Keep It In The Family – Entitled Elitism

Posted by on Apr 20, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

The last 48 hours has demonstrated the desperate fight to keep it in the family of the Entitled Elite v The Masses.

Who is going to win? Well Adam, in this battle of Man v Fools – who knows?

But what I can tell tell you is that the display yesterday at ER, although initally may have been borne from well meaning genuine gestures, played right into the hands of the greedy JP Morgans of this world. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

There’s going to be many of you who will take instant insult and indignation at that, after all, what harm can the team wearing T shirts in solidarity for fans, a plane fly by and a few banners do? It sends a message to the Italian, American and Middle Eastern owners, right?

Wrong. All it tells them is that their plan of over the top sensationalism and their mantra of “no publicity is bad publicity” is “selling” and they need to wholeheartedly carry on. Those clips and pictures will have flown round the world in the last 24 hours, via youtube, instagram, tiktok, whatever and be all over the global news channels. And all those platforms will have added their logarithmic click bait, tracking cookies and the rest of the s**t, and right now they are rubbing their tight fisted, grubby little paws in glee. Because all this publicity for them has given them access to all the data that they can now harvest and make money off – and they love it. Because that’s what they truly want.

There used to be a saying in the 90’s when the war lords were taking over the world “Peace Sells, Who’s Buying?” (also the title of an excellent Megadeth album). Well now it’s “Advertising Sells, Who’s Buying?”, because the Rich and The Entitled have bought most of the material possessions that they can buy now. They have moved onto the only thing that is left – fame, publicity and power to influence over the rest of us minions, and tell us what to do. That used to be down to Governments, now it’s down to Corporate Banks and Bill Gates.

That display yesterday really only affected the team and the manager. None of whom were guilty of anything. Unless Klopp and those players actually stood up and said they were completely happy to play in this new league, it’s nothing to do with them. I really felt for Milner last night, it’s not his fault. Ultimately, short of refusing to play, there was nothing he, nor the rest of the team nor Klopp could have done. ***Disclaimer Alert*** As I have repeatedly said, what I write here is what I think and doesn’t purport to be any reflection of anyone else. Certainly I am in a minority of one right now, as I don’t think that it was right to do that yesterday. T shirts, big flag, plane fly by, supporters shouting “scabs” / “greedy b******ds”. Everything, the whole kit and kaboodle. Shouldn’t have done it.

Anything and everything needs to be aimed at the owners of these clubs and anyone else who agrees with the Elitist. The players and the managers are pawns in this. Until any manager or player of the 6 clubs in England or the rest of the Judases in Italy and Spain openly agrees to this league, they aren’t to blame. The blame lies with the Elite Entitled owners and the governing bodies for allowing this to happen on their watch.

I have been harping on about this for ever. I saw a T shirt or a meme or whatever they are called, yesterday “Against Modern Football” it said.

Ha – bloody ha! 

SkyTVisf**ings**t and The Premier League have been at the forefront of “Modern Football” since they took it off us in 1993. Many of you younger folk have been indoctrinated into it, and can’t even conceive that there was any football before 1992. The concept of Division 1 as the top league and then Divison 2 etc. etc has completely passed you by, all you know is “The PL and The Championship”. Division 2, incidentally is where we used to belong, with the likes of Scum and Chelski, Nottingham Forest, in fact Notts County were the top clubs in this country. When SkyTVisf**kings**t first said they would televise games, they promised that they would compensate the match going fans for the inconvenience if (yes – IF) games were moved for TV! Effing joke isn’t it?  The only saving Grace is that they weren’t allowed to schedule any live matches at Saturday 3pm – because that’s when football used to be played. 

Do as I say, not do as I do.

Thatcher started it in 1985 with the Sporting Grounds Act (look it up younger ones – this is the thing which effs up our away days). Yeah, there was the odd skirmish, but Mrs Thatch DID NOT LIKE FOOTBALL FANS – FACT. The Act was drawn up and has been repeatedly used against match going football fans to stop us doing what we want to do. It doesn’t stop the coach loads of racing or rugby or cricket fans having a drinkie on the way to the game – because it’s not football. But it stops us. The fans of these other sports a) more or less do the same as we do and b) are probably THE SAME people who do THE SAME thing because there isn’t a football game to go to. And, bless them, it’s only been the racing fraternity who in recent years have had to endure “dry trains” on the way to York or Aintree and that’s their own fault for being posh, dressed up to the nines, getting inebriated and being daft enough to get their picture spreadeagled all over the broadsheets. 

SkyTVisf**kings**t and BT –  The True Gods of Football, and now Amazon and Netflix are getting in on the act. Power and greed, all driven by the desperate need to have more influence over us and the continual need to have the opportunity to advertise the “brand”. More fame, more notoriety, more presence in the TV and social media universe. Ultimately they all end up kowtowing to the people with all the money. They end up cowering to the Corporate Animals that are the global banks and corporations … and Bill Gates. Who just use all the subscription information to gather more knowledge about individuals, which can then be passed on to whoever the highest bidder is.

