THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

8 January ~ With this morning's news that Peter Ridsdale's Cardiff are facing a second winding up order we revisit a video made about his time at Leeds, watched by Taylor Parkes in WSC 259

Oh dear. Perhaps it's just hindsight that makes the title sound more like a boast than a statement of devotion? Nonetheless, 2001's My Leeds United is a queasy experience, a hagiography so contrived, so desperate to make Ridsdale seem like a regular guy, any sensible viewer would come away certain this was not a man to be trusted.

More than anything, though, it's incredibly boring – like many businessmen who make a fortune at a relatively young age, Peter appears not to have had the time to do anything interesting (at least, nothing he's prepared to share with us), and this Ian Harte-paced amble through his mundane life is punishing.

First, Peter Lorimer tells us how fantastic Peter Ridsdale is. Then Norman Hunter tells us how fantastic Peter Ridsdale is. Then Peter Ridsdale tells us how fantastic it was to stand on the terraces at Elland Road as a boy ("If it rained, you got soaked!") as a way of telling us how fantastic Peter Ridsdale is. "He's more than a fan," coos the voiceover, "as any fan will tell you." We take a dismal, drawn-out trip through his childhood, via shots of some typical Leeds back-to-backs (although Peter's childhood home turns out to be a slightly larger place round the corner). "We used to chalk wickets on the wall over there," he says wistfully. Even when Ridsdale was the toast of the city, was anyone interested in this crap?

Then a tour of Peter's old school, which goes on forever, interrupted only by autograph hunters (the voiceover points out just how many people asked for autographs, and you wonder where those scraps of paper are now), and Ridsdale boasting of his new role as chairman of Leeds Education Authority, owned by infamous outsourcing company Capita ("we've renamed it Education Leeds..."). Peter left school at 16 – and it feels like we too spend 11 years there – and went to work at Bryan's Fish Restaurant. Cue shots of an upmarket chippy, and more chat, as Peter guzzles his tea and tries to talk while swallowing haddock: "We mustn't ever forget our supporters..."

By this point, most of those supporters would probably have switched off. Which is a shame, as they'll have missed comic classics like this: "At the end of the day, if someone says ‘This is what I want to be paid' and this club can't afford it, we don't pay it"; "I try very hard to be open and honest with our supporters"; "My job is to make sure this club is in safe hands"; "We remember the years when we were in the wilderness, and realise that we have to build for sustained success." And most embarrassing of all: "Paul Robinson, I think, will turn out to be one of the greatest goalkeepers ever."

Still, as the closing caption makes clear, "Peter Ridsdale has received no fee and will receive no royalties from the sale of this video." Anyone daft enough to have bought this at the time can cling to that, at least.

Comments (2)
Comment by sam_vines 2010-01-08 16:15:06

If you visit any car boot sale in the Leeds area, you will see at least 3 copies of this on sale. Prices range from 50p to "Please God, somebody take it away"

Comment by battylad 2010-01-09 09:52:41

There was a quote from a PLC board member just after the wheels came off was PR could "Sell snow to Eskimos". He certainly did a number on the Leeds fans and to the Leeds players too. I was just reading Fowler's biography on how PR must have known how bad things were at the club before he gambled 20 million quid on Fowler and Seth Johnson, but Fowler was given and believed the same stories as everyone else. I have my own opinions and will get round to writing about it at somepoint, but If you want to read about PR's attempt to move from Elland Road, I did a peice here:

http://keepfighting.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/location-location-location/

Also a my retrospective on the fall out once the wheels came off...

http://keepfighting.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/portsmouth-crisis-leeds-to-parallels…/

Thanks for the memories and as for the DVD, I hear they make great coffee mug mats!

Related articles

Being an away fan in the home end requires a special kind of supporter
No other creature in nature has to master the intricacies of camouflage as completely as an away fan wishing in potentially hostile territory, as...
Neil Warnock proving budget cuts no barrier to ambition as he inspires Cardiff
Embed from Getty Images // Ahead of their derby clash with Bristol City, Cardiff find themselves in an unlikely automatic promotion race in what...
Naive and negative Thomas Christiansen was not Leeds’ only recent mistake
Embed from Getty Images // New manager Paul Heckingbottom feels like a good fit at Elland Road but poor player recruitment means he’ll be...