“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” – Thomas Haynes Bayly
In their absence, it appears that opposing fans have developed a level of respect for what Leeds United accomplished during their time in the Premier League. The club did disrupt the natural order of the Football League First Division (later the Premier League) while boasting some of the more unique supporters in English football. The Whites of Leeds United were a rival to many clubs in the league. A rivalry which was born from geography, then heightened over time.
In 2008, The Sun newspaper took a poll and fans voted Leeds United as the most hated club. Despite being out of the Premier League for only four years, the club was still first in the minds of English fans.
Just a few years later, talkSPORT again asked which club was the most hated in English football, fans answered: Manchester United. But make no mistake about it, should Leeds United ever put it all back together and earn promotion to the Premier League, opposing fans will be quickly reminded which club stirs the pot of negative emotions.
“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” – Sun Tzu
Friend or foe…you don’t want to be too close to a Leeds supporter.
Leeds United’s fan base have failed to be humbled by their clubs fall from the top flight. The pride of the supporters is still intact. Prior to their 2010 FA Cup third round match versus Manchester United, a supporter of the Whites was quoted as saying:
“To be completely honest with you, I think we kind of enjoy being hated. It’s the kind of backs to the wall, us against the world mentality we’ve been built on, so you just learn to accept it’s part of being a Leeds fan and laugh at the clubs who hate you for no particular reason.”
Leeds is the largest English city with only one professional club and even during tough times their fans still come close to filling the 37,000 seat capacity at Elland Road while screaming, “We are Leeds!” Perhaps it’s the fiery northern mentality that is so deeply engrained into the psyche of every Leeds fan that makes them collectively feel they’re capable of creating an atmosphere that changes score lines. An Elland Road in full voice not only spurs Leeds United on, but it also terrifies the opposition.
You get the feeling that Leeds United fans know it’s just a matter of time before the club is marching back into Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, or any other Premier League club’s home ground to commence the war of words face to face.
“Time heals all wounds” – Geoffrey Chaucer
Umm…not in the case of Leeds.
No matter which Premier League ground you enter, you’re still bound to hear the home supporters singing an anti-Leeds chant. The national loathing of Leeds United stems from the time of Don Revie’s great teams. Revie managed Leeds from 1961 to 1974. Over the course of his tenure, he created one of the most powerful football clubs in England by dragging a side on the brink of Third Division obscurity up by its bootstraps to become the most powerful football team in the country. Under Revie, Leeds never finished below fourth place. They won the First Division twice, finished runner-up five times, and won the FA Cup once (they also played in three more FA Cup finals).