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Twitter Fans to Demand Leeds Only Sign Players Who Don’t Get Injured – by Rob Atkinson

LUFC Twitter

A Leeds United tweeter, yesterday

Storms in teacups and mountains made out of molehills. These are both specialities of the whinging, petulant, spoilt toddler types that appear to make up an uncomfortably large proportion of the Leeds United Twitter brigade. Time and time again, we see them launching into yet another rant when anything goes wrong at Elland Road. The latest mass tantrum is over Tyler Roberts‘ reported training ground injury from earlier in the week, with some suspecting that a knock the young striker was carrying when he moved from West Brom was actually something more sinister.

Whatever the facts of the case, the over-reaction from United’s more hysterical social media mouthpieces has been little short of embarrassing. And it’s a phenomenon not confined to injuries – anything negative is immediately seized upon and criticised with what almost amounts to a masochistic glee. This is no exaggeration. Certain alleged Leeds fans appear to like nothing more than a bit of a crisis, anything that shows the club in a bad light. They can then flap their virtual gums, competing with each other, so it appears, for the title of who can be the most pessimistic and ridiculously over-the-top negative. It inevitably degenerates into a why-oh-why session, with the usual suspects hurling abuse at the club they purport to follow. Naturally, the more moderate fans get sick of it, and a war of words ensues. It’s all so pointless, and it makes you wonder what other clubs’ fans think of our numerous bad apples – to say nothing of the Leeds players themselves, who must sometimes look on aghast.

It’s got to the point where I honestly feel we’d be better off without a large proportion of our social media “fans”. A lot of them seem to be there wholly or mainly to seek attention, or start an argument from the safely anonymous position of behind their keyboards. I swear that, in the days before so many virtual platforms were available – and when there was a lot more to moan about – there was less of this constant, dreary carping and moaning. Too much of that in the real, physical world of the terraces or the post-match pub would see persistent offenders in receipt of a thick ear, if they were lucky. But the virtual world is a safer place, and these needy types sally forth with impunity.

Some day, somebody will come up with an alternative word for a football adherent to the currently used “supporter” – and it won’t be a day too soon. Because what we see far too regularly on Twitter, Facebook etc etc, cannot be called support. It’s divisive, unhelpful, disloyal – the very antithesis of what football support used to be all about. My dearest wish is that a few of these discontented, attention-seeking, incognito inadequates should seek out other interests in life, and let the rest of us have a debate that hasn’t been dipped and soaked through in the Slough of Despond. Perhaps they could get hobbies, or girlfriends, or boyfriends, or whatever. I suspect that Twitter‘s gain has been a loss to the formerly popular pastimes of stamp-collecting or train-spotting. At least the Twatteratti would meet a few kindred spirits in those areas.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I’ve no choice but to plough through the LUFC hashtag daily, I rely on it as a source of information, or at least as a pointer for where information might be found. To have the Twitter feed clogged with such gloom and doom merchants, who clearly relish and rejoice in their own negativity, is annoying to say the very least. It makes an ordeal out of what should be a useful online repository of fact and opinion.

Let’s be clear: players do get injured, it’s an unfortunate fact of life. For an injury such as that suffered by Tyler Roberts to cause such an explosion of witless whinging is simply unacceptable. Man up and support the club, for Don’s sake. And if you can’t bring yourself to do that, then at least have the grace to stop whining – and get that stamp album out. After all, philately could get you anywhere. Preferably, far away from anything to do with Leeds United.

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Max Gradel Signals Desire for Leeds United Return – by Rob Atkinson

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Mad Max Gradel wants to come home

Rule One of Social Media is that high profile sports stars say or do nothing without a reason – they don’t need to seek attention in their goldfish bowl existence; quite the contrary, if anything. So when, in the aftermath of the recent change of Head Coach at Leeds, former United attacking sensation Maxi Gradel comes out with a loved-up tweet about the Yorkshire giants, including the obligatory MOT hashtag, you can be tolerably sure that he’s not just passing the time of day. Max can see that Leeds United are about to buckle down and get serious about restoring elite status and, this blog believes, he wants to be a part of it.

