We all hate Leeds, don’t we?


Pete Sixsmith and I saw Leeds v Sunderland, and then Sunderland v Leeds, in very quick succession immediately after Christmas 1963, a promotion season for both clubs.

At Elland Road, I described Leeds loudly as the filthiest team I had ever seen. Pete agreed, but was a little more diplomatic because we were in the care of his Leeds-supporting relatives. Both of us were delighted when, having snatched a 1-1 draw away, we comfortably won at Roker Park with goals from George Herd and Nic Sharkey in front of a 55,000 crowd.

I hated Leeds then and, irrationally since I no longer have the excuse of youthful folly, hate them still. But they were a filthy team, and the sheer nastiness of the way they played has stuck in the mind in the hundreds of years that have since gone by.

So before the playoff final, I expected to be delighted if the upstarts of Doncaster beat their once mighty Yorkshire rivals.

At an early stage of the season, as Leeds clawed back those 15 deducted points, I wrote this:

I cannot work out why this is, because I have always disliked Leeds, but I want them to beat Orient, too.
It must have something to do with loving great football turnarounds. Ours last season wasn’t a bad example, come to think of it, and who else remembers the glorious failure of that relegation season when, after not scoring for weeks and weeks, we suddenly started walloping everyone in sight for a while? I’ll resolve this love-hate relationship by praying for Leeds to get within sight of automatic promotion only to stumble in the last few games and not quite make the playoffs.

And to my friend, Julian, a Leeds fan living in Paris, I may even have refined the prayer, to have United going all the way to Wembley and then losing, just as they did.

But to my surprise, I found myself looking at BBC website updates in hope of seeing a Leeds win. Even after Doncaster went ahead, I kept going back to the site in search of the equaliser that never came.

It must be a mixture of my friendship with Julian – and that fondness for great turnarounds again. I do not expect many fellow SAFC fans – least of all Pete – to agree.

And since Rovers play in red and white hoops – sideways stripes – Salut! Sunderland is happy to pat them on the back and wish them well next season. Why, though, at the time of writing, was their official club website so subdued about such a fabulous triumph?

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1 thought on “We all hate Leeds, don’t we?”

  1. No, we don’t all hate Leeds!
    It’s been a strange season for me. I found myself looking at the Sunderland results of a Saturday and hoping they would stay up – no doubt for Colin’s sake. And they did.
    Well, Leeds stayed up too but not the result I was looking for.
    Back to Sunderland: I’m still in shock after the 1973 FA Cup Final. I still can’t quite believe it. 1-0 to the wrong team.
    And what a team we had then: Bremner, Sniffer Clarke, Norman “Bites Yer legs” Hunter, General Giles, Peter Lorimer et al. We didn’t even have Sprake in goal so no excuses!
    Ah well. We’ll keep marching on together….

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