Tag Archives: David Jones

Sack for Wednesday’s Jones Spares Him Date With Leeds’ “Vile Animals” – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Oh Father – why hast thou forsaken me?

In the light of recent developments, what might not have been the most comfortable of occasions for a beleaguered David Jones, the now former manager of Sheffield Wednesday, will perhaps mercifully be avoided.  Due in January to “welcome” back to Hillsborough Yorkshire’s top club Leeds United and the magnificent supporters he unwisely chose to dub “vile animals”, Jones has instead been issued with a pre-Christmas P45.  There can be little doubt that he has earned it, having presided over the Wendies’ worst start to a campaign for 122 years as well as being prone to the occasional emotional outburst amid sloughs of deep and sulky gloom.  If there are any wise Wendy fans out there – and we’re talking a seriously rare species here – they will concede that their beloved club are, perhaps, better off without the Jones Boy. Whoever takes over can hardly do worse.

It may, of course, not be such good news for Leeds United.  Now they will be faced in January not just by the traditional chip-on-the-shoulder performance of inspired effort typical of all the smaller Yorkshire clubs facing the Elland Road giants – there will also be the new manager factor to contend with.  They might even get another draw.

It’s difficult to feel any sympathy for Jones, but he can be relied upon to supply all he needs of that himself.  Self-pity and self-justification are very much the strong suit of a man who seems to regard the world outside of his own little bubble of misery with a balefully jaundiced air of injured indignation.  After the latest defeat for his former employers on saturday, he was holding forth on the undesirability of replacing him with someone better.  ‘This club has had 12 or 13 managers in recent years but sacking managers isn’t the way forward,’ he said, hopefully.  But Wendies owner Milan Mandaric had evidently seen and suffered enough, and the loss at Blackpool turned out to be the last straw.  The search will now commence for someone who might be able to preserve the Howls’ Championship status and regruntle the apparently disgruntled Wendy fans – no easy task.

Whoever takes over the reins at Hillsborough will have his work cut out.  They need somebody strong, an organiser, someone who will take no nonsense in the dressing room.  Ideally the successful candidate’s CV should include at the very least a strong dislike for Leeds United.

Neil Warnock, perhaps….?

Advertisements

Could Careless Talk Have Counted Tragically Towards the Loss of a Life? – by Rob Atkinson

Image

It was a very mixed weekend for Leeds United fans.  On the Saturday, the team beat Middlesbrough 2-1 to enter the play-off zone and maintain their recent good run.  But on Sunday, we awoke to news that one of our number, in a coma for over a year since being attacked on a night out in Sheffield on the 11th November 2012, had sadly died without ever regaining consciousness.  And at that point I have to say “Rest In Peace” to Richard Ismail, 45 years old, known to his friends as “Moody”.  The thoughts of so many are with his family at this awful time.  All of those who will be looking for justice to be done will be relieved to hear that, since a change of law in 1996, there is no longer a year-and-a-day cut off point for a charge of murder to be brought.  There will therefore now be a murder investigation even though Mr Ismail’s death occurred over the old time limit after the attack.  It’s understood that three individuals, widely believed to be fans of Sheffield Wednesday FC, are currently out on bail pending further possible action.

Under a month before the attack on Moody, Sheffield Wednesday had met Leeds United in a Championship fixture at Hillsborough Stadium.  It was not an edifying spectacle. There were scenes of violence on the field as Wednesday’s scrum-capped central defender Miguel Llera charged around, putting in tackles that resembled various degrees of common assault.  Leeds defenders, as is their wont, gave as good as their team-mates got. In the second half, just after United’s equalising goal, a lone Leeds fan ran onto the pitch and pushed a startled Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland in the face causing him to fall and remain, shocked, on the ground.  The moron responsible went back into the crowd, but was subsequently identified and prosecuted.  Throughout the evening, both sets of fans breached the boundaries of good taste, Leeds fans taunting Wednesday manager David Jones over charges relating to alleged child abuse, of which he had been cleared years earlier.  Wednesday fans for their part gleefully mocked the Leeds support over the deaths of two Leeds fans in Istanbul in the year 2000.  It was a bad and disgusting day at the office and, sadly, it didn’t end at the final whistle.

After the match, the highly emotional Wednesday manager Jones, plainly trembling with anger and resentment, was asked about the condition of his goalkeeper Kirkland. Somewhat surprisingly, Jones paid little heed to this enquiry beyond acknowledging that the boy was shaken and claiming it had hindered his team from seeking a winning goal. He seemed far more concerned by the verbal abuse he had suffered, than by the physical attack on his goalkeeper.  In an unrestrained on-camera performance, he castigated the Leeds fans, comparing their behaviour to “racism”, taking Leeds manager Neil Warnock to task for praising the fans’ support of the United team and ending by saying that the Leeds fans were “vile animals.  All of them.”  Warnock seemed bemused by such an outburst, shrugging it off, doubtless aware from experience that immediately after a match is not an ideal time for rational thought and reflection.  Jones was quite specific, not to say selective in his attentions; he did not refer to the taunting of the Leeds fans by the Sheffield crowd over the Istanbul murders.

