I think there is a little misconception from supporters of other teams what ‘Dirty Leeds’ is all about and what it means to us Leeds fans. It’s a term that comes from a different era, football of the 60s and 70s when the pitches were heavy, the ball was hard and the tackles were tough. You needed to be tough to play the game, even the skilful players had to be tough, you needed to earn the right to play and that’s what Leeds United did.
The foundation was a defence of Charlton and Hunter, the latter of course renowned as Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter. The midfield was marshalled by the two players who epitomize the ‘Dirty Leeds’ mantra for me; Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles. There is no doubting the ferocity of Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles was tough but my god he could play. They could all play that Leeds team, you only need to watch them demolish Southampton in 1972 to see that.
Every great Leeds team has had a hard centre to it, be it Bremner and Giles; Jones and Batty; Bowyer, Dacourt and Batty. But they weren’t dirty teams, they were hard, competitive and tough but they could play football too. To this day Leeds fans are always going to love a tough hardworking player who can play a bit too. We don’t like shirkers round these parts.
It’s an aspect of play that has been missing somewhat from recent Leeds sides, we’ve had the odd player; Paddy Kisnorbo playing on with blood seeping from his head; Richard Naylor kicking Wayne Rooney but we’ve perhaps not seen the ‘Dirty Leeds’ ethos across the whole team. Finally this season I see a Leeds side with bite again and also one that can play football.
Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson at the back are the rock the team is built on. Jansson already a fans favourite with his work rate, getting stuck in, putting his body on the line;
The tough streak continues in midfield with Liam Bridcutt, even young Kalvin Phillips isn’t afraid to get stuck in. This is a Leeds team that get stuck in, puts the tackles in and puts their bodies on the line. We are second in the attempted tackles stats, only behind Nottingham Forest and second in terms of number of shots blocked behind Rotherham.I would play against Rotherham even if I only had one leg, nothing will stop me now. I am a little bit tired now, that is normal after a game in the Championship. This type of football kills my body but I like it, I really like playing this type of football.
Leeds are now not a team to get bullied, we earn the right to play in a competitive league and our attacking play benefits from this. It’s nice to see a Leeds team getting stuck in on the pitch, every Leeds fan can get behind that.