Posted: 9/12/2010


            Bookstore are closing daily due to the internet, but WATERSTONE'S manages to keep going and entertaining. Last week I joined a large crowd on the top floor to hear David Peace, Robert Endeacott and Anthony Clavane. They read from their books about Leeds United and answered questions. Then we ajourned to the historic Whitleocks pub off Briggate.

          Peace, who is a Huddersfield Town fan, wrote the historical fiction THE DAMNED UNITED; (some would call it science fiction), which morfed into the movie of the same name about the 44 days Brian Clough spent as Leeds United manager in 1974.   Endeacott is more factual with Dirty Leeds and other titles, and Clavane, born in 1960 of a Jewish family high above Elland Road, the year I first came to study here, wrote his very entertaining book about the history of football and rugby in Leeds. It's about of the class struggles, immigration, dark side and lighter side of the country's 4th largest city.

         United were formed after Leeds City went bust in 1919 and when I arrived football was competing in a seedy stadium with the Rugby League code: Leeds(now Leeds Rhinos), Hunslet, Bramley, and more. I had a friend called Arthur Clues who played and was then a director of Hunslet FC.Then came The Don. Don Revie had been  brilliant deep lying centre forward with Manchester City and England, and while still a player at Elland Road was chosen to be the new manager in 1961

         He brought in fresh and unheard of ideas into English football, a new strip of All White to emulate Real Madrid, enjoyable training essions, dossiers on opponents, pre-kick off warm ups, sock ties, names on the back of their warm-ups, get togethers in a hotel up the road in Ilkley with bingo and carpet bowls, and a family atmosphere with the team and the fans.

        Meanwhile the city was cleaning up its act. Huge slums were cleared, the Jews moved from Chapletown to the leafy suburbs to be replaced by immigrants from Jamaica, St, Kitts, Nevis, Barbados and all parts of the Caribbean, and then from East Asia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Linka.  If you take the number 2/12 circular bus up Roundhay Road to the magnicifent park and then along Street Lane and then back via Chapel Allerton and Chapeltown Road you will see all these communities on one trip.

       Jewish businessmen like Manny Cussins were intrumental in leading United with vision and dipping into their own pockets, and Anthony, first with his dad and then with his mates at Roundhay Grammar School went to pray in the morning with the Rabbi and dream in the afternoon on the Kop with Revie and his team and fans.

       Dirty Leeds was what the rest of the country called them but I called them brilliant and entertaining. They were also The Nearly Men, and didn't win as much silverware as they should have. Sprake, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Giles, Hunter, Madeley, Reaney, Jones, Gray, Lorimer, Clarke... It first went wrong when Clough arrived. He hated Leeds and Revie with a passion and he was brought in when Revie took the England job, and was not successful. at that. The Don finally went to the Middle East and a lucritive contract when he should have been on a South American tour with England.

      The mild mannered Jimmy Armfield took over, tried to settle the ship, though inssisted in living with his family in Blackpool and commuting with a very fast car on the M6 and M62. He took them to The European Cup Final at Parc des Princes in Paris against Dettmar Cramer's Bayern Munich on 28th May 1975. I knew both Armfield and Cramer very well (one had been my school prefect and the other gave me my coaching badge.) I once met them both the same day in their offices in Sabenerstrasse and at Elland Road with a flight to Manchester in between and Dettmar had asked me to see if I could help bring Duncan Mackenzie to Germany

       The French referee was inept, and later banned. Beckenbauer brought down Clarke for an obvious penalty, spoke to him and play on, and he later disallowed a Lorimer goal and it finished 2-0 for the Germans. Armfield didn't help matters by keeping faith with The Revie Boys and did not bring on Duncan MacKenzie, a Clough purchase, who might have made a difference.  Leeds fans rioted,as PSG fans now do regularly in the same stadium, and Leeds were banned from Europe. The sentence was later reduced when Armfield made a personal appearance at UEFA HQ in Switzerland.

      There were many more false dawns with ex Revie players and other not successful as managers.Then came WILKO, Howard Wilkinson, from Sheffield Wednesday. He signed on CANTANA and they won the last ever First Division. My friend John Riley was the interpreter at the signing. He sold the difficult Frenchman to Alex Ferguson for 1.2 million and we all know what happened at Old Trafford.

      There was a very dark side at Elland Road. Leeds had missed out on the 1966 World Cup due to a crap ground, the National Front passed out literature and recruited young impressionable fans and it was not a place for minorities, both on and off the field. Leeds became the Motorway City, increased white collar jobs and shopping. Large manufacturing plants closed down. I used to train in the boxing gym at the huge Montague Burton factory.

     Keith Waterhouse,(Billy Liar)  Barbara Bradford Taylor, David Hockney, Arnold Bennett,(The History Boys)  David Storey(The Sporting Life), Malcolm McDowell,(A Clockwork Orange), Jack Higgins (the Eagle Has Landed) (I used to share a common room with him), have enriched the area with literature and art, The Kaiser Chiefs and a strong music scene with clubs and concerts, including the Leeds Festival now add excitement.

      Then we had Peter Ridsdale, David O'Leary, talented players such as Robinson, Ferdinand,Viduka,  Woodgate, Smith, Kewell. a semi-final against Valencia in the 1991 Champions League... and then a complete financial and playing meltdown. Eventually Division One, the third tier. O'Leary is now manager of Al-Ahly in Dubai, UAE Champions.

      Leeds now it has the busiest train station outside London and is the Knightsbridge of the North, for shopping, and about 90,000 students,The Royal Armouries, inner city apartments and entertainment but no trophies. At least its The Championship again under Simon Grayson, a former player and Yorkshireman and a long climb back.

 PROMISED LAND: Anthony Clavane :Yellow Jersey Press. You can read his column each week in the Sunday Mirror.