Because of the short time lapse between these shoddy events and the subsequent attack in Sheffield on Mr Ismail, the question has to arise: how much of what was said may have been in the minds of the protagonists on that fateful and ultimately tragic night?  It is understood that Richard Ismail was out for the evening with his partner, and that his clothing identified him as a Leeds United fan.  Or, let us not forget, as a “vile animal” in the minds of any Sheffield Wednesday fans daft enough, bone-headedly crazy enough, to have taken seriously what their club’s manager had said only a matter of weeks before.

Did those intemperate words still ring in the attackers’ heads?  Were they, in their own warped minds, taking action against a “vile animal”?  Did they, just possibly, feel that they were meting out some summary rough justice to a person identifiable with the fans who had taunted their own Mr Jones just the previous month?  Who knows what goes through a thug’s head as he swings into action with like-minded accomplices, encouraged at outnumbering a lone target who is on a night out with his partner?  But the question has to arise: if Mr Jones had been more circumspect in his remarks – or if, perhaps, a more decent interval had been allowed to elapse before any interview, to allow emotions to subside a little – might things not, just possibly, have turned out differently? Might this tragic episode possibly have been avoided?

It is, of course, impossible to say.  But the factors are all there for anyone looking for any kind of cause and effect scenario – just as the lesson is there to be learned about thinking before you speak, and refraining at all costs from going on camera, to an audience of millions, and saying things that are unwise; things that are far too inclusive; not, in short, the kind of things a level-headed professional really wants to be caught on the spot saying.  I remember being taken aback and more than a little shocked at the emotional vehemence of Jones’ performance in the post-match interview.  It just seemed so disproportionate, so incongruous in someone who had been a professional in football and in the sphere of social care for many years; fair enough, he’d taken dog’s abuse over a matter that should have had a line drawn under it years before. But sadly, these things happen – whenever crowds gather and alcohol has been consumed.  Sets of fans will go all out to bait each other, and they will raise the stakes in retaliation.  It’s not nice, but it’s far from unknown – and it’s part of the cross a football manager, or indeed many other professionals in different areas of public life, just have to bear.  That’s part of the reason they’re lavishly paid, part of the reason that it’s the tougher personalities that take these kind of jobs.  And really – wasn’t there some sort of support for Jones, from within the Sheffield Wednesday club?  He looked in need of it.

Still, Mr Jones didn’t appear inclined to withdraw his remarks even days later, although he did qualify them somewhat.  But by then, any possible damage had already been done. The internet was buzzing, you heard about “vile animals” everywhere. Some Leeds fans took it as a perverse badge of honour, others were more than a little annoyed and offended.  This latter group would post pictures of their cherubically cute 7 year old boy or girl in a mini Leeds shirt, asking “is this a vile animal, Mr Jones?”  Feelings ran very high for quite some time afterwards, and I can’t get out of my head the possibility that they might still have been running high enough, a few short weeks later, to have been a factor in turning what should have been a family night out into an ordeal of over a year, ending in the untimely death of a man who had done nothing wrong.

I don’t know if Mr Jones’ thoughts have run along these lines, or – if they have – whether he’s admitted to himself that he could have applied a little more self-control, been a little less all-embracingly condemnatory of ALL Leeds United fans – every one of them. Because, in saying something like that, you just never know what notion you might plant in the pea-brain of some self-righteous moron who wants then to take revenge. And from there, it’s impossible to say what might happen.  All we know is what did happen, and we know what was said – so publicly – just a short time before.  Whether there was a relationship between the one and the other will be impossible to prove – but the sad fact is that there could have been.  And if that doesn’t make the case for a bit more thought about the timing and content of these emotional post-match interviews, then I don’t know what does.   It is now being speculated that the forthcoming meeting of the two clubs at Hillsborough in January – a game that will also be live on Sky TV – will be played out in an atmosphere even uglier than last year’s malevolent brew – if such a thing were possible.  Given Jones’ currently-precarious position at Sheffield Wednesday, it’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty whether he will still be in his job by then. Perhaps it really would be for the best if he’s gone.

