Tag Archives: Charlton Athletic

Leeds Legend Lee Bowyer Sinks Sunderland at Wembley – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds Legend Lee Crushes Mackems

A last minute winner for Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic condemned Sunderland to at least one more season in League One, and ensured that the first two playoff finals, at least, panned out as per my personal requirements.

It had been good to see Newport depart on the return journey to Wales with tears in their eyes and tails between their legs. Quite apart from having had a soft spot for Tranmere since their Cup exploits under John Aldridge, I’ve not yet forgiven Newport for our FA Cup humiliation a year or so back. Call me bitter and twisted, but that’s just the way it is.

How much more riddled with spite and vicious nastiness am I then with regard to Sunderland, who have been living off their fluke FA Cup success against Super Leeds ever since 1973? Much, MUCH more, that’s how much. The fact that one of my Whites heroes of the past few decades, Lee Bowyer, was a direct beneficiary of the Mackems’ inadequacy simply made a sweet occasion all the sweeter. I’ve frankly hated Sunderland for all the time I’ve been a Leeds fan, despised Bob Stokoe, and celebrated every time we’ve beaten the Wearsiders, as we usually do. They keep going back to Wembley, and they keep failing. They’ve done it twice this season, and I’ve loved every minute.

Now all I need is for Aston Villa to beat Derby tomorrow – with a few Fwankie tears thrown in, if at all possible. Really – is that too much to ask?

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Karma Nails Steve Evans as Leeds Win on a Cold Day at Rotherham – by Rob Atkinson

A succinct message to Steve Evans, late of Peterborough United

Sometimes, revenge is just so ridiculously sweet, it could honestly give you diabetes. Today is one of those days when the karmic wheel turned and stopped in just the right place for Leeds United – and on the worst possible outcome for their one-time coach Steve Evans.

Having failed to be the success at Leeds that he’d confidently expected, Steve was perhaps predictably less than enthusiastic when asked to comment on the prospects of success for the latest occupant of the hot seat from which he’d been so unceremoniously turfed out a few managers ago. The upshot was that poor Steve – although unable to deny that Marcelo Bielsa has a well-deserved global reputation as a genius – felt impelled to accentuate the negative. Would Bielsa be able to get a result when the going got tough and winter had us in its icy grip, he wondered out loud. Would he, to quote the classic example, be able to succeed on a cold day in Rotherham? How Steve must have congratulated himself on that conundrum, dreamed up as we all basked in late summer sunshine. He couldn’t have been any more pointed if he’d mentioned that these foreigners don’t like it up ’em.

Marvel, then, at the delicious irony of today’s events in Leeds United land. It was a cold day – not a Tuesday, as Steve had specified, but still, cold. And Leeds United were due at Rotherham where, glory be, in arduous circumstances against a fighting foe, they did indeed get a result, the 2-1 from behind win putting them three points clear at the Championship summit. So far, so good – but, taken in isolation, not Karma.

So let’s look at the other side of this deliciously fateful equation. What was Steve doing today? Well, the former Leeds coach was in charge of a struggling Peterborough United, at home in League One to Charlton Athletic, coached, with yet another succulent morsel of irony, by Leeds legend Lee Bowyer. The result was a 0-0 draw and evidently the last straw for the Posh powers that be. So, on the very same day that Bielsa did what Steve gleefully doubted he could, Evans was sacked, gone, unemployed. Sadly, he just couldn’t do it on a cold day at London Road, and he paid the ultimate price, with that little extra surcharge of karmic humiliation.

It’s a hard life, Steve, but forgive us if we have zero sympathy to spare. If you’d been just a little less smug in predicting failure for Bielsa, there might have been some compassion around LS11 when your own chickens chose the very same day Leeds won at Rotherham to come home to roost. Perhaps you should have been more circumspect, but that’s not really your style, is it. So I’m afraid it’s a case of, in the late, great Windsor Davies‘ immortal words: “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

Leeds go marching on, then, and their future looks bright, though nobody should expect United fans to be as smug as poor Steve Evans was. Maybe he’ll think twice in future? And maybe he’ll be in work again soon enough – though it’s highly doubtful if that would be at a high enough level for him to have to worry about getting a result on a cold day at Rotherham United.

