On a train journey back from London the other day there was a red topped newspaper at the side of me, left by a previous passenger. After draining the battery of my phone with a hour of Invasion, I picked it up and flicked through until an article about Manchester United being the most hated team in football caught my attention.

This was but one survey and conducted on a pretty small scale, so we shouldn’t be too concerned that we lost out to the Salford Yanks. It did however make me wonder whether or not Leeds United have become a little bit more likeable with our prolonged absence from The Premier League?

Talking to fans of the Premier League teams, I’m often told how much they miss the games with Leeds United. That whilst there are few teams they hated more than The Whites, Leeds are a club that always upset the natural order of things and create an atmosphere like few others.

In our absence, opposition fans seem to have developed an unmistakable respect for what Leeds United brought to the Premier League. It may not stretch to outright admiration, but once upon a time you’d have found few supporters of Chelsea and Manchester United publicly acknowledging Leeds are worthy of a place amongst the elite. You’d have even less chance of finding recognition from the national rags, who only a few years back  used the vilification of Leeds United to increase their sales almost on a weekly basis.

But seven years since our relegation, a resurgent Leeds have been mixing it up with the big boys and receiving national acclaim for our cup performances against some of the countries biggest teams. Performances against Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal not only served to remind the Premier League of it’s forgotten son, but also cast Leeds United in an uncomfortable warming glow.

It wasn’t just the team that received the praise, but the ‘dirty Leeds’ supporters did too. For a fanbase who are born to expect nothing but universal criticism and condemnation, and who not only revel in the hatred but actively encourage it, praise is something we care little for and have no idea how to accept. But there it was, and here we were uncomfortably smiling and maintaining order, confused and slightly scared, totally baffled by this seismic shift in attitudes.

Where does it all end I ask? At this rate, by the time we return the Premier League we’re in danger of becoming as neutral and boring as Arsenal. There’ll be promotion celebrations at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. Alex Ferguson will end his boycott of the BBC, just so he can publicly welcome Leeds back to the Premier League.  It’s just not right.

For me, this quote from The Guardian in 2004 sums up perfectly how I expect Leeds United to be viewed;

Leeds United don’t care for popularity but they demand to be respected and feared.

Sure, it’s nice to be nice sometimes, but that’s just not Leeds United. Our place in the natural order of football is to be the rank outsiders that rise to the top every few years just to upset the balance and annoy the big boys. We’re the team that for no apparent reason, clubs like Norwich hate passionately just because everyone else does and that’s the accepted norm. Hating Leeds United is as much a part of British culture as a cup of tea and the full English breakfast.

And it’s this very hatred that makes Leeds United interesting. It defines and inspires us. It’s the ‘us against the world’ mentality that makes a trip to Elland Road something most teams relish, but also mark down as a potential banana skin, regardless of relative league positions and current form. You just never know with Leeds United – the fiery northern mentality is so deeply engrained into the psyche of every fan that collectively they’re capable of creating an atmosphere that changes score lines. An Elland Road in full voice can not only spur Leeds United on, but also terrify the opposition.

Once promoted back to the Premier League, I for one will be doing everything within my power to ensure Leeds are as hated as ever. That no neutral supporter dares use the words Leeds United without ‘Dirty’ placed before them. The natural balance needs to be redressed. The national rags need their pantomime villain, Manchester United fans need to remember what proper rivalry was and most importantly, Leeds United need the hatred to inspire the defiant performances we built our success upon.

24 Responses

  1. Chareose

    There are still plenty who hate Leeds ( or love to hate them). People like to hate someone and its been easy to pin that tag to leeds in the past though its slighly baffling how it all started and is to my mind extremely unjustified. If it started in the 70s over Revies team then its just an act of childish jealousy. I dont see that leeds as being any more “dirty” than any other club they were just better at everything, thats all. A glorious side tarnished with unfair label. Though i would say that Revie was a bit too negative in his tactics considering the talent at his disposal.
    Fan misbehaviour since and that business with Bowyer and woodgate will have helped justify the ignorant hatred in the minds of many……

    • TSS

      However the hatred was spawned (and I’d argue Manchester United pre-dates Revie), it makes football more interesting and being hated is part of the fun of being a Leeds fan.

