Category Archives: Satire

Huddersfield Town AFC to Close Down Next May?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Huddersfield dogs

A solemn meeting of Town fans, yesterday

In a sensational development for Yorkshire football, a Huddersfield Town insider has claimed that the 2016/17 season could be the last for Huddersfield Town as a Football Club – a status which many consider moot anyway – but nevertheless, rumours of the cessation of trading for the Terriers are shocking, to say the least – especially with the fan base having decided as early as August that Town were going up as champions.

The reasoning behind the closure rumours will go deep into the heart of many a Terriers fan. Our contact behind the scenes at Huddersfield, Mr. Terry Orr, confided to us, “For a long time now, the main priority at this club has been to finish a league season above Leeds United. This hasn’t happened for many a long year – not since the 1961-62 season, I believe. In essence, this dream has become the club’s entire raison d’être, not to mention its whole reason for existing”. Terry paused at this point as emotion appeared momentarily to get the better of him. “The fact of the matter is”, he continued, moist-eyed but smiling bravely, “that this season could be the one when we finally do it. And if we do – well, how could we possibly top that? We’ve had meetings, and we don’t think it’s really feasible. There’d quite literally be no point in going on, nothing left that we could realistically achieve. We’d just have to move on to other projects, especially with us promotion prospects already on t’way down t’bog.”

It’s a sentiment echoed in other parts of Yorkshire’s most dogged club. Supporters’ representative Mr. Gray Hound nodded wearily when we put to him what seems on the face of it an outrageous possibility. “Yes”, Gray nodded, thoughtfully, “I’ve heard whispers of this closure thing. I can understand it. From a supporters’ point of view, if we ever did finish above “them”, it’d be like the Holy Grail, Christmas and Crufts all rolled into one. I can’t really think there’d be much appetite for carrying on after an achievement like that. I mean – where do you go from there? Personally, I can barely bring myself to believe it might happen but, looking at the table, you have to say there’s some sort of a chance. And if we really did do it? I don’t know. We’d probably all retire to a nice big field and chase sticks and sniff each others’ bottoms. It’d be like following Huddersfield Giants in a way…  Then again, with us getting hammered 5-0 at Fulham and with you-know-who winning today as well, it still might never come to pass. In’t life grand?”

Leeds United refused to comment beyond a terse assertion that such a circumstance is unlikely to come about. An anonymous source stated “Is not going to ‘appen, my friend. An’ if it did – wellll, per’aps a few of us not aroun’ to see it”. 

Huddersfield Town‘s inferiority complex is 55.

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Steve Evans Sacked By Leeds After An Hour; Katie Hopkins to Take Over – by Rob Atkinson

Katie Hopkins: exciting appointment

Katie Hopkins: exciting appointment

Former Rotherham manager Steve Evans took training for Leeds United this morning and was duly sacked by calm, reflective owner Massimo Cellino for “poor results” as he tackled his formidable lunch. Media star Katie Hopkins is expected to take over as Cellino resorts to the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act in order to restrain himself from further executive action.

Evans was quoted in the last few minutes as he cleared his plate and then his desk: “I can’t complain. I’ve had a fair crack of the whip and it’s true we’ve not won a single game since I took over at 10:00 this morning. That’s football, I suppose.”

Mr. Cellino was not available for interview, but is understood to be excited by the appointment of la Hopkins, recommended to him by a certain peer of the realm as “the right man for the job”.

The colour of the sky in Cellino’s world is not purple.

An Apt Illustration of “The Big Lie” as Perpetrated by the Daily Mail & Others – by Rob Atkinson

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By appointment to Goebbels and Cameron

Having blogged elsewhere about the tendency of this “government” to rehash the old Nazi-acclaimed method of “The Big Lie“, I’ve been looking for a good, satirical piece, the better to illustrate the point. And, just over a day into 2014 – which I hope will be the last complete year of this appalling administration – I found the example reproduced below. Linda Cox of Norfolk is a carer, thinker and an active campaigner against the iniquities of “austerity” – and against the endemic persecution of the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the sick. As a small part of her efforts to lift the murky veil of tabloid-retailed government propaganda, she has summed up the whole thing very neatly indeed. I quote her in full below, with her permission and without further comment.

