That first column was a refreshing experience – it’s a great relief to finally be told that I’m an acid-guzzling blinkered borderline Bates apologist. My years of denial are finally over.

But actually, no, they’re not. Leeds occupy a place in my personal universe where I just can’t accept that things are totally tainted by just about any massive stink. Yes, it’s a la-la land of the highest order, but is a man not allowed to treat football as naïve escapism at all anymore? Does your club really have to be viewed through the same tainted hyper-realism of the rest of the tainted universe?

Look around you: there’s barely any part of daily life that’s not tainted by some kind of robbery or undercut. The gas and electricity powering your place, the petrol in your motor’s tank, that ring you saved up to buy your partner, the food you’re sticking in your belly. Cartels, lock-downs, war-starters and carcinogens a go-go – it’s hard to work out which outsourced brush-off customer service centre to scream at first; whose window to brick.

When it comes to ‘Leeds time’ (was going to say Saturday 3pm, but by the looks of things it’s mostly going to be around the 7am mark)I don’t see a problem with people taking a more ethereal, Zen approach to the club than many would find acceptable right now. I for one would never want to consider Leeds United in the same breath as wholesale oil prices, pathetic party political cudgelling and arguments with the council over large waste collection.

We build LUFC into our egos, and egos being innately oases of magic and reassuring self-delusion, no-one likes to be told that theirs is a corrupt web of classless tight-fisted fraudulence by association with that of a megalomaniac septuagenarian.

The fact that the club is this magical part of many of us also means this is the part of the club that Bates can never get at.

It even offers some the ability to almost feel a sort of pity for the anachronistic old codger as he irrelevantly flusters away his last years playing with his archaic business models, and, may we be damned, have a laugh at the Punch and Judy, Flamingo Land stupidity of it all. We, the fans, can allow ourselves to rise above it when necessary rather than be dragged into a constant plodding stew.

It’s also worth raising the question of what do we want more – the destruction of Kenneth’s regime or wins on the board? My view is that protest should never take priority over the idealised thing that the protest aims to defend, unless protesting is quite literally about life and death issues. Please don’t now quote Shankly at me…

Yep, something smells very, very wrong at Elland Road presently, but I can’t ever, ever bear Leeds United getting beaten. Despair off and on the field? It sounds a bit too much like the average 10 O’clock News report to me, and we’d all much rather be toasting victory at 10, maintaining the illusion that football has a positive effect; is a successful distraction from the bullsh** out there.

It would also be fairly logical to think that a run of on-field success would hasten the club’s passage into new hands more successfully than a few gatherings around Billy’s statue and some coordinated chanting. It’s not that I think that shouldn’t also happen, as righteous protest is more than valid here – but we can’t let our anger destroy our magic and let Bates take our money and our fun.

I’s be the first to admit that a run of escapist victories seems depressingly doubtful right now, but when enjoying a functional, uncorrupted life in this universe day-to-day so often also feels depressingly doubtful, there’s just no sense in doffing your cap deferentially to the Championship’s big-spenders and giving up dreaming or worse, playing martyr. Magic realism kicks realism’s arse.

I repeat, I’m not saying that Bates and his cronies don’t deserve organised opposition, but rather any kind of organisation should be executed with a sense of playfulness that doesn’t completely crush what made us fall into loved-up delusion in the first place – lord knows the fat bald t*** with the headset and the comically overinflated ego at the front of the Kop can do this without any of our help.

Righteous anger and innocent joy is a tough balancing act, but there’s surely just enough subtly and wit in our ranks to pull it off.

So if you’re chanting Bates Out before and after the game, let blinkered romance carry you through the 90, not just for the player’s sake but for your own. And if you’re desperately trying to wake up the masses from their unpoliticised slumber, try tickling them with a feather before screaming in their face – the dream might just still be a relatively pleasant one for them.

13 Responses

  1. Chareose

    I agree Gary, when the team goes onto the pitch we should get behind them and grayson…… I think a lot of the mudslinging pre-season is justified but too much of it has involved indirect critiscism of our current team and the new signings… not innocent in this. I also do think that Grayson is trying his best to bring players in…..Simon deserves our respect for doing a good job in impossible circumstances…..

    Yes we all know Bates is using Leeds and its fans but demoralizing the team isnt going to help our club.