      I think the thing that surprises me most is that whilst Scum and co still sing ‘we all hate Leeds scum’ regularly, it’s generally followed by ‘yeah, but I’d love to see them back in the Prem’. If the Scum were in our position, regardless of how much I’d miss the matches, I’d be hoping they went into extinction.

  2. Chareose

    and then 7 years later….youd be getting sentimental about the big games against manchester united in the “good old days”, fallen into your own trap there mate…… flip a page and you will see similar posts from manure fans im sure dating back to 2001 but wishing leeds were extinct

    • TSS

      Maybe so. The lovw-in we’ve experienced over the last few years has made me a little uncomfortable, that’s all. I demand nothing but unrelenting contempt and hatred.

  3. Tony

    Was watching the Premier League Darts on Sky last night in the MEN Arena and some of the crowd were singing “we all hate Leeds scum”. Cause they miss us!!


    I love it when they hate us, it makes us stronger
    When the -15 points was imposed everyone who hates Leeds rubbed their hands with glee, this was seen as a way at getting back at “Dirty Leeds” what we do, all bond together and overcome the -15 and so very nearly made promotion that year, made a few people hate us even more.
    Every couple of years or so we overturn the apple cart, have a good team and upset a lot of people along the way, when you have teams like F C United of S*umchester singing we all hate Leeds it makes your heart grow proud to know that there are a new set of supporters who will hate us with equal vigour than the rest, at the start of every season opposing teams look for the “Leeds” match, that is there biggest gate of the season
    Leeds will be back in the prem, we will fill stadiums everywhere we go, Elland Road will be a fortress again, and who knows might even attract some more hatred along the way, so yes TSS to answer your question the World does still hate Leeds United

    Bring it on!

  5. RickHx

    As a Leeds fan, I think other teams singing ‘we all hate Leeds scum’ is the the ultimate compliment and I love it, especially last season when the supposed biggest match of the season, Manx scum v Liverpool was just scummers singing about a league 1 club.

  6. bogdan

    It’s certainly one of the enjoyments of being a Leeds fan. There’s a certain charm to everyone (claiming) to hate your team. Don’t worry though, it won’t go away and I’m 100% certain all the teams in the PL would be singing the familiar chant if we go up.

  7. Simon Williams

    Brilliant article. I find at work that most football fans who don’t support Leeds hate us, and are happy to talk if we are defeated, but stay quiet if we win.

    I also regularly hear “Dirty Leeds”

    Personally, I love it, not sure I’d want to support a team who everyone loved – those teams seem to be nobody teams with no support!.

  8. Bubio white

    I had the unfortunate experience of managing in London with a mixture of Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham fans between 1998 / 2003 and they all referred to “Dirty Leeds” every time they saw me. When asked to name a dirty Leeds player they all reverted to just 2 names … Norman Hunter and Alan Smith.

    Bring back the hatred I say!

    • number1inyorkshire

      i was once sat in the airport in Rome ,with my leeds shirt on as you do .
      when i heard someone say to me “that Alan Smith is an animal ” looking up from what i was doing it was no other than Italian referee PIERLUIGI COLLINA . lol who was i to argue .

  9. richard

    Its always been that way and tbh i dont really care what anyone thinks of us.

    Fukk`em!!! ;)

  10. Mark R


    Have some good mates who are Chelsea, West Ham, & Spurs and all express a wish to see the mighty whites back in the top tier.
    Some good banter with them , and I also hear ‘dirty Leeds’ now and again, but only from a Chelsea mate.

    It’s much more interesting for them to play against us than against Wigan and co.

    For Passion, intensity, ..WE ARE LEEDS !


  11. number1inyorkshire

    like i said to a Bradford city fan (not my quote ) when leeds are on tv people watch to see us get beat ,when Bradford city are on , we watch corrie .
    The amount of punters that come in my pub who claim to support other teams ,that have leeds united goal alerts on their phones is amazing .

    • TSS

      Bit of a difference between the hatred of rivalry and down-right murder. Comparing the two is beyond harsh in this context.

  12. Fish

    A very good write-up of what a part of being a Leeds fan is all about, and in response to the title,
    “Does the World Still Hate Leeds Scum?” I have only one thing to say….
    ….. “I do hope so!”