I feel so secure and looked after by proper newspapers like the Daily Mail. Yes, it is controlled by the government, but that’s why it is there to serve my best interests, like Mr Cameron who loves us really – he wants us all to be rich, and if I shop at M&S and wear stuff like Kate Windsor, celebrities and other important, very clever people I will be rich too. I also know that by looking down on those less able or poor, it will improve my self esteem, and mean I am better than they are. We are more like the Beckhams… well, we would be if we had the money. We will, once they have stopped the foreigners and dole cheats. Then people who want to get on in life, can.

The DM lets me know what is going on in the real world and gives me warning about the things I should fear and we know forewarned is forearmed.

It tells me what to buy, what to watch and what to wear to be more like rich people and to be better than my neighbour.

I am safe in the knowledge that the Daily Mail – and The Sun – have the most readers, therefore I must be reading the facts and it fits in with my own beliefs….and fears.

When I go out I make sure I avoid places where there are nasty, dirty homeless people, because they are all addicts and they might steal my purse to finance their habit.

There is a council estate around the corner where all the people have HUGE flat screen tellies… especially those on the dole. The people are mostly foreign, because they get first choice of all the council houses. The families consist of three, sometimes FOUR generations that have NEVER worked in their life! That’s because they don’t need to. Each child you have on the dole gets you an extra thousand pounds per week. That’s why dole families in council houses have ten or maybe fifteen kids each. Sometimes they murder a few to get on telly. Their neighbours watch them on the news on their massive plasma tellies, while Jeremy Kyle is on an advert break. They all smoke weed and drink alcohol… even the kids, while they play X-box on their own plasma tellies. That’s during the day, because they have all been excluded from school. In the evening and at night, they hang around the streets mugging people, but the victims are from their own estates, so it doesn’t matter. It’s not like they are mugging decent folk. They steal from their own because of the high welfare benefits – these people carry Giros worth thousands of pounds! Especially the foreigners, because they get Girocheques for £6,000 to buy cars!

The Daily Mail told me that most disabled people have nothing wrong with them, so I started spying on so called disabled to make sure they limped, wobbled or fell over every time they got out of their car parked in a disabled bay…. because if they don’t use a wheelchair, there’s nothing really wrong with them, right? They are worse than dole people. They get even MORE money from us, The Taxpayers. They get a new car EVERY YEAR! Nothing to pay at all. The Daily Mail told me so.

Did you know that every single person on benefits gets £26,000 a year? AND that’s the lowest rate, after the government capped benefits. People used to get much more.

Recently poor people have had access to free food, so that’s another thing that doesn’t have to come out of their £26,000 budget. They just turn up at what’s known as a foodbank and get bags and bags of food! FREE! Now lots of people know about it, more people are going there, then they have more money for drugs and holidays. They are opening up in every town. Other people donate food from places like Aldi and Lidl and dole people just pick it up… some places even offer a delivery service! I don’t shop in places like that, so I can’t donate anything….and why should I when I can’t even afford to eat out every night?

We struggle sometimes and can’t always go 5-star on holiday. That’s when I know who to blame. If Johnny Foreigner, Billy Pretend-Cripple and people popping kids out daily, got off their fat backsides and got jobs, I wouldn’t have to pay so much tax! Maybe I could even have enough money one day to be in the Daily Mail myself…..

For now, I’m happy just to live in my ivory tower reading my Daily Mail.

All successful satire or parody has an important kernel of truth. Thanks for reading – I hope it makes a few more people think about what they might read elsewhere.

The Tory Approach to ‘Stock Management’ in Animal Farm UK

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The three Great Offices of State as represented by the current incumbents

George Orwell’s “Animal Farm“, written as an anti-communist allegory in 1943-44 at a time when, due in part to wartime alliances, Joseph Stalin was well-regarded in the UK, remains a classic of its kind. The allegory is a versatile literary device, and in the skillful hands of Orwell it painted a bleak picture of the events in Russia leading up to the Revolution of 1917 and those developments afterwards which brought about the Stalin era. Clearly, Orwell’s target had to be one easily identifiable through the clear vision of hindsight; he had in mind what had already come to pass and was making no predictions as to any future dystopia. But history has a way of reviving familiar themes and it is hard to look at the events that have been unfolding in the UK since the ConDem alliance of 2010 seized power sans mandate – and not to credit Mr Orwell with an uncanny prescience as his work assumes a new and chilling significance.

