I hate Leeds.
I’ve hated Leeds since around 1970. I hated everything they stood for. I hated Don Revie and his pompous attitude to football and others in the game. I hated Billy Bremner, an archetypal ginger Scotsman with a flash temper and the ability to needle those sat at God’s right hand. I hated the all white faux Real Madrid kit. I hated Gary Sprake, the worst keeper in the world until Alan Rough donned the navy-blue of Scotland. I hated every one of that loathsome Revie-revering cheating team. Madeley, Jones, Sprake (Harvey), Lorimer, Giles, Hunter, Clarke, Cooper, Gray and the giraffe-necked Mr. Hyde to Bobby Charlton’s Dr. Jekyll, Jack ‘Call me Jackie’ Charlton. I hated their pristine blazers with their proud badge, their nicely trimmed hair, their razor-sharp ironed trousers, their shiny shoes, their northern grit, their hard tackling and their underhand tactics. I hated that ignorant kids at my London school associated the name ‘Leeds’ with ‘leaders’ and laughed at me because of my new found allegiance to this glamorous club called Chelsea, not 20 miles as the crow flies from where I lived. Such ignorance is the way of the young geographically unaware man-cub you know. Today it is called glory hunting.
I hated the way they looked so professional against our tousle-haired, Carnaby Street dressed, hard drinking, faux loutish, Raquel Welch carousing lotharios. Our band of unfancied underdogs. I hated that we were the underdogs because of Revie’s unswerving ability to motivate his team to be winners by hook or by crook. I hated that they’d finished one place above us in the league in my formative football supporting year.
I hated them so much I vowed never to visit their terraced house infested, coal smoke riddled, whippet-laden city whilst I drew breath from my lungs.
To this day I have never been to Leeds. I’m sure it’s quite a nice place, full of charming Yorkshire folk drinking Tetley’s tea during the day and Tetley’s beer at night saying things like ‘eeh bah gum, lad’ and ‘ah’ll go t’foot of stairs’ to keep the tourists happy. But the truth is I’d feel like a little lost lamb wandering around a slaughterhouse.
To this day I still see Leeds as the biggest grudge match we have. It’s our derby, and we should be proud that unlike any other team, we have a derby match with a team in a different county, with fans living in a different age. Nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a match against Dirty Leeds. There is nothing they could possibly do to make me hate them more… or so I thought… then they employed Colin Wanker (anag). Dirty despicable Leeds have once again found a manager they deserve.
For that is their name. Whisper it, shout it, think it, but whichever way you say the words Dirty Leeds, do it with utter contempt, because you can be sure they are thinking the exact same about us.
Game On – Tranche One
Listen to this week’s fine episode of the Podding Shed and you’ll find Mark and myself opining on how fatigued we’re getting with the anti-Rafa abuse, how tiresome it’s becoming, and how it’s obvious the players seem to like him. Which at the end of the proverbial day is all that counts really. And we also seemed to agree on how rather tired we are of the 16th minute Robbie Di Matteo tribute. Are we meant to do this ad infinitum? Until RDM shuffles off this mortal coil? One thing seems certain, Rafa Benitez is happy to experiment and to rotate rather than drive players into the ground whilst simultaneously hacking off others. And yes, even if he is misguided he is seemingly getting more from the consistently hapless/hopeless Torres. He picked a very strong team seemingly intent on ensuring no Corinthians type foul ups would be repeated. Dave Azpiliwhatisname got another start. The mythical creature Marin also got a start. Bertrand got another chance to showing his growing confidence and stature as well. Crazy David returned to centre-back and… well… just go and look the team sheet up. It was strong. Bloody strong. We meant business.
Elland Road looks rather dated these days, and one end appeared to be completely closed. I have no idea why, but I do know we were restricted to 2,000 fans by the completely untarnished West Yorkshire Police. Maybe they know the reciprocal levels of hatred between the fans might boil over on even the coldest and wettest of nights. The ‘Leeds’ song played beforehand also struck me. A sort of jaunty marching 1950s style thing. Give me Liquidator any day. Or Blue Is The Colour. Anyway, Ken Bates sat in the Emperor’s Chair resplendent in his trademark fur coat. At first glance one might have thought Santa was in residence. Except Santa isn’t a cold-hearted, exploitative, politically incorrect, bullying, embarrassing curmudgeon. As far as I know.
Tactics? As usual, 11 lined up versus 11. Simple.