Leeds Players Disgrace the Old ‘Keep Fighting’ Battle Cry   –   by Rob Atkinson

The battle-cry of Legends

Look at the image above. It symbolises the commitment and passion of the great Leeds United sides of the past. Warriors all, if you cut one of them, they all bled – and as one they hunted down the offender and served up retribution. This applies to the Title-winning sides in my lifetime, and to any of the Revie Boys. You did not mess with those lads. If you wanted to play, they’d outplay you. If you wanted a fight – woe betide you. You’d be out-fought and then outplayed. You’d most likely be beaten either way. Surrender? It just wasn’t in their lexicon. 

Back, reluctantly, to the present day – leaving the memories of those beloved heroes in White back in the past where they dominated and triumphed, making us all proud to be Leeds. The cold and stark reality of today is of a very different breed of player. Too many of the current squad – the ones who should be setting an example to yet another batch of richly-promising youngsters currently emerging – would look at that picture at the top and think to themselves – Keep Fighting? What for? What’s in it for me? Can’t I just slide out from this and do something easier? Why not have a weekend off “injured”??

Six players have declared themselves injured on the eve of tomorrow’s game at Charlton Athletic. Count them. SIX. That’s to stretch the credulity of the fans rather far, surely – if not the medical staff. Don’t forget – these are fans that revere the fighters we’ve had down the years. They won’t have much time for wimps. 

Neither, it appears, do a couple of more recent United players in Messrs. Whelan and Matteo. Both are scathing in their criticism of any players who may have felt they can’t be bothered this weekend. When these men – men who have worn the shirt with pride – show their contempt and disgust, then why should the fans have any more patience, belief or faith? The fans have even more right to be disgusted – appalled – at such craven behaviour. Whatever is going on at the club, there is no excuse for desertion – and this situation stinks of precisely that. 

I exempt the club’s young stars from this criticism. They have done all that might be expected of them this season, and more besides. They have been let down abysmally by those they should be able to regard as role models and mentors – just as we, the fans have been let down. 

This, on the face of it, is rank betrayal of a stripe I’ve rarely if ever seen at Leeds United. Either that, or it’s a remarkable coincidence. The coincidence would be in the timing of all these supposed injuries, the origin of the players allegedly affected and the fact that the club is currently having a tough time. When the going got tough, certain alleged competitors seem to have waved the flag of surrender. That’s not the type of white flag we approve of at Elland Road

If what is being suggested all over various media tonight is true – then certain players should never wear the Shirt again. Perhaps, on the evidence, they don’t wish to. Either way, if they’ve chosen to claim falsely that they’re injured and unavailable, then they should do themselves and the rest of us a favour – and ship out. That type of player – cowards and faint hearts – are not wanted at Leeds. 

Never have been, never will be. 

Noel Hunt Scores to Leave Leeds Boo-Boys Red-Faced – by Rob Atkinson

Ipswich Hero Noel - not good enough for 15th placed Leeds

Ipswich Hero Noel – not good enough for 15th placed Leeds

Really, you had a feeling it might happen. After a barren spell at Leeds United, Noel Hunt has made the loan switch to high-flying Ipswich Town – and has become an instant Tractor Boys hero with a last-gasp winner at Charlton Athletic.

No Tractor Boys at Elland Road – but boo-boys aplenty. Sadly, ’twas ever thus. I go back as far as Terry Yorath, who was routinely slaughtered by those on the terraces with size 12 gobs to accommodate their size 12 bovver boots – and with a size zero brain ostensibly directing things from somewhere in the pelvic region.

Yorath was a Welsh international who went on to have a fine career with Coventry and then Spurs. He was just one of too many players chased out of LS11, confidence in tatters, by the hard-of-thinking masses whose idea of motivational support amounts, it seems, to monosyllabic, visceral abuse. Great way to back the lads, lads.

