Tag Archives: hypocrisy

Leeds Need to “Nail” Huddersfield’s Mooy: Ironic Whinge from Town Fan – by Rob Atkinson

foster

Terriers fan, moral high-ground holder and justice evader David Foster

As the latest Yorkshire Derby edges closer, with Huddersfield Town due to host Leeds United at High Noon on Sunday, the build-up took a slightly hysterical turn earlier today, when respected YEP reporter Phil Hay observed that United’s main job would be to “nail Aaron Mooy. If he runs the show, Huddersfield will win”. A fair enough observation, you’d have thought – but the reaction among certain Huddersfield fans of nervous and delicate dispositions was frankly ludicrous.

One Town fan in particular, a Mr. Duncan Foster, twittered his distress: “What an appalling tweet. If you worked for me I would fire you. To suggest “nail” a player is wrong. You have a responsibility”. Mr Foster, you may not be surprised to learn, is a drama director – so his hissy fit and histrionics were possibly to be expected. Feelings run high when local rivals meet, and that appears to be particularly the case among the denizens of Huddersfield’s Coronation Street-style cobbled streets, with their dark, satanic mills and packs of rabid poodles.

Ironically, Aaron Mooy himself has some form in the matter of “nailing” opponents – and in a much more literal sense of that word than Hay intended. Huddersfield’s early season win at Elland Road turned on an incident which many, Town manager David Wagner included, felt should have earned Mooy a red card, when he was guilty of a two-footed challenge on Liam Bridcutt. To add insult to injury, Mooy not only remained on the pitch, he also went on to score a fine winner. Huddersfield fans are neither the first nor the only ones to suffer from selective memory disorder but, in the case of Mooy, Leeds could respond with “live by the sword, die by the sword”. Phil Hay, for his part, found it scarcely credible that anyone could seriously think he’d been advocating injuring the Town man. The Town side of the exchange reeked of small-time paranoia and opportunism, and what has to be said is a slightly precious attitude from Huddersfield’s most prominent drama queen, Mr Foster.

It has to be said also that any attempt to occupy the moral high ground on the part of “Corrie” director Mr. Foster tends to leave a slightly odd and repellent taste in the mouth. Foster, who was secretary of his local branch of Gamblers’ Anonymous at the time, narrowly escaped a driving ban in 2010. He was found with over twice the legal limit of alcohol according to a breathalyser test, asleep at the wheel of his car, which was parked three metres from the kerb, engine running and lights on. Foster escaped a ban only “by the skin of his teeth” after an emotional plea to magistrates, citing his many debts and his utter penitence. Such a narrow escape from just deserts puts him almost in the Aaron Mooy class for dodging justice, but it does also tend to make him look a bit of a hypocrite when he lectures a professional journalist about “having a responsibility” – and on the most specious and contrived of pretexts. Still, it takes all sorts.

The fact of the matter is, Phil Hay has it spot on with his analysis. Huddersfield work their best moves through Aaron Mooy, and any sensible opponent would set out to nullify him, if they can. Clearly, a team of Leeds United’s reputation and devotion to the beautiful game will take a more scientific approach than the one chosen by Mooy himself at Elland Road. We are not, after all, a side known for dirty or foul play.

After his assault on Liam Bridcutt, can that dirty dog Mooy – or indeed the hardly blemish-free Mr. Foster – really say the same? 

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Leeds Kop Critics Can’t Complain at Chris Wood Reaction   –   by Rob Atkinson


Considering that last night’s draw against Fulham was settled so very late and so very spectacularly too, with a Chris Wood bicycle kick at the Kop End earning a point for Leeds United, some of the reaction today has been rather bizarre, to say the least. 

With many clubs, such a picture goal at the last gasp would be greeted with a relief bordering on ecstasy. Leeds fans, of course,  have to be a bit different. Their heroes were less than a minute from opening this season with three consecutive defeats, a shameful start unheard of for the last eighty years. Doom and gloom was on the menu, with nary a crumb of comfort. 

Then, the nominated scapegoat of the evening, a player in Chris Wood struggling for form and confidence, who had been taking some vicious stick throughout the ninety minutes, finally came good – and Leeds mercifully had their first point of the season. And yet today, the focus has not been exclusively on the brilliance and timeliness of Wood’s finish, but largely on his so-called cheek in letting the crowd know he’d not appreciated their particular brand of “support”.

This tendency to barrack players is not exclusively a Leeds United phenomenon, of course. But it’s long been a particular problem with the Leeds faithful, especially at Elland Road, where generation after generation of United players, as far back as Terry Yorath in my experience, have gone in fear and trembling of the abuse they will receive should they have an “off day”. Or, indeed, an off night, as Wood had undoubtedly experienced up until the third minute of stoppage time yesterday evening.

It’s a brand of “support” that has many an away fan visiting LS11 scratching their heads in bemusement. People beg leave to wonder how such wholesale and sustained carping and criticism is meant to encourage and motivate a player. But that’s just one side of the problem.

The other side comes when the player on the receiving end of the abuse actually manages to come through it all and, in the time-honoured style of a Roy of the Rovers, save his team at the eleventh hour. Should this player then presume to gesture to the crowd, as if to say “There you go – now shut it”, the shock and hurt of the fans, who had previously been venting their spleen, is something to behold. It’s as if they feel they have unfettered licence to hurl abuse, but should be completely immune from any response from their target. Weird. 

Chris Wood did react last night, relatively mildly in the circumstances, and it’s difficult for any rational onlooker to criticise him for it. Yes, he’d had a poor game. Yes, he’d missed chances. And certainly his work rate and willingness to chase and harry defenders compared poorly to that of his strike partner Marcus Antonsson. But the level of stick Wood took throughout the piece, in unison from a self-appointed jury of thousands, was unwarranted and arguably counter-productive. It would have taken a saint to have restrained himself from showing some kind of reaction in his moment of triumph. And, let’s face it, you don’t get saints in Leeds United shirts. 

