Match Reports

Sheff Wednesday 1 Leeds 1

Where to start with this one…

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Deplorable

Unfortunately, there is only one place. After a painfully long international break, Leeds were finally back in action; as the television cameras rolled into Sheffield, so did over 5,000 away fans to Hillsboro in one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the season.

A meeting of two clubs, steeped in history with rich tradition, big fan bases and recent history which can be left well alone, it was a match that promised much for the fans. With Neil Warnock facing a return to the city where he managed the red side for eight years, the atmosphere had its extra spice.

For the most part, the match was a dire spectacle; punctuated by some hefty tackles and flying limbs and a Wendys goal, there was little to get the away following excited. Regardless, the fans kept on singing, willing the team to produce just a moment which would drag them into the contest, which had been barely that. All it took was a moment and the tense atmosphere was shattered.

Leeds have long since become accustomed to chants about the deaths of two of the clubs fans in Turkey, usually from the likes of Millwall but there was something else in the ones which not once, but several times, drifted over into the Leppings Lane end from the West Stand.

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Culpable?

The reaction was immediate, disgusted and bursting with anger, hundreds surged towards the home end as all manner of missiles were hurled in all directions, from both sets of fans. Seats were ripped up, hoardings were pulled down and the blue touch paper was fully ablaze.

Responding, they say, to a disgustingly large amount of Leeds fans chanting about Jimmy Savile, one can only imagine what goes through the minds of the Sheffield Wednesday fans can stand there and chant about the deaths of football fans as they faced the Leppings Lane end. ‘Vile animals’ Dave Jones called all the Leeds fans; you’d have hoped, especially given his Liverpool roots that he’d think twice about tarring sets of supporters with the same label.

“You can’t let them get away with it,’ he said. ‘Leeds supporters should be banned from every away ground until they sort it out.”

I don’t for one moment condone the behaviour of Leeds fans during the match. The missiles, the Savile chants and Kirkland’s assault were wholly abhorrent moments. Thankfully, the thug involved has been arrested and one can only hope he never gets to represent Leeds United again, in any way, let alone see them. One cannot even fathom the immensity of the fuckwittery involved that would make any individual go on to the pitch and assault a footballer but we seem to have a great many moron in our ranks, just like a great many other clubs.

And yet, considering the regard with which Leeds fans are generally held in, it seems unusual for many, including myself that the reaction to Jones’ comments has been so vehement but such was the bitterness and anger with which he has felt towards Leeds over many years, one cannot accept the level of his comments in which he labels all the Leeds fans with the same disgust and hatred as Aaron Cawley.

Such was the speed and accuracy with which Leeds fans responded to the incident that Jones’ comments are not only a pathetic and bitter outburst but an offensive one, but I won’t quite be losing sleep over it.. Thousands named and published Cawley’s name on Twitter and Facebook within less than 30minutes of the game finishing and yet these were Jones’ comments 24 hours after the game:

“The only ones that can do that are the silent majority.

If they — the decent, proper fans — just sit there and smile weakly, and look away, then this curse is going to spread and spread and we’ll be back into the bad old days.”

I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking Jones’ is being particularly precious about Friday nights’ events; the fact that his player was assaulted was not what angered him insomuch that he was again targeted by the Leeds fans. It sounded like a vendetta, calling Leeds fan a ‘disease’, turning the situation completely on to him and how he has suffered immeasurably for 12 years, before gaining some perspective and talking about Kirkland again.

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Ill-judged

I reiterate that Jones’ treatment was bang out of order too; just like it is to every other footballer and manager who have suffered similar abuse, one can’t help but think his comments,which weren’t in the heat of the moment but considered and hateful to be the proverbial shot in the foot. Being insulted and barracked at every opportunity is nothing compared to the respect one can gain if you become the bigger man. It doesn’t excuse his treatment but his comments are more akin to a play ground argument that he could’ve ended, instead of responding in an equally pathetic manner.

It is a sad inevitability that football terraces will always lay party to offensive behaviour and chanting that can so blight our game and our reputations; while that is in no way acceptable, it is the nature of sport, even with Sky continuing to change the football landscape into new realms of blandness. There has to be a line in the sand, there is already one for the morally stable amongst us who feel mocking other clubs who have suffered tragedy is repugnant but there will always be others to start it, and weaker ones to follow.

The questions about why this was allowed to happen will go on beyond the coming weeks but it is easy now to question much of the set up of the whole of Friday nights match. Why isn’t the law – the long arm of, have the last say on matches being moved? Why is this allowed to happen? Is the money too good of a price than the reputation of the very laws which govern us? Well I suppose that Sky had the final say on this, and many occasions that indeed it is.