UEFA have now come out with the same snivelling “football is for fans” bollocks. This is the same UEFA who not two weeks ago were advertising on their own website corporate packages for 23,000 quid or euros (it’s more or less at parity now anyway I think) to watch all the Euro 2021 games in the best seats in the house. £23,000 – an entire years wages for some, two years for others, for essentially 2 and a bit weeks of watching 90 minutes of 22 men kicking a ball on the pitch. A brilliant “punishment” for this new league – they won’t let any of these players play in their National teams. Gary Neville – what do you think about that then? The same Gary who under Fergie’s reign played in a side many who mysteriously had “injuries” just before International Duty, but miraculously recovered the very next game. Gary – how many games did that proud Taff Ryan Giggs turn up in for Wales? Scum and Livarpool are hardly going to see that as punishment, they’d be ecstatic at the thought of not having to risk their star players getting injured in any of these meaningless competitions. They’d much rather be enjoying the break and effing off to USA or Asia in some overseas friendly, promoting their brand.

Exclusivity / Elitism / Entitlement. Call it what you want. UEFA are only up in arms about it because FIFA are going to rob them of some of their exclusive advertising revenue, threatening their livelihoods. They couldn’t give a crap about the fans. UEFA had already gone back on their principles and “let” teams who hadn’t qualified for the Champions League spots by actually playing good football into the league, in anyway. After all, why should you need to be good at winning to get a place in a competition featuring the best teams in Europe? It should be a given that Scum and Livarpool get into the Chumpions League every year, because they deserve to – right? As for Spurs? When was the last time they won anything? Answers on a postcard to The European Super League Headquarters…

Whilst I am on about it – the FA and PL / EFL and Boris (or the other bloke had he got it). What did they care about the Oystons of this world when Blackpool supporters were having their club ripped away from under them? What did the EFL do to stop Bury, one of the founder clubs of the Lancashire League in 1885 from going under? Bolton Wanderers was one of the ORIGINAL founder members of The Football League in 1888. What help did they get from Weasel Harvey? When Charlton basically turned into the feeder club for Standard Liege when the owner realised that the EFL actually expected Championship clubs to make losses. 

https://talksport.com/football/efl/579976/charlton-athletic-roland-duchatelet-efl/

What did they do? Jack all. Fans matter though.

Football is unique in that in the UK certainly and South America,  it has come from poor working class roots. This is the time if this was an interview on the telly, to switch to a scene of young children kicking a ball about in the dust in the favelas. In the US of A “football” is soccer. As much as SkyTVisf**kings**t have been trying to make “Morning Football Show” into a “thing” (yes I mistakenly clicked onto it on Sunday thinking it was a re run of our Citeh game) , our American cousins know it as soccer. In America, football is what I call Gridiron football. It is basically some sort of rugby, with helmets, a lot of padding and a funny shaped ball which isn’t even round, so I’m not sure how it can be a ball? Anyway, in America there has been a bit of spate of TV / movie / reality stars / sporting stars investing in soccer teams and becoming part owners of these franchises. Why? maybe because all the American Football teams have already been taken. It’s so popular that Ryan Reynolds who did that classic “Green Lantern” has become a part owner in Wrexham. Well done Wrexham FC by the way for attracting Ryan! Let’s hope the next Green Lantern film gives some exposure to sunny Wales.

There was an interview with Ian Wrighty Wright and Kalvin this weekend featuring shots of Kalv walking down terraced streets in Armley . Kalv told him about growing up in Leeds and how proud he was to play for us and how Granny Val told him to sack Villa off. How many other PL teams can boast the same? Home grown youth players brought up the ranks? Rashford and McTominlay at Scum? Foden at Citeh? Maddison at Leicester – (oops not Top 6!). There’s few and far between.

In the same breath as fans have hailed our under 23s for being Champions, there was even a 1st team guard of honour at some point, the same ones are going on about which “star” player we need to buy in the summer to keep us up. Where are these U23s going to be next season? Probably not in the 1st team, and probably not even here, is the answer. All these keyboard warriors who have been outspoken about comparing them to the “true class of 92” , were all sat in the close season and the January transfer window furiously going through the stats of our next Jean Paul Augustin. How many of these were the same ones slating Cooper, Dallas and Kalv 3 seasons ago as part of Whattheheckingbottom’s failures? How many of them can stand up and say that the names of Vydra, Rhodes, Charlie Austin, Grealish, Forestieri, Eze, Pukki never passed their lips as players who needed to be brought in as a wholesale replacements for our crap team?

Not many is there?

Money, greed, power and Elitism. Here’s what you could have got for a years wages from UEFA.

      

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Anywhere but Swillington

Posted by on Apr 9, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

This week marks 21 years since two Leeds United fans went off to a game of football and never came back. Never has the phrase “never forgive and never forget” been so apt. Although my blogs are rarely contain any serious material, it would be remiss of me not to mention it. RIP lads.

Coincidentally, this week, branch member and ex (old) Knaresborough Branch secretary, Dave Rowson, has had his book published, which vaguely chronicles, those heady European days. There are many many stories from those days, some we’d rather forget and some we will fuzzily remember fondly. All I can say is, thank The Lord there was no such thing as social media and camera phones at the time. Some memories we will treasure forever and some, simply put, we won’t.

A fair few of the branch were in Istanbul that night. Some were waiting at LBA for a flight because they could only get the day of the game off work. And, as much as I dislike our then Chairman, Peter Ridsdale, to be fair, that night he did the best any Chairman could have done. That was probably his finest hour, at a very distressing and difficult time.

There has been enough written about that terrible night and the days after, and the subsequent lack of justice since. There is nothing I can add to this sad story, but it was good to see that excellent banner and the tribute from Leeds United at T’Blades game. Well done to all those involved.

My piece today however, refers to one of the many (many) failings of our then Chairman, Peter Fibsdale ( and don’t even get me started on that terrible book he “wrote”).  

