I’ve got a soft spot for ‘Dirty Leeds’. Here’s why...
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Nick Conrad was impressed with Leeds United's support at Carrow Road this season, though he does understand why other fans love to hate them...
Leeds might be falling apart (again), but this is rough justice!
As Brentford's Sergi Canós thumped the ball into the back of the net, justice was served.
That goal last Monday all but ended Leeds United's automatic promotion hopes.
I felt a double pang of delight. Firstly that goal made Norwich's deserved ascent to the Premier League a very realistic prospect.
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Secondly, I've grown a little frustrated with this obsession with Leeds, their manager and his very unsporting behaviour – but, ultimately, I do understand it.
The famous Yorkshire outfit accepted a fine of £200,000 as a reprimand for spying earlier this season.
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Their manager, who is rightly held in high regard, had dispatched 'agents' to hide in bushes to ascertain how their opposition would line up and which players the Whites might face.
Marcelo Bielsa's unsporting behaviour was rightly criticised and the Argentinian was told to familiarise himself with the concept of 'fair play'. Once Bielsa's underhand tactics were uncovered, his team's form quickly dipped.
These antics irritated me.
Leeds is a fantastic club, boasting a fanbase to rival most clubs across the world.
Their followers' enduring loyalty is commendable but not uncommon.
Leeds fans appear to think they 'belong' in the top flight.
The club would be a great addition due to their history, travelling support and international interest.
Let's be frank, Leeds will always be a bigger draw than the Bournemouth or Burnleys of the division.
That said, any sense of entitlement frustrates other fans.
When United are in town, you know about it.
It can be rather intimidating.
Earlier this season I was mesmerised by their energetic support at Carrow Road.
They won that game 3-0, and their fans literally 'bounced' through the entire match.
I still have a begrudging respect for the way they build an atmosphere and their clear passion.
The press obsesses about them.
Opposing fans chant about 'dirty Leeds'.
This is a club with a tag. But deep down I think many of us have a soft spot for the club who have fostered a culture which is comparable only to Liverpool, Manchester United and maybe Celtic.
For the good of British football, I'd like to see them back in the top flight.
That said, I'm glad it appears they will have to do it the hard way.
I'm a bit of a traditionalist and I'd like this fallen giant restored to the top table along with my beloved Norwich City.
I've jealously watched their away support and the atmosphere they bring to away grounds, which would be amazing in top-flight football.
Along with Aston Villa, I believe these 'big clubs' really do belong in the Premier League as they add to the sense of theatre in a way the smaller teams can't.
After all, who really gets that excited about a big match in Huddersfield?
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The team that people don't like is Leeds United, and this panto drama is great for football.
All that matters is Norwich City's confirmed promotion (fingers crossed) tomorrow, and the amazing job Daniel Farke has done.
That said, this year – with Ipswich being relegated, and Leeds' capitulation after spygate – will live long in the memory.