I was in Sheffield city centre this weekend. There were delays on the trams due to some rioting football fans, or probably more aptly, rioting rioting fans, since the football was probably just a superfluous precursor to the main event.
The reason for the fights soon became clear. Sheffield Wednesday were playing Leeds United, and naturally there is a huge tribal divide that exists between these two places, after all, the two cultures are so vastly different, which probably has something to do with the fact that the two cities are so far apart from each other. It’s inevitable that there will be culture clashes. Sheffield and Leeds are about thirty miles apart for god’s sake.
Their two worlds are just so different. Sheffield, Steel; Leeds, wool. Little wonder that these two disparate tribes clashed on Saturday. They just can’t comprehend each other’s crazily different worlds, and ignorance and fear have naturally led to hostility. Leeds, with its four universities, compared to Sheffield with a poultry two. These proud Sheffield men have never really recovered from this unjust imbalance. It was only a matter of time before war broke out. Then to add insult to injury, the Global and World Cities Research Network ranked Leeds as a Gammer World City, and the men of Sheffield were livid. They declared war on Leeds immediately, and also sent a sniffy letter to the Global and World Cities Network in which they told them where they could stick their Gammer World Cities ranking decision, and also pointed out the needless tautological nature of their name – surely global and world both mean the same thing? “I know we only have two universities,” they sarcastically wrote, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the education to realise a tautologically named organisation when we see one.” That would show them.
But it would take more than a strongly worded grammatically nitpicky letter to avenge the people of Leeds. The tribesmen of Sheffield donned their steel toe cap boots, and the tribesmen of Leeds responded by putting on their thickest woolly jumpers, as they prepared to do battle.
So, this Saturday, after the football match, the real action kicked off. It started with a man from Sheffield singing a self-composed song into a megaphone, all about the fact that Sheffield has the highest ratio of trees to people than any other European city. This has always been a sore point for the proud tribesmen of Leeds, who instantly became riled by the song. One of the men from the Leeds tribe punched the singing tree man in the face, and wrestled the megaphone from his grasp. He then began to sing his own self-composed song all about how Leeds was the second largest legal city in the UK, after London. Well, the proud tribesmen of Sheffield weren’t having this. A group of them charged towards the megaphone barer and began to kick him with their steel toe cap boots. The Leeds tribesman dropped the megaphone, but not before he’d shouted that he would sue his attackers, because being from Leeds he knew hundreds of lawyers.
By this point the fight had well and truly started. Ben and I were trying to get home, but stupid Ben was foolishly wearing a hat made from wool, which caused a group of Sheffield tribesmen to charge towards us, assuming us to be Leeds tribesmen. Neither me or Ben come from Sheffield or Leeds, but the hat had incurred the Sheffielders’ wrath. A man ripped it from Ben’s head, and urinated in it while singing an anti-wool song that had been passed down to him by his granddad, one of the proudest Sheffield tribesmen that ever lived.
We were now surrounded by Sheffield tribesmen, and I knew that we were for it. But then I had an idea. I produced my cane out of my bag, and frantically pointed to the steel tip on the end of it whilst shouting “steel, steel, steel!” Fortunately, this seemed to convince them that I was not a Leeds tribesman and I was safe, but Ben had been the wearer of the hat, and Ben did not have anything steel on him to appease the aggressions of these fervent Sheffielders. Fortunately, inspiration struck Ben, and just in the nick of time. He was just about to be kicked in the face by a Sheffielder’s steel toe cap boot, but assuaged his assailant by singing the chorus to I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor by Sheffield band the Arctic Monkeys. Instantly, the Sheffielders joined in, and Ben and I had no choice but to wave our hands in the air chanting the lyrics loudly and out of tune along with everyone else. Through cunning we had managed to escape our violent fate at the hands of the notoriously ruthless and fervent Sheffield tribesmen, but we were not out of the woods yet (which is not a pun on the amount of trees that Sheffield boasts. This is a serious story. Our lives are in danger, and now is not the time for flippant wordplay.).
A group of Leeds tribesmen had heard our Arctic Monkeys chant and were foaming at the mouths, ready for a fight. It was clear to both of us that when the fight broke out, we would be very much a prime target. We were at the centre of the Sheffielders’, having been the people who had started the song, and to add further insult to injury we were stood right next to a urine soaked woolly hat, which was bound to draw attention to us and incur the Leeds tribesmen’s wrath. To make matters even worse, I had been holding my cane, and had been waving it in the air, steel tip proudly and clearly on display while I shouted “steel steel steel” and then sang the Arctic Monkeys. How would we get out of this?
As if struck by divine inspiration, Ben and I both simultaneously had the exact same idea for escape. As the Leeds tribesmen rounded on us, we each took off a woollen sock and waved it in the air, and began to belt out the chorus to Everyday I Love You Less And Less by Leeds band the Kaiser Chiefs. The two tribes were stunned into momentary confusion. Just who’s side were we on?
While the two tribes tried to process this information, we made a run for it; well actually, a hop for it, because we’d both taken off a shoe in order to wave our socks in the air. Perhaps a more apt Kaiser Chiefs song would have been I Predict A Riot, for a mere two seconds later a full scale brawl broke out. But we had successfully fled for safety, and were now making our way home in order to write a parody of George Formby’s When I’m Cleaning Windows.
Well, OK, I admit, not all of that was entirely true.
Back tomorrow friends. Another day, another Dollop.