Take this test to discover once and for all if you are a true Leeds fan. No long, detailed responses required, just put a ring round your answers. Preferably after printing them off, or you’ll ruin your computer.
Bromby or Bruce? (1 point for correct answer)
Alan Smith: forgiven, or destined for Hell? (1 point)
Ken Bates: safe pair of hands or a beard with an evil git hanging off it? (1 point)
Who would win a three-way fight between Richard Naylor, Enoch Showunmi and Robert Molenaar? (2 points)
That’s rubbish, obviously. You can’t judge a person’s dedication to their team by the way they answer questions as inane as these, not least because there’s no definite answer to any of them. But there is some method in this madness; I asked a random selection of (probably rather confused) Leeds fans the above questions and, crucially, no two fans came out with the same combination of answers. Interestingly enough, though, the overwhelming majority believed that Robert Molenaar could not only flatten Naylor and Showunmi, but also take out the entire Man United back line on his own.
The point arising from all this is that there is no set of fans so wonderfully eager to all disagree with each other as we are. Take one look at any Leeds United message board and you’ll see fans doggedly arguing with complete conviction that Grayson was right to pick Paynter over Becchio, or that Ramon Nunez holds the key to our promotion. Everyone’s got an opinion, and everyone’s right, of course. It must be a Yorkshire thing.
Every aspect of the club is a potential battleground for fan conflict. The manager? Loved and revered by most of us, but just look how quick some fans have been to call for his head when results haven’t gone our way. Luciano Becchio? When he’s scoring he’s the king of LS11, but if he goes through a dry patch he’s quickly usurped by Davide Somma. Elland Road? To some it’s the only place we could ever call home, but that didn’t stop people working themselves into a frenzy when the madness of the Ridsdale era threw up plans for a shiny new stadium.
But hang on, I hear you say, there’s something every single Leeds fan agrees on. It’s big, red, lives on the other side of the Pennines and is reviled by every Leeds fan between the ages of 9 and 90. Surely we can all agree that we all hate Man United?
Well, to an extent, yes, we can. I’m yet to meet a Leeds fan with any kind of passing affection for Man United, indeed the idea’s almost too silly to contemplate. But there’s various degrees of hatred, and it’s here that we come to disagree once again. If I saw Ryan Giggs about to walk in front of a 20-wheel juggernaut, I’m pretty sure I’d stop him. There’s one bloke I know who would more likely shove him into the road, wait for the gruesome ‘squish’ and then run off, cackling with maniacal laughter. Don’t get me wrong, if Man United fell into the same financial maelstrom that we did I’d find it hilarious, but I can’t honestly say that I hate them in the way that those fans who merrily sing about Munich like it’s some kind of joke.
So, if we’re all hard-wired to disagree with each other, is there any kind of happy future for the club, or are you doomed to spend every season bickering with the bloke sitting next to you? To answer this, I refer you to the scenes of 8 May 2010, when the sound of the referee’s final whistle caused 40,000 individuals to react with one voice, and in that moment all of our differences vanished. Success unites us.
A little harmless debate never killed anyone, if anything it keeps our passion alive, and it doesn’t make someone less of a true fan if they disagree with you. We’re a divided fanbase, true, but I reckon we’re stronger for it. What do you think?