Tag Archives: the Universe & Everything

Yorkshire Football Urgently Needs a Revival, and Only Leeds Can Do It – by Rob Atkinson

Pride

Yorkshire’s best and only hope – Leeds United

The frenzied scenes of celebration among Huddersfield fans, as their club narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League, served mainly to put into sharp focus all that is wrong with Yorkshire football. And, much to the chagrin of any fan from the right side of the Pennines, there’s plenty wrong. Huddersfield saved their top-flight existence in much the same way as they’d earned it in last season’s play-offs – by hanging on grimly for draws and relying on slip-ups from others. It was a glory-free spectacle but, sadly, it’s the best the Broad Acres currently has to offer, which is a stinging indictment of the current state of all things football in God’s Own County.

When you look elsewhere in the county, the Sheffield clubs attained differing degrees of mediocrity, Leeds flattered to deceive and then reverted to type, Barnsley went down not with a bang but with a whimper – and the less said about the rest, the better. Perhaps Rotherham United might earn some glory for Yorkshire; that remains to be seen. The point is, the football performance of the Yorkshire area has been much the same as usual: when Leeds aren’t doing well, there’s nowt much going on. And so, while United remain in the doldrums, the best we can offer is the occasional play-off success or relegation escape. Compared to the fare being served up in parts of the lesser county to our west, where Manchester’s finest has emerged as the best team in Premier League history, this is a humiliating state of affairs.

The fact of the matter is that just about all of Yorkshire‘s footballing pedigree, such as it is, resides in LS11. The last two times that Leeds United have gone up to the top division, survival has been the last thing on their mind. On both occasions, they’ve gone up, had a brief and not exactly respectful look around to gauge the lie of the land, and then set about winning the thing, elbowing lesser mortals out of the way and imposing themselves brilliantly, much to the annoyance of media and rival fans alike.

This is the responsibility that Leeds United carries, nothing less than the pride and honour of the greatest county in the land. Nobody else will pick up that baton; nobody else can. It’s down to Leeds – if they can’t do it, it won’t be done. Things are different now as compared to those two previous promotions in 1964 and 1990. That twenty-six year span – the same gap, ironically, that now separates us from our most recent League Title – was the last hurrah of old style, ultra-competitive, strength in depth professionalism, when there wasn’t a six team cartel at the top of the league, monopolising the glory. To dominate in that era, as the Revie Boys did, when there was much less of a financial divide between the great and the not so great, was an achievement indeed. The way things are now, Leeds – in order to fulfil their destiny of salvaging Yorkshire pride – will have to place themselves on a comparable financial footing to the current behemoths of the game. To say that won’t be easy is to fall into the trap of hopeless understatement – yet, if United can just barge their way into the Premier League, there would be few  if any juicier investment opportunities than a one club city of enormous prestige and illustrious history.

So, there’s the challenge. And only at Elland Road, as far as Yorkshire is concerned, is there even the remotest expectation, never mind demand, that such a challenge should be accepted. Because at no other club in Yorkshire will it even occur to the fans or the directors that such a thing is possible. The ultimate aspiration for them is to survive at the top table, hoping to lick up some rich men’s crumbs. This is the lesson of the unbridled joy with which Huddersfield’s survival was greeted. For Leeds, this would be a humiliation they could not countenance; when United do go up, the demand and expectation will be for so much more. And rightly so, for that is our proud legacy.

However hard the task, however unlikely the chance of gatecrashing that elite group, it’s the hungry and imperious expectation of success, written into the DNA of the club and its fans, that makes Leeds United the only candidates to bring some football honour and respect back to Yorkshire. If Leeds United can’t deliver, then nobody will – and we must hope that Leeds Rhinos in Rugby League, and Yorkshire County Cricket Club too, can fulfil that urgent desire for honour and success. In White Rose football, it’s United first and the rest nowhere, just as much as it has always been; that’s the grave responsibility we carry, just by virtue of being Leeds.

With the club’s centenary approaching, it’s time to deliver on that responsibility. As the Great White Hope of an entire county, let’s grit our teeth, and get on with it.

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Man Utd Stars “to Receive Counselling” After Unbiased Refereeing Display – by Rob Atkinson

Michael Oliver ignores Rooney's plea for sanity and dismisses di Maria anyway

Michael Oliver ignores Rooney‘s plea for sanity and dismisses di Maria anyway

It’s an enlightened football club that looks after its players after some major trauma or shock; attending to their emotional well-being instead of merely training them, like sporting automatons, to go out there and just perform, match after match. So we here at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything are particularly impressed to hear that Man United, long recognised by themselves and the population of Devon and Cornwall as The Greatest Club in the World™, are to arrange counselling for their deeply traumatised players in the wake of Michael Oliver‘s shockingly honest performance during Monday’s FA Cup 6th round home defeat to Arsenal.