That cupping of the ear towards the Kop, plainly intended to convey “You were saying…?” to the massed moaners and whingers behind the goal, has reaped a petulant reaction from many of those who’d been blithely handing out the stick. How dare he, was an abridged consensus. Surely players are there to take abuse without a flicker of emotion or reaction. But even footballers are only human. And it’s happened before, in a less restrained manner too. 

I can well remember, many moons ago, a certain Mark Aizlewood taking appalling stick throughout one game, which he then won with a late goal at that same Kop End. Aizlewood did not content himself with a mild cupped ear. He faced the Gelderd hordes eyeball to eyeball and coldly fired a V-sign at his tormentors. Now that is probably going too far, and Aizlewood never played for United again. But you can understand the frustration of a pro, outnumbered and vilified by thousands of amateurs who feel that the admission money they’ve paid affords them the right to scream anything they like at their representatives on the park. 

Next to Aizlewood’s two-fingered revolt, Wood’s gesture last night was mild indeed. But the reaction, in these days of social media, has been even more hysterical than when Aizlewood flicked his V-sign so long ago. And it’s a shame because, after all, it was a very special and spectacular goal, one that saved us from another defeat, the type of goal too that could well lead to the boost in confidence a player like Wood so sorely needs. And what contribution to such a return of confidence would the Gelderd End Abuse Society have made? I’ll tell you. None at all. 

Supporters are there to support, but it’s ok to express displeasure and disapproval too, of course it is. Match tickets are expensive, and the poor form of your favourites is galling to behold. But there’s a line, and Leeds fans do tend to cross it distressingly often. It’s frequently said that a crowd like Leeds getting behind their team is worth a goal start, and I’ve seen this proved often enough. But, in the opposite mood, that same crowd can destroy a player and chase them through the Elland Road exit door. I’ve see that, too – and it’s not what I’d call support.

Something else frequently said is that it takes a certain strength of character to play for a club and a crowd like Leeds United. Some very good players have failed to make it at Elland Road, and there’s been this suspicion that they’ve lacked the necessary “bottle”. There’s probably something in that, and maybe the club’s woes in the last decade or so are grounded in the bottler/fighter ratio being skewed unfortunately away from the fighter type. In other words, we’ve had too many talented players who have just lacked the character to succeed at a club like Leeds with the kind of truculent, impatient crowd we have.

Chris Wood had had a nightmare last night, he could hardly put a foot or a head right all evening long. But he came through, ignored the abuse manfully, kept trying and getting in there where it hurts – and he ended up getting his just reward. That, to my mind, is the type of character we need – and maybe the crowd will come around at length to that point of view. In the meantime, Wood’s gesture to the Kop last night said that he is not weak enough to be destroyed by the abuse from the stands, that the respect of his fellow pros will see him through. It was a reaction I applaud every bit as much as I applauded his goal, and I think it speaks volumes for the guts and character of our number nine.

It’s the kind of attitude, let’s face it, that we’re going to need plenty of in the coming months. So perhaps the Kop critics will manage to be a bit less precious and indeed a lot less hypocritical from now on, should they chance to have some of their constant, destructive abuse thrown back in their faces every now and then as a tough season progresses. Or perhaps they’ll even decide to see the light, and offer a bit more encouragement and support instead. 

Yes, perhaps indeed. But, knowing that vociferous section of our support as I do, I won’t be holding my breath. 

Leeds Blog-Hating Fan Forum Abandons “WACCOE” Name – by Rob Atkinson

The new Title - can YOU detect the edit?

The new Forum Title – can you detect the edit?

The formerly half-decent Leeds United fans’ forum WACCOE will soon be no more, it has been announced. In a shock move designed to align the site’s core values more closely with the bulk of its readership, it has been decided that a name change is necessary. The old WACCOE name, it is thought, no longer represents the desired direction of what used to be regarded as an invaluable resource for fans of the Yorkshire giants. Instead, in an attempt to sum up the collective IQ of the readership, the title THICKOE has been painstakingly selected.

A spokesman for THICKOE stated, “WACCOE actually stands for We Are the Champions, Champions Of Europe.  Well, sort of. There’s a “Tuh” in there, for The. We weren’t quite sure what to do with that. But some of us think it’s silly to go on about the past, we wanted something more relevant to US as a group.” When asked what the new acronym THICKOE stands for, our hapless source – southerner Mr Iain Monkey – was unable to help. “I’m not sure about that either, to be honest with you. All suggestions are welcome, it’s a detail we overlooked. We just thought it looked a bit similar to the old one, and that it summed up what we’re all about as a group of Leeds fans who like to swear a lot, spout neo-fascist views, laugh immoderately at each other’s jokes for the purpose of mutual reassurance and – most importantly of all – try to out-do each other for the attention and approval of our betters.” Mr Monkey furrowed his brow so that the “Sieg Heil” tattoo on his forehead almost disappeared. “We did wonder about saying it stands for The Honestly Independent Cornucopia of Knowledge On Everything – but a few of the lads had a bit of a lip-tremble going on at that one – thought it sounded too much like your own site, which all our members have to promise – really, heavy duty stuff, swearing on oaf and everyfink –  to hate and ignore just as hatefully and ignorantly as they possibly can, which is a lot. So it’s a lickle bit of a nawty one – a dilemma, if you like.

