2010 – Late March Blog

Sorry about the delay in publishing this March Blog but I’ve been doing far too much fishing of late and when time can be freed up the paid work has to come first. I have to pay the bills somehow! If the writing appears rushed or the imagery falls below the normal high standards I do apologise but I really need to be out fishing again. I’ve got the bug!

Before I start, if you haven’t already got your new rod license get out there and buy one now. Your old one runs out at the end of March and you’ll be an April Fool if you get caught fishing without one on the First. You can purchase them online, by phone, on the Internet or by standing order so there really are no excuses, are there?

The last two weeks of the season proved to be a right old curate’s egg. When I caught it was brilliant. Unfortunately when I didn’t it was painful. By heck it was cold, just in case you’ve forgotten. I’ll bet you’ve forgotten the snow water already.

Those who read Improve Your Coarse Fishing will have seen me bagging up on the Idle in a recent issue, catching roach like they were going out of fashion and then nicking a few pike just to break the monotony. What a day that was with me landing the thick end of 30lb of roach and 30lb of pike. Almost a year to the day later I went back to the very same swim on a river that looked in excellent nick and blanked. How do you explain that?

The day started with a proper old downer. I had already decided to let the traffic clear before setting off but when I trundled up to the tackle shop to pick up some bait I’d not bargained on it remaining closed till 10.00am. Can’t blame the shops, can you? With anglers buying most of their bait from fisheries now there’s no longer a need to open at the crack of dawn for the few of us who still fish rivers. Sign of the times I’m afraid.

I had a few barbel in the final weeks, too, from two different rivers and that pleased me no end. Nothing big but it’s all about catching the species you target, not the size when the conditions are against you.

I had a session on the Leeds water at Asenby with Matt Brown; that’s on the River Swale for those of you who are unfamiliar. With clear skies, a heavy frost and ice ringing the margins I always expected it to be tough and I was very pleased to catch a cracking chub early on but it was the only bite we had between us during the morning session.

A walk along the bank saw an encouraging number of anglers on the bank but not one of them had landed a fish. Fortunately for us there was a brief feeding spell in the afternoon and I took my total of chub landed to ten thanks to a steady run of fish. Didn’t manage a ‘five’ but who’s complaining? Dipping my hook baits in Grub Juice certainly did my catch rate no harm though.

I had prayed for the water levels to fall on a favourite small Yorkshire river that usually can be relied upon to produce a few quality roach but it really wasn’t to be. Matt had three middle order chub and I had three small roach on a day when I’d have backed myself to catch thirty. It’s worrying how the roach in two rivers have vanished. Let’s hope it’s down to temperature or air pressure or any other excuse you can come up with. If it’s cormorants or otters then frankly I’m f****d because I’m rapidly running out of places where I can catch a river roach at all these days once the clocks go back.

I’ll say it here and you’ll probably disagree but the roach is an endangered river species. Can’t remember the last time I saw one top on the Trent or anywhere else for that matter. No eels, no roach, what’s next? If it’s not like this where you live then enjoy it while you can because it won’t last.

I found myself dodging about a lot, searching for bites really. A morning on a small river, hoping to catch a pike was a miserable failure so I tried a nearby gravel pit. I’d barely been there half an hour and just hooked into my first pike when the local wildlife wardens came and asked me to hoppit! Well, you’ve got to chance your hand sometimes or there simply wouldn’t be any fishing at all in the UK.

The guy was absolutely sound about it and offered a deal of sympathy, but a move was in order. I asked if he’d mind taking a picture for me to which he said, fine. Unfortunately, while I sorted out my camera the pike, which was resting quietly in the margins in my landing net, not only managed to unhook itself (barbless hooks) it also managed to get out of the landing net, too,and bolted off into the depths as only a pike can do.

With a move required I pondered my options. Nowhere round about that I fancied piking so it was back to the river. I set up a quiver rod and headed for a pretty reliable swim. After just one cast I found myself pondering why I was fishing there. What was I going to learn? I’d fished here only last week.

Hope renewed I immediately packed up, jumped in the van and headed for a little stretch that I’ve never fished before. I had been told by a friend that it was worth a cast or two and that was just about how long I had left as the light faded.