  2. Dan Goldthorp

    The finest most coherent well-written and interesting article I have read for years. More please.

  3. derbyshirewhite

    How dare you sir, that fat bald t*** with the headset is my wife :D

  4. Henryv

    The Club is everything.
    The long list of Chairman managers and players are our history.
    When the whistle blows we are 100% behind our team, whoever is playing.
    We the fans are used and abused and lied to from time to time but we are committed to the Club.
    We are rightly disappointed that this club spends millions on a hotel, executive boxes and a museum. instead of the team.
    We are gullible but not stupid.
    Even we cannot fail to notice that since we got promotion to the Championship, the club has shown little ambition.
    Even we noticed that our transfer/loanee/freebie policy was a disaster last season, with perhaps only Eric being a success.
    We shipped out 15 to 20 players at all levels and expected, with all those wages shed we would bring in 5 or 6 'better' players.
    So far we have a goalie from Blackpool who does not like to leave his line for crosses, a 34 year old 'past his best' midfielder who fouls players too many times in a game.
    I hope he does well for us,of course.
    Finally a goalie who I wait to see in real games.
    We kicked Casper out without having a replacement!!!
    Other players may arrive, but I wait for simon's famous "you don't have to spend big money to be sucessful in the Championship".
    I have no problem with Simon and he seems willing to battle on until the inevitable.
    The board should really back him, but our wage structure is making life impossible for him.
    I am forever optimistic that the tide will turn for us.
    Last season was a bitter disappointment and a big chance for us to go up.
    We sank like a stone because we got found out.
    This season – I just don't know but I am really looking forward to it as usual.
    I am not downhearted because i love the Club!!

    Onward and upward!!!

    • TSS

      "Even we noticed that our transfer/loanee/freebie policy was a disaster last season"

      I really don't like this school of thought. We finished 7th in our first season back to the Championship and were promoted with the same policy the year before.

      That's not to say we wouldn't benefit from an actual transfer kitty (instead of the fictitious "war chest" Bates loves to tell us about) but you're undermining the efforts of a team and manager who continue to do remarkably well under the circumstances.

      I appreciate most of the negativity above was aimed at our chairman, but you have to be careful not to inadvertently include the players. Loans and freebies many of them may be, but they've served us well and should be thanked for that.

  5. macka

    Me and Robert Persig like this good article
    My own metaphysical bond with Leeds stretches deep beyond any ephemeral Bates tinkering – i do also have a degree of pity for his limited time – yet his linear thinking and tight accountancy has lost us another good player today ( Spector ) and fto have his name on the leeds team sheet would have added another layer of literary romance as wasnt he the enforcing UNIT in U.F.O or was it U.N.K.L.E ..ah the mists of time

  6. Matthew

    I will always be behind Leeds.

    Even if it means I have to put up with idiots saying I'm a Ken Bates supporter, part of his PR team and random stuff like that, just because I dare to be positive about things and not some negative person with a 2 by 4 lodged in his anus.

    Above paragraph, basically describes my thoughts on those giving me grief on here for being behind the club I love on here.

  7. JimC

    Not as clever or amusing as you think you are Gary. Fingers crossed for a good year though, we're in this together regardless…

  8. Colin

    This is like Lord of the Rings. A great work, granted, but it's painful to read, doesn't really float my boat and when I read it I can hear Stuart Hall in my head.

    I'm ready to get slated here, but I get the feeling that the only reason there are so many plaudits and 'big ups' to the author, is because they don't really get it?

    "Magic realism kicks realism’s arse" – I've got an A level in English Language and I can tell you that statement is just bollocks. It's just words. Abstract, I'll grant you. But does it mean anything? No.

    How about "Cats like cats that like cats" or "A dog would be a cat, were it not for the fact that it is a dog."

    I'd love to say that I like it, but I'm sorry, I just don't. Am I sad/deluded/alone? Probably yes, having read the comments above.

    And by the way Gary, I'm not knocking you or your work, I'm just your biggest critic who is asking the questions that everyone else wants to but doesn't because they don't want to appear stupid. I'm quite happy to do that.

    • Grumpy

      You're not on your own Colin… although I shouldn't really comment as I didn't read it all. I'd had enough after the fourth paragraph and read the comments instead. Also like you, I mean no offence to Gary.


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