Tag Archives: WACCOE

Marcelo Bielsa “To Sign Leeds United Contract Tonight” – by Rob Atkinson

It’s happening – Marcelo Bielsa will be the next Leeds United boss. I’m purposely avoiding the terms “manager” and “coach” as being, at this stage, too precise. But the implications of this appointment are that Bielsa’s stringent conditions and requirements have largely been met. In those circumstances, the continuing presence of Victor Orta notwithstanding, “Boss” seems like the best word to use.

The information is reliable, having been tweeted by the famously ITK journalist Phil Hay. So, United have got their man, a stellar appointment to put every other occupant of the Elland Road hotseat, possibly since Terry Venables, firmly into the shade. We must hope that the club intends to be fully honest and open in their dealings with Bielsa; they certainly weren’t with Venables.

Much more on this to come, obviously. In the meantime, we must wish our new Boss all the best, getting right behind him from Day One. This could and should be a pivotal moment in the illustrious history of a club approaching its centenary. From here, the only way should be up.

Welcome to Leeds United, Marcelo Bielsa. May you meet early with the success we all wish you.

Advertisements

Elland Road’s England Extravaganza Proves Premier League Needs Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

World-Cup-2018-England-costa-rica-Elland-Road-970941

Southgate’s England win at a vibrant and atmospheric Elland Road

England‘s last stopping-off point before their Russian quest for World Cup glory was at a vibrant and atmospheric Elland Road – and the occasion told us plenty, some of it even about our national team and its chances this summer.

Talking about England first, this was a competent and dominant performance against a slightly jet-lagged Costa Rica team who were still nobody’s mugs. England pretty much won as they liked though, with Marcus Rashford, looking much more effective with better players around him, making a persuasive case for inclusion in the opening game of England’s group, ahead, perhaps, of Raheem Sterling. Rashford’s spectacular 13th minute opener brought generous cheers from the Kop, despite the lad’s day job, with Danny Welbeck‘s close range header near the end greeted equally warmly by the South Stand. In between the two decisive strikes, England passed prettily, defended well enough to leave their keeper Jack Butland largely unemployed, and a lively attack gave the Costa Rican defence plenty to think about.

But the signature note of the evening was struck by the occasion’s real star – Elland Road itself. For once in a very long while, the muted, apathetic atmosphere of Wembley was replaced by a thrillingly raucous fervour to urge on the national team, courtesy of one of football’s genuine, old-style cauldrons of white-hot atmosphere. That’s done nowhere quite so well as it is in this part of Leeds; the crowd lifted the England players to a degree that was obvious to anybody who’s suffered through some of those dreary friendlies in North London. This was dutifully acknowledged by commentators and pundits alike; Clive Tyldesley for ITV noted that the attendance was around 36,000, “but sounds like twice as much”. Indeed. Old Trafford, it’s worth mentioning, can do a similar trick – only the other way around.

Lee Dixon in his punditry role was fired with enthusiasm afterwards. This is what you need, he exulted, thumbing over his shoulder at the arena behind him. Let’s take England on the road. It’s a good idea, one that’s been around for years now, but the commercial lure of Wembley has usually won the day. Perhaps there will now be a rethink. It’s no coincidence that this was one of the better England “friendly” performances; the team responded to the crowd, the occasion, the unique atmosphere. Above all, tonight showed beyond doubt that the Premier League – currently stuffed with pedestrian acts like Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Watford – positively needs the return of Leeds United. The stadium, the club and the fanatical support are all wasted on anything less than the elite group, and the so-called Premier League has been diluted too far and for too long by elements of mediocrity. The return of United cannot come too soon, for the sake of all parties concerned.

For Leeds United fans, it was a taste of what might be to come, the stadium packed out and cheering on some top class footballers who may even be destined for great things. How the fans of Yorkshire‘s top club would like to sample that atmosphere, and witness this style of performance, on a more regular basis. It’s a dream, something to hope for and aspire to. And, you never know – those dreams do occasionally come true.

Leeds Fans’ Cellino Out Campaign Gathering Momentum – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino Out2

Cellino – what is he up to?

