Fans Don’t Matter 3. My own continued biased view of how little respect the average match going fan is given in these “Modern Football” times. It’s something that I’ve been going on about for ages, in this blog and on noseybook, and will continue to do so until such the time is reached that matchgoing fans are given the respect they truly deserve. I thought that the hammering the Breakaway or at least WantAway 6 got, would have changed something. But sadly, as it goes in these “progressive” “modern” times – it only mattered for the very short length of time that the column inches warranted it, and now it has faded into obscurity until Barca and Real Madrid get really really skint again.

No quarter will be given today though, no holds barred, everything from Egotistical Super Losers or Entitled Self Centred Legitimisers to our own Club, dealing out misery again to the loyalest fans – again.

Now that Bojo and his clown club have decided that we can go back outdoors safely again, the last available game of the season was always going to be difficult one to juggle. I was hoping that the PL, in it’s usual omnipotence, would just tell the Clubs what to do in regards to who and how many get to go in. I was half wanting it all to go to the essential workers who got us through the last 12 months of hardship myself. That way the decision would have been taken out of the hands of our club and then no one could be blamed for who did or didn’t get a ticket. When I say essential workers, I don’t specifically mean the NHS frontline staff, I mean everyone, especially all those lorry drivers who worked tirelessly to keep the shops stocked up, even when they couldn’t get parked up or even get a decent meal through the day.  I mean the volunteers who delivered food and supplies to the elderly and vulnerable who couldn’t get out. All those local heroes who worked for food distribution networks in the area. Even more pertinent, all those who helped staff the jab centres, not just at ER but all over, from the vaccinators to the people who show people where to go park and made sure that the process went and still goes at a steady rate. That would have been the easy option.

Sadly, no!

So once again, the opportunity for Leeds United to screw over some of its and the Premier Leagues  most loyal fans, was there again. And I don’t say the loyalest Premier League (or if we hadn’t have gone up – Football Leagues) fans  lightly either. No other club has been through such tumultuous times in the last 30 years than our own. When it comes to footballing highs and lows, as always, with everything really,  Leeds do it better. I’m not saying what happened to Blackpool and Bury wasn’t a terrible thing, but let’s face it, Leeds United has been through a hell of a s**tstorm since we got promoted in 1989/90.

Promoted, then win the league as the last true 1st Division winners. European glory, setting the example for playing on through some of the greatest adversity imaginable. That semi-final in Valencia, to then fall foul of mismanagement on the pitch and in the boardroom. Court cases, consortium after consortium, then serial relegations, points deductions, Ken Bates does he or doesn’t he own the ground?, Weasel Harvey, skint Arabs, managerial merry-go-rounds, Neil Redfearn 6 times, Paul WhatTheHeckingbottom. I could go on and on and on – as they say.

But through it all, what has remained that one constant? What? No, WHO?

Who has remained that one constant? Us. Me – mebbe not, but certainly, many, many people who I know.

Through the last 30 years, there have been a small number of folk, who quite literally (this is a modern “progressive” way of saying it – using the word literally but not in the correct grammatical pedantic sense), a small number of the Faithful, who have “been through it altogether”. These fans matter.

Yeah, you all sing the words to the song when we are winning, but there are a small select group of fans who have genuinely been through it all together, who have been there through the ups and downs, and have been ‘Marching On Together’ in the true sense of the words since that fateful promotion day at Bournemouth. These fans matter.

This small number of people who have paid their season ticket / membership for three decades, deserved to get a ticket to the West Brom game. Some are the ones who forked out to get the 20 year season ticket, some are the original 350 who got away season tickets and were there for every long midweek away defeat in the lower leagues, some are just those who decided that every year they would commit to going to watch Leeds United, win lose or draw. And, don’t forget, you never needed to get a season ticket when we were rubbish, you used to be able to pay on the gate – you still could at Villa away not so long ago! Plus, there never used to be a pay more on the day charge – otherwise known by the capitalists as dynamic pricing. That was brought in by Bates initially and it’s been continued since, seeing as we aren’t shit anymore, they can get away with it, because everyone wants a ticket nowadays.

