With recent war of words hitting twitter and the fans divided on several opinions, Petter- Andre Johansson reminds fans why we are Leeds United.
As far back as 1988, when I became a Leeds United fan, the United part of the name was one of the key reasons I fell in love with our club. I was in my 20’s when I first had the chance to visit the spectacular Elland Road, so all I had to go on was what I could see and read about the club. Everywhere I looked, I saw a more or less United club. The vociferous fans of Fortress Elland Road, the Unity between my uncle and his Leeds United friends. The unforgiving passion all of us share for the club. It was there for all to see and it was incredible.
Indeed, it was this togetherness, this United feeling, that made us different. F**ck all the other clubs, we’re Leeds United. We were and still are, by many, to this day hated for that. Go to any ground around the country, even teams we have no rivalry with and you will hear them sing "we all hate leeds scum". The reason why they do this, why they hate us "Leeds Scum" is because they could never get what we had – a truly United set of fans.
Regardless of what was thrown against us, we would be United. The best example of where our togetherness, our Unitywas so strong, was during our three seasons in League One. We still had higher average gates than Premier League teams, and despite our rapid fall from grace, we were still a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately, today, that doesn’t ring true anymore.
We have become a divided fanbase where infighting is common place. Abuse is being hurled by fans against other fans about silly arguments and difference in opinions. Recently, some have even taken to threats against not only players, but also fellow fans. Threats that have been taken very seriously, and that have been reported to the police. In short, we are anything but United.
The Mighty Whites have lost (or are losing) that which once made us mighty. And without our togetherness, our Unity, it will be a long way back to the top because, after all, this club is us.
We are the club.
It has always been that way, and it will always be that way. Regardless of who the owners are and all the misery that comes our way, we have to become United again. I do not know how we go about doing that or what the right answer is, (if I did I probably wouldn't have had to write this) but here are some of my thoughts:
As with the operation of the club, we, the fans, will need stability and Unity for LUFC to become successful. Right now, we are far from being as strong and Unified as we should be. There are many reasons for that, but in my opinion it boils down to the frustration we all feel when we realise that we should never ever have been in the situation we find ourselves in right now. All that frustration, from one of the most passionate fanbases in the world, is taken out on either the owners of the club or fellow fans. I will make no secret of having vented my own frustrations at times in the direction of the club ownership, as many other have. Others though, have chosen to take their frustrations out on fellow LUFC fans.
To begin with, arguments grew heated, but we managed to keep it fairly civilised and at least we managed to walk our separate ways if things came close to boiling over. Lately though, heated discussions over many themes, have very quickly led to all the steam being let out at each other, causing division and building barricades between the “anti’s” and the “pro’s”. This, in turn, has caused something of a trench warfare mentality from both sides, where some fans on both “sides” have resorted to abuse and ridicule as ammunition.
Over the last couple of weeks this has again turned into actual threats. It has now come to the point where this behavior has to stop.
This is not the school playground, ladies and gents. This, is Leeds United. The fans are real people with families who just want the best for Leeds United.
If the current situation continues to deteriorate, we will not be able make Elland Road the fortress it once was and we will not be able to show the strength and unity other clubs hate us for. For the last couple of years, other clubs have shown pity for us. And to me, being pitied is far worse than being hated.
For this to stop, we have to learn how to discuss our various opinions in a civilised fashion, without things heating up to the level where abuse and threats are hurled at each other. Each and every one of us are free to have the opinions we have. And each and every one of us should be able to form our own opinions, without suffering abuse and ridicule from fellow fans.
I have not, nor will I, make any attempt of hiding the fact that I have absolutely no belief that Massimo Cellino is the right man for this club. I have formed my opinion based on available facts. I would urge all other fans to do so as well, based on the last decade this club has been through.
If you choose to have a different opinion than me however, I will have absolutely no problem with that, and I will even enjoy discussing our various opinions at length, so long as the discussion is conducted in an adult fashion.
And I hope that this will set an example. I am under no illusions of believing this is the one and only way forward, but I strongly believe that resorting to abuse, ridicule and threats because someone has a different opinion than me, is definitely NOT the way forward.
I dream of the day when we all contribute and work towards putting back the U in LUFC.
Being United does not mean that we need to share opinions. Being United means that no matter what happens, when push comes to shove, we will stand United, and we will have each other’s backs, just as the Leeds United family we once were.
I have a responsibility in making that happen. And so do U.
Finally, and I sincerely mean this;
Marching on TOGETHER
By Petter-Andre Johansson
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