Secondly, the reaction to the Turkey chants promoted a surge but most importantly, diverted the attention and the numbers into a corner which left Kirkland completely exposed. Leeds may have been quick to apologise for Cawley’s actions but it is not them who need to accept responsibility; some of the strictest conditions govern Leeds fans’ ability to purchase away tickets and the failings of the police to stop him travelling must be mentioned. Further, Sheffield Wednesday refused to pick up the cost of bringing Leeds’ own club stewards to assist in, amongst other things the checking of tickets and membership cards and their own stewards failed to even lay a hand on the assailant, let alone catch him.

It is not to be suggested that if the above had not been the case that the incident wouldn’t have happened but it must surely be accepted that all factors probably contributed greatly to him being free to commit assault.

Thankfully Kirkland was not seriously injured but the whole episode gave everyone their favourite stick to yet again beat Leeds with. There is something to be said that a great many of the clubs fans love that Leeds are widely loathed and that you can routinely hear ‘we all hate Leeds scum’ at non-Leeds games. Yes, we can’t have it one way and protest at the other but one can draw the line at what is acceptable.

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It is a pity for Leeds and Michael Tonge that his goal which secured Leeds a point after Jay Bothroyd had put Wednesday ahead has had none of the praise it merits. A thunderous effort which he enjoyed immensely, even more so given his former employers.

There were no victories on Friday night. Except perhaps, for Dave Jones’ utter disdain for Leeds United.

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12 thoughts on “Sheff Wednesday 1 Leeds 1

  1. The chants against Jones were personal. One can only imagine the hell he suffered for years defending himself against those claims (long since proved to be false). Then to have his children hear those chants, watch the stadium being vandalised, see his goalkeeper assaulted and then see the man who did it pretty much received like a hero by the other Leeds supporters on returning to the stand, well I really can’t say I’m surprised he was angry. All things considered he was very restrained.

    That’s before taking into account the behaviour of the Leeds players; Becchio’s unpunished blatant handball, and some extraordinary histrionics and gamesmanship, particularly by Diouf.

    No excuses for the Turkey chants by the Wednesday fans. Awful and in shockingly bad taste. But utterly overshadowed by the Leeds fans.

    It is no doubt hard for you to be objective, but you must be aware that Leeds fans have an abysmal reputation. Millwall and Leeds still get lumped together as the fans everyone least looks forward to have visit their grounds. While there are plenty of honourable, well meaning Leeds fans (I’m sure yourself included) there are clearly still plenty of the other sort and incidents like Friday are very damaging to the image of Leeds as a club.

    Forget Jones. His behaviour is understandable. Forget the Wednesday fans – every club has their undesirable fan and have to deal with them in their own way. Don’t use them as an excuse or mitigation. Leeds desperately needs their good fans to face up to the reality of their own hooligan element and stand up to them, for the sake of the Leeds United FC and their good name. The quicker this is started the better for Leeds. Let the other clubs take care of themselves.

    • As I have said, I don’t condone the Leeds fans behaviour, or the chanting. End.

      I take exception to a person of Jones’ stature and position to attempt to compare the incidents to racism and to talk about a whole group of fans in a manner which someone in his position, as a scouser and as manager of a club at Hillsboro should really know better than to do.

      The fact is, that a minority of Leeds fans were culpable but what angers me greatly is that while Jones is happy to quite vehemently label ALL Leeds fans as ‘vile animals’ while quite conveniently leaving out the FACT that his own fans – a minority of, spent the whole/large parts of the game constantly chanting about Turks with knives and making cut throat gestures.

      Please don’t patronise me, I have made my points about the reputation of Leeds fans and I wholly accept that a minority of fans have given Leeds a reputation that will never change. That does not justify Jones’ comments and reaction.

      Your last point is completely invalid. How do you think he was identified so quickly? Not by police intelligence and studying of camera footage but by Leeds fans who were equally disgusted by his actions. The same Leeds fans who condemned our own for the chants about Jones and Savile.

      I don’t accept that Jones’ comments reflected how he felt about the match. I think his personal, seething hatred for Leeds United was at the front of his mind and he needed to get that bile off his chest. But while we’re on the actual football, yes Becchio should’ve been punished for the handball but equally so should Llera for his forearm smash on Michael Brown. Swings and roundabouts eh.

