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the square ball week

the square ball week

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Photo from Billy Bland
What does a Leeds fan do when there’s no Leeds to watch anymore? The season is over, the transfer merry-go-round is full of grumpy five year olds, and it isn’t even sunny. How about sticking your head in the mouth of the lion that is the Premier League, and stealing Blackburn Rovers’ relegation thunder?

That’s what We Beat The Scum 1-0 and Billy Bland did, positioning themselves strategically at Ewood Park so that as the world’s cameras focused on the stoney-faced and just relegated Steve Kean, their ‘Bates Out’ banner was unmissable in the background. Leeds fans everywhere, indeed. Mr 1-0’s story is a good one, if you don’t know it: after our win at Old Trafford, he changed his name by deed poll and stood in the General Election for Leeds Central, getting 155 votes. Apparently this might not be the last high-profile appearance of the lads and their banner – it’s just a shame the ‘Clayton Not Casino’ one was confiscated by the Blackburn stewards.

More details of the casino project were released over the weekend, along with a flashy picture of how it all might look. The Scratching Shed are broadly in favour, noting that done right a casino is a reliable cash cow; Leeds Will Make You Dance (full disclosure: that’s the blog of your present correspondent… hello) put the other side, wondering whether the money spent trying to win the casino licence might not be better spent on the team.

The Scratching Shed also takes a look at the squad rebuilding that we’re sure is going to start any day now. First, they worry about the impact of injuries, as Kisnorbo and Bromby survived Colin’s Clearout even though they aren’t fit to play. There’s better news about Davide Somma, who should be fit for pre-season, and according to Warnock he has caught the eye of our assistant boss: “Mick loves him. I’ve not seen a lot of him but Mick has and he loves him.” Sweet. Let’s hope these three don’t get drawn into a Ben Parker style cycle of reconstruction and destruction; Fear and Loathing in LS11 paid tribute to Ben this week.

After the release of the now infamous retained list, things have gone a bit quiet on the players out front: which means, yes, Rachubka is still here. Adam Clayton is still here too; The Scratching Shed think we should do a deal to keep him, whereas Right In The Gary Kellys see the logic of looking for players, not potential. The other way, the signing of Jason Pearce hasn’t exactly opened the transfer window floodgates (can windows even have floodgates?), although there are reports today of Pompey team mate Joel Ward joining. We can’t just be buying up Portsmouth’s squad one by one, can we? Maybe Kanu will be next, forming the league’s most elderly strikerforce with ex-Juventus star Luca Toni, a rumour so enjoyable it has to be true. We’ve missed being linked with names like that; remember Bill Fotherby’s early-nineties treasure hunt – Skuhravy, Asprilla, Sosa, Brolin?

All Fotherby really wanted was a new Lee Chapman, which only makes it even weirder that we ended up with Brolin. You couldn’t easily replace a cultured multilinguist like Chappy though, equally comfortable on the pitch or on the screen. This week YouTube has thrown up TV footage we’ve waited twenty years to see again: ITV cutting to Lee Chapman’s house as we were confirmed title winners. The exchange between Elton Welsby and Eric Cantona – “C’est magnifique, Eric? “Oui, magnifique, Elton,” – is the stuff of legend, but we’d never seen the follow up programme: John Helm is still in Chappy’s living room, and he ain’t gonna leave. These videos superbly capture the unreality of that day; don’t miss the phone interview between Welsby and Wilko during which Howard Wilkinson, manager of the Champions of England, only has time to mention he’s been having lunch before the programme ends. “It’s all a bit…” says Wilko, just before Elton cuts him off. We’ll never know!

Finally, take a look at Fear and Loathing’s summer diary – all 110 Leeds-less days of summer in gory detail (and a fantastic pie chart showing ‘El Hadji Diouf’s Qualities’); or, if you’re as confused as we are about the FA Cup final being played before Stretford Rangers laughable league collapse, stick to reliving our season just gone with Right In The Gary Kellys’ end of season awards and Howson Is Now’s desktop friendly infographic. Look out for the TheRobbieRogers.com stat, it’s a good one. And if you feel like following We Beat The Scum 1-0’s photobombing lead, Leeds United Supporters’ Trust are holding a summer photo competition: just send them a photo from anywhere around the world, that somehow relates to L.U.S.T. We love stuff like this; the Visit Beeston postcards The Square Ball did a couple of years back ended up all over the place. Leeds fans here, Leeds fans there…


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