God Only Knows

Posted by on Jul 26, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s summer, the season starts very soon. What’s going on with away tickets? As the great Brian Wilson says – “God Only Knows”. This is the latest news on away tickets – make of it what you will.

https://www.leedsunited.com/news/ticketing/28377/leeds-united-update-away-ticketing-policy-ahead-of-2021-22-season?mc_cid=fc4b83093a&mc_eid=7344e39802

The lyrics of God Only Knows are a very fitting description of what Leeds United means to us. Leeds United is a massive chunk of our lives and has been for some time. I’ll put the snippet in for those heretics amongst you who don’t know who The Beach Boys are: (thanks to google for the lyrics)

I have a love / hate relationship with Leeds United, like so many of us. Whilst it has been the source of much despair, frustration and downright anger over the last 30+ years (longer for others), it has also been instrumental in some of the happiest and most cherished moments of my life. Leeds United has driven me to drink to drown my sorrows, but also been the catalyst to some of the most drunken celebrations known to man. You only have to look at the joyousness in Millenium Square after we got promoted to see the wondrous nature of the good times at our beloved football club. And we are at the good times right now. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

These blogs are just the written views of one, ok maybe two, loyal fans. I’m not the loyalest by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t pretend to be. I never made it to Myanmar and pre season friendlies are not my biggest priority in life. Leeds United already takes 10 and a half months of my life, I need 6 weeks off for a rest! Running a branch is difficult. You don’t choose it, it chooses you. Bit like a cat really.

The biggest, most stressful part of running a branch?

Away tickets.

In a way, it is good that away tickets is such a problem. Why? Well, in the greater scheme of things, it means that Leeds are doing well. No one wants an away ticket when we are crap, look at Villa not so long since, when they were letting you pay on the gate on the night. So, when it comes to the “greater good” – woo hoo the good times are here!

The flipside? How long have we got? I’m going to spare you the argument for loyal v free for alls – everything that can be said, has been said, mostly on this website! Just go back in the annals and you can just enjoy it all again.

So, let’s just get on with it. Let’s digest the away ticketing policy.

Firstly, it wasn’t a surprise that Leeds United decided to change the policy after last season, actually not last season as we never got to see any of the games, so in truth season 2019/20. If I was to be honest, the away ticket issues started after we picked up when Christiansen was still here. Granted, there were always the odd games when we struggled with tickets when we were a bit rubbish. Going down to Division 3 meant a few new grounds, so the ones who just wanted to tick off a new ground, as opposed to the ones who actually wanted to watch us play, were giving us problems then. It happens every time we get a team who we haven’t played before. You turn up and people you haven’t seen for years all of a sudden are there. Salford was a recent one. Paucity of the usual crowd, quite a few long lost faces – who knew?

I digress, what does the new away ticketing policy mean?

Basically, if you have an away season ticket – get in! They’ve not got rid of them and they will be cheaper this year because there is a cap on PL tickets – £30 tops. Bargain! You still have to pay your little bit extra for your Premium product, but for this year at least – NO WORRIES! Slap yourself on the back for having the money and the foresight for getting your away season ticket when you did. For the original 350 of you, well done for holding out as long as you have done. All those years of paying more per game  than we,  mere mortals did, has got you the bonanza of a guaranteed hassle free match ticket. All you have to do now is worry how long Leeds United let you keep them. If we stay up and get into Europe, no doubt MORE new fans will want to get in on the action and the CEO will get even more emails demanding that all fans should have the right to watch Leeds United away.

The lucky 9.5% of 3,000. O level Maths at A grade tells me that there are 285 very, very lucky people who have been to 100 or more league and cup games since the 2015/16 season. Why they chose 2015/16 season as their cut off point is anyone’s guess. We’ve had worse seasons than that surely? Was that the season we had our worse attendance records? Radrizzani bought Leeds in 2017, so nothing to do with new owners taking over, or was it? Was Andrea already waiting in the wings in that 2015/16 season? Uwe Rosler and Steve Evans shared the managerial hat / sombrero, so can’t be anything to do with that surely? God Only Knows again, Brian. However they decided it, 285 people  were in it to win it. 285 people have a guaranteed ticket to an away game this season. Hurrah! Before people start on the “they are all old gippers” etc. I know for a fact that there are a few who are, for all intents and purposes, YOUNG people in that number. Much has been made of the myth that only old people could ever get on the loyalty ladder. Simply put – not true. How do I know this? Because I know one if not more of these YOUNG people – personally. The lad probably didn’t appreciate being dragged up and down the country by his old man to watch us get beat all the time. These young ones may have stood there in the beginning, wondering what the hell they were doing when their mates were sat at home, warm and dry on their playstations and game boys. They may have been there, looking around at the crowd of old drunks, still singing even though we hadn’t had one shot on goal the whole game, thinking “what the heckingbottom is going on?” But look how well it has worked out. Brucie bonus.