      • I think Jen slightly leaned towards this at 1 point
        Given trading of bottles n seats and sick songs for a good few mins prior Tonge goal n CK getting hit didnt the SYP feel it was time surrond lds end n owls at North stand ???
        look i was in South stand so had great view it all unfolding
        i was at owls v blades last season and friday like the sheff u game last season only highlighted again for me a police force not in control and given whats in current news about SYP youd have thought control was something theyd have wanted to be seen having.
        Lufc need update cards – maybe go back photo ones ?
        ppl on same card as 3 year ago Kens cost cutting biting him on arse ?
        Hitting Kirkland was embrassing for us all.
        Did Mr Jones mention Owls i heard around me in South stand with chants about Warnock parental status and AIDS and sex with our keepers GF
        the flare owls through
        Owls v Palace when they went down – that was ugly

        FFS i wholy embrassed Fri by stuff but lets keep unbias maturity and perspective in things

      • It has been mentioned that I was very easy on SYP in particular in my blog; I was and I totally agree with you. There was a visible flashpoint at the first Savile/DJ chants and there was no reaction from SYP; it only came when the Turkey chants started as Leeds surged towards the West stand. Hundreds of them in riot gear but where were they prior? Having a donut and a cuppa? Then spilled all their resources to that corner and didn’t even get close to the guy who assaulted Kirkland.
        The journey back to the station on one tram which Leeds fans were kettled into sounded pretty awful as well; you’d have think SYP would be particularly careful about crowd control.

        Photocards yes but it is the fans who would have to fork out for them, and at away games, the stewarding/checking is lax at best; it is getting rarer for clubs to pay LUFC stewards to go to away games which is an undervalued service (notwithstanding what Leeds probably charge). These stewards are more knowledgeable and capable of dealing with Leeds fans and are stringent at checking cards.

        DJ didn’t mention anything of the sort. There was plenty said about Neil Warnock and Paddy Kenny’s wife, is that more/less acceptable in his book? Who knows.

      • As I said, Jones had been on the receiving end of sustained abuse directed at him personally, and in a manner known to be very personally painful and hurtful. I think that is plenty enough to explain his anger. Maybe if you had been picked on in quite such a personal manner you might be more forgiving. I don’t know if he has any particular pre-existing hatred of Leeds fans but I would think he was given quite enough reasons to be upset with (many of them) on the night..

        And you seem to regard the poor reputation of Leeds fans as a lost.cause, which is a real shame. If you think that way then things really never will improve.

      • Of course I don’t know what it’s like to be called a paedophile, or anything remotely similar. I’m hardly endorsing the chanting and I certainly didn’t join in. He is insulting Leeds fans, all of us, just like some insulted him. Why is it ok for one and not the other? He has plenty of previous for Leeds and he is certainly no angel himself.

        It’s a lost cause where everyone outside of the club is concerned. That shit sticks, rightly or wrongly, just like the chants about DJ, or when Bowyer was acquitted etc. Just look at how all the papers/news have covered this yet when i.e. Leeds players were attacked at Carlisle a few years back, no one blinked an eye. I don’t like the reputation of thugs, deplorable human beings and so on. Yes, a good few Leeds fan revel in that but I certainly don’t. You’re assuming far too much and you know very little about me and Leeds fans in general by the looks of it.

  2. If that scene on fri was played out under GMP or Londons Met it would have never happended simple.
    Reactive slowy !! SYP !!it was laugable amount of time it took riot police get round lds end and owls in North embrassing

    or Pro active …….

  3. Lets not all start taking moral high
    ground please
    Sheff Wed have already had trouble at home v Hull and Millwall and the club has a large number active casuals.
    I know this through the FIO and owls friends.

    • look i was deeply sick and embrassed fri by actions but shit happens
      deal with it alot of clubs owls themselves have a element willing test the edge
      lets deal with matters in pro active ,mature and unbias fashion.
      Fri night kick off – bad
      Lds in lower- bad
      SYP and SWFC organisation – bad
      lufc memb cards – bad
      that shit on fri wouldnt happen at Swansea or Millwall they take pro active action to games
      Heavy police
      in upper only
      Sat lunch game.

  4. I was a Cardiff City supporter up until the club ceased to exist this summer due the actions of an egotistical Malaysian. As with Leeds United, the club suffers a very poor reputation when in fact the majority of the fanbase are simply passionate supporters who like to watch their team. Any Cardiff fan who wants to go to an away game is supposed to have a membership card with their photo on, to be shown at the turnstiles at every ground. The truth is that in the nine years I went to away games I was only asked to show this card once.
    How was a guy on a banning order allowed to be in the crowd? How did he get a ticket? Surely for a high profile fixture like this the police spotters should have been out. Yes, nobody should run on the pitch and assault a footballer, but Leeds United had already banned him. It is not their fault if these bans are not enforced by those for whom it is their responsibility. I have a lot of sympathy for Leeds here and the majority of decent fans.
    Dave Jones comments are extremely damaging to the game of football also. It’s no secret he hates the club but a person in his position should not have made the remarks he did in public. What he went through was awful, but so is labelling ordinary people as vile animals because they want to watch their side. All in all the fallout of Friday night is just another reason to dislike modern football and the general attitude towards it.

  5. Pingback: Kirkland attacker jailed, Kettering Towns future, Goal-line technology - TheNonPartisanFootballFans

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