Leeds United, Club and Fans, Could Have Done Better Over Jay-Roy Grot – by Rob Atkinson


The Don – fostered family atmosphere at Leeds

In a week hardly short of news stories about Leeds United, one in particular stands out for any fan of the Elland Road club who remembers how the first faltering steps to greatness were taken under Don Revie in the sixties; how, in short, football’s greatest family club was built. So, while I could have written this week about the arrivals at Elland Road of quality recruits for the campaign ahead, I will resist that temptation.

Instead, let’s look at Joe Urquhart’s recent Yorkshire Evening Post revelations about the struggles in his Leeds career so far of a young man called Jay-Roy Grot who, at the tender age of 20, is going for a year on loan at Dutch side VVV-Venlo. Grot, a young colossus of a man at 6’4”, arrived at United last summer from NEC of Nijmegen, snatched from under the noses of Italian giants Fiorentina. Sadly, the lad’s first year at Leeds did not go well, and his confidence has suffered. The loan away from United is designed to remedy that, in the hope of seeing him return stronger in the future.

All well and good, but a look at the role of club and supporters in this less than creditable tale might be instructive. The Elland Road support has been notorious since well before Revie’s time as “a hard crowd to play for”. They’re a crowd of extremes. They can get right behind their team, lifting them to peaks of effort and attainment. But, for the individual who is struggling to put a foot right, it can feel much less encouraging, with the terrace critics sometimes launching in even before a ball has been kicked. Young players of great potential can nevertheless find themselves dismissed as “crap”, and persecuted accordingly, should they fail to hit the ground running. Such was the shattering experience of Jay-Roy Grot.

Back in Revie’s day, before the term “pastoral care” had gained much currency, it was nevertheless a big part of the foundations of the Super Leeds side that grew up as a band of brothers to carry all before them. Revie saw to it that off-field problems would not get in the way of his team’s success on the park; his charges were looked after and nurtured. When the boo-boys got to a young and cherubic Billy Bremner, Revie supported and shielded him. If a player’s wife had a baby, there would be flowers from the Don, or a box of chocolates to celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday. No detail was too small, no problem too trivial. Revie looked after his lads and their families, and they repaid him by becoming legends.

Now, with the constant recent managerial changes at Elland Road, there seems to be no such continuity of care. The sad loss of Lucy Ward from her health and welfare role a few years back created a gap in the Leeds United system that remains arguably unfilled. These heartbreaking words from young Grot make for uneasy reading: “I am not someone who makes friends easily. And that also broke me up in England. Cooking, I had no problems with that. But coming home every day to an empty house, I had a hard time. I did nothing, nobody knew. I also had little contact with the other boys in the beginning”. The uncomfortable truth of the matter is that both fans and club could and should have done better in the case of Jay-Roy Grot and, going forward, they need to take this on board.

We must aim for less of the destructive booing from fans, less ignorant haranguing on Twitter, with more awareness and support coming from the club. This is not rocket science, and it’s simply not acceptable for a young player to feel as isolated as Grot evidently did. Maybe Leeds United should just ring Lucy Ward and beg her to come back? In the sad absence of the late, great Don Revie, Lucy is probably the best option.

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33 responses to “Leeds United, Club and Fans, Could Have Done Better Over Jay-Roy Grot – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Ted Murphy

    I agree wholeheartedly. If we treat our young up and coming players with respect and support then its a win win for everybody. Who gains from treating these young lads so shabbily ?

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  2. gerry Hobbs

    Heartbreaking – and a lesser youngster might have not made it through to the end. The pressures of life are enough without what some so-called supporters did to Grot.
    What if he had taken the easy way out like an increasing number of youngsters tragically are?

    They need to take stock of themselves and remember what MOT really means. We are all part of the Leeds family – and have a RESPONSIBILITY for our actions.

    Regarding LUCY – wouldn’t it be great if the Club could look back in our history to remember what she meant to our youngsters – and bring her back HOME where she belongs.
    GerryCwmbran
    MOT

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  3. So true Rob, when Lucy was at the academy The youngsters in our then team obviously thought the world of her, and I know that a lot of them are still in contact with her having seen her included in a lot of their tweets.
    Even boarding schools have a matron to put a friendly arm around kids who are homesick or struggling. Bring Lucy back !

