110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 8

This is it! We’re on the precipice; any day now (or maybe in a week or so…don’t shoot the messenger), this takeover IS going to happen. It has to – this draining, tortuous second act is reaching its conclusion and it’s now a just a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s before the book publishers, the movie producers, Yorkshire Radio and maybe even some external media organisations get the go-ahead to reveal the final chapter, the glorious conclusion to saga, in all its beautiful DAB, Dolby Digital and HD glory!

The whispers of past weeks are remaining consistent and they even appear to carry substance; there does appear to be a new bidder in the process, the predicted transfer activity of the week has come to pass and the mooted July 1st does tie in with all the other bits of hearsay.

Besides, it has to end inside the next week or so; I’m not convinced we can collectively stomach any longer a timeframe (in fact some have already crumbled – see Tuesday); I’ve lost countless evenings and weekends to this already, reduced to a desperate shell of a man, constantly refreshing timelines and the TOMA thread in the hope that this time something will be there; a simple tweet from Thom Kirwin or Paul Dews, or one glorious weblink to the official site that ends the nightmare and starts the celebrations.

The Euros have been reduced to an irrelevance – anyone doubting the precedence of club over country should try being a Leeds fan this summer! I’ve even found myself daydreaming about it all, a vivid, repetitive vision: a press conference screened live on the BBC, with not so much as a Yorkshire Radio microphone in view, while outside the entrance of the discredited LUFC media outlet’s HQ sits Ben Fry, disconsolate, a single tear running down his cheek, his gaze fixed on a framed, signed photograph of Ken Bates, his finger tenderly stroking his paymaster’s beard. Elsewhere, Peter Lorimer staggers around the Commercial Inn, grasping his third bottle of gin as he tries to convince punters that he never had any time for the departing regime. In the West Stand car park, a subdued Shaun Harvey is loading his belongings into a Citroen Picasso while in Monaco, Ken Bates is on his phone, begging David Conn to give him an exclusive interview in The Guardian…

It may not pan out exactly like that, but it will end. Mark my words, this 7 year nightmare WILL end!!!

“…Oh, hello nurse, is that my lunch on that lovely silver tray? It isn’t? Wait a minute, what’s that syringe for…”

 

 Monday 18th June

Finally, a temporary reprieve from the takeover speculation as the new fixture list is published; a day that gets Leeds fans excited and police forces nationwide, making plans for excessive overtime opportunities.

The fixture lists are the product of weeks of careful planning, a conscientious process where the needs of supporters, the wishes of clubs and wider social considerations are all factored into the complex algorithms of the Football League computer. I can only imagine Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston concurring with this viewpoint; his bitter complaints about the drunken behaviour of Leeds supporters during last season’s April weeknight game, keenly adhered to by the authorities who have decreed to make Bloomfield Road the destination for United’s first away trip of the season…on an August weeknight!

It’s difficult to have much sympathy for Oyston, a man who owns a club based in a town that seemingly markets itself as the resort of choice for binge drinking and loutish behaviour. Maybe if he wants to avoid such instances of anti-social behaviour, he should consider taking the reins of a different seaside club, based in a more respectable resort. How about Bournemouth? …Hmm, maybe not. 

The fixtures cause similar excitement in other Yorkshire footballing outposts, especially in Huddersfield, Hull and Barnsley. Mercifully for the triumvirate of chairman presiding over these clubs from Yorkshire’s dark underbelly, the earliest Leeds visit doesn’t fall until December, allowing them plenty of time to produce batches of large print song sheets, containing the lyrics to “I’m Huddersfield/Hull/Barnsley* (*delete as appropriate) ‘til I die” so as the day-tripping hordes of chavs have something to bellow out in between the choruses of “We all hate Leeds scum!”  

Plans are already afoot in the corridors of Huddersfield Town Hall to pencil in Monday 3rd December as a Bank Holiday, should the dog botherers win; the festive period visit to Hull gives the authorities plenty of time to prepare the locals for a brush with a 21st century civilisation, while Barnsley’s January fixture is the perfect excuse to re-issue the VHS of last season’s victory in the run up to Christmas.