Maxi Tweets

Max – still loves Leeds

Whether and when that might happen is a matter of conjecture, but it would be highly surprising if Gradel were not to be linked to an Elland Road return again in the summer. Given the current league position of the club, with a new coach feeling his way into the job and a brutal run of fixtures ahead, almost all of which are under the spotlight of live TV coverage, it seems more than likely that United will still be a Championship outfit next season. Should that be the case, then they will be looking for proven performers to displace some of their misfiring fringe players, and wide attack is one area that could stand some enhancement.

I believe that Leeds will be the likely destination for Ivory Coast international Gradel’s next career move; he has plenty left to offer, and still enjoys cult hero status among United fans. Moreover, it seems clear that he would relish a return to Elland Road – otherwise, why the pointed social media comments?

All in all, it seems that the prospect of Max back in the white yellow and blue of Leeds United next season could well morph into reality before too long, and most United fans will extend a warm welcome home to the talented forward. I’d give this one a good 8.5 out of 10 on the likeliness scale and, while some will say it’s merely wishful thinking, there are sound reasons on all sides to believe that a Gradel return to Leeds is going to happen.

If Max – currently on loan at Toulouse from Premier League AFC Bournemouthdoes come back, it’d be a massive step towards helping us hit the ground running for a promotion campaign next time around. He’d be that much of a shot in the arm for a club that has underachieved for too long now. Fingers crossed that Gradel’s social media output next season will reflect his contribution towards United’s return to the top.

This Leeds Crest Ticks ALL the Right Boxes, Please Get It Done, Mr. Radrizzani – by Rob Atkinson

 


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Add a 1919 somewhere, and this crest has it all

Whether by accident or design, this week’s “New Club Crest” furore has almost chased transfer window considerations clear off the front and back pages of the Leeds United news sources, temporarily at least. That will change as the days and hours tick down, with our striking options still not reinforced – but, for the time being, “Crestgate”, as at least one national radio station calls it, remains a burning topic. It’s also one that, for once, unites much of the Leeds support. The response to the club’s proudly announced “Leeds salute” design was an almost unanimous one of horrified disapproval. On the positive side, the powers that be appear to have listened and, somewhat chastened, are urgently reconsidering.

One of the side effects of the club crest cock-up is that various sources on Twitter and other social media have favoured us all with their own designs for a new badge. It’s been a case of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as you might expect but, encouragingly, the good has been very good indeed, putting the United Graphic Design Department to shame. It’s all very subjective, of course – but, for me at least, any new badge (if we actually need one) should combine some iconic symbol from the past with a hint of local or regional identity, and it should be very distinctly Leeds with, if possible, a nod to our forthcoming centenary.

The badge pictured above (NOT my own design) does it for me – it’d be absolutely perfect with a bit of subscript, as you get with Cup Final crests, reading 100 years of Football 1919 – 2019. There’s the smiley badge prominently featured, an image from the past rightly hailed as “brilliant” by the ever-excellent Moscowhite of Square Ball fame. And there’s the Yorkshire Rose too, and the LUFC footballs from the 1990 promotion badge. And yet it’s not too cluttered, which is a pleasant relief from certain well-meaning suggestions that have seen the light of Twitter this week.

I’d certainly like to see something like this, should a change actually have to happen. Another option, obviously, would be to retain the current shield, which has become iconic in its own right – again, probably with that subscript acknowledging the Centenary. What do people think? I’d be grateful for any views or alternative suggestions – even from the 10,000 who are taking the rap for the Leeds salute effort – not that I know a single man Jack or girl Jill of them.

Here’s hoping that, on more considered reflection, the club gets it right next time.

