Posted: 9/3/2007
Title: MINUS 15


      For anyone supporting Leeds United, who 6 years ago were playing Barcelona in the semi-final of the Champions League, the last year has been pure agony. At the end of the 2005/6 season they played in The Championship Play-Off final at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium, with over 30,000 traveling fans supporting them. They were well beaten by Watford who went up to the Premier League for only one season, and then Leeds took a nose dive, almost into oblivion.

     After Ken Bates sold and bought back the club following their descent from the Championship to League 1, the 3rd tier of English soccer in May, the Football League decided to punish the club with a 15 point penalty, later confirmed by a unanimous vote from the 71 other Chairmen in the 3 tiers below the Premiership.There are lots of Leeds fans who would gladly volunteer to 'take care' of every one of those Chairmen, BUT where do you hide 71 bodies!!!  The Chairman of the league is Lord Mawhinney, a former government minister in London, but an Ulsterman described as somewhere to the right of Ian Paisley and Barry Goldwater who was educated at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,and taught at the University of Iowa in Ames. He was brought in to better the governance of the Football League, which he has certainly done, and any enquiry to League HQ is answered promptly, but he has personal political ambitions and doesn't realise the world wide interest in,and potential of his league

     On Saturday I was at Elland Road to witness the fight back. Their fighting spirit, of both fans and players is is epitomised and caste in bronze outside the club shop at the south aast corner of the stadium with the Billy Bremner statue.   Lets Sent the Hatters Home Mad said the programme. Luton Town, nickname the Hatters, were unlucky enough to be the visiters to Fortress Elland Road, who with 27,000 fans in attendance had the fourth largest attendance of ANY pro match in England, bettered only at Anfield, Old Trafford and St.James Park in the Premiership and larger than at Middlesborough, Bolton, Reading and Fulham.  

    Congolese striker Tresor Kandol scored the only goal of the match in the last minute of the first half for Leeds, whose fans were singing and chanting throughout. Alongside the tall Jermaine Beckford Leeds possess a airiel strike force. Marching on Together is the official song and there were also some chants about what the Football League can do with themselves!!  Since 1981 when legendary manager Don Revie changed their team colours they have played in all white, to match Real Madrid, from their traditional yellow and royal blue.  Kandol does his summersault after each goal, matching his more famous cousin Lua Lua who recently played for Portsmouth and Newcastle United.

    The club will challenge the 15 point deduction, but after 4 league wins in a row are only 3 points adrift at the bottom.  When was the last time that the Manager of the Month award was given to a manager whose team was, at the time six points adrift, as it was to Dennis Wise earlier in the week?   I thought that Luton Town, under Kevin Blackwell, who was manager of Leeds a year ago, played some exciting soccer, and had many near misses.He is a giften tactician but failed the 'win' test at Elland Road. His assistant is John Carver, who succeeded him for five matches in Leeds last season before Dennis Wise and Gus Poyat arrived in Leeds.   Few clubs will relish a visit to Elland Road this season, and Leeds away contingent will probably be more than the regular home attendance of most Divsion 1 clubs.

     It was nice to see that on the eve of the FIFA Women's World Cup, that Charlton Athletic Ladies team and their Academy have been resurected. After Charlton Athletic lost their EPL status in May they ditched the women's programme, even thought the first XI had played Arsenal in front of a record FA Women's Cup Final crowd in Nottingham.  Thanks to the Charlton Community Trust, under Steve Waggel, 120,000 has been found to restore the team and academy and youth teams.  It's about one-third of what they operated with before, and all their top players left for rival clubsso it will be a struggle.

    What an awesome strike force Liverpool FC now have. They find themselves top of the EPL for the first time in 5 years after Chelsea were beaten at Aston Villa 2-0. Fernando Torres, their most expensive ever signing, plus Dirk Kuyt, Andris Voronin and Peter Crouch may lift them to the title for the first time in 20 years.  They hit bottom club Derby County for 6-0 on Saturday even without the injured Jamie Callagher and Steven Gerrard.   With Arsenal hitting top form and Manchester United just ordinary right now, its going to be an exciting season.

   Finally, a friendly reminder to my German pals. Its 6 years this week that Michael Owen scored a hat trick as come from behind England beat Germany 5-1 at Munich's Olympic Stadium in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in September 2001.