A Leeds United blog of rantings, match reports and a whole load of weird shit...

Sunday, 24 June 2012

110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 8

This is it! We’re on the precipice; any day now (or maybe in a week or so…don’t shoot the messenger), this takeover IS going to happen. It has to – this draining, tortuous second act is reaching its conclusion and it’s now a just a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s before the book publishers, the movie producers, Yorkshire Radio and maybe even some external media organisations get the go-ahead to reveal the final chapter, the glorious conclusion to saga, in all its beautiful DAB, Dolby Digital and HD glory!

The whispers of past weeks are remaining consistent and they even appear to carry substance; there does appear to be a new bidder in the process, the predicted transfer activity of the week has come to pass and the mooted July 1st does tie in with all the other bits of hearsay.

Besides, it has to end inside the next week or so; I’m not convinced we can collectively stomach any longer a timeframe (in fact some have already crumbled – see Tuesday); I’ve lost countless evenings and weekends to this already, reduced to a desperate shell of a man, constantly refreshing timelines and the TOMA thread in the hope that this time something will be there; a simple tweet from Thom Kirwin or Paul Dews, or one glorious weblink to the official site that ends the nightmare and starts the celebrations.

The Euros have been reduced to an irrelevance - anyone doubting the precedence of club over country should try being a Leeds fan this summer! I’ve even found myself daydreaming about it all, a vivid, repetitive vision: a press conference screened live on the BBC, with not so much as a Yorkshire Radio microphone in view, while outside the entrance of the discredited LUFC media outlet’s HQ sits Ben Fry, disconsolate, a single tear running down his cheek, his gaze fixed on a framed, signed photograph of Ken Bates, his finger tenderly stroking his paymaster’s beard. Elsewhere, Peter Lorimer staggers around the Commercial Inn, grasping his third bottle of gin as he tries to convince punters that he never had any time for the departing regime. In the West Stand car park, a subdued Shaun Harvey is loading his belongings into a Citroen Picasso while in Monaco, Ken Bates is on his phone, begging David Conn to give him an exclusive interview in The Guardian…

It may not pan out exactly like that, but it will end. Mark my words, this 7 year nightmare WILL end!!!

"…Oh, hello nurse, is that my lunch on that lovely silver tray? It isn’t? Wait a minute, what’s that syringe for..."

Monday 18th June

Finally, a temporary reprieve from the takeover speculation as the new fixture list is published; a day that gets Leeds fans excited and police forces nationwide, making plans for excessive overtime opportunities.

The fixture lists are the product of weeks of careful planning, a conscientious process where the needs of supporters, the wishes of clubs and wider social considerations are all factored into the complex algorithms of the Football League computer. I can only imagine Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston concurring with this viewpoint; his bitter complaints about the drunken behaviour of Leeds supporters during last season’s April weeknight game, keenly adhered to by the authorities who have decreed to make Bloomfield Road the destination for United’s first away trip of the season…on an August weeknight!

Comments taken on board...

It’s difficult to have much sympathy for Oyston, a man who owns a club based in a town that seemingly markets itself as the resort of choice for binge drinking and loutish behaviour. Maybe if he wants to avoid such instances of anti-social behaviour, he should consider taking the reins of a different seaside club, based in a more respectable resort. How about Bournemouth? …Hmm, maybe not.

The fixtures cause similar excitement in other Yorkshire footballing outposts, especially in Huddersfield, Hull and Barnsley. Mercifully for the triumvirate of chairman presiding over these clubs from Yorkshire’s dark underbelly, the earliest Leeds visit doesn’t fall until December, allowing them plenty of time to produce batches of large print song sheets, containing the lyrics to “I’m Huddersfield/Hull/Barnsley* (*delete as appropriate) ‘til I die” so as the day-tripping hordes of chavs have something to bellow out in between the choruses of “We all hate Leeds scum!”  

Plans are already afoot in the corridors of Huddersfield Town Hall to pencil in Monday 3rd December as a Bank Holiday, should the dog botherers win; the festive period visit to Hull gives the authorities plenty of time to prepare the locals for a brush with a 21st century civilisation, while Barnsley’s January fixture is the perfect excuse to re-issue the VHS of last season’s victory in the run up to Christmas.

If it wasn't for the pesky meddling clubs...

Elsewhere, the YEP hears from Redders who is keen to discuss the great work going on at the Academy and his new role, managing the new U21 squad as the club re-structures in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). His excitement and utter conviction about the quality of the current crop of youngsters are ER is articulated quite beautifully as he reflects on the season just gone:

“The youth team had an outstanding season and we were the best team in our league by a country mile. If we’d had a different start to the season and not played Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, we’d have won the league, no two ways about it.”

Give or take 13 other pesky clubs, it was the same for the senior side, Redders…

Tuesday 19th June

It’s finally happening! As foretold in the whispers form the more credible ITKers, Leeds have started to draft in new players.  First lined up to read the script about the ambition of the manager, the plans of the club and the quality of the pasta bake at Thorp Arch is Norwich City’s Adam Drury.

The inbreds mourn the loss a family member

Despite being another summer ‘Bosman’, his arrival is greeted with a general sense of approval and optimism by Whites supporters; Warnock is especially delighted to have got his man, revealing that he’d failed previously to land him while boss as Bramall Lane and saying of Drury:

“I’ve always liked him and I honestly think he’s as good a left-back as you’ll get in the Championship, certainly defensively”

Perhaps most comforting of all was the reaction amongst Norwich supporters who were in unison over their sadness to see him depart. Each tweet about Drury, effused about him in glowing terms; after spending 11 years at Carrow Road, many spoke of him in the way that you’d expect of family members… though this is East Anglians we’re talking about, so I suppose anything’s possible.

If this wasn't reason enough to celebrate, our new boy is also on twitter (@adamdrury78), and having undertaken a comprehensive search, I can confirm that Nando's has not featured in his recent activities.