Mounting unrest among the unblinkered majority of the Leeds United support is seeing the pressure grow on maverick owner Massimo Cellino to pack up and ship out. After talk of an aeroplane fly-past during the Nottingham Forest home game, the object being to trail a suitably discouraging message to the Cellino regime across the sky, the more mundane method of posters on lamp-post billboards outside Elland Road has garnered media attention in the last 24 hours. For this, all possible credit is due to the people at WACCOE.com, a site I’ve had issues with over the past couple of years – but they’ve undeniably played a blinder here. Given Liverpool fans’ recent success in bringing their owners to heel, someone had to take up the baton for Leeds – nice one, WACCOE. It’s an unerring shot that has hit its mark, alright – when local reporter Adam Pope contacted the beleaguered Italian, who is still under the threat of Football League sanctions, to put him on the spot over the poster’s “Time to go” message, Cellino’s texted reply was “I agree !!!!”

cellino-poster

Message from WACCOE for Mr. Cellino

It would be easy and yet probably incautious to read into all of this that the Cellino Out movement is heading towards a successful endgame. It should, after all, be remembered – especially in the context of the owner’s surprisingly frank text to Mr. Pope – that the old maxim of “believe nothing until it has been officially denied” has particular relevance where the King of Corn is concerned. What he says and what he does tend to be wildly differing matters, and predicting his behaviour from one day to the next could lead the most canny gambler to ruin in short order. But the increasing visibility of the fans’ discontent, the fact that Steve Parkin has recently realised over £10m worth of assets into cash – and the whole mood around the club after yet another dreadful anti-climax of a transfer window, with the additional important factor of dreadful performances on the pitch – all of these factors combine towards a growing feeling that the wind of change is blowing in sharp gusts in the LS11 locality.

The next few weeks could see matters clarify themselves somewhat, both on and off the park. There is still talk that the quality of the squad might be improved via the loan market – a possibility which may not be totally unrelated to Mr. Parkin’s newly-enhanced liquidity – and, unusually for Leeds, the club is still in the FA Cup at the 5th round stage, giving some temporary meaning to an otherwise moribund season. With a high profile home match against promotion contenders Middlesbrough to come, live on Sky TV after a last-minute rearrangement which represents many fans’ only area of agreement with an angry Cellino, it could be that events on the field will either add to or detract from the intensity of the pressure being experienced by il Duce at the moment, and possibly in a decisive manner. The cruel reality is that success for United in Cup or League over the next month or so could come at the price of a bounceback factor for a man most of us would rather see bounce away. On the other hand, the bitter pills of a cup exit and continued poor form in the league could come with a sweetener in the shape of self-imposed exile for football’s nuttiest owner. 

It’s a sad indictment of the nature of Cellino’s reign that circumstantial evidence is usually a better guide to his intentions than the word of the man himself. For all practical purposes, we can dismiss his probably tongue-in-cheek text to Adam Pope as yet another example of his casual attitude towards communication with the fans – and the truth in general. But other signs would seem to indicate that dark clouds are gathering for a storm which may yet blow Massimo, his family and his notorious yacht Nélie back over the sea to Florida and away from football to a quieter, less notorious life.

That, ultimately, would be the best result for all concerned.

Leeds Fans’ Forum WACCOE Sets Admirable New Record – by Rob Atkinson

 

Clique

The Leeds United chat forum WACCOE, once famous for its newsworthiness and readability, has lately claimed a notable record in terms of its output over the past few years – during which time it has sadly been run by a clique of fervent attention-seekers and would-be comedians.

In this recent regrettable phase of its history, the once respected fans’ resource has been most notable for the tendency of amateur comics to hijack any thread, no matter how serious a subject was being presented for discussion. Invariably, any topic has lasted no more than the initial posting and maybe one relevant reply, before one of an alarming number of needy “look at me, aren’t I clever” types has ended any chance of serious debate by introducing their own brand of puerile schoolboy humour. Some threads have then gone on to be several hundred pages long, with the content consisting entirely of successive simpletons, each trying to out-do the previous poster for laboured and predictable “comedy”, in the interests of being thought “cool”.

