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the square ball week

the square ball week


Neil Warnock showing his appreciation for the fancy dress at Cardiff. Photo: KentyEven Neil Warnock thought twice about going to Cardiff, and he preferred to send his assistants on scouting missions elsewhere. But if he hadn’t turned up, not only would he have missed the unusually warm welcome now on offer at Cardiff – according to Jenber’s Blog, “Upon entering, a very nice steward approached us, greeted us and pointed out the amenities. That’s never happened before, ever. Even at non-footballing venues” – but he would have missed three unusual events: a goal, a point, and a Leeds team that finished with eleven on the pitch. 

Sadly for Leigh Bromby, he wasn’t among the eleven that made it to the end. If Warnock’s mind was on the end of the season, Bromby’s kneecap certainly was, so much so that it jetted off beachwards while the rest of Leigh’s leg stayed behind in Wales. In all seriousness, a ruptured patellar tendon – here’s a diagram for the anatomically keen – sounds pretty damn painful to us, and we wish Leigh all the best for getting fit again soon.

Bromby was in the side in place of Darren O’Dea, who wasn’t just suspended after his red card at Blackpool, but was sent straight back to Celtic with no dinner. It’s one of those odd things about modern football, that a player can wear your team’s shirt all season and then, all of a sudden, you’re reminded that he was never yours at all. O’Dea wasn’t the first loan player we’ve loved and lost at Leeds in recent years – well, okay, tolerated and then shrugged off – as this infographic by The Beaten Generation shows, and we doubt he’ll be the last. But we don’t know if we’ll ever really get used to it.

The result in Cardiff was a nice surprise, then, given recent form and recent results against the Bluebirds. Travels of a Leeds Fan even spotted Leeds, “stringing more than 8 continuous passes together on the floor. The Leeds fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing!” Fear and Loathing In LS11 wasn’t quite as impressed, comparing our defence to, “nipples on a male, they don’t serve any purpose, they’re just seemingly put there as it looks right,” and wondering whether Danny Webber, through “an administrative cock-up has resulted in his contract containing a ‘disappearance bonus’” – but there’s a good selection of photos of Leeds’ away support in fancy dress, so it’s not all negative on his blog this week.

Things haven’t been quite so rosy off the pitch. Clarke One Nil and The Scratching Shed highlighted the lack of a minutes’ silence at Elland Road for John Reynolds, the Elland Road groundsman who died recently. John put in sixty years of uninterrupted service tending the pitch that John Charles, Billy Bremner, Gordon Strachan and the rest played on, but according to Jimmy O’Rourke at Clarke One Nil, Shaun Harvey declined a request for a pre-match tribute, “citing that if the club agreed to the request then ‘everyone’ would want similar tributes for the death of other people linked to the club too.” That seems like a very cold response considering the length of time that John worked for the club. We can only suggest that if the club won’t allow a formal tribute, then the fans should take matters into their own hands: if you hear ‘One John Reynolds’ being sung at Elland Road on Saturday, please join in and honour one of the good guys. (Update: the club has now announced a minute’s applause before the Leicester game to remember everyone connected with Leeds who has passed away this season.)

Shaun Harvey has also found himself in court this week, alongside Ken Bates, as Bates, Leeds United and Yorkshire Radio defend themselves against a claim of harrassment targeted at former director Melvyn Levi. Bates lost a libel case to Levi in 2009, and the current case involves comments made about Levi in the club programme and on Yorkshire Radio last season. The Yorkshire Post have in-depth coverage, and their reporter Rob Preece has been providing updates on Twitter. Of most concern to Leeds fans is Shaun Harvey’s statement in court that Leeds United “are spending a fortune on legal fees.” The previous libel case was believed to have cost the club £1.5m in fees, but it’s worrying to have it confirmed that club money is used to fight these cases, especially as we approach the summer and Neil Warnock’s squad rebuilding job. The Scratching Shed have posted an angry reaction to seeing the club’s name dragged through the courts, and the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust have responded to the case by asking the club and Shaun Harvey to justify what seem to be very unnecessary costs.

L.U.S.T. have had a busy season all in all, and chairman Gary Cooper has been taken a look back on events in the Evening Post. A lot of fans remain unsure about the Trust and its aims, but we’d suggest everybody gives this a read to find out more. Peter Lorimer spoke about supporters’ trusts this week, saying of fan involvement that, “I think having meetings and talking about things is reasonable but I just don’t think it works on a whole scale”; Peter might be surprised to learn from the YEP interview how far the L.U.S.T. chairman actually agrees with that comment. L.U.S.T. are signing off for the season with a pre-game march along Lowfields Road on Saturday, before trying to get a party atmosphere going in Elland Road for the visit of Leicester, centred on block L37 in the upper East Stand but hopefully spreading to the rest of the stadium. Full details are on their blog here. Anything that increases the noise levels at Elland Road sounds good to us – hopefully we can enjoy a great atmosphere on Saturday before the long summer begins.

When the fixtures came out, Leicester at home on the final day was expected to be a promotion decider – funny the dreams you have, isn’t it? In the end, we’ll be watching less a carnival and more of a pantomime as the Wicked Stepkeeper Kasper Schmeichel returns – booooo – along with Jermaine ‘Buttons’ Beckford – hurrah! Despite the goals, Jermaine wasn’t always the most popular chap at Elland Road, and now he isn’t the most popular chap at the King Power Stadium – he didn’t help matters by clearly showing after our game at Leicester this season which shirt he’d rather be wearing – but he should get a warm welcome at Elland Road, if only for his goals at Old Trafford and against Bristol Rovers. Ken Bates has said this week that Leeds were offered Beckford on a transfer twice this season, but turned the chance down as we should look forward; but it doesn’t always hurt to look back now and then, so let’s have ‘em: “…and score at the Stretford End for Leeds United!” – and – “oh… OOOOH… YEEEEEESSS!”

The Square Ball will have our last magazine of the season on sale before the Leicester game, and we reckon we’re signing off in style. Although we would say that. Our regular full-colour 56 page issue has become a 64 page beast for the occasion and is still only £1.50. We have articles looking back at the 1991/92 title win, and a brilliant Kick-Off themed centre spread by The Beaten Generation – if you had one of those t-shirts, you’ll know what that means – as well as reviews of the season just gone, memories of the last days of the Ridsdale era, and an appreciation of the unique career of Ben Parker, as well as loads of other stuff that’s got to be worth £1.50. Our sellers can be found near the club shop, by the Lowfields Tunnel, and in plenty of other places outside the stadium before the game; and don’t forget we have a digital download version that is only a quid. End of plug.

Finally, if you only click one link in this post this week, make it this one: via The Square Ball’s Norwegian columnist Svend Karlsen, here is a Swedish TV reporter’s pursuit of the legend of Tomas Brolin’s time at Leeds. Parts are in Swedish, but you’ll still get the gist – “Dirty Leeds” is “Dirty Leeds” in any language – and the interviews with fans and with Peter Lorimer are all in English. My favourite bit has to be the presenter, Marcus Leifby, recreating Brolin’s trademark pirouette celebration in the saloon bar of Lorimer’s pub – it was just a shame that by the time he got to Leeds, Tomas’ spinning jumps were of more concern to earthquake monitoring stations than to opposition defences.