Unconfirmed reports that former Thorp Arch trainee, Michael Woods has retired from professional football have been met with laughter by some Leeds fans on social networks and forums – fans who seem to think the end of a youngsters dream is cause for celebration.

Have we really become so bitter that any player leaving the club needs to be mocked for the rest of their days?

Woods, along with Tom Taiwo, left Leeds United for Chelsea back in 2007. The move caused controversy, and Ken Bates eventually sued his former club for a substantial sum of money.

The fact Leeds profited so well from this deal doesn’t seem to have changed some fans opinion however. There are some fans that seem incapable of accepting Thorp Arch isn’t what it used to be and players will be tempted by greener pastures elsewhere.

Quite rightly too. Are we really going to criticise the young for pushing themselves to achieve at the highest level? Youngsters should be praised and encouraged for trying to fulfil their dreams, not become victims of bitter abuse from fully grown men.

This is a story of a young man’s dream shattered. Who cares that he left Leeds for Chelsea? We profited heavily enough from it and he only wanted to give himself a shot at playing in the best league in the world – is that really such a crime?

The only thing Michael Woods is guilty of is attempting to live out his dreams. That he failed – reportedly due to fitness issues I hasten to add – should not be cause for celebration. We should be praising him for having the bottle to take a chance in the first place.

For what it’s worth Michael, I wish you all the best.

39 Responses

  1. mojoluafc

    I totally agree, if u dont try it you’ll never know. We got well paid, we wouldnt now. We cant play all our academy kids, might aswell make some money, not that it goes into the squad but thats another argument.

    • mulletcalves

      couldn’t agree more. good on the lad for trying and sorry to hear it hasn’t worked well. wish him all the best for the future.

  2. Dreary Deidre

    what are you babbling on about. living the dream, think you are getting him mixed up with mr grimsdale!!!

    he and his parents took him to chelsea for the money, they thought that going to a club like chelsea would mean a quick path to untold riches

    unfortunately at chelsea you get 0 chance of gaining first team experience and your development as a footballer is hindered because of it.

    ken bates might not consider thorpe arch to be much use these days but as a facility its better than 99% of what the football league has to offer.

    fabian delph, howson, lees, white are all recent examples of players been developed and moved to the first team by leeds united fc, maybe we dont have the numbers of the 90s but we are still doing it a lot better than bloody chelsea.

    sorry the lads not made it but you have to look at the lads parents and that they wanted to make a quick buck rather than looking long term its probably them who deserve the stick

  3. Sean Leach

    “Have we really become so bitter that any player leaving the club needs to be mocked for the rest of their days”

    Exactly what I said on WACCOE a couple of weeks ago. People saying how shit Beckford and Lennon are for example. Why the need to belittle? Its embarrassing, and a futile effort saying so

    • Tom Nicholson

      I have bitterness towards Aaron Lennon, met him on holiday a few months back I was telling him what a big Leeds fan i was and all he replied was ‘So?’ Thats just arrogance considering where he came from and who developed him as a youngster. Majority of players who leave dont care about us when there gone anyway!

  4. Dave Howson

    Yeh – we should feel for the kid. Okay have a go at his parents, as he should have had better advice. I watch tv and see ex leeds players scoring goals for their clubs, be it premier league or the lower divisions and feel quite proud.They were Leeds. For every greedy toss pot who left to feather his nest there are others who tried their damndest, just couldn’t make it, or indeed Leeds dumped them for a bit of ready cash. Many wouldn’t have had a say in it. THATS FOOTBALL, So good luck to the kid in whatever the future holds for him.

  5. eric olthwaite

    I can see this academy thing is a bit of a bugbear of yours. Your outlook seems to be that it is in the interests of any junior player to move to the Academy of the club in the highest league position in order to further their career. I just think you’re wrong.

    We could exchange examples all day I’m sure, but I’ll just say this:
    Harry Forrester and Ashley Young were 16 year-old team-mates at Watford. Forrester made a big money move to Villa, disappeared and now warms the bench at Brentford. Young stayed at Watford, gained first team experience and now plays for Scum and England.

    I can see no hard evidence whatsoever to suggest that junior players are more likely to improve at big clubs. No-one can tell whether a sixteen year-old will make it.

