Tag Archives: Noel Hunt

Noel Hunt Scores to Leave Leeds Boo-Boys Red-Faced – by Rob Atkinson

Ipswich Hero Noel - not good enough for 15th placed Leeds

Ipswich Hero Noel – not good enough for 15th placed Leeds

Really, you had a feeling it might happen. After a barren spell at Leeds United, Noel Hunt has made the loan switch to high-flying Ipswich Town – and has become an instant Tractor Boys hero with a last-gasp winner at Charlton Athletic.

No Tractor Boys at Elland Road – but boo-boys aplenty. Sadly, ’twas ever thus. I go back as far as Terry Yorath, who was routinely slaughtered by those on the terraces with size 12 gobs to accommodate their size 12 bovver boots – and with a size zero brain ostensibly directing things from somewhere in the pelvic region.

Yorath was a Welsh international who went on to have a fine career with Coventry and then Spurs. He was just one of too many players chased out of LS11, confidence in tatters, by the hard-of-thinking masses whose idea of motivational support amounts, it seems, to monosyllabic, visceral abuse. Great way to back the lads, lads.

Two of Cloughie’s imports in the autumn of ’74, John McGovern and John O’Hare, suffered ignorant abuse and were likewise sent packing from Leeds, doubtless grateful to get away. Instead of pining for what might have been in the White shirt, they settled for an English Champions medal, two European Cups, sundry Wembley triumphs and a bucketload of glory down Nottingham way. The bright lads on the Gelderd, unabashed, continued to hold that they were “roobish. Not good enough for Leeds, like”. Our talent as fans for shooting ourselves in the collective foot was honed as sharp as a knife in the back, even then.

This level of expertise as assessors of footballing talent is still manifesting itself among the Leeds United faithful. A small but loud minority will concede nothing to the pros in terms of their ability to label a player as “crap”. Even in the immediate aftermath of Hunt’s late winner at Charlton, there were many rather defensive tweets in the ether, insisting that Noel is “still crap”. After all, what does his manager know? Or his fellow pros??

Several United players down the years have been unable to give of their best with this sort of “support” ringing in their ears. Unaccountably, a goodly proportion of these hopeless, useless articles have gone on to do well elsewhere – at clubs whose fans embrace old-fashioned and out-dated practices, like cheering on whoever wears the shirt. That’s far too naïve and unsophisticated position for the bright sparks in the Leeds crowd, though. Of course it is. We’re Leeds and we know best – right?

It could be that Noel Hunt might still have a future at Elland Road. It’s hardly unknown for a player, his confidence holed below the water line, to be buoyed up by the experience of a run in some other club’s side, a chance to play his way back into form. Perhaps Hunt will be an example of that kind of renaissance. But equally, he may prefer to pursue his career elsewhere. You could hardly blame him.

Players are a valuable asset for any club. Those assets may appreciate over time, given success and the adoration of the fans. But some may sink without a trace and feel no option but to start again elsewhere, if anyone will take a punt on them. Ipswich boss and Leeds United fan Mick McCarthy must be pleased right now that he took a punt on Hunt.

Leeds fans are as self-congratulatory a mob as you’d find anywhere in football. They are prone to applauding themselves as the best supporters around. Taking an army of 7,000 to Blackburn as well as frequently following Leeds in numbers for midweek games away on the south coast – this speaks volumes for the fanaticism of the United support. But support is about more than just turning up in numbers, and sadly Leeds fans in my experience are frequently lacking in the aspect of support that involves actually being supportive. And that’s a significant fault that can have real consequences for players’ careers and, by extension, the club’s prospects of success.

Good luck to Noel Hunt in his loan spell at Ipswich, and beyond – wherever that might be. It’s difficult to envisage him back at Leeds, but I for one would be delighted to see him return, confidence restored. But confidence is a fragile flower, easily blown away by the scorching wind of spectator scorn in a white-hot cauldron like Elland Road with its mad up. The question Hunt might be asking himself in January, with a successful loan at Portman Road behind him, is: “Do I really need that??