There is some bewildered anxiety too, it would appear, in the re-branded site’s moderation team. A source close to the very top told us that they had tried recently to tailor the forum as per the requirements of its more prominently-lower-jawed members. “We’ve done our best with this,” Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was advised. “We’ve tried to eliminate anyone – as you will know yourself, Rob, as a banned person – who’s kicked up too much of a fuss over the site’s support for core issues. This includes the Coalition government and our ‘firm but fair’ stance on asylum-seekers (kick them out), benefit claimants (starve them, then kick them out), teachers (aaaarrrgh), the Labour Party (starve them, then shoot them, then kick them out, then shoot them again). We feel that this brings us broadly into line with our most devoted readership, some of whose best friends are foreign types of a non-Caucasian hue. The name change is simply the logical conclusion of this -ahem – refinement of our product direction”

Mr Monkey also issued this reminder to those who may have given up in despair on a declining fansite. Former and lapsed readers of the THICKOE formerly WACCOE site, he insisted, are urged to return and see how things have come on. “We’re going great guns, honestly.  We had some really hard and cool and street nicknames for the first head coach this season – we called him Whackaday and Hockalot and, ooh, lots of others. It was really brilliant and so edgy, lots of reassuring peer approval and big-lad chortling. And anyone who disagreed was silenced, so we didn’t even have to worry about intelligent people spoiling things for the rest of us.”

It’s expected that THICKOE will finally be going live in time for next season; in the meantime the old WACCOE brand will be discreetly phased out. “We’ve made a start already,” said Mr. Monkey. “If you look carefully at the site banner (pictured above) there’s been a bit of subtle editing going on – though you’d be forgiven for not noticing! No expense has been spared to ensure that the new brand is unmistakable, but that there won’t be anything too unfamiliar for our readers, most of whom haven’t been reading for all that long, have low, sloping foreheads – and they can feel a little insecure, with distressing consequences.”

By this point, Mr Monkey himself was shifting uncomfortably in his seat, a nervous tic rapidly developing in one bloodshot eye. “I shouldn’t really be talking to you, you know,” he quavered. “The THICKOE lot really hate you. We all do in fact. You’re always having a go and calling us thick and rightwing. That might be true, but it’s not nice to say so, is it?? And you delete any comments that don’t say nice things about you, so all of our well-hard swearing and the frets we fretten you with, that is all just wasted. And all the nice comments you get are well fake, innit, they are all really obviously all writ by the same geezer, that’s YOU, so don’t think we don’t know what you are all about, so there.” Mr Monkey rose at this point and flounced out, ignoring our polite offer of another coffee and some fairy cakes.

Mr. Monkey is 78, but his IQ is only 50.

Crocodile Tears from Lineker and Stelling Won’t Fool Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson

Gary "Wingnut" Lineker

Gary “Wingnut” Lineker

What have Gary Lineker and Jeff Stelling got in common? Well, they’re both engaging chaps who front popular football programmes on the telly; they have both developed a “style” – for want of a better word – designed to endear them to the less demanding fans out there – and, most recently, they have both taken out an onion and wept tears of breathtaking falseness over what they sincerely hope is the impending demise of Leeds United.

Lineker is the latest incarnation of Match of the Day man, presiding over the ongoing popularity of a football highlights programme with fifty years of variable quality behind it. It was under his stewardship that one of the programme’s less glorious deeds was perpetrated when, in the wake of S’ralex’s long-overdue retirement from the Theatre of Hollow Myths, the programme put together a montage of managerial greats, with the Purple-Nosed One at the head of the parade, natch. This item was notable to real students of the game for its studied failure to even mention the name of the greatest club manager of all, Sir Don Revie. It was a tawdry attempt to reinvent history and appeal in the most insidious and deceitful fashion to the vast army of the programme’s viewers out there who “all hate Leeds” – but couldn’t tell you why, beyond a mumbled “….well, me Dad hated ’em, like…” Complaints to the BBC elicited nothing more than that cowardly corporation’s usual bland, patronising stonewall response – and Lineker did nothing other than essay his well-practised boyish grin, which apparently has middle-aged women the nation over suddenly needing a change of undies.

Now Lineker’s Twitter account states that he “genuinely feels for Leeds fans”. He clearly feels the need to qualify his sincerity by use of that word “genuinely” – that’s a sign of someone talking about someone or something on which they’d normally waste no finer feelings. But Gary feels “the heart has been torn out of the club”, hence his crocodile tears. Well, we’ll wait until the next time Match of the Day needs to revisit the managerial greats issue, thanks, and see if you’ve actually learned anything – no breath will be held.

Stelling: Countdown to hypocrisy

Stelling: Countdown to hypocrisy

Jeff Stelling is a sort of semi-comic front man for Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme, where one of his chief delights is to let a few seconds of tension build up for Leeds fans out there in TV land, before delivering a hammer blow with news of another goal against us – all with that trademark smug smirk on his gob. Now he, too, has chosen to sob publicly about his anguish over the Leeds situation. Jeff clearly thinks no small beans of himself – part of his counterfeit yet tear-stained lament includes the telling phrase “On the field, it is a total shambles with unknown player after unknown player coming into the club – I defy Leeds fans to say they have heard of them because I certainly haven’t – and it looks like it is going to be a terrible, terrible season”. Overlooking for a moment the fierce hope detectable in those last few words, it’s amusing to see that Stelling is so sure that, if he’s never heard of a player, then no Leeds fan can possibly have heard of him either. That’s some ego, for a Hartlepool fan. Unbelievable, Jeff! If he were to cast his mind back, Stelling might possibly reflect on who, exactly, had heard of Patrick Vieira before he signed for Arsenal – or Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Leeds), Eric Cantona (Sheffield Wendies on trial), and so on and so forth. Mr Stelling should, perhaps, wind his neck in a little and admit the possibility that he is not the fount of all football wisdom – except, maybe, when compared to Paul “I fink he’s only got free goals all season, Jeff” Merson. The Sky front-man’s expert opinion is that Leeds are doomed to relegation this season. Wishful thinking, Jeff?

