The Tel Aviv Whites

Friday evening, 9:25. I arrive at Pub M.A.S.H. (ingenious acronym for More Alcohol Served Here), north Dizengoff, Tel Aviv. “Mad” Eddie (hands aloft in photograph below, I am in stripes) is sitting at the bar with (what I believe to be) a woman, who I don’t recognize, but who closely resembles the imagined product of a late-night tryst between Diana Dors and Les Dawson.

Eddie has brought “Les”, an Irish airline pilot, along from his previous drinking stop, but – when the selfish bitch makes it clear that she is unwilling to sit through Leeds United versus Northampton Town, in the first round of the F.A. Cup – Eddie makes the only sensible choice. “Sorry, Mike”, he mutters sheepishly, on his way out.

Michael, the “Mad Doctor”, joins me. The other handful of regulars have got more sense (or a life), and haven’t turned up. It’s just me and the “Mad Doctor”, who wastes no time in starting to whinge about how poor Leeds are (which he does for the best part of two hours). If Leeds were beating the Great Satan, Manchester United, 5-0 in the first half of a Champions League final, the “Mad Doctor” would still find something to grumble about. I often wonder whether he is watching the same game as the rest of us (or, in this case, as me).

Northampton go one-nil up. Why did I choose to put myself through this on a Friday evening? Ryan, nicknameless (for the time being), joins us. Leeds equalise, to earn a replay in Northampton. But nothing else happens to justify the nonsensical “magic of the Cup” cliché, or why I have just wasted two hours of my life (and on a Friday night) in a pub which has seen better . . . no, in fact, it hasn’t seen better times – M.A.S.H. is a sh*thole, and always has been. The evening is best summed up by Northampton’s nickname: Cobblers.

I am President (self-elected) – which might explain why I always feel obliged to attend games – of the Tel Aviv Whites, in essence an e-mail list (currently numbering 40) of Leeds fans in Israel. Amongst our motley number are one of Israel’s leading gynaecologists, one of its maddest psychiatrists, a clinical psychologist, a dentist, two national journalists, lawyers and accountants. We also have an Argentinian (who started supporting Leeds on his arrival from Buenos Aires during Leeds’ golden decade starting in 1965), an Australian, and a Dane. And they travel to M.A.S.H. from as far and wide as Jerusalem and Zichron Ya’akov to see Leeds lose.

I must also make mention of our President Emeritus, “Mad Jonny”, the best Mickey Thomas – he of the famous “Wayne Rooney’s on a hundred grand a week . . . mind you, so was I until the police found my printing machine” – lookalike this side of Wrexham. Until, that is, he found the ‘produce’ of Thailand somewhat more alluring than that of south Tel Aviv (funny that).

In the halcyon early days of the millennium, when Leeds were reaching UEFA Cup and Champions League semi-finals – and before the club’s dramatic demise (the result of farcical financial mismanagement) – meetings of the Tel Aviv Whites in M.A.S.H. were frequent and well-attended. The three “Mad Brothers” – Eddie, Jonny, and the Doctor – and I would vie for seats at the bar, and to see whose renditions of Leeds songs were loudest and most colourful. Five Tel Aviv Whites made the trip to Valencia, for the Champions League semi-final.

Having dropped into the third tier of English football (for the first time in their 89-year history) two seasons ago, however, Leeds are now only on the telly out here when they reach the promotion play-offs (they have lost the last two finals) or, as on Friday, when they feature in one of the more ‘glamourous’ domestic cup fixtures. For May’s play-off final defeat (at the hands of the mighty Doncaster Rovers) at the new Wembley Stadium, however, over a hundred Leeds fans crammed into M.A.S.H. (though the numbers were boosted by a contingent from Yorkshire, in Israel for a wedding).

I once heard a psychologist say that “Choosing a football team is one of the first decisions you make in life, and one of the longest-lasting.” It is hard to disagree with that. And that early, irrevocable ‘choice’ – together with the desire to preserve something from Blighty – is what, I believe, keeps the Tel Aviv Whites alive (although we have been on life support for some years now).