I found a delightful swim with a big bush affording lots of cover for a chub or two and tossed out a small cage feeder loaded with liquidised bread and with a lump of flake on the hook. Second cast in (I didn’t like where the first landed) the tip yanked round and I struck into something that was mighty angry. The water literally exploded and a right old tugging match ensued as it strove to reach the trailing branches.

For a while I thought I’d hooked a barbel but it turned out to be a near 5lb chub. It was only when I returned it and decided a move might be a better option than waiting for things to settle down (time was running out so fast) that I realised I’d been fishing in less than a foot of water. No wonder it fought like it did!

I joined Mick Wood for a session on the Trent just before the season closed. We had the river to ourselves, both banks for as far as the eye could see and this was once one of the heaviest fished stretches of the entire river thirty years ago. Folks have voted with their feet and those who reckon that commercial fisheries aren’t worth fishing had better get their rods on eBay sharpish because there ain’t going to be any alternative before long and the demand for second hand river tackle will fall through the floor.

I’ll not bore you with details of every trip since the last blog as you won’t really care about the blanks or the actual mechanics of each fish lost or landed.

Ah well, the season’s end came and went. As if by magic the air temperatures rose about ten degrees in three days and the weather for river fishing would be perfect if they weren’t all closed. I have no idea why we have a closed season that starts in the middle of March. It’s complete madness and even the staunchest supporters of the closed season  must find it hard to concur with such an arbitrary start date.

The thing is they only concentrate on the end date and the ‘glorious’ 16th when they themselves will be out there targeting fish that are getting ready to spawn. Sorry, they’re hypocrites. Just like the pikers who’ll be out there targeting pike on the shallows this month. Whatever the closed season stands for can we at least agree that it ain’t for the protection of fish.

Ooops! That’s the traditionalists upset. There was one little job hanging round mine and Stu (Walker’s) neck and that’s the links for our next DVD, Barbel Days and Ways Volume 3. It’s all fine and dandy having the different sequences in the can but getting them to fit together properly is so important and for this we needed to film a whole series of intro’s, outro’s, thank you’s and goodbye’s. And time was running out fast.

With no sign in a let up in the weather we opted to shoot the links in Tony Flint’s tackle shop, Climax Tackle at Dronfield. We also invited Archie Braddock along because he’s already one of our featured guests in the DVD. Fortunately everything clicked into place and we only held up the closing of the store by ten minutes. Thanks Tony.

You’d think that with Volume 3 wrapped we’d be moving on to Volume 4 but the news on that score is it’s already done, so we now have two DVDs filmed, edited and ready for production. They’re both at the reprohouse as I write and we shall be releasing both DVDs in May. It would have been so easy to release Volume Three now and the fourth at Christmas but the two are inextricably linked as you will be able to see soon enough.

I’m not going to reveal much more about these DVDs at the present time other than to say if you enjoyed the first two, you ain’t seen nothing yet! These two films take our knowledge of barbel behaviour to another level.

Anyway, let’s move on. A good few years ago I used to fish with Goldthorpe AC and Russ Fowler’s best mate was Ken Barber. In fact Ken was a member of the Smithies (Barnsley) when I fished with them even further back in time. Ken was a cracking angler but he appeared to disappear from the scene but I came across his web site recently and for those who don’t like commercials, this is the place for you.

Reading’s taken a bit of a back seat but a Christmas present that’s been hanging around needed a bit of attention and so pased was I that I made time to read Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea. It’s one of the shortest books you’ll ever read at less than a hundred pages but there’s a wasted word anywhere. Excellent stuff and a far cry from the knit one, pearl two books we get today.

Sometimes I get asked quite simple technical questions that are easier to answer with a picture than 500 words, so, to those who keep asking what a ‘crease’ is, take a look at this picture. It’s about as good an example of a crease swim as you might hope to find.

The ‘crease’ is plain to see between the steady water and the fast water. As the meerkat might say, ‘Simples!’

Since the season ended I’ve managed to keep myself out of trouble on a number of different fronts.

I’ve had an awful lot of writing to catch up o but I did squeeze in a little visit to a commercial fishery I’ve never been to before, Pool Bridge Farm, near York.

It was great fun to rig up a pole and fish for roach. Pool Bridge isn’t completely stuffed with carp like some venues, it’s more of a balanced fishery and right now, until the weather warms up and provided you don’t go mad with the feed you can easily fish light gear to target the quality roach it contains.