Peter was ultimately one of the architects of our ruin. However, as The Secretary rightly points out, there didn’t seem to be much corporate oversight either. The rest of the blame for our initial fall and then repeated falls from grace could also be laid at the feet of our manager, a certain Mr O Leary and the air of complacency that had developed at ER, along with certain off pitch antics from a number of our squad.  But for your delectation, here is the article that still vexes me from 20 years ago:

https://www.leedsunited.com/news/team-news/20019/ridsdale-backs-skelton-stadium-switch

and for you none believers, it even made it to The Grauniad:

There are a few who might say that I am still quite bitter about this.

As the old saying goes, a grudge is for life, not just Christmas. I am not exaggerating, but to me it is probably THE biggest lie ever told. Yes, since then, there’s been multiple others that I can trawl up e.g “Fabian Delph is NOT for sale”. There’s the usual comical ones “Ken Bates saved Leeds United” , “It’s (CVA) the only way to save the Club”,  “GFH will save Leeds United”, the Shaun “Weasel” Harvey famous ones of ” I have no idea who owns Elland Road, but it definitely isn’t Ken Bates”, “I have NEVER known who owns Elland Road”, “No-one knows who owns Elland Road” . The clear codswallop that we as Leeds fans have had to endure is endless, not forgetting the most one current one of “The design of the new crest was done with consultation of tens of thousands of Leeds fans, and fans are happy with the result”. 

This lie of lies, however, that we wanted to leave ER, was full on bulls**t. 

Yes, we all got a vote on whether we thought Elland Road should be moved to a “better” site …. er… Swillington. Swillington …. seriously …. near the sewage works …. anywhere but Swillington …. so they called it Skelton instead. And remember, this was in an era when many clubs were getting rid of their old grounds, and moving to wraparound newer, modern grounds, which promised better facilities and increased capacity but were all built out of town, in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest pub, all in the name of progress. Not for the benefit of normal fans though. None of this getting off the train and walking down to the ground via the pub. Nope, only for the ones who drove to the game or got a coach, where’s the fun in that? Not for the benefit of the businesses in the  local community either, who used to get the football trade. Nope.

It was never anything to do with selling off the valuable land that the old ground was on and getting minted on the profits from the Barratts / Wimpey / Persimmons of this world (remember this was 2000s), though. So, this was the major discussion in the pubs and clubs around the country, and the YEP and Radio Aire had their two penn’orth as well. Fibsdale announced that there would be a consultation, and he would go with whatever the result was.

No-one and I mean, NO-ONE I knew actually voted for the move away from our home. EVERYONE I knew wanted to stay at ER. So, imagine our surprise when, in the programme notes and the YEP, Fibsdale comes out with “more than 80% of our loyal support have voted for a move to … Swillington …. er Skelton”.

That’s full on vote rigging to the scale of most third world, sub continent, despotic countries. How concerned was I? Concerned wasn’t the word. I was LIVID. I spent the whole of the time in the pub before the game, after the game, and in the Kop, during the game, going all Tommy Torquemada on everyone within 5 square foot. I stopped at burning people at the stake, but  Inquisition mode was on, and no-one, not even the stewards was spared. For those of you who don’t know who Tomas Torquemada was, look him up. Whilst you can’t help but admire him for his work ethic, I fear he enjoyed his job that little bit too much. The man was the epitome of taking religion to that extra enthusiastic mile. Unfortunately.

Why am I harking back to two decades of newsworthylessness?

It stems from hearing a snippet from TalkSport or Radio 5, where the two commentators were going on about how Leeds United needed to get a more “competitive” edge by building a new stadium. As if the only way team would get better and be able to compete in this league would be if it had a new stadium. 

We’re 10th in our first season back in the PL and we have had most of our defence out for most of the season. How not competitive are we? In the alleged, most competitive league in Europe, how does being 10th with a makeshift defence for 80% of the season transpire into not being competitive? Do I not sound like Graham Taylor?

What they really mean is that they don’t like being sat up on that gantry above the crumbly West Stand. And why would the metropolitan snowflakes want to sit there? You are basically swinging in the rafters up there, right above the pitch. None of this nice warm studio, shielded from the baying fans below stuff. That gantry is as unique to ER as the old Stadio Delle Alpi was to Juve. No one can compete with that.

I hope that when we do get a new stadium, things like that are remembered and retained, within the limits of Elf and Stacey of course, as much as possible.

I don’t want the new ER to welcome the away fans and the journos. I want them to dread coming to Fortress ER. I don’t want an IdentiKit ground with a running track separating us from the pitch. I want us to be there, right in their faces. I don’t want the opposition and their fans to have an enjoyable experience, I want them to dread every single second of it, and be able to watch it on a nice big screen, which doesn’t look like it’s been rescued from a skip outside the studios after they filmed The Running Man in 1987. I don’t want the new ground to be an overwhelming monstrosity, just tidy up the West Stand so it doesn’t look like Wembley in 1936. Stick a museum in it, sort out a decent scoreboard and telly, put some decent bogs in the stands, get some proper beer and more importantly proper functionning beer pumps in. It doesn’t need to look like the Starship Enterprise, all shiny and new, it just needs to have 50,000 capacity, at least 48,000 for the paying fans and then the rest for the necessary corporate animals. 

Statesman like but under stated – like Bielsa.

