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the square ball week

the square ball week


Who releases big news at teatime on a Tuesday? We were quietly enjoying a pre-theatre pint when the buzzes and bleeps started coming and quickly drained our phone battery. Maybe a good thing – we didn’t want to be the ones to ruin a dramatic moment in the night’s performance of ‘Promised Land’ with a ringtone. Although, if it was the call that brought news of Leeds’ new owners? We might have got over the embarrassment. We might even have clambered on stage to join the cast for another round of ‘King of the Kop’ or ‘The Sweat of Strangers.’

Those songs were two of the highlights of the showing of ‘Promised Land’ that we saw; the spotless performances by the local cast was another. If you haven’t been along yet, you’ve got until 30th June to catch it at The Carriageworks. LOL’s own Mick McCann set his anti-theatre instincts to one side in his review; Richard Wilcocks of the Headingley Literature Festival blog and Jon Howe at Sabotage Times are two more who think you should definitely go and see it.

‘Promised Land’ takes 28th May 1975 as a watershed moment in Leeds United history, and Tuesday’s news has us believing that another big change is coming to LUFC. Of course, the momentum behind this one has been building all summer, so let’s take last week in sequence: first, let Fear and Loathing guide you through the seven days to last Sunday night, ticking off the Waccoe forum statistics and the Twitter hysterics; then take in the full run-down of last weeks Supporters’ Trust meeting on their website. That meeting led to calls from L.U.S.T. chair Gary Cooper for the club to release an update of some kind, any kind; while here on Leeds On Line we looked at the [squad rebuilding challenge facing Warnock, investment or no investment.

And then, after more than three weeks without a murmur, Leeds United rumbled into life. “Exclusivity period.” “Potential investor.” “Due diligence.” “Fit and proper persons.” Never mind three weeks, we’ve waited over seven years to hear those last four words spoken without scoffing.

Discussion began here on LOL! twenty minutes after the statement was released, and The Scratching Shed wrapped up the official news with reaction from a Gary Cooper; the next day The Evening Post drafted in an expert on sports law to analyse the situation. Reading the statement itself is like rubbing the dirt from a grimy antique mirror: finally you can see what lies beyond the murk, but all that is really revealed is a reflection of things you’ve seen already. It proves the rumours right by confirming that something is happening and well developed, but what that something is remains in the realm of rumour. This was proved the very next day, when the announcement of a new catering partnership sent internet speculation into another whirlwind.

Mind you, given this morning’s interview with Gary Cooper on Radio Leeds, something big could be about to happen at any moment. From Gary’s comments, we think we can cross the ‘What’ from our list of questions: it’s a takeover. All we need now are the ‘When?’, the ‘Who?’, and the ‘How Much?’

Silly season isn’t over yet, though, and the rumour hasn’t been started yet that you could safely dismiss. Even the Luca Toni one. Toni remains in Paddy Kenny-like limbo, along with everyone else we’ve been linked with. Neil Warnock has gone on another holiday – a short one this time, to follow his long one: it’s a hard life, eh? – and nobody has come in and nobody has gone out. Right in the Gary Kellys pondered the fate of Ross McCormack, whose future is uncertain despite last season’s endorsement from Warnock. TSS reckon Ross might depart with Adam Clayton, with David Norris and Luke Varney joining from our wannabe feeder club Portsmouth in their stead. Apart from that, the only football action we can offer you is this: The Robbie Rogers Dot Com nutmegging some bloke in a Celebrity Match in America. He then gets clattered, but the video cuts out before we can see if he had to be stretchered off in pieces, yet again.

As we wait for the takeover to inch along, let’s end by flashing back to the mid-nineties, and the aftermath of the long, drawn out buyout by the Caspian Group in the summer of 1996. Once their feet were finally under the table, Caspian replaced Sergeant Wilko with Gorgeous George Graham, and a cold winter of austere defensiveness descended on Elland Road – until we signed Hasselbaink, that is. An insight into what it must have been like for the players came from Anders Limpar this week, who described life under Graham at Arsenal as “like living in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.” Limpar’s main example is the cruel way Stroller broke the news to a player – presumably David Rocastle – that he was being sold against his will to Leeds. Graham’s man-management skills had their sternest test at Elland Road in the large, blob-like shape of one Tomas Brolin, and the story of George v Tomas has been told in great style this week by the French blog ‘Teenage Kicks’. Part one is here and part two is here, and those links are both filtered through Google Translate; hopping over the language barrier is definitely worth it. First, the lure of local Yorkshire delicacies proves too much for Tomas:

Everything looks so perfect. Except that during the holidays, Tomas discovered the fish ‘n’ chips . He first became acquainted with the cod and chips to base, then, gourmet, he started to version upmarket . The club tries to put on a diet but nothing helps. Leeds-Bradford is THE mecca of cod and chips combo-mashed peas (the famous Harry Ramsden’s chain was born here) and our Brolin became hooked on local produce.

Then, he clashes publicly with Graham:

Christmas 1996, the Swedes finally points, heavily: he leaves ¬£500,000 from his pocket to return to Parma (on loan) instead of returning to Leeds. It will play a dozen games in Italy. The cloth (and all the cooking) burns now between him and George Graham (Brolin, the Scots: “It is even more stupid as Wilkinson.”).

Back in Sweden, Brolin meets his post-career match, making one crucial error:

In 2001, fatally, he pursues his vocation: he opened a restaurant, Undici (Eleven, its number in Parma). Italian-Scandinavian cooking, salads mozzarella-seal, reindeer pizza, pasta muskox in this style.

Further indignities await Tomas, thanks to his nemesis Roland Nilsson; you’ll have to read the articles yourself to see what happened. One detail we will highlight: the writer of this piece, one Kevin Quigagne, included in his tags for the blog: ‘Catering & Rotisserie Brolin.’ Brilliant.