Saturday, 14 November 2009
Qatar White flies the flag for the mighty whites!
A friend of mine asked me yesterday why Leeds weren't playing this weekend. He is what I would call one of the thousands of "fringe" Leeds fans, ie still looks for their results on Saturday afternoon at 5pm but struggles to remember the last time he trekked down Elland Road to watch a live match. Marriage, kids and a hectic lifestyle have long since replaced the thrill of standing on the hallowed terraces watching the mighty whites in the flesh. When I confirmed his inkling that it was due to international call ups for teams as diverse as Scotland U-21's through to Slovakia he chuckled wryly "not like the old days is it" Well no it's not. We're in the 3rd Division mixing it with the likes of Yeovil and Southend instead of the heady days of European conflicts with the likes of Barcalona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan et al.
The hankering for a return to the big time is understandable and also endemic in the club and it's legions of fans but I believe that our European heritage has acted as somewhat of a millstone around our collective necks in the dark years.
Case in point this week..............Grim Grimsby Town on a cold wet Tuesday night in something called the JPT. A section of the kop started singing WACCOE. Out on the pitch the visiting team, who languish at the very basement of the league, were making life quite difficult for our beloved "Champions of Europe" in a 4th rate club competition. All seems a bit daft doesn't it? But I think this is where the secret to this season's success lies..............Simon Grayson. He arrived at Leeds like a breath of fresh air. Yes he'd played for Leeds and knew the pedigree of the club but he's also a very pragmatic realist. Straight away he spotted what the vast majority of the faithful fans knew.............our defence was a shambles and once opposing teams realised this the "Champions of Europe" tag counted for nothing as they routinely savaged the weak back line. No better illustration of the "new" money overtaking the "old" money when the Franchise Dons tore us to bits at Stadium MK in Gary Mac's last game. So gradually Grayson has built a team based on 3rd Division values. A team that is more than "fit for purpose" for this league. He has used loan players where needed and with an uncanny skill for picking just the right man, the latest being Mad Max (good news that he's extended his loan until the new year).The game against Grimsby typifies the approach. Without Grayson we would have lost that game without a shadow of a doubt, remember Bury, Histon, Hereford, Rotherham need I go on, because the mentality was still "we shouldn't be in this league" But Grayson has the team in the right frame of mind to go out and win games.......................a battling, professional win (football speak for a poor game!) but a win still the same. The fans go home dreaming of a Wembley appearance job done! When we get promoted to the Championship, which we surely will this year, he will build a team to compete in the Championship in the same pragmatic manner. We might be in the 3rd Division but I think the team is in the best shape for many a year and the good times are slowly returning to LS11.
This afternoon there is a game to watch albeit in Qatar between England and Brazil. This fixture stirs the memory like no other with grainy images of Barnes, Banks, Moore, Pele & Rivelino coming to mind..........oh and also of an embarrassed David Seaman! Leeds will be represented there. No not through any late purchase of an England international but through another outpost of LUFC devotion.........the blog reading Qatar whites, look out for their LUFC flag of St George fluttering proudly. I suspect if you listen carefully you might just here a lone chorus of MOT drifting into the Dhoba air!
News that Kettering's manager, Terry Coopers son, has been poached by Peterborough will disrupt their preparations for the FA Cup clash with Leeds but we still need to be wary of the Conference side. They sit in a similar position in the table as that other team on the A14, Histon, did last year. The difference will be that Mr Grayson's team will play the conditions and the team on their merits and that's why our ball will be nestling nicely in the velvet bag ready for the 3rd round draw and the arrival of the heavyweights.
Have a good weekend everyone and if anyone sees a lost soul wandering around M&S/Next/Costco with the delightful Mrs MOT this afternoon that'll be me! Roll on Brighton.