Tom LeesRed cards, the ultimate punishment for an illegal act during the game of football are a relatively rare occurrence. In the Premier League for example, only 8% of matches produce a red card – that’s a division which includes Stoke City and whoever is on the receiving end of the referee’s bias towards ManU!

All the top European leagues are around the 8% mark, which means your average side should be involved in around four matches per season which feature a red card. Each team should expect to see no more than 2 or 3 given to their own players.

But there are naughtier teams (and perhaps, naughtier divisions), of course, and The Whites definitely fit into that category.

Leeds United saw five red cards last season, a record matched by Wolves and Nottingham Forest and topped only by Watford’s six. Conversely, Hull City Tigers and Bristol City didn’t see red all season, while Peterborough United and Blackburn Rovers only received one red card each.

The season previous, Dirty Leeds’ discipline was even worse. Nine red cards in total, matched only by Leicester City – who we beat on yellow cards if you’re looking for a league Leeds United topped recently.

It does level out a little though. 2010/11 – a year in which Sheffield United saw an astonishing 12 red cards – Leeds United only received 4, while the year previous we only saw 2.

In 184 league games, Leeds United have seen red 20 times. That means a Leeds United player has been sent off in roughly 11% of games over the last four seasons.

In reality, the figure is slightly slower (10%~) as some matches saw multiple red cards. Nevertheless, the chances of Leeds United receiving a red card during the same fixture on four consecutive occasions are astronomical – around 1 in 15,000. That’s roughly the same chance Middlesbrough have of signing Ross McCormack!

Dirty Leeds or dodgy Ipswich Town?

So what on earth is going on at Portman Road? The last four times we’ve made the 400 mile round-trip to Ipswich, Leeds United have seen a player sent off and lost the game.

The anomaly started in 2006 when Kevin Nicholls saw red and Ipswich went on to win the game 1-0.

Our next visit to Portman Road came in 2010 when Leeds and Ipswich were level at 1-1, only for Alex Bruce to get his marching orders and Tommy Smith to score an Ipswich winner four minutes later.

In 2011, The Whites were leading at half-time courtesy of a Ross McCormack goal, but within four minutes of the restart, Aidy White was sent off and Leeds had to play almost a full half with 10 ten. Jason Scotland equalised in the 77th minute, but Leeds looked to have registered a rare point at Portman Road, only for Keith Andrews to go and spoil our day with an injury time winner.

That brings us to last season and Tom Lees’ first half dismissal, a red card for which Neil Warnock called the young defender “stupid” leading to a backlash against our former manager from the Leeds United faithful. 0-0 at the time of Lees’ red card, Ipswich went on to win the game 3-0.

There’s a couple of notable trends to this sequence of red cards. Firstly, they’ve been getting earlier each time (’84, ’79, ’49 and ’32) and, more annoyingly, Leeds United were in a points scoring position before the dismissal on our last three visits.

What is it with Portman Road? Do we need to get Don Revie’s gypsy friend in to lift some sort of curse? Are Ipswich Town bribing the referees? Does their team (or fans) have a knack for getting under our skin? Or is it simply bad luck and coincidence?

Pre-match with my rational head firmly engaged, I’d suggest it’s the latter. But if we see another red card and lose tomorrow, I’ll be demanding an FA enquiry!


26 Responses

  1. BillBlue

    Childish in the extreme. If you are dirty you deserve to get sent off! Yes Colin, we did and with great pleasure.

    • Matthew

      You miss the point. We’ve had some shit decisions against us at your place. I don’t think anyone wants to seriously call Ipswich cheats but in fairness, you’ve had a lot of luck with incidents that really were yellow at most.

  2. Paul G

    Oh, Bill ….. don’t you recognise a little bit of tongue-in-cheek??! Read the last paragraph!

    • TSS


      Has to be one of the most bizarre footballing sequences I’ve ever known though. This is the stuff conspiracy theories are built upon.

