Tag Archives: Daily Star

Daily Star Fabricates Leeds Story, Wins Weekly Gutter Press Award   –   by Rob Atkinson

That award-winning Star rubbish - with original incorrect pic

That award-winning Daily Star rubbish – with original incorrect image

The weekly award for Most Outrageously Crap Made-Up Story About Leeds United, keenly fought over by the entire cadre of gutter press tabloids, has this week been awarded to the Daily Star – even though it’s only Monday. The judging panel decided that it was so unlikely anyone would come up with a worse effort this week, than that dreamed up by clueless Star hack Jeremy Cross, it was safe to award the trophy – a pile of pig ordure tastefully crafted in finest pewter, to the ridiculous yet amusing sports scribbler. 

The story, based on zero evidence and fraught with inaccuracies, was deemed to be in the finest traditions of tabloid journalism for those reasons alone. The fact that the piece, which centred on young Sam Byram as the player the Star wish to unsettle, was illustrated with a picture of team-mate Luke Murphy, was the clincher for the award. A spokesman said: “The brilliance of making up a highly unlikely shot-in-the-dark story about one player, accompanied by a picture of a quite different player, was well appreciated by the awards panel. We’re seriously considering inducting Jeremy Cross into our legendary Salon des Incompétents Hall of Tabloid Fame, for services to base hackery.”

Following a hasty correction, the original picture of Luke Murphy was replaced by one of Byram, around whom the Cross fantasy had originally been spun, disappointingly detracting somewhat from the brilliant effrontery of the piece. However, this craven piece of backtracking was not thought sufficiently cowardly for the Gutter Hack Award to be withdrawn.

Sadly, the winner was unable to accept his award in person, as he was busy rifling through the dustbins of an England U-21 International for his next made-up “scoop”. In the absence of Jeremy Cross, the trophy was picked up by his faithful assistant, Jeremy Mildly-Annoyed.

The Daily Star is regrettably not available from newsagents, as they prefer more serious publications – like The Sun – but it can be obtained wherever budget toilet paper is sold. 

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Time to Get Back to Leeds United FOOTBALL Club – by Rob Atkinson

LUFC - Leeds United Farce Club

LUFC – Leeds United Farce Club

The football part of the Leeds United year – that bit where we actually put a team out onto a grassy field to take on and hopefully defeat another team – is over.  In truth, there wasn’t that much football to talk about even while the season was going on.  And yet football remains what it is all about for Leeds United – or, at least, what it should be all about.  Hence the title of this article.  I’ve even helpfully  put the word “FOOTBALL” in upper case, to emphasise its theoretical importance.

Because, over the past few years, the actual footballing aspect of Leeds United’s activities seems to have dwindled away somewhat – it has faded into the background as other issues have assumed an unwanted prominence.  The very nature of the focus put upon the club by the outside world has changed; there has generally been far more to talk or to write about off the field as opposed to on it.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of how this has come about, it is most definitely not A Good Thing.

Lately, those iconic initials LUFC have been a lie – or at least not the whole truth.  What we have been following could instead have been described in other terms – Leeds United Soap Opera, for instance.  Leeds United Farce. Leeds United Three Ring Circus, or even Leeds United Police Five.  The club has been in an almost perpetual state of flux over the past three years – and before that, what might have been described as a period of stability was actually anything but; the nature of the despot at the top of the pile saw to that.

At the risk of seeming glib and facile, what is urgently needed now is to get back to being about football.  That’s how it used to be, for most of the first thirty years of my support.  In that time, we were subjected to a varying degree of competence or incompetence as our beloved Whites set about their business in the sphere of professional sport, with varying degrees of success.  But that was where the focus was; the enemy was without and not within.  We were all about trying to defeat our competitors and get Leeds United as near as possible to the very top.