I have no idea exactly how many people have achieved this amazing feat, but it is definitely less than 8,000. If I was to hazard a guess at how many people have held a season ticket for 30 years, I would say maybe 2,000. At best 4,000, but certainly less than 8,000. As for away season tickets, I think there were 500 originally, but the take up fell to around 350 when we were rubbish and promotion was a pipe dream. Given that the LUSC used to have first dibs on 50% of the allocation and then any unsold went back to the Club, if Eric was still alive, he would be able to tell us. In fact, knowing Eric, he would probably know who they were. It’s easy to be dismissive, but no one can pretend that following Leeds United home and away was everyone’s cup of tea when we were shit. Up until the last 5 years or so, it wasn’t the “in” thing, and in fact judging by how many people returned their Ipswich tickets and cancelled their travel and accommodation 2 years ago as soon as it became a “dead rubber”, following Leeds United still isn’t an “in” thing. Or am I just being pernickety? Nah, I don’t think so, seeing as social media was full of outrage when we lost against 10 men Wigan, with people so disgusted that they threw their season tickets onto the pitch and were threatening to stick them to Billys statue and never waste their money on another one ever again. Or was that just an urban myth?

Leeds United would know who these dedicated people are though, and could have identified them from their records. These fans matter.

Given the last year, where people have been furloughed and lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic, I would have liked to see Leeds United do something nice. Some of us haven’t seen friends and family for a year. Many of us have missed out on the physical and mental benefits of social interaction, and no matter what people say, Zoom and Teams just doesn’t cut it. Football is so much more than just the 90 minutes on the pitch. We are one big Leeds United family. I’ve said it before, you don’t have to like all of them, some of them just piss you off breathing the same air, but we are all family. We share the ups and downs, the celebrations and the mire and we do it together. The ones who have unswerving and unconditionally been doing that for the last 30 years, deserve to see the last game of the season at ER. That would have been a kind gesture to reward loyalty.

Loyalty. But, remember, fans don’t matter.

After the temporarily thwarted attempt by the Euromaniac Supremo List teams – don’t forget Juve, Barca and Real Madrid still don’t think they have done anything wrong – the column inch munchkins and keyboard warriors were all up in the arms of Gary Neville with fake impassioned outrage. SkyTVisf**kings**t were all over it like flies over a pile of horse manure for … oh at least a week …. until they got bored and put Alan Shearer’s best goals on. They had to briefly reignite the flames of indignancy when the LiVARpool / Scum game got stopped in it’s tracks by the kind people who left one of the gates open at Old Trafford. Luckily, when they realised that the footage of these fervoured, faithful fans showed some bloke with fake bottle of Blossom Hill’s finest Zinfandel and another one wearing a pair of with Bet Lynch’s old leggings, the editors thought enough was enough, and packed it in, anything to reduce the risk of Echo Falls rose shaming.

When the potential breakaway 6 was announced, you couldn’t get away from it. Not just on SkyTVisf**kings**t Sports 409, but even on the local and national evening news. There were interviews after interviews, soundbites after soundbites, of fans, fans groups, has-been footballers, current footballers, managers (some current and some well past their sell by dates) and even old Chairmen, embittered or otherwise. Boris and Oliver got involved, even Prince William dived in with his two penn ‘orth. I was waiting for Ginge and Whinge to jump on the bandwagon, but then I realised that they probably couldn’t blame football for any of their suffering, so that ruled them out. I’m pretty sure if “Hello” had offered them some money to stand outside Stamford Bridge claiming that they’d once been forced to stay in the cheap suite of the Bates Hotel because they weren’t royal enough, they’d been there like a shot though.

The European football saga isn’t even over. There are still some clubs wanting places in the Champions League guaranteed for teams who haven’t won anything for ages but think they are Entitled to play in it. It should really be called the European Entitled League because that’s what it is. It can’t be called Elitist, because that would signify that some of them were actually any good at football. If you call failing to finish in the Top 3 year after year, Elitist – then yes, that pretty much sums up Spurs. The fact that Juve, Real, Barca, Scum and LiVARpool, and Citeh in some respects have all bought their titles in the recent years, demonstrates that Elitism is not defined necessarily by how competitive a team is on the pitch, but more by how financially competitive they are off it, which gives them the edge because they can buy all the good players, so the rest of their leagues suffer. Look at the £40 million squad players keeping the benches warm. It’s a lot of money to spend just to have grown men sat on a nice comfy seat for 90 minutes, but if it means they aren’t playing against you and scoring so you can stay in 3rd comfortably, why not?

