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28 October 2014

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If You're Proud to be a Leeds Fan
If You're Proud to be a Leeds Fan  book by Tom Palmer
If You're Proud to be a Leeds Fan by Tom Palmer

Excerpt from If You’re Proud to be a Leeds Fan by Tom Palmer:


Leeds United writers tour
Robert Endeacott: One Northern Soul
David Gill: Poems
Poets Corner

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Every morning it’s the same: I stand in front of the mirror, staring at a tired face, singing; We are Leeds, We are Leeds, We are Leeds in a throaty whisper, telling myself it sounds like the Gelderd End at Elland Road.

We are Leeds. We are Leeds. We are Leeds. My stubble stands on end like a cartoon electrocution, and I take up the razor and run it across my face.

I have to keep it up: Marching on together, We’re gonna see you win, Na na na na na na. I’ve done both cheeks, my chin, my moustache. We are so proud, We shout it out loud, We love you Leeds, Leeds, Leeds. My throat. Any solitary bristles I might have missed. And it doesn’t matter if I’m using one, two or three blades, a swivel head, a lubricating strip, whatever . . . this is the best shave a Leeds fan can get.

In the pub you get a pint and stand at the back of forty or fifty fans watching a large screen. The game is twenty-five minutes in. You put your pint on the side of the pool table. Rio Ferdinand scrambles to reach a wayward free kick and lofts the ball back into the box. You take your jacket off. The ball skims off the head of a Liverpool defender and falls to Kewell’s feet. You stop taking your jacket off, it hangs from your arm. Kewell hits it. The ball deflects off two Liverpool players and settles in the back of the net. And, like most of the others, you shout like you’re at the football. The camera is not on the referee. It even says one-nil on the screen. And Liverpool are taking the ball back to the centre circle. It’s real. It’s one-nil.

Two groups of three lads by the pool table do not cheer. They look angry. They must be Liverpool. The bar is now thick with smoke as you watch the game on the small TV screen above the pool table. You can’t see the big screen for people, some eating as they watch, all drinking. There is an easy atmosphere. It’s not like watching Leeds in a city centre pub where it can be fierce, everyone pissed up, part of a mob of five hundred.

You wonder what would happen if Liverpool scored. The six lads by the pool table would go up and cheer. You’d have to step back from them, disassociate yourself, just in case something happened. You’ve been in pubs – admittedly for Leeds-Man U games – where celebrating Man U fans have had to hide under tables from a shower of glasses and stools.

The half-time whistle goes. Liverpool 0 Leeds 1. The two lots of Liverpool fans swear and head for the bar.

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