The club we have now, though, is not only under attack from the outside; it is beset by problems of an internal nature, to a far greater degree than at any other time I can remember.  We always had our problems at Leeds, but they were football problems – relegations, semi-final defeats, dodgy refereeing decisions and of course the permanent enmity and malevolence of the Football League.  This situation created the Leeds United that I love; the Damned United, the United with a siege complex where the feeling was one of “you might hate us, all of you out there – but that hate makes us stronger”.

Now, the siege complex is still there, but we’re having to look to the situation behind our own ramparts for the greatest danger to our prospects of becoming once more a great and successful football club.  The continual back-biting and internecine squabbling in the boardroom; cameras in that boardroom and bizarrely also in the toilets; stories of Class A drug use making the location of those cameras in the conveniences that bit less strange; a state-of-the-art surveillance suite located above Subway just across the road, that our former dictator might still be privy to everything that’s said or done.  It’s not even the stuff of a James Bond movie – more like some tacky and down-market 007 imitation, like the dreadful American “Our Man Flint“.  It’s embarrassing and harmful; it’s a million miles away from where we want and need to be.

Last season, things on the field were so bad from Christmas onwards, that we’ve ended up trying to take some comfort in the fact that we’ve finished once more as the top Yorkshire club.  I hate to say it, but being top club in Yorkshire these days is a bit like being the tallest mountain in Holland – not much to write home about.  In the light of what we now understand has been going on behind the scenes, though, the waning of the team’s performance in the second half of the season is, perhaps, a little more understandable.

After all, any top club needs to run like a well-oiled machine; there needs to be a feeling of smoothness and harmony to inculcate that sense of professional excellence.  It’s a game of fine margins – each and every club needs all the edge it can get, and the feel of the place is an important part of that.  The players at Leeds United must have felt, lately, that they were playing for Fred Karno’s Army – and performances dipped accordingly. With those fine margins, it doesn’t take much to derail a club’s season entirely – and this is precisely what has happened.  It’s simply elementary sports psychology – the collapse of Leeds’ season is amply demystified by those revelations of chaos and strife behind the scenes.  Clear-sighted fans who have said that – without McCormack’s goals – we might well have gone down are extremely close to the bulls-eye.

Now we have the new broom in Cellino, which appears resolved to sweep clean.  Already, one of those enemies without – the trashy and ridiculous Daily Star – is trying to foment rebellion, stating that Leeds fans are furious at the possible dismissal, along with other staff, of legends Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer.  But that’s OK; hostility from the gutter press has always been part of the Leeds United experience – long may it remain so.  The real question is of whether Cellino, by his actions over the summer, can bring about a healthier internal state of affairs whilst keeping the fans onside.

There are rumblings of discontent, certainly.  The proposed closure of Thorp Arch over summer smacks of penny-pinching parsimony, just at the time when those dare-to-dreamers had started singing “Dirty Leeds, Filthy Rich”.  The financial landscape should become clearer over the summer; meanwhile the closure of Thorp Arch still lacks the poverty-stricken overtones of the culling of Publicity Pete’s rented tropical fish.

If Cellino can clear out the nasties from inside the club – and indeed from over the road above Subway – then he will have taken important strides towards providing a newly-professional atmosphere within Leeds United for the re-opening of business in July.  That, for now, is his main priority in the view of this blog.  If that involves the loss of the likes of Lorimer – reviled not long back as Bates’ yes-man – and even Eddie Gray – who must now view being sacked by Leeds as one of things that just happens to him now and then – well, so be it. Cellino has got to be allowed to go forward in his own manner, and – as long as that direction really is forward – we simply have to let him get on with it.

All we should really be asking of next season is the re-emergence of Leeds United as a football club, first, last and foremost.  Enough of the embarrassing sideshows.  Enough of conflicting egos, spinning us lines and eyeing up a swift and risk-free profit.  The objective has to be the placing of our best foot forward onto the first rung of that ladder back to the top.  All else is so much hogwash and hot air.

Let’s just remember that the “F” in “LUFC” stands for Football and not Farce. Because it’s been the other way around for much too long already.