The other 27%. In the 2019/20 season, these people got a ticket to an away game. Seeing as quite a few of the games were done on the old “tracker” system, many of them are and have been for years in the legions of the loyal support. Some may have missed out on the lucky 285 by one, maybe two games. What solace could you seek if you had missed out by one game? And if it had been that Stoke free for all game, or in fact any of the other free for all sale games like Preston or Bolton. Some poor souls might have missed out on the lucky 285 by that one free for all game that loads of the half season ticket holders who bought their season ticket at Christmas got to, but they didn’t. Some in this category may not be though. Some might have just been lucky enough to have a decent T’internet service and been lucky to get on the system. Some have been lucky to get to the checkout phase without the basket emptying or getting turfed out by the website. Some might have been lucky to get time off work to sit in the queue and order their tickets in the first place. Some might have been lucky to have a friend who could order their ticket for them and were lucky as above. Well their luck ended there, didn’t it? Now they will have to see if their luck plays out when they all get dumped in a pot again for a 50/50 chance at getting their hands on just short of 1,000 tickets. Better odds than a free for all sale, but with less tickets to have a go at, so probably worse. It makes no difference if you had done 98 games in five seasons or just got to 5 last season. All in the same boat. Complete loss of your loyalty for the ones on 99 /98 games – perhaps because someone who got a half season ticket at Christmas managed to get in before you that day. Bollocks.

Season ticket holders. The last 27% of the 3,000 max allocation. Another reason to pay the extra tenner to go on the season ticket waiting list. Free for all sale for just under 1,000 tickets. No one knows yet whether you can go for this sale if you have already tried but failed to get one in the last category. Actually, God Only Knows. You’d also be hoping that people in this sale are actually wanting to go to the game, rather than wanting to make a quick buck and flogging their ticket to Scum away for £500 or whatever the highest bidder is willing to give them. At least though, some who have never managed to get to a Leeds away game can go and experience the smoking in the bogs, beer fights, crap view from the aisle seats, overpriced beer and then get crushed when we score.

Gold members. Sorry “MyLeeds” members. “Gold member” always brings up images of the rather unfortunately shaped spaceship in that Austin Powers film of the same name. Never did like that term. But having said that, MyLeeds now sounds far too similar to that terrible “book” by Peter Fibsdale, which he wrote when he did, to capitalise on that really troubled period we were going through. Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore has more morals than Peter Fibsdale. Gold members get the final 9.5% in the final free for all sale. It’s not brilliant , but at least there is a small chance that they might get lucky, get a ticket and not go to hospital after some sweaty fat bloke falls on them on the way up to his seat, because he’s not used to drinking 6 pints before the 12.30 kick off on Sunday lunchtime.

And that’s your lot. It goes without saying that you would hope that anyone who gets a ticket to an away game this season actually does genuinely want to go. You can only hope that the Club are going to stamp down on anyone who is happy to skank a fellow Leeds fan for a profit, or anyone else for that matter.

The fact is now that we are popular again, they’ll be many tickets that don’t actually go to Leeds fans. Jon Bon Jovi is only the first of many. You’re not seriously telling me that if Tom Cruise decides he wants 20 tickets for him and his entourage to the Livarpool game, the Club is going to turn around and go, “No Tom, we are only going to let our proper fans go” , are you? If Coca Cola decide they want to sponsor us and need 100 tickets to the Citeh game, it’s not going to go down too well Leeds United say no, is it? If the 49ers turn up and decide they want to slum it with the fans instead of sitting in the posh seats where everyone falls asleep in the Emirates Library, what’s going to stop them?

It’s a completely different kettle of fish to blagging a ticket for one of the Kaiser Chiefs.

And as for next season, who knows? It may all change again. It depends if Radrizzani is still here. It depends if we stay up. It depends on how many more people decide they want to go. Most of the other clubs in the PL are closed shops. You can’t get an away ticket unless you have been going forever. The same ones go to every game. Loyalty in it’s purest sense. Loyalty is still a dirty word though for some at Leeds United. You know my views on it. 

For now, well done to the lucky 285

Read More

We’ve Come A Long Long Way Together

Posted by on Jul 25, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

It was a toss up between “Praise You” or “We’ve come a long long way together” for the title today. I decided on the latter, as it is a bittersweet time right now for the longest suffering Leeds United fans. It’s scarcely a month to go before the new season kicks off, and yet we still don’t know what’s going on with our away tickets. If anyone at the club ever read this blog, it would be a gentle nudge towards recognising how far we have come together, since those Division 3 days.