Many commercials have good stocks of roach that seldom get fished for and I was more than happy to spend a day catching fish like this.

I also had an appearance to make on Sky Sports’ Tight Lines show. It’s always great to work with Keith Arthur as it really is just like sitting in his shed and supping tea while you talk about what you’ve been up to recently.

The team had done a great job of editing the Uganda footage and adding some very apt music. Unfortunately he show flies by and before you know it you’re back on the train home. Keith and the producer, Mick Brais are keen to do a bit more work together this year so I’ll no doubt keep you posted.

Uganda – Picture This

Stu Walker has created a photobook with images taken from our recent trip to Uganda. If you click on the link it’ll take you to Photobook and you can watch his album. There are pictures here that won’t appear in magazines or the ‘Net and you might just enjoy them for their own beauty. Click on full screen and let the slideshow play. Unfortunately we can’t remove the offer for you to purchase this book.

Let’s take one final look at Uganda. Here’s the clip that Sky used in the Tight Lines Programme when I appeared on it last week


I’ve mentioned Catch magazine before in my blog but there’s another issue out now and it’s completely free to read on line. You’ll not find better imagery anywhere and it’s worth taking the time out to look at the pictures even if fly fishing and foreign travel isn’t your thing.

Also available if the latest issue of This Is Fly. TIF is a far harder edged magazine aimed at the artsy, snow boarder kind of guy. It contains a cracking playlist with tracks by Bowie, Zep, Floyd, the Kinks, Lou Reed, Talking Heads and numerous other artists. Make sure you read the article about End Of The Line and watch the video clips. It’s a film that will absolutely shock you if you’re not already aware of it.

The Footie Bits

Can a bunch of schoolkids actually beat a team professional footballers? Of course not. But what if you evened up the odds a little, what then? Well, Japanese TV came up with an idea. What if you increased the number of players in the kids team? And then, what if you increased it by ten fold?

That’s right, ten outfield players in the professional team, ONE HUNDRED in the kids side. Check this out on Youtube:

Donny Rovers have been creeping up the league in recent weeks and a check through the Sky Sports football stats reveals that we currently have 8 players in the Championship’s top 20 rated players (marks out of ten per game average). I blinked when I read that, too.

Guess we’ll be ravaged again this closed season by the next lot of big spenders.

But do you know what, we were written off completely when two of our so-called best players left for lucrative contracts in the summer and our other Galactico has been out injured for much of the season. We were expected to be down there in the relegation scrap. Well, we’re not, we’re eighth and if you look back over the penalties we’ve missed in crucial games, the ‘goal’ we scored at Watford that only the ref and lino didn’t see, conceding in the last minute at Cardiff after we had battered them, and the injury crisis(‘s) and I could go on, we could so easily have been in serious contention for a play-off place.

Fortunately we’re not because it’s a step too far for us right now and this vertigo feeling is a bit worrying.

But it don’t half make you smile when other teams keep bleating on after we beat them that, “We really shouldn’t be getting beat by teams like Donny!” You see, we play superb football, to feet, on the grass, admittedly in a shiny new lego stadium, in front of relatively small crowds – average circa 11-12,000.

Eight years ago we were in the Conference and playing in front of 3,000 if we were lucky and some of these deluded souls feel it’s incongruous, an insult even, when we play them off the park. Take Cole Skuse the Bristol City midfielder. Before we played them at their place he was quoted in an interview saying: “It’s about time we gave someone a tanking and won a game by three or four goals; it would bring the confidence flooding back and enable us to look up rather than over our shoulders at the teams below us.”

I wonder what he was thinking at 5pm that Saturday after we’d put five past his team at Ashton Gate?

We get more respect in Brazil. A country that knows its football and can’t get enough of us and one of our stranger fans…

Mind you, it was clearly a cold day…

And we bade a sad farewell to Chester City. Wound up, gone, forgotten. The web site tab for ‘next match’ says, WHO KNOWS… Indeed the majority of armchair fans who swear allegiance to Chelski and Manure won’t even be aware they even existed in the first place.

We played Chester in the play-offs in the year we gained promotion from the Conference. But for a late goal it might have been us, not them, that went to the wall. Instead our paths have gone in quite opposite directions.

