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Leeds a fans view
Promised Land: A Northern Love Story - Anthony Clavane
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
Promised Land: A Northern Love Story - Anthony Clavane
Advantages: Balanced and honest assessment
Disadvantages: Didn't change what happened!!
For my sins I am a lifelong fan of Leeds United. I do not believe you can ever change allegiances so I have seen my team have more ups and down through the years and Leeds seem to have more than most. This fanaticism means I must keep up to date or as much as I can with everything about the club and its players. With this in mind I was really happy to receive a gift of this book from my boss another Leeds fan once he had finished with it.
==About the book:==
The book follows Leeds United through the eyes of one of its fans Anthony Clavane. The author a third generation Jew has grown up in Leeds and spent many a happy Saturday watching his favourite side. He displays his views and insight into the changes both at the Club and in the City itself. And being Leeds he focuses on the under achievement that has characterised both the City and the football club.
However the book is not simply about football it deals with the changing times in the City. The problems that have dogged it in turns of the slums and the attempts by the Council to turn the fourth largest city into a popular modern attraction that will bring the upwardly mobile to the place. Plus the problems both the Club and City have had not only with the way it has been perceived but with racism and violence that is associated with them both.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
Well I guess its no surprise that a book written by a Leeds fan I would enjoy and find fascinating. After all it is the Club for better or worse and it usually is worse I love. I thought it was a well written account of what has happened to the author, the Club and the City during the writers lifetime.
I really admired the honest way he wrote about what had happened to Leeds through the years. As I believe it would be all to easy for a fan to only tell you only half the story, the story from a biased fans perspective. But the author did not do that at all he was realistic enough to tell the other side, to advise why Leeds where such an unpopular Club, with their physical presence that earnt them the reputation of being 'Dirty Leeds'.
The book begins with an early history of both Leeds as the place and the football team, how the author had come to be born in the City after his Grandfather fled in 1900. I found it particularly interesting to learn about how these new Jewish settlers set about being part of the community. How starting in the worse slums they slowly moved up the ladder and began moving into nicer areas in the city and getting better jobs usually as in Tailoring. I enjoyed this background on Clavane family and it helped me understand a little more about how hard they had to work to improve their social positions. It also explained how Leeds as a football side had never achieved anything notable and it was a sport that was far less popular with the locals than Rugby or Cricket.
The story then went on to the most written about and famous period of Leeds United football club. The period when a young inexperienced manager called Don Revie took charge of the Club. This period beginning in the mid 1960's and carrying on till 1974 when the club changed from a very average team to one of the, if not the strongest and best teams in England and Europe. The author I felt was very level headed in his praise and criticism of the Club, providing for me some real insight into what life was like supporting them in a time of rapid changes both for the Club and the City.
He focused on the manager and how he was loved by the people of Leeds because he put the Club and its players above everything else and how over time he felt luck was always against them which led to paranoia.
The story then went on in less detail to deal with more wilderness years as the manager left and they struggled to live up to their previous success and how it became almost a chain around all associated with the Club's necks. The author showed how the Club and the City went into decline as manufacturing suffered. How the author fell out of love with the beautiful game as he witnessed racism first hand and how the Club really became associated with hooliganism and all that is bad about football.
This book is a real roller-coaster ride with a few real high points that fans nostalgically reminisce on and many lows that the author attempts and achieves to show how this mirrors the City in generals fortunes. For a fan like me it was a refresher on what had happened and helped me see it in a different view point. But I think it would be interesting for anyone be they a football fan or not because it is well written and it tells an interesting story of a Club and a City that had failed to be as successful as they should be given their population and their ambitions.
In some ways it was also a lesson to other football clubs not to follow the Leeds example and follow the Rainbow and chase a dream without balancing the books. I found this a hard reminder and how close the team came to being one of the biggest clubs in the country again and their spectacular fall from grace. How what should have been a very skilful young side should have been challenging for honours for years to come but instead where all sold off to rival clubs to pay the huge debts.
The book provided a real insight into the fortunes of both the Club and the City. How they have tried to re-invent both and how the changing world has effected them. But not only that how what has happened to both have effected its people. I found it particularly enlightening seeing all this through a Jewish fans eyes and how over this time the author has felt drawn to the place and drawn away from it at various times.
I suppose my one disappointment was it didn't change what had happened!! I am not used to knowing the end of the book before I get there and I almost hoped there would be a happy ending but it wasn't to be. Even if the author is positive about the future having survived the turbulent times.
I would certainly read this again but then this is a subject close to my heart. I think it was well written and interesting, proving even a dedicated fan a different perspective on what has happened at Leeds football club. Plus the author knew some interesting detail about the club which he shared and at the same time reminding me of some of the pain us fans have had to put up with. And even to those who hate the club I felt it was unbiased and a very honest account into what had happened since its formation.
I thought this was an excellent read although it pained me to be reminded of some of the bad times that the football club has experienced. I liked the author's honest approach to what has happened and I felt he gave a balanced account from both sides. Not sure if this will appear to the non football fan as I'm not sure there is enough on how it feels to be Jewish in Leeds and the changing City of Leeds, I suspect not.
Publisher: Yellow Jersey
Year of Publication: 2011
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS April 2012.
Summary: The ups and downs of Leeds United Football Club as seen by a fan
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