Tag Archives: Damned United

Man U to Appeal to FA Over “Cooler” Leeds United Nicknames – by Rob Atkinson

Image“The Damned United” – über-cool nickname for The Last Champions

In a shock move designed to placate millions of loyal and bewildered fans across the world, some of whom have even visited the Theatre of Hollow Myths, Man U – famously celebrated as the “Pride of Devon” – are to appeal directly to the Football Association in the matter of what they see as a gross injustice, whereby Leeds United have far cooler nicknames than Manchester’s second/third club.

The matter is being taken very seriously due to an outcry from distressed armchair owners the length and breadth of Cornwall and clear across to Milton Keynes.  A spokesman for Man U was quoted as saying “Some of our fans are very upset indeed.  They’ve heard Leeds United being referred to as “the Damned United” and even as “the Last Champions”, and they fear that these nicknames have a ring of cool credibility that our own branding sadly lacks.” But what about the traditional nicknames for Man U such as the Red Devils? “That’s a problem too,” said the spokesman, glumly. “Too many football fans from other clubs have sussed out that we originally nicked that from Salford RL when we re-branded and stopped being Newton Heath.  The realisation that we’re not the only, nor even the first United – that’s also come as a blow to many of our faithful Sky TV followers. There’s a lot of disillusion out there, especially now the team is so crap…”

The protest to the FA will contain a number of key proposals, including but not limited to new “Branding Fair Play” regulations.  “We’ll also be asking for a right of veto as to nicknames being applied to other clubs,” said our Man U contact. “Nicknames deemed by us as just too cool for anyone but our own Man U will be appropriated and patented as Man U copyright. Sadly, it’s too late for that with the two Leeds nicknames, they’re already solidly identified with that lot from Elland Road.  It’s not fair, it’s not right – but there’s not a lot even we can do about it.  But you tell me how we’re going to convince even our fans that we’re the biggest and greatest in the world when we don’t have the biggest stadium, the most fans, the most money, a winning team – and now we don’t even have the coolest nicknames??  It’s JUST NOT FAIR. Time was we could do what we wanted…”

At this point, the spokesman tailed off, sobbed a little and flounced away tearfully for a lie down – but an FA source was able to confirm for us that an Official Whinge had indeed been lodged.  “We are considering the matter,” the FA stated. “Frankly, we feel we should help Man U in this, if at all possible.  We’re aware that our referees haven’t perhaps been as co-operative this season as they have been in the past – and we’ve all been a bit at sea since S’ralex stepped down as Supreme Commander.  We’ll certainly look sympathetically on whatever representations are made to us.”

A Man U supporters group had been prepared to talk to us, but changed their intentions at the last minute after we advised them we’d have to reveal they are based in Kent.  They issued a short statement which read: “We have quite enough people taking the Michael out of us already without all this, thanks very much.”

When we contacted Leeds United, they were slightly more forthcoming: “We have no objection to being known as “The Damned United” if that’s what people out there want to do,” we were told. “Furthermore, we can confirm that, as everyone knows, we are the Last Champions and that we’re also the only Damned United worth bothering about.”

Ticket tout Bobby Charlton is 103.

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Six Years Ago Today: “Cup Minnows” Jibe Returns to Haunt Man U – by Rob Atkinson

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Jermaine scores at the Beckford End

As a result of the famous encounter between Man U and Leeds United in the FA Cup 3rd round of 2010, the Pride of Devon famously won yet another honour when a national newspaper awarded their incautious webmaster the “BIGGEST HOISTING BY YOUR OWN PETARD” accolade. When Man U drew Leeds or Kettering in the FA Cup third round, their official website’s headline was: ‘United To Face Cup Minnows’ – a banner that could just possibly have referred to Kettering, who still faced a second round replay at Elland Road. The sly intent of a dig at Leeds United escaped nobody though and, unlikely as it seemed that the United of Elland Road could pull off a shock at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, there must have been one or two wiser heads who were groaning at the sight of such crass bumptiousness – and wondering how anyone could possibly wish to tempt fate so. As we all know, the events of that day resulted in an almighty shock, joy for the fans of the Damned United and the renaming of one end of the Man U ground as “The Beckford End”.

