Tag Archives: trolls

Why the Online Trolls and Fake Leeds “Fans” are WRONG About Tyler Roberts – by Rob Atkinson

Our Tyler, the hapless target of ignorant cowards

I have to admit that I’m getting more and more vexed with a section of Leeds United’s online “support”. I use the word “support” there in its loosest possible sense, as there is usually very little in the attitude of these people (or trolls, or fakes, depending on how clearly you can see behind the facade) to suggest that they have the best interests of United at heart.

The current target of this tragic tribe appears to be Tyler Roberts – a regular Welsh international and Leeds United’s Player Ambassador for Equality and Diversity. Tyler is 22 years old, a salient fact to which we shall return later. In the meantime, though, let’s just consider the fact of what has become an online campaign of abuse and negativity, against a broader background of what we mean when we talk about “supporters”.

The sad truth is that, these days, there needs only be an official LUFC tweet confirming that Tyler is in the starting line-up (or maybe even only a substitute role) to start a negativity bandwagon rolling, with many opportunistic whingers falling over each other in their eagerness to jump aboard. This is a social media phenomenon, let’s not forget, the tendency of the lonely and inadequate among us to join in the pillorying of a hapless target, particularly one who cannot answer back. It’s despicable, of course, and anathema to those who know what support is all about, with the positive effect good support can have upon a young player who needs the odd confidence boost here and there.

Social media is, let’s face it, an absolute gift to cowards everywhere, to the type of people who would never say boo to the proverbial goose, yet are emboldened by the anonymity afforded them behind their computer keyboards, and feel able to enter the market for lols and likes, that currency common to those tragically unable to show any merit in their own sorry existences, and who instead thrive on the hollow approval of kindred spirits who are similarly afflicted.

It was a case in point today. The official Leeds United Facebook account carried the story of young Tyler’s appointment as Player Ambassador for Equality and Diversity, a positive news item in these troubled times – or so you’d have thought. But no, it swiftly turned into a parade of what I earnestly hope were fake United fans, each competing with the one before to appear the cruellest and most dismissive, hoping to gain the approval of their fellow trolls. Most of these specimens probably don’t know one end of a football from another, and maybe therein lies their problem – it must rankle with these inadequates that the likes of Roberts will have far more talent in their little fingers than the trolls collectively could ever dream of. But they don’t stop to think of how they might thus appear to proper Leeds supporters. It’s all about lols and likes for them, because they simply crave the approval of – well, anyone really.

As if it really mattered, any Leeds fan with even an inkling of insight and football knowledge can see that Tyler Roberts is a very talented young man; one who, if properly coached with his latent ability sufficiently nurtured, has the potential to become an effective top-flight and international footballer. And it doesn’t really matter, on the face of it, as Roberts has the evident approval of the only man who really does matter, one Marcelo Bielsa. Against that, it is futile to argue – though of course the trolls will still try – those lols and likes aren’t going to just fall into their laptops, you know. Sadly, every coward needs a scapegoat who can’t strike back and, in that respect, Tyler is a credible target for them. And they won’t care that he’s only 22. For yer average cowardly troll, the younger the better – as it’s the youngsters, generally speaking, whose confidence can most easily be knocked, which is the Holy Grail for cowards, fakes and trolls.

Tyler Roberts is very young, as previously stated. It’s his tragedy that this puts him in the crosshairs of those who like to snipe from deep cover with no possibility of consequences. And, seemingly, it’s Leeds United’s tragedy that they have so many such creatures among their largely blameless and authentic online support. Still, it’s a significant and vociferous, if repellent, minority – and several Leeds players over the last year or so have confirmed that this sort of criticism, brainless and unqualified though it may be, does affect confidence. And that is detrimental to individual and team performance, whether or not you care to believe it.

Tyler Roberts has years ahead of him to fulfil that undoubted potential and become an integral cog in an effective Leeds United machine. This blog sincerely hopes that he will achieve that; if he does, it will be very much in spite of these clueless trolls. It’s worth considering that, when Harry Kane was just a year or so younger than Tyler Roberts is now, he was on loan at Leicester City, and not pulling up too many trees. I saw him playing for the Foxes in a sensational play-off semi-final defeat to Watford, and he didn’t particularly catch the eye. But he was young, and his greatness was ahead of him.

I’m not saying that Tyler Roberts will go on to emulate Harry Kane, who is a fabulous player – but Tyler too is young, and he will only get better, especially under the guidance of Bielsa. Whether he’ll be able to rise above the catcalls of the online, anonymous mob is a question yet to be answered; he’ll have to find and count on an inner core of strength that will allow him to mature into a consistent performer who lives up to the promise those flashes of brilliance so clearly reveal. Fingers crossed on that one. Trolls and fakes aside, every Leeds fan should be a Tyler Roberts supporter, gladly offering the encouragement every young, talented player needs. If we can do that, we’ll all reap the rewards.

Well, all but the cowardly, anonymous minority, that is.