Happy times though. Today, 21st July is Marcelo Bielsa’s birthday. He’s 66 today, if he was British he’d be able to retire on his state pension now. Proper pensioner!

There’s been a few pictures of him put up today. The one from when we got promoted for instance – a rare picture of any emotion from the great man, let alone smiling, is probably the nicest one, with all the team celebrating with him. Pictures from the sidelines of him squatting down, or on his blue bucket (that everyone laughed at – not mocking now are you?) are the next most popular. All instantly recognisable, and I am guessing if you typed in “picture of Bielsa” into Google – they’d be the ones that would come up.

The one I have selected, this one, is one of the most, if not the most iconic.

What does this say to you?

What does this say about the man?

What did it say to Leeds fans after that defeat against QPR in February 2019?

Looking at it now, 2 and a bit years on in time, but eons and galaxies far far away from the where our club is now, what does it say to you about the guy that we have in charge?

Discuss.

Now if I had that question in GCE O Level English Literature – I would have got more than a C grade.

Can you imagine if you were studying sociology at A level and that question came up in an exam? Mint! That’d be me on a Astar+++, or whatever it is graded at now.

Not much needs to be said that hasn’t already been said about Marcelo Bielsa. Man, myth, legend. Coach of all coaches. Teacher of all teachers. But to me his humility, his humbleness and his self effacing demeanour is the thing that stands out. He just gets on with the job that he is paid to do.

This picture of a man despondent and alone in his thoughts, was taken after we suffered a 1-0 defeat against QPR. He looks crestfallen. He looks like a man who has personally taken all the responsibility of that loss. In these progressive times when there are so many people who take so little responsibility and accept so little accountability for their own actions, here is a guy who bore the whole lot on own his shoulders.  And in reality, it wasn’t really all his fault.

QPR had been on a rough long losing streak of 7 games – it had to end – and it ended with a lucky win against us that stopped us going top. We had the majority of the possession that game, we had two good shots saved by their keeper. QPR scored a decent goal and we didn’t. Immediately after the game, before we even saw this picture, captured so well by Bruce Rollinson from the Yorkshire Post, the doom and gloom had already set in. The talk was about how we were going to fail again, doubting Bielsa, slating Victor Orta (again), condemning the players for not being good enough  (again). It’s a good job Bielsa didn’t hear any of this that night.

Yes, we won the next three but ultimately failed at the very end. So some of the naysayers were technically correct. We didn’t get promoted that season – but look at us now.

We have come a long long way together.

The ones who were saying after the game that day, that our players weren’t fit to wear the shirt that day – they were wrong. Apart from Pontus and Kiko, they are the same players who won us promotion the next year. The ones who said that Orta didn’t know his arse from his elbow that day – they were wrong. Look at the inspired signings of Raphinha and Rodrigo. The ones who said that Bielsa would never get us anywhere because he only had a Plan A and wasn’t capable of a Plan B / C / D – they were wrong. Look at us now – Plan A works, a few tweaks, but essentially we got to within touching distance of Europe with Plan A .

Our first season back in the PL, and we have really made the rest of the PL stop and take note.

We’ve played fast flowing, one touch football, but we’ve also defended well, even though Koch, Llorente and Cooper were all out most of the season. Young Struijk has really stepped up to the mark. Patrick bagged 17 goals, beaten into 4th place by Kane, Salah, Fernandes, but still failed to get a spot in the England team, behind Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins. But the biggest impact is that of Leeds United Supporters Club sponsored player Kalvin Phillips. By far England’s Player Of The Tournament. A storming Euros for the lad.

All down to this man though. He looked beaten in this photo, but maybe he was just thinking. Hatching a plan, and what a plan it was.

Thanks to Googleimages for the picture – but thanks to Bruce Rollinson for being at the right place at the right time, for the most iconic picture of the great man.

Read More

It is now

Posted by on Jul 12, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

In the inimitable words of the great Ken Wolstenholme – they think it’s all over – it is now.

That’s it til Qatar 2022 and what an end to the Euros it was!

I’d like to say that the game was the most entertaining, end to end pitch battle of the greatest football has to offer across the continent of Europe. Which, I would like to confirm – just for reference – the UK is still part of. We haven’t managed to extricate ourselves from the continent of Europe, we have merely left the economic shackles of the Federal state of Europe. Back to the subject at hand. I would love to have said that the display of the 22 men on the Wembley pitch was the pinnacle of footballing skill, a masterclass of managerial strategy and a feast of physical and mental endurance  ….. but it clearly wasn’t.