This coalition government assumed a power it was not elected to on the back of a welter of slogans and promises; those slogans have become sick jokes, perverted out of their original bright and shiny aspect, retailed now in the bitter coin of irony and disillusion. The promises, meanwhile, lay shattered into myriad fragments, reduced to dust to be blown away by the chill wind of austerity – while the original text of vows that became lies are being erased from political web servers, lest they be waved in righteous indignation at the lumpen Untermensch and thus perhaps foment rebellion.

The 21st Century reality of Tory-fabricated propaganda in ConDem Britain is, if anything, even sneakier than the crude tactics of Squealer, the mouthpiece pig of the allegorical Animal Farm. Where Squealer teetered on a ladder with a bucket of whitewash, the better to change the sense of the First Commandment “All animals are equal” by the addition of “…but some animals are more equal than others”, the Tory revisionism is unspoken, the whitewash job more subliminal. So, the internet records are abruptly wiped and old slogans or promises such as “We’re all in it together” are simply dropped quietly, used now only as satirical barbs by those who would counter the Big Lie. And meanwhile, the MP’s get an 11% rise while belts are being tightened among the hoi polloi, the bankers get their munificent bonuses while theplebs face the “heat or eat” dilemma and present themselves at food banks – because what were previously recognised as bare subsistence-level benefits have now been heavily cut from every direction – so harsh choices must be made courtesy of the Orwellian Pigs who banquet in the farmhouse, aloof and uncaring.

Some of the repugnant individual characters in the book hardly do justice to their modern-day counterparts. At least in Orwell’s work, the pigs – on a literal level – really are pigs. The farm stock, literally, are stock – cattle, sheep, horses; the unthinking, uncomprehending functionaries exploited all these years by humans and now hoping in their trusting way for a brighter future under an administration of their alleged peers. “All animals are equal”. But, lo and behold, in modern-day Britain, real life imitates the literal level of art. The Secretary of State for Work & Pensions no longer needs to bother referring to those under his benevolent care as human beings. To Iain Duncan-Smith, they are “stock“, we hear. So our deepest fears are realised: the ruling pigs really do regard us as dumb animals to be exploited for economic success and neglected to mitigate cost – the money saved to be devoted to improving the already lavish lot of the said pigs.

“These people”, trumpets IDS in response to murmurs of mild protest, “are referred to as “stock”. So, he’s emphatic about that, he can’t see that there’s any problem with it. It’s so hard to listen to for anyone who still retains any vestigial dream of a more equal society. People in caring professions are trained not to use terms like “these people”, because it sounds so pejorative, so demeaning – as if the human beings thus discussed are in a box labelled “Problem” or “Undesirable Element”. It’s almost too horrible for words, a litmus indicator of the contempt in which this privileged man, this latter day ruling pig, holds the millions of needy and vulnerable fellow human beings currently at the mercy of his incompetent tenure in office.

The “stock” is not to be trusted. They must be kept penned up and fed on rations, lest they gorge themselves and exhaust the farm’s resources. Any gorging to be done shall be done by the ruling pigs, because some animals are more equal than others. The stock cannot be trusted to have a work ethic, and so quotas are set (we call it Workfare) and sanctions are applied to those who are unable, for whatever reason, to make their contribution. These sanctions do not apply to the pigs, because the pigs are the sort of chaps who can be trusted to work given sufficient fiscal encouragement – so it’s all about incentives there. A bushel of apples in Orwell’s book – a seven figure bonus in 21st Century Britain – if, of course, you’re “one of us”. Incentives for the few – sanctions for the masses. Carrots and sticks – the Tory pigs find it easier to rule with the latter than the former. Easier – and cheaper too.

In Orwell’s book, when through sickness or age productive work is no longer possible, the consequences depend on whether you’re stock or stockman. Faithful servant Boxer, the once-mighty workhorse, is therefore taken away when finally exhausted, to be slaughtered and boiled down for glue, amid fanciful lies about a hospital bed and a peaceful end. The ruling pigs retire to the farmhouse, don the trappings of humanity and live the high life. As a parallel, in 21st Century Britain, thousands who have been found fit for work – when they clearly are not – have either died of their condition or have committed suicide. They have become “economically neutral” in official jargon; this government don’t like to talk about people dying as a result of their policies, so have rather conveniently stopped providing statistics relating to such matters as well as making it much more difficult to uncover such statistics. But Mark Byford, on the other hand, the former Deputy Director of the BBC, was paid an eye-watering £1 million over and above his contractual entitlement because – in Orwellian terms – he’s a pig. Certainly not “stock”, anyway. The ruling animals look after their own. Some animals are, after all, more equal than others.