Elsewhere, the YEP hears from Redders who is keen to discuss the great work going on at the Academy and his new role, managing the new U21 squad as the club re-structures in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). His excitement and utter conviction about the quality of the current crop of youngsters are ER is articulated quite beautifully as he reflects on the season just gone: 

“The youth team had an outstanding season and we were the best team in our league by a country mile. If we’d had a different start to the season and not played Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, we’d have won the league, no two ways about it.”

Give or take 13 other pesky clubs, it was the same for the senior side, Redders…

 

Tuesday 19th June

It’s finally happening! As foretold in the whispers form the more credible ITKers, Leeds have started to draft in new players.  First lined up to read the script about the ambition of the manager, the plans of the club and the quality of the pasta bake at Thorp Arch is Norwich City’s Adam Drury.

Despite being another summer ‘Bosman’, his arrival is greeted with a general sense of approval and optimism by Whites supporters; Warnock is especially delighted to have got his man, revealing that he’d failed previously to land him while boss as Bramall Lane and saying of Drury: 

“I’ve always liked him and I honestly think he’s as good a left-back as you’ll get in the Championship, certainly defensively”

Perhaps most comforting of all was the reaction amongst Norwich supporters who were in unison over their sadness to see him depart. Each tweet about Drury, effused about him in glowing terms; after spending 11 years at Carrow Road, many spoke of him in the way that you’d expect of family members… though this is East Anglians we’re talking about, so I suppose anything’s possible.

If this wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, our new boy is also on twitter (@adamdrury78), and having undertaken a comprehensive search, I can confirm that Nando’s has not featured in his recent activities.

While still in the virtual world, much beloved son of WACCOE’s TOMA threads, ToeNailSoup reveals his twitter alter-ego, and in the process, provides an insight into how a man who’s been driven to the verge of hysteria by takeover rumours chooses to have a public breakdown. The poster a.k.a. @WhiteLeedsSite has been leading a secret double life under his twitter pseudonym, tracking down any tweeters claiming to be ‘in the know’ and demanding of them their credentials. This evening matters came to a head, the victim, a naive journalism student; in a moment of foolhardiness she decided to try boost her follower count by proclaiming to have inside information – our man, desperate for answers, took his opportunity and wasn’t going to take ‘no’ as an answer…

The girl in question quickly retracted her initial tweet and stated that she knew nothing before eventually opting to delete her account – valuable lesson learned. Scanning back down the @WhiteLeedsSite profile page it’s clear that the incident was sadly inevitable – countless other parties had already been previously called to task, the YEP’s Phil Hay included, who’d memorably been instructed to ‘Piss off!”. 

In the aftermath, ToeNailSoup disappeared off WACCOE for several hours, prompting concern for his welfare, but finally returned the following afternoon, his enthusiasm undimmed and his deity-like status only elevated by what had passed the night before. With a sense of boundless optimism comparable to that of a Disney Club presenter on Prozac, he truly is a man to be treasured.

ITKers, beware…

 

Wednesday 20th June

Two days and two signings, as Paul Green is announced as the club’s third summer arrival. Neil Warnock told the official site:

“Paul is another player I’ve been after for a long time…I’ve seen him grow from his days at Doncaster and I’m delighted to have him here. I’ve always thought that he is a player who can create goals as well as score them, and he has just the type of attitude we need at Elland Road.”

Whether that right type of “attitude” is a willingness to actually sign a contract is unclear, as is the overall reaction of the fan base. While involvement with Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad should provide grounds for optimism, that may be tempered somewhat by the fact that Green initially a standby player for a nation that was able to automatically accommodate Darren O’Dea. This widely circulated jpeg also did little to lift the spirits…

Derby County fans didn’t seem to rate Green that highly either, but hey, what do they know? They said exactly the same about Paul Connolly… 

On Wednesday evening, focus switched to the first LUST meeting of the summer, where a larger than usual audience attended the event at The Magic Sponge, many doubtless there in the hope that Gary Cooper et al were going to spill any specifics on the takeover. They were to be disappointed.

