Tag Archives: Leeds United

Accadia kerfuffle: Enough with this football mishigas!

Who says it is only working class goyim who fight on holiday? Or that only Catholics and Protestants mix religion, football and violence?

No. It is not only in sectarian Glasgow that they have Troubles . . . oy, have we got them too! And the tattle amongst Anglo-Jewish Passover holidaymakers in Israel this past week has been the fracas, during the North London derby, between English guests at the pricy Dan Accadia Hotel in genteel Herzliya Pituach (the cost of being a football hooligan has clearly gone up!)

According to melchett mike sources, the cause of the melee – during the course of which one hotel guest was punched in the face by another and then, in more typical North-West London Jewish hard man style, bitten (yes, bitten!) by his friend – was a disputed front row seat for Tottenham v Arsenal, shown on a big screen at the 5-star establishment, a few miles north of Tel Aviv.

English Passover guests in the Accadia pool room

One such source (or, rather, snitch . . . ex-Hasmo of course) says that the two assailants – at least one of whom he believes to be from Hampstead Garden Suburb, and “in property” – “behaved, and even looked, more like Tony Soprano and “Big Pussy” [appropriately for the biter] Bonpensiero than your typical Accadia clientele . . . even the French ones!”

Accadia security, more used to dealing with suspicious packages than lary Londoners, had to be summoned to calm matters, though tensions continued over the following days. (melchett mike would, naturally, welcome further eyewitness accounts [even anonymous] of the incident by comment below . . . for news purposes only, you understand.)

The standard response (after surprise, i.e., that the volume of food inevitably consumed by the pair had allowed one to throw a punch and the other to bite into anything else) of Anglos at ‘our’ hotel in Tel Aviv – to where the news had spread faster than a plague of locusts – was “What a disgrace!”

Even if such behaviour is rather untypical for your average Anglo-Jewish football fan, it is, nonetheless, unlikely to occur during a screening of the Ashes (cricket) or the Six Nations (rugby union); and it is endemic, for me, of the stupefying loss of all proportion exhibited by so many Anglo-Jewish males towards the game described by Hasmonean’s Legendary French master, not entirely unfairly, as “22 grown men chasing a pig’s bladder.”

In my childhood and youth, no one was more meshugge about football than me. I lived and breathed Leeds United, “going home and away” (including abroad) as soon as I could. But even though I still follow the club’s results keenly, and am founder and “El Presidente” – unelected and unimpeachable, Muammar Gaddafi-style – of the Tel Aviv Whites, I would like to think that, with age (and also, perhaps, time spent in Israel), I have gained some perspective. And it is not merely because I now live over 2,000 miles from Elland Road, or the equally indisputable fact that Leeds are now shite (they were throughout my youth).

Aside from the illusory escape from the mundane, the only thing of any value that my former obsession gave me was the ability, at law school, to memorize scores of cases by association: after all, if the litigants’ namesakes had not featured in the same mid-70s Derby side, how else would I ever have remembered Powell v Lee?!

These days, on coming into contact with Anglo-Jews still living in England – or even just seeing their Facebook updates – I cringe at, and am even sickened by, their all-consuming obsession with football, their seeming inability to discuss virtually anything else, and how they encourage the same in their (male, at least) children.

"Not now, Natalie . . . the footie's on!"

And, on my increasingly infrequent visits to Blighty, I am always flabbergasted at how the most banal snippets of information, on footballer-clients, from a players’ agent acquaintance can so enthral the rapt male audience to which he so conceitedly plays. No one would even notice, I always think to myself, were Natalie Portman to walk in and get her kit off.

I have also observed, on these visits, how even Orthodox rabbis now appear to believe that they will only gain congregant interest if they couch their sermons in football talk (or is it, rather, the only language that they think shul-goers will understand?)

My cousin recently returned from his own visit to London with the tale of how he had witnessed the son of Orthodox friends, in their Hendon back garden, mimicking his footballing hero by crossing himself (though without understanding the significance) every time he took a penalty kick!