Despite alleged hostility between Colin Wanker and Rafa, they shook hands with smiles. Dirty Leeds were bright from the start, buoyed by the atmosphere and the home crowd. Despite the numerical advantage the Leeds fans had, what came through loud and clear on TV was our stirring away support singing humorous ditties about Jimmy Saville, Gary Glitter and even Josef Fritzl I’m told. Uncle Ken must have had a warm glow inside him on hearing them. But the game soon fell into the expected pattern of Chelsea possession and after six minutes young Moses gave the Leeds keeper Ashdown his first test, which he passed admirably. On eight minutes Bertrand played a poor back pass but Crazy David was on point to save any early goal-shipping disasters. In fact it looked like Crazy David had been watching videos of games against Leeds because his confidence also took the bearing of someone not preparing to accept any nonsense.
After 14 minutes Lampard indicated much the same with a splendid tackle on Diouf, which could have damaged him. Let’s be fair, we’d all rather like to do the same to Diouf. Provided we had proof his saliva had been drained before the game. On 21 minutes I saw a first… Cech taking a throw-in to keep the game’s momentum going. In 42 years of following football I’ve never seen a keeper take a throw. Which is odd. The half seemed destined to carry on in the same vein with us dominating, even Moses had the obligatory penalty shout refused by the ref, a good decision when the replays were seen. And most of all despite all our pretty play, our possession football, our slick passing on a very wet surface, the anonymity of Torres stood out. Described earlier in this piece as hapless/hopeless I think the next adjective to add would be abject. And then wouldn’t you bloody ‘Adam and Eve’ it on 37 minutes, the imperious Crazy David plays a poor chip upfield, loses possession and with a lightning break Becchio scores for Leeds. Chelsea fans, neutrals and possibly even the odd Leeds fan must have wondered where the hell that came from.
Well, hardly as the half carried on from there with us playing the same way but seemingly unable to get the breakthrough despite some fine efforts from Lampard. One thing was notable again and that was the lack of Torres, a striker with a pathological inability to follow in on shots, lest they rebound to his feet and he screws up from there. Half time arrived and the Sky Sports team and neutrals everywhere, including the Chelsea anti-Rafa brigade had their sharpening steels at the ready.
Game On – Tranche Two
One minute and 25 seconds into the second half and a lovely move is finished off with Mata striking a decent but unspectacular shot from outside the box (can we do this more please?). The excellent Ashdown dropped his first ricket here and allowed the ball to slip under a weak hand. We were level, sighs of relief echoed in the Glover household. Well, a sigh of relief as I was the only one watching. We then endured a period of uppity Leeds fightback with them gaining several corners from which depending on your viewpoint we either defended efficiently, or we scrambled the ball from luckily. You pays your money…
On 58 minutes, the phoenix almost stirred from the ashes when Torres got onto a decent cross and headed goal-bound. Sadly for him the goalkeeper was almost directly in its path. Unlucky maybe, but one can’t help but think Drogba would have headed that so hard the keeper might have tried to get out of the way of the ball. But fear not, as we started to calmly get a grip back on the game with some utterly delightful football we gained a corner on 64 minutes and from that in came Branners to thump home a header and give us a richly deserved lead. Now I’m never comfortable with a one goal lead, especially against such hated rivals as Leeds. I needn’t have worried because within two minutes, Moses had run at the Leeds defence and crashed home a stunning strike to put us 3-1 up and maybe put the game beyond them.
[*How Refereeing Works* - An interlude. Michael Brown, Dirty Leeds embodied in one vile individual, spent the game tripping, hacking and diving, each time just getting a ticking off from referee Andre Marriner. Bertrand makes one poor tackle caused by a slippery wet pitch and gets a yellow card. Yes, surely the shadow of Clattenburg has truly been banished. In a pig's eye.]
Crazy David is one of my favourite players. After he lost the ball which allowed Leeds to break and score, with three other players out of position as well and then not marking Leeds players I got a tad annoyed with some of the Complete Fuckwittery (CF – copyright TG Enterprises, and a real competitor to Utter Cuntery – UC) being tweeted. Yes, he made an error but is he the first Chelsea player to give away possession stupidly? I actually thought that was our Unique Selling Point (USP) as so many of our players do it. But then on 80 minutes, Hazard (on for the decent Marin) received what can only be described as a heavenly ball from Crazy David to ram home number four. If this ball were metal it would have been platinum embedded with diamonds, running through a stream of molten Belgian dark chocolate infused with 20 year old single malt whisky. If it was the last ball you saw played, then you’d have picked up your heavenly harp and played a samba serenade on your fluffy blue cloud (Chelsea fans won’t have white clouds in heaven… they’re for Real Madrid – Dirty Leeds won’t have to worry as they’re going straight to hell). Dirty Leeds were now Dirty Broken Leeds. Colin Wanker cried tears of despair only for the Yorkshire rain to wash them away with all his stains of shame. The game was so far from Dirty Leeds, and we owned it so much that even the £50m misfit managed to get a tap-in because the excellent Hazard unselfishly laid him a tap-in.