What has become famous as “The WACCOE Syndrome” is well-recognised as an inevitable consequence when a number of tragically inadequate web users, united by a common obsession, are all trying too hard to seek peer approval, a goal they deem to have been met if they can obtain “lols” or other primitive expressions of approbation from similarly motivated members of an established clique. It’s not an uncommon manifestation of needy behaviour across the entire spectrum of the Internet; but the WACCOE Syndrome sobriquet has stuck due to the extraordinary incidence of this particular human weakness on this particular forum. It is thought that only stamp-collecting groups, as well as fourteen or so Web pages dedicated to supporting man united, come anywhere near WACCOE for the tendency to seek attention and approval to quite such a disturbing degree.

However, during the past week, one item on WACCOE has managed to amass a record three responses of impeccable seriousness and undeniable merit, before the usual suspects took over with weak jokes and thinly-veiled pleas to be noticed. Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has opted not to identify the thread concerned, as it is plainly of historic value and would be in danger of desecration if pointed out to the WACCOE ruling clique.

So far, there is no sign of any other thread on the site approaching this record or duplicating what at first sight almost appears to be a conscious attempt to return to previous group values. This blog will continue to monitor WACCOE in the hope that other signs of better practice may be seen, but there is little reason for optimism. Meanwhile, the one isolated thread which displays this initial flicker of adult behaviour has remained undisturbed up until now, with the initial posting together with those precious three items of sanity still there to be savoured – if you can find them – before normal service is resumed and the kids take over. I can’t expose it to discovery, but I do recommend you try to find it while it’s still there – after all, in context, it’s like a refreshing drink in an arid and limitless desert.

Long may such a shining example of how things used to be done last – in memory of what used to be a half-decent LUFC forum. Sic transit gloria mundi…

WACCOE Watch: The Formerly Half-Decent Leeds Forum Continues to Decline – by Rob Atkinson

WACCOE - not exactly a thing of beauty

WACCOE – not exactly a thing of beauty

Ever since I was silenced – gagged – on what used to be one of the better Leeds United forums, I’ve kept an eye on the way things are going at WACCOE.com. This, remember, used to be one of the more obvious stopping-off points on the net, for anyone who wanted to hear the latest Leeds United gossip, or who hoped that they might thus become privy to some truly ITK inside knowledge. From those heady days, WACCOE plummeted to become a joke of a site, full of loud and gobby student types, right-wing boneheads, look-at-me merchants determined to present themselves as high-flyers and the most tragically desperate variety of attention-seekers.

At this point, I presumed to raise my voice in protest and, admittedly, some mild derision. Before very long, the policy switched from arguing with me or insulting me, to simply censoring my input. This was allegedly for abusing “fellow WACCOE-ers” – though as you can see from the screenshot above, if your eyesight is keen enough, there seems to be plenty of abuse flying about to this day. You might notice I’ve had to do some pretty hefty censoring of my own, due to the gutter language used.

My comment at the foot of the appalling example above was, of course, not published – after all, they gave up trying to deal with my point of view and style of expression long ago. But the point I was trying to make is a valid one – because the fact is that, on WACCOE, you can still seemingly get away with murder, or at least with vicious personal abuse – as long as the overly-hormonal moderators don’t take against you. And it’s really such a shame that what used to be an invaluable resource has sunk so very low.

That’s very much the way it is, though, quite evidently to anyone with the time and patience to trawl through all the rubbish. Plenty of regular contributors are now raising peeps of protest at the kind of thing I was complaining about way back: potentially interesting threads degenerating into childish quarrels and pitiful attempts to gain approval through puerile ‘humour’; the prevalence of right-wing, knee-jerk political views, with any more civilised opinions shouted down or ignored, etc etc etc. There’s no need for me to intervene on WACCOE now, even if they had the guts to let me; their own regulars are starting to realise how the whole thing has gone right round the U-bend.