They leave behind a nice new ground as a reminder that they existed. I have a very fond memory of the old ground, Sealand Road, and I’m going to hark back to 1966 (and all that), the year when we first won the Fourth Division title.

Chester were promotion rivals and the away game was nominated as the Supporters Club outing. I went that day on the special train, the majority of the 4,000 travelling fans went by car and coach. It was quite an amazing turn-out for a Div 4 outfit in a crowd of 9,831 but those who were there will recall a dazzling performance and an astonishing 4-1 win. But what I will always remember is one of the best individual goals it has been my privilege to witness. Alick Jeffrey waltzed around four players in the box and coolly slotted home.

Jeffrey is a Doncaster legend, more so even than Harry Gregg. He played in the first team as a 15-year-old and was playing for the England Under-23’s as a 17-year-old at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate when he broke his leg and for all intents and purposes his career was over. The late Sir Stanley Matthews said of “King” Alick: “I predict that he can become one of the greatest inside forwards in the game. His play bears the stamp of genius.” While Jackie Milburn, the former Newcastle United and England forward said: “This boy has everything. He is by far the best youngster I have ever seen.”

Manchester United legend, Sir Matt Busby, the builder of the world-famous Busby Babes team, who planned to take Alick to Old Trafford to figure in his plans for European football domination once famously told the skilled teenager: “I will come and get you in time.”

The broken leg ended all that promise and Jeffrey moved to Australia. He returned home in the early 1960’s and made a comeback against the odds. Despite his career being abruptly ended and being paid out by the insurance he was given permission to play again for Doncaster Rovers in the 1963-64 season. He produced remarkable form, hammering home an astonishing 36 goals from 46 starts in the 1964-65 season and finding a further 22 the following season as Rovers’ clinched the Division Four championship.

It was interesting to look back at Chester City’s fixture list immediately before and after the visit of Doncaster. It read:

Bradford Park Avenue, Barrow, Hartlepool United, Little Old Donny, Southport, Crewe Alexandra, Newport County and Luton Town.

Including Chester City, six of those nine teams are plying their trade beneath the top four divisions. It brings home just how fortunate Donny were to not only survive the Richardson years to move onwards and upwards to where we are today.

Good luck Chester.

Ain’t it funny how Portsmouth can squander countless millions as they head for the Championship; that Ken Bates and his ‘new’ Leeds can walk away from massive debts as they too hope to reach the same Championship; and former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale is still hoping to get Cardiff City out of the debtors courts, out of the Championship and into the promised land of the Prem, yet a club with a fraction of those debts goes under?

Saying that, are Leeds going to bottle it again after last nights defeat by Millwall on their home turf?

Compare these two tables:

Position Team Pld W D L Pts
1 Leeds United 23 17 5 1 56
2 Charlton Athletic  24 13 9 2 48
3 Norwich City  23 13 6 4 45
4 Colchester United  23 13 6 4 45
5 Huddersfield Town 23 11 5 7 38
6 Southampton 24 10 8 6 38
7 Swindon Town  22 10 8 4 38
8 Millwall  24 9 9 6 36
9 Milton Keynes Dons 24 11 3 10 36
10 Bristol Rovers 23 11 1 11 34
Position Team Pld W D L Pts
1 Norwich City 37 24 7 6 79
2 Leeds United 37 20 11 6 71
3 Millwall 37 19 11 7 68
4 Charlton Athletic 37 18 13 6 67
5 Swindon Town 37 18 13 6 67
6 Colchester United 36 18 9 9 63
7 Huddersfield Town 37 17 10 10 61
8 Milton Keynes Dons 37 17 5 15 56
9 Bristol Rovers 37 17 4 16 55
10 Southampton* 36 16 12 8 50


The ‘damned’ United were 11 points clear of Norwich who are now 8 ahead and a full 20 clear of Millwall with a game in hand at the turn of December. Swindon have clawed back 14 points and it’s a good job Charlton have been rather indifferent. I believe it was Sir Alex Fergusson who gave us the phrase, ‘squeaky bum time’. He ain’t wrong if you’re a Leeds fan!

Surely they can’t screw it up again?

Take away Beckford’s goals and it don’t look good, does it?

