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Jumpers for goalposts

It seems like a million years away in these days of big money, chief executives, global marketing deals and instant global telecast of multi-millionaire, cosmopolitan mercenaries playing for whoever is prepared to fork out the most. Manchester United, or even worse Chelsea, ain't a football club any more, it's a franchise.

Today's sporting world isn't much like it was thirty or forty years ago. Now, the mighty dollar rules, and there's no real camaraderie on the field, no sense of team or loyalty to the badge apart from those sickening, ingratiating badge kissing spectacles. Yesterday's game was about something more than a pay cheque. If you were a member of a football club, you bled those colours to the core. You weren't hung up on jumping ship to another club, much less another country. Back then, you didn't win by establishing an all-star, bought-and-paid-for roster; you won with your gut. You won with perseverance.

Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times: "The deliberate dive and the histrionic collapse to the ground in faux agony as part of an attempt to get an opponent sent off were scarcely present in the British game before the arrival of the vast legions of foreigners and, particularly, players from Latin America and southern Europe.

"You might argue as a counterbalance that these immigrants also brought with them other stuff hitherto missing from the British game, such as intelligence and skill. Fair enough. And also that British players were not averse to breaking the rules by, for example, smashing an opponent's leg in two, or rendering him unconscious with a swiftly delivered forearm to the throat. But at least we are clear that such actions carry with them certain set punishments."

Some football clubs strike gold in their high-priced players. Others barely limp along while continuing to turn over their bank book to the next hot-shot with a cannon leg. But they all have one thing in common: they're false. They're false to themselves, and they're false to the fans that literally bleed for their colours.

Real football is played with the type of passion and desire that you can neither manufacture nor purchase. Fans of Leeds know about persevering through the difficulty and coming out the other side a true champion. The 1960s and early 70s were a prime example of true perseverance equating to glory.

In the midst of financial turmoil, threats of regulation and management changes, the Whites (or blue and golds as they were back then) banded together in the 60s and turned certain tragedy into unmistakable and immortal triumph. That kind of glory doesn't have the pound sign attached at the front. That's something only a true team-a family-can accomplish.

So much of football's history is lost on the players today. Fans deserve much better. Two Leeds fans paid the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to cheer their club to victory. This is something never lost on the club, as they always take a moment of silence nearest the anniversary to remember the fans who gave their lives to be a part of something special. If only that sort of togetherness would register with these new-age players.

The world is chock full of activities that people could easily do. From online gaming to fantasy sports, football clubs are lucky that fans are still as passionate as they are, especially considering that the favor is rarely returned.

Although Leeds aren't enjoying the success and the adulation that fans would like to see, we're still all just as passionate about our club as ever. Our new band continue to persevere through adversity, and that's really what the game is about. Eventually, that's going to pay off much more than any hot-shots and big-money clubs can produce. In fact, it has paid off already. We all know who has the guts and who has the glory. The rest is just artificial.

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