I’ll still keep an eye on WACCOE, and I hope they’ll know that. They’ll pretend not to, of course – they affect not to notice when I refer to them these days, and they’re paranoid about the possibility of generating hits for Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything by acknowledging its existence. I do still get WACCOE individuals trying to post their abusive stuff on my blog comments – but naturally, they never see the light of day. Sauce for the goose, chaps. It’s all typically insecure, juvenile angst, anyway – and very funny on the face of it. But still, it’s tragic what’s happened to WACCOE.

There are, however, some very decent alternatives if you wish some adult, non-hypocritical coverage of all things Leeds. There’s the excellent We All Love Leeds, for instance, and even the hardly reconstructed Service Crew Forum is many a mile better than poor old WACCOE. And, of course – you’re always welcome here!

If the WACCOE Forum Grew Up a Bit, Wouldn’t Leeds Fans Have a More Effective Voice? – by Rob Atkinson

WACCOE - could do better

WACCOE – could do better

One of the most potentially effective means whereby Leeds United fans’ discontent and opposition to the current Elland Road regime could be co-ordinated and focused is the wealth of fan forums out there. There’s the chance here for a collective voice of protest, for some kind of unified voice raised against the Fred Karno’s Army who are running things now. A much more effective army is out there and waiting to be mobilised. But, for the time being, all the potential thus afforded is being wasted in the insistence on one-upmanship, puerile and cringe-worthy humour – and the apparent need to nip in the bud any attempt at serious discussion of the issues that face our club.

The WACCOE Forum is a major offender. I should really declare an interest, as I have been virtually silenced on there for the crime of failing to go along with the right-wing, hard-of-thinking hard-core “laddish tendency” that seems to call the shots. That’s hardly going to have me singing their praises – but, the fact is that there are some seriously deep thinkers on there, people who could do a lot of good. If only they weren’t continually stifled by the Beavis & Butthead atmosphere that seems to reign. WACCOE used to be a lot more of a force for good than it is now – sadly, the overgrown schoolboys seem to have taken over, abusing powers of “moderation” on a whim, interested only in what amounts to a series metaphorical “weeing highest up the wall” contests, with each successive contributor desperately trying to outdo the one before, hoping against hope for a lol, or something similarly brainless.

It’s frustrating. A lot of the time, a topic will start off as something you think might go somewhere, and the first few responses develop a promising theme, with interesting points of view appearing. And then – somebody has to say something frightfully witty – and it degenerates from there. Very sad, and a waste of everyone’s time – particularly when you think of the urgent need for co-operation and a bit of constructive thinking. But the self-appointed guardians of the Forum ethos won’t have it, so it all ends up back at the lowest common denominator, with the chief offenders frantically reassuring each as to what fine and zany guys they all are. It happens time and time again, with wearisome predictability.

I’m aware that there are other forums out there, some of whom may not have plumbed the depths to quite the same extent as WACCOE and, to a lesser degree, the Service Crew Forum. But I still haven’t quite acquired the habit of anywhere else, so it’s these two that I tend to use as a yardstick of how the Leeds forums online are conducting themselves – and of how effective they might be should the time come when the fans have no other choice but to mobilise against people who seem set fair to run our club into the ground.

Ironically, people on WACCOE sometimes point a finger at this blog, alleging that no other views than mine or those closely agreeing with mine are allowed. Well, for a start, this is not a Forum – it’s a blog – although it can occasionally act like a forum, as there are frequently lively exchanges of opinion in the response thread to many of the articles. Where I do refuse to print something submitted, it’s almost always because of the level of personal abuse contained in it; one of these days, I’ll put a few of the rejected comments together and open a few eyes. From the level of whinging about this on WACCOE, I can only assume that many of these abusive comments originate from the sewer end of their readership – well, just grow up a bit guys, and express yourselves like adults, and I won’t be deleting you – will I?

The fact is, though, that WACCOE was set up is a Forum – they don’t do articles as such, it’s all about topics for discussion. I would challenge the moderators to demonstrate that my few recent contributions were so offensive as to be banned from appearing – they weren’t offensive at all, of course. Mine is a blanket ban, because the sensitive souls who moderate the thing can’t bear being challenged or disagreed with. Which makes their allegations of censorship on Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything slightly ironic – to say the least.

