Monday , September 20 2021

Premier League – Chelsea-Leeds: a dormant rivalry ready for regeneration



July 17, 2020: Leeds return to the English football elite after a 16-year absence. The fan is well celebrated by the fans where everyone was looking forward to the announcement of the calendar for the 2020/2021 season, its big dates and the clashes against the warlike enemy, Man United. But not only that. The Peacock fans circled another meeting with a red mark: this December 5 and the match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. If the animosity that binds the two clubs remains little known abroad, it is fierce in a country of his majesty. And count on the seniors who will pass them on to the new generation, who grew up without seeing their team in the Premier League, the meaning and connection to history. The kilometer distance between London and the fifth largest city in England (over 300 km) does not change anything. Not even the differences in the trajectory made by the two clubs.

A poll conducted last week on the official website of the “whites” showed that Chelsea is second among the most hated teams. Even if the rivalry took the lead on the wing from 2004 (the year Leeds were relegated to D2). “Younger people must look at this rivalry with some confusion, as there have been no significant games for a decade and a half., abounds with Rick Glanville, the official historian of the “blues”. The oldest remembers that this is a private quarrel woven into football folklore, the roots are in the contempt caused by knowledge

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King Road in Piccadilly Circus

“She was born in the 1960s, with a lot of physical competition, culminating in this 1970 FA Cup final.” adds Adam Pope, Leeds correspondent for the BBC. The replay is still considered the most brutal and physical match in English football today, with the largest audience ever for a club match (28.5 million spectators in the UK). Some praise for the “rough” football across the Canal, at Old Trafford, between Don Revie’s “Dirty Leeds” and Dave Sexton’s “Chelsea” (1967-1974), which did not follow the athletic bases of Tommy Dockerty (1961-1967).

A clear football vision of the past is not enough to explain this strong antagonism that is emerging. Brutality on the ground marries social and cultural divisions. Glanivil: “The contrast of stereotypes was highlighted in the media at the time. Chelsea and King Road were at the heart of Swinging London, a time of cultural turmoil affecting the arts sector. “Leeds was part of England during this period as if to leave behind: dust from Yorkshire, people playing lotto instead of going to nightclubs.”. The well-educated south of the capital, unlike the “hard north” in England in the sixties, doubled in speed. “This Chelsea was considered pretentious, confident, with players with beautiful cars and well-groomed glasses. Constant confrontation inside and outside the field. And obviously the supporters played their part, especially after“, Adds Adam Pope.

The violence moved off the pitch and was unfortunately another factor that explained the animosity between Chelsea and Leeds. The hooligan movement was at its peak for the next two decades, and regular clashes between the two clubs’ groups – the Hanhunters (considered one of the most intimidating) and the Service Crew (Leeds United) – marked the daily life of a football. attractive While the teams fought in the second division and no longer occupied the central stage, the fighting was numerous both inside and outside the stadiums. An example of the arrest of more than 200 fans of both clubs in 1982 at the Piccadilly Circus after a mass brawl. Or the famous story of the traffic light broken two years later, in the heart of the famous terraces (standing stands) specific to that time, by the Leeds fans at Stamford Bridge after the sharp victory for the locals (5-0). What will make the new president of the “blues” then, Ken Bates, say: “I will not rest until Leeds is ousted from the championship. “Their fans are scum on Earth, absolute animals and a disgrace.”.

The Bates link

The same Ken Bates took the same position at eds Leeds twenty years later (2005), following a term of the same term in West London (1982-2003). The peacocks returned to the hall six months ago. “The fans did not forget any of Bates’ statements, but they were pleased with it, points out Adam Pope. Also, thanks to his arrival, the rivalry is maintained in a sense despite the lack of competition. Do not forget that Bates also brought in Chelsea people with the seal of the club such as Dennis Weiss (manager from 2006 to 2008), Gus Poyet (assistant to Wise) and Gwyn Williams (head of recruiting the “blues” before becoming technical director. Leeds)But the Bates era also marks the darkest period in the history of the three-time English champions: liquidation in 2007, relegation for the first time in Ligue 1 (D3), deducting 15 points at the start of the 2007-2008 financial year, and despite climbing the Championship three years later.

The rest of the hatred is still present

Attacks spotted by Blues fans, which entered a whole new dimension after the arrival of Roman Abramovich in 2003. At the dawn of the descent into hell of rivals from the north. “They were thrilled to see Leeds fail, until their return last summer. Violent chants from the fiercest fans are regularly heard on the Bridge to remind us of the rivalry and disappointment of others, and we know that the opposite is the same as the патотland Road. The remaining hatred is still present. “All this when there was an audience.” – says Rick Glanville. This last point was not made by chance, as the British government only approved the return of fans (until 2000) last week to areas controlled by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as London or Liverpool. . I’m not sure that with this restriction, viewers will hear the familiar sweet words by ear, while the reunion between Frank Lampard, legend and now manager of the “Blues”, and Marcelo Bielsa’s “Leeds” will be remembered in the episode “Spygate”. Now, despite himself, he has also returned to this proven hatred between blue and white.

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