My late father, a good sportsman, and uncle, by all accounts one of Irish Jewry’s all-time finest (their ability, tragically, skipped our generation), always instilled in us a sense of proportion when it came to sport (as mere spectator or fan, at any rate). And any thoughts I may have had of my favourite Leeds United player attending my bar mitzvah – as was once de rigueur amongst Anglo-Jews (photographs of proud 13-year-olds and sheepish-looking gentiles appeared in every week’s JC) – would have been swiftly, and rightly, pooh-poohed.

The standard of Israeli football (not to mention commentary) is, of course, very far from Premier League; though, to coin a popular Hebrewism, zeh mah she’yesh (literally, “this is what there is”). But the only folk who display any real enthusiasm for football here are market stallholders and their ilk. Indeed, most Israelis with any education to speak of would not dream of exposing their children to the aggression, racism and obscenities seen and heard in this country’s stadia . . . and it is far milder than that found in English grounds.

"Now where did I put those damn dentures?!"

Quite apart from anything else, obsessive following of English clubs, these days, is an exercise in idiocy: The professional game is now no more than Big Business and an ego trip for Russian oligarchs, Arab sheikhs, American tycoons, and – to my particular regret – dodgy wheeler-dealers (some may prefer malevolent old c*nts) like Ken Bates (above). And any loyalty once witnessed amongst footballers, now just a bunch of greedy mercenaries, is a thing of the very distant past.

So what exactly are we now supporting?

Perversely, however, many Anglo-Jews appear to show an even greater interest in football than they (and we, as children) ever did. And how many of them give even a tenth as much of their resources, time and energy to communal, Zionist, or, indeed, any social or charitable causes (i.e., things that really matter) as they do – in season tickets, Sky subscriptions, and related paraphernalia – to ‘their’ football clubs? (Or is it merely that there is a lot more to ‘escape’ from, these days?)

Before dismounting my high horse, to the idiots at the Accadia . . .

Next Passover (if they’ll have you back), you’d be better advised to take an evening tour of the Jewish Quarter (or such like) – we have real heroes here, you know! – or even one last waddle to the buffet than to disgrace yourselves . . . and all of us.

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My Sporting Greats XI

[Having a weakness for lists, I compiled the following in response to an invitation from Haaretz sports writer Jerrold Kessel, in his weekend On the Couch column, for readers’ “Dream Teams.” Mine was published in Friday’s paper . . . replete, needless to say, with piss-poor editing – how dare those clowns edit melchett mike! – and typos. The following, with a few additions (essentially photographs and video links), is what I actually sent Mr. Kessel.]

An eleven (plus manager), in more or less chronological order, of sporting characters, events and memories which left their mark on this sports nut . . .

1. Peter Jones  The late BBC Radio football commentator, who always painted the scene so vividly and with such a wonderful turn of phrase, is responsible for my love of the medium (my first career). As a boy, I relished nothing more than listening to Jones’s Welsh brogue, snuggled under the duvet with my ridiculously large first radio. (Listen here to Jones’s report in the immediate aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, from which it is said he never recovered – he collapsed and died, less than a year later, while commentating on the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race.)

2. Derek Randall  The clown prince of English cricket, and the greatest fielder I ever saw. He will be remembered for his brilliant 174 in the 1977 Centenary Test, featuring his defiant cap-doffing to Dennis Lillee (right) following yet another bouncer. I spotted “Arkle” a few years ago, walking around the perimeter of Lords, and just had to go up and say “thanks.” (View Randall in action here.)

3. World Cup Finals 1978  My ‘first’ World Cup. From the wonderful BBC theme tune, to Peru’s opening game dismantling of the Jocks (whose manager Ally MacLeod had been bigging-up their chances), to Archie Gemmill’s wonder goal against the Dutch . . . everything about the tournament, in Argentina, was pure magic to a 10-year old. And England weren’t even there!

Mario Kempes scores for Argentina against Holland in the 1978 World Cup Final

4. Bjorn Borg  The masterful, ice-cool Swede, who would simply glide across the court, was the nearest I ever came to attraction to a male! And his 1980 Wimbledon final victory over John McEnroe – with its incredible 18-16 tiebreak, lasting 20 minutes, won by the American after he had saved 5 match points – was pure theatre.