The point is, of course, that everybody with the interests of Leeds United at heart needs to up their game right now – because it’s more than likely that we’re going to have to make ourselves heard as a fanbase in the near future – if things continue to go downhill at Elland Road. That cause is bigger by far than any petty disagreement between neighbouring internet locations – but it surely means also that there is some growing up to be done in places like WACCOE, where the emphasis currently is on sticking the head in the sand when anything serious is raised, and having a jolly good big boys’ laugh about it all – whilst seeing who can wee the highest, naturally. It’s as pathetic as it is unproductive, and you can imagine how it affects the silent majority. What you get is the usual suspects, over and over again, self-indulgently dominating and ruining what could be a very good and useful internet resource for Leeds United fans – if only it wasn’t so insistent on the clique approach, with in-jokes, puns and other frightful examples of schoolboy humour, against the background of a determinedly blind eye turned towards anything they don’t like.

This blog will continue to shout as loudly as possible and hope to be right at least as often as it’s wrong. There’s been some humble pie eaten here lately, as the position of the blog has switched from pro-Cellino to anti – but there’s nothing to be gained by refusing to acknowledge a mistake once it’s been identified. You have to take a deep breath, trim your sails for a new prevailing wind, and sail on, hopefully in the right direction. I was wrong to back Cellino. I’ve taken that on the chin after a real effort at being loyal – and now I’m seeking what I believe would be a better future for the club I love. I know that many will condemn me for that, but equally there are many who agree. The best you can do is call it as you see it and go with the dictates of your conscience.

If it does come to a gloves-off fight between the fans and the current Leeds regime, than I would hope that a massive proportion of Leeds’ massive support would want to be in there, battling for the right outcome and a better future. In which case, the more United we can be, the better it will bode for that future. And it will be a case of “the more, the merrier” – so I do think it would be a good idea if some of the saner souls over at WACCOE – and other forums – could possibly start thinking about getting some actual grown-ups into positions of moderation – so that a change of tone and standards might be achieved, from the annoyingly adolescent to something that could be incredibly useful in a unified Leeds fan movement. That seems like common sense to me. The way things are at WACCOE right now, it’s easy to pick holes in the way the forum is run and the consequent dumbing-down of content. But that gives me no pleasure – I’d rather see it as the powerful force for fan protest that it definitely could be.

Really – is that too much to ask?

Leeds Blog-Hating Fan Forum Abandons “WACCOE” Name – by Rob Atkinson

The new Title - can YOU detect the edit?

The new Forum Title – can you detect the edit?

The formerly half-decent Leeds United fans’ forum WACCOE will soon be no more, it has been announced. In a shock move designed to align the site’s core values more closely with the bulk of its readership, it has been decided that a name change is necessary. The old WACCOE name, it is thought, no longer represents the desired direction of what used to be regarded as an invaluable resource for fans of the Yorkshire giants. Instead, in an attempt to sum up the collective IQ of the readership, the title THICKOE has been painstakingly selected.

A spokesman for THICKOE stated, “WACCOE actually stands for We Are the Champions, Champions Of Europe.  Well, sort of. There’s a “Tuh” in there, for The. We weren’t quite sure what to do with that. But some of us think it’s silly to go on about the past, we wanted something more relevant to US as a group.” When asked what the new acronym THICKOE stands for, our hapless source – southerner Mr Iain Monkey – was unable to help. “I’m not sure about that either, to be honest with you. All suggestions are welcome, it’s a detail we overlooked. We just thought it looked a bit similar to the old one, and that it summed up what we’re all about as a group of Leeds fans who like to swear a lot, spout neo-fascist views, laugh immoderately at each other’s jokes for the purpose of mutual reassurance and – most importantly of all – try to out-do each other for the attention and approval of our betters.” Mr Monkey furrowed his brow so that the “Sieg Heil” tattoo on his forehead almost disappeared. “We did wonder about saying it stands for The Honestly Independent Cornucopia of Knowledge On Everything – but a few of the lads had a bit of a lip-tremble going on at that one – thought it sounded too much like your own site, which all our members have to promise – really, heavy duty stuff, swearing on oaf and everyfink –  to hate and ignore just as hatefully and ignorantly as they possibly can, which is a lot. So it’s a lickle bit of a nawty one – a dilemma, if you like.

