A day with ‘Dirty Leeds’

I used to hate Leeds United.

I’d gleefully join in with ‘We all hate Leeds scum’ chants and sing about how they weren’t famous anymore. If there was no derby game that season it would be the first fixture I looked for and would anticipate it like a cup game.

Then I grew up a bit. I went to Leeds University for three years and saw how passionate the city is about their local team. In most cities without a team in the top flight you are just as likely to see people in Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea shirts than whoever the local team may be, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in Leeds. If you’re from Leeds, you support Leeds United – end of story. I can’t imagine what the punishment is for someone from Leeds supporting Manchester United, but I imagine it involves some kind of public stoning before being beheaded by Lucas Radebe.

As I developed a more reasoned outlook on football I began to wonder why just so many teams hate Leeds United with such a passion. Their location means they have a higher number of geographical rivals than most, but this doesn’t explain why football grounds around the UK reverberate to the tune of ‘We all hate Leeds scum’ from supporters of clubs that Leeds couldn’t care less about. From what I understand from my experience of Leeds fans (and feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), they hate Manchester United, Galatasaray and Chelsea, dislike Sheffield Wednesday and couldn’t really care less about anybody else. So why do they anger the footballing public so much?

The answer for the older generation is presumably the fact they used to be good. Really good. During the 60’s and 70’s they won several domestic trophies and deserved to win the European Cup, denied only by some ‘interesting’ referee decisions in favour of Bayern Munich. However, the last time Leeds won a trophy was 1992 and they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, even dropping as low as the third tier for a short time. So if jealousy isn’t the reason for the widespread Leeds hatred, what is? I joined 7000 or so Leeds fans at Blackburn Rovers to see if they deserved the title of ‘Dirty Leeds’.

As soon as I arrived in Blackburn you could tell that this was more than an away day, this was more like an invasion. The streets of Blackburn were absolutely filled with Leeds fans, with a large section of them heading to the Postal Order pub. This was the place to be for the next hour, as the visitors from Yorkshire produced a fantastic atmosphere inside the local Wetherspoons, better than most teams can create inside a stadium. The only people inside the pub not having a great time were the overworked bar staff and the couple who had chosen spectacularly poorly when picking a venue for their first date. Safe to say they didn’t stay very long, and date number two doesn’t seem particularly likely.

Two large tables turned into a stage, with the Leeds fans taking it in turns to play the part of conductor. “On the table for the lads” would be chanted at the individual of choice, who would then climb up onto the table and start a song, or be booed mercilessly if they refused. One particular visitor whose size would probably most politely be described as ‘Extra Extra Large’ was encouraged onto the table a number of times, refusing each time until he was bought two pints. After downing them both in one go, he took a run up, sped towards the table with determination, leapt through the air like a salmon and…made it about six inches off the ground, crashing into the table and falling on the floor. They didn’t ask him again after that.

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Table dancing Leeds fans

While the away support did have plenty of humour, there was also a touching side to a number of their chants, paying tribute to Richard Ismail, known as ‘Moody’ to Leeds fans. Moody was a lifelong Leeds fan who recently passed away after spending over a year in hospital following an assault in Sheffield. “We’re all Moody aren’t we” was chanted throughout the afternoon, with the same phrase written on a flag displayed proudly at Ewood Park.

As the visitors got drunker and drunker, the chanting got wilder and wilder. Starting at “Number one is Michael Brown”, they made it all the way to “and 100, is Michael Brown” before insisting that they all dreamed of a team of Michael Browns. I’ve seen him play, and one Michael Brown is bad enough, never mind an army of them. It was at this point that things got a little out of hand, as the Leeds fans chanted “Let’s pretend we scored a goal”, counted down from ten and then went absolutely mental. Beer flew through the air, tables were overturned and pint glasses were smashed. The pub decided that it was probably time to close and the bell for time at the bar was rung at about 1:45pm. As fans filed out towards the ground or a different bar, it looked like a bomb had gone off. In fairness, many Leeds fans apologised for the damage and helped to turn the tables back over before they left.

