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the square ball week

the square ball week


Photo courtesy of Howson Is NowSome people are just meant to be together. Across a crowded training pitch, two spirits reach out for each other: two souls unite forever as one. Circumstances may separate them, but their thoughts are never far from one another; and when they are reunited, it is like they were never parted. This is, now, the fourth time Neil Warnock has signed Paddy Kenny. Couldn’t he just marry him and save us the transfer fee?

Anyway, after weeks of secrecy, confidentiality clauses and due diligence, Paddy Kenny is finally Leeds United’s goalkeeper, and Neil Warnock can stop wondering what Paddy’s doing every night while Paddy can stop wondering what Neil’s doing every night and they can see each other every day at training and then after training and then at night and then the next day for ever and ever and never be parted cross their hearts and hope to die. Andy Lonergan? Get to Bolton son. Paul Rachubka? You still here?

Right in the Paddy Kennys – sorry, Gary Kellys – welcome Paddy, as do The Scratching Shed, who include links to some of Kenny’s vital stats and a very amusing tweet from The Square Ball (if we do say so ourselves). Warnock is calling Kenny his most important signing, so we have to trust him that he’s worth the fee (rumoured to be a mighty £500k, which is big for us), even at 34 years old. Paddy doesn’t make many mistakes, reckons Colin, and frankly Rachubka made all the mistakes we ever needed to see in one game last season; he also likes to yell ‘advice’ to his defenders pretty much constantly, which could be handy if the inexperienced Lees and Pearce are the first choice centrebacks. We’re happy.

Apart from that, for transfer rumours, you should pretty much see last week. Save for Kenny, we’ve still not signed any more of the same names we’ve been constantly linked with since May. One of the more intriguing new rumours of late is about Andy Gray, who is apparently training at Thorp Arch with a view to a permanent deal. Andy’s a former Leeds player, of course, having come through the ranks at Thorp Arch just before the Lost Generation of Smith, Woodgate and the rest; he’s also the son of former full-back Frank, making him also the nephew of the legendary Eddie Gray. This meant for nice listening in recent years whenever Eddie found himself commentating on Leeds against Barnsley: “Aye, m’nephew’s done alright there, good shot from m’nephew that.” Andy is best remembered for being the only player who really turned up for the Coke Cup final in 1996, despite him being just 18 years old and making only his fourth professional start. Gray couldn’t establish himself at Leeds as the academy wunderkinder stormed past him, but he’s had a more than respectable second-tier career since, and the once fresh-faced youngster can now legitimately be called a grizzled pro. Or, as his Wikipedia entry had it for a while yesterday, “Thunder Dragon.”

As for the outgoings, the rumblings over Adam Clayton’s departure didn’t last too long, but did produce this good read at Right in the Gary Kellys, which compares the fallout from Van Persiegate at Arsenal with our own Claytongate, and finds them pretty much the same, with only names and numbers changed. Also well worth reading this week was TimPM’s article on The Scratching Shed about supporter involvement in football clubs, which explores how football fans are so much more than just customers, despite what the game’s rulers might say.

Meanwhile, in takeover news, there is no takeover news. That was the takeover news, thanks for joining us. Even the speculation isn’t as feverish as it once was: a credible source identifying a potential Bahraini investor merits but a shrug; a denial from the ‘Bahrain Information Affairs Authority’ leads only to raised eyebrows. Just a few weeks ago this sort of rumour would have had us dancing in the streets – have we really all become so jaded? Nottingham Forest’s own Middle Eastern takeover being confirmed has hardly helped – the smug bastards, just look at them. Our advice remains the same: the world is still full of very interesting jigsaw puzzles clamouring for your attention.

It’s certainly business as usual for the current owners of Leeds United: they’re in court. London’s High Court, no less. It’s a bit different this time, as The Scratching Shed explains: this is about the reasonableness or otherwise of West Yorkshire Police’s charges for matchday policing at – and, crucially, around – Elland Road, and is being seen as a test case for other clubs. Amanda Jacks of the Football Supporters Federation has been in court, and her Twitter updates are a good way to keep in touch with progress; the hashtag LUFCvWYP will also keep you filled in.

On the subject of the FSF, London, and court cases (not yet, but we’re expecting a letter any day now); we told you last week that us Square Ball lot were off down south on Saturday to try and defend our FSF Fanzine of the Year award. Unfortunately we didn’t repeat last year’s success: the title this time went to United We Stand, whose favourite team is even more unfortunately quite decidedly not our favourite team. To be honest, though, theirs is a great zine with a long history, and we were amazed we got the nod ahead of them last year. We were victorious in other ways, though: we chewed the ear clean off Michael Gray, and informed the world via Twitter that he “smells very nice”; we lost Oddy as we boarded a night bus, leaving him to roam the streets fearing werewolves; and not content with drinking all the booze in sight, like a true winner I even found time for a power nap in Wetherspoons, recorded there for posterity by Fear and Loathing in LS11, which is normally worth reading but can be probably be skipped this week. Some people might claim, as the barstaff certainly did, that I wasn’t doing very well there, but I would point out that a) my tie is still straight in that photograph, and b) my tie was still straight when I got back on the booze the next day, although admittedly it did have sick on it. As did my shirt.

That’s The Square Ball, people: sometimes beaten, but always glorious. Just like Leeds United.