Two of Cloughie’s imports in the autumn of ’74, John McGovern and John O’Hare, suffered ignorant abuse and were likewise sent packing from Leeds, doubtless grateful to get away. Instead of pining for what might have been in the White shirt, they settled for an English Champions medal, two European Cups, sundry Wembley triumphs and a bucketload of glory down Nottingham way. The bright lads on the Gelderd, unabashed, continued to hold that they were “roobish. Not good enough for Leeds, like”. Our talent as fans for shooting ourselves in the collective foot was honed as sharp as a knife in the back, even then.

This level of expertise as assessors of footballing talent is still manifesting itself among the Leeds United faithful. A small but loud minority will concede nothing to the pros in terms of their ability to label a player as “crap”. Even in the immediate aftermath of Hunt’s late winner at Charlton, there were many rather defensive tweets in the ether, insisting that Noel is “still crap”. After all, what does his manager know? Or his fellow pros??

Several United players down the years have been unable to give of their best with this sort of “support” ringing in their ears. Unaccountably, a goodly proportion of these hopeless, useless articles have gone on to do well elsewhere – at clubs whose fans embrace old-fashioned and out-dated practices, like cheering on whoever wears the shirt. That’s far too naïve and unsophisticated position for the bright sparks in the Leeds crowd, though. Of course it is. We’re Leeds and we know best – right?

It could be that Noel Hunt might still have a future at Elland Road. It’s hardly unknown for a player, his confidence holed below the water line, to be buoyed up by the experience of a run in some other club’s side, a chance to play his way back into form. Perhaps Hunt will be an example of that kind of renaissance. But equally, he may prefer to pursue his career elsewhere. You could hardly blame him.

Players are a valuable asset for any club. Those assets may appreciate over time, given success and the adoration of the fans. But some may sink without a trace and feel no option but to start again elsewhere, if anyone will take a punt on them. Ipswich boss and Leeds United fan Mick McCarthy must be pleased right now that he took a punt on Hunt.

Leeds fans are as self-congratulatory a mob as you’d find anywhere in football. They are prone to applauding themselves as the best supporters around. Taking an army of 7,000 to Blackburn as well as frequently following Leeds in numbers for midweek games away on the south coast – this speaks volumes for the fanaticism of the United support. But support is about more than just turning up in numbers, and sadly Leeds fans in my experience are frequently lacking in the aspect of support that involves actually being supportive. And that’s a significant fault that can have real consequences for players’ careers and, by extension, the club’s prospects of success.

Good luck to Noel Hunt in his loan spell at Ipswich, and beyond – wherever that might be. It’s difficult to envisage him back at Leeds, but I for one would be delighted to see him return, confidence restored. But confidence is a fragile flower, easily blown away by the scorching wind of spectator scorn in a white-hot cauldron like Elland Road with its mad up. The question Hunt might be asking himself in January, with a successful loan at Portman Road behind him, is: “Do I really need that??

The answer to that question might well result in Noel Hunt bearing down on the Leeds goal in some other team’s shirt in the not-too-distant future, to score against us and condemn the Whites to a possibly costly defeat. It’s happened before, it’ll almost certainly happen again. And you know what? We’ll bloody deserve it.

Free-falling Leeds Hammer Nails in Millwall and Barnsley Coffins – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds lose yet again

Leeds lose yet again

Leeds’ shambolic collection of bottlers predictably meandered to yet another defeat at Elland Road as Charlton picked up a rare three points on the road.  No surprises there, merely a hint of something to raise the eyebrows as United kept it down to one, making a welcome change from the lavish generosity of their defence over the past few games.  It’s not even that upsetting when Leeds lose any more – it just adds to the cumulative weariness of a season long ruined by dishonest and self-seeking men off and on the field of play.  The magnificent Leeds supporters have carried off all the laurels due at Elland Road this campaign.  They have been there through thin and thinner; the highlights have been few, the disappointments and betrayals many – and yet still they turned up, those amazing members of the White Army, raucous and indomitable everywhere Leeds have played, startling fans on away grounds into an awed and respectful silence.

