Tag Archives: Turkey

Leeds Fan Requests a Bremner Square Tile for Istanbul Victims Chris and Kev – by Rob Atkinson

Anthony Hawkridge’s inspired tweet

Browsing through the LUFC Twitter feed just now, I happened across something wonderful, something inspiring, something that couldn’t possibly be more fitting.

It was a heartfelt call on Twitter (see above) from a Leeds fan, Tony Hawkridge, which was promptly liked and retweeted by other Leeds fans, for Leeds United to include in their wonderful Bremner Square initiative a tile dedicated to the memory of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, brutally murdered in Istanbul 18 years ago as they followed their beloved Whites to a UEFA Cup semi-final.

Of course Chris and Kev are already honoured by the plaque on an Elland Road wall nearby. But Billy Bremner‘s statue has been a focal point for United fans ever since it was raised in 1999, two years after Billy’s untimely death. You often hear fans say, I’ll meet you at Billy’s statue. It’s iconic, a symbol of the club’s greatest captain, and of the pride which runs through Elland Road right down to its last rivet.

The Bremner Square refurbishment of the statue area is a fantastic idea, and has been carried into reality in an equally fantastic manner. Phase one is complete, with the names of many die-hard United fans etched forever into the fabric of the club. What better way after all to pay tribute to, and be recognised by, the greatest club in the world?

There is more to come though, another phase of development, with yet more names to be added to those already honoured by inclusion in Bremner Square. I’ve thought of getting one for myself, or of arranging one for my late Dad, who bequeathed me my love of Leeds. But a greater opportunity presents itself, with this idea of the inclusion of two names that symbolise the most tragic and needless episode to befall our club and its massive family of fans.

I’m sure that the club will see the compelling case for including a Chris & Kev tile in phase two. I’m equally sure that, if a cost is involved, then any appeal for the meeting of that cost would be over-subscribed many times by Leeds fans, myself most heartily included, eager and willing to chip in.

There are no obstacles to the realisation of this excellent idea. It’s the right thing to do. I’d appeal to anyone who reads this to contact the club and press the case, in the certain knowledge that the club would listen and empathise. We can make sure that the horror of Taksim Square is addressed and superseded by the pride and honour of Bremner Square.

Leeds United – it’s over to you. Let’s get this done.

Chris and Kev

Rest in Peace

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If Leeds Target Hernandez Signs for Galatasaray, We Write Him off as ‘No Loss’ – by Rob Atkinson

abel_hernandez_of_hull_cityl_celebrates_as_he_scores_his_sides_f_763842

Abel Hernandez – do the right thing, son

Whispers are going around that Abel Hernandez, supposedly in advanced talks to join Leeds United, might instead be on the verge of throwing in his lot with a club many, including myself, see as a disgrace to football and a blot on the name of the game –Galatasaray. The tragic history between Leeds and the Turkish outfit needs no retelling here; suffice to say that any player who would even consider such a move should never sully the famous white shirt of Yorkshire’s number one football club.

The only comparable case is of a player who had previously moved on from Leeds, not in the most auspicious of circumstances, before eventually signing for the Istanbul side. This was Harry Kewell, who was actually in the United side on that infamous evening at the Ali Sami Yen, when, just a day after the murder of two Leeds fans, the sick animals in the home crowd chose to mock and disrespect our loss. That Kewell could choose to sign for such a club, with such fans, says all we need to know about the depths to which his character was capable of sinking. Kewell’s name has been mud around Leeds and its worldwide support ever since, and rightly so.

Hernandez may possibly be unaware of the friction between the clubs, that’s possible. Having no prior connection to Leeds, it may not signify with him anyway. But any player with a choice between United and the club from Turkey‘s foulest gutter must be aware that, if he chooses the latter, he will be thought of as no loss to Leeds. There are some gulfs that can’t be breached, and Leeds should never give the time of day to anybody with connections to that club. If he decides he’s off to Istanbul, we should not mourn him, we should simply look elsewhere.

Yes, Hernandez would be a steal on a free, despite his high wages. Yes, he promises goals, especially at Championship level, if he stays fit. But, if even the smallest part of his head or his heart is telling him “Go to Turkey” – then, good riddance, and we move on to targets with better taste and a greater sense of decency.

Of course, it may just be scaremongering of the most grotesquely tasteless kind by that section of the media – about 95% of it – which delights in that attitude where Leeds are concerned. And if the lad decides to come to Leeds, there’ll be a warm welcome for him from this blog. We’ll have to see what actually happens. But, if Hernandez makes this most despicable choice out of those available to him then, as far as I’m concerned, he’s nothing – and certainly no loss to Leeds United.