When times are hard and you’re not all that popular to begin with, then you should expect wolves in sheep’s clothing, people who will smile and smile and be villains, well-meaning types who will sidle around behind as if to pat you on the back, before slipping a knife between your ribs. Leeds United and Leeds fans should be familiar from past experience with all of these unsavoury types, and their crocodile tears and weasel words should not fool us now. Just wait for better times to roll around, and the soft sawder and treacly syrup of ersatz sympathy will disappear like a ghost at cock-crow – it’ll be all open nastiness and overt bitching again. And do you know? I actually prefer it that way, so please bring it on.

We’re Leeds United, we hate to be pitied and we love to be hated. Your hate is what makes us stronger, after all – so please forget all the bovine ordure Gary and Jeff – let’s get back to normal eh? As soon as you like, there’s good chaps.

Suarez Storm Exposes Depths of Football’s Hypocrisy – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez - the eye-teeth have it

Suárez – the eye-teeth have it

As a long-suffering fan of Leeds United Football Club, I’m no stranger to cant and hypocrisy as delivered by some of the mealy-mouthed “Guardians of the Good Name of Football” types, who infest the media to sickening effect. My club much more than most has been the target and victim of some of these holier-than-thou merchants over the years, the kind of people who will loudly condemn a Revie, a Bremner or a Bowyer whilst turning a conveniently blind eye to the peccadilloes of a Georgie Best, a Saint Bobby Charlton or a Royston Keane. It’s all part of the United-supporting experience, but no less nauseating for that. As an experienced and cynical White, you tend to sigh, roll your eyes and reflect upon what unctuous pillocks some people are. It’s a Leeds thing – but it manifests itself more broadly than that sometimes. The few hours since the Uruguay v Italy World Cup game are ample proof of this.

This short lapse of time, since Luis Suárez hurled himself once more into the teeth of a storm of public disapproval and disgust, has been a veritable feast, a feeding frenzy for saintly hypocrites everywhere. It shows no sign of abating; those who seek the moral high ground can scent the blood of a perennial target – and this time, they mean to get him. Prominent among these people, working himself up into a froth of indignant condemnation, is ITV’s own cabbage-patch doll tribute, Adrian Chiles. The man who is to bone structure what Wayne Rooney is to flower power coiffure, seems to be in the process of establishing himself as prat-in-chief among the sorry ranks of football presenters. Nothing is too trivial, no issue too banal that we’ll fail to hear those lugubriously annoying Midlands tones as Chiles essays another laboriously-crafted shaft of wit – pardon the unintentional spoonerism there.

Sitting alongside Chiles, as often as not, wearing his trademark glower in the hope that one or other of his colleagues will smilingly point out just how damned hard he is, will be Roy Keane – ex-footballer and dispenser of summary justice as defined by, erm, Roy Keane.  The Chiles/Keane axis can be a little uncomfortable to watch for anyone whose sensitivities include the thorny issue of unrequited love.  Chiles so openly slavers over the former Man U thug that you begin to worry about the absorbent capacity of his tie. It’s a one-sided bromance that makes you, as an onlooker, wince with pain as the hapless and cushion-faced anchorman makes cow’s eyes at the ex-footballer, who affords him only a sneer and another glower from under those knitted brows by way of return.  It’s car-crash TV – you ache for the hopeless yearning of Chiles and you want to look away when you see the Celtic indifference displayed by the object of his adoration.  But there’s a horrid fascination about the scene, and we’re reminded uncomfortably of our own episodes of hero-worship in our callow and distant youth.  To see a grown man, even one as fatally foetal as Chiles, going through such adolescent love pangs is at once repellent and riveting.

The irony is, of course, that part of Chiles’ remit is to jump aboard the nationally-sponsored anti-Suárez bandwagon.  It’s something he does eagerly enough; clearly he feels himself to cut something of a dash while he’s verbally pulling to pieces such a conveniently distant target.  After all, he can’t see himself in a mirror when he’s in mid-rant.  The reason that Chiles is such a case in point is that, during infrequent pauses for breath as he lambastes his latest absent target, he will glance adoringly yet again at Mr Keane, the urgent desire for approval writ large across his Pilsbury Doughman features.  Doesn’t it strike you that there’s something incongruous about all of this?  Whatever the sins of the Uruguayan – does not the beloved Roy have a rap sheet just as long and twice as disgusting?

I’m not expecting too much agreement here – after all, anti-Suárez sentiments have been abroad for a good while, and won’t have been ameliorated by his brace of goals against Engerland last week.  But really – is the little Liverpool genius that much more to be condemned than, for instance, Keane – a man receipted and filed for an arrogant thug and a brazen coward?

Neither is this blog looking to defend Luis Suárez, not on the substantive issue of this compulsion of his to sink his teeth into folk, anyway.  In the eyes of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, he is guilty beyond doubt of immense stupidity – he is in fact a repeat offender in that respect. There’s something wrong there, something fundamentally at fault under the bonnet.  It seems that such fatal flaws often go hand-in-hand with the kind of genius which blesses Suárez – similar examples are not hard to think of.  Gascoigne, Best, Cantona.  They all, to a greater or lesser degree, had and have a screw loose.  The misfortune of Suárez is that he’s a serial recidivist, someone who seemingly can’t avoid re-offending, with the same modus operandi cropping up time and time again.

