England Will Need True Warriors Against Wales   –   by Rob Atkinson

Any Leeds United fan worth his or her salt will nod and give the thumbs-up to a player prepared to shed blood in the United cause. It’s in the DNA of the club; such players are an integral part of our history. The blood shed will preferably be that of an opponent, but your archetypal Elland Road patron warmly appreciates the warrior who leaves the field of battle liberally bespattered with his own gore. It’s a mark of commitment, and that goes down well with us northern folk.

Down the years, we’ve been lucky enough to have many such doughty battlers gracing the white shirt. Hunter, Giles, Vinnie, Billy, the list is long and impressive. Sadly, the standard is lower these days, the commitment less nakedly obvious. The same appears to apply to the national team, also. I was reminded of this when I received a t-shirt from my good friends at The Art of Football, an online firm with a difference, specialising in quality prints to adorn the proudest chest.

The shirt I received, pictured above, bears the unmistakable figure of Stuart “Psycho” Pearce, a player I for one would have absolutely loved to have seen in a Leeds United shirt. His commitment was exemplary, he was a man who’d have been an asset to any team, anywhere at any time. England, like Leeds United, have had a few of these over the years. Terry Butcher, so famously pictured with a pint or two of his own blood soaked into his England shirt – another image available in this Euro ’16 range. Tony Adams, neck veins bulging as he bellowed the National Anthem before every International of his career. Pearce himself, stepping up to the plate in a penalty shoot out, exorcising the ghost of a previous miss by belting the ball past the Spanish keeper at Euro ’96, at one with the fans as he ran to them, his pride and fight written all over his face. 

Where are these players now? John Terry might have been the last for England, though maybe Cahill can succeed to his crown. I have to confess, I can’t remember the last Leeds player in this warrior category. And United will need someone of that ilk to challenge next season. But England need a man like that as soon as Thursday – because the Welsh will have their war paint on, there’s no doubt about that. 

Perhaps if the existing England players can channel some of that Psycho Pearce spirit in time for their next test, we might overcome a Welsh team with much commitment but relatively few world-class performers. The fans, too, could do worse than embody the Pearce approach, focusing on getting behind the shirts instead of acting like idiots in the pubs and bars. The atmosphere will be fierce on Thursday, the stakes high. We will need warriors on the pitch and the pride and passion of supporters in the stands if we’re going to match Wales in either arena. 

Let players and fans be inspired by the image of Stuart Pearce at his most committed, with the flag of St. George behind him. Given that, we can succeed despite the famous bravery and desire of the Welsh. 

England Expects!

16 responses to “England Will Need True Warriors Against Wales   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Just look at the Italians who sing their anthem & play the game with their heart on their sleeve. Our lot are there for the money not for the prestige.



    DIdn’t see many ‘warriors’ in the Italy side… Buffon, Chiellini maybe. I saw a team playing with their heads, with skill, cohesion, intelligence, control and tactical nous, not with the overrated ‘passion’ (what does that actually mean in a football context?), which is a short step from ‘headless chicken’. I don’t want to see an England side, or indeed a Leeds team, putting on the ‘warpaint’, as you put it, but one playing to their maximum of their capabilities.


    • I agree – intelligence trumps passion every time and the Italians play a more intelligent and tactically aware game than we do. A certain Mr Bellusci commented on this in a programme interview last year. Talking of who, didn’t the long pass that led to their first goal remind you of his better efforts last season, together with the defensive use of the body to block attempts on goal ?


      • It was somewhat reminiscent of that, yes. He also had many less impressive moments. The thing is, I’m not advocating passion as a replacement for intelligence. I’m saying it’s desirable as an enhancement to a purely cerebral approach. ALL the successful teams I’ve ever followed have had both qualities in abundance. They’re not mutually exclusive – they complement each other.


  3. Ropey Wyla

    The Welsh Dragon will fall at the hands of St. George as we have eleven players and they have one! Admittedly that one is probably better than all of ours but there you go! As for the war paint, get it on! A little bit of national pride goes a long way, it saved us being run by ze Germans and who knows, it might once again?


  4. Batty and Bowyer were our last two warriors who liked a tough tackle on ze enemy Rob.


  5. DavidMcNiven at the death

    I’m sure you’re right Rob, but frankly I’d rather Leeds won a corner than England the Euros and I suspect many older Leeds fans feel the same. Just not bothered; LUFC are all that matter. Maybe the rot set in the 70s. Was i going to support England against a team with Lash, Bill and Sir Edwin in it? No chance!!!!


    • I’ve always been club first, but country not far behind. I take your point about the Leeds players for Scotland, but I remember viewing Gordon McQueen, then a Leeds player, with rather a jaundiced eye when he scored a couple for the Sweaties at Wembley to beat England.


  6. Just seen this post today as I was busy last week. Give me Tony Dorigo everytime if it was a choice. True class and cruelly denied a good run in the England team by incompetent managers.


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