The counselling will take the form of gentle reassurance for those who are having doubts about their ability to dive convincingly, whilst Angel di Maria will receive special one-to-one therapy designed to restore his confidence that he can push the referee if he sees fit and do pretty much as he likes, as per his rights as a Man U player and the long-standing traditions of the club.

Some of the younger players are haunted by doubts about their ability to emulate former stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mark Hughes, both of whom are legendary for spending a large percentage of their playing hours for the Pride of Devon on their respective arses, having performed a perfect swallow dive and double roll, ending up in a position of abject supplication, arms outspread in entreaty, mouth agape, outraged eyes fixed firmly on the referee.

This remains the officially approved method, according to a Theatre of Hollow Myths spokesman, although there is still scope for the “drop dead” method by way of variety, also known as “the sniper in the stand“. But, our contact informed us, the younger ones are feeling rather less comfortable with this approach in the wake of Oliver’s bizarrely unbiased showing on Monday.

“They’re prey to conflicting emotions,” said the Devon official. “Don’t get me wrong, they want to dive – it’s what they’ve been trained for, after all. But some of them are worried that their technique isn’t up there with legends like Ronaldo, Hughes and even current practitioner Ashley Young. Some of these young lads are harbouring thoughts of trying to beat a man and get a shot in, instead of letting their dramatic training do its job and going down like a good’un. Michael Oliver has done a lot of damage here, and all we can do is provide whatever support and reassurance is needed.”

Worse still is the fact that even senior player appear to be having the same doubts and insecurities, something that is reflected in the fact that The Most Fantastic Club in the Entire Universe™ are struggling even to qualify via the Champions League back door. Ashley Young is a case in point. “Yes,” our man admitted, “Youngy is having a really bad time lately. He’s just not playing his natural game. Twice in recent matches, he’s worked himself space inside the area – and then he’s gone and had a shot, bless him, when all his natural instincts as well as his training tell him to hit the turf and scream for a penno. So, instead of helping the team, he’s inevitably scuffing one wide, which looks really poor and, trust me, the boy’s as sick as a parrot. But we’re hoping to help Ashley too, with this restorative therapy programme. It’s what this great club is all about.”

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was unable to get a reaction from Michael Oliver himself. When we asked his refereeing mentor for a quote, we were told that Michael is currently incommunicado “until the fuss has died down”. It is understood that the “far too honest for his own good” referee will be spending the interim period relaxing in a place where he is unlikely to encounter too many irate Pride of Devon fans, at least until such time as that self-righteous and petulant anger has dissipated. He will therefore be sojourning “somewhere on the Pacific Ocean sea-bed” for the next five years.

Man United themselves have not commented at length on the Michael Oliver controversy, beyond a brief statement to the effect that “This is what happens when we have a ref who wants to make some sort of “fairness” name for himself. We’ll be demanding a Manc ref in the future, it worked up at Newcastle as you all saw, and it’s really for the best all round.”

Adnan Januzaj, 14, who now has as many yellow cards for diving as he does goals in his Man U career, is thought to be the 45th “next George Best”.

 

Leeds Fanatic? Get Involved With the Life in the Leeds United Universe – by Rob Atkinson

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This blog has been going over a year now, but only since last September has it benefited from the wider exposure that the NewsNow aggregator affords. This has seen reading figures go through the roof, and the blog has also gained an inspiring following of committed Leeds fans who are ready, willing and able to contribute their own views on the full range of topics inspired by our club, as well as various other aspects of the game.  It’s a thriving blog, I’m glad to say – and I hope it will continue to grow.  What is needed is continuing and increased involvement from the people who read it.  From you – and for a very good reason.

There are a variety of ways in which a variety of people can get involved and help this site.  The reason I’m putting this out there now is that I need more time to devote to a book I’m writing about the seventeen years between my first match as a Leeds fan in April 1975, and the last old-style Football League game I saw at Elland Road in 1992, just prior to the inception of the Premier League and the start of Murdoch’s domination of English football.  So Leeds were reigning champions in that first game I saw, as they were again when Norwich visited Elland Road to bring down the curtain on the Football League Championship competition as we’d always known it in the last game of 1991-92.  In between were years of decline, stagnation and, eventually, recovery – to take us back to the top.