This blog will also freely concede that biting is a disgusting offence against the laws of the game and also against natural decency – on an old-fashioned level, it’s simply not the way a chap goes about sorting out his differences with another chap.  It’s not cricket; not the done thing.  Perhaps things are different in Uruguay, perhaps this is just another of those unknown “cultural differences” as in the Patrice Evra “negrito” storm, something that football in this country, and the football press, have neither forgiven nor forgotten.  You don’t call a chap nasty names (especially when he plays for Man U) – and you don’t bite, inflicting your DNA upon some unwilling recipient.  It’s unmanly and possibly unhealthy.  Perhaps if the sins of Suárez were more manifestly British in character – perhaps something along the lines of the various acts perpetrated by Mr Keane in his time – then we’d more readily understand and forgive.  But, as they’re not – as they have this alien flavour to them, it’s all to easy to cast the foreigner as scapegoat, whilst dismissing more easily-understandable fouls and transgressions with a nod, a wink and a grin – Roy’s such a bad lad, a proper hard-man, tsk tsk – but really, you know, he’s one of us.  This nasty subtext of xenophobia underpins the differing ways in which the actions of Suárez and Keane are perceived, rationalised and – as the case may be – excused or condemned.

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t like to be trying to play football and then feel a set of teeth sinking into my shoulder.  I wouldn’t like it at all, and I doubt I’d have the restraint merely to whine at the referee if I were to be thus assailed. But ask me in the cold light of day whether I’d prefer that, or a calculated stamp intended to smash the knee of my weight-bearing leg – and I’d unhesitatingly plump for the Uruguayan’s top set every time.  A bite-mark heals a hell of a lot faster than ruptured ligaments.  And the fact is that Roy Keane – who carried out just such an assault on Alf-Inge Haaland, as all Leeds and Man City fans will remember – later acknowledged it as a coldly premeditated act, born of his anger at Haaland’s mocking him as he lay with a ruptured ligament of his own on the Elland Road turf in 1997.  That injury was sustained in the course of Keane trying to commit a foul; Haaland was innocent of any crime except the mouthful he gave to Keane, accusing him of feigning injury.  But Roy bore a grudge, Roy bided his time and Roy set out to end the career of Alf-Inge Haaland when they met in a Manchester derby four years later.  It was the act of a self-righteous, deluded coward; how Keane has this hard-man image utterly escapes me.  Another of his retaliatory acts was committed against that not-exactly-scary individual Jason McAteer, a player who would scarcely cause anyone to worry about the consequences of fouling him. But, in delivering a sly elbow to the face, Keane characteristically sneaked up from behind and then ran away – which neatly sums him up as the moral coward and fake hard-man he undoubtedly is.

So when we see the likes of Chiles having his empty-headed rant at the silly-boy actions of a firebrand and hair-trigger character like Luis Suárez – let’s not forget that one of his studio colleagues almost certainly has a hell of a lot more to answer for in terms of conduct unbecoming.  And yet, allowances were made for Keane throughout a career stained by many examples of petulant and vicious actions, with the man himself remaining arrogant, unrepentant, intent only on maintaining his illusory image as a tough guy.  As for Suárez, the press are even now engaged in talking up the length and severity of his punishment, as well as wondering excitedly whether or not any sanctions might spill over into Liverpool’s domestic campaign.  Let’s not forget that the Reds had to do without their Latin genius for the first few games of last season, courtesy of his last dental indiscretion.  It might even have made the difference by which they eventually lost the title – a high price to pay for proud and long-suffering fans. If the hypocrites have their way, then we will be denied the spectacle of one of the world’s very top players parading his genius – for that is what it is – not only for the remainder of the World Cup, but also well into the Premier League season yet to come.  The BBC are amazingly, ridiculously, mentioning a possible two year ban as I write. That would be a terrible tragedy, an injustice and a gross misreading of what is good for the game.

As I said earlier, genius is frequently accompanied by a lunatic fringe of unpredictably bizarre behaviour.  Genius is what Luis Suárez has, to a lavish degree.  He is one of the very few players for whom even today’s extortionate match ticket prices are well worth the investment.  Genius always deserves some latitude, some understanding of the nature of the beast.  Such is my assessment of the Suárez dilemma; genius has its prerogatives and will always be its own excuse.  By that reckoning, what possible excuse can there be for ersatz tough-guy and decided non-genius Royston Keane?  We’d better leave that to his besotted friend and colleague, hypocrite extraordinaire Adrian Chiles.

Man Utd Fans Descend to Millwall Level as Liverpool Triumph – by Rob Atkinson

Liverpool fans show what football banter really is all about

Liverpool fans show what football banter really is all about

As a Leeds United fan, I’ve long experience of bitter rivalry between mutually-hostile supporters of various clubs. There has been violence, there has been offensive chanting – it was a big part of the football landscape for far too long. Happily, there has been some improvement over the past couple of decades, but in a couple of isolated pockets, things are as bad as ever. Worse, in fact – because in addition to the unpleasant taste left behind by the revolting chants still in common use whenever you go to such beauty spots as Bermondsey or Stretford, there is now, from the animals who follow Millwall and Man U, the rank stench of hypocrisy.

The game between the fallen champions and Liverpool at the weekend brought this phenomenon into sharp focus.  Man U fans have problems with Liverpool. There’s an inferiority complex that won’t go away, for a start.  Then there’s what they describe as the Liverpool supporters’ appetite for mawkishness over things like Hillsborough, conveniently forgetting their own habit of taking out an onion every February 6th and weeping crocodile tears over Munich – surely the most profitable air disaster any club has ever struck upon.  Still, the Man U faithful turn a blind eye to any apparent inconsistency and continue to demand tributes to “the flowers of Manchester” whilst dubbing Liverpool the “City of Pity”.

