Yes, John Waite was a Lancastrian, but his 1984 classic sums up what the last 15 weeks has been like. I am missing Leeds United, like most people, but there are bits of being a Leeds United fan,that I “ain’t missing at all”. I’ll stick the link in from youtube of the song at the end for those of you too young to know what I am on about.

It’s been strange times these last few months.

I have had a season ticket for far too long to remember, but I haven’t been watching Leeds United as long as some of the people in the branch and LUSC, who were going to football long before you even had to buy a ticket. Long gone are those heady days of just paying at the turnstile to get in…… hang on, you could do that at Villa two seasons ago on that Friday night that no one wanted to go to….

Anyway, 22,000 season ticket holders and 15,000 gold members haven’t been able to go to ER  since watching us beat the Dog Botherers in March (2-0 by the way, Bamford scored). The 2400 or so of us who had booked our coach seats to go to Cardiff and the 7,000 or so who were looking forward to Blackburn have had a big fat empty hole in their lives where their pubstop, tickets and travel (and victory celebrations) should have been. But no one is missing the gigantic hole that would have been in the wallet after those two expensive trips. Expensive because of the coach hire to Cardiff, and extortionately expensive after the all day-er for Blackburn, starting with brekkie in ‘Spoons.

Bloody bat flu.

I have been forced to sit there trying to get the login to work for LUTV like the rest of you. Having watched the first game on the fledgling “new normal” / “temporary abnormal” behind closed doors televised game, and having not watched any of the German / Premier League matches, I was dreading watching the rest of the season like this.

Fake crowd noise being pumped in like a badly dubbed out of sync film from the 70s was incredibly distracting. Think 70s Japanese classics like Monkey or The Water Margin but 5 seconds slower. It probably would have been better with commentary from Bert Kwouk, David Collings and Miriam Margoyles to be honest as some of it has left a lot to be desired. Even more disappointing to find out from your betting app that Luton have actually scored several minutes before it actually happened on LUTV!

But beggars can’t be choosers and it has improved. It’s good to see some of the crowdies being taken out by wayward shooting. At least those ones who are still standing after being soaked by the rain in the magnificent new East Stand. It would have been a nice more realistic touch if the stewards could all run up the stairs with them when it pours down….

I am forced to admit that SkyTVisf**kings**t does actually provide a reasonable, less shaky, wide angle camera AV service, alas if only Bert Kwouk and David Collings (look them up younger readers) weren’t actually dead… I have managed to hook up my telly and now get a damn good letterbox widescreen picture on LUTV, I don’t know how people cope watching it on their phones. But I suppose my eyes are getting old and you younger ones are used to it. And just for clarity, I don’t do BT sport, won’t have Virgin media (on principle) and a firestick is what you put on your newspaper before you pile the wood on.

Now that I have to rely on what the TV companies want you to see, it makes me realise how lucky I have been to be able to watch what I want to watch live. My opinion of Beckford has improved considerably, after listening to his commentary the other day. He was commenting on how much Bamford actually does off the ball, drawing players away and doing runs and little touches like his build up for the Blackburn goal before Klich took the guy out to win the ball (yes, it could easily have been a foul and I would have been cross if that had happened to Cooper). I have always believed that two people can go to the same game and see an entirely different match despite standing next to each other depending on who they are focusing on. Of course, much of that is down to selective viewing, i.e. seeing what you want to see. Where your judgement and therefore enjoyment of the game, depending on who you hate most and which player you think has the sun temporarily hiding up his arse, therefore can do no wrong, can be blinded. Think Beckford in the build up towards the end of the season we got back into Division 2.

The things I “ain’t missing at all”?

Away ticket ordering day

Going through the list of names the night before making sure you have got everyones name on the ticket ordering list. Switching on the computer at 10.15am on ticket ordering day, praying the broadband doesn’t go down right at the moment you see the “you are in the queue” screen. Praying you don’t see the “less than an hour” message in the queue come up. Getting to the log in stage and seeing the “password is incorrect” message. Praying you don’t see the “number exceeds the number of available tickets” message. Filling in the names of everyone on the list, praying that the basket doesn’t empty straight away and you have to fill in the names again with the concessions in the right place. Getting to the “checkout” phase and praying the basket doesn’t empty in front of your eyes. That 15 seconds where you wait for the “checkout confirmation” message and write down that confirmation number.. just in case something happens and you lose the tickets.

Travel Day

Printing off the email of the coach confirmation and the number of your driver, just in case there’s a no show. Meticulously, double checking and triple checking that you have everyone’s tickets. Going through the list to make sure everyone knows what time to be at their stop. Making sure you haven’t forgotten the football card. Getting to the first pick up and seeing that coach sat there. Waiting at the next and every single consecutive stop, wondering where the eff everybody is whilst the rest of the passengers are getting itchy feet. Counting everyone on, counting everyone off and then repeat for the pubstop.

The credit card bill at the end of the month….

I could go on, but having spoken to other branch secretaries, we all do it for the love of the game and for Leeds United.

I hope that this period of “temporary abnormal” demonstrates to the Clubs, the EFL (worse case scenario), the Premier League (best case scenario) that football is NOTHING without the fans in the grounds.

For too long, the match going fans have been ignored. Yes, the lip service is there when they want it, but season tickets have been rising over the last 20 years. Certainly the ones in the Premier League are astronomically high. It’s still only 90 minutes on the pitch. Leeds United? A bit different since our fall from grace in 2003/4 and 2006/7. We fell and fell again after Bates and the poorest Arabs on the planet, so the prices we pay haven’t suffered as severely as they could have done had we not bottled our return to the top flight by not bothering to turn up to that Watford game. And don’t get me even started on the paltry away fan allocation at some (half empty) grounds and treatment by the authorities since 1980s.

That Sporting Grounds Act of 1985 is an effing travesty and it’s about time that it is repealed. It’s been 35 years, time has moved on, policing has changed, jeez, football has changed, especially the “prawn sandwich brigade”…. and it still only actively applies to football. Rugby, cricket, horse racing can carry on without recourse, but football fans still remain Public Enemy Number 1. If there’s any institutional discrimination that should be tackled in this new woke liberal era of “freedom and liberty”, it’s the constitutional hatred of football fans on match days that needs to be abolished and that happens to fans regardless of colour or race.

Here’s famous lancastrian John Waite and someone irrepressibly born off an egg on a mountain top (thanks to vevo for the song and google images for Monkey)

 

Monkey Magic cast: Where are they now?