Marching On Together

Leeds United “Fans” Must Take Blame for Paddy’s QPR Penalty Miss – by Rob Atkinson

Bamford

Bamford – a victim of the boo boys

Some so-called Leeds United “fans” – mainly the type who spend most of their existences refreshing Twitter, rather than getting off their backsides to go along and support the team – have a distinctly warped idea of the meaning of the word “support”. It’s a word that should be close to the heart of any real football fan, but some of these tragic individuals appear to be utterly unfamiliar with the whole concept of getting behind a team, encouraging them, displaying some partisan fanaticism and alway, ALWAYS keeping the faith.

The Leeds United support base, for me, is divided between the match-goers – still the best bunch in the game – and the non-attendees, whose number includes a significant minority of people who attach themselves to United with the apparent purpose of delighting in any setback and doing their level best to demoralise and dishearten the players the rest of us support through thick and thin. Some of these will clearly be bogus online presences, but that doesn’t explain the sheer volume and levels of negativity out there. It’s not something I’ve heard anyone explain away, but it’s as irritating and damaging as it is inexplicable. And the damage I’m referring to is being sustained directly by the team and its prospects of success.

Football teams thrive on support – how often have you heard the saying “our crowd is worth a goal start”? In the days before social media, you didn’t need to know any more than that – it was your incentive to get along to the game, sing your heart out and support the lads. Those dear, simple days are far behind us now and while, as I stated earlier, the Leeds matchday support is second to none at home and away, the story on Twitter, Facebook etcetera, is markedly different. The LUFC hashtag on Twitter is best avoided for any supporter with a history of high blood pressure, which is bad enough – but the actual players should certainly be banned from ever even looking at such platforms. Any sports psychologist would surely agree with this position, as much of the output is as negative as it is clueless. The point is that the insidious effect of this drip, drip, drip type criticism is well known and widely acknowledged. So the concerted effect on Patrick Bamford of what he will doubtless have read on Twitter, will inevitably be less than positive.

Strikers, more than most footballers, thrive on confidence. Knock a lad’s confidence and, eventually, you will see a deterioration in performance and output. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply common sense. It may well be that some of these moaning Minnies on Twitter are too profoundly stupid to appreciate the damage they’re doing, but that won’t apply to all of them. Some of that dismal number will know exactly what they’re doing, and will enjoy the idea that they can have such an effect, something they surely can’t often experience in other areas of their lives. To them, I say – please go away, be a man united fan or whatever, just don’t darken our Twittersphere again. And I also say “j’accuse“. It’s your fault we lost at QPR today, just as surely as blame attaches to the appalling referee, so it also attaches to you. In a very real sense, you missed that penalty. Anyone who saw Bamford step up to take it would have been fearing he’d miss. The body language was not typical of confidence and self-belief, and it’s those qualities that have been drained away by these non-fans on social media.

Rant over. It’ll have no effect, of course. I’ll get the usual abusive responses, thin-skinned plonkers telling me that they have a perfect right to say what they like, to whom they like. And, sadly, it’s true. Just don’t think you can say these things in the name of Leeds United “support” – not without being picked up on it and challenged over your supposed attachment to a club that would be better off without you. But that’s not enough to deter people who seem to revel in United’s misfortunes, and who remain silent when things are going well.

If there’s one thing more than any other that can make me wish for the good old days pre-social media, it’s this. In many ways, things were better back then, although the likes of Terry Yorath and George McCluskey among others, who suffered greatly from some minority terrace barracking, might possibly beg to differ. But all that notwithstanding, there was an honesty about support in those days that is absent from large areas of the online LUFC presence. And what worries me is that this great club, which has always relied on the fanatical fervour of its support, may well pay a heavy price for the abominable attitude of some of its so-called fans.

If only we could all go back to “Marching On Together” – but seemingly, that’s just too much to ask.

Fan Successfully Trolls Media With Fake Leeds Striker Injury Claim – by Rob Atkinson

Social media meltdown predictably ensued after a picture did the rounds showing Leeds United’s top scorer Kemar Roofe wearing a brace on his left leg. Various gullible news sources picked up on the story, speculating that Roofe could be out for the season, despite the fact that neither the club nor the more reliable journalists have made any comments or statements.

It does appear that the “injured Roofe” image may be an old one from his early season injury layoff – the rationale behind this, and the reason I feel I can confidently dismiss the “Kemar out for season” rumour is that another picture, see above, showing Roofe without the leg brace, and apparently dating from yesterday, would seem to confirm that all is well. The picture appeared on Roofe’s Instagram account yesterday so, unless Kemar has had a spectacularly disappointing 24 hours, we can happily ignore what is probably a piece of mischief by some bored kid.

So, hopefully, all is well – and the only downside is that various ill-informed and over-eager “news sources” have ended up with egg on their faces.