The Charlton game will not have added appreciably to those fans’ suffering. Their preoccupation is with off the field matters, as it has been for some time. It’s become more and more obvious that the one man out there honest enough to see how things are, and outspoken enough to lay it on the line as to what needs doing, is the man currently waiting to see if he will be allowed to set about saving a famous old club.  Massimo Cellino has ranted his way into the hearts and minds of United’s fans, fans who notoriously love a nutter with passion in his heart.  The decision as to his ownership of the Club will be made known in the next few days; on that decision, it is not fanciful to say, rests the whole future of a club that has been massively let down over the past few years – by just about anyone you care to name, aside from a select few players and staff.  And, of course, those phenomenal fans.

The real losers coming out of this latest defeat to Charlton are, in fact, two clubs whose fans normally wish Leeds United no good at all, but who will have been on their knees praying for an unlikely Whites win.  If there’s a crumb of comfort out there, I’m in the mood to seize on it – and the fact that Barnsley and Millwall would have been hoping for three points for Leeds does provide more than a hint of satisfaction.  A glance at the league table makes this quite clear.  We were looking at a group of death in the bottom four of the Championship, but it was noticeable that Charlton had a good few games in hand due to their Cup exploits.  The win at Leeds has seen them open up a three point gap over Barnsley, despite the Tykes’ recent good form, and a comfortable FIVE points over a hapless Millwall side.  And the Addicks still have a game in hand over Barnsley and two over Millwall.  So Leeds’ abject failure against Charlton has done a power of no-good to two clubs whose fans’ attitude towards United leaves them deserving no favours from our part of West Yorkshire.  I have to admit, that leaves me with a slightly malicious smile on my face.  The fact that the normally-reliable Ross McCormack missed a late, late penalty to ensure the full three-point hammer-blow to the Tykes and the Bermondsey Scum, just added a slightly piquant touch.  ‘Ave it, I thought.

As far as this blog is concerned, the priorities for the rest of this wretched season are few and simple.  First, we need to have Cellino approved; this immediately changes the whole picture at Elland Road and provides a foundation upon which to build.  The alternative, quite frankly, doesn’t bear thinking about.   Secondly – let’s not have this latest defeat go to waste.  Let Charlton Athletic use their three easy-gained points at our expense as a springboard to survival, and let’s see Barnsley and that odious, horrible club Millwall consigned to the lower leagues where they belong.  And thirdly, on a totally unrelated plane, let Bayern Munich finish the job against Man U next week, before losing in their turn in the next round.  These are relatively simple and realistic wishes; let them be granted. After this horrible, horrible season, I deserve no less – and I would hope a good proportion of my fellow Leeds fans would also draw some comfort in the fate of others, whilst celebrating a new era for ourselves, under our passionate, committed and insane Italian lunatic.

If that little lot comes true, then perhaps we can look forward to better times next season.  A Championship that would be all the more fragrant and lovable without the likes of Millwall and Barnsley.  A club under strong leadership, with money available to fund the big-club aspirations a big club should rightly have.  That will do for me, as a starting point.  If we can take the first step towards realising such a scenario in this fateful, historic week – then things will look, suddenly, not so bad.

McCormack Exposes Strachan’s Lack of Four-sight as Leeds Romp to Victory – by Rob Atkinson

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Ross McCormack – surplus Scot

Gordon Strachan has always been good value, whether plying his trade as Leeds United’s traditional diminutive ginger midfield maestro, or later as a manager with a penchant for the apposite quote, frequently a venom-tipped barb delivered with his own brand of waspish humour.  He’s not been somebody noted for getting things wrong all that often. There was a dressing-room tantrum in the early days at Elland Road, when it took Jim Beglin to calm him down – politely but firmly.  And there was the famous own-goal near the end of the Charity Shield match against Liverpool at Wembley in 1992 – but that didn’t matter as Leeds won in the end.  Other than those two minor blips, he’s normally got most things right.  But Leeds fans will have been queuing up to tell him that he dropped a right clanger this week.

