Tag Archives: bigotry

Too Many Leeds United “Fans” Forget That Saiz Matters – by Rob Atkinson

Samuel-Saiz-672176

Saiz leaves early after zero dribbles and one spit

Characteristically, Leeds United has contrived to make a drama out of a crisis, compounding the humiliation of an FA Cup Third Round exit at minnows Newport by adding the embarrassment of an on-pitch spitting scandal, as well as the six-match loss of star player Samu Sáiz. To make matters even worse, the intellectually-challenged end of the Whites’ support then took to Twitter with the express intention, so it seemed, of unleashing their long-repressed bigotry and incipient racism by attacking Sáiz in the worst kind of Daily Mail-reading Colonel Blimp-inspired terms. It made for very unedifying reading, even for Twitter after one of Leeds’ frequent bad days at the office.

There’s no getting around the fact that spitting at a sporting opponent is a disgusting matter, deserving of punishment and not to be tolerated – or even mitigated, if it comes to that. It initially seemed an odd affair to me, with some confusion and delay surrounding the red card in the immediate aftermath of Newport’s late winner. But Sáiz appears now to have admitted, acknowledged and apologised for his transgression, so that’s that. He’s bang to rights and indefensible, he’ll have to do his time, repent at leisure and make sure he sticks to his vow that this will never happen again.

Incidentally, and particularly for those who think I’m an uncritical Sáiz apologist, his conduct has worried me before, and I’ve gone into print hoping he’d see the error of his ways. This was over an early season tendency to wave imaginary cards when fouled, something that risked attracting the ref’s attention negatively, and a habit I’ve always hated. So I don’t see Samu as any sort of paragon of virtue; even so, some of the stick and abuse he’s received from alleged Leeds fans since the Case of the Newport Spit has been sickening in the extreme – decorum prohibits the reproduction of many of the remarks here. Suffice to say that there’s been a nasty, racist overtone in the murkier regions of the Leeds Twitter hashtag, many of the boneheads who like to comment there seeming to have forgotten what the little Spanish wizard has contributed to our faltering season so far.

It’s not big and it’s not clever, but then again, that just about sums up some of our Twitter knuckle-draggers. Sadly, the temptation to jump aboard a Brexiteer anti-“foreign signing” bandwagon appears to have been just too much to resist for many of these hard-of-thinking opportunists, with some of them engaged for hours on end in trying to outdo their IQ-minus cronies in a competition to see who could be the most offensively tasteless in their treatment of United’s best player this season.

The subtext emerging was of a groundswell of opposition, again mainly at the thicker end of United’s online adherents, to the idea of signing non-British players in the first place. Some Leeds fans, apparently, will not be happy until United’s first team consists of blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan stereotypes, goose-stepping their way towards the lower leagues with the Sieg Heils echoing from the stands – a harking back to the early and mid-eighties. But those days are gone; the continental and global lads are here to stay, they will continue to provide the best hopes of success – and the Twitter and other social media morons are welcome to crawl back under the stones from which they should never, in these more enlightened times, emerge.

It’s to be hoped that this will be a storm in a teacup, that United will safely negotiate the enforced and unfortunate absence of Sáiz – and that, when he returns, he will be given the warm welcome that his value to the team deserves. And that will probably be the case, because Leeds will surely move to cover for the lad’s loss, while the bulk of the United support are a silent yet match-day raucous majority, who will always be behind the men in the shirts, whether they hail from Selby or Spain.

Samu’s been a silly lad, but many, many young footballers are guilty of that; he’s not the first, he’ll not be the last, and it’s got absolutely bugger-all to do with his nationality. So, enough of all that nonsense. What we need now is to get stuck in as a United Leeds for the rest of the season, that’s boardroom, management, players and fans – and put this sorry incident behind us. The rest of the transfer window promises to be interesting or maybe even exciting, and meanwhile there’s a formidable array of opposition waiting to tackle a Samu-less Leeds. Let’s stick together, ignore the ten-a-penny haters – and show them all what we’re really capable of.