There is some bewildered anxiety too, it would appear, in the re-branded site’s moderation team. A source close to the very top told us that they had tried recently to tailor the forum as per the requirements of its more prominently-lower-jawed members. “We’ve done our best with this,” Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was advised. “We’ve tried to eliminate anyone – as you will know yourself, Rob, as a banned person – who’s kicked up too much of a fuss over the site’s support for core issues. This includes the Coalition government and our ‘firm but fair’ stance on asylum-seekers (kick them out), benefit claimants (starve them, then kick them out), teachers (aaaarrrgh), the Labour Party (starve them, then shoot them, then kick them out, then shoot them again). We feel that this brings us broadly into line with our most devoted readership, some of whose best friends are foreign types of a non-Caucasian hue. The name change is simply the logical conclusion of this -ahem – refinement of our product direction”

Mr Monkey also issued this reminder to those who may have given up in despair on a declining fansite. Former and lapsed readers of the THICKOE formerly WACCOE site, he insisted, are urged to return and see how things have come on. “We’re going great guns, honestly.  We had some really hard and cool and street nicknames for the first head coach this season – we called him Whackaday and Hockalot and, ooh, lots of others. It was really brilliant and so edgy, lots of reassuring peer approval and big-lad chortling. And anyone who disagreed was silenced, so we didn’t even have to worry about intelligent people spoiling things for the rest of us.”

It’s expected that THICKOE will finally be going live in time for next season; in the meantime the old WACCOE brand will be discreetly phased out. “We’ve made a start already,” said Mr. Monkey. “If you look carefully at the site banner (pictured above) there’s been a bit of subtle editing going on – though you’d be forgiven for not noticing! No expense has been spared to ensure that the new brand is unmistakable, but that there won’t be anything too unfamiliar for our readers, most of whom haven’t been reading for all that long, have low, sloping foreheads – and they can feel a little insecure, with distressing consequences.”

By this point, Mr Monkey himself was shifting uncomfortably in his seat, a nervous tic rapidly developing in one bloodshot eye. “I shouldn’t really be talking to you, you know,” he quavered. “The THICKOE lot really hate you. We all do in fact. You’re always having a go and calling us thick and rightwing. That might be true, but it’s not nice to say so, is it?? And you delete any comments that don’t say nice things about you, so all of our well-hard swearing and the frets we fretten you with, that is all just wasted. And all the nice comments you get are well fake, innit, they are all really obviously all writ by the same geezer, that’s YOU, so don’t think we don’t know what you are all about, so there.” Mr Monkey rose at this point and flounced out, ignoring our polite offer of another coffee and some fairy cakes.

Mr. Monkey is 78, but his IQ is only 50.

Graham Salisbury Not QUITE the Worst Ref Ever: Top Five Leeds Official Hate Figures – by Rob Atkinson

Webb:  Not as Bent as Michas or Kitabdjian

Webb: A Sad Loss to the Pride of Devon – Yet Not as Bent as Michas or Kitabdjian

Just to put into a proper context Graham Sainsbury’s dreadful performance as match referee for Leeds v Brentford, I thought I’d highlight some famous instances where Leeds have signally failed to get the rub of the green over the years.

Despite the fact that, currently, it’s the elderly and bewildered dotards of the Football League itself girding their withered loins to deal our club a death blow (with the current batch of refs, Clueless Sainsbury among them, seemingly happy to help) the focus here is on the men in the middle rather than those clueless suits at the top. I’ve had no compunction at all about naming and shaming – these gentlemen should really be in the stocks, getting mercilessly pelted with the finest and rankest of rotten fruit and veg.