 

 

Pointless Appealing: Leeds Must Accept O’Kane Red and Move On with Business – by Rob Atkinson

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Eunan O’Kane – bang to rights for sheer stupidity

One of the less controversial aspects of the defeat at Portman Road, where Leeds failed to make the most of an unremarkable Ipswich Town side pretty much there for the taking, was the straight red dismissal of Eunan O’Kane for violent conduct. The video evidence is incontrovertible; O’Kane, despite the inevitable protests, is bang to rights and was positively begging to be sent off; the referee, only yards from the incident, was always going to oblige.

What leaves a nastier than usual taste in the mouth is that this particular piece of lunacy, which went some way towards ensuring that his team-mates, employers and supporters would end up empty-handed, came hard on the heels of what now seems a rather sanctimonious tweet expressing disappointment over the equally stupid transgression of Samu Saiz a week earlier at Newport. People in glass houses shouldn’t thrown stones, we might reflect. To his credit, O’Kane himself left the field without protest; the expostulations have come from other quarters. Meanwhile, the whole sorry affair threatens to deflect us all from the more important issues arising out of this and other recent failures.

The uncomfortable fact is that, in the last three league games, Leeds United have failed to score one single solitary goal, That’s over 270 minutes of huffing and puffing to no effect, during which time they have contrived to lose to Birmingham, who were swatted aside 3-0 by Derby yesterday, and gain one point from a Nottingham Forest side who set out to stifle Leeds and comfortably managed it. Leaving aside the inglorious FA Cup episode at Newport, Leeds are suffering in the league, which is far, far more important. The loss of Saiz for six games deprives us of much of the limited cutting edge we’ve had and, without quality reinforcements during this window, the fear is that the season could be fizzling out rather early.

What appears to be happening, in line with the predictions of many much earlier in the campaign, is that the lack of depth in United’s squad is being exposed by a smattering of injuries and suspensions. These are occupational hazards of an attritional league programme, and will happen to any but the most fortunate of clubs – but the difference at the top end of the table will be the deeper resources of those who have invested sensibly in quality, providing competent back-up for most positions. United’s over-reliance on young, raw possibles, like Jay Roy Grot for instance, is ample proof that their recruitment at first team level has been – so far, at any rate – inadequate for the rigours of a Championship season.

One transfer move that has been completed, and for a player seemingly ready to step into the first team picture, too, is that of Yosuke Ideguchi, a highly-rated midfielder whose signing is seen as something of a coup for the Elland Road club. How strange it is then that, after a work permit was unexpectedly forthcoming, Ideguchi’s loan to Spanish side Cultural Leonesa has still gone ahead. One thing Leeds United really needs, to allow them maybe the luxury of playing two up top, is a combative box-to-box midfielder which might permit such a change of shape. On the bright side, the welcome signing of Laurens de Bock will provide options across the defensive line, with the versatility of Gaetano Berardi possibly allowing him to be more effective when freed from his unaccustomed left-back berth.

And it really is important to look on the bright side, after what has been a dismal January so far, especially on the field of play. The next two weeks, and this is no exaggeration, will define the rest of our season. The word from the club is that they are working hard to bring in players, with a striker high on the shopping list. As Leeds fans, we should perhaps avoid being distracted by pointless and futile appeals over daft red cards – and hope that the powers that be down LS11 way can see the urgency of the situation in and around the first team squad. The play-offs are still somehow a tantalising possibility, offering at least the chance of an exciting climax to the campaign. It’s down to the club now as to whether or not they have the ambition to seize the day and give us all a second half of this season to relish.

Really, after the start to 2018 Leeds United have provided, that’s the very least we deserve.

Leeds United Announce Signing of Left Back Laurens De Bock – Rob Atkinson

Not everyone can bank 100k from sports betting. In fact, most bettors never even come remotely close. That said, if you choose your spots wisely, it’s still entirely possible for the average sports bettor to make a pretty penny every now and again.

