It’s no accident that The Guardian’s satirical football bulletin refers to Leeds United as ‘Nasty Leeds’. They had previously been known as ‘Dirty Leeds’, which was, for some reason deemed insufficient. Leeds is one of those football teams who manage to pick a fight with anyone and everyone. Every match they play seems to be a grudge match of some sort; either a fierce local derby or an re-enactment of some past rivalry, injustice or unsavoury incident.
When “feisty” Dennis Wise became Leeds manager a few years ago, he stated that he wanted them to recapture their true character: “I want them to be horrible and nasty, like the great Leeds teams of the past”.
So it was with a slightly bashful smile that I observed Leeds’ latest embarrassment. Last week, the Club introduced a new badge, which was immediately lambasted by large numbers of fans, through social media.
The coverage has focused on the fans’ reaction. The club has promised to consult more widely and review the design. That’s code for “start again, ‘cos we screwed up”.
The original rationale for the badge is that the ‘chest thump’ is an action known as the ‘Leeds salute’. The not-always-explicitly-stated issue is that it looks a lot like a kind of fascist salute. “And nobody wants that” as the armchair football critic might observe. (But clearly not an accident either, as the armchair Leeds-watcher might observe.)
On the other hand, I would contend, the Leeds badge has a certain “comedy Fascist” quality, which is more funny than threatening.
It’s almost perfectly represented by the characterisation of would-be Black shirt leader Roderick Spode, in the Bertie Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse.
If you don’t believe me, enjoy the clip.
Better to laugh at these things than to get upset, I often feel.