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Not what she’d been led to expect of “minnows”

Such unwise overconfidence had been seen before in the name of Britain’s least modest and unassuming club. Back in 1992, one of the many commercial outlets which swarm around the Salford-based franchise like flies around steaming ordure, were guilty of a comparably embarrassing cock up. Tasteful sets of lovingly crafted Man U candles, unsuitably inscribed with the legend “Football League Champions 1992″ were offered for sale at an enticing price with the confident slogan “To commemorate our forthcoming title success”. Sadly for the manufacturers, demand turned out to be low for these attractive souvenirs, due to the fact that Leeds United had the poor taste to win the league by four clear points. There is a warehouse somewhere in a dingy area of a dingy city that houses these unwanted reminders of failure, along with “Champions” t-shirts, flags, banners and other associated Man U tat that was at least twelve months ahead of its time. The overweening desire to win the last proper League Championship was evidently far too strong for mere considerations of caution, humility and wisdom to stand much of a chance, and so it was that Man U chalked up yet another example of chickens being counted before the formality of hatching was complete.

A picture also exists of a humble functionary hastily dismantling a Man U “Champions 2012” banner, which had become abruptly redundant when Sergio Aguero scored in the dying moments of Man City v QPR to clinch the title for City and leave the Devon and Home Counties half of Manchester crying into their prawn butties.  The tendency towards the assumption of success before it’s actually been earned appears to be a recurrent problem at The Greatest Football Club In The World™ (Copyright © Most of the Gutter Press Including BSkyB). Most football fans would find this sort of thing humiliating enough to make their teeth curl up and die, but the Man U bunch are curiously insensitive to such feelings, buffered as they are by relentless “Biggest and Best” propaganda to perpetuate their comfy if mythical self-image. The odd cold dash of reality is never quite enough to quell this methane-fuelled flame of hype and self-aggrandisement so, apart from the odd uncomfortable wriggle in armchairs all over the south of England, Man U fans continue quite happily in their own little pink fog of Freudian delusion.

The flip side of this excruciating coin, though, is the fierce, intense joy and satisfaction of a pompous bubble satisfyingly burst for the fans of whichever club is on the other half of the equation. In the examples quoted above, Leeds (twice) and Man City have found the joy of achievement considerably enhanced by the fact that the complacent hordes of glory-hunters had clearly expected victory to come about as of right. This is an exquisite refinement of Schadenfreude – the pleasure of achievement by virtue of bursting a despised rival’s over-inflated balloon is sweet indeed.  The fact is as well, it’s not just the fans of this ridiculous club just outside Manchester who assume success will be theirs – the moguls of the media are right in there as well, wanting and expecting. The shattered expressions of Elton Welsby and Denis Law, after Leeds won that title in 1992, told their own story. The cameras lingered mournfully on the shocked faces of Phil Jones and S’ralex Ferguson at the Stadium of Light in 2012. There was a distinct lack of the enthusiasm you might expect of news-hungry hacks, in the wake of the defeat of the champions by a third division club in the FA Cup in 2010. The media have their markets to think of; replica shirts, newspapers and satellite dishes must be sold in Devon and Cornwall, Milton Keynes and Kent.n These not-so-impartial hacks really want Man U to win, and their confusion and misery in the event of a shock is just bloody wonderful to behold.

To be the agents who have brought about misery of this order – for such wholly unattractive and unadmirable institutions – is to know a defiant and glorious joy of virtuous achievement. In the long run, largely due to off-field pressures, Man U will win trophies and the assembled lapdogs in the press will yap their hymns of praise and ram the whole charade down the throats of the rest of us. But every now and then, it all goes wrong for the anointed favourites – and then there are good times for all right-thinking people, the ones who want to see a more level playing field and some even-handed competition as we used to have it. Leeds United drew that era to a close by becoming the Last Real Champions, but there have been the occasional reminders of it even during the Murdoch Man U dynasty, when the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, City and – yes, Leeds United too, have stood up to be counted and have given the establishment club a bloody nose. It’s times like those that keep the old spirit of the great old game feebly flickering away, that stop it sputtering out altogether. Long may these rays of light continue to shine through the boring gloom and procession of the modern game.