If you’re betting on the Championship, you’ll know that Leeds United’s chances at finishing the season on top are slim-to-none. LUFC is currently 6th in the league on 43 points, though they’re still 18 points back of league leaders Wolves. Nobody is catching Wolves, but Leeds remains very much alive in the promotion playoff battle.

Leeds got a boost on Wednesday when the club announced the signing of 25-year-old Belgian left back Laurens De Bock. De Bock inked a four-and-a-half year deal with the English side after completing the £3M move from Club Brugge.

United’s new defender made more than 170 appearances for Club Brugge after joining the side from KSC Lokeren in the summer of 2013. He has additionally earned 11 caps with Belgium’s under-21 side, though he has still yet to debut for the country’s high-powered senior national team.

De Bock has made the vast majority of his professional appearances as a left back, though he does have a bit of experience in central defence, as well. The player has been an integral cog with his club over the last several years, though this season Club Brugge switched their formation to one that deploys three centre halves at the back. That move has essentially cost De Bock his spot as a regular first-team starter.

De Bock has moonlighted playing on the left side of the midfield at times this season, but he was reportedly more interested in first-team work at his traditional spot at left back.

Laurens won a league title with Club Brugge, and he’s also played in Champions League and Europa League in the past. That kind of big-game experience should suit the player well with his new side, which is fighting for promotion into the Premier League.

He’ll fill the gaping hole at left back left by Charlie Taylor, who departed Leeds for Burnley last summer. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was signed on loan from Manchester United to replace Taylor, but the youngster has failed to leave his mark in his brief time with his new club. Vurnon Anita, Gaetano Berardi and Stuart Dallas have also tried to hold down the fort at the position, though none of them have succeeded.

Grayson Haunted by Ghost of Wasted Leeds Transfer Windows Past – by Rob Atkinson

Grayson

Simon says: get the chequebook out if you want more promotion fizz

Simon Grayson is a man and a manager who knows a thing or two about getting clubs promoted from difficult leagues. As a lifelong Leeds fan and ex-United boss, he knows quite a bit about the Whites, too. One of the promotions on his CV came during his tenure as Leeds manager, and he was well-placed to achieve a second successive elevation after guiding his United team to second in the Championship halfway through that first season back up to that level. His verdict on that season is that investment needed to maintain a promotion challenge was not forthcoming, and thus Leeds fell away.

Looking back, few would argue with that assessment. So, when Sky Sports pundit Grayson stated, immediately after Leeds United‘s disappointing goalless draw with Nottingham Forest, that United are “a few players short” of kicking on, you really have to listen to such hard-won wisdom. It would seem he’s worried that history will repeat itself, that the failure to strengthen which eventually cost him the Leeds job may yet imperil current boss Thomas Christiansen.

Christiansen himself, when asked in the aftermath of defeat at Birmingham about team strengthening in the window just opened, merely stated “That is not a question for me”. It wasn’t the most ringing endorsement of January window boardroom caution (or complacency), and you suspect that, given his own way, Thomas would happily go shopping. His refusal to commit even to an opinion raises suspicions that the Elland Road chequebook may not see much of the light of day in the month to come.

Grayson, though, is under no obligation to keep his thoughts to himself, and he speaks from a position of expertise when he identifies deficiencies in the Leeds squad, up front most especially. To make up for that lack of cutting edge would cost serious money, but the old saw about speculating to accumulate rings as true at Leeds as it does anywhere else. The other side of that coin is that a failure to invest represents false economy, if the outcome is to miss out – yet again – on the crock of gold at the end of the promotion rainbow. That, in a nutshell, is the lesson of 2011.

Leeds are solvent enough to have their chances of the play-offs at least in their own hands. The money is there, beyond reasonable doubt, from the sales of Wood and Taylor to Burnley. Ironically, it’s a reliable striker and a specialist left-back we’re particularly short of right now, so there might even be a moral obligation, as well as a fiscal case, for investment to invigorate the squad for the rest of the season.