While still in the virtual world, much beloved son of WACCOE’s TOMA threads, ToeNailSoup reveals his twitter alter-ego, and in the process, provides an insight into how a man who’s been driven to the verge of hysteria by takeover rumours chooses to have a public breakdown. The poster a.k.a. @WhiteLeedsSite has been leading a secret double life under his twitter pseudonym, tracking down any tweeters claiming to be 'in the know' and demanding of them their credentials. This evening matters came to a head, the victim, a naive journalism student; in a moment of foolhardiness she decided to try boost her follower count by proclaiming to have inside information – our man, desperate for answers, took his opportunity and wasn’t going to take ‘no’ as an answer…

Maddie has left the building...

The girl in question quickly retracted her initial tweet and stated that she knew nothing before eventually opting to delete her account – valuable lesson learned. Scanning back down the @WhiteLeedsSite profile page it’s clear that the incident was sadly inevitable - countless other parties had already been previously called to task, the YEP’s Phil Hay included, who'd memorably been instructed to ‘Piss off!”.

In the aftermath, ToeNailSoup disappeared off WACCOE for several hours, prompting concern for his welfare, but finally returned the following afternoon, his enthusiasm undimmed and his deity-like status only elevated by what had passed the night before. With a sense of boundless optimism comparable to that of a Disney Club presenter on Prozac, he truly is a man to be treasured.

ITKers, beware…

Wednesday 20th June

Two days and two signings, as Paul Green is announced as the club’s third summer arrival. Neil Warnock told the official site:

“Paul is another player I’ve been after for a long time…I’ve seen him grow from his days at Doncaster and I’m delighted to have him here. I’ve always thought that he is a player who can create goals as well as score them, and he has just the type of attitude we need at Elland Road.”

Whether that right type of “attitude” is a willingness to actually sign a contract is unclear, as is the overall reaction of the fan base. While involvement with Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad should provide grounds for optimism, that may be tempered somewhat by the fact that Green initially a standby player for a nation that was able to automatically accommodate Darren O’Dea. This widely circulated jpeg also did little to lift the spirits…

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Derby County fans didn’t seem to rate Green that highly either, but hey, what do they know? They said exactly the same about Paul Connolly…

On Wednesday evening, focus switched to the first LUST meeting of the summer, where a larger than usual audience attended the event at The Magic Sponge, many doubtless there in the hope that Gary Cooper et al were going to spill any specifics on the takeover. They were to be disappointed.

However, in saying nothing, Gary did somehow seem to tell everything; while everybody left at the end, none the wiser in terms of concrete names and timescales, most surely did so feeling all the more confident that a takeover would be happening.

When I offered up the theory that the signing of ‘Bosmans’ now and the expected recruitment of players who commanded fees at the end of the month (as suggested in the press) supported the suggestions of a takeover being completed by 1st July, the Trust’s chairman nodded along and smiled throughout. He eventually replied, that “there would seem to be too many coincidences for this not to be true, and besides, I DON’T believe in coincidences”… as hints go, that was a pretty strong one.

Ultimately however, LUST were understandably unwilling to confidently pin their colours to a particular date, though did go as far conceding at least, that it was “VERY probable” that Leeds United would start the new season under new ownership. Furthermore, if Bates was somehow able to cock up these negotiations, they were able to assure us that at least two more bidders were waiting in the wings, both offering substantial funds. Each one of them were only interested in a takeover.

I slept better that night.

Thursday 21st June

Adam Drury spoke for the first time over his move to Elland Road, telling the club website that after 11 years at Norwich it felt like the right time to move on:

“Everything moves on. Football moves on, life moves on, and it was time for me to move on. I’m excited about what I’m coming into and can’t wait to get going. I had a few options, there was some interest and I could’ve gone abroad, but with what could happen here it’s a massive pull and I want to be part of it.”

For those who made it past the deep philosophical musings of the opening sentences, there was ANOTHER takeover hint – after the usual morning pattern of post-rumour depression, the customary sharp late night injection of hope arrived mid-afternoon for once.

The WACCOE experience in line graph form

Neil Warnock spoke in more detail about the arrival of Green and had undoubtedly immersed himself in the ‘Elland Road New Signing’s Cliché Handbook’ informing the official site:

“Once we showed him around Thorp Arch and told him what I was intending to do, I don’t think there was too much of a choice for Paul. That was the crux of it”

Welcome to the Ministry of Propaganda, Neil!

Friday 22nd June

It is announced that Elland Road is going to become the home of a new ice rink after developers, the imaginatively named Ice Rink Company, and operators, Silver Blades, reached an agreement with Leeds City Council. No word as yet on whether it will be the largest facility of its type between Manchester and Newcastle.

Not that sort of old flame, Simon

The club also invite supporters to join them at Billy’s Bar on Monday as they prepare to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay to Elland Road. The identity of the torch bearer is not revealed – it is believed that Simon Grayson was initially offered the opportunity, but was said to be wary of the prospect of meeting up with any old flames at the club.

Visitors to WACCOE, late on Friday evening have a near death experience as the mods take the decision to merge the two TOMA threads, creating the impression that 300+ pages have been added in the space of a couple of hours… as usual, on closer inspection, it proves another false dawn.

Saturday 23rd June

More fuel to the fire of the theory of an imminent takeover as United are again linked with players who command transfer fees. David Norris and Luke Varney are back on Neil Warnock’s radar, weeks after having the ‘square root of f**k all’ to spend thwarted our manager’s initial interest.

Another fee?

There is also an update on ticket sales for pre-season games. Only 150 tickets remain for the visit of Torquay, while over 1000 have already been sold for the trips to Tavistock and Bodmin. Seeing the potential to capitalise on spreading mass panic, the club take the responsible step of selling tickets in advance for the fixture at Farsley…and a potential £3000 in booking fees to feather Ken’s retirement funds.

Sunday 23rd June

A story in the Sunday Mirror speculates – let’s be fair, it’s the Sunday Mirror, so we’re not in the realms of indisputable fact here – that Ross McCormack is set to leave the Whites to join Simon Grayson at Huddersfield in a £2.5m move. A number of tweeters suggest that Warnock should drive the striker to the Galpharm himself for that sort of money. Apparently, having that sort of fee to reinvest in the squad will come in very handy – do some people NEVER learn?