And that is also what makes the Tel Aviv Whites different from the vast majority of glory-hunting Israeli ‘supporters’ of Manchester United and Chelsea, whose ‘choice’ only came with the flood of silverware. They are there for the good times, and their ‘loyalty’ will not extend to their adopted clubs going through the hard times currently experienced by Leeds United.

Advertisements

19 responses to “The Tel Aviv Whites

  1. F*cking brilliant, Leeds!!

    Under The Don, arguably the greatest club side that Britain has produced – Liverpool from Shankly to Dalglish, and perhaps Wenger’s Arsenal circa 2004, are the only ones to even come close – we are now just two leagues away from where we truly belong . . . mixing it, once again, with the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid.

    It would be nice to think that the old misanthrope Ken Bates will soon snuff it or be bought out by some very rich Arabs (in view of our suicidal tendencies, the only ones interested in recent years were Hamas!)

    Anyway, well done, Leeds. And, Jermaine Beckford, thank you for the memories (especially this one).

    Marching on together.

  2. Henri Berest

    Not wishing to piss on your parade, Mike but there seem to be some slight delusions of grandeur there.
    The only ones you’ll be mixing it up with are Scunthorpe, Barnsley & Doncaster. Then…in a few years time, you may be good enough for Wolves and Wigan.
    ‘Dirty Leeds’ you may not be any longer, but judging by the amount of gas-chamber hissing that went on at White Hart Lane earlier in the season, ther majority of Leeds supporters are still thick, Northern, racist scum. (present company excluded of course).
    Still, enjoy the moment – you’ve done well to come back from ther nightmare that Risdale put you in.

  3. Henri, as a regular at Highbury in my teenage years – with Gooner-supporting classmates – there was certainly no shortage of “gas-chamber hissing” directed at the “Tottenham Yids”.

    Do you still support Arsenal?!

  4. Allan Engel

    “In the halcyon early days of the millennium, when Leeds were reaching UEFA Cup and Champions League semi-finals – and before the club’s dramatic demise (the result of farcical financial mismanagement)”

    You mischievously fail to point out that the high points were as much the result of the “farcical financial mismanagement” as the demise.

  5. on the way up to where we belong…premiership champions year after next …and kings of europe the following year

    shuli

  6. Allan, Allan . . . why the bitterness?!

    Because Leeds always did “one-nil” better – and certainly in more style – than “boring, boring Arsenal”?

    Or just because, whenever it really matters, we “do” you?!

    And, if you truly want to understand the difference between true Legends and nochshleppers, ignore the shikkers and feast your eyes on this . . .

  7. Henri Berest

    Me a Gooner???
    I’m the proud owner of a season ticket at the mighty Spurs!!
    Most clubs have gotten rid of the racist hissing these days.
    It’s only neanderthal scum that still continue with it. Unfortunately, that still applies to a large number of Leeds supporters.

  8. For some strange reason, Henri, I recall you in an Arsenal shirt. Sincere apologies!

    IMHO, the hissing is more brainless than “racist”.

  9. Henri Berest

    An Arsenal shirt???? Me???

    Agreed about the hissing being brainless, but the intention is to insult nevertheless.

  10. Re “the intention to insult”, I must admit to being rather partial to the odd “Munich” song – I hate Scummers! – and intend, some day, to write a philosophical treatise on why morals don’t come, and shouldn’t be brought, into football!

  11. Henri Berest

    Without the morals Mike, you go back to the days of chucking bananas at the Black players.
    There should be a line drawn…somewhere

  12. Henri Berest

    ……althought Wenger is a paedophile ;0)

    and I’m not even going to start on S*l C*mpbell

  13. Henri Berest

    Managed to find a few gems though:

    “Park, Park, wherever you may be,
    You eat dogs in your country,
    It could be worse, you could be Scouse,
    Eating rats in your council house.”

    “Your sister is your mother, your uncle is your brother
    You all f**k one another, the Norwich family.”

    “Two Andy Gorams! There’s only two Andy Gorams!”
    (after the Rangers goalkeeper who suffered from schizophrenia)

  14. “The days of chucking bananas at the black players”? Not Leeds fans . . . surely?!