In my opinion, Christiansen’s refusal to comment on incoming transfers, beyond remarking that he will be talking to the board, speaks volumes. And what it might be saying is: give me the tools, and I’ll finish the job. His performance so far this season, given those two high-profile departures to Turf Moor, has been respectable to say the least – and he has unearthed a couple of diamonds in his summertime recruitment, aided, no doubt, by Victor Orta. Now, the opportunity is there to build on that fairly successful summer , as well as to make up for unavoidable losses in the outgoings market.

Watch this space. Leeds fans will be watching too, with a very close eye on what the club will or won’t do this month, and a characteristic readiness to draw conclusions about just how ambitious and hungry for promotion Leeds United really are.

The Ego Has Landed: David O’Leary Back at Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

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O’Leary, and the book that earned him the sack

Amid the muck and bullets of an attritional battle between Leeds United and Norwich City last weekend, word was received that the club was being visited by the Ghost of Seasons Past. Former Whites manager David O’Leary was back at Elland Road, holding court in the Legends Lounge – some unintentional irony there – and dispensing his own particular brand of faux humility to anyone who would listen.

That’s what always got me about O’Leary, even at the height of his success in the post-George Graham period – this tendency of his to peddle a “Love me, I’m just a novice manager doing the best I can” line. Backed by good results from a young and thrilling team, it was an engaging enough act for a while anyway – but any such act, whether it be the blarney of Erin, or just plain old self-serving bullshit, wears thin eventually. In O’Leary’s case, that process of disillusionment was accelerated by his own actions as financial crisis and the Bowyer/Woodgate court case hit the club hard. When the solids hit the air-conditioning, poor David was liberally splattered by the noxious fallout, his strained relationship with local press figures meaning there was precious little sympathy or protection for him there.

O’Leary was quite literally the author of his own misfortune. “United on Trial”, his controversial book in the wake of the long, drawn-out court case, was an ill-judged attempt to dissociate himself from any blame for the storm clouds gathering over Elland Road. Players from a squad he’d previously dubbed his “babies” were callously thrown to the wolves, who had scented blood in LS11, and were voraciously snapping away at the heels of a wounded and foundering giant. It had all looked so good for Leeds in the campaign leading up to the Champions League last four, but the fall from those rarefied heights was precipitous; weak leadership in the boardroom had given O’Leary too free a hand in the transfer market, with results that have become notorious in the history of a club that tried to live the dream but entered instead into a ten year nightmare. So unprecedented was this fall from grace that a new phrase, describing the suicidal self-immolation of any football club, entered the language: “Doing a Leeds”.

O’Leary got the Leeds job at a particularly propitious time; able to build on the foundations laid by the cautious and meticulous approach of George Graham, he also benefited from a crop of youthful talent coming through, the like of which had not been seen at Leeds since the early sixties. It was a recipe for success, requiring only a steady hand at the tiller and a fair share of good luck. Sadly for United, after a bright start to the Irishman’s tenure, neither of these requirements were fulfilled, and the club embarked on a downhill slide that a greased pig would have found hard to emulate.

Despite all of this, some United fans have fond memories of O’Leary – which, when you consider some of the football played and some of the results achieved, is reasonably understandable. But the idyll was deceptive; some of the players grew disillusioned, to say the least, with a manager whose genial demeanour masked what at times was a chilling ruthlessness, allied to a preoccupation with being seen always in the most favourable light. His popularity with certain squad members declined to the point where at least one refused to sign a book for a fan, simply because the manager’s picture featured on the cover. And his attitude towards respected local press members – summed up briefly as “I don’t really need you” was seen as so wilfully arrogant that those press members felt under no obligation to pull their punches when things tuned sour.