Whilst I admire Bayern for not willing to engage in discussion with the Supercilious 12, aka the Dirty Dozen, they are still a bunch of cheats, never forget, never forgive Beckenbauer – and as for Milan – well we all know the only way they can win a game is to pay the ref off. Juve got relegated for bribing their way to several Scudettos and as for Inter – they are all as bad as each other. Athletico Madrid, I was surprised at, unless they aspired to get into as much debt as Real did and were. I really hoped PSG would win the Chumpions League, but realistically it’s Citeh all the way, hoping they do the treble, just so it pisses the Scummers off.

The crunch for these Toxic twelve clubs though, is fans don’t matter. At least match going fans don’t matter.

Don’t get me wrong, the ones that only watch on the telly and never ever want to go to a game do matter –  to subscribers of the Toxic Twelve Tournament. They are the ones who this League is aimed at. Football, just for the sake of 90 minutes of going through the motions. No relegation, just the same teams over and over again, regardless of if they are actually any good or even if they are entertaining or not. Just 90 minutes of advertising and betting opportunities.

But it’s different for the fans who faithfully trawl round every city, home and away, every single game that they possibly can. This includes the fans who don’t live in the UK by the way. When I say match going fan, I know there are fans who live in different countries, on different continents, who desperately would go to a live game given the chance, but can’t. I still count you as match going fans, even if you aren’t technically going anywhere, you are the ones who give up everything, just to watch Leeds. You may well be thousands of miles away, in a completely different time zone, but if you still make sure that those two hours of time are reserved for one thing, and one thing only, week in, week out, you technically are an immovable match going fan. Don’t forget, there are people in Africa and Asia who have to crowd round one telly, like we used to do in the 70s when not everyone in the street had a telly, to watch Leeds United. I am not dismissing these fans at all. I am dismissing the ones who are only watching because it is popular to be a Leeds United fan and as soon as we lose will go on their next vanity trip. At the moment, under Bielsa, with the side that we have (even though it is 80% the same Championship players that weren’t good enough to get promoted not so long since), we are popular. Everybody loves us, thanks to pundits like Neville gushing over us. It makes no difference to us though, we will still be there, win, lose or draw.

Shakespeare wrote, “friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears” – Owners, Chairmen and board members – please listen to us. Fans Do Matter. Match going Fans Matter. Don’t marginalise us, we are Leeds United too. When we are allowed back into the grounds, remember who we are and what we have done for the Club – maybe forget about what may or may not have happened in the late 80s / 90s – we were young then – but we are as much, if not more Leeds United than you, the current custodians, are.

By the way, just to reassure anyone who thinks that I am bitter and twisted because I didn’t get a ticket for West Brom, I’m not, this is just me, I’ve always been like this, probably getting mellow with age though.

Nope. I’m not bitter about West Brom.  I didn’t even bother applying for a ticket.

Football is nothing without being with your mates … and even those who aren’t your mates. I don’t pretend to know the names of everyone I regularly see at football. But you know who you are, I miss you and I miss the banter, I miss talking bollocks before the game and after the game. It’s been horrible missing out on our first season back in top flight football. Forced into watching it on the telly, it’s just not the same. The atmosphere at the grounds without fans is not right. Fans matter. We need to be back in our stands. We need to be there, getting behind the team and enjoying football how it should be.Through the ups and downs, like the song says. Football is more than 90 minutes watching 22 men kick a sack of air about on a pitch. Back in the Division 3 days, if it was just about the 90 minutes, most would have cracked up and packed up, it was that bad. But as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Fans do matter. Match going fans matter. Listen to your fans – please.

Roll on next season. We WILL go again.

In memory of Barry Mason RIP