It was, in the end, 11 men holding onto a 1-0 lead for 88 minutes, with no game plan apart from get the ball to Kane, resulting in the dreaded dead ball situation which is England’s nemesis, and which Southgate should have avoided at all costs – but didn’t.

To be fair, they got to the final.

Pre tournament, the favourites were France, Belgium, Germany and Portugal going on the form of the likes of De Bruyne, Mbappe etc etc. So, realistically England although not rank outsiders, were not exactly going to be the ones that the bookies were panicking about. In fact, Wales had put on a far better show in the early round. Southgate had unsurprisingly picked 5 right backs and continued with his game plan of “get the ball to Kane”. The team selection was only ever going to revolve around getting as many behind the ball as he could in the hope that a lose ball would end up at Harry’s feet.

As usual I am biased, but if it hadn’t been for LUSC Sponsored player, Kalvin Phillips putting that sublime pass in to Sterling, there wasn’t going to be a goal in that game against Croatia. Apart from Pickford’s display last night in front of goal, there hasn’t been anyone else in the England team who has stepped up to the plate more than Kalvin.

This was Kalv’s first tournament, hopefully the first of many. He had his doubters in the press and social media as usual at the start, but he had a solid, resolute display in all of the games which any hardened international midfield veteran would have been proud of.

After their first game, I said that Italy would be a difficult team to beat. A team not unlike the old Championship teams, with a wall of giant immovable defenders and a Goliath between the sticks. That coupled with a bit of pace on the wings and a presence in front of goal was going to be difficult to wear down, but even worse, would be even harder to fend off once they were camped out in the oppositions half. As the second half wore on, it was like watching the Siege of Troy, with wave after wave of  destruction. Their goal was inevitable and the trio of Kane, Sterling and Mount could merely watch in horror as the onslaught on Pickford’s goal gathered pace.

As with all games, the keyboard managers out there and the armies of armchair know it alls – albeit with the benefit of hindsight, could see that Southgate needed to make changes early in the second half. If England had come out with guns blazing in the second half and scored a quick goal, I would have been happy with just defending the lead. But they didn’t and as the game wore on, Mancini used his subs to good effect, while Southgate kept Kane on, trying to add another £10 million onto his transfer fee in the coming weeks. Granted, taking the Captain off may have seemed a difficult decision, but you pick your players to win the game – at any cost. And that game needed to be won in 90 minutes – or at least in 120 minutes. There was no way – short of Pickford growing another two feet in height and width and another couple of limbs – that England were ever going to win a penalty shoot out.

Southgate didn’t change it soon enough though. Even though he had the likes of Calvert Lewin to give him an aerial advantage or Reece James to give him a bit of pace. He left it as it was, even though Mancini’s defence had already been booked.  By the time Grealish got on – it was too late.

So it came down to pens. In truth, had the ball had not gone out in the 119th minute, there might not have been the opportunity to bring on two of the youngest and most inexperienced England players. I wish he hadn’t.

In the after match commentary, it was said that Gareth had already picked the penalty takers going on what they had demonstrated during the practice sessions. As if the practice sessions could replicate the pressures of a  situation after 120 minutes in the final of the Euros – Gareth.

Regardless of who took the penalties, whoever missed was always going to get sorely abused. The idiots who have added racial slurs to their social media viciousness have no shame. They are probably the same ones who slated the Whattheheckingbottom Leeds side. The ones who said that the likes of Cooper, Dallas and Bamford weren’t good enough to wear the shirt and that there needed to be a wholesale change of the team if we were ever to get promotion.

These so called “fans” are the ones who want the instant success, the ones who expect and want the glory of winning but who have no concept of the hard graft that comes beforehand. The scenes of people storming the entrances on Sunday and at the semifinal game as well, without tickets, are a sad reminder that there exists a group of so called “fans” who think they deserve to watch a football game simply because they want to. The ones who have no idea of the hard work that goes into supporting your football team through thick and thin. These are probably the same ones who get a ticket somehow to a game and then spend the whole game on their phones taking selfies of themselves at a game that they are only ever going to watch if the team is winning.

Despite all of this, when it comes to a penalty shoot out, the rule is hard and low. Pick your spot and put your foot through it …. There is a time and place for hop, skip and jump – it’s called dinnertime and a playground, not Wembley .

https://images.app.goo.gl/N2GHbokMvTgLZhvb6

Read More

Fans Don’t Matter 3

Posted by on May 15, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

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

Read More

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.

      

Read More

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.

Read More