Monday, 26 May 2008

the damned

"We were living the dream."
(Peter Risdale, Leeds United chairman 1997-2003)

Fast forward to season 2007/2008. Manchester United are crowned champions of Europe, while Leeds are condemned to spend another season languishing among the dregs of League One, the lowly third tier of English football. If this is the dream, then someone please pinch me. It must be time to wake up.

Apologies for the bad language used in yesterday’s blog. You can blame it on the booze, the booze and the bitter taste of defeat. This was a whole season spent fighting against everything and everyone, against the injustice of a 15-point deduction, against the loss of two managers, against all the constant jeers and sneers. Despite all this Leeds could still claim the best attendances in the division, indeed bigger crowds than half the Premiership, the so-called "best league in the world".

And so it came to pass. After all this, 90 minutes duly arrived when Leeds thoroughly deserved to lose. Doncaster Rovers deserved their victory and could, in all truth, have had three or four while Leeds just never showed up for their big day at Wembley. It seemed as though the players had read the morning’s papers, the profiles in the sports pages telling of triumph in the face of adversity, believing the result to be a foregone conclusion. At the Devon pub in Crossgates, sat among the replica shirts emblazoned with "Y.R.A: YORKSHIRE REPUBLICAN ARMY", supporters making plans for next season’s Championship campaign, attending away matches on the road to another big promotion push, the triumphant return to Premier League football, revenge on all the nay-sayers. A season on the road to winter matches spent stood on the freezing terraces bare-chested, singing "we are the champions of Europe". No Chamionship this year though, as another spell in League One purgatory awaits.

Still not a total dead loss, the team racked up 91 points which in any other year would be enough to seal automatic promotion. The manager promises to return with a stronger squad, and the fans will never desert their team no matter what. Marching on together, Leeds United will be back on top. We’re gonna see you win!

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