In the latest meeting between these two old rivals, Liverpool ran out easy winners at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, the assembled Man U fans having come from the traditional hotbeds of Devon, Cornwall and Milton Keynes only to witness their favourites being given a footballing lesson.  This was clearly too much for them, and they reacted with a repeated chorus along the lines of  ‘The Sun was right, murderers’, with reference to that gutter tabloid’s disgraceful coverage at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. Classy, eh?  96 people went to the football in Sheffield in 1989, and never came home – and here are modern day football fans mocking  the bereaved because they’re losing a football match. Naturally, the media will refuse to mention this – the nastier habits of the Man U congregation tend to be swept hastily under the carpet, for sound commercial reasons.

Next weekend, Leeds United meet Millwall, another club whose fans enjoy mocking opposition fans over light-hearted matters like violent death; but those same fans become all self-righteous when it is suggested to them that their behaviour is that of inbred morons.  Their justification for their regular outpourings of hate-filled bile tends to boil down to “well you lot do it, innit”. Now, the shameful fact is that Leeds United did used to have a problem with a minority of their fans who enjoyed baiting rival supporters in just this way. That kind of thing was all the rage back in the vicious eighties, a time when United’s support was heavily infiltrated by racists and other such dross.  Things are much better at Leeds now, due in no small measure to supporters’ initiatives and anti-racist, anti-thug fanzines.  The whole of football has done much to clean up its act – with the notable but ill-publicised exceptions of Man U and Millwall.

The actions of a minority of Man U fans, in singing that sick and sickening song during their humiliation by Liverpool, puts them on a par with the thugs and Neanderthals of Millwall.  Both sets of fans glory in the misery, death and bereavement of others.  Both sets emit high-pitched squeals should anyone attempt to upbraid them about it.   Both sets come predominately from London (saving Man U’s west country brethren).  Both sets are also scum – pure and simple.

We at Leeds may not have to put up with the cretinous behaviour of Millwall fans again.  Next weekend’s game is at Elland Road, and Millwall tend to bring a following of maybe a couple of dozen to us, for some reason which, they will tell you, is totally connected with policing restrictions, and nothing at all to do with being a bit too chicken to venture up Norf.  And by next season, they’ll most probably be in League One – gone and forgotten, late and unlamented.

But it doubtless won’t be too long before our paths cross with Man U again, and inevitably they will bring their Turkish favours to Elland Road, heedless of the fact that Munich taunts from the home fans are largely a thing of the past. And, as usual, the media will fail to take them to task for it. But they’ve proved all over again in the Liverpool game, for all the world to see and hear, that they still have all the taste and decorum of a sty of diseased pigs – so we should perhaps expect such behaviour, and pity those who are simply too subhuman to conduct themselves otherwise.

It’s a shame, now that, Millwall apart, the rest of football has cleaned up its act a bit.  But really – and this is the nub of the issue – what else can you expect of such irredeemable, low-life scum? Let’s just thank the footballing Gods that they’re getting a long-overdue taste of what it’s like in the real world – now that their team has turned to dross in the absence of the Demented One.  Enjoy it, scummers.  It couldn’t happen to more a deserving set of morons.

Cellino “Suspected of Eating Pasta” Shock in Yet Another League Delay – by Rob Atkinson

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Massimo Cellino – depraved “foreign” eating habits

Just as reports are indicating that prospective Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is likely to be cleared of tax evasion charges – which had been expected to delay his confirmation as a “fit and proper person” by the Football League – a new shock has come to light.  Sources at the League claim to have irrefutable proof that the King of Corn has, at various times, “used pasta”, habitually eating different varieties such as, allegedly: linguini, ravioli and even spaghetti at family meals where his own children were also encouraged to practice this vile and revolting habit.

A Football League spokesman emphasised the seriousness of these new allegations.  “This has an even graver significance than the tax-evasion thing, which sadly begins to look like a dead duck.  But Cellino could be bang to rights on this sickening pasta allegation.  If true, it would definitely put him beyond the pale as far as we’re concerned.  Anybody looking to have charge of an English league club should be eating traditional Olde English fayre – like Chicken Tikka Massala, for instance.  Or hamburgers.”

Quizzed on rumours that there may even be further charges pending against Cellino, the spokesman – the Football League’s Officer in Charge of the Anti-Leeds United Team, based in Salford – would only confirm that a few “new rules” could yet act to delay even further the resolution of the Leeds ownership saga.  “We’ve tried to be proactive about this in the interests of our broader membership,” he said.  “To that end, we’ve acted to make illegal a few disconcertingly worrying factors, including but not limited to: possession of the wrong shade of olive skin (as compared to that nice and badly misjudged Mr Carson Yeung), any tendency to speak Latin languages of Roman descent and, last but not least, possession of an amount of money likely to lead to a vulgar degree of success for any club with LS11 in its postcode.

“Rest assured – we’ve plenty up our sleeves yet to deal with Signor Cellino, if those Johnny Foreigner courts in Sardinia let us down, oh my word yes. We owe it to our football supporters in this country and even more so to the memory of the late, great Saint Alan Hardaker.”

When we suggested that the League may appear to have some sort of vendetta against Leeds, we were advised: “The Football League Xenophobia Sub-Committee does not approve of those nasty, dirty Italian motor-bikes – so we’ve no idea what you’re on about.”

Asked for his response, Massimo Cellino was tight-lipped, merely stating cryptically: “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m going outside to eat vermicelli.”

Shaun Harvey is a certifiable lunatic.

We’re a wealthy country… money’s no object…

Identifying a paradox? Homing in on Tory hypocrisy, more like…

Jane Young

Flooding I’m supposed to be writing an important human rights report, but the political messages around today have tempted me to blog – for the first time since the turn of the year, when my anger about poverty spilled into a much less measured blog than usual. My anger has now got the better of me again…

First of all I must say, very clearly, that flooding is terrible for those affected and my heart goes out to all those who have experienced the horror of dirty, sewage-contaminated water flowing through their homes. This blog is not directed against flood victims, but is a comment on the political message and reality behind the Prime Minister’s promises.

