Tag Archives: Service Crew Forum

By Goom, Sum Leeds Fans are Proper ‘Ard to Please, Sithee!! – by Rob Atkinson

What's the point of winning 16-0??

What’s the point of winning 16-0?? Waaaahhh!!

On July 10th in Italy, Leeds United stepped up their pre-season preparations by moving on to an actual game against opposition from outside the club – as opposed to doing the hard yards in training and playing practice matches within the squad.  It’s a natural progression – it makes sense to start with a gentle work-out against a team that, perhaps, won’t provide the stiffest test. The game went well, two distinct United teams getting a 45-minute run-out apiece – and Leeds won by the unlikely score of 16-0, beating their previous best pre-season success by one.  The players seemed to fight shy of scoring that 17th goal which might have caused the superstitious side of the owner’s nature to twitch spasmodically. It’s best to keep on the right side of Big Mass, my friend. But you have to say that this type of game is a worthwhile exercise at this stage of pre-season. As a means of getting into a match situation and preparing for sterner opposition later on, it’s ideal. Isn’t it?

Well, you wouldn’t think so, from some of the social media reaction. To read some of the comments from certain alleged Leeds fans, you’d think that Leeds United had broken into their homes and beaten up their apple-cheeked, silver-haired old Grandma, rather than comfortably winning a football match. There was an air of offended outrage very much in evidence.  Some people, it would seem, feel distinctly happier when we’re losing – as, for instance we did at Harrogate Town last pre-season, or famously at Histon in the FA Cup a few years back.  A 16-0 defeat would presumably have had these characters smiling happily – but a victory by that score opened up the floodgates for a tide of whinging and bitching from the kind of fans who would, quite frankly, feel more at home over the wrong side o’ t’hills, at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.

So what is it about certain Leeds United fans, that makes them react in this unhelpful and frankly irritating way? Is it a need to affect a certain world-weary, windswept and interesting, ostentatiously cynical attitude, in the hope that people will think they’re more complex and profound than they actually are? Do they perhaps feel compelled to act in a certain way in order to impress others? Certainly this type of reaction is typical of the sort of person, generally young, a bit stupid and desperate for attention, who feels the need to inflict their callow opinions on Facebook, Twitter et al. Some of the dafter Leeds United internet boards are likewise infested with these yappy types, falling over themselves to outdo the previous poster for “wit” or what they might see as a “cool” determination to approve of nothing, to criticise and carp on about everything. The abysmal WACCOE and the absurd Service Crew Forum are good examples of the type of “Go on, try to impress me” churl of a supporter, who hasn’t the first idea of what support actually means. It’s always a sad day for this type when there is some undeniably good news. After all, it’s so uncool to be happy and positive – isn’t it?

Sod off and listen to the Smiths, or Leonard Cohen – or go and support the Pride of Devon, why don’t you. At least those of us who are open to the possibility of a new era at Leeds United would be spared your formulaic whinging and clueless rants.  And, next time Leeds United manage to win a game 16-0, could we perhaps expect a bit more in the way of originality from you?  You know – a little less of the “Oh, were we playing the blind school??  Haw, haw, haw”.  At times like this, Twitter seems to be exclusively about daft little prats recycling weak humour with a genuine belief that they’ll somehow get some credit for it.

I blame the parents.  No, on reflection, I don’t – not entirely.  I really blame the proliferation of social media, providing as it does an easy option, for dumb, idle, yap-mouthed kids with too much time on their hands, to create a sort of wall of white noise, preventing the rest of us from being able to have anything like a meaningful conversation or productive discussion. Yes, that’s what I blame. AND the bloody parents.

Roll on the next game and, with all due respect to Big Mass and his weird beliefs, I hope we win this one 17-0.  We won’t, of course – because we’ll be playing a much better team, one that doesn’t need to borrow our goalie near the end just to keep the score down. But I do hope we keep the hammer down and win well.  Because there’s nothing that upsets the kind of Leeds fan I’m railing against, more than a good, solid Leeds United win. The sort of win that used to be the whole point of being a fan – remember that?


