sphere: Elizabeth I or Henry V, Admiral Lord Nelson or Winston Churchill, each of whom fired up their troops to give their all in battle for England. Sir Alf Ramsey did the same for the Three Lions heroes of 1966 and of course our own Don Revie was unrivalled as he created a team who would run through walls for him, inspired by the steely cry of “Keep Fighting”.

But sometimes, tub-thumping speeches should not be necessary – the occasion speaks for itself and demands pride, passion and commitment more than any mere words could possibly do. The Leeds United players who take the field against QPR tonight, 5th April, should be fully aware that today is a date when nothing less than every last drop of blood, sweat and tears will suffice. The United army will demand that – and more – as will those glued to their radios at home. And rightly so.

Chris and Kev - RIP

Chris and Kev – RIP

For April the 5th is a date carved painfully into the hearts of Leeds fans everywhere. On that fateful day 16 years ago, we lost two of our own as Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight were cruelly, foully murdered by savage, uncivilised scum in Taksim Square, Istanbul. This evening’s match is therefore not about League points or position, it’s not even about the farcical running of the club or the inept administration of an incompetent and bumbling Football League. It’s about pride, passion, respect and commemoration – and those four qualities need to burn white-hot within the very being of each man wearing that big Leeds badge over his heart at Elland Road.

If there are any Leeds players unaware of the significance of this occasion – well, shame on them.  And shame on the staff at the club who should be making sure that their charges are at least on nodding acquaintance with a reality beyond their own pay packets.  It’s not been easy to admire many of the Leeds players lately; with a few notable exceptions, they’ve played in a distracted fashion and displayed a distinctly chicken-hearted attitude to the business of playing for the shirt and getting results.  They should be left in no doubt at all that such frailties will not be tolerated tonight – not on April the 5th.  For this match, they should imitate the action of a tiger, as Henry the Fifth put it.  They should stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood – and get stuck in, just as if they really did have the hearts of lions.

Nothing less will do, it’s the very least they owe the Leeds supporters everywhere.  If they don’t know this, then it should be made abundantly clear to them prior to kick off.  They should run out there onto that pitch with no thoughts of money or other distractions: they should emerge onto the field of combat ready and willing to give their all for the Leeds United fans, and especially for the memory of those two lads who never came home.  This should be an occasion for the restoration of pride, for remembering that they have the honour to represent the greatest club in the world, in front of the greatest fans in the Universe.  Defeat is permissible; a defeatist attitude and a failure to step up to the mark is not. Not on April the 5th.

Perhaps the match against Rangers can be a starting point for the Leeds United team, the first steps on the long climb back to respectability.   It really needs to be – there is simply no more appropriate date for the launching of a fight-back, even though this season is now meaningless – apart from the still lingering threat of relegation.  If the Leeds lads can get out there and fight tonight – show that they care, battle for the cause, demonstrate some respect for the fans and those we’ve lost – then maybe they can start to recoup some of the respect they’ve undoubtedly squandered over the past few months.  It’s to be hoped so, because you get nowhere in any professional sport without earning respect.

The April 5th anniversary of the shocking events in Istanbul really means something to the Leeds support.  More than any other date, it’s when we remember and pay our respects – and the players should participate fully in this.  It’s part of deserving to wear the shirt and the badge.  Fans of other clubs love to show their disrespect, they love to wear the shirt of that awful Turkish club whilst grinning and gloating.  Millwall fans, Man U fans – scum like that.  April the 5th is when we rise above it all, in dignity and pride.  The players need to join in with that, too.

Do it tonight, lads – get out there and fight, give everything.  Do it for Chris and Kev, do it for all the rest of us who remember them sixteen years on.  Do it for the shirt, do it for the badge.  Make us proud of you again, on this day above all others.  Then, perhaps, we can go Marching On Together towards a better future, whatever the next few days, weeks and months might bring.  All it takes to start fighting back is that pride, passion and respect. That’s how we commemorate those who died, and that’s how we’ll forge the togetherness we need to restore this great club to where it belongs.  Let’s start that process of fighting back and climbing upwards, on this sad and solemn anniversary, at Elland Road this evening – let’s show them what we’re made of.  If we have enough tigers and lionhearts on the park, Queens Park Rangers will at least know they’ve been in a game – which is the very minimum requirement for any true warriors of Elland Road.

After all: “We’re Leeds – and we’re proud of it”.

RIP Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, taken far too soon. April 5th, 2000

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30 responses to “Leeds Utd Players Take Note: April 5th is NOT Just Any Day – By Rob Atkinson

  1. Glad someone has written this! I really seriously hope the players are reminded of what it means to us tomorrow just before they cross that line

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  2. I’ve read quite a few of your blogs however I have to say this is the one. The most powerful, the most emotional of them all. We the fans will never forget our fallen brothers and the lucky few to wear the shirt on the field of battle should never do so either…..RIP Chris and Kev MOT

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  3. I would say you should take the team talk Rob but I have a feeling you wouldn’t say please, they’d take a strop and we would still get battered. I am baffled as to how you can put on the white shirt and play ‘distracted’.