    As for Woods, he knew when he moved that Chelsea have about the worst record in the English leagues for bringing juniors through, but he turned his back on a club who had given him a chance, for his big payday.

    I can’t really condemn a naive teenager with stupid parents for making a dumb decision but I can’t say I have much sympathy either.

    • number1inyorkshire

      you are exactly right the player has more chance of 1st team action at a club outside the prem than going to a pre academy there is absolutely no substitute to playing in the 1st team for experience ,not any ..

      we should know look at lees he went out and got games so did beckford and clayton ,

      playing in the 1st team is king

    • sonny bill williams

      come on eric olthwaite ashley young and harry forrester is 6 years apart and how the hell did they become team mates.

  6. number1inyorkshire

    his parents need to look at themselves it will have been them who advised him so laughing at the lad is a bit pointless ,he will have been promised the world and when you are ,you take it ..

    very few lads in the academies make it to the 1st team so its not that unusual i guess , he will have been one of thousands at this stage of his football career ..

    We are a fickle bunch leeds fans more so than many clubs ,we can stick by the sh**est of players/ managers whilst under the lufc umbrella but when they leave its open season .

    it makes no difference at all to leeds united or its fans really , except if he is free expect him to be play for leeds again LOL

  7. Gryff

    We’ve all been tempted by somewhere bigger or better. I’ve had the opportunity in my line of work to go somewhere “better”, but that didn’t work out.

    Can I be blamed for taking an opportunity when it’s given me? No. Can Woods? No.

    He was a kid who was promised more money and a foot in the door at one of the top3 clubs in England.

    If you didn’t take that opportunity you’d need putting away under mental health act.

    Plus, everybody harps on about Bates putting Leeds into administration, owning the facilities secretly, not investing enough in coaching staff, not paying enough for players wages, not spending enough on new players, conspiring not to have Leeds promoted until we won’t owe anybody anything, etc.

    It’s hardly surprising with that outlook that a lad would jump ship.

  8. eric olthwaite

    By the way, there’s a Tw@tter account called Woodsyyy, claiming to be the kid hissen, who denies that he’s retired.

    If it’s him, he doesn’t half come across as a plank.

  9. eric olthwaite


    “If you didn’t take that opportunity you’d need putting away under mental health act.”

    I disagree. I know this lad who, at 12, was picked up by Brighton. A year later he was poached by Pompey. A year later he was poached by Chelsea. A year later he was told he wasn’t good enough and was copped out. Now, he’s nowhere. Would he still be at Brighton if he’d stayed? Who knows, but I reckon it would have been the better option.

    My kid’s a footballer. He’s good, but not good enough to make it. If he was, I can guarantee you I’d do everything I could to persuade him to stay with his his local team until he was at least 18. Section me now, I guess.

    • Gryff

      That’s the problem.

      I’m sure there’ll be a lot more comments over the next few hours and it’ll go something like “he should take the opportunity” “well it failed for this bloke so no he shouldn’t.”

      I honestly couldn’t give an example of a player who went to Chelski or Scum youth team from elsewhere and did well, but the only reason I could give an example of those that failed is because of Leeds’ specific history.

      If Woods really was that good, he’d’ve made it or else at least been farmed out. Chelski aren’t on a budget with youngsters. He wasn’t and he failed. But that could’ve happened at Leeds too.

      I guess we just emphasise different points of his decision making. I see the opportunity somebody who’s good enough has, you see what happens if the lad wasn’t good enough.

      I wonder if Woods honestly thought he was that good?

      • Chareose

        “If Woods really was that good, he’d’ve made it or else at least been farmed out. Chelski aren’t on a budget with youngsters. He wasn’t and he failed. But that could’ve happened at Leeds too.”

        Lol Gryff, what complete rubbish…….look young players NEED TIME to develop, they dont instantly become Diego bloody Marradonna, like Clayton and White for example, they need to learn their trade a bit first. The problem at Chelsea is its populated by world class internationals at their peak. So a kid doesnt have a chance ! Chelsea dont have the patiance to blood youngsters and give them time! THEY WANT SUCCESS NOW ! Thats why any kid going to chelsea rather than staying with a decent team like Leeds where they will get chances is an idiot of the highest order and deserve everything they get !
        Its simple logic !

