Published January 28 2016. Online.
It said a lot about the state of Leeds United in 2015 that it was local luminary Terry George’s twitter account, not regular harbingers of doom and misery Phil Hay or Adam Pope’s, that offered the realest insight into the addled psyche of Leeds United. Never far from a public meltdown usually only reserved for grown up child actors – Leeds United is a football club on a permanent knife edge.
George’s profile is a veritable maze of Avid Merrion esque selfies/photobombs/photoshops with assorted celebs, and blokes in baby oil and bulging budgie smugglers (and that’s before I mention the calendar). In all that, Terry will throw out proof of his new found insider status which thoroughly and humorously winds up much of the twitter LUFC faithful. Like scenes from a quirky buddy movie, we see Terry and Mr Cellino eating fish and chips in Whitby, Terry and a sleeping Mr Cellino on a train, Terry and Mr Cellino introducing a new signing to the delights of Fibre.
The pictures offer a bizarre snapshot into the wacky world of Leeds United. A rare benevolence to the fans in an age of anodyne micro-managed photo-shoots. Lots like to suggest there is something more sinister to their relationship. I don’t really care. Of Cellino’s many crimes (not even a figure of speech in his case) cosying up to new BFF Terry George doesn’t even register on his vast list of misdemeanours.
The calendar really rubbed people up the wrong way, confirming George’s status amongst the natives as bogeyman with a DSLR. On a one man mission to make the club look utterly foolish. But really, didn’t it just bring a bit of levity to what has been a pretty dismal year on the pitch? Austin Powers himself couldn’t have shot Marco Silvestri lying on that hammock more suggestively. But How tacky! How tasteless! Won’t someone please think of the children! Etc etc.
Hilariously, 2016’s calendar is actually cheaper than 2015’s on Amazon. Cheaper than an obsolete calendar. A handy meta comment on the state of Leeds’s current vintage. The calendar story gained mainstream coverage, with furious fans opining that ‘it makes a mockery of our club’, ‘it takes the piss out of the players’ …but haven’t many of these players taken the piss out of the club with rank performances for much of Cellino’s tenure? A bit of public humiliation might do them good.
Somewhere in Leeds there is a warehouse full of these infamous calendars, ticking off the days until they are put out of their misery with a trip to the pulper. Although it is comforting to know that the calendar is still being stocked by a major retailer, and not the top shelves of the newsagents of Beeston and Batley, as some commentators cruelly predicted.
Terry’s beaming grin has become as ubiquitous around the Leeds United circus as a loanee we have never heard of, or of the Sky Sports cameras. The modern social media obsessed game allows sideshows like Terry George to become visible. So instead of vilifying the man, his voyeuristic insight into Elland Road should be welcomed as it really does show the club in the light it truly is, i.e. weird and pretty confused. The social media vortex of any football club is a particularly ugly one, a glance at the Facebook comments of the official page after a defeat is enough to reach for a drink stronger than 40% ABV. Instead, have a look at Terry’s twitter account and raise a smile to the time Verne ‘mini me’ Troyer wore a Leeds top in the boardroom. When did Leeds fans lose their sense of humour?