Dirty Broken Leeds 1 – Chelsea 5. Lovely. Just lovely.
No ratings today because it’s late, I’m tired. Later today is Christmas lunch and secret Santa time at work. No doubt my secret Santa will have bought me something to do with Spurs. Not ho ho ho. More ha-fucking–ha.
Man of the Match. The TV gave it to Mata who was very good, but then all apart from Torres were. But I’m giving the blog award to Crazy David who despite one error utterly bossed Dirty Leeds in every sense.
After the disappointment of losing in such an apathetic and frankly inane manner to Corinthians, watching our fourth trophy attempt slip through our fingers like buttered eel this was a welcome return to… if not form at least some of the promise from earlier this season. We may have had residual jet lag, but such is the gulf between the upper echelons of the Premiership and the Championship, we still looked far fitter and faster than the plucky but ultimately doomed Dirty Leeds players. Whisper it quietly, but I’m rather warming to Rafa Benitez and his constant warm smile, as false bravado as it might be. The man is happy to be back. The players seem to like him. Last night he did everything right… and yet… not a mention on twitter, not an acknowledgement. Would it be similar silence had we lost? My my my, what a bitter, petty-minded bunch our fans can be.
A semi-final versus Swansea then with the first leg at home. Tough but not insurmountable. A Wembley final would be nice. A trophy even nicer, even if not the most prestigious. It’d be one more than Arsenal will get again, and as a yardstick of success in a year of transition, that warms the very cockles of my old ticker.
We move on to a packed few weeks of fixtures, starting Sunday with those annual Christmas spoilers Aston Villa, who might just be finding their feet under Paul Lambert, a man so dour and serious he makes Sir Alex Ferguson look like Ken Dodd on nitrous oxide. We’ve had some thrillers versus Villa at this time of the year. A 4-4 and 3-3 in recent times. I’m punting on a 5-4 win to us this time after three stoppage time penalties given to them. I mean in a season of strangeness in a club steeped in strangeness and charm, why would that not be a decent bet?
I doubt I’ll be writing another report before Christmas, so to all you loyal (and disloyal) readers of this fine blog, and our fine piece of Public Service Broadcasting, the Podding Shed whereby we impart words of wisdom of Chelsea, underwear, financial advice, original humour, classical music, planes, trains, Waitrose delivery options and so much more, may I wish you all…
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, A JOYOUS AND PEACEFUL NEW YEAR, SHITLOADS OF PRESENTS, TOP BOOZE AND A STACK OF PREMIER LEAGUE POINTS!
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!
The Guardian, Paul Wilson: “The weather did its best on a filthy night in Leeds but West Yorkshire could not quite manage to rain on a second London parade in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup. Following Arsenal’s ignominious exit at the hands of League Two Bradford City last week, another big upset was on the cards when Luciano Becchio gave Leeds United a half-time lead against the champions of Europe, but Chelsea stayed calm to win with five coolly taken second-half goals from five different players.”
The Daily Telegraph, John Percy: “Perhaps the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet is not in danger of gathering cobwebs after all, as Chelsea overcame jetlag and the prospect of further turbulence against one of their oldest and most bitter rivals. Neil Warnock may never get the chance to exact revenge on his nemesis Rafael Benitez again after a typically absorbing cup tie in one of English football’s most famous theatres, with five goals in the second half easing the pressure on Chelsea’s unpopular manager.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “There was rain and cold and Michael Brown trying to wind up any Chelsea player he could. There was a hostile crowd and a first-half Leeds goal and the whiff of a cup shock. And then last night cold reality came crashing in on Neil Warnock’s side goal by goal.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Five second-half goals made it a night to remember as we booked our place in the last four of the Capital One Cup, despite trailing at half-time. Championship Leeds, who we had not faced in nine years, took the lead through a first-half Luciano Becchio strike, but Chelsea hit back within a minute of the restart when Juan Mata curled home, and we went in front shortly after the hour thanks to a Branislav Ivanovic header. A minute later and Victor Moses looked to have made the game safe with a low drive, and further goals from substitute Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres put the gloss on a memorable night for Chelsea supporters.”