Life in Yorkshire has been a contradiction for Brian McDermott – a mixture of chaos and calm. He felt the placid touch of God’s Own County but discovered too that a Leeds United manager cannot live a life of seclusion there.
Speaking after his appointment in April, McDermott admitted that his journey to Leeds felt like a journey to the ends of the earth. A Southerner born and bred, he reached Sheffield and realised that he had 30 miles to travel and was about to run out of petrol. “I thought I was in Scotland,” he joked.
The United boss has relocated to Harrogate and, somewhat unexpectedly, found peace of sorts.
“It’s a different part of the world here and a different way of life,” he said. “It’s calmer, if that’s the right word. I don’t mean the supporters – definitely not the supporters – but life in general. I’ve lived in the south all my life and this is very different for me. I’ve surprised myself with how easily I’ve settled. I’m very happy up here.”
The biggest culture shock for McDermott was the attention paid to him by people in the street.
He was well known in Berkshire during three years as Reading’s manager but didn’t feel as recognisable as he has in three-and-a-half months as United’s boss.
“I’m not shocked by what I’ve found up here because I knew Leeds United’s history,” McDermott said. “I knew the club was a bit like a religion to everyone.
“But living in the area, you quickly realise that the whole place is about Leeds United. The people here, they live for it and they just can’t get enough of it.
“You walk into shops or post offices and people look at you dumbfounded, fascinated. One guy stared at me for a few seconds and then said ‘you’re Brian McDermott.’ I’ve never really had that before. It takes some getting used to.
“But it’s not a bad thing. It makes you warm to the job. Leeds is a one-club city and it feels like a one-club city. Nothing else seems to matter.”