      • Gryff

        Gael Kakuta, Ryan Bertrand, van Aanholt, McEachran – they’re all being farmed out by Chelsea and making the odd appearance in unimportant matches.

        If the lad was good enough he’d have made it. You can Caps-lock bash as much as you like but it doesn’t change the fact that youngsters do go to Chelsea and do succeed.

        Most get released, but that’s because they’ve got to be the best to make it at the club.

        If the lad thought he was good enough then why not go to Chelski, if he didn’t think he was good enough then it’s a stupid move. But either way he’d get good experience at a youth academy that has money pouring out of every crevace.

        As someone else said earlier in the comments: Beckford has shown that youngsters released by top clubs can easily find another club.

        If Woods won’t go to a low enough club for a couple of seasons that’s his problem.

  10. l l leeds

    Rubbish – if the idiot and his fmaily didn’t chase the money chances are he’d be a much better player than he is now

  11. Bubionwhite

    It’s sad, really sad that the lad has to retire but good luck to him … whatever he chooses to do.

    We have to remember however, that the top is a pyramid and only a select few can make it there … the rest of us have to settle for something / somewhere on the way up and that happens in whatever profession you choose.

    It’s not a story that will be used in the publicity of the new youth development system … well done for voting against Shaun Harvey.

  12. Dave

    I have no sympathy for the lad whatsoever. I’d feel the same regardless of which academy he came out of. You can guarantee that he’d have a professional career ahead of him had he stayed at Leeds – he would either have made it at Leeds (if he was good as he was led to believe), at worst been shipped out on loan a few times only to realise he was lower league level, or at best been picked out by a prem club whilst playing regularly for Leeds.

  13. Dave

    Hadn’t quite finished that rant… Anyways, I don’t know who is to blame, pushy parents? Do they have agents that young? Chelsea for leading the lad on. Any player with the slightest bit of intelligence will know that if they are going to be great, they will inevitably rise to the top eventually. If you ask me, any young player who takes the approach that he did deserves all they get. Regular first team football in any football league division is worth way more than sitting around on Chelsea’s payroll, maybe getting the odd reserves game (if you are lucky).
    Way too many careers are ruined by clubs like chelsea stock piling young players only to throw them on the scrap heap if they don’t make the cut.

  14. 5_quid

    Why is no-one blaming Chelsea, they’re the one dangling the carrot, trying to buy success on the cheap. With their money they should have one on the best academy’s on the planet. Having said that, if this lad has retired then maybe he was never really cut out for football. I was a rubbish footballer but the one thing I didn’t do was give up.

  15. eric olthwaite

    The other thing which makes me suspicious about this kid – he’s young and unattached about six months after being released.

    Now I could pretty much guarantee that he’d get a game at no end of clubs in the Conference or below. A certain Mr Beckford did just that, after being copped out by Chelsea. If the kid wants to make it, he needs to start by getting his boots on. So I wonder if, perhaps, he’s just too full of himself to drop down and work his way back the hard way.

  16. Len

    Frankly, the arguments going on here have totally missed the point. It’s sad that any aspiring footballer’s career’s over prematurely, whoever they play for (except the scum, of course), so why are so many people judging the guy so personally? Ironic given the tone of the article.

    Nevertheless, who are we to say his parents are greedy or call him an idiot and presume that he was ‘obviously crap’? We know nothing about the situation, and i’d say that the majority of parents, given the choice, would want their kid to have the best quality training at the best quality facilities.

    It’s funny how so many people are so confident that had he stayed at Thorpe Arch he’d now be awesome and we’d be winning the champions league.

    (Keep up the good articles TSS – Sg’s worth one was cracking)

    • TSS

      Glad someone noticed that the majority of comments have totally missed the point that he’s a kid whose career is allegedly over – doesn’t matter who he played for or what the situation surrounding his departure was, the lad was simply trying to succeed.

      Amuses me that the word “greed” is so often used in these situations. Was Delph greedy for leaving Bradford? Should we have been slagging him off too?

      Fans seem incapable of accepting the fact we’re not a big club any more, and our academy isn’t what it used to be. We spent many years poaching players off smaller clubs – that’s just how the system works. No point spitting dummies out because it’s working against* us now, some would call it poetic justice.

      *Doubt Ken Bates had many complaints when he received the compensation.

