GG quote

Things get messy sometimes but mostly, when the dust has settled, some good comes out of it.

I’m writing this as ‘Phil from Moortown, Leeds’ rather than ‘Phil from the council’, although sometimes I can see it’s difficult to tell. More on that here. Does that matter? On this occasion; yes – big time.

On Friday night, my football team – Leeds United, got itself in a huge mess. The story is still unfolding but in summary the club announced it had sacked the manager and then yesterday announced it hadn’t. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Messy, very messy and a bit embarrassing for the club, the fans and the city. It made me feel embarrassed to come from Leeds. Stupid I know, but true. I care about my club and my city. It’s times like these that you find out how much. Twitter and various other forums lit up with unanimous condemnation of what had happened. Some immediately disassociated themselves with the club, something they had loved for years. They will probably return.

What I find fascinating is that people will give their opinion more freely when a perceived injustice happens. Why wouldn’t they; they care? I and plenty of others have associations to many different bits of Leeds. We are potentially part of lots of different discussions about what’s happening in and to our city. In my own way, I’m bought into the Leeds ‘best city’ aspiration. Why wouldn’t I be; I live here, it’s my home town and I want to be proud of it.

I usually say I am proud of it which takes us back to the messy bit. I wasn’t on Friday.

This week as ‘Phil from the council’, it was suggested I share my thoughts on Leeds’ bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023 and post them in a certain place. I’m honoured that people feel my writing and opinions may be of interest. On this occasion I thought there were others more suitably placed to provide content and more suitable places where the discussion had already started. And it wouldn’t have been much of a post from me, cos I can’t see many reasons why not to bid and I don’t really understand the intricacies of what culture is or isn’t. In summary, I’m on the ‘it’s a no brainer’ side of the fence, let’s bid. As I said, not a long or interesting post.

Then Friday night happened, and I’m Phil from Moortown again. Once the events at Elland Road had sunk in, I thought of the words in the image above, printed large on a wall at the National Museum of Football.

This post has now become that piece I was asked to write about the culture bid. It’s not in the place where the other discussions are either. I’m not paid to give ‘my’ personal opinions about something, but Friday night meant I’ll give them for free, and this seemed the best place.

The way I see things, and I’ve said it before, Leeds is made up of many different things and sectors. Perhaps its diversity is what makes it special, different, unique. Maybe the capital of culture bid is more about what culture might mean to some rather than what it might be assumed to be about….but more importantly what happens as a result of bidding. Perception meeting reality perhaps and how it may get people talking and sharing more.

We may all identify with different causes, loves, share mistrusts even. We clearly share our passions when we need to and I like that others get to see that and can join in if they wish – that’s what matters – that’s us being us, perhaps that’s our culture.

For me, Friday night was as much about my city as it was about a football club. My football club is as much about culture as opera is.

‘We are [all] Leeds’, irrespective of which group we believe we belong to or don’t.