Where Did All Those Leeds United Thugs and Racists of the 80s Go? – by Rob Atkinson

The darkside of the net

The darkside of the net

In the early eighties – and for much of that sorry decade – the experience of being a match-going, non-racist Leeds United fan was lonely and disgusting. The atmosphere around Elland Road was rancid with bigotry, skin-headed, bone-headed racists sold “The Flag”, a right-wing snot-rag, outside the ground. It was done openly, brazenly.  Dissenting voices, when raised, brought upon their owners the risk of violence.  The club was inert and complacent.  The police sat by and watched.  It was depressingly, shamefully awful.  And then, things started to change.

Civilised, intelligent Leeds United supporters, unable and unwilling to accept the evil being dispensed in the name of their beloved club, organised themselves into Leeds United Fans Against Racism & Fascism.  Fanzines were sold expounding the voice of reason against the bigoted filth being peddled by the racists.  More decent supporters woke up to what had been going on, joined the anti-racist movement, bought the fanzines, started to raise the voice of protest against the ignorance and malice of the terrace chants against visiting black players.

Even the slumbering Leeds United itself reacted positively to the changes afoot. Black players were signed, the first since the brief but bright Leeds career of Terry Connor. Noel Blake, affectionately nicknamed “Bruno”, loved by the Kop. Vince Hilaire, quicksilver winger reviving memories of Albert Johanneson in the sixties, the first black player to play in the Cup Final and a Leeds hero when the Revie revolution was still new.  It was a painfully long, slow job – but Leeds United finally managed to all but rid itself of one of the most degradingly awful reputations for racism and bigotry anywhere in the game – and they largely did it as an institution, by the efforts of enlightened fans supplemented by the club’s more enlightened transfer policy at a time when there was still an unofficial bar observed by the likes of Everton FC.

I’m extremely proud of the way my club tackled its problems.  The Leeds United of today bears no resemblance at all to the sick club being brought to its knees 30 years ago, dying of the cancer of racism.  The whole world has moved on, though pockets of the disease still exist at home, yet far more significantly and overtly abroad.  We now live in a time when these manifestations of hate and ignorance are a palpable shock to the system – and that in itself is a massive change for the better.  Such inhuman behaviour has never ever been acceptable, but now it’s seen to be completely unacceptable, and that is the very essence of progress and reinvention.

But what actually happened to all of those who revelled in the racism and violence that was so much more prevalent in the 1980s? Have they given up on football support altogether?  Have they, perhaps, defected en masse to Millwall, where both problems still rear their ugly heads with depressing semi-regularity? The sad fact is that, far from removing their loathsome presence from the world of Leeds United, many of these idiots are still very much around – older, but no wiser; and still determined to espouse their Daily Mail recycled views even if they’re no longer up for a barney in the physical sense.

As you can tell from the match-day experience, the people physically present at the ground are more prosperous these days, less inclined to fisticuffs as a means of recreation and certainly not given to racial slurs and abusive chants based on those slurs.  It’s become unfashionable – and as that cultural change has occurred, so the attraction of being at the match has waned for those of the more extreme attitudes.

Like it or not, the tendency towards racism and xenophobia is closely linked to the extremes of right wing thinking – I use that word in its loosest possible sense.  Those of a more left-wing outlook do not, as a rule, tend towards racial abuse and other such prejudice-driven behaviour.  As with any rule of thumb, there will be isolated exceptions – but for the most part, racism and the tendency towards its expression in violent and abusive terms is a right-wing phenomenon.

This is still relevant today, despite the fact that the physical manifestations of such behaviour are greatly reduced at our football grounds, notably Elland Road. It’s relevant because there is one remaining stronghold where these people gather together, share their views, yearn for the “good old days” and jealously guard their out-dated views against infiltration from what they see as left-wing or liberal weakness.  That stronghold is the internet, or at least isolated parts of it. Where Leeds United is concerned, my experience as someone who feels the need to challenge the uglier tendencies of the Right is that some boards and forums – notionally just about support for Leeds United FC – are no-go areas. You’re not welcome if you try to push an agenda that runs contrary to the prevailing right-wing views; indeed you are likely to be gagged for “provocation” if you persist in this.

Such has been my recent experience on the WACCOE board, where the resident hard-of-thinking types get very hot under the collar if they feel that their cosy, right-wing, casually racist views are being challenged.  The same sort of thing applies equally if not more so on the Network 54 “Service Crew” Forum, where people who are decidedly old enough to know better still talk in fondly nostalgic terms of the days when a good old punch-up was part of the weekend’s entertainment, and when no away trip was really worthwhile unless a pub or two had been smashed up, and there’d been an “off” with some opposing “lads” with maybe the chance to bait an identifiable ethnic minority, just for fun.