Normally in my reports I would spend a great deal of time writing about the game itself, but honestly, it was just awful. Not so long ago Leeds and Blackburn had wonderful sides which would have made this fixture a joy to watch, but these days have gone due to the curse of the modern-day football club owner. The Venky’s have run Blackburn into the ground, while a combination of Peter Ridsdale and Ken Bates have done their best to kill off Leeds United.

Leeds had one chance of note, a beautiful flick from Ross McCormack setting up Danny Pugh who looked certain to score – only denied by a wonderful save by Blackburn’s Kean (not that one). Blackburn had a few more opportunities, forcing Paddy Kenny into making some good saves, but in all honesty it was a game worthy of being 0 – 0, and that would have been generous. The winner came just before half time, Tommy Spurr sweeping the ball into the net from a corner after some lacklustre defending.

The real story of the day was the Leeds fans. More than a third of those in attendance were from the away side, and they were also responsible for 95% of the noise. A small pocket of Blackburn fans to the right of the away end did their best to create an atmosphere, but attempting to take on 7000 Leeds supporters in an atmosphere contest is like attempting to storm a US military base with a plastic spoon, you’re not going to get anywhere. There were effectively four away ends, with the Yorkshire side bringing so many fans that they had taken up the entire stand, usually segregated to contain both home and away fans.

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They sung and supported the team for 90 minutes, and didn’t do anything worthy of the ‘Dirty Leeds’ label as far as I could see. I was starting to realise that the reason so many people hate Leeds is because they aren’t Leeds. Leeds United are a reminder of how good English football used to be and the atmosphere which made the country the envy of Europe. These days are long gone, surpassed by Germany, Poland, the Balkans and many more, but the passion of Leeds United remains. When you watch a Leeds game, you don’t feel as though you are in the stale and sanitised world of English football. It almost feels as though a Leeds United away end belongs in a museum, a reminder to fans within England that watching football is something to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

Now, these Leeds fan are by no means perfect, the destruction of the pub was uncalled for and some of the chants about Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones were tasteless at best, but arguably no worse than the kind of thing you’d hear at countless other grounds around the country on a Saturday afternoon.

I think far too many people fall into the trap of hating Leeds because that is what they are told they should do. Leeds fans have continued to show fantastic loyalty to their club, despite the fact they have suffered an even more spectacular fall from grace than Miley Cyrus. I have no doubts that the Leeds team of the past was well worthy of hatred, and in the old days of hooliganism being rife across England the damage done by their fans to various cities and towns is well-known. However these days are long gone, and hating Leeds United is now a fashion statement for most, rather than anything tangible.

One incident long after the game had finished demonstrated the commendable attitude that Leeds fans have to supporting their team, despite the fact that they are, more often than not, terrible at the actual football side of things. I was amongst 300 or so Leeds fans waiting at Mill Hill station, waiting for a connection back to Blackburn Central to head home. First of all a train arrived on the opposite side of the station, heading towards Preston. Several of the more drunk Leeds fans got on this service anyway, despite the fact it was heading in completely the wrong direction. Those who remained on the platform began doing the conga up and down the outside of the train, singing “do do do, you’re getting on the wrong train!” This was followed by a reworking of their earlier chant, as they bellowed “Let’s pretend our trains arrived”, counting down from ten and leaping around the platform like they’d just won the European Cup.

So, why exactly do you hate Leeds United? Let me know below…

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Posted on December 2, 2013, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 181 Comments.

  1. Think the article it was more aimed at the banter on the platform from the other leeds fans – how many other clubs fans do the conga etc when they’ve just watched a shite game and lost?

    • Probably plenty, but who has time to watch every game in the football league to watch out for fans doing congas when they are losing?

  2. Why does everyone hate Leeds? How long have you got?

  3. We Hate Huddersfield too!

    • Interesting, I always thought the Huddersfield thing was a bit one sided, they hate you but you’re not really that bothered/see them as insignificant? I guess now you play them more often there’s more potential for a ‘proper’ rivalry to develop – would you say it has increased in the last ten years?