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  4. Simon Bishop

    I have my memories of Turkey…your words sadly revived but beautifully touched my heart….Bish

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  5. Nigel barnes

    Cannot disagree but wee Gordon would have got in reviews team if there had been squads like now

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  6. Stunning piece of writing ROB,I only hope messers Haigh Harvey and the QC have bothered to read it (doubt it) . R I P CHRIS AND KEV.

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  7. Absolutely correct and an absolute minimum requirement . And do you know what will happen ? We will get arseholed because we are not good enough . If whoever gets the reigns at elland road does nt sack McDermot the same day , well , they must be daft .

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    • I take your point, but I think tomorrow transcends the result on the park. If they will just TRY…

      5th April 2005 was the fifth anniversary of Taksim Square – and also the 30th anniversary of my first Elland Road match. So I took my wife and daughter to see us play Sheffield Utd. We lost, forlornly, 0-4. I was sickened that the memory of two slain United fans should be associated with such a craven performance.

      That needs putting right – and tomorrow is the chance to do just that.

      Like

  8. scottywhites

    YOU are a true genius with words rob, RIP MR LOFTUS and MR SPEIGHT all i have to say tonight …….MOT

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  9. Steven emsley

    The fans that travel to the game to day will let the players know what day it is I am sure of that.the away support has always been terrific they truly do support the team, Kev and Chris would be proud of them all let’s hope the players can make us proud of them as a team that plays with passion for the shirt and club. we need to show the QC the fa and the football league that we will not lay down we will fight on what ever happens off the field M O T

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  10. some great words there.. RIP lads and MOT

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  11. Glory, glory Leeds United,
    When the team keeps fighting on, on, on.
    M.O.T.
    R.I.P.

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  12. Aussie Dave

    So inspired by these words I ran through my back fence….. Doc says I’ll be back at work in about a week……. RIP lads. We will never forget your ultimate sacrifice for our beloved Leeds. MOT.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t think the problem is that we are not good enough. It is as rob says, they aren’t trying. Forget everything that has gone before, and will come in the future. Give us a Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight performance, regardless of result!!!

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  14. Andy Leyland

    I regularly read your blogs Rob, but felt compelled to reply for the first time.
    Truly inspiring piece of writing mate. Really moving & spot on to the letter.
    I really hope the players get to read it too, then they will too honour the memory of Chris & Kev with a battling LUFC performance, regardless of the result.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Unfortunately Rob I don’t think this lot give a damn about Leeds or its history. I will be turning my back on the game in the opening minute once again. Fans should never go to a football game and never return. They will never be forgotten. Scary to think it is 14-years already.

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  16. sniffers shorts

    Have to agree they must at least put a shift in and try and play a simple game of football , effort and running and passing , I feel they should be putting some effort into shooting on target. Week in week out in out little spurt , you read some dire shots on shots via the corner flag. Were is their own pride let alone the pride of playing for gods team in gods country. All said and done as you say Rob it’s the day to remember , perhaps a comemorative shirt should be worn on this day white with black and gold down the middle, it may bloody well remind that those guys died to follow the club, they gave their lives …… All we are asking is to see is a little sweat , for we the fans are cryingand shedding tears and we respect the blood that has been given . God rest your souls boys RIP MOT

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  17. Hope Sky pay more respect than they did in April 2010 when Leeds were at Yeovil live on TV. Sky did not mention the anniversary of Kevin and Chris’s murder. I was there then and will be at Wigan today. Never forget. MOT

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  18. One of your best blogs to date. After many years of dark moments as a Leeds fan this has to be one of pur darkest hours. A Leeds team unprepared to keep fighting seems like an oxymoron but that is where we are. I hope the y heed the call. Anything less is unacceptable.

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  19. Reblogged this on La Vita, Leeds United, l'Universo e Tutto and commented:

    The Football League in their arrogance and ignorance seem to feel the appeal announcement should be delayed, for fear of adverse Leeds fans’ reactions live on Sky TV. It doesn’t occur to them that today we’re preoccupied by something infinitely more important than their bumbling and messing about.

    RIP Chris & Kev, and let’s hope LUFC produce a performance worthy of your memory.

    Please share this if you’re able.

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  20. I have never read or heard a better call to arms and I served in the British Army for 37 years. This is it, the one, the best opportunity yet to rise above the football politics garbage and fight, yes really fight, for the colours.
    Remember – we are nothing without each other. Stick together, look after each other and bring the pride back to our great club.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Today always puts are problems into context RIP LADS

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  22. Timely and moving – but please let’s not damn an entire club because of the appalling crimes of some of its fans.

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    • The club acted much less than sympathetically at the time and tried to capitalise on UEFA shilly-shallying before the second leg. For the first leg, no black armbands were worn by the home players (the day after the murders) and the club itself showed zero respect. I feel any and all criticism of the club to be fully justified.

      I appreciate your comments, Irving, as they aren’t couched in abusive terms as so many are. But this blog doesn’t need a proxy conscience, and I’d ask you to be wary of crossing the line into mawkish sanctimony.

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      • Thank you for the information; not wearing black armbands is a serious charge against the management of Galatasaray. It does not mean that the club is awful however, any more than the behaviour of a section of our support over the decades means we are.

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      • The club IS awful, though. They’ve failed to control their animal fans – and it’s long overdue for UEFA to sanction them as they have only recently – and then for a trivial reason in the context of past offences.

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