I’m still convinced a takeover is imminent, but while Bates is around, such rhetoric should be outlawed - Gimme strength… I’m flagging here! 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 7

So the silence is deafening… and hopefully golden; undoubtedly infuriating too – but did we really expect anything different? This is Leeds United and Ken Bates we’re talking about, and potentially the most defining off the field event in the club’s history. No epic story ever pans out inside a short timescale; a look at the some of the most notable literature and cinema of our times stands testament to that – there are rules, an episodic blueprint to follow; three distinct acts that conform to the classic trilogy format.

The context and excitement provided by act one has now given way to the troublesome middle act where the initial hope and enthusiasm have faded and the heroes of the piece appear to be going nowhere, and pretty slowly too; and unlike with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, there’s a distinct lack of ‘cool shit’ like AT-AT vehicles, light sabers, family conflict and a green dude who lives in a swamp; no sadly this is one of those more stereotypical trilogies where onlookers find themselves frustrated, awaiting the big pay-off in the final chapter.

But fear not, almost all of the finest trilogies offer salvation at the death: the heroes triumph, the bad guy either snuffs it or makes his exit and best of all, there’s a big f**k off party to commemorate the whole damn thing! That is what we’re waiting for and I for one have the champagne on ice and a generous selection of mini-pork pies, chicken drumsticks, onion bhajis and cheesy footballs on standby!

You see, this whole takeover saga fits the classic model perfectly, in fact having taken some time off for reflection, the similarities with the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy are quite compelling (hey there, ladies ;-) ). Part one set the scene, the brave fellowship setting off on their epic quest to overthrow the dark overlord, Sauron (Bates) whose dark shadow has cast Middle Earth (LS11) into a period of darkness and infighting. The principal players are set in place, the role of Aragorn, the rightful king, leading the good fight, taken on with aplomb by Snoddy; the stoutly resolute, no-nonsense dwarf, Gimli, personified by Warnock; the eye candy and largely redundant Legolas? Step forward Robbie Rogers! Then at the forefront, Frodo, the everyman charged with delivering the knock-out blow at the heart of Mordor (the East Stand), Gary Cooper of LUST. Any ideas for his noble assistant Samwise Gangee? I’m thinking, surely somebody from the The Square Ball…

Of course a nemesis is required for the scenario; a Gandalf to Bates’ Sauron – a bidder! As the hope faded at the end of the first act, our US hopeful was seemingly cast indefinitely into a dark expanse, otherwise known as a media blackout. Now, here we are in act two, we find ourselves watching the fellowship pacing onwards almost indefinitely, in the staunch belief that salvation is theirs to be had. The only thing is, after two weeks of this, the audience is losing hope, a couple of the fellowship appear to have got stranded in the forbidden forest, having taken a wrong turning on a day out at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, while the remainder are struggling to coerce allies to fight the good fight…

Literary history tells us that this, seemingly the lowest ebb, is where the worm turns. As the fellowship and their meagre army try and stave off Bates’ army of purple vested stewards at the Elland Road version of Helm’s Deep, so Gandalf returns, only now he’s Gandalf the White, his transformation a representation of his commitment to the LUFC cause (and possibly a new incarnation as a Middle East based bidder); he’s bigger, better and ready to kick some top-level ass! - For the title 'The Two Towers', now read 'The Two Takeovers'!

The conflicted one

Throw in at this stage, Shaun Harvey, playing the conflicted Gollum, no longer sure whether to stick with the dark side, or facilitate the transition of power in the hope of retaining a role after the demise of the evil one, and surely the destiny of the LUFC power struggle is inevitable…surely?

As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s been another quiet week and I’m grasping at straws here. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the slim pickings of week 7…

Monday 11th June

The YEP reports that Aidy White is to request a final round of talks at Elland Road in an effort to clarify his future; expect his agent’s opening gambit to be along the lines of “Look, is the club getting taken over, or can we just f**k off, here and now?”

Hey ladies...

Eddie Gray also appears in the paper, stating that Warnock will want to get players in for next season as soon as possible – expect another instalment from Eddie Gray’s ‘Guide to Stating the Bleeding Obvious’ in the near future.

On WACCOE, the TOMA threads pass the 1 million views landmark – a true sign of the scale/dedication/desperation* (*delete as appropriate) of the LUFC fanbase. True to WACCOE, even after in excess of 15,000 posts, nobody is any the wiser about the whole affair.

Tuesday 12th June

The big news of the day in the YEP centres around the future of Michael Brown; with the combative/dirty/useless* (*delete as appropriate) midfielder set to decide on his future at the club, having been offered drastically reduced terms for next season. Warnock is full of praise for Brown’s contribution under him but also states:

“I’m looking to bring a few players in that area, but I’d like to think that he will come back and surprise a few people again next season”

Expect that line to be cut and pasted for every ‘contract rebel’ currently at Elland Road, the surprise being that any of them do come back and play at all…

Huddersfield are reported to be set to hijack United’s move for out of contract Derby midfielder Paul Green… nobody cares.

On a more positive note, Dominic Poleon and Ross Killock join Simon Lenighan, Sam Byram and the magnificently named Charlie Clamp and Monty Gimpel in signing professional contracts at the club…quite possibly on the grounds of being offered starting places in August.

All you need is love/Lust* (*delete as appropriate)

Finally there's also universal agreement on WACCOE as the TOMA thread provides its first constructive and wholly appreciated contribution to the lives of those doomed to spend their days in the dark corridors of its mis-truths, speculation and tired, repetitive in-jokes; it arrives in the form of a GIF of a charming Russian supporter, caught on camera,  attending the Euros - that girl's sweet smile, enough to at least temporarily halt the name calling and spark mass adulation amongst all those who encounter her.

Wednesday 13th June

The Premier League announce a new deal for domestic TV coverage, worth £3bn over 3 years. From the 2013-14 season, clubs will enjoy a modest 71% hike in television income with even the division’s bottom club guaranteed a minimum of £60.6m a season. Ken Bates’ decision to withhold a couple of million pounds from Simon Grayson when the club sat in the top two at the turn of 2011 looks ever more shrewd.

