Leeds United star's family fires back at trolls as Whites investigate online threats and vow action

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The words of Marching on Together don't mean a thing to any Leeds United supporter dishing out abuse and threats to Patrick Bamford and his family.

Sam Allardyce made it clear when he arrived at Thorp Arch that when players arrived for training they were to be fully dialled in to their game preparations, fully invested in learning and improving, but when they drove out through the gates they were to seek refuge from the pressure and intensity of the relegation battle. Headspace is one of his priorities because if Leeds are to pull off the great escape then they cannot have players shutting down mentally.

When Bamford went home on Saturday afternoon to his fiancée and one-year-old daughter, his headspace would have been full to the brim yet any chance of decompressing went out the window thanks to trolls and morons with access to social media.

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His crime was missing a penalty, a costly miss for his side it has to be said because as Allardyce opined, Leeds could have gone on to clinch an unlikely win over high-flying Newcastle United by going 2-0 up. Bamford taking the spot-kick was a surprise to many given his lack of goalscoring form this season and no real recent signs of confidence in front of goal. But what has to be remembered, along with the bravery he showed in picking up the ball and taking responsibility, is that without Bamford Leeds would not have scored their first goal. It was his excellent cross, with his weaker foot, that allowed Rodrigo to force Nick Pope into a save before Luke Ayling tucked in the rebound. Without Bamford, Leeds would not have scored their second either. It was the number nine who forced Kieran Trippier to concede a corner, it was him who won first contact and it was his blocked shot that fell to Rasmus Kristensen, who scored.

"I thought he was good today, held the ball up, caused them a few problems, got the cross in for the goal," said Allardyce afterwards.

And yet, the scale of the abuse Bamford has taken since the game is such that his fiancée felt compelled to finally speak out on her own Twitter account, drawing attention to some of the beyond-the-pale comments. Unsurprisingly, most of those she fronted up then deleted their Tweets or scarpered from the platform. The bravery Bamford showed in taking the penalty was in short supply, online.

Leeds are investigating the situation and looking to identify those sending malicious messages and threats. The YEP understands they would look to ban from Elland Road any season ticket holder found to have been behind that kind of abuse.

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There is a possibility that some of the bile Bamford received came not from Leeds fans, but trolls masquerading as such. Premier League data has suggested in the past that players have come under attack from accounts based abroad. There is a feeling that lost bets can be at the heart of some of the abuse.

ONLINE TARGET - Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford was the subject of abuse and threats according to his club, who are investigating and would look to issue bans. Pic: GettyONLINE TARGET - Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford was the subject of abuse and threats according to his club, who are investigating and would look to issue bans. Pic: Getty
ONLINE TARGET - Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford was the subject of abuse and threats according to his club, who are investigating and would look to issue bans. Pic: Getty

But it's also sadly possible, if not probable, that some of those setting their sights on Bamford and tapping out threats will belong to the fanbase. There's a very real chance that a number of them have been at Elland Road or grounds elsewhere in England this season, belting out the words to Marching on Together.

"We're gonna stay with you forever, at least until the world stops going round," they will have sang, without taking a second to consider what that might look like. Singling out one player and his family with messages of that ilk is a funny way to 'give the boys a hand' isn't it?

Frustration was a perfectly natural response to the penalty miss. Disliking Bamford as a player and criticising his performance are all well and fine. Finding him not to your taste as a person would be less understandable, what with his charitable endeavours and the way he tends to treat people, but a matter of taste it would be. Wishing death on a footballer, due to an errant swipe of his boot, is so far beyond tasteless that anyone who lands themselves in hot water over it, with the club or even the authorities, will be getting exactly what they deserve.

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Some will and have advised the striker and his family to just turn a blind eye. You might question why any Leeds player would go on social media at a time like this and Bamford had actually deactivated his Twitter account last week, on the same day that someone published a compilation of his missed chances on the platform. But why shouldn't his family safely go about their business on their smartphones? Why should they suffer this in silence? They've evidently now decided that enough is enough.

"When people are threatening to attack Patrick in the car park/turn up at our house/telling us to watch our backs when we next go out, you have to start to take these comments seriously," his fiancée Michaela tweeted on Sunday as she set about the trolls on Twitter.

"Five years of “ignore it and it’ll go away” hasn’t worked."

Supporters in their droves have come to Bamford's aid on social media and there is a responsibility for fans here, to hold to account anyone taking that course of action because if nothing else, it's the last thing Bamford or the team needs ahead of two enormous games.

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What they need is what Bamford got at Elland Road on Saturday, when his name rang out not long after the penalty miss. It started in the South Stand and spread to other parts of the ground. You can debate what it is these players deserve until the cows come home but if the club isn't united until safety is either secured or no longer possible, then any hope of survival might as well be put out to pasture now.