The Mangle: dancing to different tunes Gary September 5, 2012 Features, Leeds United, The Mangle 29 Comments You don’t even know me/ you say that I’m not living right/ you don’t understand me, so why do you judge my life? The issue of Elland Road boycotts has no doubt been playing on many of our minds lately. It’s going to be, as we watch in increasingly jaded disbelief as the bearded miser hangs in there dribbling nonsensical bile into the 11/12 season despite obvious, excruciatingly real interest from potential outside purchasers of our wayward vessel. When I consider the respective arguments on the subject, I’ve recently become aware that my inner dialogue closely mimics the lyrics of Armand Van Helden’s 1999 floor-filler and yelp for individualism ‘You Don’t Know Me’. Thought it’d be worth explaining that one early. A mass boycott sounds wonderfully powerful in theory, but ignores a fundamental truth: we do not all support the same Leeds United, and people are going to get narked about the implication that they do. Each of our relationships with the club is different, based on so much of the practical stuff on which football relationships develop: when we first walked through the turnstiles, the company we keep, the stuff we shout and responses to that stuff we perceive, right down to the angle and viewpoint from which most fixtures have been watched. Effectively we’re all dating a partner who conceals the fact they’re seeing everyone else from us using a stunning mastery of the dark arts. Added to that, people don’t want to be told that they need to do something about their soured relationship before they’ve truly admitted it to themselves. People don’t want to be told what to do at the best of times. Edicts from a moral high-ground, even one as valid as that looking down on the carnage of the Bates years, are never going to sit well here. It’s not going to be rationally considered; it’s going to feel like a cutting barb at any other loved one or cherished artefact from childhood, and be taken very personally indeed. There’s also some less deep-rooted concerns working against a successful boycott. For part-timers like me, there are also times when personal narratives draw you to your season’s fixture selections. This is very true of our League Cup third round tie. An Everton-supporting old mate of mine and I have been waiting on any old cup match between our respective loves for the best part of a decade. To finally draw it and then get wind that the high profile-ish TV fixture is being targeted by some as the perfect mass-boycott – well, as an anti-Bates bore myself, it’s a bit awkward isn’t it? To have that little bit of pleasure in a personal rivalry tested, or be a small part of larger statement? Shucks. If I end up going, I will be trying really hard not to have much fun. This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts. Yes, it’s time for another explanatory excerpt from the same (golden?) era of commercial dance music as Van Helden. There’s been some talk that some sort of campaign of hands-on ‘re-education’ aimed at the supposedly apathetic of the fanbase needs to be taken on. The objectives are noble, but the truth is probably that there’s a majority who know full well that Bates isn’t a benign influence on proceedings – it’s just that the personalisation of the experience means they’re able to separate church from state with more ease than it’d be assumed. Their relationship with the mighty white gods can never be tainted by such crass influences as the tight-fisted merchant in the temple. People are going to need serious reassurances to just not go. “We’ve only just met Rodolph and it’s been going so well so far – when will we get to see him again?” is just one of many similar concerns. If a boycott is achieved, there should be preparations for fallout. Some people are going to need a heavyweight group hug. Aside from all this cod philosophising over late 90s house beats, our team, against the odds, seems to be decent, and it would be a bit of a shame to give them no-one to impress. If injuries and/or suspensions strike this extremely thin group, a vaguely intimidating Elland Road is going to be even more important in keeping the points tally ticking. And as fans, you can’t help but want that to happen. When you start hoping for defeats and -10 administrations just to show Ken that his policies have failed, you might as well not boycott, but pack it in forever. This is not an argument to do the opposite and pack the place to the rafters – but surely the repeated struggles over the 20k mark doesn’t exactly suggest that the Bates strategy is heartily backed here. Ken knows full stadiums and full tills with him at the helm are not even a dream his tendency towards delusion can conjure. We’ll surely all get behind a short sharp shock of ‘make things worse to make things better’ in a situation without a glimmer of hope, in which he’s sold every last asset and scared off every potential investor on earth. It may seem very much like that time is now, but it’s not quite. While there’s an offer on the table that just requires the use of one of them damn BICs, continuing to hold our own on the pitch, with a few fans in the stands, might just be a major lever in getting one of the suitors of our club to get in that office and point a gun, metaphorical or otherwise, at the old codger’s head. You’ve had the close of a transfer window to squeeze out a last taunt to the morons, and we might even politely ignore you inevitably claiming the early sparks of this season as your own, Ken, so just go. Go. Go. We’ve been waiting like muppets for this beat to drop way too long, and pride means we can’t leave our little dance floors now. There’s some solo shapes to be cut with the right DJ on the decks.