The Dubai Whites meet Larry

Partying with Simon Grayson, £800 trips to watch Leeds United fail miserably and a longing for the dreary grey skies of Great Britain. It’s all in a seasons work for the members of one of Leeds United’s newest supporter’s club branches, the Dubai Whites.

As a Leeds United fan lucky enough to attend almost every game, I’ve often wondered how I’d cope if events in my life took me overseas. For me, there’s very little that can rival the buzz of matchdays. Leeds United has become such an integral part of my life that I honestly can’t imagine how I’d fill the time should they (heaven forbid) be torn away from me!

Of course, there are fans in such a position. The Dubai Whites are one of Leeds United’s newest supporters clubs and whilst I’m sure we’re all envious of the beautiful part of the world these fans reside, I was interested to see how exactly they got their fix of LUFC. Kevin and Paul from the Dubai Whites were more than happy to fill me in.

On getting to see Leeds United, Kevin told me that;

As you can imagine, getting to and from ER is a special treat for us Exiled Whites. UK visits appear to be for family or business reasons, but most of us cannily have a look at the fixture list to see where we can fit matches in before booking any flights!

The Dubai Whites come from all professional backgrounds and so some of us get to travel back more than others, but anyone who does get home always gets bombarded with texts requesting updates on how the game is going etc etc.

While in Div One, few league games were televised out here, but thankfully both cup runs were heavily featured as were the Millwall games and of course the Bristol game (check out the Dubai Whites on YouTube). On these occasions, Paul finds a pub, gives the proprietor fair warning of what to expect, then we all turn up and go F*****g Mental.

Representing!

Kevin also recalls the unenviable round trip he, Paul and another Dubai White made to watch Leeds United take on Doncaster in the play-off final a couple of years ago. I remember whinging at the time about the journey I’d made and the expense I incurred to see that dismal display, but in contrast to the Dubai Whites story, I think my weekend away in a comfortable hotel kind of pales in comparison;

Paul, Adie and I did fly back for the playoff final against Doncaster a couple of years ago. We were 14 hours in the air, just 12 hours on the ground! No baggage, wearing our Leeds shirts, straight to Wembley, saw the game then hi-tailed it back to Heathrow for the night flight to be in work the following day at a cost of about 800 quid each. Wrong result but worth every second to see Wembley in White.

After Kevin’s play-off final story put my whinging firmly into perspective, I received another email from the chairman of the Dubai Whites, Paul, who gave me a little background on the supporters club and also provided me with some pictures of the lads which you can see below;

This is a some what an unusual club as members are from varied backgrounds and move on as quickly as they come with most on average staying around 4 years. Having lived in Dubai for seven years now you do miss the simple things that Britain offers you. You can’t beat cold winter mornings when you breathe that fresh air in, real pubs, real beer, and the greenery and of course that match day feeling.

With us being in League One the exposure to TV was non-existent. Being the chairman I would constantly look on all the major satellite networks to see if they would show the odd league one game. Fortunately for me, one of the new members was head of Showtime sports. I then got the nod when a match was on and would then organize by email a get-together. Dependant on work commitments from the guys the turn outs varied from 30 up to 80. You have to bear in mind that we are 4 hours ahead of GMT; the UK at the moment is on British Summer Time (BST) GMT +1 which means we are 3 hours ahead and that makes a big difference when kick off is 1945 (UK) 2245 (UAE) on a Tuesday night and you have to get up at 0400 the following morning.

I would find out and suggest a bar that was showing it, speak to the manager to see if it was ok for a group of Leeds United supporters to use his pub – and of course what manager in this time of recession is going to turn down some hard drinking lads – and we would gather, shoot the sh*t and have a laugh. We did have a regular bar but as with most things out here the landlord moved on and things started to go down hill. But not all is lost!! a new bar is opening and the manager is from Leeds and a supporter who wants the club to call his bar its own. That bar is due to open approx Sept/Oct. With promotion comes more exposure to TV and already we have four showings out here which is great for the club and hopefully with the added bonus of having our own home to watch it in.

Since becoming official the exposure has been fantastic i.e. your good self being in contact and the visit of Leeds youth followed by a few months later with the first team coming out for a break. While the first team was here, I asked if they would meet us, I finally got in touch with Ian Miller who agreed a place and a time and we meet up. The only disappointing thing about that night none of the team did. My personal opinion was Ian never told the team, but Simon Grayson and a few staff did and a good night was had by all.

I mentioned to SG that it was my aim to bring the first team out on a mid-winter break and also dropped the hint that there are people in this region willing to invest in the club. That is still part of my plans and some backroom work has already begun.

I try to get my Leeds fix in at least a couple of times a year and I will have it on the opening day of the season when I plan to watch Leeds V Derby at ER. Then watch the Forest/Leeds game the following Sunday back in Dubai with the club.

Many thanks to both Paul and Kevin for giving us an insight into Leeds United life in Dubai. It’s good to see that our reach continues to stretch far and wide and I wish the Dubai Whites the best of luck as they continue to expand. It’s great to see that no matter how far a field we Leeds United fans travel, there will always be other like-minded souls ready to offer us refuge and show us the ropes.

Anyone living in Dubai who wishes to join the Dubai Whites can find full details on the official Leeds United website. Alternatively, you can email me using the contact button at the top and I’ll be happy to pass your details on to Paul.

  • smallback

    As a former member of the Dubai Whites (and the guy who was able to tip the Chairman off about games on TV) I just want to wish all those still in the UAE the best of luck. I get to see the team most weeks now because of my new job (part of which involves the BBC Football League Show) so I’ll still be letting Paul know when Leeds games are being shown internationally.

    • TSS

      Hi smallback, nice to put an avatar to a name!

      Do you have any say in who presents the Football League show? I really can’t stand the current hosts. It makes channel 5’s presenters seem tolerable. Well… almost…

  • Dubai White

    Dave, Many thanks from us all out here…

    WE R LEEDS!!!!

    Paul

  • Lee Pashley

    New to the UAE, and live in Abu Dhabi, but proud to say I’m part of the Dubai Whites. Apart from being at ER, being sat in a bar with the turn out Paul manages to achieve with ‘Marching on together’ bellowing out, really is enough to give you goose bumps! WE ARE LEEDS!!!

  • sam

    hi guys where can i gt a leeds united jersey in dubai?