5. Miruts Yifter  The Ethiopian, nicknamed “the Shifter,” who won 5,000 and 10,000 metre Golds at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, would sit at the back of the field and only “kick” in the final 300 metres, reducing BBC commentator David Coleman to near-hysteria (listen to final laps in links) and me and my father to tears of joy. Yifter would not reveal his age – guessed to be anywhere between 33 and 42 – telling reporters, “Men may steal my chickens, men may steal my sheep, but no man can steal my age.”

6. Botham’s Ashes, 1981  Dismissed for a “pair” in, and as England captain following, the 2nd Test at Lords (with England one-nil down in the series), his heroics thereafter – including the series-changing 149 not out in the 3rd Test at Headingley, 5 for 1 in the 4th at Edgbaston, and 118 in the 5th at Old Trafford – were the stuff of fairytale.

Ian Botham bags another Aussie scalp, during his spell of 5 for 1 at Edgbaston

7. Rugby League Challenge Cup Final 1985: Wigan 28 Hull 24  If there has been a better match in any sport (never mind either rugby code), I haven’t seen it. Enjoy the highlights, featuring Ray French’s exhilarating commentary (“As they say in the north, he could sidestep a thrupenny bit, this lad!”)

8. Paul Gascoigne  A genius of a footballer (for memorable instance), whose off-field antics – for example (and there are many), telling his new employer, the president of Lazio, that he looked like Russ Abbot – are the stuff of legend. And, of course, he cried in Italy.

Gazza celebrates his goal against Scotland, Euro '96

9. Sid Waddell  The wonderfully entertaining Geordie-born, Cambridge-educated darts commentator. During a match at Frimley Green: “There couldn’t be more excitement in here if Jesus Christ walked in and ordered a cheese sandwich!” Brilliant.

10. Geoffrey Boycott  Like French and Waddell, a northerner “worth the entrance money on his own” . . . not for his scientific approach to batting, but his refreshingly outspoken, no-nonsense views (here on Steve Harmison) and “corridor of uncertainty” insight from the commentary box.

11. FA Cup 3rd Round (3.1.2010): Manchester Utd 0 Leeds United 1  Upsetting the Great Satan, then two divisions above, at Old Trafford was a reminder of the special type of joy that only sport can bring . . . and I never tire of watching this.

Leeds players run to Jermaine Beckford following his winning goal at Old Trafford

Manager: Ian Holloway  The Blackpool boss may be considered a strange choice of Sporting Great, but he is a rare beacon of humour and sanity in a sport – now dominated by money – with precious little of either.

I invite readers of melchett mike to add their own Sporting Greats XI – of anyone and/or anything sporting – by comment below.

Raid on Terrorist Flotilla: Footie Songs Say It Best

“No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us, we don’t care.
We are Millwall, super Millwall, we are Millwall from the Den.”

Strangely enough, this ostensibly inane football song (full rendition) was reverberating in my head throughout yesterday, as I watched and heard the world reaction to the IDF’s storming of the terrorist flotilla.    

Even if the execution of the raid was ill-conceived (and I fear it was), it was justified (see my previous post, Dirty seamen stain Dunkirk weekend). But, for sustained, exaggerated and unfair criticism and singling-out by the media, one can easily substitute “Millwall” with “Israel”. And like the demonization of white, working class, Cockney football fans – an easy target for the press – that of the Jewish state has also created a siege mentality amongst its citizens and supporters. 

The fans of my football team, Leeds United, also have much of this mentality (incidentally, we have also had – and I was there – our own bitter experience of the Turks [see photos below]). But, when it comes to international Islamofascism, working class football fans appear to have a far better, more intuitive sense of right and wrong than the so-called “liberal”, Guardian-reading elite who so patronise them. Indeed, many of the friends and acquaintances I have made through my years of following Leeds United have remarked to me how much they respect and admire Israel for dealing with Fundamentalists in a way that they wish their own government would. 

Christopher Loftus (top) and Kevin Speight, RIP, hacked to death in the centre of Istanbul in April 2000. Their killers still roam free.