It’s difficult to say what the future may hold – and it may well be that we’re faced with a sort of Devil’s Alternative, looking for the least bad option the next time we go to the polls – if, that is, such quaint and old-fashioned ideas as elections aren’t done away with in the next batch of nasty little surprises the ruling pigs have for us. I am speaking allegorically, of course. But to say we’re at a crossroads is to show a huge talent for wild understatement. At the moment, official figures are being manipulated to show what the government wants us to see – if they want us to believe that the threat of sanctions, or the effects of Workfare are helping people into jobs, then that’s what those figures will say – with an utter disregard for the truth and the casual brushing-aside of any peeps of protest from those who are aware of the truth. The mainstream media, also, can be relied upon to perpetuate the Big Lie, in all of its loathsome forms – and sadly, people appear happy to swallow this bilge as long as they themselves are not directly affected by the more swingeing examples of government policy. To the despair of those who wish to see transparency in government, and the interests of all strata of society advising policy – the opposite is happening, and that trend remains on the up and up.

What seems certain is that now is no time to be thinking of a new way, or some ballot-box chicanery based on the provision of a “none of the above” option. Nothing would be better calculated to succour our current rulers than such idealistic measures; instead, what is now needed is emergency pragmatism in the quest for that “least bad option” towards the desirable end of ushering out this unscrupulous and incompetent regime. So much damage has been done already, unwittingly forecast in uncanny detail by George Orwell in the mid-forties – and in such a relatively short time – that it’s too horrible to contemplate what might happen post 2015 if Napoleon, Squealer and Co actually manage to get elected next time around. More Workfare, more poverty for those at the bottom, more ostentatiously obscene wealth for those at the top – that could be the least of it.

And ultimately, there will be many thousands more poor, sick, disabled or simply old who will die for want of fair government for all. Perhaps they will reflect as their lights go out, on the essential truth of an old Latin tag: “Qui mori didicit, servire dedidicit” (Who has learned how to die has learned how not to be a slave). For many, that might quite literally be the only way out.

Leeds United’s “Life of Brian” – by Rob Atkinson

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LIFE OF BRIAN

In honour of our frustrated Manager, may I proudly present:

Leeds United’s “Life of Brian”

The “What Have the Bahrainis Ever Done For Us?” Scene, for those conspiracy theorists who maintain that the GFH regime is just more of the same old Bates crap. (With sincere apologies to the Pythons.)

ImageThe interior of COOPER’S house. A darkened room with a very conspiratorial atmosphere. BILLY and BIG JACK are seated at a table at one end of the room. EDDIE, dressed in Activist gear — white robes and a blue & yellow sash around his head — is standing by a plan (of a palatial residence in Bahrain) on the wall. He is addressing an audience of about eight MASKED ACTIVISTS including unsuspected double agent LASH. Their faces are partially hidden.

Eddie: We get in through the underground heating system here… up through to the main audience chamber here… and Haigh’s bedroom is here. Having grabbed him, we inform GFH that he is in our custody and forthwith issue our demands. Any questions?

Lash: What exactly are the demands?

Billy: We’re giving them two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of GFH Capital’s management structure of Leeds United and all related offshore companies, and if they don’t agree immediately we execute him.

Cooper: Cut his head off?

Eddie: Cut all his bits off, send ’em back every hour on the hour… show them we’re not to be trifled with.

Billy: Also, we’re demanding a ten foot mahogany statue of Brian Mawhinney with his cock hanging out.

Big Jack: What? They’ll never agree to that, Billy.

Billy: That’s just a bargaining counter. And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop him up, and… that we shall not submit to blackmail.

All: (Applause) No blackmail!

Billy: They’ve bled us Whites white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, not just from us, from our fathers and from our fathers’ fathers.

Big Jack: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

Billy: Yes.

Big Jack: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

Billy: All right, Jack. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Lash: Luke Murphy?

Billy: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That’s true.

Masked Activist: And got rid of Bates!

Big Jack: Oh yes… Bates, Billy, you remember what he used to be like.

Billy: All right, I’ll grant you that buying Luke Murphy and getting rid of Bates are two things GFH have done…

Cooper: And Scott Wootton.