So here we go; in reverse order of spectacular bentness and/or incompetent buffoonery, these are the Top Five candidates for “Injustice of the 20th Century”:

No. 5:  Wolves 2, Leeds 1  –  8th May 1972  (Ref: Bill Gow)

I’ve placed this as least serious from a refereeing point of view because – in the crucial penalty incident – Mr Gow was unsighted and badly let down by his linesman J C Collins of Macclesfield, an inexperienced official who apparently “froze”. It does seem to have been a blatant handball and a definite penalty though – in a match where Leeds would win the Title and therefore the “Double” if they could avoid defeat. Tellingly, Mr Gow got home that night to be greeted by his wife saying “It looked a penalty on the telly.” My main culprits for this game are the callous officials of the FA and Football League, who insisted a tired team should play a title decider a mere two days after a gruelling FA Cup Final against Arsenal. Leeds did not even get to celebrate their Cup triumph, heading straight off to Wolverhampton with their battered and wounded bodies and their missing heroes. It was a shoddy affair that you could not envisage these days. Respected “Guardian” writer Eric Todd described the uncaring treatment of a gallant Leeds side as “scandalous”.

No. 4:  Leeds United 1, West Brom 2  –  17 April 1971  (Ref: Ray Tinkler)

No doubts about the culprit here. Ray “Bastard” Tinkler’s face as he walked off the Elland Road pitch after this display wore a tellingly apprehensive expression; that of a man who knew he was heading out of a storm and into a typhoon. The game turned on an offside call – or more accurately, two of them. Already one down against opponents they’d been expected to beat easily, Leeds were pressing hard. A victory was vital in the race for the Title, anything less would pass the advantage to Arsenal. Then, Norman Hunter gave the ball away on halfway with most of the Leeds side committed forward. The ball bounced off Tony Brown into the Leeds half where a clearly-offside Colin Suggett was loitering as the linesman flags for the free-kick.Tony Brown continued his run when Tinkler failed to blow in response to the flag, passed the ball to Astle – also in an offside position – who scored. A season’s work, in the words of Don Revie, was undone in a few mad moments. Barry Davies, commentating for the BBC, memorably remarked “…and Leeds will go mad.  And they’ve every right to go mad..”  Strong stuff from a sober professional. In the wake of the crowd disturbances that ensued, Leeds were forced to play their first home games of the following season away from Elland Road, a sanction that led to points being dropped, and probably contributing to their narrow failure to win the 1972 title as well. So Mr. Tinkler may well have done us for two Championship crowns. Cheers, Ray – you utter, utter git.

No. 3:  Chelsea 1, Leeds United 0  –  FA Cup Semi-final at Villa Park  29 April 1967  (Ref:  Ken Burns)

The classic FA Cup Semi: two fine teams, not at all fond of each other – the fashionable Kings Road fancy dans of Chelsea against Don Revie’s battle-hardened stormtroopers. Or so the Press would have it. Chelsea were ahead late on, a fine goal from Tony Hateley being the difference. Leeds thought they’d drawn level when Cooper scored, but the effort was chalked off for offside, despite vociferous complaints from the Leeds players who swore blind that Cooper had come from an onside position. Then, a free kick 25 yards out. The ref took some seconds organising Chelsea’s defensive wall, and then caught the eye of John Giles – a commonly-accepted signal for the free kick to be taken. Giles rolled the ball to Lorimer, who smashed it into Bonetti’s net. Leeds were joyful, Chelsea despaired – but referee Burns ruled the goal out, ordering a retake because Chelsea’s wall was not far enough back – a technical offence against Leeds. As the commentator declared, “They’ll have to look through the rule book backwards to find a reason.” The retaken free-kick came to nothing, and Leeds were out of the Cup in the cruellest circumstances.