This period encompassed the second division years of 1982 – 1990, a largely neglected period that I wish to chronicle – because I believe there are thousands of fans out there who fondly remember that time, and some of the characters who passed before our eyes as we travelled the country from Plymouth to Carlisle by way of Shrewsbury, Millwall (Old Den) and sundry other delightful spots.  I think it’s a book that will evoke great memories of the time between two Champion teams and I’m enjoying working on it – when I can.

What I really need are contributions of various sorts – so if there’s any of the following ways that you can help, then please do so if it’s not too much trouble.  Basically, I need memories, commissions and cash.  That cash thing is obviously a sticking point when times are hard and friends are few; but if a good many people donate very little – even a quid – then it all goes towards affording me the time to work on this and other projects.  So if you’ve ever enjoyed reading an article on this blog, perhaps you would be kind enough to click the PayPal button and contribute – just a little will help.  Those who can afford to be a bit more generous – a fiver or more – will be remembered when complimentary copies of the book are distributed, whether they are e-books or the genuine paper type that grows on trees.  As those of you who have already donated know, I always email to say thank-you – and those who have given five pounds or more in the past are already – for what it’s worth – firmly on that complimentary copy list.

Any financial contribution will help me devote more time to the book, but commissions of various sorts would also help me work from home for a greater proportion of my time, and therefore enable me to spend more time on researching and writing my Leeds United project.  So, if you’re involved with any concern which needs a freelance writer who can write to a specification – then please consider me, perhaps drop me a line via the Contact page of this blog.  If you’ve read my stuff, you know what I can and can’t do – I’m happy to be judged on that basis.

Equally, for the executives and company owners out there – if you would consider advertising on this blog, I’d be very happy to hear from you.  I average in excess of 100,000 views per month and it’s growing all the time. Any way in which I can attract some investment in the blog will spare me more time  to continue with the groundwork and writing of this book. Incidentally, you may have noticed that I consistently fail to refer to the book by a title – for the very good reason that it hasn’t got one yet.  Any suggestions??  The idea I have is of a long fallow period between two peaks of success, so anything on those lines could be considered, or if you want to be more imaginative – go ahead.  Again, the person who comes up with the best suggestion will be remembered and will benefit – if they consider a free copy beneficial.

For those who read this and feel that I’m selling my soul for personal gain – it’s really not like that at all.  I have this project gnawing away at me and it’s got to come out.  Don’t forget, any help is to be given entirely of your own free will – anyone who is offended by the very idea of an appeal for help should simply turn away from it.  On the other hand, anybody of massive wealth who is inclined to be extremely generous should feel absolutely entitled to do just that.  I’m not going to be an inverted snob about this, and if there’s a benefactor out there, he or she is enormously welcome!

Fans’ own input is also going to be invaluable.  There must be so many fantastic memories out there that just pass to and fro across the bar-room table – it would be wonderful to have some of those to supplement the material I already have to hand.  My own time supporting Leeds is something I can draw on, but I’d be immensely grateful for the memories of those who wish to contribute their own anecdotes.  Anything between the start of the 1974-75 season and the end of 1991-92 (including the following season’s Charity Shield match) would be great.  I’m especially interested in the thinly-documented years of the second division eighties – the Eddie Gray/Billy Bremner era.  But equally, the brief near-glory of the Armfield/Adamson years, with that Jock Stein 44 days in between, are times I would love to cover in more detail, with illustrative anecdotes – there was even that short spell in the UEFA Cup that hardly anyone remembers these days.  So please – cudgel your grey cells, and get those reminiscences sent in.  Credit will be given as appropriate.

Please help, if you can – whether it’s a monetary contribution, an offer of work, an advertising or sponsorship proposal or – last but not least – your recollections of following Leeds between 1974 and 1992.  I know there are a lot of fanatics out there, real Leeds United nutters, people who love our club every bit as much as I do, and more.  We’ve all known the pain and joy of being Leeds fans, we’re all part of a common experience.  I want to reflect that in every word I write as part of what will, I trust, be a work that makes it clear what it is to be a fan of the greatest club in the world.  I know there are thousands out there who share that belief, that knowledge. Many will be going through hard times, and all I will ask of you is your good wishes, and perhaps a story or two.  And equally I know that some of you have a fair bit of clout in one direction or another – so if you’re minded to, and able – please consider helping with this undertaking in any way that you possibly can.  After all – we’re all Leeds, aren’t we?

Thank you – and MOT.