Even now, O’Leary will use his characteristic self-effacing delivery to mask what amounts to relentless self-promotion; he’s always after the printing of the legend, untainted by inconvenient facts. In and around his Elland Road appearance last weekend, the former United manager revealed the question he’s most often been asked by Leeds fans since his departure. Predictably, it redounds to his credit – what O’Leary soundbite does not? “It’s ‘When are you coming back to Leeds’“, he revealed, adding that he found such a question “embarrassing really. I’m so privileged that they still remember me”.

Continuing this apparently diffident self-homage, O’Leary gushed “It’s just so nice and I always knew that I had their support, and I appreciate their support even more now. Twenty years and they still remember me – I can’t believe that!”

It’s not that difficult to believe, though. United fans, especially those who don’t habitually sport the rose-tinted glasses of fond recollection, will be unlikely to forget the man who inherited a dressing room of such vast potential and then proceeded to lose it through his own crass and self-serving actions. The answer to the question of “When are you coming back, David?” must surely be “Next time Leeds United needs the spirit of the club shattered almost beyond repair – next time we wish to plunge into a new dark age and threaten our very existence”. It really was as bad as that.

So David, you can quote your admirers all you like – we’re never going to hear the other side of that coin from your self-aggrandising lips. But remember, some of us see you for what you are – and we’re glad and relieved that you’re history now as far as Leeds United is concerned.

Leeds Boss Christiansen Delighted to See Man Utd Lose to City – by Rob Atkinson

TC

TC: they say I’m a WHAT??

I despair at the world of Twitter sometimes, particularly as it relates to Leeds United. Lately, after every game, or so it seems, win lose or draw, there’s some Twitter-generated “news” article based on the random tweets of various Leeds fans. These are small pearls of unwisdom, giving opinions of varying degrees of cluelessness about the performance of this or that player. Invariably, the articles will be headlined by quotes such as “He’s not good enough for the shirt” or “the worst I’ve ever seen”, the aim being to inveigle the unwary into reading a bunch of uninformed and barely coherent opinions that make about as much sense as a post-match interview with Jose Mourinho. Often, it’s clear that there’s a deliberate attempt to whip up controversy, simply to generate hits. It’s unedifying stuff, a storm of white noise that tends to obliterate any real news or sensible opinion.

The latest such storm in a teacup concerned Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen, who – according to some of the more hard-of-thinking Leeds Twitterati anyway – committed a cardinal sin in being pictured at Old Trafford after the Manchester derby. Some mischievous Pride of Devon fan, seeking to assuage the pain of a defeat by Manchester’s number one club, captioned a picture with a hint that Thomas was an aficionado of the Dark Side and, true to form, the dimmer Leeds fans on Twitter fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

The responses from these dullards were amusingly over the top, and what was clearly the mother of all non-stories seemed likely to gain undeserved notoriety. Until, that is, Christiansen himself, backed up by United owner Andrea Radrizzani, set the record straight, pointing out that his sympathies in the derby match were with the blue side of Manchester and that he’d been delighted by the result. Finishing off an explanation that he should never have had to make, Thomas stated “I used to play at Barça with Pep and we very much enjoyed the result! However, I’m Leeds!” and the hashtag for All Leeds Aren’t We.

Christiansen has since revealed that he was surprised his trip to the biggest game of the day should have aroused such controversy – which is the bemusement a professional feels when confronted with the mass hysteria and lack of any joined-up thinking that characterises so much of the Twitter output of any major club, especially – or so it would seem – Leeds United. A typically brainless comment from one Leeds fan, who sent a picture of Christiansen outside Old Trafford to both the owner and the manager, was “This is an absolute disgrace! TC has crossed a line you should never cross. We won’t forgive him for this ever. Absolute s**t house!” I leave you, gentle reader, to judge the level of idiocy inherent in that particular tweet.

Of course, it harks back to the faux outrage, designed to draw attention to the tweeter and show what a great fan they are (if ever so slightly demented), that we got in the wake of the Alan Smith transfer from us to them. It’s attention-seeking stuff, and you have to hope that the people responsible are actually able to think more clearly than they tweet. But that’s the problem with Twitter – it allows people who should really go through life with large socks in their mouths to announce their flawed opinions to the world via the LUFC hashtag.