Leeds Utd Players Take Note: April 5th is NOT Just Any Day – By Rob Atkinson

Leeds Fans

We Are Leeds, We Neither Forgive Nor Forget

There have been many famous rallying speeches over the whole history of combat, whether it be in the theatre of war or merely a matter of winning a game of football. We can all name the famous motivators in each sphere: Elizabeth I or Henry V, Admiral Lord Nelson or Winston Churchill, each of whom fired up their troops to give their all in battle for England. Sir Alf Ramsey did the same for the Three Lions heroes of 1966 and of course our own Don Revie was unrivalled as he created a team who would run through walls for him, inspired by the steely cry of “Keep Fighting”.

But sometimes, tub-thumping speeches should not be necessary – the occasion speaks for itself and demands pride, passion and commitment more than any mere words could possibly do. The Leeds United players who take the field against QPR tonight, 5th April, should be fully aware that today is a date when nothing less than every last drop of blood, sweat and tears will suffice. The United army will demand that – and more – as will those glued to their radios at home. And rightly so.

Chris and Kev - RIP

Chris and Kev – RIP

For April the 5th is a date carved painfully into the hearts of Leeds fans everywhere. On that fateful day 16 years ago, we lost two of our own as Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight were cruelly, foully murdered by savage, uncivilised scum in Taksim Square, Istanbul. This evening’s match is therefore not about League points or position, it’s not even about the farcical running of the club or the inept administration of an incompetent and bumbling Football League. It’s about pride, passion, respect and commemoration – and those four qualities need to burn white-hot within the very being of each man wearing that big Leeds badge over his heart at Elland Road.

If there are any Leeds players unaware of the significance of this occasion – well, shame on them.  And shame on the staff at the club who should be making sure that their charges are at least on nodding acquaintance with a reality beyond their own pay packets.  It’s not been easy to admire many of the Leeds players lately; with a few notable exceptions, they’ve played in a distracted fashion and displayed a distinctly chicken-hearted attitude to the business of playing for the shirt and getting results.  They should be left in no doubt at all that such frailties will not be tolerated tonight – not on April the 5th.  For this match, they should imitate the action of a tiger, as Henry the Fifth put it.  They should stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood – and get stuck in, just as if they really did have the hearts of lions.

Nothing less will do, it’s the very least they owe the Leeds supporters everywhere.  If they don’t know this, then it should be made abundantly clear to them prior to kick off.  They should run out there onto that pitch with no thoughts of money or other distractions: they should emerge onto the field of combat ready and willing to give their all for the Leeds United fans, and especially for the memory of those two lads who never came home.  This should be an occasion for the restoration of pride, for remembering that they have the honour to represent the greatest club in the world, in front of the greatest fans in the Universe.  Defeat is permissible; a defeatist attitude and a failure to step up to the mark is not. Not on April the 5th.

Perhaps the match against Rangers can be a starting point for the Leeds United team, the first steps on the long climb back to respectability.   It really needs to be – there is simply no more appropriate date for the launching of a fight-back, even though this season is now meaningless – apart from the still lingering threat of relegation.  If the Leeds lads can get out there and fight tonight – show that they care, battle for the cause, demonstrate some respect for the fans and those we’ve lost – then maybe they can start to recoup some of the respect they’ve undoubtedly squandered over the past few months.  It’s to be hoped so, because you get nowhere in any professional sport without earning respect.

The April 5th anniversary of the shocking events in Istanbul really means something to the Leeds support.  More than any other date, it’s when we remember and pay our respects – and the players should participate fully in this.  It’s part of deserving to wear the shirt and the badge.  Fans of other clubs love to show their disrespect, they love to wear the shirt of that awful Turkish club whilst grinning and gloating.  Millwall fans, Man U fans – scum like that.  April the 5th is when we rise above it all, in dignity and pride.  The players need to join in with that, too.

Do it tonight, lads – get out there and fight, give everything.  Do it for Chris and Kev, do it for all the rest of us who remember them sixteen years on.  Do it for the shirt, do it for the badge.  Make us proud of you again, on this day above all others.  Then, perhaps, we can go Marching On Together towards a better future, whatever the next few days, weeks and months might bring.  All it takes to start fighting back is that pride, passion and respect. That’s how we commemorate those who died, and that’s how we’ll forge the togetherness we need to restore this great club to where it belongs.  Let’s start that process of fighting back and climbing upwards, on this sad and solemn anniversary, at Elland Road this evening – let’s show them what we’re made of.  If we have enough tigers and lionhearts on the park, Queens Park Rangers will at least know they’ve been in a game – which is the very minimum requirement for any true warriors of Elland Road.