My inner voice was also chanting, yesterday, the words that we Leeds fans direct at our team when, as so often, it underperforms. “What the f*ck is going on?!” was not, however, aimed at the Israeli government or our brave young soldiers, but at the horrible media bias assailing my senses. Anyone who knows anything about Turkey can well imagine (if he/she can bear to) its reaction to another country daring to send aid to the Kurds – who are forbidden even to give their offspring Kurdish names – or supporting Kurdish claims for an independent state. But I won’t regurgitate my contempt for these sickeningly hypocritical knuckle draggers – it is all here, here, and here – only to say that Israel’s (former?) strategic cooperation with Turkey, a marriage of convenience, is no less a cause for shame than that with apartheid South Africa.  

The scenes from the deck of the boarded vessel were a horrible reminder for Israelis of the October 2000 Ramallah lynching (this Israeli Channel 2 footage requires no translation). And, by yesterday evening, as I became even more incensed by the double standards of the international reaction – and, especially, that of the Arab tyrannies and the two-faced Turks – I found succour in the soldier’s song, also appropriated by football fans: “F*ck ‘em all! F*ck ‘em all! The long and the short and the tall . . .” 

I ended a pretty horrible day with an adapted rendition of “If you hate Leeds United, have a go” (to the tune of She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain). 

The terrorists had “ha[d] a go”. Nine (do we have a minyan yet?) are on their way to their 72 (I prefer them younger myself) Virgins. And I, for one, am not going to mourn them or apologise. 

Yes, f*ck ‘em all!

Mr. Erdogan . . . you’re the Christmas turkey!

Turkey is known more for its kebabs (and the dubious sexual preferences and practices of its menfolk) than its national sense of humour. The recent utterances of Turkey’s Prime Minister, however, bear all the hallmarks of a comic genius.

In January, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey’s Islamic ruling party, suggested that Qassam rockets fired from Gaza don’t kill.

His latest one-liner is that Israel’s war against Hamas and its rockets constitutes “a serious crime against humanity”.

Mr. Erdogan is clearly trying to prove, single-handedly, that the origins of the North American slang turkey – “a stupid or inept person” (Concise Oxford Dictionary) – do not derive from the bird eaten on Christmas; because both Erdogan and his country, stuck in the Middle Eastern Middle Ages, know all too well about “serious crime[s] against humanity”.

Not even mentioning (as Turks themselves don’t) the Armenian genocide and ongoing persecution of the Kurds, Turkey is a serial violator of human rights (the reason for its delayed accession to the EU). Blacklisting, on political, religious and sexuality grounds, is commonplace, as is torture, even murder, at the hands of the police. “Denigrating Turkishness” is prohibited, and many journalists and intellectuals have been victims of violent attacks and even assassinations. Forced virginity-testing for females was only outlawed as recently as 2002.

I had shocking first-hand experience of the primitive, barbaric side (there is another) of Turkey in 2000, on my first ever visit to the country, for the UEFA Cup semi-final between Galatasaray and Leeds United. On the evening before the game (a matter of minutes after I had started walking back to my hotel), Leeds fans Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were viciously stabbed to death (Loftus was stabbed 17 times) in Taksim Square, in the heart of Istanbul, by a knife-wielding mob, following allegations that the Turkish flag had been “disrespected”. Even if true, a nation that values a piece of cloth over human life needs to undertake some serious self-analysis. (Some of the Turkish press even glorified the killings, one headlining “We made their heads kiss the ground of our motherland.” Nice.)

Istanbul is a fascinating city (I have been four times now, and even had my heart broken there). But the Ottoman Empire has long since faded, and venturing outside of the major cities is, by all accounts, like finding oneself on the set of some Middle Eastern Deliverance.

Despite being only sixty years’ old, and rising out of the ashes of the Holocaust rather than a vast Empire, Israel is light years ahead of Turkey in the democratic stakes, and in virtually every other way. She provides Turkey with major assistance, including humanitarian (IDF search and rescue teams were to the fore in the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake), military, and intelligence (the Mossad helps Turkey track down Al Qaeda operatives in the region).