Awaiting the opening of the war chest?

Lee Peltier is again linked with the club with a deal worth in the region of £300k reported to be on the cards, later in the month. The long-running Paddy Kenny saga is also expected to resolved soon as the player returns from his holiday on Thursday. That’s now two players back off their holidays – do they not adhere to Ken Bates’ ‘Guide to the Summer Transfer Window’?

Back on WACCOE, a proud new moment in the site’s history after its members WACCOE their own club, bombarding Shaun Harvey in forthright, but surprisingly expletive-light terms via email, to ask what the hell is going on. Word from the club is that they’re not best pleased; the TOMA 2 thread is temporarily closed (causing severe withdrawal symptoms for some of the most notorious addicts) and the mod who offered up his intended email for feedback, thus sparking the chaos, is moved to apologise to the masses.

The most remarkable revelation of the day is made on the official website though as the club make the astounding, commendable even, announcement that the South-East Corner will be reserved next season for to enable families to attend who have chosen NOT to buy membership! Holy shit – Ken Bates has approved something akin to a non-conditional discount at Elland Road? Well, if you ever needed a sign he was selling up…  

Thursday 14th June

It’s the Capital One Cup first round draw day; an event so exciting and pivotal in the pre-season calendar that it’s almost demands checking the twitter timelines to catch up on the news. Fanciful dreams of a day out in Morecambe or York are shattered as the soul-destroying spectacle of Shrewsbury Town at Elland Road is thrown up instead. The club announce that they may seek to move the tie to the Saturday before the season… it’s obviously a more appealing spectacle than the previously brazenly touted ‘prestige’ friendly against the newly crowned European champions.

Big time!

Leeds Online reveal that Neil Warnock flew over to Monaco to meet/confront* (*delete as appropriate) Cuddly Ken over his summer spending resources. Mercifully, he returned to the UK, still as Leeds manager… we can only hope the news represents the takeover, rather being imminent, rather than Paul Lambert’s fetish for Leeds players being indulged once more.

It’s an encouraging sign for all; even marquee signing and newly appointed club spokesman for EVERYTHING on the official website, Jason ‘@jpearcedog87’ Pearce was in the dark over matters, having eloquently tweeted the day before, “Haven’t heard any news on transfers as yet – kno as much as u. Cnt wait until I’m bk”… his form of textspeak, almost Shakespearian in comparison to Grant Holt’s efforts.

Friday 15th June

Peter Lorimer’s column, as tradition dictates, skirts around all the pressing issues at the club, instead focusing on the revelation that there are a lot of northern clubs in the Championship. Lorimer’s especially pleased for the supporters as shorter away trips must be welcome in a period of financial hardship… home ticket prices might also be an issue, Peter.

Gary Walker, YEP columnist, aka the conscience of the newspaper, is rather more reticent this week, theorising that with the confidentiality clauses that inevitably come into play during takeovers, then maybe silence is golden. Now either… a) he knows something or b) he’s now grasping onto that same security blanket of blind hope/rationality/denial* (*delete as appropriate) that most of the fanbase have a hold of.

The J-Dog

Jason Pearce is wheeled out AGAIN on the official site to speak of his excitement of facing Shrewsbury ahead of the league campaign. Oh, and by the way, did you know that the Capital One Cup tie is included in the cost of all the 2012/13 seasonal hospitality packages? Tempted now, I bet? Yes?   

Saturday 16th June

Nothing happens! Absolutely nothing! Where the f**k is this Arabian re-incarnation of Gandalf? Why aren’t those other two back from Yorkshire Sculpture Park with the walking, talking trees? Will Snoddy, Warnock and Rogers finish recruiting and get to the ass-kicking battle scene already?!?!


Sunday 17th June

No news, but then again no surprises there as everyone knows that players, agents, representatives of billionaires etc. don’t do their business on a Sunday.

That day!

At least the YEP reveals that The Duke’s epic one-man show has been immortalised, as the 4-3 defeat of Liverpool is voted the best United game of the 2000s. In the end it polled 44% of the vote, ahead of the 21% attracted by the 3-2 win at Highbury and the 17% who opted for the 3-0 defeat of Deportivo; the 1-1 draw in the San Siro (13%) and the play-off triumph in Carlise (4%) completed the line-up.

The fact that the most complete performance of the decade (the 4-1 victory over Anderlecht) was omitted is rather a disappointment, but bearing in mind the ‘Match of the 90s’ poll offered the Coca-Cola final debacle and the European exit to Rangers as options, to moan too much this time almost seems churlish.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 6

And so after the initial buzz of the possible takeover, follows the period of doubt, denial and conspiracy theories; some Leeds fans who viewed today’s clash between Spain and Italy as a potential scouting opportunity only a week ago, are now nervously contemplating a return to the League One wilderness under the steady leadership of Redders and the captaincy of Danny Pugh.

Almost two weeks of silence from a man who typically requires an injunction to keep his mouth shut, should be cause for optimism amongst the supporters, although sadly that concept has long since departed on the final ‘Ambition Express’ service which pulled out of Leeds on a tour a mediocre Championship outfits several years back. Will it ever return?


We need developments and fast; both for the forthcoming season and for our sanity. No news may well be good news, but for how much longer? Moreover, it makes penning a takeover diary a bloody nightmare…

Mercifully, at least from this standpoint, there’s no shortage of other things to moan about at Elland Road. So here it is, the takeover-lite ‘110 Days of Torture in Review: The Takeover Diary – Part 2’…

Monday 4th June

After the social media meltdown of the previous Monday there is precious little news on the takeover front; the main point of conjecture being whether we should expect any sort of progress to be made at the start of the week, being that there’s a two-day Bank Holiday. The consensus is, that bearing in mind that the US and Monaco don’t share our public holidays, and the small matter that a potential multi-million pound deal is in the offing, then of course Leeds United aren’t going to just stop negotiations for a few days. Nevertheless, when I put on the 10 o’clock news that evening, I did find myself scrutinising the Jubilee Concert coverage, half-expecting to Shaun Harvey stood on The Mall, watching Robbie Williams on a big screen while consuming a choc ice…

"Is Paul Butler still there?"