Billy: (sharply) Well yes obviously Scott Wootton … Scott Wootton goes without saying. But apart from Luke Murphy and getting rid of Bates and Scott Wootton…

Another Masked Activist: Ticket prices…

Other Masked Voices: Closing Bates FM… cheaper season Tickets… Fan re-engagement…

Billy: Yes… all right, fair enough…

Activist Near Front: And bringing back Radio Leeds…

All: Oh yes! True!

Eddie: Yeah. That’s something we’d really miss if GFH left, Billy.

Masked Activist at Back: Social media – a Facebook and Twitter presence for LUFC!

Big Jack: And it’s nice and quiet sitting in the North Stand now.

Eddie: Yes, they certainly know how to keep order… (general nodding)… let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

(rueful grins and more general murmurs of agreement)

Billy: All right… all right… but apart from Luke Murphy and getting rid of Bates and Scott Wootton and closing Bates FM and re-engaging with the fans and bringing back Radio Leeds and social media and stewards shutting everyone up and Stadium Security making us sit down or chucking us out…. what have GFH Capital done for us?

Lash: Student tickets!?

Billy: (very angry, he’s not having a good meeting at all) What!? Student tickets?? Oh… (scornfully) Student tickets, yes… shut up!!

Premier League Set to Make Life Easier for Man U and Moyes – by Rob Atkinson

Man U line up reluctantly before having to play Man City

Man U line up reluctantly before having to play Man City

After a lengthy period of consideration following the remarks of Man U boss David Moyes on the eve of the season, the FA Premier League are set to act in recognition that the Biggest Club in the Universe have, after all, been unfairly treated.

Moyes had been annoyed that the Greater Manchester club, often fondly known by enemies and foes alike as the “Pride of Devon”, had been “dealt with as if we were just any club.” His complaint concerned the opening five games of the season, with Man U facing three clubs that they were scared of in the first five fixtures. “It was plainly unfair,” said the irate Scum boss. “Historically, this club deserve better than the treatment just any old club gets. Don’t listen to me, ask the gentlemen that edit the Mirror, Sun and Mail. Ask Sky TV. They’re all horrified at how we’ve just been lumped in with all the rest, let me tell you.”

Now the FA are set to take decisive action in the face of what are being seen as compelling arguments. “Mr Moyes has a point,” an ashen spokesperson said, yesterday. “We’ve perhaps taken our eye off the ball here, and maybe we’ve forgotten just who we’re dealing with.”

Unfortunately, it has been thought “too controversial” to expunge the results of the games concerned – Man U lost to Liverpool and Man City and could only just scrape a draw at home to Chelsea. “Unsatisfactory though it may be,” the FA announced, “these results will have to stand. However, we have ruled that it wouldn’t be fair to ask Man U to play these clubs again this season. We have decided therefore that we – ahem, they – will play Bury at home instead of City, Tranmere at home instead of Liverpool and Barnet away instead of Chelsea. The two scheduled Arsenal games will feature Arsenal Ladies, and instead of playing Spurs home and away, Man U will face a Showbiz XI captained by Mick Hucknall.”

David Moyes has cautiously welcomed what some may see as quite a generous gesture on the part of the game’s ruling body. “I can’t really agree it’s generous,” he snapped. “We dropped 8 points in those three games, and it seems we’re not getting them back. That’s nothing short of scandalous. We’ll just get on with it though as we always do at this club. At least it’s given us some scope to redress the balance a bit. We might have only got a point or two from that unfair run of fixtures if something hadn’t been done – now I’m confident we’ll get three or four. We at Man U will just hope the game’s authorities get it right first time in the future. All we ask is for our own way in everything.”

In a joint expression of regret and apology, BSkyB and the FA have asked Man U for their forgiveness in this sorry episode. “We are fully aware of the commercial implications of Man U failing to do well,” says the statement, in part. “We’ve seen the sales projections for Man U tat and Sky dishes in hotbeds like Cornwall and Kent and how business drops off if our heroes lose. Believe us, we’ll be extending the hand of friendship and help to Man U at every opportunity. As part of this, we can give assurances that the latest “New George Best”, Adnan Januzaj will not face any disciplinary action for his future dives to win penalties. Yesterday’s incident was an unfortunate misunderstanding, and the officials concerned have been disciplined.”