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Look Back in Honour

Posted by on Feb 24, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Yesterday we lost Eric Ware, one of our longest serving branch members. At 74 years of youth, Eric was supporting Leeds United and travelling away, way before most of us, and continued to hold his season ticket and travel when he could, right until we were stopped by bat flu. Eric was there from the very beginnings of the branch, travelling on the old Pynes and Murgy’s buses. He was there in Paris in ’75, he racked up many, many football miles in a time when travelling by coach was realistically, the ONLY option because trains and cars, simply was not. It might seem very easy to book your seat on trainline nowadays. You can get yourself to London, see the game and get back for a couple of pints in Leeds, long before most of the late night revellers have even left home to go into town. It wasn’t so easy in the old days. Even in the 90s and early 2000s, cheap reliable train travel was hard to find, and depending on who you were travelling with, might not have been much fun.

Unlike the song, Leeds fans don’t look back in anger. Anyone who has been a long standing, long suffering Leeds fan, can only look back in honour at what has happened to us in the last three seasons of Bielsa.

At the last monthly branch meeting that we were allowed to hold, I had a chat with Eric about what he thought about Bielsa and the football we were playing. 

Those of you who knew Eric, will know that he loved Leeds United, and he loved talking about Leeds United. Eric could talk the hind leg off a donkey. He remembered all the games he’d been to and had so many stories of following Leeds over the decades. Stories now lost, but those of us who heard him speak about the old days, will treasure them. That evening he was so excited about the football we were watching. The team were playing as a team, and he said it was like watching them in the old days, how football should be played.

And Eric is not the only one who has said this. Most, if not all the pundits on SkyTVis f**kings**t, have come out with this comment. Begrudgingly to start off with, but the likes of Souness, Merson, Carragher, Neville, Hinchcliffe et al are all reading from the same page nowadays. I can’t really speak about BT Sport or Amazon, as I haven’t really seen much of their games. I know some woman who nobody knew said something and because she got slated for it, she got a bit upset and then people jumped to her defence. But, there’s very few who haven’t subscribed to Bielsa Ball.

My point being, everything that Bielsa has done to this team in the last 2 years and 8 months is harking back to the old days. The Old Leeds, and not just on the pitch either.

The game he plays is his way. 

Measured and dictated by facts and figures of the opposition. He researches every team (and makes no secret of it) , just like Revie did. The team plays as a team with no big personalities or individuals. Each man mucks in, the embodiment of Billy’s “side before self – everytime”. Each player battles to the very end of the game. They cover for each other so no gaps are left. Like Bamford’s clearance last night in front of goal, even though Meslier was behind him, he kept his keeper safe. It’s been said time and time again this season, we play as a team.

Yet Bielsa remains a humble man.

His quote this week “I am managing in the Premier League because of Leeds” or something like that. He is so respectful of the fans, because he recognises how important we are. He replies to his letters personally and continues to thank us for supporting our Club. He acts like he is doing it for us – the fans.

In a previous blog, years ago it seems, I made this very wish, the hope that we would finally get a manager and a team (and a club) who would give us, the long suffering fans, the respect that we deserve. After all win, lose or draw , we are the best fans in the world!

And this takes me to my point. We should look back in honour.

This week, Boris announced that we might get into the last game of the season. It sparked off massive debate about who gets to go into ER for the first time in a year – well, it’ll be more like 15 months by the time we physically get in. There were people saying it should just be a ballot, some saying it should be just loyal season ticket holders, some saying everyone should get a chance. The “newer” fans preferring the open ballot system of course. 

If it was left to me, if I got given the chance to go in, I would have surrendered my ticket to Eric. Just like I have done previously, I will do it again. Because there are people who deserve to watch Leeds United more than me. The likes of Eric, who have followed Leeds all their lives. The Chairman, Charley Megginson, we may jest with, but you cannot deny his loyalty and his commitment. There’s others like Phil Beeton, both Little and Big Mick Hewitts, many devotees, who deserve to be in the queue way ahead of me.

I cannot see anyone agreeing with me, and this is will be a hotly debated topic of discussion, just like the away tickets discussion, which incidentally seems like a lifetime ago now. But if we have learnt anything from the last year, it is that life is short. The odds of going to one more game is considerably higher for a 30 year old than it is for a stalwart of the Revie era. This might be their last chance for those 65+ ones who actually saw Billy, Norman, Jack, Trevor and Terry play. Many might not want to go to the game for medical reasons etc. but I hope the Club will just give those long standing, loyal fans that one chance in the summer.

Similarly with the redevelopment of ER.

We all know we need a bigger stadium. The facilities are a bit rubbish in the Kop and West Stand, compared with the “Magnificent New” East Stand (younger readers look it up!). The extra investment from the 49ers has been secured and the plans that were drawn up a season or so ago for a “Citeh” style ground / training ground / sports and leisure complex may be getting nearer and nearer. The board has already said they don’t want a lifeless “identikit” stadium like the Riverside or Reebok or Stadium of Light (not the famous one in Benfica), but they would like something that reflects Leeds United. 

I hope they do look back in honour and give the older fans, some input into what they would like in the new ER. After all, they were the ones who have such vivid memories of our famous history, Paris in 75, Salonika, the atmosphere in ER during the Revie Era. The ones who sat on the roof of The Peacock for that midweek Cup game in the 70s. Even the people like me who were there for those European nights in the glory days of the Champions League.