      • we dont like em but telling them they are of no interest to us winds em up even more.. Leeds fans revel in being hated.. it meens we are getting under your skin and lets face it thats half of what its about.. what gets me the most is people looking for leeds pages to have a pop then you realise they are plastic man u fans or chelski muppets.. we find it hillarious and thus “were not famous anymore!” obviously we are if your a prem team supporter who feels they need to have a pop at a lowly championship club.. 😉

    • Kieran Edwards

      We don’t hate huddersfield, the majority of Leeds fans couldn’t care less about them. A tram we do hate is Millwall, they constantly chant about t*rkey/g*********, great read though. Leeds aren’t we

    • They hate us get it right .we dont care for them more like

  4. 1. Their English 2. Their English 3. Their not Welsh

  5. I hate Leeds fans, not Leeds United, for the fact that they seem to think they are the only fans on the planet to ‘support’ their team – go to a Leeds United home game – apart from the pocket of fans that sit near the away fans, it’s a standard atmosphere that can be observed at 90% of games around the country.

    The simple fact is that you went with 7000 to Ewood Park, it should be a well known fact that ‘away supporters’ make more noise, more often than the home fans, especially in the Championship because there is an air of expectancy for the home fans that the team will give them something to shout about.

    As an away fan you’re more likely to get behind your team because you’re in someone elses back yard.

    Plenty of other teams take massive followings away, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Wednesday and Derby are a few examples.

    Only they don’t come on social media, or in a conversation and try to ram down your throats that they are the best supporters the world has ever seen.

    Support your team – you don’t need to tell everyone about it.

  6. I love Leeds United..Simple as that have done since 1970’s and nothing has changed. Through Thick and Thin you can never change your team just because your not in prems. MOT from NZ

  7. I thought the dirty leeds tag came from the succesful don revie leeds team, a team of hack men that made wimbledon look like ballet dancers

  8. Gary leeds fan

    toon4life says:-” Why does everyone hate Leeds? How long have you got?”
    but never mentions a reason why, what a knobhead.

    • Gary Leeds fan…I couldn’t agree more mate …shows Ben Dudley is bang on about others hating Leeds because its the fashionable thing to do.
      I reckon toon4life’s ignorant comment has proven that! To be fair to the geordies though,the lads who i work offshore with -& theres a lot of ’em-don’t jump on the anti-leeds bandwagon like a lot of other clubs.They say theres never been any real hatred between Leeds & Newcastle(even in the days when football violence was in its prime)more like a grudging respect for eachother.Fair comment if you ask me……toon4life – get a grip of yourself!!..

  9. Leeds also have a massive support of a big Scandinavian fanbase! Can’t belive that the likes of Coventry or any Championships sides come even close to that. When i grew up in a little Swedish town in the 80’s my cousin and his friends was Leeds supporters so the gave me the right upbringing. Sorry for my bad English! MOT

    • I worked in in the LUFC ticket office back in 2000. They are massive in Scandanavia and have season ticket holders from Norway, Ireland that I know of and closer to home as far away as Southampton.

  10. You’re telling me that there are other teams in the Championship that match Leeds for away support? I don’t think so. One team’s highest away following for the season will be our average, whilst our highest could fill some grounds in League 1. As for ER, it has a much better atmosphere than those soul-less shitholes that have been erected since the turn of the century. The kop will fill out on a regular basis and continuous singing can be heard for the entire 90 mins. Our lowest attendances could fill a lot of grounds in this league. It’s also worth noting we’re still recovering from a downturn in gate receipts that came about towards the end of the Bates era, evidence of light at the end of the tunnel coming from two home games which have seen us turn out as a crowd of 30,000+, enough to sell out most PL grounds.

    Want a reason why we’re the best fans in the league? I believe I’ve given roughly 6 at least.

    • Great away fans no doubt, yet the top tier of the East stand sits empty every home game, pretty shocking to say that Leeds is the third biggest city in the UK and Leeds United are the only football team.

      • Leeds is NOT the 3rd largest city in the UK – nowhere near! Yes the East stand upper sits empty, understandable given the economic climate – not to mention the opposition. Leeds regularly get bigger crowds than some prem teams though.

