The Mangle: Leeds v the tainted universe Gary August 1, 2011 The Mangle 13 Comments 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.