In a further gesture of support, the FA have agreed to expunge all Title records prior to 1993, send their referees on refresher courses at Man U’s Carrington Training Complex and deduct 15 league points from Leeds United with immediate effect.

Moyes to Continue his Impersonation of “Sir” Fergie – But is he REALLY Nasty Enough? – by Rob Atkinson

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

Fergie Teaching Moyes How To Be A Complete Bastard

It still looks as though rookie Man U manager David Moyes is determined to continue with his attempts to appear as a “Fergie Lite”, a watered-down version of his tyrannical predecessor.  There may well be those who will speculate that Moyes is receiving the benefit of some tips in “How To Lose Friends And Intimidate People” from past master “Sir” Alex Ferguson.  Lesson One was evidently “How to whinge”, and resulted in an ill-advised bleat about facing Liverpool, City and Chelsea in the first five Man U league games.  This was swiftly followed by “Arrogance for Beginners”, manifesting itself in a nasty little dig at former club Everton for “holding back the careers” of their players Leighton Baines and  Maroune Fellaini.  In this context, “holding back careers” evidently meant refusing to let Man U buy them at a cut price.  Moyes claimed that, if he were still the boss at Everton, he would of course not stand in the players’ way, letting them follow their hearts’ desire which is naturally to play for Man U.  Everton fans are, understandably, less than impressed by this bold assertion and have been busily engaged in slaughtering Moyes in the Twittersphere.  Fellaini eventually made the move to The Dark Side for a less than bargain £27 million or so.

The suggestion that Moyes as Everton manager had a less than robust attitude to protecting his own club’s interests in the transfer market was hinted at previously when Moyes was telling of how he was approached to take over at the Evil Empire.  It would seem that he received a call from The Great Man himself, the one and only Alex Taggart, large as life and twice as purple.  Moyes confesses that he had no idea it was about the Man U job, and assumed that Fergie was calling him to “let me know he was taking one of my players”.  Again, this is a soundbite calculated to enrage any proud Toffeeman, and it doesn’t go down too well with fans of other clubs outside the Theatre of Hollow Myths either, the clear inference being that all Man U have to do to sign the player of their choice is to casually let that player’s current club know that a deal will be done.  If that really was the extent of the Trafford-based club’s influence over the game as a whole, then frankly they have grossly under-achieved in not winning every cup, every year, ever since Uncle Rupert bought the game for them.

Whatever the case, Moyes now finds himself on the business end of this power gradient, and he clearly seems determined to make hay while the sun shines.  If this means re-inventing himself as a sort of less puce Alex, then – seemingly – so be it.  Those of us who have spent a productive lifetime hating Man U and everything connected to them, may just have had some worries about a “nice guy” like Moyes making our task of despising them that bit harder.  It would seem that, after all, we had nothing to be concerned about, and that Man U under Moyes appear likely to continue to be as intrinsically despicable, arrogant and annoying to proper football fans as they have ever been.

This will naturally please those lost souls in Devon, Milton Keynes and Singapore who still count themselves as hardcore Man U fans (since 1993), but for the rest of us who had hoped that football would be a nicer and more wholesome place without Sir Taggart, the sad truth is that it’s probably going to be business as usual – though hopefully without all that ill-gained silverware.  Because Moyes may talk the talk, but he’s done nothing as yet to suggest that he’ll be able to walk the walk.

Relief for Leeds Fans as Mirror Reports McDermott “Ready to Quit Elland Road” for Ireland Job – by Rob Atkinson

Despite worrying rumours yesterday that Leeds United manager Brian McDermott was a target for the Irish football authorities, looking for a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni, there is welcome reassurance this morning over McDermott’s own intentions.

The encouragement for Leeds supporters anxious over the possibility of losing their manager comes in the form of a Mirror article stating that he “would be willing to leave Leeds” and “would jump at the opportunity to replace Giovanni Trapattoni”. However, the use of accepted code phrases for a fabricated story “Mirror Sport understands…” and “…the former Reading boss has communicated this to those closest to him” will come as an intense relief to those with Leeds United’s best interests at heart who, but for the source of this story, might have been tempted to take it seriously.

With McDermott effectively confirmed as out of the running due to the Mirror’s intervention, bookies will be watching to see who else the former newspaper nominates as “certs for the job” so that they can lengthen those odds accordingly. This is reportedly in line with accepted policy, as in the case of the Mirror recently speculating that a weekend would directly follow Friday, causing odds there to drift out to as long as 150-1 in some markets.