What seems clear enough to me is that, when considering what led up to Mr Ismail’s tragic fate, it’s not possible to view David Jones’ heat-of-the-moment remarks purely in isolation.  You throw a stone, and out spread the ripples, inevitably, unstoppably. If you speak on camera to thousands or millions, it behoves you to keep a check on what you say, and to bear in mind that your words will be interpreted in a variety of different ways, by a variety of different people, some more literal-minded than others.  And, given that – when there’s a rabble out there eager to be roused – it’s just not worth the risk to let off steam to that extent.  An event like Moody’s death puts starkly into context issues such as name-calling and the temporary catharsis offered by a hasty rant on camera.  Maybe, in time, Mr Jones and others can reflect on the implications of what was said and what was done in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Richard Ismail “Moody” 1968-2013    RIP  MOT

Millwall “Thugs” Warm Up for Annual Leeds-Baiting Event – by Rob Atkinson

Members of Famous Millwall Firm "The Grinning Apes" Bravely Taunt Leeds Fans From A Distance

Members of Famous Millwall Firm “The Grinning Apes” Bravely Taunt Leeds Fans From A Distance

It was a pretty normal day yesterday at the New Den, home of the world famous heroes of sub-primates everywhere, Millwall Football Club.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  The usual crushing home defeat for the toothless Lions as they sit glumly at the bottom of the league.  The usual anthropological posturing from the pseudo-hardmen in the stands as they pelted a Derby County player with missiles while the stewards stood by and watched. The usual lone moron invading the pitch, taking a swing at Derby manager Nigel Clough and then running away, his comical waddle across the pitch and into the stand opposite unhindered by any pursuit.  All of this IS fairly usual for that blot on the football landscape Millwall FC.  But that’s not to say it’s tolerable in the civilised world outside of Bermondsey.

The fact of the matter is, it’s time something serious was done about Millwall.  Like their fans’ heroes abroad, Turkey’s Galatasaray, they seem to get away with behaviour year after year that would see certain other clubs castigated in the press, questions asked in the House, the supporters as a body branded as “vile animals” by some over-sensitive soul in Sheffield 6.  None of this happens to those cheeky rapscallions of Millwall, as they carry on blithely dispensing their own particular brand of hatred and violence – and the authorities turn a blind eye, cock a deaf ear, remain dumb in every sense of that word.

In a couple of weeks, Millwall will “welcome” Leeds United, its players, staff and fans, to the dubious delights of their Meccano-designed stadium.  As is usual every time these clubs have met since the murder of two Leeds fans in Istanbul, certain of the Millwall bright lads will seek to glory in that slaughter, posturing from a safe distance in their proudly-worn Galatasaray shirts, making throat-slitting gestures with the sincere intent of provoking as much anger, misery and disgust as they can.  To call these intellectual voids “apes” is really an insult to lower primates everywhere – waste of DNA is a more accurate term to use.  Their forthcoming exhibition of mind-numbing idiocy is as predictable as yesterday’s humbling at the hands of away-day specialists Derby County was.  These cretins are not the type to let their team’s woeful inadequacy prevent them from enjoying the day out at Millwall in their own, perverted fashion.

If anyone should feel that this is pretty rich coming from a Leeds fan – well, I’d say to you, go and listen to David Jones, he’ll sing a song more to your liking.  In the interests of strict fairness though, it should be pointed out that when our own idiot, Aaron Cawley, attacked the Wednesday keeper at Hillsborough, he was roundly condemned by the vast majority of Leeds fans, who assisted the authorities in locating the silly little boy concerned. David Jones, in branding the support “vile animals” – all of them, every single one, he emphasised – seemed much more concerned by chants directed at himself than for his traumatised goalkeeper.  Such is the precious ego of Jones.  But that shouldn’t hide the fact that the Leeds situation was about an individual, whereas when Millwall fans get going, it’s en masse – as far as their dwindling crowds permit.

The behaviour of the New Den home fans in a fortnight when Leeds are in town will be monitored and noted.  It will be a massive surprise if they fail to crow and gloat over the blood spilled in Turkey all those years ago, but it would be a very welcome surprise. Chickens will not be counted, breath will not be held.  I fully expect the Millwall boneheads to disgrace themselves and their club again, such disgrace being measured by accepted standards in football as a whole.  The standards that apply in this particular part of London, on the other hand, appear to be a good century or so behind the times.

If the Millwall fans do manage at the Leeds match to show themselves up, yet again, for the tasteless jokes that they are, and this only a fortnight after yesterday’s appalling display of violence and anarchy, then it’s time the complacent authorities actually got off their lazy backsides and did something.  If that something amounted to a final warning before the expulsion of Millwall from football upon the next repetition of such behaviour, then so be it.  Football as a whole would be a better place, a more acceptable environment, without Millwall FC.