Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is always happy to publish quality writing when submitted. On this occasion, it’s a pleasure to present a reflective piece from a regular follower of this blog, Patrick Hogan, whose Facebook author page can be found here. Many thanks to you Patrick for an entertaining and illuminating read, and all the best with your endeavours.
The Championship’s roster of 24 clubs
It usually happens about the middle of May. You start to go out more and stay off the laptop. You begin to notice the small things like the withering bluebells; the brightening mornings, the lack of the necessity for your ‘big coat’, and, oh yes, that your wife left you the previous August and you hadn’t noticed.
You are aware of the changing seasons now but all you see are empty weekends. And why is that? Because it’s an odd year. Not as in peculiar, but as in not even. Therefore there’s no World Cup or European Nations to fill the otherwise empty summer. Might as well get out and about then and enjoy the weather.
A walk? What’s one of those? Surely a time outdoors spoiled by a lack of football, casual glances at the Sunday League variety of playing or training on local pitches notwithstanding? And who wants to be accused of ‘Spygate’ however low the level? But something has to fill that vast void left by the culmination of the Championship play-off final. Of course, there will always be some plastic Premiership shenanigans on in the pub by virtue of Sky throughout the summer but that’s not the real thing. Soulless and uninspiring; corporate and toxic, and not something to get the dander up about. And crucially, it won’t involve YOUR team.
You’ve tried holidays abroad before but there’s a snag. It’s abroad isn’t it? Remember that time in Greece when you and your mate watched two domestic teams pirouetting about and displaying consummate ball skills on the taverna TV and you were almost hooked? That was until your mate said, ‘No one’s putting his foot in.’ And it was true. They weren’t. You had felt there was something missing and that had been it. Being given the space to showboat? What was competitive about that?
Such a palaver wouldn’t do for the fervent faithful back home. ‘They’, you knowledgeably informed your mate, ‘wouldn’t fancy it on a freezing January night at the Riverside.’ And that bolstered your belief in the hope that your home-grown talent would bring promotion to the promised Premiership land. And why? Because the overpaid and mainly foreign prima donnas that came down from there every year would not be able to cope with the physicality and lack of tabloid exposure of the Championship. In short, they didn’t like it up ‘em. Not one bit. They either wouldn’t perform or they’d be off – which would narrow down the list of teams that could achieve the promotion dream; yours being a likely contender in your eyes.
But somehow this comforting nugget of obvious information never seemed to translate into a realistic promotion drive for your team despite how baffling that seemed. For successive years your underfunded yet morally superior outfit did not seem to rise above the skewed financial impediments set by the Premiership to preserve their elite status no matter how much you tried to convince the now long-suffering wife that one day it would.
But as each summer dawned you knew it would begin again. The new and right manager; the promised cash injection and subsequent quality transfer incomings. Well reports of such. And this time it would be THE year. It always was. And as far as you could see always would be. And once again you’d have the bit between your teeth and absorb avidly every report of every player incoming and outgoing; training update, minor pre-season game, promising youngster, fitness bulletin – and it could all begin again.
Autumn would beckon like a long lost friend but you wouldn’t care. The nights might draw in but you would be back in the swing and glued to your screen for the latest titbit of news every day – even reading those nonsense articles that plied hooking headlines skimmed from fans tweets.
Christmas might come and be an annoyance – a bit like the unnecessary two-week international breaks – but there would be no irksome presents to worry about buying for that now errant, wife; unless she had returned and you hadn’t noticed.
It might get cold but you could always get your ‘big coat’ out again and dream of once again sitting on a draughty terrace instead of having to sit inside a draughty terrace.
And when the clocks went forward the one in your car would show the correct time again but you’d be embroiled in the endgames which would produce the final four play-off contenders. At least you might be involved – but your team would long have ceased to be. Yet you might find out what it takes to be there at the finish.
And throughout there will have been snowdrops; crocuses, daffs, and later bluebells, and they will have all passed you by, glued as you’d been to the promotion marathon.
And soon it will be mid-May again and the wife might have left once more; or not. And four seasons will have passed before your unseeing eyes. That’s because for you my friend, there is only one season. And it’s the most important one of all.’