The answer to that question might well result in Noel Hunt bearing down on the Leeds goal in some other team’s shirt in the not-too-distant future, to score against us and condemn the Whites to a possibly costly defeat. It’s happened before, it’ll almost certainly happen again. And you know what? We’ll bloody deserve it.

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Leeds Must Bounce Back After “Gutted” McDermott’s Unhappy Reading Test – by Rob Atkinson

Adam le Fondre - Leeds Target, Leeds Nemesis

Adam le Fondre – Leeds Target, Leeds Nemesis

To paraphrase a more illustrious member of the Atkinson clan – Rowan of that ilk – if winning a game of football in the last minute of stoppage time is finger-lickin’ good, then losing in a like manner is just ass-wipin’ bad.  And it could so easily have ended in a Leeds win at Reading last night; nobody could have disputed the fairness of a narrow away victory as United had looked marginally the likelier of two willing teams on a night of ebb and flow.  As the final minute or so ticked away, it had appeared that the impressively raucous band of away fans would be heading home jubilant.

Heading home, in fact, is precisely what Jason Pearce should have done with what looked like the last clear-cut chance of the game.  It was a good chance, a very clear-cut chance of the “my Gran would have buried that” variety – and Pearce should have gobbled it up.  But sadly, he missed, Then, predictably, Lady Luck performed a clumsy and unattractive pirouette, and within two shakes of a donkey’s tail Steven Warnock had managed to get himself a second yellow card.  He trailed off miserably, the resultant free-kick was pumped into the Leeds area and there was Adam le Fondre, rumoured target for United all summer long, to glance the ball past Paddy Kenny.  1-0 and finis, the whole game turning on the slings and arrows of that outrageous last minute.  Ho hum.

It’s encouraging to report that the hysterical reaction we had come to expect in the wake of just about any Leeds United defeat has been much less apparent under McDermott’s Elland Road regime than it has been in the year or so before.  And quite rightly so; Brian is quietly evolving a Leeds United metamorphosis the effect of which runs deep and transcends the statistical impact of mere results.  It’s hard to think of any man more deserving of an extended honeymoon period – without actually getting married – than the unassuming and softly-spoken United chief.  Most of what he has touched so far has turned to gold and the feeling is that, as he becomes ever more firmly entrenched, he will increase his influence over transfer policy at the club so as to secure the recruits he is all too well aware he still needs.  Brian will go about his business with justified self-belief – and apparently with the enthusiasm and loyalty of his playing staff – whatever the mood of the support may happen to be in the light of results good or bad.  And yet it’s still important that he has the confidence, belief and full backing of the fans.  If that’s not the case then a slight pressure can start to build which is felt not necessarily in the manager’s office but perhaps more tellingly in the boardroom.  The longer we can all pull together, the better for the good of the club as a whole and for the manager’s chances of reviving his sleeping giant.

So it’s important that Leeds do bounce back from this latest setback and – if possible – put together a few results to edge back towards the play-off zone.  This would keep the pot of supporter positivity and optimism bubbling away nicely as well as regaining the momentum of a season that had been jogging along nicely.  Optimism and positivity are still very much on the agenda of the knowledgeable fan who knows his or her stuff.  The only two defeats have been narrow affairs, against teams that were in the top-flight last year – and both results could so easily have been different.  Rudy Austin’s piledriver would have earned a point against QPR and Pearce’s horrible miss should instead have secured a tasty victory for Brian at former club Reading.  Admittedly, “what-ifs” butter no parsnips, but they DO serve to show that the team is not getting played off the park, even by the pedigree end of the division.  At this stage of the season that’s no idle claim, and we can still be optimistic and feel that the future looks bright.

Saturday’s game at home to Burnley is a chance to re-launch the good ship Leeds on its voyage towards what we all hope and think could be a place in the end of season play-offs.  Three points are eminently achievable against the Lancastrians, despite their own decent form and comfortable win over Birmingham on Tuesday.  It will be interesting also to see if Noel Hunt can maintain his steady improvement; a goal from him could be just the kick-start he needs not only for his own sake, but also for the team as a whole. Elland Road on Saturday could just be his stage and, if that proves to be the case, the charge towards the top could be back on again.