Twitter is what it is, I suppose. It serves a purpose, but it’s open to abuse – and certain “news sources” should really know better than to quote it so often, given the appalling lack of thought that goes into the majority of tweets. A lot of it is knee-jerk stuff and a lot more is from the “look at me, aren’t I controversial” brigade. Neither faction adds much if anything to the Leeds United debate, yet both are given undue prominence by media outlets desperate for clicks. It’s so depressing.

What we should do, of course, is celebrate results like the QPR one and accentuate the positives – instead of looking for random rubbish to be seen to be outraged about or to use as a stick for battering the manager. But that’s probably asking too much from the more useless tweeters themselves, and even from supposedly sober journalists who choose to use such virtual detritus as the basis for yet another pointless article.

Well done to Thomas Christiansen, who maintained a half-amused, half-incredulous dignity in rubbishing the claims of a few half-baked idiots who fell for a Man Utd jape. The sad thing is, he’ll most likely have to take time out to do this all over again, the next time some wally fancies having a pop just to try to make a name for himself. Perhaps though – just perhaps – Thomas could just be left in peace to get on with his job?

Fat chance.

From Milk Crate to Press Box, 42 Years at Leeds United’s Elland Road – by Rob Atkinson

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Sitting where Frannie Lee wouldn’t dare – within right-hook range of Big Norm

My Elland Road history is one of a gradual progression that has seen me following the varied fortunes of Leeds United from many different vantage points within that famous old stadium. I started out in the much-lamented Lowfields Road stand, its venerable roof famously braced by cross wires to stop it being blown away by anything above a stiff breeze. My spectating debut was in the funny little “shelf” area that ran the length of the stand between the terraces below and the seats above. I attended a good few games there, with our Gray and, solemnly in charge, my Dad – who saw that our match-day equipment included milk crates for us kids to stand upon, thus enjoying some sort of view.

When I first started going to Elland Road independently, I stood on the Lowfields terraces, but found the passion and buffeting of that experience a little too much – softie that I was. So the next move was to the Boys’ Pen, in the North-East corner of the ground. I stayed there until a ticket mix-up meant that I faced a choice between missing a League Cup tie against Everton, and braving the rigours of the Kop. I screwed up my courage to make my debut on that mighty and cacophonous hill – and never looked back. From that time on, I was a dedicated Gelderd-Ender and the Kop years represent my golden era of United support.

When the Kop went all-seater in the wake of Hillsborough and the Taylor Report, it never felt quite the same to me, and I sympathise with those who never experienced the thrill and surge of a packed Gelderd. One moment I’ll always remember is when Dave Batty scored against Man City early in our League Title season of 1991/92. As Batty himself later admitted, he was never much of a goal-scorer “but, against City, I were prolific”. Over a hundred games after his previous goal, at City in the late 80s, Batts hit the back of the net against the same opponents in ’91 – and at the Gelderd End, too. The whole stadium erupted in joy unconfined; I believe injuries were sustained on the Kop that day but, trust me, nobody felt any pain. It was a magical moment, the stuff from which legends are woven.

When my time on the Kop came to an end, my attendance at Elland Road growing less frequent, I became something of a nomad, taking in the view from the South, West and East of the stadium.  I was getting older and more curmudgeonly, less able and willing to tolerate the stresses of a packed crowd, or of bored kids making me get up and sit down all the time as they passed to and fro. I was becoming my grumpy Dad and, frankly, it had ceased to be fun. I was even considering a flirtation with Ponte Collieries, though my heart and soul belong to Leeds and always will. I just couldn’t hack it any more; I’d never got over the loss of the terraces, not that I’d last five minutes there, these days.

