“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long.”
That’s how the words of the annoying children’s song goes but it didn’t turn out quite like that for Leeds United fan protest group ‘Time to Go, Massimo’ (TTGM) yesterday.
After the success of previous protests such as projected broken promises onto the East Stand awnings, a symbolic funeral and banner flypast along with a march on the ground event, Leeds United fans were fully expecting some form of protest before the Charlton game, the Addicks themselves protesting against Roland Duchatelet’s ownership of the club.
With such a high-profile game against already-relegated opponents whose fans are embroiled in protests, many expected TTGM to park the bus on this protest, and that’s what they intended to do. The fan-funded collective of disgruntled Leeds fans had organised an open-top bus to bring them to the match, turning up in style to celebrate what Massimo Cellino had said would be a ‘beautiful season’ for the Whites.
The rationale behind this choice was to demonstrate to Cellino the error of yet another broken promise to increasingly disgruntled Leeds United fans. TTGM said: “We wanted to remind him that despite his claims that he was ‘driving the bus’, the fans – not him – are the ones keeping Leeds United going.”
However, after arranging and booking the open-top bus from a company in York on Wednesday, TTGM were contacted by the company on Friday afternoon to be informed that the bus had “broken down and could not be repaired in time.”
TTGM had also arranged other activities to tie in with this sardonic mocking of Cellino’s own words: hiring a sound system, purchasing pies for supporters of the group affected by the ‘Cellino Pie Tax’ and purchased “other items” which would have added to the fun atmosphere they were looking to create. The group had also commisioned two new banners for the event: a mock ‘2015/16 Champions of Mid-table Mediocrity’ banner that would be hung on the front of an open-top bus and another banner showing solidarity with two other sets of protesting fans – Charlton’s ‘Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (C.A.R.D)’ and Blackpool’s ‘Tangerine Knights’.
TTGM say in the linked statement that they will be offering refunds to those that donated since Wednesday April 27 and an email will be sent out in the next 48 hours to those concerned. The statement issued by TTGM also says that the directors themselves will “be making a personal donation to St Gemma’s Hospice” as a collection was due to be raised during the parade for this cause and that any “monies left over will be held back for any future demonstration over the summer”, with TTGM warning of the uncertainty that will still be attached to the club after the fooball has finished against Preston next Saturday – uncertainty bred from Massimo Cellino’s ‘Rule K’ hearing and trials in Italy.