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.