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Are Celtic Just a Scottish Version of Man U That Leeds Love to Hate? – by Rob Atkinson

The Old Firm divide

The Old Firm divide

Wisely or not, this blog decided over the weekend to stick its nose into the current kerfuffle between those two friendly members of the “Old Firm” – Celtic and Rangers, both of the Glasgow parish (I use that word in its loosest possible sense). This latest spat has arisen from the decision of some Celtic fans to take out an ad in a Scottish Sunday paper, announcing to the world that they don’t recognise the post Ibrox crisis Rangers as the club that has existed since March of 1872 (they somehow managed to survive those first 16 years before Celtic were formed to give their lives some meaning…)

For these bright, media-savvy Bhoys, who invested a cool three grand into said advert, the team currently playing as Rangers is a new one that the mighty Celtic have no history with. Old Rangers are dead, they say. The Old Firm is dead. 126 years of history can simply be wished – or advertised – away, apparently. All specious nonsense, of course – but understandably, feelings are running high on both sides, as each attempts to out-justify the other.

My main aim in writing the original article (and one previous follow-up) was simply to highlight the advert nonsense, point out my quaintly romantic notion that a football club is about fans, history and tradition and not money, corporations and receivers – and then leave the combatants to get on with it. Which they did, and at some length too. They’re still at it, you can faintly hear the hullabaloo, just a few blogs back. And I have to say, wading through all that comment and counter-comment has opened my eyes to the depths of the mutual hatred up there. At times, it was like bobbing for apples in a cesspit.

I also have to say that, of the two, my sympathies are more and more with the Rangers lot – whereas prior to all of this, I always struggled to decide who I wanted to win a particular Old Firm match. I watched mainly for the blood and studs spectacle of it all – real old school stuff that you don’t see in England outside of a women’s hockey international.

It became clearer and clearer to me though that the Celtic side of things reminded me, more and more, of the attitude struck by those old foes of Leeds United from the Theatre of Hollow Myths – on the wrong side of the Pennines. You know the sort of thing – biggest and best, greatest in the world, don’t you dare say a word against us, blah blah blah. The fans of the Pride of Devon – as we fondly refer to Man U hereabouts – have swallowed all the propaganda, hook line and sinker. They really believe all the merchandise market-inspired guff the media feed them, and they recycle it as fact. Laughable, if irritating. We all know a deluded scum fan – so you know what I mean. But the club itself is just as bad, always wanting an unfair advantage, always demanding the benefit of the doubt, always cynically cheating, lying and manipulating – even now that Ferguson is history. And so, to an extent, it appears to be with Glasgow Celtic.

The quote below is from a Rangers fan in the thick of the argument that has been raging on this blog for a few days now. There is so much there that reminds me irresistibly of Man U and the way they try to go about getting the best of everything and sod everyone else. It’s a really, really harsh thing to say – but aren’t Celtic simply Man U-Lite?

“So, did Celtic play by the rules when they signed Juninho using the same EBT scheme that their support slaughter Rangers for. Did they play by the rules when we got to the UEFA final and asked for an extension to the season to avoid playing four games in one week? I think your CEO said that you were going on a Far East tour and couldn’t agree. Did those matches ever take place? What about the game you got cancelled following the death of a player who had left you years previously? If you can’t remember it then it was when you were in the middle of an injury crisis. Remember the qame where you had to beat our score to win the league and your star striker accused the team we beat at home 6-1 of cheating while his team mates accused the goalkeeper of the team you were beating 4-0 at the same time away from home of trying too hard. I think you even missed a penalty that day. What about when you caused a referee strike in Scotland and we had to import refs from Europe because you said they were all cheats?

Oh you play by the rules all right. That’s why you ran to the SFA to try and get titles and trophies stripped from us so that you could jump from our shadows. You knew the rules all right when you got the Swiss team thrown out of Europe who had just humped you and then a few years later your knowledge of the rules came to the fore again when Legia had to get thrown out of the CL after also humping you because a player they had assumed had served a suspension played two minutes when they were 6-1 up on aggregate. Remember a few weeks later when you signed the guy on loan and you went to the SPL and said I know we signed him late however it is just a technicality …..don’t be sticking to them rules.

Playing by the rules…..pass the sick bucket.”

I’ve purposely posted that in blue, so that no Celtic eye will be able to read it and thus suffer some hurt to their tender feelings. But, for the rest of us, there’s this ineffable sense of one club trying to run the game – of the tail trying to wag the dog, north of the border, just as it has been over two decades in England. It’s all so undesirably familiar, so tiresomely reminiscent of the way in which Man U have gone about dominating English football ever since Murdoch bought it for them in 1992, after one too many failed title bids, thwarted by our own beloved Whites.

