Not wanting to be carried away on the wave of optimism that is sweeping across the amassed Leeds fans in country (and the ones who don’t support us but want to see us back in the Premier League), I am dodging the addictive enthusiasm by briefly looking back at how far we have actually come since the demise of the miserable beardy bad loser.
Believe it or not, this months blog has been inspired by, of all things, ordering Hull tickets. Hull tickets are £24 plus £1 bates tax for the cheap seats and £27 plus £1 bates tax for the nice(r) seats down the side. They do not have any concession prices for senior citizens or juniors. The reason for this stems from their last few seasons of turmoil. If you remember, when they got bought out, their new owners decided that they wanted to change the name (in an all American franchise-type way) to Hull Tigers (as opposed to Tigers Tigers Ra Ra Ra). This despite the fact that Hull City Association Football Club has been in existence since 1904 (technically older than us then) and completely against the wishes of the fans. On their return to the Premier League in 2016, the club badge had the “Hull City AFC” “The Tigers” (Ra Ra Ra) removed and instead just had a picture of a tiger on the front. Their crowds have dwindled since the heady days of Phil “Tango” Brown and sealing that brilliant promotion ( that technically we gave them by beating Watford) in 2013. Even with the falling ticket sales, the new owners are still embroiled in a dispute with the fans regarding ticket pricing and now, I believe the Football Supporters Federation are involved as well to help the Hull Supporters Trust to sort this out. The season has begun and ticketing has not been resolved. Interestingly enough, Hull FC (egg chasers) share the same ground/ ticket office/ facilities etc. and they DO have concessions. So much for fans being the heartbeat of the club, hey?
Meanwhile, across the border, in another one of Peter’s flawed attempts at Chairmanship, after hoisting up his white flag to the Malaysians, the Bluebirds were threatened with fire to re brand them into Red Dragons. (oh I am getting the puns in here). Across the proper Pennine border, Blackpool are still neck high in the mire with possibly the worst owners in football history, closely followed by Charlton, whose new owner practically declared that they were merely a feeder club to his European teams. Regular readers need not be reminded about the Blackburns of this world.
Leeds United have had their fair share of difficulties, and this piece is not the case of people in glass houses not chucking bricks. My point is that since Beardy finally got his marching orders from Sig. Cellino we have still had our ups and downs. And, unfortunately s**t sticks, so the phrase “doing a Leeds” is still evident in the ether. However, it seems that whilst we bore the brunt of the full force of the Football League and the hefty points deduction in 2007, like most things in 2018, carefully placed money can now resolve this issue (Villa, Bolton, Sunderland..woo hoo!). Thankfully, despite all the showboating aerial stunts, projections, coffins and other (un)social media campaigns, Leeds fans have not yet had to resort to throwing tennis balls onto the pitch or boycotting en masse, since Bad Santa took his sack of toys out of Elland Road, without taking a penny in wages – remember. In real terms, we have not had it as bad as some. It is something we can count our blessings on.
Our club went through the lowest of the low in those 10 years. Those who thought that it was bad under Cellino either can’t remember how bad it was, or have chosen to block it all out of their memories. Even before Beardy, there were signs of trouble ahead. For example, the insistence that the majority of the fans voted to move to Swillington and the badly thought out titles of books and DVDs (Leeds United – A Season on Trial, United We Fall and my personal favourite – Peter Ridsdale -My Leeds United). Never has the phrase, you reap what you sow, has been so apt.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. We had Swillington Sewerage Works, the Fullerton Ice Rink and Beeston Super Casino, then the Bates Hotel / Motel , all which would help the Club??? We went from semi-finals in the Champions League to not owning the ground, the Academy, the training ground and not even the matchday catering made us any money.
So when Cellino came in and cleared out, he did what no one else had the balls to do. He took back charge, or at least he tried to. He tried to stick two fingers in the face of the Football League, Harvey and his not fit for purpose buddies, Skytvisf**kings**t and everyone else who realistically couldn’t run a Subbuteo football team, let alone a Division 2 outfit. Yes, he made managerial mistakes, but in doing so, he laid the foundations clear for Radrizzani. Yes, under his tutelage we made some random signings, but it was the basis for what we have now….Beradi for one, without Kyle Bartley there would have been no Ayling… But of course, Cellino will never be credited by some people for what he did.
And, back to the now. This Saturday sees a meeting between the Supporters Group and The Club about our Centenary year celebrations. Badges aside, our Club is listening to it’s fans, and in the end, the board did listen to the fans anyway about the crest. We have secured Bielsa who has transformed our team of end of season relegation dodgers, into tip, top, top of the leaguers, who are being raved about from all four corners.
Yes, it is early days still, but it is looking like the sun is shining….