Howard Wilkinson, Sergio Aguero, Jermaine Beckford, Arsene Wenger, Simon Grayson – and all the other heroes – we salute you.

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Sergeant Wilko – last English Champion, Last Real Champion

Leeds Held as Ref Mathieson Observes “St. Tinkler’s Day” – by Rob Atkinson

Tinkler - immortality beckons

Tinkler – immortality beckons

Former referee Ray Tinkler has been venerated by generations of match officials in this country and further afield ever since his one moment of real fame, way back on 17th April 1971.  On that spring afternoon, the man from Boston, Lincs managed with one crass decision to rob Leeds United of not just one but two Football League titles, thereby elevating himself to demigod status with the powers that be in English football.  The missed offside call which allowed West Brom to score a decisive second that day made the difference at the end of the season, costing United the title by one point.  Further, the resulting crowd invasion of the pitch (And Leeds will go mad! And they’ve every right to go mad!! – BBC Commentator Barry Davies) saw Elland Road closed for the first few home league games of the following season; the points dropped in playing those fixtures elsewhere saw Leeds condemned to second place behind Derby instead of comfortably Champions as they otherwise certainly would have been.

In a country where Leeds have been at odds with the football establishment for over half a century, Tinkler’s little moment in the limelight is quite enough to see his name worshiped by modern-day officials who can only dream, under the all-seeing eye of today’s blanket TV coverage, of making a similarly blatant “mistake” to the disadvantage of the Damned United.  It’s a deep, dark secret – but there is a highly-movable feast known as “St Tinkler’s Day” which is there to be celebrated by any ref who does get the chance to drop a real clanger that will cost the Whites precious points.  Generally speaking, it’s been foreign refs who have most famously “done a Tinkler” – the European Finals of 1973 and 1975 are testimony to this – but the chance will still be grasped eagerly to this day, if there is the least possibility of getting away with it.  What other explanation can there be, after all, for the kind of glaring mess-up made by Scott Mathieson in the Blackpool v United match on Boxing Day?

With the score at 1-1, the game was finely poised going into the last twenty minutes or so.  Lee Peltier had given United a first half lead with a terrific far-post header, only for the Tangerines to equalise somewhat fortuitously, Ince’s shot being deflected away from Paddy Kenny’s reach by the attempted clearance of Marius Zaliukas.

Shortly after this, Leeds’ lethal striker Ross McCormack received a ball outside the area and turned brilliantly to leave a path clear through on goal.  Defender Kirk Broadfoot has little choice but to haul the Scot back just outside the 18 yard box.  It was clearly not a penalty, but – with Broadfoot undeniably the last man – it was just as clearly a red-card offence.  Everyone could see it, Broadfoot himself seemed resigned to it.  And this is where Mathieson saw his golden chance to do a Tinkler.  With the air of a man who was thinking “I’ll be famous for this”, he produced and brandished a mere yellow, to the amazed delight of Broadfoot and the outraged horror of everyone in the United camp.  The free-kick came to nothing, and the game was destined to be a draw.  Maybe United would have overcome ten men, and maybe they wouldn’t – but referee Scott Mathieson, establishment man and Tinkler protege, had done his bit to deny them.

This was not a marginal decision, nor was it at all difficult to get right.  Mathieson’s weak excuse afterwards was that he didn’t think McCormack had the ball under control.  This opens a whole new can of worms, as Ross was being fouled and yet still looked favourite to score – but the warped logic of Mathieson’s position seems to be: Defenders! Make sure your man is incapable of proceeding on goal by whatever foul means possible – just make sure he can’t control the ball, and you won’t be dismissed!  Utter rubbish of course, but a man has to try and justify his Tinkler Tribute by any means possible.

Leeds emerge from the Blackpool game frustrated but with the knowledge of a job well done.  They looked the likelier throughout, and had the game tactically in their grasp from the word go.  An unlucky deflection and a truly woeful refereeing performance stood between United and a deserved victory.  Broadfoot was ironically dismissed in the last few minutes; a straight red for an awful tackle on Marius Zaliukas.  That’s the second time in two games that an opposition player has seen red when faced with the mighty Marius – it seems we have a good’un there, and we’ll just have to hope he remains in one piece.