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  4. I have never agreed with booing players. If they’re having a mare, they don’t need us to underline it and humiliate them in front of their colleagues and opposition players. If a player behaves like Mark Aizlewood then that’s different. Surely the boo boys have enough empathy to realise the damage they do to young players in particular? Maybe not. Loads have been booed frequently.
    Bellusci had his fair share, perhaps for the strike? Wayne Entwistle got more than his fair share, Terry Yorath, Gary Kelly even. Most surprisingly of all Gordon Strachan was booed at Elland Road, something which mystified me.
    And who could forget the incessant booing of Jimmy Adamson. Ironic that his replacement, after the club bowed to fan pressure, saw us relegated.
    Not a fan of Neil Warnock but he does have a sense of humour…… “When I die there will be a minutes booing at every match”

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  5. Forgot Kevin Hird…they booed him every week. He was quite good as well, not fair.

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  6. Brad Twersky

    I think that having someone in a role where he or she helps the rookies or players from other countries (and different cultures) during their transition is crucial. I can’t believe that Grot was so secluded. (Didn’t he have an agent?)

    When it comes to baseball, I am also a huge Yankee fan and that team has a department set up just for this…I mean they even have two translators (Japanese and Hispanic) that will accompany the manager onto the field when he needs to have a chat with a player. These same translators act in that role when the press ask questions of the players after the game. In the case of the Latin players, almost all of them come from poor backgrounds and don’t speak a word of English…

    These translators act as the glue for the team.

    In American football, the Giants employ advisers that help kids assimilate into a whole new world with little knowledge of money and social stuff. They teach them a lot.

    This doesn’t go on in Premier League teams, does it?

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  7. I would say the Kevin Hird episode is the only time the crowd have got it wrong. Anyone is perfectly entitled to voice their opinion during games,especially as the target of their abuse is earning more in a month than the average fan does in a year. There were one or two I myself shouted at, Crainey and Varney. For the record Grot isn’t a Championship level player and never will be,so its better that he has left really.

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    • Harsh Mick, and possibly less accurate than some of your judgements.

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      • It’s harsh but there is something going on at Leeds that is very dodgy in my opinion. There have been at least a dozen players signed within the past 12-14 months who are nowhere near the level required to compete in this division. Now I don’t know yet what the scam is but if we let the person signing these substandard players know that we know then perhaps it will either come out into the open or stop. No-one can get that many signings wrong and still be in a job surely?

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      • What’s your take on the Apollo moon landings?

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      • Gerald Hobbs

        You’ve only got to look at Orta’s time in charge at Middlesbrough Mick!
        He was no better there than he was at Leeds last year – that’s why they sacked him!!
        GerryCwmbran
        MOT

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  8. JRG was the target of mindless morons whose only aim is to get their twitter comments used as a headline by pointless football blogs, such as HTC and Footballfans. Lazy pointless journalism that just fuels the trolls vitriol.

    The YEP forum has no end of morons who rarely have a good word to say about the club, players or hierarchy.

    Cooper is another who is a constant target. I am sure he is mature and grounded enough to take the moronic criticism in his stride.

    I have no doubt the sad little cretins who purport to be fans rarely, if at all, attend any games.

    The bring back Lucy Ward suggestion is a great shout. A sensible and nurturing figure who would no doubt remind the younger players to ignore the pointless criticism as it is not generated by true LUFC supporters.

    Great article by the way, reading his comments made me somewhat ashamed to be a fan.

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  9. Life is LUFC

    I nearly cried when I read that article and I completely agree with you Rob. What that young man went through each time he put a foot on the pitch is terrible but how BRAVE he was to put a cheerful look on face and get on with doing his best and what’s more he still wants to come back!
    Those mindless thugs that write and chant such vile diatribes really do need to have a strong hard lesson in what their actions actually do to people.
    I find it strange that a club who puts family first does not have someone in place to look after these youngsters and to have a someone who you can go to for help and advice.
    I used to will the lad to get a goal just to shut that lot up…..they cheered loud enough when he did get one…..or were they being derogatory.
    I just hope this horrid experience actually has a positive effect for him in that he can come back braver and still smile and enjoy his football until he is to old to play.
    Yes AR get Lucy or someone who can do that job in place at the club now, who will be there to help anyone even yourself when the whole thing just gets that bit too much before it is too late.