The YEP offer little hope either, relegating their update on the takeover to nothing more than a footnote to another story, claiming that negotiations are likely to “gather pace” this week – journo speak for “we haven’t got a f**king clue!” The rest of the article concerned itself with a possible bid for ‘old boy’ Matthew Kilgallon; a rare glimmer of positive news and maybe a suggestion that Warnock might look to play three centre halves as our potential new 3-1-1 formation takes shape.

Following on from some of their eyebrow raising selections for United’s ‘Match of the 80s’, the YEP raise the bar for the next decade. While the inclusion of the title-clinching victories in Bournemouth and Sheffield are automatic choices, the decision to put the 1-0 league win against Manchester United ahead of the 3-1 Christmas Eve triumph is quite baffling. However, compared with the decision to eschew the 2-1 victory over Leicester in 1990 (most people’s choice) as well games such as the 6-1 demolition job at Hillsborough and the astounding 4-3 victory over Derby in favour of a Coca-Cola Cup final humiliation and the Champions League exit to Rangers beggar belief… the results promise to be intriguing.

Tom Lees is again called upon for interview duties by the official club site; expect him, Jason Pearce, Danny Pugh and (hopefully) Luciano Becchio to be called upon on a rota basis as the only players almost certain to still be here come August.

>Insert getting smashed in around the back door gag here<

Elsewhere, the big football story surrounds Joey Barton after he’s allegedly assaulted outside a Liverpool nightclub in the early hours. On reflection, maybe it was inadvisable for a man with Manchester connections and a reputation for being a violent tit, to pick the roughest looking nightspot in Liverpool to visit?

Hey ho! At least at Leeds, we don’t have to put up with petty, publicity seeking gobshites who keep finding themselves in court…

Tuesday 5th June

Andy Lonergan is the latest player to be linked with a move out of Elland Road with Bolton boss, Owen Coyle, considering our keeper to be one of six candidates who may be good enough to warm the Bolton Wanderers bench, come August.

Kept Danny Pugh quiet...

Meanwhile, Brighton’s Spanish full-back is Inigo Calderon is reported to be interesting Neil Warnock as he seeks to bolster our first team 5-a-side squad; naturally thoughts of Federico Bessone immediately spring to mind, a notion somewhat reinforced by the news that Simon Grayson is also keeping tabs on the player

The takeover thread on WACCOE has become a barren wasteland as posters reflect mournfully upon the days when people at least had the energy to make bollocks up that everyone else could invest their every hope into.

Wednesday 6th June

The YEP earn kudos again by laying claim to the most insensitive headline of the day by proclaiming ‘Sheffield United in running to snap up Parker’; the inclusion of the words ‘snap’, ‘running’ and ‘Parker’ an all familiar notion for long suffering Ben.

As so few Leeds fans remember Ben - in action

Keen to keep fans abreast with all the big news through the summer, the official site offers up more happy tidings in terms of some very special treats for special fathers on June 17th. Yet another ‘unique’ opportunity to dine in the Nicky Chapman suite whilst listening to a saxophonist (seriously, who else offers anything comparable?) is available, but remember to book early as places are limited… it is believed a package upgrade that includes a trial at Thorp Arch for the under 35s will be available on the day

For those who’ve had their fill of underwhelming, saxophonist soundtracked dining experiences, a special offer of a free 1975 European Cup final DVD with every retro shirt purchased is sure to tempt a fan base, clearly starved of opportunities to wallow in misery.

Still no word on the ‘end of season’ DVD review, oddly enough…   

Thursday 7th June

Walker Morris’ crack team of lawyers take a break from talking to American shysters for a quick saunter over to the courts where the latest Ken Bates case verdict is delivered. Melvyn Levi is awarded £10,000 in damages by the judge who labels our chairman as “boorish” man who exhibited a “chilling lack of concern” for the health of his victims.

"Bring me sunshine..."

An unrepentant Bates told the YEP, “My reaction is that (Mr Levi) hasn’t done too well”; maybe a slightly puzzling statement, although I suppose if you compare the damages to the £50,000 Levi won from the defamation case in 2009, Bates may have a point…

What Bates was rather more coy about, was the issue of who’d be footing the bill, revealing that he wouldn’t be commenting until he’d read the court’s judgement. Being that the judge referred to the sums spent by both sides on the case as being “astounding”, Shaun Harvey admitting the club had spent “a fortune” on legal bills, I think it’s fair to surmise it will be covered by one of the club’s 17 different departments.

On leaving court, Levi hammered the point home, stating:

“Mr Bates or Leeds United have spent £4m in trying to fight two old age pensioners and I think it’s absolutely disgraceful”

Although the exact figures involved may be debated, surely the sentiment cannot. Levi also questioned whether the Football League should really re-consider whether Bates is any longer a ‘fit and proper person’ to run a club. He’s not alone in his thoughts. Arguably the most upsetting aspect of the judgement for Levi is the two year injunction imposed on his nemesis – a real blow to his unique ‘programme notes pension plan’ contributions scheme.


Other revelations were also made in the judgement; most notably was one about an email that Thom Kirwin sent to Shaun Harvey when he was asked to run the appeal for Levi’s whereabouts, enquiring whether it should be accompanied by the ‘Crimewatch theme’. It was also reported that the appeal was broadcast 6 times in the space of a few days.

Nothing however could compare with the real show-stopper, and it’s there in black and white, said under oath from Shaun Harvey – Yorkshire Radio has an audience of 103,000 per week! Oh stop it Shaun, the laughing’s starting to hurt me!

Funnily enough the loss-making radio station, now complicit in costing the club £4m in a feud about a disputed debt of £190,400 that goes back to 2004, that brings you ALL the news on Leeds United didn’t see fit to cover the verdict (I was looking forward to the accompanying ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ theme)... nor did the website.

Later that evening, a rumour broke about Lorimer and then Shaun Harvey resigning from the club. Cue another online frenzy followed by anger and dismay as the story becomes the latest to be shot to pieces.