No. 2:  Bayern Munich 2, Leeds United 0 – European Cup Final, Parc des Princes, Paris May 28 1975 (Ref: Michel Kitabdjian)

40 years on, this still sticks in the collective craw of Leeds United fans. 40 years on, we still sing “We are the Champions, Champions of Europe” in ritual protest. Two blatant penalty shouts in the first half, the guilty man on both occasions was Der Kaiser, Franz Beckenbauer.  First he handled blatantly in the area, and then a “scissors” tackle on Allan Clarke – you wondered how anyone could fail to give either.  Leeds were completely outplaying Bayern, drawing sympathy even from the English TV commentator who was bemoaning the lack of a more even contest.  Then in the second half the ball falls perfectly for Peter Lorimer just outside the Bayern penalty area.  Lorimer times his volley superbly, and it flies into the net, beating Sepp Maier all ends up.  Then confusion as the goal seems to be given, until Beckenbauer urgently directs the ref to speak to his linesman.  More confusion, then the goal is disallowed.  Bayern score twice against a demoralised Leeds near the end, and the European Cup is snatched from the hands of Revie’s old guard; the triumph that was to crown their careers torn away in the most dubious fashion imaginable.

No. 1:  Leeds United 0, AC Milan 1 – ECWC Final, Salonika, Greece 16 May 1973 (Ref: Christos Michas)

This is the Grand-daddy of bent matches, a game almost universally acknowledged to have been as straight as a corkscrew, allegations of bribery, the referee banned by UEFA afterwards – and still the 1973 Trophy is written into the extensive honours list of AC Milan.  Justice, as they say, is a gag.  Peter Lorimer on the match: “It was wholly, indisputably and wretchedly bent…”  Johnny Giles was out with an injured hamstring, but he’d been working for the media and had heard that the ref was “in Milan’s pocket”.  His gloomy view before the game was that it was one Leeds United wouldn’t be allowed to win.  Three minutes gone, and Milan are awarded a free-kick, a decision that could charitably be described as dodgy.  A weak shot takes a cruel deflection on its way into the Leeds net, and it’s 1-0 early on.  From then onwards, it was a story of United pressure thwarted by thuggish challenges from the Milanese, decision after decision going against the increasingly frustrated and demoralised Leeds team, two, possibly three good penalty shouts waved away by Michas, and inevitably the game finished with Milan leading by that early goal, collecting the trophy to hoots of anger and derision from the outraged Greek crowd who cheered the defeated Leeds side as they limped round on a lap of honour “after this most dishonourable of matches.”

There has been a petition to UEFA with a view to overturning the result in this wretched blot on the history of the game, awarding the trophy and medals retrospectively to Leeds.  UEFA did nothing.  I even started a second petition myself as, since the original effort in 2009, Christos Michas has died and is therefore not in a position to have his tender feelings wounded by justice being done.  So it seemed appropriate to try to revive the matter – after all, why should UEFA be permitted to sit complacently on such a scandalously unfair outcome? But it’s Leeds, so it’ll take a lot more than petitions to right this and other wrongs.

-o0o-

Leeds have frequently been the victims of poor decisions and examples of prejudice against them over the years.  They are still, to the best of my knowledge, the only team to concede a goal to the background of the referee punching the air in celebration – supposedly of a good advantage decision, but really?  Would it happen if the victims had been Man U?  In 1987, an FA black-tie junket broke out into cheers of joy when news arrived of Leeds’ Play-off Final replay defeat against Charlton.  We appear to be hated by dopey prats everywhere.

These are the five most blatant examples I could find of occasions when “The Damned United” have suffered at the hands of officialdom, referees in particular.  I’m sure there are many less famous instances, and I’d be interested to hear the recollections of others. More recent examples could include retrospective action against Lee Bowyer which ruled what was our star man that season out of a Champions League semi-final against Valencia (check out a blatant handball for the first goal in the away leg, too) plus a dodgy re-examination of an incident involving Jermaine Beckford at home to Millwall in a vital League One game as we were going for promotion.

It’s a well-known saying in the game that bad decisions, like bad luck, tends to even out over time so that all teams are more or less equal in the long run.  I think any Leeds fan who has even a passing acquaintance with the club’s history would have a wry grin at that one. This weekend’s travesty of a refereeing performance can only strengthen the feeling that the whistle-happy pillocks really do have it in for us; yet, on reflection, it does seem fair to say that Graham Sainsbury, or even Man U fanatic Howard Webb, pictured at the top there, is very small fry indeed, when compared to the Rogues Gallery detailed above. However bad things are now, let’s comfort ourselves with the thought – they’ve been worse in the past!

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.