    I will never forget a visit to Portsmouth, in the eighties, when – during a minute’s silence, impeccably observed up to that point – a Leeds fan screamed out at the Pompey centre-half, in the thickest of Yorkshire brogues:

    “Blaaaaaake, you fooking n*gger!”

    Though it didn’t stop “Big” Noel joining us a few years later. And Leeds fans never abused their own black players . . . at least not when they were playing well. 😉

    My favourite footie songs . . .

    The one sung to the former Chelsea assistant manager, who had just done time for sex with an underage girl:

    “There’s only one Graham Rix, only one Graham Rix,
    With a packet of sweets and a cheeky smile, Rixie is a fooking paedophile!”

    The witty ditty sung by Spurs fans to Jurgen Klinsmann:

    “Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cheroo,
    You were a Nazi, but now you’re a Jew!”

    And, last but not least, the eleven verses of “Posh Spice is a slapper”, with one for each Leeds player. So, for instance:

    “Posh Spice a slapper, her p*ssy’s wet and smelly,
    And when she’s shagging Beckham, she thinks of Gary Kelly.”

    Genius!

  15. Sickest chant I’ve ever heard at football was some years ago when the now defunct (?) Maidstone United were visiting Barnet. There was a Thalidomide linesmen that day who only had half an arm. Every bad decision he made in favour of the home team provoked a chorus of “Linesman, Linesman give us a wave” from the visiting fans.

    Other ones that come to mind are Arsenal fans rejigging “you couldn’t score in a brothel” to “score with your brother” directed at John Fashanu, and the same fans’ rendition of the Monty Python song (Always look on the runway for ice) at Old Trafford.

    Another below the belt one is the Adebayor /Sloop John B ditty recently adopted by Arsenal fans but originally conceived by someone else (Spurs??)

  16. David Prager

    As a Hammers fan, I think we were the first team to have a black player – Clyde Best in the early 70’s. (We were also the first to have an Israeli – Mordechai Spiegler).
    I’ll never forget a league cup semi-final when he (Clyde) took a penalty against Stoke in a league Cup semi-final – and missed.
    There was a stunned silence around the ground broken only by a shouted call from the North Bank in a thick Carribean accent: “Oy, get back on de buses Clyde!”
    Wonderful…..

  17. Henri Berest

    The Rix one has been owned by Wenger for a while now. There’s also a variation on for C*mpbell going:
    ” with a packet of sweets and a cheeky grin, C*mpbell loves bollocks on his chin”

  18. The name Albert Johanneson obviously never reached Upton Park! Though very far from being English football’s first black player, he is considered by most to be the first truly influential one and was the first to appear in an FA Cup Final.

    Rather amusing that Henri – who was just commenting about “the intention to insult” and “line[s being] drawn” – is now submitting lyrics about schizophrenic ex-pros, Norwich families “f**ck[ing] one another” and “bollock[s] on chin[s]”!! 😉

  19. My current bout of blogger’s block – the longest I have suffered – does not preclude the occasional shorter effort: E-mailed to the Tel Aviv Whites just now, under the subject “Shrews and Sewer Rats: Season 2012/13” . . .

    Fellow Whites,

    Gut voch, and welcome to yet another season (the fifth, I believe) of this marvellous – if not always overly interactive! – list.

    Our members hail from corners of the world as far apart as Melbourne, Buenos Aires and Doncaster, and include the country’s expert on sperm, its least sexy TV presenter, as well as the son of the editor of the Encyclopedia Judaica . . . all of us United in our foolhardiness to have chosen both Israel and Leeds, making us amongst the few Whites whose country is even more likely to go out of existence than their football team!

    It has been a good start (at least) to the new season, with a 4-0 League Cup win, this afternoon, against the mighty Shrews (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/19123956). And our new “Sewer Sub” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/19225390) made his first appearance, off the bench.

    I hope to see some of you during the season, which I hope will prove more enjoyable than most of the last five! And, as usual, I will be delighted to add new members to the list, if you know of any (as well as to remove you, if you so wish).

    Marching on Be’yachad,

    El Presidente

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s