Tag Archives: Match of the Day

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.

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.

Shameful: BBC Spit on Don Revie’s Grave

Don Revie OBE:  The Greatest

Don Revie OBE: The Greatest

History, they say, is written by the winners.  In last night’s “Match of the Day”, the BBC provided ample evidence to show that it is also rewritten by hypocritical sycophants who should know better.

The events of the afternoon had not panned out as the scriptwriters would have wished, though all looked well ten short minutes from the end of Man U’s match at West Brom, S’ralex’s last game as manager.  The Plastic Champions were 5-2 ahead, and John Motson had purred, gasped and chuckled his way through 80 minutes of exhibition football, punctuated by comical home defending, and it looked very much as though another team was going to roll over meekly for the men from Salford.

Then S’ralex brought on Paul Scholes for the Ginger Minger’s own last appearance before his latest retirement.  The cameras prepared to adjust to soft focus, Motson drew in another breath preparatory to more shudderingly orgasmic tributes as he was consumed by an ecstasy of highly marketable sentimentality.  The stage was set for the Govan Guv’nor to stump off into the sunset, his purple-blotched features lacerated by a parody of a smile.

Then it all went wrong.  West Brom struck three times in the last ten minutes, Ferguson’s smile dropped to the floor quicker than a Gareth Bale dive and the mighty Man U were holding on at the end to avoid saying goodbye in the face of a last blast from a defeated Hairdryer.  5-5 it finished, and the BBC were denied their expected valedictory stroll in the sun; the Baggies had pooped the Corporation’s party.

Maybe it was this that prompted the spite and small-minded pettiness of the montage which prefaced the Match of the Day highlights late last night.  More likely though that it was always going to be yet another calculated slap in the face to the memory of a great man, a man whose boots the assembled hacks and ex-pros on the MOTD couch are not fit to lick, a true great of the game that the Establishment seem determined to pretend was never there.  Ferguson was painted in admiring and rose-hued tones, to a background of his many achievements as compared to the other “managerial greats.”  Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Jock Stein, Bobby Robson, Ron Greenwood, Bill Shankly, Matt Busby, Bill Nicholson; all these legends were held up as examples of managerial excellence to be rightly lauded for their achievements and the mark they left on the game.

But no mention of the greatest of them all: Donald George Revie OBE.

This was no mere oversight.  It’s been going on for years, and it’s a premeditated and vicious attempt at the excision from public memory of football’s greatest manager, a cowardly and shameful act of malice aforethought.  It reflects ill on the researchers who put these things together; aren’t they aware of their history, we in the know might wonder.  Don’t they have access to Google?  But they know all about the Don, they know he transformed a tired old joke of a football club into the most feared and respected force in Europe; they know he did it without massive financial backing and without paying obscene wages; they know how he did it all to the dubious background of an initially apathetic support, fans who had only ever known mediocrity at best, and expected nothing else.  Out of all this, Don Revie wrought a miracle – a team that respected judges of the game have described as the finest club side in English football history.

The accidental omission of Revie’s name for any TV item concerning itself with managerial greatness would be unforgivably slipshod; the act of a clueless nincompoop.  But this was much, much worse than that.  It was an exposition of hypocrisy underpinned by malice and the bile of fifty years’ accumulated resentment.  It was a crass attempt at revisionism, a blunderingly clumsy try at pretending Don Revie never existed.  It was wishful thinking in its bitterest and most destructive form, a playground insult to a giant of the game.  The BBC cowards and toadies have exposed themselves as classless fools, deserving only of contempt and ridicule.

“And Leeds will go mad.  And they’ve every right to go mad!” – as Barry Davies memorably put it back in the day, in more realistic times before the game turned plastic, when everybody knew who the heroes were and we weren’t fed a diet of pap and lies.  And Leeds should go mad again.  The city, the club, the fans – none of them should continue to lie down and accept this disgraceful treatment, this attempted erasure of an iconic figure whom we all worship as “Simply The Best.”  There should be a loud outcry, a vehement protest.  This is my small contribution, but the fans as a body have form for hitting back at media and establishment when they feel one of their own wronged.

In 1994, the FA handed down a mandate that all clubs should observe a minute’s silence in respect for the late Matt Busby.  They did this because it’s what you do when a respected figure dies – except of course they’re not consistent.  They failed to mark the death of Don Revie, a tragic and cruel end from Motor Neurone Disease.  They failed even to send a representative to his funeral, although – to his eternal credit – Alex Ferguson was there, and Denis Law, as well as most of the Leeds United greats and other proper football men.  But none of the hypocrites in suits from the game’s ruling authorities saw fit to get off their backsides and pay tribute.  Revie was dead; let them get on with pretending he never existed.  So in 1994, when they were supposed to lapse into a respectful silence, the Leeds fans at Blackburn Rovers’ ground exploded in a raucous and repeated cry of “One Don Revie!  There’s only one Don Revie!!”  The great and the good of the sport were scandalised.  People pursed their lips and shook their heads sadly.  How dare these yobboes ruin our tribute to our Chosen One?  But I’m so, so glad that it happened.  We should not knuckle under to the official view; we should never bow down before such blatant hypocrisy.

They’re getting wise to rebellion now.  There tends to be a minute’s applause these days, lest any disrespectful mob should see fit to assert their unwanted point of view the next time some officially-beloved figure keels over.  But the fans will be heard, believe me.  And if the media – typified by these contemptible fools in charge of the increasingly poodle-like Match of the Day – continue so determinedly to ignore and try to obliterate the legacy of The Don, then I hope that defiant cry will be heard again, loud and proud.  While ever Leeds United fans are prepared to stand up and be counted, happy to raise their arms and voices and be heard – then Don Revie will never be forgotten, whatever the wishes of the pompous suits and deluded TV types.

Don Revie, “The Don” (1927 – 1989)  A true legend and a great of the game.  Whatever you might think of him – and God knows, I’m no fan – just ask S’ralex.