Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Tough Love for Leeds
on 13 September 2011
Clavane's love for Leeds, his tough love, is always there. Sure, it's not just about football, or football in context: the book is about tribes from the point of view of an active member, with sharply focused looks at particular tribal attitudes. It is properly biased in favour of `community cohesion' (a pair of words widely used but seldom fully understood in the world of education) and against those who seek to wreck it, like the oddly-named Service Crew, the notorious gang of Leeds hooligans which brawled its racist and xenophobic way across the country a quarter of a century ago. Clavane would endorse the words of Nelson Mandela, who said, "Sport has the power to change the world, the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else can....it breaks down racial barriers...it laughs in the face of all discrimination."
The book is awash with background information and interesting well-I-never-knew-that details, in addition to predictable coverage of the notable LUFC bosses of the past few decades. There is plenty on Don Revie, for example, to supplement what can be found in David Peace's The Damned United, or rather to put a few things straight. Clavane goes over well-known facts, adds a few more and exposes some false legends. There is also a fair amount on the half-forgotten Albert Johanneson, one of the first great black players in English football, who really needs a good biography written about him, and his fellow South African Lucas Radebe, he of the Kaizer Chiefs, the boy from Soweto who became one of the Premier League's finest defenders and whose memory is still revered in Leeds.
One of the really significant aspects of Promised Land is the series of connections made with the literature which has come out of the city and its environs - Billy Liar for example, or Tony Harrison's poem V. There are also references to sociological works like the well-worn Uses of Literacy and Nick Davies's more lurid The Dark Heart, which describes how the street children, beggars, muggers and joy riders of Leeds all come creeping out at night, and to books on architecture. I get the feeling that Clavane could write an excellent illustrated guide to local architecture. So the book is not just for a run-of-the-mill fan who might put down the Daily Mirror and pick up a book (picture it) on the coach to a match.
It's fluent and engaging, with a heart worn on the sleeve, which puts it on a different level to some other books about sport, free of jargon and automaton journalism and more than accessible to people who have a flimsy knowledge of soccer. People who have never been to Leeds in their lives would enjoy it as well!