Leeds-Hating Gutter Press Step Up Campaign to Sell Ross McCormack – by Rob Atkinson

Daily Heil - one of the gutter brigade

Daily Heil – one of the gutter brigade

The crappier end of the press in this country can be very, very predictable indeed when it comes to their coverage of Leeds United.  I’m talking here particularly about the likes of the Mirror, the Mail (or the Daily Heil, as it’s colloquially known) and the Express – and then even a step lower than these diseased organs, down to the trash comics like the Sun and the Star.  Even the so-called “quality” papers can be relied upon, more often than not, to print rubbish about the Whites of Elland Road.  They hear the song that echoes around football grounds everywhere whenever a game of professional football is played in this country. They know from this that there’s a lot of clueless individuals out there who “all hate Leeds scum” – without knowing why, beyond the fact that their dads did too, back in the long-ago sixties and seventies.  They know that this Leeds-hating, brainless yet massive constituency forms a significant market, and they’re ready and willing to pander to it – as this will sell thousands more copies of their grubby rags.  It’s not big and it’s not clever – but it is lucrative.  And really – why let a few scruples get in the way of the bottom line?

So, in the interests of satisfying their Leeds-hating mass-market, the papers will have no hesitation in printing any old rubbish that might stir things up or cause upset around LS11 – anything they can fabricate or indiscriminately recycle to unsettle things at Elland Road is grist to their less-than-choosy mill.  Sometimes this will take the form of bare-faced lies – one outstanding rag the other week claimed that, if Massimo Cellino’s appeal against his tax evasion verdict were to fail, he would probably go to jail – and sometimes it’s just a matter of making something up and running with that.  For this latter category, the hack concerned will normally look at the best player Leeds currently have and write some illiterate piece linking that player with one of the last clubs Leeds fans would wish to see him leave for.  This is done with the aim of making the player restless if possible, irritating the Leeds fans and pleasing their army of anti-Leeds readers.

At its worst, this type of sleazy journalism can amount to illegal approaches from interested clubs with the media concerned acting as a conduit.  It’s not confined to the printed press either.  In January, Sky TV got ever so hot and bothered on deadline night, when the furore of McDermott’s abortive sacking developed into a feeding frenzy over Ross McCormack’s immediate future. With literally only a few hours of the window to go, Sky went into overdrive, doing their level best to generate interest from the likes of Cardiff and speculating frantically that the player would be making an urgent transfer request and heading off back to the Valleys.  There was genuine excitement and eagerness at Sky HQ – and a palpable grief and disappointment amounting to actual sulkiness, when nothing happened after all.

Now, we have the fag-end of the season to go; those last few games with not a lot hanging on them for Leeds, not a lot for the lazy hacks who masquerade as journalists to exercise their poison pens over.  So, we start with the traditional “let’s whip up some transfer interest in their best player” nonsense – and all of a sudden, our Ross44 is linked with the likes of Leicester and West Ham and sundry other smaller clubs.  It’s calculated to annoy and to disrupt – but we should bear in mind that, from all we now understand, transfer policy in these Cellino days will be advised by what is best for the club first and foremost – not by any desperate need for money and not by a willingness to pander to a player’s own whim.  The fact of the matter is that, for every transfer “story” in the gutter press that actually comes to be, there are perhaps 19 that never had even a whiff of truth about them, and which end up being far more useful as the wrappings of choice for those who love fish and chips.

It’s all part of being Leeds, after all.  We don’t need to foster a siege mentality at this club – it arises naturally because there is a state of siege as far as the rest of football and the assembled media are concerned.   And that’s annoying and sometimes even a bit upsetting – but really – would we have it any other way? Would we rather be a Man U, fawned over by a media which is comprised of liars, cheats and sycophants?  Not really.  It’s better to be Leeds, and to know exactly where we stand in relation to our enemies out there. We just have to remember: don’t believe everything they put in the papers. Or, in our case – disbelieve just about everything.

At least that way we’ll be nearer the truth.