Friday 8th June

West Yorkshire Police confirm that investigations are still ongoing into the tunnel ‘incident’ that followed the Doncaster game, back in February and that criminal charges have not yet been ruled out. A spokesman is also happy to confirm that force ‘fully expect’ to be able to draw a line under an incident in Second Division promotion season, when Vinny Jones ‘eyeballed’ the Barnsley bench, by the end of the summer.

Not party to the what's going on behind closed doors (this week).

‘Fans Representative’ Peter Lorimer, in the spirit of his role, chooses to completely ignore the takeover situation, the court case and any mention of the club in his weekly Leeds United column, instead informing the world know how he’ll be pissing away this month’s blood money at Ladbrokes. Funnily enough, I also thought that France had a decent shot of winning the Euros, but now Peter’s added his endorsement and I struggle to give any credence to anything he says, I’ll be sticking with the Germans.

Over in Poland the Championships get off to an explosive start with a flurry of ridiculous and unjustifiable decisions, nonsense punditry and racial slurs; for those suffering withdrawal symptoms from Ken Bates’ programme notes, it’s a dream come true.

Just join!

The big news of the day breaks just before 6pm as LUST publish a new statement, revealing that the discontentment amongst the fan base is shared by the players. It’s a bold move by the trust and paints the picture of a very disillusioned and disheartened squad, putting into sharp focus the perception amongst the players of a board that hold little regard for the importance of team building.

A number of significant, if not altogether surprising revelations are to be found within the statement including:

“While they want to stay at Elland Road, the players feel completely undervalued by the club. We understand that some of the contract offers the club has been making have offered a miserly increase in wages, offers which do not come close to what they could earn elsewhere”


“A number of players have grown so frustrated by the situation at Leeds United that they are on the verge of giving up, walking away and accepting offers to place elsewhere. Our sources stressed that these players do not want to leave Leeds”

If you haven’t read the statement in full, I would recommend you do so, by clicking here.

Predictably, some critics of the trust were quick to come out and condemn the statement, claiming that by not naming names, LUST had no credibility; choosing to ignore the fact that in revealing sources and potentially ruining careers in the process, LUST would never be trusted by any party with the good of Leeds United at heart, ever again.

Curiously, many of these people are seemingly the same ones who take the preaching of Bates, Harvey and Lorimer as gospel, purely as it’s fed through the medium of the website, Yorkshire Radio and the matchday programme.

Some have also claimed that the statement would’ve been better for the inclusion of some direct (if anonymous) quotes; that may be a fairer point, but then again, have those people seen the likes of Adam Clayton and Alex Bruce try and articulate themselves on twitter?

Saturday 9th June

Where the players have sources and representatives close them, it seems Neil Warnock is more of an ‘associates’ kinda guy, as his people reveal to the YEP that our manager is both concerned by the lack of signings this month and the threat of a shortage of funds for the remainder of the summer.

Contemplating a Pugh-Brown midfield pairing.

With Warnock and the players working in unison to ramp up the pressure on Bates, the coming week rather has the feel of being one of the most seminal in the club’s history; that the conclusion of the takeover talks - assuming that’s what they are – could define whether we are to be playing or at least vying for top flight football come August 2013, or reprising our role of the big box office, League One freak show.

I’m praying for the best, but at the back of my mind, I’m haunted by visions of Redders commanding operations from the bench at Throstle Nest next month as last year’s youth team get the run-around from Evo-Stick First Division North outfit.

The YEP announce the result of their ‘Match of the 90s’ poll; unsurprisingly the victory at Bramall Lane wins the vote, polling 45%, ahead of the 37% awarded to the promotion party at Bournemouth. Tied for last were the Villa and Rangers game, having not accrued a single vote between them. The two play-off finals and the trips to Bolton, Hereford and Histon are thought to be under consideration for the upcoming ‘Match of the 00s' poll.

Sunday 10th June

Another quiet morning, but what else could possibly expect? We’re now in the midst of an international football tournament, the Olympics are just around the corner, lawyers are on their holidays, agents have their phones switched off and it is a Sunday.

Monday’s gonna be different though! I’m telling you…

Sunday, 3 June 2012

110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 5

In the wake of last week’s teasing comments from LUST and the rather more clear-cut assertion from The Square Ball’s own Dan Moylan, the messageboards and twitter timelines have been awash with comment and speculation on only one topic: the takeover.

After years of depressing infighting between supporters over the merits of Ken Bates, we finally appear to have found something that unites almost all in joy: the prospect of him finally f**king off!!

Leeds fans here, Leeds fans there...

Rumours and counter rumours have already been thrown in from all directions, one major Canadian entertainment group harassed on twitter and searches conducted in recycling bins across the land for discarded season ticket renewal forms.

On Sunday evening I received a message from my source (just for a moment I was a vaguely ITK sort of person...but not that much so, so forget DMs!) that revealed the club were in talks with a North American consortium about a takeover while another group from the Middle East were also in the running. I was buzzing; I could only think “What the hell is gonna happen when this becomes official?” I didn’t have to wait long…

So here it is ‘110 Days of Torture in Review: The Takeover Diary – Part 1…

Monday 28th May

Speculation continues to dominate discussion on all things Leeds United, and then suddenly, it happened; never mind listening to those who extol the virtues of twitter on the grounds of it bringing to light social injustices and spreading awareness of current affairs, or its value as a conduit between media celebrities, sporting stars and politicians and their public; at 9.23pm on Monday 28th May 2012 AD, twitter finally arrived…

May 28th, remember the date...

Those beautiful, beautiful words spread like wildfire, going viral more quickly than a Paris Hilton sex tape. Minutes later, similar word arrived from LUST. It’s actually happening – BEARDY BOLLOCKS IS IN TAKEOVER TALKS!!!!