But now I’m back, a habitué of the press area courtesy of semi-regular Leeds United newspaper columns and, though I say it myself as shouldn’t, what has become a pan-global blog. Finally, I’m finding myself somewhat cossetted in experiencing an environment a bit kinder to middle-aged sensibilities. Last Saturday, I watched the Ipswich Town match beside one of my heroes, Norman Hunter, a legend of the Don Revie era at Leeds. I was utterly star-struck, but Big Norm was chatty and amiable – until the game started. Then he was kicking every ball, totally absorbed in the action, grievously upset at every United mistake (and there seemed to be a lot). It was an education for me in terms of what an old pro expects of the current crop, with the desk in front of us taking some punishment as Norm fulminated away. On my other side was erstwhile press-box doyen Don Warters, former Leeds United correspondent for the Yorkshire Evening Post. As Norman stumped off just before full-time, on his way to do his corporate bit in one of the lounges, I remarked that he didn’t seem too happy. Don grinned and replied, “He never is”.

I guess such hyper-involvement and the severely critical outlook goes with the territory for those guys who’ve been there and done it, especially at the level Norman, Billy and the rest played. But still, looking on the bright side – we did win on the day to stay top and, despite a couple of awayday blips recently, we’re still doing quite well overall. The football has been genuinely exciting so far this campaign, a real pleasure to watch and even to write about. What’s more, it’s a great view among all the scribes, the club kindly provides sandwiches, coffee and other such civilised comforts – and the company is amazing. All in all, just when I thought I was coming to the end of my Leeds United journey, it’s really wonderful to be back at Elland Road.

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Lowfields Road

Lowfields Road stand, towards the end of its life – but with the “Shelf” easily identifiable

Leeds, Spurs, Everyone: Give Arsenal’s Main Man a Chance   –   by Rob Atkinson


The Tories think you are STUPID. That’s why they talk at you in three word, alliterative sentences, which they repeat over and over. 
Strong and stable. Brexit means Brexit. Magic money tree. Enough is enough. Coalition of Chaos. 

It’s the crudest and most obvious form of brainwashing you could imagine, but the Tories think – because you didn’t go to Eton, Harrow and then the Varsity – that you will be easily-led enough to vote FOR fox-hunting, the end of our NHS, tax rises for everyone except the rich, cuts in police and education, the Dementia Tax – and all the other nasties that the Nasty Party wants to foist on the many, so that the few can continue to ride their beloved gravy train.

They think you’ll be daft and masochistic enough to vote AGAINST free education, a decent living wage, investment in housing and social care and 10,000 extra police to make our streets safer. They think you’re THAT stupid. Well, are you?
I have a three word sentence for you. VOTE THEM OUT. And a four word sentence. BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. 
Because, in one respect, the Tories are right. Enough IS enough. Seven years of Tory rule have dangerously weakened our front-line defences, driven teachers to despair, piled more pressure onto overworked and underpaid nurses and junior doctors. They’ve made a mess of the economy and a laughing-stock of the nation.

Now Trump is supporting the woman who failed as Home Secretary, who is failing as Prime Minister and who wants YOU to back her vague and uncosted manifesto – in effect, sign a blank cheque – for another five grim years, so that she can continue to run down vital services and sell off infrastructure. When Trump supports something, you know it can’t be good.
The last seven years of ideological austerity, which have seen national debt double to almost £2 trillion, are ample proof that the Tories are hopelessly malign and clueless. Enough really IS enough. And this election will be your last chance to make a fresh start before the Tories rig the democracy game to make sure they stay in power forever. Don’t be stupid. Don’t let them do it. The stakes are high, have your say on Thursday, and get rid of the Tories. 
Give Mr. Corbyn your trust and your faith. Give him a chance to put things right for the many, not just the few. It’s probably the chance of a lifetime to escape the yoke of neoliberalism. 

America missed the opportunity afforded them by Bernie Sanders. Look where they are now. We must not make the same mistake. 

#VoteLabour #JC4PM #ToriesOut