The floods have reached the home counties. Beautiful homes next to the River Thames are awash. This is archetypal middle England. Confirmed Tory voters are now being affected by the floods which have ravaged the…

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Leeds Remain “The Damned United” for Jimmy Greaves and the BBC – by Rob Atkinson

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Super Leeds – simply the best

A couple of weeks ago, I came not to bury Greavsie but to praise him.  The article I wrote was a thrilled response to the fact that Jimmy “Jimbo” Greaves – a known Leeds-hater from way back – seemed to have seen the light, acknowledging United legend John Charles as the greatest British footballer of all time, ahead of George Best, Bobby Moore and – well, everyone else on a list of fifty.  It was such a surprise, such a welcome oddity coming from Greaves’ usually poisoned pen where the Whites are concerned, that I failed to look beyond the headline. Silly me.

When I finally did read the rest, I was less surprised – but I was utterly disgusted and amazed that somebody who had the honour to share a pitch with (and be heavily defeated by) Don Revie‘s Super Leeds could be so bitter, such a small-minded little man. For genial Greavsie, that impish cockney bundle of fun, had included in his Top 50 British Greats not one member of that fabulous Super Leeds side which dominated football for a decade and which regularly finished above the teams for which so many of Greaves’ Chosen Ones had played.  And there I was, just a few short weeks ago, saying nice things about the little bugger.  Well, I take it all back. Today I come, not to praise Greavsie, but to bury the sod.

It simply makes the mind boggle.  Not one Leeds player from that Glory era of Bremner, Giles, Gray, Clarke, Lorimer et al.  Not a single, solitary one. John Charles, of course, the Jimmy Greaves choice for number one, played at Elland Road in his first spell with Leeds before the Revie years, making a brief but only moderately successful comeback in the early part of the Don’s reign, before heading back off to la dolce vita.   King John’s honours were won on foreign fields; he was not part of the Leeds success story.  Did this exempt him in Greaves’ tiny and still semi-pickled mind from the hatred and disrespect with which he has always referred to the great Leeds side?  Was there some envy there?

Greaves, let us not forget, for all the praise heaped on him as a natural finisher, didn’t win all that much in his career.  You could fairly say he bottled it.  No League Titles, just a cup or two.  He missed out on the World Cup Final in 1966 due to injury, making way for one Geoff Hurst, who fortunately had a fair old game that day. You have to admit that Leeds, for all their talent, were underachievers (largely due to some corrupt refereeing) – but Greavsie out-shone them in that. Perhaps this explains some of that elderly bile and bitterness?

It’s not an unknown phenomenon, this steely determination to ignore Leeds United when the plaudits are being handed out.  It’s sadly quite common and, despite the fact that it reflects ill on those who perpetrate the omissions, exposing them for the petty, shallow revisionists that they are, still they queue up to overlook that great side, and to be seen doing so.  It’s as if there are brownie points to be collected somewhere for the person or persons who can show that they possess the biggest pair of anti-Leeds blinkers in the whole media.  What a sad indictment of supposedly impartial coverage – and the ostensibly most impartial of them all, the good old BBC, are among the worst offenders.

A little while ago, I wrote – well, ranted – about the BBC’s determined stance on ignoring Don Revie when they put together a montage of legendary managers.  It was laughable.  There were managers in there who’d hardly won a bean – good sound men, but not in the same class as the Don, a man who built a European superpower from a provincial nonentity of a football club, scorned by many in a city devoted to Rugby League.  The worldwide fanatical following that United have, even today, have their roots in the miracle wrought by Revie, the greatest manager of all time.  So, I complained to Auntie Beeb, and got the standard fob-off response, naturally. The complacent pillars of the media don’t like being challenged in their cosy little ivory tower funk-holes, they would rather you just concentrate on what they’re saying and not try thinking for yourself too much.

There’s no need for me to start in on correcting Greaves’ list, or indeed the BBC’s laboriously-constructed montage of managers – either would be an exercise in the bleedin’ obvious.  I’m simply happy to get this off my chest, to point out what smug, self-satisfied hypocrites and charlatans these people are, who feel that they really can reinvent history and expunge a whole, massively-significant part of it from the public consciousness.  It’ll never happen, too many of us out here remember all too well who the top dogs were back in the day – and more and more of us are stomping our way into print, the better to emphasise exactly what was what.  So you may take your heavily-edited version of history, Messrs Greaves, Lineker, Hansen and Shearer, and you may stick it where the monkey stuck its nuts.

The truth after all is out there, the evidence is easy to find, and even though some of the men so cruelly overlooked – Bremner and Revie for very obvious examples – are no longer around to defend themselves, there are plenty out here only too eager to do it for them.  Say what you like, Greavsie, but we were there too, we remember and we know better.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Most Hypocritical “Leeds Fan” of Them All? – by Rob Atkinson

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Mark “Ker-CHING” Byford: one-time Leeds fan, perennial grasping hypocrite.

Whichever club you follow, you like to think that your fellow fans are, on the whole, jolly fine fellows – lads and lasses all. Equally, you hold dear the notion that the fans of “that other lot from ovver t’hill” (Man U, for any Leeds fan worth his salt) are a ridiculous bunch, amusing and repellent all in one, fodder for those of us who revel in laughing at the Pride of Devon.  This mind-set prompted me to write about Man U’s Top Ten Embarrassing Celebrity Fans, an article which was, I’m pleased to say, widely read and well-received. I’ve a Spurs version in the pipeline; I do like to pander occasionally to my own petty prejudices.