  13. Ed

    The answer to the question above is quite simply ‘yes’.
    I live in Bournemouth and even though us Leeds fans hardly consider AFC Bournemouth as rivals they still love to sing “We all hate Leeds scum” at almost every match since when we got promoted there over 20 years ago! Of course, the hatred isn’t because of the fact that at the same time as being crowned champions, we also sent AFCB down. It is instead a hatred towards us – Leeds fans who that night thought it would be nice to completely trash the city and wreak havoc on the locals!
    The hatred is not towards what goes on on the pitch but what goes on off of it! I’m afraid its us thats responsible :/

    • number1inyorkshire

      you are right .
      there is a band wagon at leeds by a minority it has to be said that are hell bent on keeping up the tradition of the service crews etc .

      That band wagon is being fueled by people who should know better 35+ .Sitting in the family stand there are also a new group of younger fans ,who have no interest in the game going on but just want to wind up the fans ,

      At the Norwich game seven fans sat directly behind me were ejected ,these were 5 adults 2 kids ,the language from people sat in there was abusive ,foul and unnecessary and was being fueled by the adults laughing at them

      I’ve been at the sharp end of it and trust me i have the scars to prove it ,a millwall bus window on my head ,and many others, odsal being another over the years .

      The hatred is about the past, its about them beating us in a fight because of reputations in our history ,not about the game .

      tss is right it was murder in Europe when them 2 lads went to watch their team , they didn’t come home because of our reputation for the fight in the past .
      It was no one elses fault other than the perpetrator ,but it stemmed from our reputation .

      I think this debate is more about BANTER than hatred ,but it is our own fault

  14. lufc0751

    Not wishing to burst any bubbles here but i Don’t hate Leeds I bloody love em

  15. mr zanzi

    Just see on dvd Leeds United – arsenal FA-cup final 1972..oh yes, it was one team on Wembley who played dirty and it wasn’t Leeds

    When people talk about dirty Leeds they are just jealousy

    M O T

  16. oldlufc

    Great article. There are 2 aspects to this subject, “Dirty Leeds” & “Dirty Leeds Scum”. “Dirty Leeds” originated in the mid 1960s as Don Revie’s team took the old 1st Division by storm and upset a lot of people with a dour “aggressive”, win at all costs style of football. Perhaps the best example was the “Battle of Goodison Park” against Everton in 1964 when Everton set out to show they were as tough as Leeds and ended up having a player sent-off. The foul count was 19-12 in Everton’s favour but it was Leeds who were criticised in the media as the “Dirty Leeds” tag took hold. The undeserved reputation was not helped when the FA published a table of disciplinary facts showing Leeds as the worst offenders. What they failed to point out was the figures were taken from right across the club, 1st Team to Juniors. In fact Scumchester had a worst disciplinary record than Leeds at 1st team level, but hey why let the facts get in the way of a good story. However, give a dog and bad name, mud sticks etc and soon fans of all teams were jumping on the bandwagon. Ask the 30,000 Liverpool Koppites who acknowledged Leeds 1969 Championship win at Anfield what they think of “Dirty Leeds”. As pointed out in earlier posts, Norman Hunter is often cited as the face of “Diry Leeds” but what these people, when asked, do not know is that Norman was voted the inaugural PFA Players Of The Year in 1974 by his fellow professionals, so much for being a dirty player! Other facts like Revie was twice named Manager of the Year, Collins, Charlton and Bremner all won Footballer of the Year, 7 players in the 1970 World Cup Squad are conveniently overlooked. Many of the Leeds antics like a player on the goal line at corners, taking the ball to the corner flag to waste time are now routine activities. Even today the vast majority of under 50s who use the term “Dirty Leeds” have no idea what they are talking about. When ever I hear someone say it I ask them if they ever saw Revie’s Leeds play and the answer is always NO!

    More recently the term “Dirty Leeds Scum”
    has come about primarily through the actions of the hooligan element that attached itself to the club in the late 1970s early 1980s. The fact that all clubs have a similar element is conveniently overlooked. These morons have done the club no favours at all. It is regularly reported that Leeds Utd has the highest number of Football Banning Orders, it is not because they have the highest number of thugs but because together Leeds Utd and the West Yorkshire Police take the problem seriously and try to root out these unwanted idiots.


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