The sad thing is that, on both of these sites, there is frequently plenty of interest to read and to get involved in discussing – but, inevitably, as you become more of a contributor, your own views become known – particularly if, as I have done, you share blog posts and argue your corner. Then, the moderators or admin types move in, because they feel that you’re rocking the boat and upsetting the precious little racists and ex-thugs that seemingly make up the bulk of the membership. It’s all so depressingly juvenile and exclusive – when it could actually be a valuable resource for thrashing out the real issues that face Leeds United and its fans today, in a world that has changed radically from that of 30 years ago.

It was only going to be a matter of time before I was silenced on one or both forums – and now I have no voice on WACCOE; something that fails to fill me with regret or chagrin.  My offence was to speculate that UKIP are set fair to harm the Tories at next year’s election, by splitting the racist idiot vote.  It was a mildly provocative line, calculated to upset and draw out the real xenophobes on the site – but naturally it descended into a free for all, and now I’ve been found to be an unhealthy influence – so I’m gagged in order that the resident mini-Farages can chat happily among themselves – frequently starting their comments with “I’m no racist, but….”.

The fact that I’ve now been silenced is not something I’ll lose any sleep over for my own sake – but it did make me think about the type of person who is still out there, parading under the banner of Leeds United supporters and identifiable as such to those outside the club – who might then judge us all by what a few unreconstructed idiots have to say, while more moderate views are being suppressed.

I honestly believe that the problems of racism and gratuitous violence in football stadia are virtually solved now; that the perpetrators of both types of unpleasant, anti-social behaviour have either been chased away from the grounds, or are so outnumbered and closely monitored that they have no option but to keep their nasty little ways to themselves – and to other venues. Even though you still do get the odd isolated incident – as with the moronic Aaron Cawley at Hillsborough last season – they’re rare enough to be virtually a thing of the past.  But we live in a digital age, and the fact is that Leeds United FC is a massive presence on the net – much, much more popular than all but a few Premier League clubs.  That being the case, we have to look to our reputation in the virtual world just as much as we do in the real-life match-day environment.

The presence of at least two relatively high-profile web-sites, which appear to harbour many whose views and tendencies are inimical to modern-day standards, is not good news.  It’s to be hoped that, maybe, more enlightened moderation could yet induce more grown-up attitudes and behaviour – or at least so alienate the extremists that they fade out of view altogether.  At the very least, I’d earnestly hope that – whoever from opposing or rival clubs ever takes a look at WACCOE or the Service Crew Forum – they won’t judge the bulk of genuine Leeds United fans by the childish, ignorant and prejudiced rubbish they might read on those particular two sites.  It’s not big, it’s not clever – and it certainly has nothing to do with 21st century Leeds. 

Warnock the Clueless Bemoans Leeds’ Loss of “Pacy” Snodgrass – by Rob Atkinson


Colin & Brian

A fascinating quote today from Neil “Colin” Warnock’s Saturday collection of epigrams, sideswipes and bewildered bits of nonsense in The Independent.  The piece opens with a characteristically self-aggrandising few paragraphs describing various situations in which he had to deal with stroppy owners or chairmen.  Invariably, of course, Colin was right.  It’s typical of former football managers of the Colin ilk that they will always emerge as heroes from their own reminiscences.

The bit that comes nearest to being of any interest to Leeds United fans goes as follows:

Come off it, Brian – I left you a decent side at Leeds

I heard Brian McDermott on the radio taking issue with my comment that he only needed to “put the icing on the cake” when he took over from me at Leeds. I stand by it. The main thing lacking when I left was pace – because I had to sell Robert Snodgrass.

Brian’s had good money to spend, whereas I was forced to make a profit on transfers, but they still lack pace. Eight of the XI he picked at Forest last Sunday he inherited from me.

Now obviously, this basically boils down to “I had it tough and it’s a bed of roses for the guy who’s followed me.”  Standard whinging fare from yer actual has-been who still wants to have enough to say so that his weekly column remains in demand.  But portions of that shortish quote do rather take the breath away.