Given the tradition whereby Celtic fans tend to have Man U as a second team, their “English” team (Rangers are more yer Liverpool), I suppose most Celts won’t be in the least offended by a comparison between them and the Pride of Devon. But believe me, it’s not intended in a good way – most football fans who haven’t swallowed all the market-driven media pap would confirm that it’s a mortal insult to be compared to such a plastic franchise. But there you go – none so blind as those who won’t see.

A footnote to the original issue of whether or not Celtic fans genuinely consider there is no history between their lordly selves and Rangers FC in the here and now: I said it would be interesting to see the reaction among the packed Bhoys at one end of the ground if and when their favourites scored. And it was interesting – if utterly predictable. They celebrated, of course – and they celebrated wildly, exploding with delight, as though their team had defeated Real Madrid themselves in a Champions League Final. The noise damn near knocked out one of my trusty LG flatscreen speakers as the hooped hordes yelled, screamed and cavorted in triumph. Not that they were remotely bovvered, of course. Because Rangers FC means nothing to them now. Right, Bhoys?

Talk about posturing for effect. Talk about self-delusion, and striking an attitude that doesn’t stand up to any serious examination. Talk about being exactly like the intrinsically detestable Man U – the club we routinely refer to as “the scum”. Ask yourselves: can Celtic really claim to be any better than that?

Rejoice! The Disgustingly Bigoted Daily Mail HATES Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Daily Heil - leaders of the gutter brigade

Daily Heil – leaders of the gutter brigade

Everybody knows that Leeds United aren’t exactly the toast of Fleet Street, or Wapping, or whatever geographical location you can choose these days as a symbol of the home and hearth of the English national press.  Actually, Fleet Street remains the single most appropriate spiritual location for the gutter end of our national newspaper industry – as the River Fleet was famously one of old London Town’s most noxious and disgusting open sewers.  Some things never really change.

Prominent among the Leeds-hating mainstream press is the scurrilous and disgusting Daily Mail – known as the “Daily Heil” by those of a discriminating nature who are all too well aware of this rag’s antecedents. The hacks at the Heil can always be relied upon to jump on the bandwagon of hating the Damned United in print and, these days, online too.  But it’s a fact that some publications are just so bloody awful that you wouldn’t actually want them printing a positive word about your beloved club.  It’d be a bit like getting a publicity break from Max Clifford.

The latest in a long line of articles with a distinct and rank anti-Leeds flavour appeared today under the byline of journalistic nonentity Patrick Collins, for whom you will search Wikipedia in vain – a damning indictment of the status and esteem of any “national” journalist.  This particular Patrick is not to be confused with Patrick Barclay, who is a distinguished and erudite sports writer. But the Lesser Patrick’s lazy piece, published by HeilOnline, was typical of the anti-Leeds genre – take a handy quote, put a conveniently negative spin on it, burble on a bit and then submit it, to an uncritical and tasteless editor.  Another day’s work done, another small addition to the Heil‘s record of shame.

One phrase ostensibly describing Don Revie’s Leeds United – and you can imagine the Lesser Patrick toiling over this until he thought he’d got it just right – went as follows: “Those of a certain age will recall a team of extravagant talent, irredeemably tainted by a taste for cynical brutality.”  Now there is rich irony here, albeit of the unconscious kind, something that will have sailed right over the empty head of your average Heil hack.  Because the fact is that, whenever such a wretched scribbler uses the words “irredeemably tainted”, readers everywhere will smile knowingly and think of the history of the Daily Heil. It’s not a story of which anybody but a moron such as Paul Dacre, or some of his allegedly noble and undeniably moronic predecessors, such as Lord Rothermere, could possibly be proud. The record of the Mail is littered with headlines which expose an editorial attitude that belongs in a Berlin bunker.  It is a history of abject shame and an utter poverty of proper journalistic and editorial standards.  If this is not true, then let them sue me.

Just to take the odd example from the past; in the 1930s, this “newspaper’s” proprietor, Lord Rothermere was vociferous in his support for various friends overseas, notably Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.  The Heil’s editorial stance towards these “heroes” of Fascism was therefore somewhat sympathetic, to say the very least. In January 1934, Rothermere himself penned an article headed “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” – and the paper provided details including an address to write to, in the earnest hope that “…young men may join the British Union of Fascists…” The Spectator commented at the time “…the Blackshirts, like the Daily Mail, appeal to people unaccustomed to thinking. The average Daily Mail reader is a potential Blackshirt ready made. When Lord Rothermere tells his clientèle to go and join the Fascists some of them pretty certainly will.”