However, in saying nothing, Gary did somehow seem to tell everything; while everybody left at the end, none the wiser in terms of concrete names and timescales, most surely did so feeling all the more confident that a takeover would be happening.

When I offered up the theory that the signing of ‘Bosmans’ now and the expected recruitment of players who commanded fees at the end of the month (as suggested in the press) supported the suggestions of a takeover being completed by 1st July, the Trust’s chairman nodded along and smiled throughout. He eventually replied, that “there would seem to be too many coincidences for this not to be true, and besides, I DON’T believe in coincidences”… as hints go, that was a pretty strong one.

Ultimately however, LUST were understandably unwilling to confidently pin their colours to a particular date, though did go as far conceding at least, that it was “VERY probable” that Leeds United would start the new season under new ownership. Furthermore, if Bates was somehow able to cock up these negotiations, they were able to assure us that at least two more bidders were waiting in the wings, both offering substantial funds. Each one of them were only interested in a takeover.

I slept better that night.

 

Thursday 21st June

Adam Drury spoke for the first time over his move to Elland Road, telling the club website that after 11 years at Norwich it felt like the right time to move on:

“Everything moves on. Football moves on, life moves on, and it was time for me to move on. I’m excited about what I’m coming into and can’t wait to get going. I had a few options, there was some interest and I could’ve gone abroad, but with what could happen here it’s a massive pull and I want to be part of it.”

For those who made it past the deep philosophical musings of the opening sentences, there was ANOTHER takeover hint – after the usual morning pattern of post-rumour depression, the customary sharp late night injection of hope arrived mid-afternoon for once.

Neil Warnock spoke in more detail about the arrival of Green and had undoubtedly immersed himself in the ‘Elland Road New Signing’s Cliché Handbook’ informing the official site:

“Once we showed him around Thorp Arch and told him what I was intending to do, I don’t think there was too much of a choice for Paul. That was the crux of it”

Welcome to the Ministry of Propaganda, Neil!

 

Friday 22nd June

It is announced that Elland Road is going to become the home of a new ice rink after developers, the imaginatively named Ice Rink Company, and operators, Silver Blades, reached an agreement with Leeds City Council. No word as yet on whether it will be the largest facility of its type between Manchester and Newcastle.

The club also invite supporters to join them at Billy’s Bar on Monday as they prepare to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay to Elland Road. The identity of the torch bearer is not revealed – it is believed that Simon Grayson was initially offered the opportunity, but was said to be wary of the prospect of meeting up with any old flames at the club. 

Visitors to WACCOE, late on Friday evening have a near death experience as the mods take the decision to merge the two TOMA threads, creating the impression that 300+ pages have been added in the space of a couple of hours… as usual, on closer inspection, it proves another false dawn.

 

Saturday 23rd June

More fuel to the fire of the theory of an imminent takeover as United are again linked with players who command transfer fees. David Norris and Luke Varney are back on Neil Warnock’s radar, weeks after having the ‘square root of f**k all’ to spend thwarted our manager’s initial interest.

There is also an update on ticket sales for pre-season games. Only 150 tickets remain for the visit of Torquay, while over 1000 have already been sold for the trips to Tavistock and Bodmin. Seeing the potential to capitalise on spreading mass panic, the club take the responsible step of selling tickets in advance for the fixture at Farsley…and a potential £3000 in booking fees to feather Ken’s retirement funds. 

 

Sunday 24th June

A story in the Sunday Mirror speculates – let’s be fair, it’s the Sunday Mirror, so we’re not in the realms of indisputable fact here – that Ross McCormack is set to leave the Whites to join Simon Grayson at Huddersfield in a £2.5m move. A number of tweeters suggest that Warnock should drive the striker to the Galpharm himself for that sort of money. Apparently, having that sort of fee to reinvest in the squad will come in very handy – do some people NEVER learn?

I’m still convinced a takeover is imminent, but while Bates is around, such rhetoric should be outlawed – Gimme strength… I’m flagging here! 

 

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