Oh well, it’s the ‘bar codes’ for us tonight at the Keepmoat. Lord knows how this one will go. Dont be surprised if we ship four or five goals as we are about due a chaotic night. On the other hand it could be a bit of an end-to-end classic. Either way the ground will be pretty full and it’s a far cry from playing Halesowen and Dover Athletic.

Right, I’m off fishing now.

PS: A Quick Footnote

I still get an occasional abusive email sent to me through the web site from what can only be described as an idiot fringe. Not enough to cause great problems but if you’re tempted to post such comments on this site, do be aware they come to me for authorisation first and as you can see, your message includes your IP address so you ain’t exactly doing it anonymously!

And Finally:

Dave McIntyre, the sketching wizard has been over in Thailand. He’s a seasoned big fish catcher but he ain’t called the snake man for nothing. The fish are self explanatory but he caught the snake in a restaurant! He’ll pick a wrong ‘un one day!


10 thoughts on “2010 – Late March Blog

  1. Hi Bob

    Many thanks for letting me put this on your site.

    Stockport council along with H2ope are planning the construction of 2 hydro power schemes in the form of archimeadian screws on our local rivers, the schemes which will cost over £900,000 and will only supply enough green electricity for less than 40 houses in the entire borough.

    The cost of the 2 schemes will take over 34 yrs to pay back and make any profit.

    Our local rivers have only just recovered from years of pollution, these two schemes could set the rivers back years. the two planned schemes are to be at stringers weir and otterspool weir on the river goyt which are abundant in wildlife.

    The proposed scheme will have a detrimental effect on the fish population, the river holds a good head of speciman size barbel which need fast flowing water in order to survive,the archimeadian screw will leave the weir nearly still with little or no flow leaving these fish prown to parasites and disease.

    There are also nesting/breeding dippers that nest behind the weir, the proposed site will be of disruption to those and will be forced out of there natural home. As for the proposed installation of fish passes, the weir does not need them as the migratory fish that reside in the river salmon/trout/seatrout can already pass the weir, this i have witnessed many times.

    The fish pass would also leave the fish habitants open to natural predators and poachers, the proposed construction is also on greenbelt land and will be a complete eyesore on the landscape; there will also be disruption to the local wildlife, the list of wildlife affected is long.

    There is also the fisherman to consider who pay a fee to fish the river. One of the most popular pegs that can hold a number of anglers will no longer be fishable or accessible and there will also be untold damage to natural fish haunts and to natural spawning grounds which will have a lasting effect on the fish population of the river.

    The fish that inhabit the river are already under threat from natural predators, cormorants and gooseanders. Cormorants are doing untold damage all over the country, with regard to fish stocks the proposed construction would make the fish habitants more prone to natural predators.

    That I know of, the fish species affected are (and these are just the species I’ve caught):
    sea trout
    brown trout

    That’s 13 differant species of fish that I have caught from the weir that will be affected by the construction. Theres also the fish i havent caught:
    rainbow trout

    The river is thriving with life and has come on in leaps and bounds since the years of polution. The proposed construction will set the river back years. The amount of electricity the proposed construction will produce is only the equivelent of at peak 23 kettles from one of the constructions and this by the councils own figures. Surely the £900,000 this is costing could be well spent somewhere else and it will be 19yrs before any profit is made. Thats is if it doesnt kill the river first. They’ve had these in America and they’re dismantling them now because of the damage they have caused.

    A similar site in a Perthshire town has already been refused planning permission.

    These planned constructions are only green on paper and not in reality. In reality these constructions are bought abought by people wanting to win the green vote and by companies that want to make money off the green pound.

    Anyone wishing to object the Case numbers are:

    1) The Otterspool Hydro-Electric Scheme DC/043754

    2) The Stringers Weir Hydro-Electric Scheme DC/043916

    I would personally urge anyone who fishes the river, wants to fish the river or never even heard of the river to object

    Many thanks again bob for letting me put this on here.

    Kind regards,


  2. Great read again Bob, and cannot agree more with your feelings on the closed season. Looking forward to your Barbel days and ways 3 and 4.


  3. Bob,

    You do seem to have developed a bit of an obsession with the fortunes of Leeds United. Would almost seem that Leeds’ failure is more important to you than your own teams success?