Mr. Erdogan, friendship works both ways. And friends support each other at times of need. Perhaps it is hard for you to comprehend (not being written in your holy Koran), but a genuine Jewish friend is better than a criminal Muslim one. You wouldn’t want to share an Efes Pilsen (alcohol-free, of course) with a Hamas terrorist any more than a PKK one.

Tomorrow

I took the day off work today. But I wish I hadn’t. It’s been a disaster. And it’s still not evening . . .

7:05 am: Dexxy and Stuey have slept enough. They decide that I have too. Little bastards.

7:15 am: Take them down for their walk. Huge clogs of soiled toilet paper are still spewing forth, excrementally, from the drain at the side of our building. It seems there cannot be a backside in Greater Tel Aviv left unrepresented.

7:55 am: Sit down for coffee at my “local”. I feel the women at the next table crowding me. Israelis do that. You are at the cash machine, and invariably ‘feel’ the person standing behind you. They have no concept of personal space over here. I pull a face, and feel I’ve made my point.

10:20 am: Moshe “the thieving plumber” (can there be a better example of a tautology?) comes to unblock the drain. He immediately says he’ll need an extra 100 shekels to clean up the toilet paper that has already flowed out of it (he must have thought, when providing his original quote, that we wouldn’t possibly want him removing so worthy a candidate for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art).

10:30 am: Moshe phones from downstairs. The festering cesspit greeting his arrival was obviously insufficient giveaway . . . he’ll need a further 100 shekels, because the blockage is “particularly bad”.

11 am: My induction to the gym. I joined on Friday, after my gay friend, Yossi, told me that I had to get my act together. Buying a new wardrobe and losing my keress [Hebrew for beer belly] was the gist of it. I am not doing the tight sleeveless vest and leather cap thing, so it was the gym or nothing. But I hate the places. The introductory circuit is thoroughly humiliating. As he watches my face get pinker with every pitiful exertion, the instructor downgrades the dumbbells from Macho Black to Girlie Pink. I want to tell Boris to f*ck off back to Uzbekistan. He informs me he’s the Israeli national wrestling champion. I decide not to.

1:30 pm: Head off with Dexx and Stu to MASH, to watch the satellite broadcast of Histon Town (it’s actually a village vs Leeds United, in the 2nd round of the FA Cup (the reason I took the day off).

1:55pm: Receive a text message from the pub’s owner, informing me that – in spite of the game having been advertised on the MASH website – it’s not being shown. When Roy, the most intelligent Tel Aviv White (no distinction in itself), phones to complain (I can become irrational during such conversations), he is informed that it is actually our fault for not having phoned to check yesterday. “Sorry” is not a word in the local consumer industry lexicon.

4 pm: My beloved Leeds United has lost, for the first time in its history, to a team from outside the Football League. And to a goal by a postman. If anybody knows where Histon is, will they please bloody tell me (what I do know is that it has a population of under 4,500, compared to the over 715,000 in Leeds).

4:10 pm: City, my last hope for rescuing the day, go one-nil down to United in the Manchester derby, which I am watching at the home of “Mad” Eddie (see The Tel Aviv Whites). Most Leeds fans would point Indian intelligence officers, searching for evil perpetrators, in the direction of Old Trafford rather than Pakistan.

5:16 pm: Injury time. City still losing. Eddie declares that he’ll let Dexxy and Stuey “do a Monica” on him – the “eat one’s hat” idiom obviously never reached Yorkshire – should City equalise.

5:17 pm: United’s goalkeeper makes a great point-blank save, denying City at the death. My last hope of a smile today vanishes. Eddie, just inches away from becoming “Mad, I Did Not Have Sex With Those Dogs” Eddie, breathes a huge sigh of relief (so do Dexxy and Stuey . . . they’d have had a good case for cruelty to animals).

On the bright side, I met a lovely woman yesterday evening, at the opening party for a new theatrical production of Oliver Twist (at least Fagin shouldn’t be portrayed too unkindly here), the latest project of legendary Israeli film director, Menachem Golan.

But I think I’ll call her tomorrow.

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.