More recently, the Heil has further immersed itself in disgrace and infamy with a series of headlines attacking minorities – usually conveniently vulnerable minorities – with absolutely no scruples as to whether or not their content contained any truth at all.  One example of this was the trumpeting of the alleged discovery of a “gay gene” which, the rag hoped, might lead to abortions of those pregnancies which could supposedly be identified as leading to the birth of what they would presumably refer to as “gay babies”.  The mind boggles painfully at that – but it’s pretty standard fare, sadly, for the Heil. Columnists in modern times have tended to include those who might be relied upon to continue the not-so-grand Heil tradition of bigotry and ignorance in print as well as online; the prejudiced, ridiculous and brainless Richard Littlejohn is an apt example of this policy.

For all of the reasons referred to above, I’m never all that bothered when another clueless and talent-free Daily Mail hack has a go at my beloved Leeds United. It’s an irritant, nothing more.  And the good bit is that it gives me the kind of excuse I’m always craving to have a go, in my small and humble way, at such a very despicable and diseased organ.

So keep it coming, you modern representatives of Rothermere’s shameful legacy. I’d hate to be identified in any positive way with such a very tawdry publication, fit as it is for nothing better than wiping rear ends; it follows that I’m almost always glad to see the football club I love attacked so regularly by the likes of the Heil.

After all, just as we are defined by the quality and decency of our friends and allies, so too can we be judged in the best possible light by the bigotry and stupidity of our critics and enemies. ‘Twas ever thus – and long may it continue to be true.

Guest blogspot: Close-mindedness by Kate Atkinson

KateKate Atkinson was born in July 1993 in Wakefield, and now lives in York where she is studying Primary Teaching at York St Johns University.  She attended St Wilfrids Catholic High School and 6th Form College, graduating in 2011 with outstanding academic results.  Since leaving St Wilfrids, Kate has spent part of a gap year working as an au pair in Dublin, gaining valuable experience of living independently  abroad.  Closer to home, she gained employment in her home town of Pontefract in a digital processing outlet, before commencing her University course last September.

The article below was originally published on Kate’s own blog, which can be found here. I reblog it now because of its undiminished relevance and unerring accuracy.

I have a very hard time understanding close-mindedness.

In the very early hours of this morning, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline and was heartbroken to read that Harry Moseley, the 11 year old boy with an inoperable brain tumour, who has campaigned tirelessly to raise over £500,000 for Cancer Research UK’s brain tumour research, has died.

As the world woke up to the news of the loss of this brave little boy, I saw hundreds upon hundreds of kind messages to Harry’s family – complete strangers reaching out to his parents, to support them through their grief. This outpouring of affection for one little boy was to be expected; Harry is widely known for his bravery and selflessness, and his campaign, Help Harry Help Others.

What I didn’t expect, though, was to see something like this.

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Once again, I encounter with absolute horror and disbelief, the twisted opinions of the Westboro Baptist Church.
A few years ago, being somewhat naive about the type of people that exist in this world, I found the website “God Hates Fags“, and honestly thought it was a joke. I was well aware of homophobia, but I didn’t honestly think that communities such as the WBC, with their persistent use of offensive vernacular, actually existed. I was wrong. This is prejudice at the absolute extreme, and I physically cannot stand it.
My discovery of the Westboro Baptist Church opened my eyes to just how extreme close-mindedness can be – but even after realising this, I would never, ever have expected these people to use the death of a little boy to once again force their opinions on the rest of the world.
I could steam on and on for a lifetime about how furious the WBC makes me, and get all worked up, and start swearing and insulting them and cursing them to the hell in which they think the rest of the world belongs. Because I honestly can’t comprehend this kind of cruelty. But a part of me thinks that an angry response is just what they’re looking for.
So instead I respond calmly. Instead of spending my time like the WBC choose to, screaming hatred at everyone they meet, I’d rather have a laugh with my friends. Read an old favourite book. Sit down to Christmas dinner with my family. Wear one of Harry Moseley’s bracelets with pride. Take pleasure from all the things in life that the WBC will never understand: kindness, love, compassion. My life is about my family and friends; I want to be with them and I want for all of us to be happy, and that’s what matters most to me.
I feel sorry for the WBC, because they spend their lives pushing the rest of the world away and building their lives on hate.
Harry Moseley was a bright, kind and determined little boy, who fought the dark with the light and filled people with hope. WBC fight blindly in the dark. There’s the difference. Make your choice.
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 Harry Moseley
2000 – 2011
Rest In Peace