Gary Edwards is a Leeds United fan, who has not missed a Leeds game since 1968, and he recently talked to the Evening Chronicle about what it’s like when your team takes a gigantic fall from grace – as in relegation, and more than one too.
Newcastle fans – there’s much worse to come
Edwards is a painter and decorator, and he went from watching Leeds United take on Valencia in the magnificent Mestalla Stadium in Spain, to now visiting places like Hereford, Yeovil and Hartlepool in just a few seasons.
Edwards has also written a series of books about his experiences following the Leeds United dramatic decline of the last few years (since 2004) , and says:
“I have followed Leeds everywhere through the bad times as well.” “I wrote my first book and called it Paint It White because I am a painter but refuse to use the colours of Man United and won’t use red paint.”
“My second book was called a Second Coat for our travels in the second league, or the Championship as they call it, and in League One I am working on a third called No Glossing Over It.”
“It’s basically a story of following Leeds through thin and thin, and I know exactly how the Newcastle fans must feel.”
“It can get worse with the financial implications involved with relegation, but for me the one thing that has been so magnificent about Leeds is the fans – and I think Newcastle will be exactly the same.”
“When you lose your Premier League status and the big stars move on, you aren’t left with too much, or at least that’s how you feel.” “But Newcastle, like Leeds, will take fans everywhere and sell out away ends.”
“We had the best crowds in League One last season and we sold out every away game.”
Unfortunately Leeds fans will have to endure another season in League One following their defeat against Millwall in the play-offs last month, meaning that they will travel a total of around 8,000 miles.
Similarly in the Championship, Newcastle fans face long away trips to Bristol City, Plymouth, Swansea and Cardiff next season, and some of them likely to have 5.15 pm kick-offs on a Saturday evening.
“When you take 4,000 people all the way to Brighton it is bound to get the camaraderie going.” “I actually prefer the long away trips for that.”
“What I like about fans at Newcastle and Leeds is that they will stick with their club.” “It’s what you do, isn’t it?”
“No matter who the owner is, the manager or the players, the club will always belong to the fans.”
For most opposing teams Newcastle United fixtures will be their cup final next season, and Edwards says that Leeds have experienced exactly the same thing.
“It will happen to Newcastle.” “It’s an old cliche, but they will be everybody’s big cup final.”
“It happened to us in the Championship – everybody wants to put in 100% effort to get a scalp.” “It will happen at certain clubs.”
“But then you get Leicester City who were with us in League One last season but then got promoted.”
“They seemed to be invisible to the rest of the league and most teams just rolled over for them.” “It’s frustrating.”
There has been no shortage of similarities between Newcastle and Leeds of late. The worst that can happen to Newcastle is that we do a Leeds United, but since that’s already happened to the unfortunate Yorkshire club, hopefully we will be able to learn from that.
But of course the guy in charge of Newcastle right now is so incompetent it’s hard to believe he can learn from anything. Certainly the longer he continues to have the club tied up in chains so nothing can get done, the more likely it is that we will emulate Leeds, in our fall from grace.
Not only has relegation been emulated, but it has also not gone unnoticed that two of Leeds stars in 2004, when they were relegated from the Premier League, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka, were both on Newcastle’s books last season.
“I’m not surprised in some ways.” “Viduka was a class act – but only when he could be bothered.”
“When he got sent off in the last game at Bolton in 2004, it was almost like he had given up the fight.”
“And as far as Alan Smith is concerned, he lost a lot of Leeds fans when he left the club for Man United not too long after we got relegated.”
“It suggested he didn’t care.”
In the three weeks since relegation, it’s hard to pinpoint anything at all that the Newcastle club has done right, and it seems Ashley and Llambias are back in their bunker, unwilling to talk to fans (or players) about what’s going on.
Nothing has been said to the fans whatsoever, other then the club will be sold for £100M on a first come first served basis – and by email too. 😀
And that’s exactly how they handled the club for four months after Keegan was ousted from the club. They have no right at all to be running a football club, and they have proved that multiple times over in these last two years.
What they are doing to the Newcastle club right now is almost criminal.