Word of the 'war chest' spreads quickly

After 7 years of almost unremitting pain it is hard to do justice to the sense of elation that swept across the LUFC supporting community; an outpouring of joy hitherto unseen in the virtual domain. WACCOE, which remains in many ways, the most compelling medium in which to the follow the story was a uniform sea of celebratory GIFs and grown men claiming to have jizzed in their pants. To best capture the essence of the evening, I’ve chosen to include several examples of the former…mercifully no concrete evidence of the latter was ever provided!

Rumours are also afoot in the dressing room

It seems a rather odd thing to say, but all of a sudden Ken Bates might just be in danger of becoming responsible for one of my happiest ever days as a Leeds fan…even if, true to form, he manages to trouser another boatload (or should that be yachtload) of cash in the process.

Stateside reaction

In the aftermath of the announcement, the celebratory hysteria continues on WACCOE, even as Monday departs and Tuesday arrives, there are still over 1000 people viewing the TOMA (Takeover, My Arse – just in case you been holidaying on Saturn). This is what the new servers were bought for!

MIDNIGHT TOMA THREAD STATUS: 159 pages, 3162 posts

Tuesday 29th May

With the alarm due in 4 hours, I finally call it a day at 12.45am, leaving the best part of 400 hardy souls to continue the virtual celebrations. I check, one last time before secreting away the iPad – yes, it is actually happening.

Trust me, this shit is real...

Somehow I manage to wake up early and can’t resist another quick look online; it’s 5.00am and there’s another 60+ likeminded souls already there - Jesus! By 5.30am I’ve received my first text of the morning, asking if I’ve heard anything (Andy C, you’re lucky it wasn’t my day off). Not to matter though, I’m feeling as elated as Rik Waller did on the day he discovered an extra thigh in his KFC Bargain Bucket! I get into work and even find that Absolute Radio are playing The Smiths; the weather’s glorious and I’ve even got my trilby, ready to wear at the jauntiest of angles later in the day!

Mid-morning, another landmark moment as the club issues a statement on the official website; this is a real first for the site, a published article that doesn’t contain a single spelling mistake or grammatical error.

Spell-checked and everything!

The media are quick to pick up on the story; the Daily Mail claim that a Canadian consortium have bid £40m for the club, but have been told by Bates that the asking price is £80m – the Toronto Maple Leafs are again moved to deny any involvement. Also dismissing speculation in “Scottish soccer club, Leeds United” is Chicago Fire owner, Andrew Hauptman – we can only assume that the Chicago Tribune is another Murdoch owner newspaper. Doubtless feeling left out of the picture, Club 9 also distances itself from the story.

More details emerge on Look North as Tanya Arnold reveals that there are actually three bidders in the running and the whole process should be concluded in “weeks not months”… those words immediately send a shudder down the spine. Even more tellingly, she claims that the bidder at the most advance stage of talks is Chicago-based.

So let’s get this straight now. According to the media, the leading bidder is most likely a Canadian consortium that denies having any interest in the club, is based in Chicago and has travelled to Scotland in search of the club? Plenty to go on! Still, at least a conversation with Lee Hicken from LUST assures me that there’s some merit in the “weeks no months” sound bite.

Back on WACCOE, with the original TOMA thread descending into an anarchic malaise of ‘PM me’ in-jokes, the decision is made to retire it and start a second thread, devoted merely to serious chat about the takeover, making it possible for those who actually work for a living to keep track.

‘TOMA Pt.2’ is launched at 11.41pm, inside 10 minutes a new development breaks and whole new wave of hysteria commences…

Elsewhere, Tom Lees signs an improved and extended contract with the club. Tom almost cracks a grimace in happiness; takeover obsessed Leeds fans barely blink to notice.

MIDNIGHT TOMA THREAD STATUS: 284 pages, 5670 posts (retired)

Wednesday 30th May

It’s 1.30am and I’m still up. Just before midnight some keen-eyed tweeter had picked up on tweets in relation to Sheikh Fawaz al-Haswai. Thanks to the wonders of Google translate, they’ve discovered that the real estate tycoon and refrigeration magnate (seriously) has sold his interest in Kuwaiti top dogs, Qadsia SC, in order to buy a second tier English club with a glorious history.

Saviour for an hour!

Suddenly cautious optimism is replaced as the messageboards participate in a collective virtual masturbation event and ponder who’ll feature in our 2015 Champions League winning side. A video follows online which is painstakingly transcribed by the resident Arabic language expert on WACCOE (yeah, who knew?!) and the confusion starts. It could be Leeds, but then again it could be Forest…and yes, Warnock is mentioned, but maybe the Sheik wants to take him to Forest?

Confusion reigns, I go to bed, head spinning…

It’s my day off and I wake just after 8am; having left the realms of the TOMA thread at page 16, I find it’s now moved on to page 40 – Jesus! There appears to be a change in tack now though with the pendulum swinging towards a Sheikh move for Forest. Eddie Taylor (@EastStandUpper) appears to confirm our worst fears after speaking to his contacts in the region. In the space of hours, if you believe all the comments, Leeds has gone from Champions League winners elect to mangerless, relegation certs.

Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox & Bulls joins the queue of those ruling themselves out of the running. Adam Pope appears on Look North to update the team on developments and reels out the list of who ISN’T interested – he hasn’t got a clue either then…

My takeover sweepstake punt

After spending the evening speculating on twitter, I’ve decided to put my money on LA Galaxy owner, Paul Anschutz being our saviour. He’s not Chicago-based, but could quite feasibly have old associates from his Chicago Fire days fronting the bid for him. The well connected @ChicagoWhite backed up my musing by stating this is thing is a regular kind of practice. As AEG is absolutely minted, I’m buying into fantasy and will enjoy it for however long it lasts!

@SvendLeeds throws a whole damp blanket of nastiness over affairs by claiming his Norwegian agent friend believes the investment to be a stadium sponsorship; thankfully, a rumour that has a shorter shelf-life than Tony Capaldi’s Leeds career.

The Sheikh fridge magnate is back on the TV; it sounds like Forest again; the WACCOE transcriber supreme quickly quells a potential riot when he reveals the Sheikh didn’t say that Bates had declined his bid for 52% of the club as first rumoured, rather that statement had been in relation to an approach to QPR.