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    • It got to me too, which is why I wrote this. My local paper didn’t run it, for fear of upsetting the club – but I think it fair enough in these circumstances to ask how a young player comes to be in such an isolated situation – and why Lucy Ward hasn’t been adequately replaced (or preferably, reinstated).

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  10. It’s a sad thing really. You expect to be booed by the opposing fans but never your own. Constructive criticism is one thing but destructive slagging is something completely different. Maybe we should all go to the workplaces of these heartless morons and shout at them all day when they make a mistake. Might make them think twice.

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  11. Dave Pierce

    Well said. I’ve been a Leeds fan all my life. David O’Leary was another manager who got the best out of his team by looking after and backing the young lads. Jonny Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons but O’Leary gave them support and the later arguably played the best football of his career. Grot has a lot of potential but obviously like most players confidence plays a big part in a players ability to score goals. I hope he comes back and fulfills that potential with Leeds United.

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  12. Spot on Rob and I think the club first & foremost should take a long hard look at the welfare of their young recruits especially from abroad and assist in their accommodation needs perhaps house sharing for some. I also blame poor management to with Grot often thrown on with 10 mins left when we were losing and during a run of results that were relegation form. Grot often bore the brunt of massively frustrated fans who had been subjected to 80 mins of rubbish. He clearly should have been protected from this and kept in the U23s.
    I also feel that whilst he had a right to his opinion Andreas public slagging off of the whole squad on Talksport merely added fuel to the fire!
    Club must make sure they have a fit for purpose welfare structure going forward and I think Marcelo’s calm humble persona will bring an improved atmosphere to match days.

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  13. I have been a critic of Grot like many have. but this has opened my eyes that it’s all too easy to do that. He’s young and still learning. Maybe his pre season goals were a two fingered salute at his loan club? He’s a massively intimidating presence if he can channel that aggression we may yet see a better Grot.

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  14. Ha ha. In answer to the Apollo moon landings question you asked Rob,I don’t think it was one of Stanley Kubrick’s better works.

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  15. Seriously Rob? You believe all that Apollo moon landing fanny? There are some very good shows on the Rich planet site by Richard D Hall and Andrew Johnson that may or may not open your eyes.

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    • I’d be more inclined to believe the works of the Brothers Grimm 😆 What is interesting is that I’d kind of marked you down as a probable Apollo-sceptic. Bullseye, eh?

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  16. Funny,as I had you down as a skeptic too. I think you’re pulling my leg anyway as you’ve admitted Kubrick filmed the landings on location. He gave away all the clues in The Shining and later blew the whistle on the elites in Eyes Wide Shut then died not long after.

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    • As if I’d presume to kid a kidder 😆

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      • Seriously though,have a browse at RichPlanet.org. They’ve also done statement analysis of the interviews with Aldrin and Armstrong. They’ve been busted!

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      • The problem is, I’m as committed a believer (that it happened) as you are a cynic, so it’s certain that neither of us can be persuaded – and, to be honest, I try to avoid that kind of site because the stench of bullshit is a bit much, even for a hardened LUFC blogger. What I would say though, from a pragmatism point of view, is that no credible world power would contemplate a fraud on this scale, because, in terms of that credibility, it would utterly finish them. And it’s highly likely that the Soviets would have detected such a fraud – they tracked Apollo every inch of the way to the moon and back.

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  17. Its always best to keep an open mind. I believed it until a few years ago until I saw the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. How would you know Rich Planet is BS if you haven’t looked at it anyway? Remember the famous quote from Goebbels, “The bigger the lie,the more people will believe it.

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  18. Well I’m over the moon with that performance and result.

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  19. Gerald Hobbs

    Fabulous day for Leeds – but this conversation is getting more than a little boring – so call a truce and move on!
    GerryCwmbran
    MOT

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  20. Gerald Hobbs

    !!!!

    Like

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