The phrase ‘supply chain issues’ holds multitudes, and over the weekend the Daily Mail went into this quagmire of meaning to find a reason why Leeds United’s new replica kits are hard to get. find: the shirts fell from a boat.
The arrival of Leeds United shirts has been delayed – after shipping containers on a boat were used to bring them back from South East Asia submerged in the sea.
A morning trying to determine the truth of this claim only taught me that a sailor’s life is dangerous and that maritime accidents happen more often than most people care to know. Best wishes to our brave friends at sea. Are there thousands of Leeds shirts at the bottom of the ocean, though? Uh, maybe? But let’s assume so, because adversity means opportunity and there’s a way to dance this mess around until it becomes a positive thing for the Peacocks.
I know from the B-52’s Rock Lobster song that the following creatures can be found on the ocean floor: fruit bat, catfish, robin, piranha, narwhal, bikini whale. Some of them are made up but the fact is that at the bottom of the sea lies a largely unexplored ecology, home to species whose habits and interests we can barely imagine. But I can imagine they would all love football, who doesn’t? According to the US government’s National Ocean Service, “91% of ocean species have yet to be classified”, and there is no consensus on how many to name: estimates vary wildly between 10 and 300 million. The Smithsonian told me that even at a relatively shallow depth of 3,000 feet live ten billion tons of fish, and while I think counting the population per ton robs some of these creatures of their individual agency, it’s less important than the light in a trader’s eyes when you indicate the number of potential Premier League broadcast subscribers.
An untapped market of this size is the dream of any football club, and to help establish Leeds United as a global footballing superpower, I am volunteering to learn scuba diving, travel to the last known location from our lost shipping container, descend to the depths of the ocean until I find 10,000 sea creatures wearing replica Leeds United shirts without knowing a thing about Joffy Gelhardt or Elland Road, and I starts telling them about Leeds United Football Club. I’m confident that I’m the right person for the job because, as you may know if you’ve ever received a text from me, my favorite emoji is the squid. Not the octopus! I just feel like the way he leans back and waves those tentacles in the air is the perfect punctuation mark to end or answer any point. Say something out loud to a friend now, then throw your arms up and wave like this at the end, and you’ll see how fitting it is. But don’t start using it in your lyrics because that’s my thing. I would use this prior appreciation of sea life to connect with the squid first, and with eight long limbs, the squids will easily master the Leeds salute.
The resulting benefits may not be immediately apparent, but it is important that football clubs take a long-term view to abandon so-called ‘legacy supporters’. Reports from 2020 suggested rising sea levels could mean, by 2050, that 23 of England’s 92 football pitches would be flooded every year, and indicators of accelerating climate change since suggest that more stadiums could be affected sooner. Elland Road, despite being built alongside the Wortley Beck culvert which flooded the Lowfields behind what is now the East Stand (and having a haunted well under the north-west corner of the pitch), is quite a distance to the inland so it can survive in the years to come when teeming ocean life tires of being confined to its undersea dominance, adapts to what’s left of Earth’s atmosphere, and lands in d huge armies ready to claim the remaining terra firma. If mankind is doomed to submit to the rule of conquering sea monsters, isn’t it better that they are fans of Leeds? Preferential treatment from future water lords could be our best hope of dislodging Manchester City from the top of the Premier League, as Erling Haaland enters his now partly mechanized 30th season. What’s more, if all those fish are still wearing the 2022 home shirt in 2050, they’ll be desperate to buy the newer one, putting Leeds United in a strong position to swap replica kits for handfuls of grain credits, drinking water and fuel. We’ll be renaming the stadium after Peter Haddock, electing a narwhal as club president, and changing the club badge to a cartoon of a saluting squid. I believe this will be the best path for Leeds United’s success in the second half of this century and so it’s a good thing the container has sunk. ⬢