  17. Tss is crap

    Like the proper scratching shed was, this site and your moronic views should be consigned to history. I’ve never read so much rubbish from one person. At last bates has come out today and said our position is not acceptable; long overdue and happily we’ll have a new manager for christmas. As for tss put your computer back in Its box as you’re far too thick to use it

    • TSS

      You know you’re doing something right when you get that kind of a reaction. Clearly hit a nerve by having the audacity to suggest Grayson is doing a good job, thus promoting a hate campaign from Mt Anon here. Bless.

  18. deanbrid

    nobody, including he himself knew that we would get much of a sum for bringing him through. Leeds utd, a club that still does give youth a chance, or chelsea who can go out and spend a few million if their third string keeper gets injured. im sorry, but he made a life changing decision, and got it wrong, and no theres nothing funny about it.

  19. Robert Hardy

    I don’t know why everybody cares because he’s a footballer – if Joe Bloggs failed a career as a Team Leader would there be outpourings of sympathy? Not particularly. I don’t wish any harm to him, I don’t know him but it was always going to be the case that somebody who had made no appearances for a League 1 club wouldn’t make it at a club who are not at all famous for bringing through youth as they focus on buying elite talent and not developing anybody as they have the money and do not need to do so. I agree with a few comments on here – instead of spitting his dummy out he should admit his mistake, to himself, and go back and play some non league football and restart his education.

  20. dave

    To reiterate – I agree, there is nothing ‘funny’ about it, and I don’t take any pleasure in the situation (a view I imagine most will share), but he deserves what he gets.

    It doesn’t take a genius to realise that it was a foolish move at the time, nevermind with hindsight. Blame his parents, blame Chelsea, blame the lad himself for being so naive, but please don’t have sympathy with him.

    Would you have any sympathy for a musician who never made it because he/she turned down a few record deals from small labels, while waiting for the major labels to call (who never did)? Or those muppets who win X-Factor and expect a lifetime of musical success, adoration and respect, only to line Cowell’s pockets with one Christmas number one, before being htrown onto the scrap heap? I sincerely doubt it. It is the exact same situation.

    The lad sold out, and it back fired, plain and simple.

  21. GMcG

    This whole idea that players should be emotionally committed to their clubs in the same way that fans are is just weird.

    The game has changed and although you get the odd exception, most players treat their playing careers as just that, careers like any other, whether they be in law, accountancy, showbusiness or bloody astrophysics.

    For the likes of Beckford (did you see his comments before the Leicester game?)or Gradel, be happy that they did the business for us while they were here but please, don’t bleat and whine about them attempting to better themselves by moving to clubs playing at a higher level.

    As for trainees and younger players, they may not yet have proven themselves and the fact that they may be about to fall flat on their faces is all part of the risk they take with their careers, but don’t belittle their ambition or confidence and having the balls to attempt to prove themselves at the highest possible level.

    I’m sure Master Bates was delighted to receive cold hard cash in lieu of as yet unfulfilled potential but maybe that’s part of the problem. Not all players are idiots and if they’re shining with Leeds (insert your own favourite) and wanting to compete with the best, they probably have far more idea of what’s actually going on behind the scenes with Bates than we ever will. The Premier League probably looks a long, long way off.

  22. Colin

    I think there’s something else we’re forgetting here. What exactly were Leeds United in 2007 when this happened? LUFC were a club in crisis – manager sacked, relegation to the third tier, legal court cases, unable to pay the bills, -10 points, -15 points, no owner, Bates arguing with everyone, the football league threatening to kick us out of the league.

    LUFC were a sinking ship and sinking fast and Woods got an offer to join a club that could guarantee that there would be an Academy. Leeds couldn’t afford to pay the electric, let alone support a successful academy.

    It was a no brainer to leave Leeds and join Chelsea. He had 2 options – join Chelsea or stay with Leeds and face being laid off by the club as the Academy is wound down or run on a showstring. He made the right choice IMHO.

    I hope Michael Woods is okay, and that he still has a career in football and that someone takes him on and gives him a chance.

  23. Matt Anderson

    Not that many make it even at Leeds. At least he didn’t make it with a decent bank balance unlike some of the “loyal” kids.

  24. The Scratching Shed

    Billy Leeds Heard that since, but the article was about the reaction to the rumour (I did say unconfirmed reports), bot the legitimacy of the news.


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