Onwards to Forest now, and here’s hoping that Leeds can perform just as resolutely as they did at Bloomfield Road.  We’ll have to trust to luck as well, and make a wish that whoever the ref is at the City Ground, he’s not looking for a chance to pay his own tribute to refs’ patron saint Ray Tinkler.

Donny Fans Clutch at Straws as Leeds Cruise to Easy Win – by Rob Atkinson

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Three-sy does it for The Beast

One of the perennial bonuses of a nice solid away win at one of Yorkshire’s lesser clubs is the comical, toxic fallout via Twitter and other social media – as the fans of whichever pit-village team it is we’ve put to the sword go into a bitter meltdown of tears, tantrums and recriminations, spiced with protestations of how they’d been the better team and were – wait for it – “unlucky”.  Doncaster yesterday was a typical example of this as their deluded supporters drank deep of the bitter whine produced by the sourest of grapes.

These were the kind of balanced observations you get from having a chip on both shoulders.  The more you read – and it really was worth a good old peruse of the Twittersphere in the wake of yesterday’s routine 3-0 stroll – the funnier it got.  If you gave it an hour, you could actually feel the health benefits kicking in.  The scientific basis of the theories surrounding the endorphins produced by hearty laughter must be beyond all doubt.  After sixty minutes or so trawling those dank corners of the internet where Donny fans could be found chewing away at the virtual carpet, I felt positively wonderful.  They really do build themselves up for these meetings with Big Brother from up the road – but then if it all goes wrong, they simply can’t handle it – and it’s just so funny to see the teddy bears come flying out of those paltry few thousand cots.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

A few gems:  “We played by far the better football”.  “The goal was miles onside and if it had counted things would of (sic) been different”.  “We dominated the match but they had a goalscorer.”  And much, much more in this bottomless pit of comedy gold.  All of them did their little bit to prove the one central truth in the relationship between Leeds United and those lost souls who support other clubs in Yorkshire: namely that they hate us with a passion, while we can hardly be bothered to notice them – unless we have to soil our studs with the indignity of actually playing them.

This is a deeply painful fact of life for your average envious pariah in Bratfud, Donny, Cleckhuddersfax or in that city of warring pigs, Sheffield.  Barnsley, too – they will roll up at Elland Road next weekend suffering from an appalling run that sees them rooted to the bottom of the league – but if they can eke out a win (as they usually do in their Cup Final), it’ll be banquets and open-top bus parades agogo, with souvenir clogs, whippets and flat caps on sale and doing a roaring trade.

Barnsley aside, the intense need to do well against Leeds has often worked against us in the past; our record in Yorkshire derbies is hardly the best.  But it’s not too healthy for the tiny but defiant likes of Huddersfield either – they tend to psyche themselves up for the Golden Occasion, all passion and hard, unstinting effort, roared on by their desperate fans – and if they win, they then embark on a miserable run, knackered by the superhuman effort it took to beat the Damned United.  Look at Huddersfield’s results since that 3-2 win over Leeds.  Classic case of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”.

I’ve often said that, if United can overcome this frailty against inferior but massively determined opposition, they will prosper.  Yesterday’s win at Donny, apart from reducing their hopeful home crowd to bitter tears and tantrums at the scale of the defeat, went a long way to confirming this.  On the back of generally improved form lately, United produced a classic away “derby” performance against motivated opposition, taking the lead, weathering the inevitable storm without undue alarm and then smoothly going through the gears after the introduction of a midfield enforcer in Brown.  The two late goals emphasised the effectiveness of the approach rather than flattering Leeds; they simply had too much all-round for a committed but out-classed Doncaster side.

If a similar display can be produced against a fired-up Barnsley side next weekend – and this is a game which may well take place on the back of some long-overdue good news for the club – then surely three more points can be expected to send everybody with yellow white and blue blood coursing through their veins into Christmas in a state of good humour bordering on exultation.  We’ve said it before – we’ve dared to dream before – but the rest of this season might just be the best time to be a Leeds United fan for a generation.

MOT