  4. You know Rob, I have stood on the terraces of Elland Road on many an occasion.

    I watched Terry Cooper score at Wembley to see them win their first modern era trophy. I’ve even been a guest in the players lounge after games on several occasions but I’ve always been a Donny lad at heart.

    Unfortunately Donny is a town full of Leeds Fans. We’ve had Leeds thrust in our faces for 45 years. As the White’s flag flew higher, the Rovers sank towards oblivion thanks to a corrupt Chairman who was eventually jailed for his actions. We were bankrupt in all but name.

    But we paid our debts, wiped the slate clean and got on with life, living within a tiny budget, not living a dream that we could never afford using borrowed money and then shafting the creditors for pence in the pound only to report multi-million pound profits in the following seasons.

    We never took the easy option of going into liquidation at half time on the final day of the season and as for the chairman, enough said. Even your own fans don’t like him.

    So come on, it was hilarious to see the high and mighty crash down to earth with a resounding thud. To read about them refusing to even settle the St John’s Ambulance bill and insisting Huddersfield paid their hotel bills for a mid-day kick-off when the distance from Elland Road to the Galpharm was less than the distance to their own training ground.

    Teams like Donny had to put up with repeatedly being told that ‘Leeds were our cup final’ and ‘We’re too big for this league’, ‘We shouldn’t be getting beat by teams like Swindon’, or how about, ‘This is an absolute disgrace, what do you mean you don’t have undersoil heating!’.

    And what about the fans who infiltrated every other teams message boards so they could come the Billy Big Bollocks?

    Disrespectful comments still go on and you’ll find the majority of fans in the lower leagues find them both insulting and patronising yet Leeds’ turnover is at least 5 times that of half the teams in their league, probably a lot more. They have one of the biggest squads in the league. Their wage bill must be astronomical for a Third Division club.

    When we faced Leeds at Wembley in the play-off final the result was clearly a forgone conclusion. Leeds only had to turn up and they would win. After all, they claimed to be Champions of Europe (WACCOE) and if you had looked back just 5 years, they were playing in the European Cup whilst we were in the Conference.

    Yet we had every confidence that we would beat them, on merit and with some style.

    Because so many Leeds fans live in Doncaster a couple of thousand were able to show utility bills and purchase tickets in the Donny end at Wembley, turning up decked out in Leeds shirts, banding together and singing Leeds songs.

    It made a complete farce of segregation and could have ended in a serious crowd control situation. Fortunately we’re a family club but that was completely out of order.

    Do that against Millwall or the Hammers and see what happens.

    No, Leeds have only themselves to blame when others smirk at their failures and you shouldn’t blame folk who do so. They put up with the crap that’s dished out so it’s only fair to return it.

    Just think on, they didn’t even treat us as rivals at first, or consider playing us was a derby. In their heads they saw Man U and Liverpool as their great rivals.

    Well let me remind you – they ain’t anymore. In fact they’ve probably forgotten you exist because it’s been a while since you were a real force in the Premiership, hasn’t it?

    Okay, so Leeds pull off an odd cup win but that doesn’t make up for four decades of bottling the big finals and it has clearly left the fans feeling a little bitter. I note that today’s JPT trophy at Wembley was between Southampton and Carlisle and pulled in nearly 75,000 punters. Weren’t Leeds bridesmaids in the Semi Final this year? Sounds about right.

    Even so, if they do get promotion, we’ll welcome them back to the Championship and League Yorkshire. Same goes for Dull City if they come down. The derby games and rivalry are great and I’d love to welcome Rotherham sometime soon. Better a Leeds than some team that’s 300 miles away (sorry Plymouth).

    Leeds are only reaping what they’ve sown. It’s taken three seasons for them to realise they don’t have an automatic right to promotion. That they must actually earn it over 46 games and that maybe a healthy helping of respect goes a long way.

    In the meantime folks like me will continue to wind up their fans, because that’s what football fans do.

    Watch out for the next blog. They’ll be on the end of a wind-up again and all I can say is, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

    Leeds’s failure may be amusing but don’t go thinking it’s important. The only thing that’s important to me football wise is that we reach 50 points in decent time again next year. Just holding our own in the Championship is a waking miracle to me. Anything else is the icing on the cake.