In other news, rumours of a merger between the Mirror Group and a leading toilet-roll manufacturer could not be confirmed last night, though a spokesman in a shabby raincoat with beer-stained elbows stated that “the Group are always looking for strategic partners in closely allied fields”.

Thatcher Day? No Thanks – Let’s Have a “Heroes Day” Late August Bank Holiday We Can ALL Support

British Heroes Day

British Heroes Day

Britain woke up on Wimbledon Men’s Semi-Final day to one of the dafter ideas of the year – the proposed re-naming of the late August bank holiday as “Margaret Thatcher Day” – shook its collective head incredulously and gaped in frank disbelief that anyone could suggest anything quite so stupidly divisive. Then it sighed with relief as it realised this was just another attention-seeking ploy by one Peter Bone – simply another of those tiresome so-called politicians who define their function by just how best they can publicise their tragically unremarkable careers – and fell instead to wondering whether to have toast or cornflakes for breakfast.

There was never anything to get really upset about, or to take too seriously.  Peter Bone MP has form for this sort of thing, after all.  His record reads a bit like a litany of gibbering lunacy and reactionary stances on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty and conscription. He clearly subscribes to the maxim of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, and sallies forth on a regular basis, seemingly with one solitary thought in his head: how best to get Peter Bone MP in the news. He’s regularly one of the most enthusiastic expenses claimants, pays his wife top dollar for “secretarial duties” (so he’s big on nepotism too) and has a string of failed businesses and other ventures to his name. He also boasts a consistent record of losing supposedly safe seats in elections, sometimes bucking a national swing to the Tories by actually reducing their vote in the constituency he’s fighting.  All in all – not the sharpest or most useful tool in the box.

So those of us who do not inhabit the lunatic hinterland of the Tory Right can dispose of the latest Bone rant with a derisive sneer and a muffled chortle, and leave the Daily Heil readers to linger lovingly over what is a dead-in-the-water idea right from the start. But it does perhaps raise a legitimate question of the potential dedication of that anonymous late August holiday – many other countries use such occasions to pay tribute to their notable figures, so is it such a bad idea in principle?  Maybe not – so long as we manage to disregard the blithering of Bone and his ilk, and consider instead ideas from the saner end of the spectrum. The fact is that, whoever one might select as a deserving recipient of an honour such as becoming an eponymous bank holiday, the tribute is likely to be divisive to a greater or lesser degree. If you put forward the seemingly obvious name of Winston Churchill, you will hear voices raised by those with an awareness of his role in the General Strike in 1926. Those who espouse a free-market philosophy and howl in horror at the full-employment strategy that underpinned British politics until 1979 will not take kindly to any suggestion that Clement Attlee should be honoured by such a dedication. We’re a nation of many threads – and you can’t please all the people, all the time.

Why not then have a day when people of diverse views and differing affiliations can define their own tributes and make their own dedications – either singly or in smaller or larger groups?  It could be called “Heroes Day” and it would be an occasion for everyone to think of the person who means most to them personally, and commemorate that life and its achievements in the way they consider most fitting. Those who can gather like-minded people together could perhaps organise groups in tribute to a favourite hero or heroine. One group might have their Florence Nightingale Day, another might wish to raise a flag for Arthur Scargill.  Any or all of them could use their hero or heroine to create a local event, or maybe even something on a wider geographical scale.  They could raise funds for an allied cause, and generally do a lot of good.

Heroes Day.  It has a certain ring to it; the inclusive context tends towards the subjective nature of hero-worship, yet there is a patriotic flavour to it as well.  There might of course be a down-side: there will always be individuals or groups who will seek to ignite strife by seeking to glorify the names of those who most would feel are unfit to be remembered or revered.  That could be a knotty problem; the whole concept of a Heroes Day would be for self-expression to have its head and for people to be able to pay tribute as they see fit, and the introduction of any form of censorship would strike a jarringly flat note in that symphony of personal freedom.  It almost brings us back to the ridiculous idea which prompted this article.  Clearly, some careful thought would be needed.