      • Leeds is the third biggest city bell end below

  11. Hate Liverpool and boro too

  12. Fuck you leeds

    Let me guess you all sucked each other off on the train home?

  13. The majority of Leeds fans are realistic. We know that;
    – We have a mediocre team that will more than likely not win promotion this season.
    – We can’t live on our memories.
    – We are not famous any more,
    – Our ground could be better.
    – We need a massive cash injection if we are to return to the premiership,
    – Only money makes a big club, not just a massive fan base.

    But we stick with our unfashionable club, through thick and thin. We are passionate about Leeds. Passionate enough to take as many fans to away games as there are tickets available. E.g. the 9,000 that went to the Emirates on a cold Monday night in January, a couple of years ago, for an FA cup 3rd round tie. Then there’s the 36.000 home crowd v Huddersfield whilst in league one. Even Man City couldn’t match that.
    7,000 going to Blackburn was no great surprise. Fans partying like we’d won was no surprise either – it’s what we do – cos we are Leeds. As Leeds fans we are as proud of each other as we are of our club. Very few have jumped on the bandwagon as glory hunters but a good number jump on cos they see something special.
    So continue to hate us, we really don’t care.
    One thing is for sure, if we do get back in the premiership, we will do everyone else a favour, by helping to fill their grounds…………….

  14. I myself am a Bradford City fan and I must say, most of us envy the amount of passion they show. All Leeds fans would agree that whenever Bradford play against Leeds at Elland road the atmosphere doesn’t get any better than that!

    • Good comments. True Leeds fans would love to see Bradford (and other Yorkshire clubs) in the prem. Good luck to all our neighbours, nothing quite like a local derby and better when it’s at the top level.

  15. Why are they hated because the far to often cross the line of football banter with mindless ignorant offensive chanting. Yes they do keep the history of the game….they have kept the 70’s and 80’s alive …which is when football was ignorant and dangerous for a supporter. Not long ago they had a big game on sky which they hadn’t had for a long time….and what happened??? A Leeds support runs on the pitch and punches a player….In addition one of my mates is from Leeds and doesn’t support them for all of the above. They just take things too far!

  16. theyre all tossers

  17. I’m not as the name suggest a Leeds fan, and have several reasons from the 80’s to hate Leeds but cant. You have to if your not bitter admit they do show more than average passion for their club. Their support is top draw and after some digging yes the teams they play away almost to a man have their best home gate of the season.
    No matter your real thoughts about Leeds or the ones you want to have everyone believe they are loyal and passionate about their club which to be fair of late hasn’t offered much to shout about.

  18. James m.

    We are still one of the biggest clubs in Europe not just uk. We had the largest attendance in the football league and most of premier league again this week. We have one of the largestand loudest away following in the uk.

    Mot

  19. Leeds are vile animals – notice how the author skates over the author skates over the trashing of a pub, appalling chants about Dave jones, as well as incidents past and present he doesnt draw attention to, like attacking Chris Kirkland, setting fire to a burger van in Bradford to mimic the valley parade fire, destroying a brand-new scoreboard at Stamford bridge just because they lost, practically starting a war with the police in bournemouth. Yes they create atmosphere, but so do plenty of teams who are able to do that without being complete thugs. If you want great fans without the hooliganism, try a day out with Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester city or plenty of other teams with great fans who don’t feel the need to trash wherever they go.

    • The same Newcastle fans who set their own city on fire, smashed shop windows and punched a horse last season? And did this at Wigan? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMYdtfSJ__o

      Then you reach Sheffield Wednesday, another team with great fans, but in the very same match you mentioned where Kirkland was pushed over, they sung about the murder of two Leeds fans in Istanbul.

      As for Leicester, they really don’t belong on the same list in my opinion. Not bad but nothing special.

      I gave a fair and balanced account of the day, it just so happens that 90% of it was positive.

  20. grreat read! glad you managed to get away from cold trafford into the light at elland road! (assuming that’s who you followed before)

  21. I’m sure Leeds United has a strong dislike to Millwall as well. Anyway we’re quite good at rugby now, and well, you cant have everything!