  3. Paul G

    ….. and how anyone who saw Aidy White’s red card could say he “deserved to get sent off” must have been watching through blue-tinted spectacles ….

  4. Matt

    A very unpleasant run of coincidences (but no more than that clearly)… I remember being especially annoyed with the one in 2011 with White, which was a dodgy decision if I recall and a typical last minute winner.

    I can see this being another battle decided by the odd goal (probably like most of our games will be this season), but it’s about time we broke this Portman Rd hex and who knows, maybe they’ll get a red card for once? Unless McCarthy really works his magic I can’t see Ipswich being a top 8 team this season, so we need to take the game to them and go for it.

    Let’s try actually, er, ‘taking the lead’ as well, and before the 94th minute ideally…

    • TSS

      Not too concerned by us going behind every game before we score. It’s usually an indication that the team are sleep-walking beforehand and it takes a goal conceded to properly wake them up, but that hasn’t been the case so far.

      It’s just sloppy defending and the rub of the green really.

      • Matt

        Using the word Green in there was fairly appropriate in the context of sloppy play last weekend…. will be interesting to see if Tonge replaces him at Ipswich or if he stays in place as we’re the away team and he’s supposedly the more defensive option.

      • TSS

        Green was outstanding defensively against Brighton, but then Rudy came back and he was moved further up pitch. He hasn’t performed as well since then.

        I think Diouf or Tonge will get the nod over Green this weekend, he was poor v Wednesday – even if he was carrying a bit of an injury.

      • El Van C



        Tonge…………….. Diouf

        …………. Austin

        I think that’s what I would like to see with McCormack and Diouf switching about.

  5. henrymouni

    As one of our players said recently:
    “The worst thing about playing Ipswich is the journey – 4 hours each way”.
    Green has been one of our better players, but got a back injury, early on in the game, and tried to ‘soldier’ on.
    Nobodys wants to lose their place in the team.
    Assuming Wootton is on the bench, it should sharpen up Tom & Pearcy.
    Rumour is that Middlesborough are chasing Luciano Becchio.
    A real goalscorer!

    • JDC

      Wootton needs to be in the starting 11 … we cannot continue to give other teams a goal start by conceding first and the back line has long been a problem. Time to take your pick on who is left out, I don’t like to say but it ought not to be Pearce, he’s played well so far.

      • spellz

        I don’t think so, I think he is vastly inexperienced at present and needs a bit of time to break in to the first team, plus our defence has not started too badly under McD at present apart from conceding the first goal which sometimes cannot be helped but after that we have remained tight,

      • spellz

        And replacing who? our defence haven’t been that bad 3 championship matches 2 goals conceded were not exactly leaking at present, why change?

      • Matthew

        It’s not really that important of a game tbh. I’m quietly confident that we’l get through to the third round. I would play Poleon and Smith in that game too.

      • spellz

        Sorry Matty I mis-read, against Donny yeah sure should be his first start, for some reason it was stuck in my head that you wrote tomorrow cause JDC weren’t referring to Tuesday I think, spare my blushes pal :)

  6. spellz

    I am glad you brought it up TSS, now it has been mentioned I feel it could never be repeated, this one will have Ipswich down to 10 and conceding three sloppy but well taken goals from the mighty whites and a clean sheet to boot.

    M.O.T AA.

  7. Matthew

    It’s common for some players to go down like they’ve taken a few rounds from a handgun to their sides/legs. We just have to hope the referee is on the ball this time and is able to spot simulation. Regardless if we get a point tomorrow, we get a point, a point is better than a loss, and we keep our unbeaten run going, great for morale.

  8. mark

    another dumb article from this site, please stop promoting yourself as a Leeds fan site

  9. Matthew

    That James Varley shitstorm on twitter. wow just wow. Totally undeserved, can’t fault his tweets to be honest. There’s a lot wrong with the side, we’re short in many areas, we’re doing well picking up wins. Shows how good of a manager McDermott is.


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