After all: “We’re Leeds – and we’re proud of it”.

RIP Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, taken far too soon. April 5th, 2000

Why Kewell is Leeds United’s Only REAL Judas – by Rob Atkinson

Harry Kewell has been tweeting his bizarre admiration for that scum club from Istanbul and their sub-human “fans” again. What a shallow, vapid creature Kewell is. No loyalty, no sense of decency, no redeeming characteristics at all. Just a pea-brain with room for thoughts only about the most important person in his life: Harry “Judas” Kewell.

Here’s an article I wrote earlier this year about why the IQ-minus Aussie is such a disgrace – and why, the rival claims of Ferdinand, Cantona, McCormack and McQueen notwithstanding, he’s Leeds United’s only REAL Judas.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

Leeds fans United in grief and dignity Leeds fans United in grief and dignity

Alan Smith. Eric Cantona. Rio Ferdinand. Three Leeds United players who opted to transfer their allegiance to the Evil Empire over the wrong side of the Pennines. In so doing, they attracted hatred and brickbats aplenty from Leeds followers. After all, they’d gone to the club we despise above any other. So too, much earlier, had Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen, along with the less-well remembered examples of Arthur Graham and Peter Barnes in the relatively small collective of former Leeds players who have identified themselves with the Pride of Devon and their repellent supporters. These individuals, heroes to Leeds fans at one time or another, were held individually and as a category to be traitors to the United of Elland Road. Figuratively speaking, they had sold their souls to the Devil.

But really, all that “treachery” stuff, as applied to a small…

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Istanbul “Front Runner” for Euro 2020 Semis and Final – are UEFA Stark, Staring Mad? – by Rob Atkinson

Turkish Fans "Demonstrating Their Cultural Uniqueness"

Turkish Fans “Demonstrating Their Cultural Uniqueness”

As if eager to demonstrate once and for all that they are out-of-touch, irresponsible, lacking in judgement and foolhardy to the point of actual insanity – it would appear that UEFA are genuinely considering Istanbul as a host city for the semi-finals and final of the Euro 2020 Championships.  Our beloved FA, itself a body which has frequently demonstrated its own lack of fitness to run a piss-up in a brewery, stated today that it believes Istanbul is the “front runner” and main rival to Wembley’s own bid.  Istanbul lost out to Tokyo in its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, after all.  FA General Secretary Alex Horne said: “We’ve taken some soundings, there’s a sympathy for Turkey and it does feel like they are the front-runners.  We get the politics around Istanbul, having not got the Olympics.”

Demir

Demir

Well, forgive me, but I don’t “get” this at all.  Turkey has just about the most horrific history of football violence it’s possible to imagine.  Istanbul in particular is home to Galatasaray, whose fans’ party piece is to raise banners when “welcoming” visiting teams to the airport or to their bear-pit of a stadium, the banners bearing the warm and comforting message of “Welcome to Hell”.  Other touching signs of friendship and bonhomie include mimed throat-slitting actions performed en masse.  Sadly, these ugly manifestations of Turkish culture have been shown to be no mere gestures.  In the spring of 2000, two Leeds United fans – Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight – were brutally attacked and murdered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Ali Umit Demir and three other men were arrested for the killings, and Demir was jailed but released for retrial after a successful appeal.  When the four men first appeared in court, they were cheered by members of the public, Demir being described as a “patriot” by residents of Istanbul.

More than 13 years on, it is still unclear whether Demir will ever face an appropriate penalty for his admitted crime of stabbing Mr Loftus and Mr Speight.  Over the time since these tragic killings, fans of Turkish clubs have continued to disgrace themselves on numerous occasions with acts of violence and displays of hostility which UEFA have consistently failed to address, despite the alacrity with which they deal with lesser offences elsewhere.  It has been reported that certain UEFA officials regard knife-carrying and its concomitant perils as “part of the culture” in Turkey, and this may partly explain their casual attitude towards what goes on there – but it certainly does not excuse it.

No Leeds United fan and, for that matter, no Manchester United fan needs any instruction about the atmosphere and the dangers of following football in Istanbul. Personal experiences of fans from both clubs leave little room for doubt that it’s a place to visit and roam around in only with extreme reticence and caution.  The idea of masses of fans from different nations adding their high-spirits and nationalistic fervour to the cocktail of hatred and overt hostility which is so much a part of the fabric of Istanbul – it’s just too horrible to contemplate.  You’d have thought that even a pea-brained UEFA pen-pusher could have accumulated enough evidence, both anecdotal and empirical, to realise this.  But no.  Self-satisfaction and pompous idiocy rules in the corridors of UEFA, and they will seemingly be willing to compound their laxity of recent years in failing to deal with what has happened there, by a whole new level of crass stupidity in contemplating taking a major Championships to a murderous pit.