  22. This needs to be published somewhere so everyone understands leeds united. Fantastic article, whoever wrote this email me. Will be sharing this MOT

    • Hey mate, I’m the author! Really glad you liked it, I always try and report fairly on football clubs and I think Leeds in particular are treated unfairly by people who don’t know anything about them.

  23. The ‘Dirty Leeds’ tag is certainly to do with their ‘style’ of play in the 70’s as opposed to anything since that time so if Ben had done any research he’d have figured that out – it’s just something that has simply stuck. In addition to being a Man Utd Season Ticket holder and supported them all my life, I’ve also been to Elland Road with my mates for their last home game for the last couple of seasons – Leicester and last year Brighton and the home vocal support was fairly mediocre at best (and as a Man Utd supporter, I’m fairly qualified to know what that’s like). The Man Utd v Leeds fixture is sadly missed on both sides with such fierce rivalry and such an air of anticipation. That said, just after the sickening events in Galatasaray, Leeds travelled across the Pennines and their so called fans still had to do their usual vitriolic Munich chants with arms outstretched. A number of Man Utd fans retaliated with an equally disgusting chant about the two Leeds fans and two wrongs certainly don’t make a right …… but I suppose as long as everybody did a conga prior to boarding the coaches after the game, everythings fine then Ben? I respect the loyal Leeds support for their club after Ridsdale left them in the gutter and they should be applauded for the high numbers of support for both home and away games, but as long as they continue to be filled with hate and bitterness, Leeds will always have chants of “We all hate Leeds scum” ringing in their ears. Now hurry up and get yourselves back in the Premier League where you belong!! 🙂

    • So you want me to write about chants I didn’t hear at a game I wasn’t at? Not sure what your point is there pal! I mentioned the negative things I saw and the positive, it just so happens that there was a lot more positive.

      Also, no mention of the ”Istanbul Reds’ and Istanbul banners at Elland Road in your away ends?

      • My point is that one away game at the Chicken Shack gives you one experience – rather than significant insight to whether or not it’s justified for other teams to chant “We all hate Leeds scum” or why Leeds are branded “Dirty”. Your original piece whilst mentioning the negatives pretty much dismisses them. Personally, I would say that trashing a pub is pretty disgraceful and disrespectful and you mock the idea of anyone elses entitlement to be in the pub while football supporters / thugs smashing glasses are in there. Would the supporters behave like that if the were on a night / day out with their girlfriends / wives? I think not – so why behave in such a disgusting manner?

        As for the Istanbul banners and the chants at Elland Road – it was disgraceful and sickening and even after years of Munich & dambusters chants and being referred to as ‘Munichs’ there is no justification for it and it has no place on the terraces. Banter & the winding up of other supporters is acceptable and part & parcel of football ……… but within boundaries of decency – not mocking the death of players or fans.

  24. i hate Marmite

  25. My dad has supported Leeds all his life, and taught me from a young age to do the same. Living in Australia, this was easy in the days of Kewell and Viduka (bloody legends) but what is great about Leeds fans is that the support is still there even in the 3rd Tier. There are no plastic Leeds fans. And that is why when I wear my Leeds jerseys to Sydney FC games (it’s the best we’ve got here) people always recognise it and comment on it, and there is always a few other Leeds and there as well.
    I’m just bloody grateful to my dad for going for Leeds, and making me do the same! MOT from Sydney

    • harry “judas” kewell is not regarded a “bloody legend” in leeds but the most hated ex-player in the history of the club. by a distance.

  26. It’s easy. Despite what you say Leeds fans hate everything and everyone. That is why Leeds are hayted more than any other club, nothing to do with “dirty Leeds” from the 70’s, or the success from thayt decade, it is everything to do with the Leeds fans and how hateful they are towards everything.

    • I really disagree. Leeds fans genuinely don’t care about at least 95% of other clubs.This is from years of living in the city.

      • Thing is, most of us hate the scum (man ure) so much, we haven’t enough room to hate anyone else. And this hatred mainly comes from the fact that most of their so called “fans” have never been to the theatre of shite – they just jumped on the bandwagon when it rolled past their home in Basingstoke (or wherever).