Every now and then, though, you come across such a repellent example of loathsome slitheriness among the ranks of your own beloved club’s supporters, that you just have to hold your hands up and say: “It’s a fair cop.  We’ve got a right one here.”  It’s happened to me, today.  I’m not talking about the vile Savile (indeed, I have a picture of him in a Liverpool FC shirt).  I’m talking about someone alive, kicking and doing very nicely for himself indeed, thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mark Byford: former Deputy Director of the BBC, new author, Leeds United fan, expenses claimant extraordinaire and enthusiastic proponent of what can best be described as the “Byford Brand” with a view to the ongoing feathering of his own already plush nest.

Mark Byford featured on BBC Radio Five Live just this morning, eager and ready to be interviewed about his first book which was inspired, so we’re told more than once, by a shaft of sunlight shining on the name of a soldier, Larry Byford, on a war memorial in America.  The coincidence of names led Mark Byford to research and write a book about the American Byford, fallen in conflict in Vietnam, along with the wartime experiences of his own father Lawry Byford.  A neat idea and doubtless quite moving.

The wisdom of Byford in sticking his head above the parapet at this particular time, though, might be questioned by some who feel he still has a little embarrassment to live down.  Mark Byford, after all, is the man who walked away from the loss of his job at the BBC with twice his contractual severance entitlement, so that he trousered a cool £1 million on top of his extremely generous final salary pension entitlement.  Perhaps he felt that this sensitive issue would be overlooked in the eagerness of the interviewer to help him promote his book.  Big mistake.

Victoria Derbyshire is one of those interviewers whose sweet and demure exterior belies her underlying instinct to harry her prey; at times like these she is more polecat than tabby.  In the past she has upset the likes of Jamie Oliver with her remorseless style, and when she interviewed her own Five Live boss about why he wasn’t moving to MediaCityUK in Salford when the station moved in Autumn ’11, The Guardian said: “Derbyshire’s grilling of the station’s controller Adrian Van Klaveren made Jeremy Paxman’s infamous interview with (BBC Director General) Mark Thompson look like a vicar’s tea party.”  Now, she sank her teeth into Mark Byford’s pale and exposed hide – and she simply refused to let go.  The basis of her line of questioning was simple: “Do you think you deserved your £1m pay-off?”

Try as Byford might, he was unable to shake Derbyshire from this persistent snap, snap, snap onslaught which in the end left him bloodied and bewildered as she watched narrowly from a neutral corner, fangs still bared, ready to renew her attack at any time. His quandary was clear: he didn’t want to be seen to claim he deserved the money, but he didn’t want to admit that it was undeserved, unjustifiable and contextually grotesque. The word “context”, ironically, was one coping strategy he brandished again and again, though with an amateurish petulance that defeated any attempt at calm or cool.  He was simply out-thought and out-fought, run to ground, his desired cosy “book-plug” interview metamorphosed before his horrified eyes into a pitiless exposé of his self-seeking greed and arrogance.

It was with mixed feelings that I listened to this interview.  At first, I didn’t identify the author being invited to promote his book with the grasping executive walking off into Austerity Britain with his £1 million wad.  I wasn’t even sure why I was taking against him so – perhaps it was the unctuous tone with which he spoke of heroism and duty, whilst all the time emphasising the hooks and links a writer likes to employ to make his work more readable.  Only when Ms Derbyshire switched from plug facilitator into attack mode, did I make the connection – and then I just had to marvel at Byford’s willful resistance to the notion of “moral wrongdoing”, subtly advanced with all the finesse of a battering-ram by the merciless Victoria – as opposed to strict legal and contractual rights and wrongs.  And, blindly, blunderingly, he kept on using this word “context”.  Millions out there must have been wondering – if context is the thing, then in the context of austerity, painfully slow national recovery and widespread suffering, especially at the unregarded bottom of the pile – how on earth can such an obscene level of severance pay, on top of a sleekly fat pension, possibly be justified?

Which is what, time and again, from every direction, try as Byford might to avoid it, he was being asked – and refusing to answer.  Because there is no answer that amounts to justification.  And it turns out that there is much more for Byford to justify, if he possibly could.  A litter of extravagant expenses claims drifts in his wake, going back years – the man has a sleaze quotient an MP might envy.  His new book uses the loss of an American soldier in a long-ago conflict as its prime mover.  I wonder if the soldier’s family will benefit from its sales?  I do hope so.  The e-book edition – which is, after all, just a stream of bits and bytes flowing smoothly from the ether, production overheads negligible – is ambitiously priced at an eye-watering £17.72.  Clearly, somewhere along the line, Byford is still feeling the pinch – or maybe he feels that the Byford Brand commands a unit price of that order, for a first book too, simply because, well, it’s the Byford Brand.

When Lord Birt, outgoing Director General, favoured Byford as his successor, the Governors in their wisdom chose Greg Dyke instead.  Our hero put a brave face on it, and joked away the pain, claiming still to be friends with the man who pipped him.  “He supports Man U and I support Leeds United, and that’s the biggest problem we will have – he supports the worst team in British football and I support the best.”  All good knockabout stuff, and a laddish tone calculated to appeal to the LUFC fan in the street. But for once, I think the BBC got it absolutely right to prefer the Man U fan to the man who claimed as far back as Leeds University days to follow Leeds United – though acquaintances detected no passion for the club in him and suspected that it was a front for his research into criminality among football fans.  As with so much of his subsequent life and career, it would seem that – even back then – Mark Byford was mainly concerned with what was best for Mark Byford and his nascent Brand.

He’s frankly not the sort of bloke I care to have associated with my beloved Leeds United AFC – and nor is he the sort whose pockets I’d wish further to line by purchasing any book he writes.  I happen to think that the singularly undeserving and opportunistic Mark Byford has done quite well enough for himself already.