  5. Bob, thanks for the reply.

    Sadly, unlike you I’m not young enough to have had the privilege of witnessing first hand the great team of the sixties and seventies, although my knowledge of that era, as one might expect is pretty good.

    No, my footballing “education” was provided in the eighties, when my club languished in the old second division for almost a decade. I remember being stood wet and freezing on the old Lowfields Road terrace watching such household revered names as Melrose, Aizlewood, Ormsby and Edwards, as club legend after club legend tried and failed to lead us back into the first division.

    I still remember today where I was when Lee Chapman’s header thudded into the back of the net at Dean Court, to send Howard Wilkinson’s team back into the promised land. Unfortuantely,bering a schoolboy of only 14 at the time,my Dad refused to let me travel down to the South Coast. Yes, a minority heaped shame on the club that weekend, but nothing could take away the feeling of elation. Leeds would be rubbing shoulders with the big boys of English football again, ultimately to become champions of England again in only their second season back in the top flight.

    Anyway, enough of that. On to the modern era………

    I’m not ashamed to admit that I, like many other Leeds fans rode the crest of a wave during the early part of the twenty-first century. Riding high at home, and in Europe, it seemed inevitable that we would soon be bringing the games major honours back to Elland Road on a regular basis. I must confess, I never questioned the financial situation at the club. The game was awash with money, especially at the top of the Premiership and in the Champions League, but then again so was society as a whole. We’d never had it so good.

    Back to the League one play off final at Wembley. To suggest that Leeds fans thought they merely had to turn up and roll little Donny over is quite simply not true. How could we? As you’ve already mentioned, our little short of disastrous record in cup finals, coupled with the fact that the two sides had already met twice that season, and Leeds had been passed off the park on both occasions, along with the manner in which Donny destroyed Southend in the Semi’s. No, the majority turned up in very nervous expectation that this might finally be our year. On a personal level, I was much more confident going to Cardiff to face Watford two years previously.

    Doncaster deserved to win that game. Not that I thought you played particularly well, perhaps if you had you might have beaten us in the manner and the style that you thought you would. But you were the better team in what was ultimately a poor spectacle. The manner of victory doesn’t matter a jot in games as important as that though. We were left to rue what might have been, and face up to the prospect of another season in the 3rd division.

    Your comment about crowd segregation, and Leeds fans infiltrating the Donny end that day made me smile. Truth is, the farcical situation was brought on by John Ryan playing the “Billy Big Bollocks” and insisting Doncaster take their full allocation of tickets, which they hadn’t a prayer of selling. To cap this off, he then came out in the press saying he wanted to send the remainder back to Leeds, but the FL wouldn’t let him due to segregation issues. Well of course there were issues when tickets at Doncaster were not sold in any particular order, but dotted all over the stands. Wanted to send spares back to Leeds? Do me a favour.

    Onto Ken Bates then. On this subject, we are in total agreement. The man is a weasel, who I wouldn’t wish on any football club (well maybe one), let alone our own. I doubt very much that the club will prosper whilst he is at the helm, as too much of the profit is siphoned off to pursue other business interests. You might say our turnover is massive compared to most in this division, but believe me, percentage expenditure compared to turnover is relatively low. All the crap about unpaid St Johns Ambulance and hotel bills is Ken Bates all over. Please don’t associate the nonsense that man comes out with, with the supporters of Leeds United. In my eyes, he never has been, and never will be Leeds. Your quite right about the whole penny in the pound to creditors disgrace as well. I’ll tell you what Bob, and I mean this, I’d rather have started again in the Conference or wherever than have that man come in.

    As for the rivalry issues. Let me make one thing absolutely clear here, rivalry is about much more than competing in the same division or on the same field. Donny Rovers, Huddersfield, Bradford or whoever else decides to crawl out of the woodwork will never be rivals of Leeds United. They may all have been competing on a similar level in recent years, but let me put it this way, had we beaten Doncaster that year, do you think the victory would have been so much sweeter because we’d beaten Donny Rovers? Would it ‘eck. On the other hand, you’ve lived on this for the last two seasons – you’re still using it in your slideshows, and a couple of Donny fans at work still never shut up about the day they slain the mighty Leeds. I know how they felt, because I felt exactly the same at Old Trafford in January! Ask any Man United fan, who’s attended regular football, who they’d rather be playing in the league : Leeds or Newcastle, or tin-pot soulless clubs like Wigan or Hull. They haven’t forgotten we exist Bob.In fact, they still sing about us at every game at Old Trafford. We’ll always be rivals, whether we’re two divisions apart or six.