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 148 pages, 2958 tweets

Thursday 31st May

It’s 9.15am and only 20 pages have been added to the TOMA thread since midnight – maybe I might enjoy my second day off? After everything that’s gone before, now a news vacuum; all that remains are the rantings of conspiracy theorists who put down the whole takeover business as an elaborate ruse, designed by Bates to stall player purchases, and those who have simply chosen to have emotional breakdowns. We need news, any news! Can anyone oblige?

Well, actually somebody can! Enter N11, WACCOE’s newest ITK knight in shining armour, offering news of when the torment will end – 1pm, Friday; that’s when the club will make an official announcement. He knows this as his source has text him to state it as gospel. He brings this news at lunchtime, amidst a wave of scepticism; offended, he resolves to post the text on the messageboard.

Some 7 hours later, N11 triumphantly returns, proudly posting up his text message, in the process, socking it all to naysayers – IN YOUR FACE WACCOE!! Here’s the proof…

iPhone betrayed

For a few moments, N11 showered in the wave of indifference that follows, until one poster flags up a little detail they’ve noticed – the time of the text. It appears that N11 most own a Dolorean as the message arrived some 3 hours AFTER he’d posted to claim he’d received it. The silly sod had text himself and been well and truly rumbled. One of WACCOEs greatest ever outings had made nigh on 200 pages of bullshit all worthwhile!!

IN N11’s defence, it was still more than the press could offer. The Sun had run a story that morning, proclaiming Forest to be the chosen club of the infamous fridge magnate (a collection of tweets and WACCOE postings, assembled by Andrew Haigh), while the Daily Mail were forced to retract their previous article. Ken Bates denied he was either looking for £80m, or talking to a Canadian consortium…no denial of a takeover then? IT’S ON!!!!!!!!

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 219 pages, 4375 posts

Friday 1st June

There are even slimmer pickings on the news front, only a tweet from ITV’s Chris Hawkes, claiming that Shaun Harvey is flying back early from the Football League meeting in Portugal. The news sparks several people to check times of incoming flights at Leeds & Bradford airport – has it really come to this?! They needn’t have bothered; shortly after it is revealed that Harvey was seen exiting the East Stand the evening before at 6.30pm.

Harvey is of course a prominent board member with the Football League and was mercifully still in the Algarve to help the board push through the two major decisions of the week: to reverse the stupid decision to revert to 5 subs; and to implore everybody to play nicely and not cheat – revolutionary stuff!

The big question now was why was Harvey back early? Was the deal in jeopardy and our Big Cheese was needed to get things back on track, or was he there to oversee the final details? Either way, it’s hard not to have total confidence in our CEO (surely?). My only concern is when our postman-cum-hapless presider over (another) failing football club comes face to face with a CEO from a huge multi-billion dollar corporation, will the latter still be in a fit state to sign the paper work, having been chewed up and spat out in the negotiations process? Go get him Shaun!

If the takeover does go through and Shaun remains as our key man in transfer negotiations, he could maybe do a lot worse than pursue Grant Holt. Seemingly on his way out of Norwich, and perhaps, just about stupid enough to fall for our CEO’s patter? The evidence is there…

Fuck me!!

Back in the YEP, Peter Lorimer’s weekly stand-up act carried on regardless; the pick of this week’s pearls of wisdom:

“The fact that investors are speaking to the club is, in my view, down to the way Leeds United have been run for several years”

Priceless stuff again from the voice of the fans!

Still little concrete news or whispers about on the message boards and the timelines; N11’s glorious failure, seemingly a lesson to all – so when’s the next storm coming?

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 261 pages, 5210 posts

Saturday 2nd June

Conspiracy theories and despondency continue to roam the desolate wastelands of the TOMA thread. One lone story from the Temple of Truth that is the Leeds United Rumours site alleges that a Washington group is to invest in the club with an option to buy after 3 years. The poster begins his exclusive tale confidently, proclaiming “This is the real deal”, but the fact his second sentence includes the classic “I can’t disclose my source” line and the third changes tack to “Here is what is allegedly happening” rather betrays the conviction of the piece.

Despite takeover fatigue, it is at least reassuring to see that WACCOErs are able to mobilise against gloating visitors; the gloating post of a Scum supporter meeting with the retort: “I’d like to tear your arsehole apart with my bare hands, turn you inside out and roast your Scum flesh to medium to well done” – we hear you bro!!


Still, the website has announced some big news; after doubtless fighting off an even field of competitors (?), Yorkshire Radio has prevailed and will continue to provide full match commentaries next season. Those without a DAB and living in the York region (and also anyone in Leeds who possess an aerial strong enough to pick up the Faroe Island’s shipping forecast) can continue to enjoy the same privilege through Minster FM.

With little else to keep myself occupied it was time to switch my focus onto the Euros and in particular, England’s final warm-up game against the Belgians. Having sat through 20 minutes of a mind numbing spectacle it became to switch my attention again to another more compelling pursuit and so began ‘Operation Redders’.

Mindful that new ownership often means a new broom and new philosophy; it’s important that the heroes of today are recognised before they are lost in the name of progress…if only there was a way to publically proclaim our love one more time for Redders? Ah wait, what are those Mars bar advertising boards saying? “Get your ‘good luck’ message on the TV, now!”

It was time for a plan, to pool twitter resources to spam the living hell out of that Facebook change until people power triumphed and after 62 minutes after of the it did. God love you Redders!!...

We did it for Redders!!

It worked! It only bloody worked! Needless to say, @jenberlufc stole my glory, but it was still beautiful! We had to try again now! Didn’t we? Surely? Hell yeah…

No name check?! Are the Mars corporation homophobic?!

We can only hope those two boys felt the love.

Still a stony silence on the gossip front post match so time for an extended twitter chinwag with Laura C about Smurfs, spelling, punctuation, lion tamers, drunken chihuahuas, Avril Lavigne, Xanadu and shoulder pads... then I go back; still nothing doing!!

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 277 pages, 5523 posts

Sunday 3rd June

Still nothing this morning; but that’s a good sign, yes?...

Takeover Diary: Week 2 is looking inevitable...