Somehow, by some convolution of his venerable grey matter, Scotland manager Strach has managed to select for his next international squad NINE players from the Championship – and yet omit Ross McCormack.  I’d be very hard-pressed to name one Scottish player in the Championship better than Rossco, and yet wee Gordie somehow managed to find these nine.  It’s to be hoped they do well – they’ll have to if they’re going to prove their worth ahead of a man who has been excellent for Leeds United this season, a man who wears his heart and his commitment to the cause on his sleeve, a man, moreover, who has scored 6 goals in his last two outings whilst threatening to stage a one-man goal of the month competition.  Strachan did concede that McCormack had been “unlucky”, thereby adding to his considerable reputation for dry understatement.

At the time of this unlucky omission, Ross McCormack could point to just the two goals in his most recent game; now he’s trebled that output in one further game as if to emphasise just how bloody unlucky he really has been.  This approach of letting his boots do the talking instead of whinging in the press – and Ross can be quite vocal at times as his Twitter followers will confirm – is highly laudable of course, and something that Leeds fans will appreciate.  Those fans might rather, anyway, that Ross should be putting his feet up for a couple of weeks and doing the odd bit of training at Thorp Arch, instead of gadding about Europe with the Sweaties.  That way, the Leeds faithful will figure, he’ll be rested and ready to poke a few more goals in, a fortnight hence, against his persistent summer suitors Middlesbrough.  So even if we feel a bit bruised and crestfallen on McCormack’s behalf – there are compensations for Leeds supporters in what seems an inexplicable decision to deny the lad some more international experience.  Ross will be wondering what, exactly, he has to do in order to merit selection.

Some more of what he served up today certainly wouldn’t go amiss.  McCormack was hailed by both managers after Charlton versus Leeds as “the difference”.  On a disgraceful bog of a pitch reminiscent of some of the marshlands at Derby and elsewhere in the 70’s, Leeds managed to overcome a determined Charlton side, one that hadn’t conceded a solitary goal in over seven hours of football.  The home side had made the brighter start, but Leeds scored with their first real chance, as McCormack fastened onto Blackstock’s neat flick to dink the ball over Charlton’s onrushing keeper.  United then survived a penalty appeal and a shot against their woodwork before conceding the equaliser just before half-time to one of those “worldies” we see fly into our net all too often.  This time it was Cameron Stewart blasting a twenty-yard volley past a helpless Paddy Kenny, and Leeds were on the back foot for the remaining couple of minutes before the break, grateful in the end to go in level.

After the interval, the match swiftly swung back Leeds’ way.  A penalty was claimed and awarded when Danny Pugh – back after a long time in the doldrums and playing well – was tripped by Charlton’s Harriott, and McCormack leathered the spot-kick fiercely into the roof of the net.  Charlton were still full of fight and saw Kenny make one great save to deny the penalty villain Harriott, whilst squandering at least one other decent opening, before they finally levelled the match at 2-2 in the 70th minute.  Simon Church carved out the chance with a low cross, converted by Johnnie Jackson.  This is the sort of scenario that makes the Leeds faithful groan in collective pain and pessimism; normally, having been pegged back, we expect further disaster to ensue.  The three thousand plus United followers in the Jimmy Seed stand must therefore have been anticipating the worst, but glory be – the best was yet to come.

It came quickly, too.  Barely three minutes had elapsed since Charlton’s second equaliser when McCormack, again benefiting from an assist from loanee Blackstock, smashed home a close-range volley from a tight angle.  There hadn’t even been time to sink fully into the default Leeds state of pessimism and now all was joy and rapture again as the travelling faithful bellowed their appreciation. Surely, Leeds would hang on now.  And hang on they did, defending resolutely enough for the remaining seventeen minutes, at the end of which Rudy Austin was fouled just outside the area by Rhoys Wiggins. McCormack sized it up, took aim, and curled a beautiful free kick past Hamer to end the home side’s hopes.

It was the first time a United player had scored four in a game since Brian Deane made QPR suffer at Elland Road in the noughties. Heaven only knows when a Leeds player last grabbed four away from home.  That might be something for Strachan to contemplate, with his Elland Road connections, as he watches the highlights of this performance. Chances are, though, he’ll have a lot more to think about than that.