On the whole, though, the idea of a Heroes Day has much to recommend it, and is no more open to abuse than any other such suggestion might be.  To a certain degree, you just have to accept that grown-up people have to be given the latitude to express their views and celebrate their beliefs as they see fit, and the existing laws and by-laws are after all in place already to deal with any extreme manifestations which might crop up.  On the positive side, there could be great benefits which might arise out of the events which could be organised nationwide to celebrate a Heroes Day.  Fund-raising and education spring to mind, cultural events and perhaps even job-creation could be possibilities.  And in these times of gloom, with austerity piling up all about us and threatening to drown us all under it’s murky incoming tide, don’t we need something positive to focus our attention and creativity?  A national holiday, with thousands of individual events dedicated to the whole panoply of heroes, both past and present, a source of pride perhaps comparable to last year’s Olympics and Paralympics, a surge of national well-being in the recognition of who we are and who we have been.  Heroes Day.  I really do think it’s worth considering.  Who would your August Bank Holiday hero or heroine be?

Brian McDermott Preparing Leeds United for 46 Cup Finals

ImageHe’s a pretty downy old bird, Brian McDermott. You get the feeling that he doesn’t miss a trick in the business of getting the very best out of the resources at his disposal, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll be bang up to date with any factors that might affect his team’s chances of success. The last time he operated in this league, his Reading FC team recovered from a dodgy start to scorch through the pack and leave the rest of the division breathless in their wake as they clinched the Title.  On the face of it, there’s no reason he can’t do the same at Leeds – as long as he’s fully aware of one vital fact. Everyone raises their game against Leeds United.  We are everyone’s Cup Final.

What this means, in effect, is that – more so than most clubs – our players have to be prepared to face a very stiff challenge almost every week.  When the fixtures come out, fans of every other club in the league dive to examine the list, looking for one game: Leeds at home.  Those fans will leave their club and team in no doubt in the weeks and days leading up to their Cup Final – we must beat Leeds, or die trying.  So many times since we dropped out of the Premier League – and even before that – I’ve seen teams put in gut-busting, lung-bursting performances to pull off a great result against my hapless heroes in White.  So many times I’ve noted that this team’s next game produces a limp and pallid display as they struggle to a draw or defeat.  But, no matter – as long as they did it against Leeds United, their fans and their manager are happy.  We’re the scalp they all want, the potential feather in everyone’s cap.

This is particularly so when you look at the other teams in Yorkshire, for whom – you get the unmistakable impression – beating Leeds really is the be-all and end-all.  Your Huddersfields, your Barnsleys, your Sheffield teams.  Doncaster, even.  All those Hovis and cobblestone outfits.  They all have this chip-on-the-shoulder, urgent NEED to do it against Leeds.  Their fans demand it, motivated by a hatred for which they’re not even sure of the reason – summat to do with what their dad said about the sixties and Don bloody Revie.  But they simply must beat Leeds – do that, and avoid relegation and it’s been a good season.  Look at opposition message boards after Leeds have beaten their favourites.  The grief and bitterness are palpable, it’s something they just can’t cope with. It’s the same for the managers.  Remember the amusing sight of Darren Ferguson on the very edge of tears after defeat at Elland Road?

Brian McDermott, you feel, will be thoroughly aware of this – of the local derby factor, and of the feeling further abroad which inspires the likes of Forest and Derby, Millwall and Leicester to raise their performance levels against us.   If anyone can make this deep-seated hostility work FOR Leeds, you can bet Brian is that man.  He’s building his squad, and he’ll be building an attitude as well, the us-against-them solidarity that served him so well in this league at Reading.  Leeds is a horse of a different colour, of course, but the wily Brian will have it figured out, and he’ll want to use the other lot’s hostility against them.  We supporters will have our part to play too.  The fans just have to make Elland Road a cauldron of hostility again, somewhere that other teams and opposition players hate to play, because they know they’ll be facing 11 motivated and buzzing white shirts and 25000 12th men, screaming abuse at them the whole game through.  That’s how we handled it in 1990 under Wilko, and this guy can get the same thing going, if anyone can.

46 games is a long, long haul – the original football “marathon not a sprint”.  The advantage the other clubs will have is they’ll only face two Cup Finals in the season, maybe a couple more for those with local rivalries.  But for the other clubs, Leeds is The One, so we’re going to have to be up for it – bang up for it – each and every week.  If Brian McDermott can foster that attitude and that fighting spirit, and if we can win enough of those 46 Cup Finals as a result – then maybe, this time next year, we’ll be poised at the gates of the Promised Land.