The Pride of Leeds – Leeds United

The city of Leeds has a long and proud sporting history and non more so than the cities top football club Leeds United. The club is one of the most fascinating in English football and its life has often mirrored that of a soap opera rather than a football club. In the space of a few decades the club has experienced being one of the top clubs in the country to almost going out of business.

During 1961-1975 Leeds experienced their golden years where they won the top division twice and finished runners up 5 times. The success of the club was due enlarge to the appointment of Don Revie as manager in 1961. Despite just avoiding relegation to the third division Revie managed to turn Leeds fortunes around and they soon won promotion to the first division. After that the team never looked back as they went onto become one of the top teams in the country having never finished outside of the top four. They were also hugely successful in cup competitions by lifting the FA Cup, League Cup and two Fairs Cups, they were also runners up in the European Cup Winners Cup final. The teams fortunes started to change however when Revie left to take up the England job. Famously they replaced Revie with Brian Clough who spent just 44 days in charge. So eventful were those 44 days that they have passed into football legend and have spawned a book and even a film chronicling the tempestuous time.

From 1975 to 1988 Leeds slow decline began. Armfield, who replaced Clough, tried his best to rebuild an aging team but he was unable to recapture the glory days of Revie. After he was dismissed Leeds had a number of managers, none of who managed to turn the tide, eventually in 1982 Leeds were relegated to the Second Division.

Things began to change for Leeds in 1988 when they appointed Howard Wilkinson as manager. Thanks to his guidance Leeds won promotion in 1990, achieved 4th place the following season before clinching the league for the third time in their history in the 1991-1992 season. However after their initial success they were never able to sustain a challenge for the title again and in 1996-1997 season Wilkinson was let go.

Wilkinson was replaced by George Graham, which was a controversial appointment as Graham had previously been banned by the FA for one year for receiving illegal payment from football agents. Despite this Graham turned the team around and managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup. However in 1998 Graham left Leeds to become Tottenham Hotspur manager and was replaced by his assistant David O’Leary. O’Leary managed to take the team even further by finishing 3rd in the league and reaching the semi-final of the Champions League, letting fans have the chance to relive the glory days.

Many had predicted that Leeds would continue their resurgence and cement a position as one of the ‘big four’ in English football. This was not to last however, under O’Leary and Chairman Peter Ridsdale Leeds spent millions on players and took out huge loans to funds them. When they failed to qualify for the Champions League again and missed out on the millions it provided the club were unable to repay their huge loans and gradually player were being sold off to pay for debts, Leeds had begun their slow death. O’Leary was sacked and replaced by Terry Venables, yet after more players were sold and the team performance began to suffer Venables was also sacked. Eventually after most of the players who stared in the semi-finally of the Champions League were sold, the team was relegated.

Life in the Championship got tougher with the club eventually having to sell their own ground in order to pay for debts that had been racked up years before. The club finally went into administration in 2007 the same year that saw then relegated to the third tier of English football, the first time they have been in such a position in their long history.

Currently the team lie in the playoff positions of the Championship and fans are hopeful of a return to what they feel is there rightful place in the Premiership.

One Response to “The Pride of Leeds – Leeds United”

  1. Hosting says:

    The actual team for the FA Cup Final, which Leeds United won, did not include either Gary “The Viking” Sprake or Terry “Top Cat” Cooper. Sprake was replaced by David Harvey in the run-up to the Cup Final, while Cooper broke his leg and was replaced by Paul Madeley.

Leave a Reply