I’m not saying get a draughtsman into a room full of old codgers and go from there, but I am saying that iconic grounds grow from memories that are imprinted from a proud history. No one is ever going to say “oh remember those nights at under the famous floodlights at the JJB” are they? They’ll remember the stabbing risk outside shaky Ayresome Park, the odd hotch potch stands at the Baseball Ground or even the bogs at Oakwell,  before that. Those European games in the Champions League under the lights of the “Magnificent New” East Stand were kind of special. For me, Jimmy’s hat trick at Monaco – now that was a spectacular ground, even if I can’t remember very much about it.

I’ve heard noises about a walkway on the new roof and whilst it sounds great, it would be much more dramatic to do that at St James Park (the original one) overlooking Newcastle and the Tyne, than a view across Beeston, Holbeck and the M62. That’s my thoughts anyway. But who’s to know, the redevelopment of Matthew Murray might look spectacular. It would be even better if Leeds City Council would seriously consider putting a train station in / or linking up the old tracks so there’s a direct link between the new Leeds Bradford Airport and ER for all those Scandinavian and Irish fans. Now wouldn’t that be a good idea? Maybe a partnership agreement between Leeds Bradford Airport and Leeds United to get our international fans to games? Blue sky thinking? It’s worth an ask. 

Fans input into the redevelopment would be great. A nod to the Spirit of Revie Era would be fantastic. We can only hope that the 49ers and the rest of the board will do as Bielsa does, and respect and value the old timers as much as these “newer” fans.

To finish with, Eric Ware, bus bingo caller extraordinaire – “Are you sweating at the back yet?”

Are you sweating at the back yet?

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Groundhog Day – Life Imitating Art

Posted by on Feb 4, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Today, February 2nd 2021 is Groundhog Day.

For those of you who have never seen this classic Bill Murray film from 1993 – SHAME ON YOU! Get yourself down to Blockbuster and rent the video out now. Anyone born after 2000, you have no idea what I am going on about, so just read on.

Groundhog Day is one of those films that they put on every year at Christmas because it’s a “feel good film”. One of those ones that people watch over and over again as, when it seems all hope is lost, it rekindles your faith in the human spirit, making you all warm and fuzzy inside (bit like when Bamford scores!). It is certainly much more heart warming and much milder than the Frank Capra great “It’s A Wonderful Life” , which really at times actually is quite bleak for a Christmas film. Incidentally, it’s also, in a manner quite unbefitting of the usual rubbish of SkyTVisf**kings**t, been on constantly on the film channel 302 all day …. as if it was Groundhog Day! Da dum.

However, Groundhog Day for me is a perfect example of life imitating art, not art imitating life.

Without going too much into the teachings of that old bloke Aristotle in Ancient Greece in 300BC, and then it’s subsequent 180 degree flip by Oscar Wilde in 1880, it is loosely translated as when real life starts behaving like a work of fiction e.g. in a film, or a book or (in a more current setting) when something on social media starts being taken out of proportion / and or context and people start believing it, even though it may be completely fictitious.

In my mind, Art, whether it is a book or a painting or a film is someone’s take on what is currently happening and therefore an individual’s own way of capturing or mirroring or a glimpse in time. Life is what is factually, physically and mentally occuring at any given moment – life is life.

Groundhog Day is definitively an actual day. February 2nd. It’s a day when Punxsutawney Phil from Gobblers Knob, Pennsylvania US of A, peeps out from his hollow tree stump at dawn, and if he sees his shadow it means there is going to be another 6 weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil is a Marmota Monax – technical name for a groundhog, which is essentially, a whopping great big rat. Groundhog day is real life.

In 1993, Harold Ramis (one of the original Ghostbusters – not to be confused with that crap unfunny version they did the other year) wrote the screenplay and directed his Ghostbusters’s mate, Bill Murray, in a film about a weatherman forced to go to the real life event, and what happens to him. Thereby – Art.

28 years later, someone says it feels like “Groundhog Day” meaning it feels they are living the same day over and over again. Luckily, it doesn’t mean that they have a dog sized rodent hanging out at the bottom of their back garden in a tree stump.

What has this got to do with Leeds?

My point is, in the current pandemic tradition of the “three – word – phrase”, “Doing A Leeds”.

Doing A Leeds was and still is, a phrase which relates to an unhappier time in our proud club’s history. Once upon a time, many moons ago, in the time before Bielsa, our then Chairman spent beyond his means and well, I needn’t go through the grisly details, things just went horribly wrong. Since then, every club that gets screwed over by the owners or the Chairmen or both, resulting in a fall from grace, plus or minus relegation (in our experience serial relegation) and accruing massive debts, plus or minus players and staff not getting paid … I needn’t go on, need I? You get the picture, “Doing A Leeds” has become synonymous with failure, abject failure due to poor judgement and financial mismanagement of a football club.

Since we laid that rock steady foundation, many clubs have “done a Leeds”.

But if a fan had only recently started following Leeds and was completely oblivious of our history, “Doing A Leeds” , in our current standing of heart stopping, breakneck speed, edge of your seat entertaining football excellence, would be the complete opposite. Who knows what lies in our future under the tutelage of Radrizzani and the ever increasing stake of the 49ers. It may well be that, five years from now, we have a fantastic stadium with state of the art training facilities, the envy of the country, and  we are top of the PL and talk of doing the triple will be common place. In which case, the link between total, laughable, abject failure both financially and in playing terms, will be consigned to the annals of history, in a box sealed in duct tape, marked DO NOT OPEN EVER AGAIN. 

