An open letter to Leeds United
I started writing this a while ago and it was intended to introduce a bit of banter between the us but I’m afraid after last night it’s going to be a far less light hearted view.
The scenes at Hillsborough are part of the reason I’m falling out of love with football. I think the Olympic games held a mirror up to the ‘beautiful game’ and what reflected back was ugly and feral.
No one should go to work and be assaulted. It wouldn’t be condoned if Kirkland was a bus driver, a nurse or a police officer and thankfully there are few who see this as justifiable.
Now, not wanting to sound like a homophobe trying to justify why they like gay people, I’ve never met a Leeds fan I didn’t like.
In fact before the game I was out drinking with three Whites fans.
The Leeds United fans in my friendship circle are funny, articulate and generally quite caring people.
You do have this fixation that you’re still in the Champions League and on a par with Manchester United but I can forgive the Billy Bullshit if 90% of the time you live in the real world.
Even on Twitter after the game Leeds fans were mostly apologetic about the assault, talked about their perspective and were open to discussing the points like adults.
I did have one telling me to ‘Fuck off u stupid girl…You know nothing.’ I figured he was just frustrated at not receiving his Mensa application through the post yet.
I think the reputation of Leeds United suffers when you become a collective and I’m afraid something does change when you are Marching On Together.
Only Child Syndrome
I’ve always thought Leeds United suffered from only child syndrome. You’ve never had to share your city or learn how to play nicely when your city sibling is getting all the praise and adulation.
It makes you a very isolated club.
Maybe this is why you thrive on the hate?
When other clubs sing anti LUFC songs, you bounce around, join in and sing them yourselves.
The simple fact is you can’t play up to the hate and then feel indignant when some football fans really show their hate for you.
Last night at Hillsborough there was fault on both sides.
Majority of Whites fans singing about Jimmy Saville being from Leeds and ‘shagging who he wants’Wednesday fan throws a flare onto the pitch from the South standSmaller faction of Leeds fans singing about Dave Jones being a paedophile
Small faction of Sheffield Wednesday fans singing ‘Always look out for the Turkish with knives’
Minority of both sets of fans throwing missiles at each other from the North and West stands
When Leeds scored the equalisier advertising boards were ripped off the West stand and seats ripped out and thrown
A Leeds fan assaulted the Sheffield Wednesday keeper
These are the facts of what I saw and heard last night.
Despite what some Leeds United fans are saying about the atmosphere starting when the Turkish chants started, there was definitely a ripple of disgust and anger in the stand I was sitting in about the perceived hilarity of the Jimmy Saville chants but it grew when the Dave Jones chants kicked in.
Since Dave Jones joined Sheffield Wednesday back in February, Leeds United are the only team to come to Hillsborough and sing about him being a paedophile.
I think that speaks volumes about the collective mentality of some Leeds United fans.
The chanting was the key to the evening’s unrest. Leeds United fans blame Sheffield Wednesday fans for singing Galatasaray chants but Leeds fans are known to sing Munich disaster songs so where is the difference?
Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right but Leeds fans were by no means the innocent bystanders last night.
There is a definite collective malice about Leeds United. I went to the match on my own last night and leaving via the Leppings Lane exit it is the only time I have felt genuinely unsafe leaving my own football club.
That’s not meant to be incendiary it is about how I felt leaving a ground that I have happily walked in and out of for twenty years.
But this isn’t the only time I felt this about the Leeds collective. When you were in League 1, I attended the Northampton Town game with friends and stood on the Elland Road Kop.
For the majority of the match I felt comfortable and able to enjoy the match on the pitch, then a minority of fans started shouting racist comments at some of the players, even your own!
Again I’m not tarring Leeds fans with a ‘racist’ brush (definitely not available in local hardware stores) but it was the first time I’d heard blatant racism at a football game and I was well into my 20’s at this point.
The chanting and shouting may have only been from a few Leeds fans but there was collective laughing about it and that’s what made me uncomfortable.
It almost feels like a game where you play up to the Dirty Leeds tag for attention and sometimes that game backfires.
I know the majority of ‘real’ Leeds United fans will be disgusted with the behaviour of the fan who assaulted Kirkland and for the public destruction of the Leppings Lane end.
You’ve got to stop making excuses about how you’re targeted and you only top the Football Banning Order list because you ‘have at least twice as many’ supporters as any other Championship. If there is trouble wherever you go maybe look for the common denominator?
I’m disgusted with the minority of Sheffield Wednesday fans who felt the need to take ‘banter’ to ‘offensive’.
I will never be a Leeds United lover but neither will I accept that the club as a whole is toxic.
Even in The Omen, Damian’s mother must have hugged him once in a while, you just have to get off the naughty step first.