Take for instance this gem: “The main thing lacking when I left was pace – because I had to sell Robert Snodgrass.”  Pardon me?  Was Snoddy really known for his pace?  He’s a fine player, and I would carry him on my own back to Elland Road, should he wish to return.  But the Snodmeister’s thing was trickery, sleight of foot, skill.  He did not scorch past opposing full-backs, leaving them gasping for oxygen in his wake and turning the turf to cinders with his state-of-the-art afterburners.  You’d have thought his manager might have noticed this, but evidently Colin had got Snoddy all wrong – which may explain a thing or two.  Perhaps it also sheds some light on why he preferred the class and skill of Browneh over that mega-hyped upstart Ross Barkley, who we had on loan from Everton, but for whom Colin couldn’t find a place.  Barkley has since that time somehow managed to fool everyone into rating him as a top Premier League performer and the likely future of the England national team.  It’s a pity that people don’t listen to Colin about things like this.

The not-entirely-coherent Mr Warnock also points out that eight of Brian McDermott’s starting XI at Nottingham Forest were inherited from Colin’s potential top-flight squad.  This may be true – as is undeniably the fact that we lost that game, looking particularly inept in the first half.  It all comes down to the fact that dear old Colin seems to feel that he left Brian with the basis of a very good Championship side of promotion pedigree, needing only “the icing on the cake”.  The folly of this seems obvious to anyone who has watched Leeds United this season.  Things have improved, thanks to a previously unknown level of investment in the summer.  There have been no 6 and 7 goal thrashings at home, for instance – things that most Leeds fans are glad to see the back of. Brian was swift to disagree with Colin’s “ice on the cake” jibe, and this is Warnock showing his displeasure at being contradicted by the current United manager who is, annoyingly for Colin, far more popular with the fans than he ever had a chance of being.

Worryingly, though, a few coldly mutinous voices are being heard to question whether things really are that much better under Brian McDermott.  It seems a daft stance to take, when the stench of Bates has been fumigated from the Elland Road corridors and so many facets of the club are starting to gleam positively again, such a difference from the murky despair which typified the previous regime.  The daftness can probably be explained when you look at the sources of some of these remarks – the WACCOE forum, for instance, home to so many of the younger and yappier, wet-behind-the-ears type of Leeds fan who will never be completely happy unless they’re showing how all-fired wry and cynical they can be.  Or the Service Crew equivalent, mouthpiece of middle-aged boneheads who like to have a moan about a popular and progressive manager who has a good rapport with fans and owners alike, just to provide a change from espousing their right-wing agenda, or boasting about what hard and tough chaps they used to be and still could be if the need arose.  Yawn, yawn.  But the thing is, impressionable people read this rubbish, and there is always room on a bandwagon for a few more idiots.

Sadly, then, there will more than likely be a few dim types who will read what Colin has to say and wonder if those EDL chaps on Service Crew might not have a point.  Despite the fact that Snoddy covered the ground with all the searing pace of an elderly snail, and looked tired just standing up, these easily-persuadable people might feel tempted to agree with Mr Warnock, and put down the lack of pace to the loss of our skilful Scot.  They might feel that Colin did a good job after all, having provided the bulk of the side that lost so convincingly to Forest.  Delusions like this spring up quite easily when fertilised by a high enough grade of manure in a seemingly respectable publication like the Independent.

It’s at times like these, with former managers injecting sly doses of poison, and the dimmer section of fans mouthing approval from the fringes of reality, that we have to make sure the bulk of the support – those able to think for themselves and recognises the inherent stupidity of Colin’s comments – need to redouble our backing of Brian McDermott and the current regime at Elland Road.  Just think where we were a little over twelve months ago.  Chilling, isn’t it.  It may well be that the league record over that time is virtually identical to the one of the previous year or so – but that sort of thinking is akin to judging a book by its cover.  The work of restoring Leeds United as a real force has, so far, been mainly a behind-the-scenes thing.  There is still much to do on the field, and we should be thankful the person who will do that work is not the type of man who would prefer Browneh to Barkley, or who would regard Snoddy as someone who could routinely out-pace Theo Walcott.

We have the right man in charge.  It’s important that we pay scant regard to Colin, or to anyone else – our own dumber than dumb tendency included – who might wish to persuade us otherwise.