There are some sayings though, that will stand the test of time, and no one will ever get confused about what they mean. There’s the usual famous  ones like the often misquoted, “some people believe football is a matter of life or death, I am very disappointed with that ……. it is much more important than that “. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1232318/Bill-Shankly-The-quotes-Liverpool-legend-50-years-day-took-over.html

As you can see, even the most famous quotes can be sometimes get muddled, there’s one however that will always stand the test of time, and that’s our own

“Side before self – every time” 

Thanks to Leeds United for the picture which came from last March when they deferred the wages at the start of the lockdown https://www.leedsunited.com/news/team-news/26446/club-statement-side-before-self-every-time

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Levelling The Playing Field

Posted by on Jan 27, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

In this modern 21st century age of pretending everyone is equal so they don’t get upset about it, even if they are not as hard working / practical / knowledgeable / intelligent as the next person, levelling the playing field is one of the key phrases being banded about. We would like to think we are right to stop promoting elitism, wouldn’t we? When you think about it though, are we? Is the 21st century progressing into the equal society that our leaders keep telling us it is? Or actually are we still in the old “do as I say, not do as I do” lip service 20th century? In truth, I don’t think there is any levelling of the playing field at all. The only levelling of the playing field that is going on, is hopefully what is currently being done at ER on our pitch.

So, what’s going wrong? Or is anything wrong at all?

Big clubs attract big money from advertising, sponsorship, rich owners, rich agents (!) etc etc etc. It’s not their fault, is it? The “big” clubs are bound to get attention from their loaded current and prospective owners who are willing to plough their hard earned dosh / ill gotten gains (delete as appropriate)  money into their “investment”. That can’t be wrong, can it? Surely, there’s nothing wrong with the bigger clubs always having the first pick at the cherry tree? But then think what happens with the smaller clubs. What slim pickings are they left with? And really this potentially means anyone outside of the “Big 6”. Look at for example, Bournemouth. They did ok for themselves on the pitch for a while, despite the lack of owners with huge pockets. But their luck ran out eventually and every season now the likes of Burnley, Fulham, Brighton etc. all fight to get out of the relegation Death Race that is the last 6 weeks of the season . That’s no fun every season is it? But is it so wrong to have something to aspire to? Everyone wants to be in the PL, right?

On the flipside, you have the never ending conversation from FIFA about the need for a new European League, with the “biggest” clubs from Europe playing. As if Klippety hasn’t got enough to moan about with Livarpool already being “forced” to play too many games with not enough substitutions. After all, there’s far too much football for these professional players to cope with, isn’t there? The League, the Chumpions League, all those international pre season and mid season friendlies, the odd trip to Dubai thrown in, and then the small matter of the League and the FA Cup (which could get you a place in Europe in case you fall out of the Top 3) and all those international games as well, including that nonsense Nations League (what’s that all about?). So does an elite “FIFA European League” actually have a place alongside the already dreadful Eur “a no hoper” League and Chumpions League that hardly anyone bothers watching now anyway? Well, that depends on how much money FIFA will make, doesn’t it? Money talks, after all. So is it really about guaranteeing these “big name” clubs consistently have a place in a “top” competition to ensure the money men get their global advertising revenue streams?

Is the reality more exasperation than aspiration or inspiration?

I’ll put some more examples to you.

This week we heard that there has been an increased stake from our American friends in California. This has been uniformly welcomed with open arms. More investment potentially means more money into the coffers, which to some fans,  means a big fat purse to splash out on new players with. To me, I hope that the investment goes into the redevelopment of our aging stadium and neighbouring facilities. Don’t get me wrong, the facilities at Thorp Arch are some of the best in the league. Thorp Arch is one of the reasons why Leeds is lauded as a Premier League Academy team. But they chose to film parts of the King’s Speech in the West Stand for a reason. They filmed the famous stuttering speech which was delivered by George VI in 1925 at the Empire Exhibition, Wembley Stadium, from the West Stand in 2011. So the West Stand’s claim to fame is that it looked like Wembley in 1925. What does that say to you about the need for investment into our beloved ER? This, when Ken “I never took a penny in wages” Bates had come up with his famous plan to build a hotel at ER and had already put a new face on the East Stand (as well as some shiny new corporate boxes where ordinary fans used to sit), even though the West Stand was desperately crying out for an update to those wooden seats. After all, football isn’t just about the 30 match days a season , is it? Thank the Lord that he never got a chance to do a Leeds version of the “Chelski Village” at ER.

There have been plans touted for Citeh style facilities at ER utilising the old Matthew Murray site and Fullerton Park to improve the area and make it easier to access on site facilities rather than making the 20 mile trip out to Wetherby. I can only hope that the funds go there and not to splashing out on “big name” players. We need to get that West Stand refurbed and the rest of the ground up to PL standards. We need to get more capacity for the people who want to sit in the stands, not just the money spinning corporate entertainment boxes which generate so much money. We need to improve the match day facilities so we’re not queueing for 20 minutes to get crap beer and a nuclear pie with a dubious indistinguishable filling (which may or may not have derived itself from animal or vegetable matter a lifetime ago – who knows ), and we well and truly need to sort the pitch out 

After all, we need more seats to get all the “new” fans in for the next couple of seasons until they get bored again when we sink back to mid table mediocrity, or heaven forbid, get relegated again. After all, nothing says part time support more than half empty stadiums on a cold Tuesday night in February, or even 20th September (8488 attendance at that Cup game against Blackburn in 2016) when the novelty factor has worn off. By then, there won’t be sight nor sound from the keyboard warriors whingeing about not getting a ticket, without donating another kidney to get enough loyalty to go to Southampton in January on a Monday night. Just like it was in 2006. That was the last time they all got bored and disappeared.