    In fact, every ground we go to at this level is a sellout, complete with every baseball cap wearing Chav in the district coming out to have a pop. It’s laughable Bob, but as Man City and Notts Forest found out before us, it’s not an easy league to get out of when you have to take on opponents who think it’s their cup final every week.

    We are where we are, and as you quite rightly said, we’ve no divine right to escape from this league. We have to roll our sleeves up, and get on with it, do the “dirty” things which we’re so good at, and with a little bit of luck rolled in, the rewards will come. Maybe not this season, maybe not next, but it’ll happen Bob, and you know it will. Leeds United will be competing for major honours again in the not too distant future. Barring, a Russian billionaire taking up residence in South Yorkshire, Doncaster never will.


  6. Oh dear Rob,

    Thanks for the response, as you know I do like a good debate. You say:

    “Leeds United will be competing for major honours again in the not too distant future. Barring, a Russian billionaire taking up residence in South Yorkshire, Doncaster never will.”

    I guess me and all the other followers of tin pot clubs in tin pot leagues should really call it a day, rescind our golden shares and stop hindering the progress of ‘mighty’ Leeds United, eh? What right have we to play football and enjoy our successes?

    God, it must be so frustrating to keep tripping up against these no-mark minnows.

    The season we beat you at Wembley we were drubbed at home by Swansea. Did we complain? No we applauded them off the park. Did we go on about Wolves or Birmingham last year? No, because their teams treated the other teams in our division with respect.

    Every single game since we reached the Championship at your expense has been a cup final to us, but we don’t have Newcastle fans on our forum every week telling us that they are our cup final. Nor do Boro fans, or West Brom.

    You see, you tipify the very Leeds attitude (in your response) that turned me against a club I used to admire. Rubbishing ‘tin pot’ clubs like Hull and Wigan who are two divisions above you is terribly disrespectful. You probably won’t recall, but neither club had too much trouble rising from the ranks of a division beneath the one you’re in now.

    How come such a big club, with a massive fan base, the highest ticket prices in the league and no debt whatsoever, has so much trouble getting out of the third division?

    Can’t you see that you have to rebuild from the basement, start having some realistic aspirations and above all else to start treating other teams and other fans with a little understanding and a whole lot more respect instead of sneering at everyone as though Leeds is something special?

    You behave like spolied brats and that’s why folk all over the country, not just me, continue to taunt Leeds and we’ll continue to do it because we know you’ll stamp your feet and cry, ‘It’s not fair, we’re a special club! when patently you’re not.

    You know Rob, I really do hope I live long enough to see Leeds competing for major honours again because it’ll probably mean I’ve had a long innings! Seriously, forget about Donny; short of a Russian Billionaire pitching up at Elland Road in the near future can you honestly see Leeds getting remotely close to qualifying for Europe when up against the likes of the two Liverpool sides and Manchester United and City, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, not to mention Villa?

    I do take it when you claimed you’d be competing for MAJOR honours you didn’t actually mean the Johnsons Paint Trophy?

    Where’s the investment coming from that turns the current team of Third Division hopefuls into a squad with the quality and depth to trouble the established Premiership clubs, never mind the tin pot ones?

    Or will you fund it with massive, unsustainable debt again?

    Okay, I’ll close with a question for a fan of the UK’s largest one-football-club city by a country mile. It’s a bit of a punt this because I don’t have a clue what the answer is either:

    You see your rightful place as being in the higher eschelons of England’s top division and competing in Europe. How many seasons have you played outside the top division since World War Two and how many times have you actually finished in a Champions League (equivalent) qualifying slot in that time?

    And when exactly were Leeds ‘Chamiopns Of Europe’, because I’m blowed if I can find it in the records?

    Take care Rob and good luck in the playoffs. I hope you enjoy the April blog as much – it’ll be published on April Fools Day. Watch out for it!



  7. Nice blog, less kissball and more fishing please!!! When are series 3 and 4 of days and ways going to be released please.
    Keep up the very great work

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