  27. cracking read mate as a leeds fan i read that word for word and enjoyed every minute of it thankyou

  28. I’m from Norway and here is the LUFC supporterclub the 4th. biggest after ManU, Liverpool and Arsenal. 2 Weeks ago i was visiting my doctor and we talked about football. And he also mentioned Dirty Leeds as an fact from The seventies. But i think some of these guys, Hunter, Giles, Cooper were hard tackling fellows, but fair. And i loves to visit Leeds at least once a year, drinking pints at Commercial and fish and ships while walking to match. We all love Leeds!

  29. might seem a bit stupid but if u sing … we all hate leeds scum . the words fit but say if your singing we all hate sheffield scum or we all hate man u scum its a bit of a mouthfull (dont be rude) so any team with 1 syllable like leeds will fit the song . not many teams with 1 syllable that are as popular as leeds. also i think everyone is jealous of leeds because we have … ROSS MCCORMACK

  30. We all Hate Leeds and Leeds and Leeds…
    Why, shit isn’t the Word, just a team that will never get back into the Big time….Now, if your talking about a Club with premiership aspirations…then it has to be… Sheffield Wednesday…what was it? 6 knocked past Leeds Scum….

  31. every time i read a forem about leeds fans always revert to the dirty side of the 60s and 70s and i did they watch eddie gray paul madeley terry cooper mick jones peter lorimer play and by the way manchester utd arsenal chelsea liverpool and the rest never had any hard men then did they so the london and manchester premanchester press says

  32. Dale Clifford

    Hate them for the fact that leeds fans always sing about Munich Air Disaster.

    • You sing about Chris and kev the lads that died in Turkey and you scum twats always start it

  33. I was also a student in the Leeds area but in the early 1970s but stopped going to Elland Road because of their callous way of taking out whoever they thought was the opposition’s most dangerous player. The ‘We all hate Leeds’ is a leftover sentiment mainly because of Don Revie and the manner in which his team went about playing the game and later his behaviour as England manager. Today that Leeds team would never have ended a single match with all 11 players still on the pitch … the worst offender was often not Norman “Bites Your Legs’ Hunter but Billy Bremner but the rest of Damned United were also capable of playing their part in crocking opponents…

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  35. Hmmm tough one I personally hate leeds because I’ve seen the violence that is strongly associated with the club and it can ruin a good day/night out. Add this to the fact that they seem to think having a lot of supporters gives them some god-given right to be in the top flight (this is also true for man shitty before they bought some glory). I do live in leeds though and have to put up with their shite excuses but I imagine that if I lived in Bolton (my team) I’d hear some knobhead sprouting shite excuses about our pathetic performances!

    In truth leeds were a dirty team (not now) and their fans were/are involved in hooliganism more than other teams. There is no other reason but I think that for as long as I live I will always hate leeds… And man city… And man utd…. And arsene wenger… And tranmere… And most of all the inbred scum that is Blackburn.

  36. Can’t understand how Man Utd fans can call Leeds ‘dirty’ or a team of thugs when they idolise Roy Keane and Eric Cantona?

  37. We also hate liverpool

  38. I’m a life long leeds fan! We are hated because of our history and name in the late 60’s and 70’s! And proberly more to the fact that if a team tries to get at leeds we just sing about how shit we are now! Like ‘we’re not famous any more’ or ‘we all hate leeds scum’ it’s just who we are and always will be! Mot

  39. We all love leeds scum we all love leeds scum we all love leeds scum we all love leeds scum

    We are leeds we are vile David jones is a paedophile

    We jump we shout we knock your keeper out we’re dirty leeds

    We’re all vile animals we’re all vile animals We’re all vile animals we’re all vile animals

  40. The only other team who could come anywhere near for loyal support (in past years) would probably be Manchester City. When they fell from grace and tumbled down the divisions like a stone, their support remained home and away. Wherever they went it was the home clubs biggest crowd. After all, no True Mancunian supports United!

    By the way, I am a lifelong Leeds fans just making an observation. Having travelled across to Man City last season in the cup, the banter that day by the Leeds fans was top drawer, even City fans were commenting on it! MOT

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