At 3;45pm yesterday I received a text message from my daughter. Usually this is a good thing ( unless she’s after money ) but on this occasion it was a message passed from her boyfriend. It read “Danny says unlucky”. The “unlucky” he was referring to was the half-time score between my team, Hull City, and his, Leeds United. I’m ashamed to say I replied by telling him to go forth and multiply, and questioned his parentage….or something like that !
First a little background to my above outburst. For 30 years of my life I supported Hull City, up and down the country. They were my team, still are to some extent, it’s just now I no longer attend games, for many reason’s, not least because a) it’s expensive, and b) a little bit of me has fallen out of love with the club, and it’s current owners. So often I will still refer to City as “we” or “us” because, well, once a Tiger always a Tiger. They will always be “my” team, no matter where I am. The last 5 years of my life has seen me get my football fix at various non-league grounds, not least North Ferriby United, to a point where I refer to them as “we” and “us” too. However, twice a year, the fixture that catches my attention is the one that defined my football love ( and hate ), a fixture that for me, and many others, gets the juices flowing a little more than any other, Hull City vs Leeds United.
Let me take you back in time a little bit more. All throughout my teens and into my early 20’s, from school to adulthood, I was seemingly cursed to be surrounded by Leeds fans. My small band of Hull City supporting mates at school were vastly outnumbered by supporters of the “White shite”. One probable reason for this was the fact that this was a glory period for Leeds, that culminated in winning the Football League Championship (now Premier League), and a Champions League Semi-Final. For the majority of these years, early 80’s to late 90’s, they were considerably better than us. The occasions when we were in the same division, invariably ended in defeat or them finishing higher than us. However, in the dark recess of my mind, I can vividly recall happier times, Garry Parker firing in a peach at Elland Road in a 2-0 victory ( could’ve been 2-1 ). A Boxing Day game ( could’ve been New Years Day ) when we tore them apart at Boothferry Park to win easily 3-1. A certain Peter Swann scored for them, before later becoming a cult-hero in amber and black. And talking of cult heroes, one of the best ever days in this fixture, Jon “Beast” Parkin scoring a fantastic header to win the Yorkshire Derby 1-0 in 2006 – a period when City were in the ascendancy, and Leeds were going in the opposite direction. Other memories are of the 4-3 defeat at Elland Road, a game featured heavily by Calendar News ( for years a mouthpiece for Leeds ) where a ding-dong battle was clinched by a Gordon Strachan goal in the 94th minute. Standing that day in the away end, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such devastation at the final whistle. I’d had my hopes up of an upset win for weeks. This Leeds side contained Strachan, Speed, Batty and Vinnie Jones. As mentioned above, Calendar News were particularly in love with this Leeds side, and described Jones’ goal as “turning on a sixpence”. As good a goal as it was, it was eclipsed by a strike from Bobby Doyle from all of 30 yards that barely got a mention. Leeds bias. This to the point that at one stage of my life ( for several years ) I refused to watch YTV Sports productions !
So you can see where my hate for them came from. It was always a battle of the Yorkshire cities, the whole Y.R.A thing ( Yorkshire Republican Army ) that most clubs in Yorkshire hated. The fact that even the local media were massively behind them to the detriment of other sides. It all added up. It’s been a hate / hate relationship between the two cities at most sports for as long as I can remember. Leeds like to imagine their “derby” is them vs Manchester United. Truth be told, Manchester United don’t consider them rivals – they reserve that for Liverpool – and that is another example of Leeds fans looking down on the rest of the Yorkshire sides. See, it really is that easy to “hate” them…..
Of course these days I feel the “hate” a little less. I’m 42 now, and not been engrossed in “my” team for a good few years. I still look out for the scores, I still read the match reports. I still attend the odd game. But “my” club has changed, on and off the field. It’s no longer who or what I fell in love with in 1980. But that one game guaranteed to get my interest, is “us” versus “them”. Even on Saturday morning, despite being at work, I checked my Twitter TL and had all the derby excitement I felt all those years ago. At 4:45pm on Saturday evening I still felt that old feeling of the pain of defeat. It’s only football that can give you that pain.