The power of the People

by

                                     The Power of the People

There is one particular match at Elland Road that stands out more to me for the interval than the match itself. I remember it was against Newcastle United and it was in the early part of the present century when Leeds were in the premier League before our last relegation. It’s a long time ago but I have remembered it all these years.

It so transpired that a local motor car agency, which shall remain nameless (it was Dixons) had taken to advertising their product by driving one of their cars around the perimeter of the Elland Road football pitch at half time. It was usually a little yellow Fiat bedecked in the company’s logo; the idea was that some lucky football fan could win the car by their skill at kicking a football.

The competition involved stringing a sheet across the whole of the goal at the Kop end of the ground, this sheet in addition to providing another advertising board for the company had three holes in it, on the left about half way up the goal was a hole about two feet in diameter on the right was another hole about four feet in diameter and in the centre a tiny hole hardly bigger than the size of the football itself.

idea was for three fans to be selected at random out of the crowd and invited to come down onto the pitch and try with three shots each to win the car. On the field was a white suited master of ceremonies complete with a microphone prancing about and addressing the crowd in a mock American accent in a way only white suited pillocks with microphones can.

The idea was that if a shot went through one of the larger holes the guy or the girl would win a replica Leeds United shirt or meal at a popular restaurant depending on which one of the larger holes they were successful in scoring through.  If they were lucky enough to kick the ball through the two larger holes and the little one, which would be indeed luck for even the guys playing in the match would not have had enough skill to do that as the tiny hole was hardly large enough to allow the ball to be passed through by hand, if in the unlikely event of he/she being successful on kicking the ball through all three holes they would win the car that was being driven around the ground. Dixons had increased the difficulty as previously someone had won the car which obviously had cost them real money and I imagine wasn’t in their plans, hence they required the fan to shoot through all three holes, surely an impossibility. On this particular day a lad in a bright yellow jersey had been called out of the crowd and he managed to score through the tiny hole with his first shot. We all cheered, somehow he then managed to shoot through one of the bigger holes as well and for good measure he scored through the third hole too with his last shot, it was a phenomenal achievement, I would like to have bet that none of the professional players playing in the actual match could have matched that. We all cheered like mad and yellow jersey was holding his hands above his head in triumph he had won the car. Then this berk in the white suite who must have received some information through his headphones walks up to the lad in an uninteresting manner and says, ’Hard luck you shot the balls through the holes in the wrong order you do not win the car,’ and straight away moved onto another subject brushing off the lad’s disappointment as if it were of no consequence. The lad was obviously disappointed and slouched off back to the west stand you could see his yellow jersey making his way back up the terracing. Surely his had been such an astonishing achievement that the order in which he had scored them was obviously of no consequence. In the space of a few moments he had won and lost a car.   

Then almost imperceptibly a murmur could be heard around the ground which turned into audible ‘boo’ low at first but beginning to swell louder and louder with every minute. The prat in the white suite tried to ignore it and continued spouting on about something else but no one was taking any notice of him now, his voice was being drowned even though he had the microphone  such was the extent of the sound it could not be ignored.

The chant then turned from booing to;

 ‘Give the lad his f………g car! Give the lad his f……….car!’  It reached a mighty crescendo and the Newcastle fans joined in too, nothing could be heard from the public address system above the din. It continued right until the players came out for the second half and still went on. White suite was obviously flustered he didn’t know what to do it is perhaps unfair to put all the blame on the lad – he was literally left in the middle by the sponsors to take all the flack but the dismissive way he had shunted yellow jersey aside won him few friends  and now he had to pay with the situation from he’ll.

The way things were going there was no way the match could have commenced against such a barrage. Finally white coat managed to get across that he’d received a message from Peter Ridsdale – the Leeds United chairman and still a good guy at the time – that he would personally pay for the lad his car – great public relations. We all cheered, Yellow jersey came skipping down again from the west stand receiving an ovation all the way down for white suite to finally tip up the keys. That it subsequently turned out that he couldn’t drive was incidental. The point is if the crowd had remained quiet the lad wouldn’t have got the car he so justly deserved. It was down to the people who recognised the injustice and used its united power to re-adjust the outcome. On this day I was proud to count myself part of:

                                                    THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE

                      (I wonder if anyone else remembers that day?)

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4 Responses to “The power of the People”

  1. dfarnill@bigpond.com Says:

    Peter, what an absolutely marvelous event, how could anyone who was there have forgotten it? I am amazed that even here in Oz I had not heard of it. It has all the ingredients of a great legend. A clever advertising stunt, an amazing probability teaser – what is the difference in chance of three in strict order compared with any sequence. The bastardry of the car company, the unfortunate plight of the man in the white coat – the meat in the sandwich position who had to mediate between the boss above and the people below, and the magnificent outcome of generosity that probably reaped more favorable publicity than money could buy. Thanks for this story. I wonder if anyone remembers the result of the match between Leeds and Newcastle?

  2. peterwwood Says:

    You’re right Doug, I can’t remember the result of the match myself, nor can I remember anyone else commenting about the event mentioned.

  3. Elaine Beaumont Says:

    Honest ? Bet he would soon be down to the driving school for lessons. I wouldn’t have dared be ‘White suit ‘, I’ll have to ask my friend about that tale. Someone must remember ! Have a good month. Elaine x

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. su6glover@talktalk.net Says:

    Over to you Mel

    Don’t know if you’re interested in Football but I know you like this East Leeds Memories

    Hope your both well

    Sue

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