I digress, sorry.

Why not get big players, I hear you all say. If we are a “big” club, we should attract “better” players. Big name players attract greedy agents circling like vultures round a corpse in a desert. Once again, money talks but do you necessarily get what you pay for? Do we want or even need a Paul Pogba after all? Plus, what does that say to the developing Youth Teams? What is the point of having a brilliant youth team if they will never stick a chance of playing in the 1st team, because of the big money signings that SkyTVisf**kings**t wet themselves over in the January and Summer  transfer windows. Unwittingly, it is the keyboard warriors who create so much chaos and influence owners and Chairmen with big pockets to make rash signings. Some of these keyboard chumpions have never been to  and probably will never go to a live game, even if they wanted to. I wonder if anyone has ever thought that social media is being deliberately exploited by said agents to manipulate others and bump up their inflated prices? Hmmm.

Of course, FFP was meant to put a lid on things, but as demonstrated by Derby, where there is a will, there’s a lawyer. There is always a way to manipulate things, even if it means sponsoring the wages of their new player manager. The less said about Derby, the better.

It’s not even just the players though. Look at the managers, or head coaches as they are all called now. We called it, did it and broke the mould on that one. How many of the teams in the PL are managed by young home grown British talent? Not many. Probably Graham Potter and Eddie Howe are the stand out ones there, ( Howe technically not in the PL now indeed clubless at present), alongside the old warhorses like Roy Hodgson, Moyes, Brendan and Big Sam. Still not managing the “big” clubs though. Once again, there will be the ones that argue, if you want a good manager (head coach) you have to spend big to stay in the PL.

This is where Fat Frank comes in. There he was the poor lamb, he did so well with … er Derby … Nearly got them promoted. He “told” Bielsa a thing or two about how “we” play football in this country. Fat Frank took on his dream job at his dream club, where they all loved him so much, because he knew where the English game was coming from. He had so much experience playing in this league. It was the pinnacle of his career, head coach at the club he devoted so much of his life to and loved so much. Having handed over the reins at Derby to the safe hands of Rooney blah blah blah. Look where it got you, Sunshine. Out on your arse, mate. After he had that magnificent display against us as well, when he “taught Bielsa a thing or two about playing in the PL”. I think it went a bit downhill from there. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella after what happened to the Beradi doppelganger, Villas Boas.

Sour grapes aside, where does that leave the FA with “levelling the playing field” when it comes to getting the English grassroots coaches through the managerial ranks? If Fat Frank failed, with all his experience in the PL, who else is going to make the cut? Let alone getting more BAME managers involved. If someone of Fat Frank’s stature and footballing pedigree can’t make a difference, there’s not much hope of anyone else, is there? Fat Frank’s demise is hardly going to give any hope to any up and coming managerial hopefuls, is it? Who have we from our PL stock of yesteryears superstars, who can pick up that vaunted “Big 6” head coach gauntlet? Stevie G at er Rangers? Gary “the more eloquent half of the Neville Brothers” Neville has given the ghost up. Although he did publicly admit that he probably made the wrong decision about not playing Rodrigo as a centre half. Not many others is there? It’s about as level a playing field as our pitch against Brighton the other day.

How much levelling of the playing field is there?

Well, at least we have more women in the game… right? Linespeople, referees, that Gabby Logan, that’s ok isn’t it? I’ll only pause to mention Karen Carnage. But poor Jeff ” no mates” Stelling. In these unprecedented times, I have watched poor Jeff lose his mates one by one. He may as well go back to Countdown now. If he was an animal, you’d have took him to the vet by now to stop his suffering. Essentially Jeff Stelling took that boring afternoon spell that SkyTVisf**kings**t forced us into when they started putting games on at any other time than 3pm on a Saturday back in 1994, and made it his own. Yes, the heady days when all you did on a Saturday was go to the pub, go to the game, go back to the pub and go for a curry before the last bus home. Unless it was a Cup weekend of course.

But when the true Gods of Football took over and changed the scheduling, the ones who didn’t have the luxury of a local team to go support (or go to Scotland to watch a proper game), Saturday afternoon was left bereft. The choice was find a local team or go shopping with the missus and the kids. Not likely. So Jeff invented Soccer Saturday. And soon, that Saturday afternoon spell of emptiness was filled by the TV equivalent of those ones who had a ticket but spent the afternoon in the pub enjoying themselves talking about football, rather than wasting their time actually going to the game and putting themselves through 90 minutes of crap football and ruining their day. I can honestly say I watched some of it intermittently, and it was vaguely reminiscent of pre match pub stops with the early kick off on the telly in the background, without the alcohol but with smart suits. Even in the Kings Arms, there was always some old codger with something smart to say. Never a dull moment.

Sadly no more for SkyTVisf**ings**t.

If you know me well, you know how much I hate those long, uncomfortable silences. Tumble weed moments, where two seconds of no discussion seems like two hours and everyone shuffles awkwardly around avoiding eye contact. You know the ones I mean. Where you can be in full flow, with quips and banter a plenty, interrupting the sensible discussion but not stopping it, and then someone says something and it all goes quiet. A ball of rolling grass tumbles past you, an owl hoots in the distance and the lonely wolf cries. Switch camera to Jeff Stelling tugging onto his Mum’s coat, going “please Mummy let me come home, I don’t like it here”. 

