As we prepare for our League One encounter with Yeovil Town today, I was reading comments made to the BBC by Yeovil Manager, Terry Skiverton earlier this week;

I think we’ve been working really hard on the training pitch. We’ve been doing a lot of bits and pieces. But as I’ve said to you, I think we didn’t have much luck at the start of the season. I think we were still playing well and putting good performances in but the key decisions were going against us and I didn’t feel it was quite happening for us. But performance-wise and especially individually, our performances were quite good. So sometimes you’ve just got to put your tin hat on, keep grafting, keep working hard and then your luck will change. To be fair, there’d been a couple of key incidents that had been going against us and we’ve had a few of them. We’ve had the breaks lately.

I understand his frustration when things just don’t seem to be going your way. We’ve experienced it often enough, although I’ll be the first to admit we’ve had plenty of things go for us so far this term. That said, there’s an old saying that ‘you create your own luck’. It sounds a little clichéd, I admit, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Because it’s true.

Occasional blogger, Lee Betteridge at Glory Glory Leeds United summed it up well with a quote from the 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson who said;

‘I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it’

Wise words indeed. 

For the poker players amongst you, I’ve always considered myself a pretty good player but often complained about my lack of luck late on in competitions. One such instance changed my outlook on the game completely though when I was on the final table in a pretty high stakes competition abroad a couple of years back.

With all the chips in, I had two pairs 10’s and J’s whilst my opponent had a pocket pair, QQ. I was massively infront, but the river turned a Q and I lost to his trip’s, ultimately finishing 4th with a much lower share of the prize fund than I probably should have had.

Of course, like the majority of card players, I complained about my luck. The winner of the hand, who himself had been extremely lucky in some ways, turned to me and said that ‘only poor players complain about their luck. Good players go home, reflect on where they made mistakes and come back stronger’.

Although I took little notice of him at the time, I realised sometime afterwards how right he was. The player who took me out went on to win the tournament and walked away with five times the amount of cash I did. Although we’d both profited, he’d taken a much larger share of the spoils.

 It’s true of football too. Leeds United have had some luck this season I admit. Beckford’s late winner against Norwich being an obvious example of this, but leading upto that, the Leeds team had been battling to try and create a winner. That’s why there was a goal-kick in the first place. Had Norwich took the initiative and tried to find a winner themselves, it could have been a totally different story.

As much as I hate to admit it, the same could be said of the Manchester derby at Sold Trafford earlier this season. The amount of stoppage time the ref allowed for was ridiculous. There’s no escaping that, but both teams had that extra time to try and find a winner. Manchester United had a winners mentality though whilst Manchester City failed to take the initiative and were pinned back desperately trying to defend the draw.

Through hard work, battling to claim all three points, Manchester United found a winner. The game really could have gone either way, but Manchester City never really looked like winning it. When it’s level with minutes to play and Leeds are involved, you know we’ll throw everyone forward, roll the dice and hope for that bit of ‘luck’ too.

So, is it luck that has us top of the table whilst Yeovil Town sit much lower? You bet it is. But the Leeds team have created their own luck and deserve every point they’ve acquired. True winners understand that. The chasing pack will forever complain about their fortunes.