Which is actually quite funny…

A Year On the Blog With Leeds United: Happy Birthday! – by Rob Atkinson

Image

The early version blog header

One year ago today, looking to diversify in my writing life, I started a blog.  It was one of those things I thought I might devote the odd hour or so to, every other day, while plugging away at the bread and butter stuff.  It’d be a change as good as a rest, it seemed to me – a chance to write for my own pleasure about a variety of things which exercised me on a regular basis, chief among them Leeds United AFC.  I’d stick in a few of my lefty political rants too, I mused, stuff that hadn’t found its target elsewhere, but stuff I still wanted to say – and have people read if possible.  And I figured that, as I was just doing it for fun, I could quietly drop it if the going got tough, or if it got in the way of anything important.  I truly didn’t realise how it would grow through this first year, and now I think I’m stuck with it.  It’s still a labour of love, but it shows all the signs of becoming far more than that; for the time being, I’m content to go wherever it leads me.

I thought I’d nick a title from one of my heroes, the late, great genius Douglas Adams, and his legendary, superb trilogy of five, “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy“.  So I nabbed a title, inserted Leeds United to make it mine, and there I was.  For the first few months I wrote away happily but fairly occasionally, not paying too much attention to readership, or viewing figures.  It toddled along quite nicely, my infant blog, entertaining me if not many others.  Then it got picked up by the “NewsNow” news aggregator – and the numbers went through the roof.

By the end of August, I’d had a total of 13,000 views in eight and a half months. Now it’s a gnat’s whisker under 400,000.  Just yesterday I wrote an article which, by itself, has attracted over 30,000 readers in 24 hours.  To say the blog has grown is hopelessly to understate the case.  It’s surpassed my expectations many times over. In this, I’m lucky to be writing primarily about Leeds United, a club that has always generated enormous interest and always will.  My sidelines of taking swipes at traditional enemies have extended my readership among fans of other clubs.  It’s been, in short, a very encouraging first year – particularly the time since late August when I was fortunate enough to see the reach of the thing extend to the entire globe.

The upside of all this has been considerable, for me personally and by implication for my other work – books I have in progress and articles I write elsewhere.  There have also been downsides.  From the shallow depths of my one year’s experience, I would certainly tell any would-be blogger – go for it, but you’ll need a thick skin and an even temper.  The vast majority of the people out there will judge a site on its merits; they have the choice of reading or ignoring it, after all.  But you get the odd few who read every word you write and insist on hating every single syllable.  They then write in and tell you how useless it is, how you can’t write: “I could of done better than that rubishy nonesense if I could of been arsed” was one of the more literate attempts at scathing critique, selected at random from my Black Museum of rejected feedback.

Desk

The home of the blog

The best thing, I have found, is to ignore all of this sort of stuff, on the basis that a heckler denied the oxygen of attention will soon burn himself or herself out – still, they can be very persistent, and occasionally I’ve not been able to resist having a bite back. Sometimes I’ll resort to editing a negative comment of particular filth and violence, so that it reads more acceptably and thereby annoys the perpetrator.  Whenever I’ve done this, I’ve added the response “It’s good to be King”, just to distinguish the contributions I’ve tampered with.  Only today this so enraged some petulant herbert that he threatened to “slash me with a nife (sic)” if he ever saw me around LS11 – and of course he may well see me – if he ever goes to games.  I mention that merely to illustrate the phenomenon of the tantrum-prone troll – it’s not really much of a problem, more a mild irritation and, as I’ve said – best ignored.  The one thing that these types have in common beyond appalling literacy skills is their essential cowardice – they strike from behind the shield of anonymity and will not emerge into the daylight of honesty and accountability.  It takes all sorts, I suppose – but what a futile existence.

I’m confident now that this blog will continue to grow, and to assist and support my other endeavours.  It’s provided a platform of sorts, for which I’m very grateful – and by far the greater part of the feedback has been positive, constructive, thought provoking and intensely rewarding.  It’s emphasised for me as well just how incredibly passionate the fans of Leeds United are; how much anything to do with our great club is seized upon eagerly by voracious readers with an endless appetite for all things Leeds.  I can certainly relate to that, so it’s extremely fulfilling for me to be able to contribute, in some small measure, to the massive body of work out there surrounding the ups and downs of the Mighty Whites of Elland Road.  It will continue to be my pleasure and privilege to do this, and I hope to see this site continue to thrive, to grow and to spread the Leeds United word even further and even wider.

To all of those who have read anything I’ve written this past year – thank you.  I hope you’ll keep reading.  I’d be grateful if those readers could spread the word, follow the blog, share it among their Leeds fanatic friends.  If you want to buy the blog half a bitter for its birthday, you can even do that – there’s a donations link over to the left.  Seriously, every little helps, whether it’s a quid or a buck or a share or follow –  and there’ll be much more to come from Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything as the next year rolls by – hopefully a year of great progress for our club as all the signs are that we may be on the verge of an exciting new era and headed unstoppably for the big time again.  It’s been far too long, but you can’t keep a good club down, never mind a great one like Leeds.  I’ll look forward to charting our progress, being supportive, showing incredible bias of a totally non-journalistic flavour and perhaps criticising when it seems appropriate.

Every time anyone clicks on an article in this blog, it means such a lot to me, just as every time Leeds United take a step forward it means such a massive amount to every one of us fanatics out here.  The next year should be one of continued growth and improvement here on this humble blog and much more importantly there at Elland Road where the stars and heroes do their best to make the dreams we dare to dream come true.  Marching On Together, we can all look forward confidently to better times ahead.