It takes time to build up knowledge about football. It takes skill and experience and hours put in watching some of the best football ever, as well as the utmost dross you’ll force yourself through to be able to do what the likes of Merson, Nichols, Le Tissier, Thompson and even old Hairy Arms Keys and Andy Gray did and do. As old and mysoginist and “white” as they were, they knew a thing about football. They had seen it all, laughed and cried about it and with their wealth of knowledge could write a hundred books about it if they were allowed to.

This lot, not a chance. It’s almost as painful as the cricket now. I’d rather watch it in silence (without the added crowd noise) than watch it with them. You’d be better off getting some from the pub doing it, when we eventually are allowed back to the pub, of course.

Levelling the playing field? Not as good as it’s cracked up to be, eh?

To finish with; a bit of pitch porn that’s in all our dreams

If Nigella Lawson did pitches

Picture courtesy of barenburg

https://www.barenbrug.co.uk/news/a-change-to-elite-pitches-at-leeds-united

 

 

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Low Growls Not Barking Mad

Posted by on Dec 27, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

After multiple replays of Sean Dyche and his low growls after that game, it sounded like Boxing Day deja vu, following the over indulgence of turkey, pigs in blankets and roasties, oh and half a packet of after eight mints. In this years’ Christmas Battle of Man v Food, my stomach will testify that food definitely won. Although I have to say that my tummy rumblings were less biased than Sean Dyche’s interview today.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see Preston the bulldog from Aardman’s “A Close Shave” everytime Sean opens his mouth? Both the normal version and the terminator one, just to clarify.

Today’s game wasn’t pretty to watch, especially that second half, or rather the last 20 minutes of the second half. Mind you, the first half wasn’t that much to look at either, until someone finally told the cameraman on the West Stand touchline near the dug outs that his lens needed cleaning. It was nearly the end of the first half before it looked slightly better than “The Big Match” re runs on ITV4.

It’s amazing how now that we are forced to watch our games on the telly due to bloody bat flu, you realise just how crap the TV coverage actually is. Unbelievably, even though I have had 3 hours in the pub before the game normally, I manage to see more of the game than the 8 strategically placed  cameras can capture during a TV broadcast. Admittedly, I tend to watch what is actually going on the pitch according to where the ball is, rather than obsessively focusing my attention on the dugouts, 30 seconds of a man chewing gum is 29 seconds too much. You’d think with all this goal line technology and split second replays, that 89 minutes of a 90 minute game would actually be following the play (VAR decisions notwithstanding). Even if the ball goes out for a throw in or a corner, what is to stop the continuity man just showing the few seconds build up which resulted in said free kick etc. Plus, when there is a corner, why they don’t do the wide angle shot so you can watch the run ins from outside the box, is beyond me. Like I said in an earlier post, it makes you think that the people choosing the camera angles aren’t actually football fans. Maybe there is an a ulterior motive, like sponsorship deals for chewing gum or toothpaste brands? Who knows, but it is really annoying.

Not as annoying as Jamie “dey do do dat doh don’t dey doh” Carragher. Once again, the commentary team of Andy and Dan excelled themselves today. All they have to do is provide ball by ball commentary on what’s going on the pitch. Like the inimitable Roy Walker on Catchphrase – “say what you see”. It’s not really that difficult is it? I’m pretty sure that in front of them some number cruncher minion will have prepped all the stats needed for them for that game, so that when nothing is happening, they can spout some figures to make themselves look a bit clever. But no, short of the commentary team being made up of people without a grudge or at least being able to be impartial for 90 minutes, you’d be better off getting one of those guys who does the commentary on horse racing doing it. At least they can make it sound a bit exciting and you know they’ll only give you the actual facts. That Peter O Sullivan, now he knew a thing or two about sports commentary.

They can leave all the bias and the “in depth game analysis” to the three clowns sat around that tiny table in the studio. What is the point of that tiny coffee table anyway? It’s way too low to put your pint on (or tea mug if you’re feeling delicate). You can’t even rest your feet on it. They’d be better off with a Dickie Davis style of hip high desk, to hide those hideous hipster trousers and non shiny shoes. With all the money they make, you’d think they could afford to pay someone to clean their shoes at least and press their trousers.

I understand, the way that Leeds United play under Bielsa’s tutelage is, basically, the SAME every game. But it’s not boring is it? Even when we are losing, it’s still exciting to watch. We are the epitome of “hitting on the break” as much as we are the personification of being “caught on the break”. I am pretty sure that there are plenty of stats to reel off about how many miles (not kilometres now we are out – down with decimalisation!) Kalvin has covered on the pitch or how many Premier League teams Bamford can be classed as playing for ( does coming on for 39 minutes really count as a Burnley career?) to use as a filler when someone goes down in a tackle.

I know, it may be unfair for me to criticise them as I have never been in their shoes, but I am stuck having to watch and listen to them and not really doing this by choice. I’d MUCH rather be watching it live at the game, but I can’t. At least they are being paid to do it. Having said that, if SkyTVisf**kings**t want to pay me to sit and watch Leeds United and provide the commentary, as long as I can have a drinkie or two, I’m pretty sure that I would do as good as, if not a better job of it, than the current lot.

I would certainly tell old Sean that he needs to be a far gracious loser, and that on the day, despite us having no proper centre halves and a keeper who looks like he is 12, the team pulled together, did the job and kept them at bay. Which is no mean feat for a newly promoted Championship team.

Sean – just sum up the game (thanks to googleimages for the picture)

Sean – did you deserve a point? (thanks to googleimages for picture)

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