It is to be hoped that wiser counsel – if any should exist in the game’s higher authorities – will prevail, and some safer place will be found.  The idea of awarding the final stages of a prestigious tournament to Istanbul is a bit like inviting an arsonists’ self-help group to organise a bonfire in a petrol dump – only more so.  If the madmen of UEFA have their way in this, the consequences could be dire; you only have to ask the Man United fans ill-treated by the local police, or the Leeds fans who, heart-sick at their bereavement of the night before, turned their backs at the start of the match against Galatasaray, because that club had failed, along with UEFA, to postpone the game, or even to order that black armbands should be worn.

It may be that one day Istanbul will be a fit place for civilised football fans to visit, and maybe even for a tournament to be held. But that day is not yet, it won’t be here by 2020 and it won’t be for many more years after that.  Most sensible football fans would confirm that.  Now we just have to find a way to persuade the fools in UEFA, and in our own FA, what their own eyes and ears should have told them long ago.

Turks Stuffed Good and Proper as Real Madrid Cruise in Istanbul – by Rob Atkinson

Galascum - Thoroughly Stuffed

Galascum – Thoroughly Stuffed

It’s a rare night indeed when a Leeds United fan can summon up even a passing regard for the pouting, strutting enigma that is Cristiano Ronaldo, late of the Scum, currently vying for top-dollar merchant with Gareth Bale at the Bernebeu, Madrid.  If ever there was such a night though, this is it.  Ronaldo ambled through the first hour of this match and then simply seized the home team by the scruff of the neck and tore them to pieces, scoring three times. With a brace from Benzema to add to Isco’s opener, it was the Winker’s hat-trick that inflicted the most agony on the hapless Turks, thereby giving any watching Leeds fan a rare treat.

Oddly, the various TV companies that cover the Champions League seem to have a fairly benevolent attitude towards the Istanbul club, despite the notorious nature of their fans in general and of course the tragic loss suffered by Leeds United – the club and the fans – back in the spring of the year 2000.  Since then, there have been other instances of crowd behaviour that would disgrace a bunch of neolithic savages, and there are of course the perpetual occurrences of throat-slitting gestures, “Welcome to Hell” banners and so on and so forth.  In short, this is a club that glories in its own tastelessness and lack of civilised behaviour – and yet we’re always hearing the commentators going on about the incredible atmosphere, the amazing fans, ad nauseam.  It’s enough to make your ears ache if you’re a Leeds fan, or indeed any decent-minded football fan – but there you go.

We’ll never know what the media attitude to them would have been if it had been a different United suffering on that awful night 13 years ago – but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it would have been somewhat different.  As it is, the tragedy of Istanbul 2000 seems to have been conveniently swept under the carpet, and the media appear to take delight in the progress of a club that deserve nothing but ill.  Still – we’re used to these double standards, and we take our comfort where we can.

Speaking of which, tonight was a delightful exhibition of Galascum getting well and truly thrashed by an awesome Madrid team.  The incredible, unprecedented feeling of actually enjoying a Ronaldo hat-trick – one particularly special strike in there, too – was a novelty that will possibly not be repeated.  Not unless Madrid dish this sort of treatment out again in the reverse fixture, anyway.

So for once I come not to bury Ronaldo, but to praise him; truly is it said that “mine enemy’s enemy is my friend”.  I still can’t stand the sight of Mr. Ronaldo, to be strictly honest.  He still has the kind of face you want to smack, still looks the sort of player that belongs with those other self-adoring prima donnas at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  But he did Leeds United, Madrid and – whatever the mealy-mouthed hypocrites in the media might think – the whole of football a service tonight.  All those goals.  All that humiliation for a hopelessly-outclassed Galascum.  Even the late and meaningless home consolation scored to a nearly-empty stadium before Ronaldo administered the coup de grâce with the sixth.  All those glum fans who had started out so cocky and full of hope. Have it.

It was just one of those nights tonight.  For the past decade and more, I’ve winced every time I’ve seen that awful club with those disgusting fans getting anywhere, doing anything positive like winning a game, and hearing the British media fawning over them.  Tonight it was different.  Tonight, they copped for it, big time.  Tonight it was a case of “Hala Madrid” – or even “Hala Ronaldo” – just for tonight.  6-1 – SIX bloody one.  Well done, Real – and thank you, from a Leeds United fan.