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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Don Revie: 20 years on

Today is the 20th anniversary of Don Revie's death.  
For those Leeds fans who were born after 1970 Don Revie and the Leeds team he built are icons that older fans speak reverently of and constantly refer back to as the Leeds benchmark, especially as we flounder in the 3rd tier of English football.  But when Don signed for Leeds in 1958 they were no more than a run of the mill 2nd Division side struggling to compete with other like minded teams.  But Don had some big ideas and initially inspired by the fabulous Hungarian team of the early 50's he looked to play the game in a more progressive way.  His chance to put his money where his mouth was came in March 1961 when he was appointed player manger and so began the managerial career of one of the true greats of English football.
After saving Leeds from the drop to Div 3 he set about putting together a team that would become the most feared in Europe over the following decade and in doing so creating a footballing dynasty that is still remembered today.  Now not everybody liked Leeds.........................this was born out of a combination of jealousy, dislike of the sheer professionalism Revie's teams oozed & the fact that in an age where tackling was still X rated Leeds could mix it with the best and always come out on top.  The mainly southern based press of the day didn't like the upstarts from up t'north and it showed in the vilification they gave the whites at every opportunity.  In days where sponsorship was still some kind of American concept that wouldn't sully our game for another twenty years all teams strips were plain to say the least....................but if they had had sponsors in those halcyon days I suspect Leeds would have strode out with MARMITE  emblazoned across their chests because you either loved them or hated them, no in between.
The achievements of the Leeds team after reaching Div 1 in 1964 were immense.  They were never out of the top four for 10 years being crowned champions twice and adding the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, League Cup and FA Cup to the Elland Road trophy cabinet for good measure.  The catalyst for all of this success and numerous "near misses" was of course Don Revie and when he left to take the England job in 1974 he left a legacy that is still remembered fondly to this day.  For me the teams Revie built were typified by two particular matches.  The 1:0 cup final win against Arsenal in 1972 and the 7:0 demolition of Southampton in front of the Match of the Day cameras a couple of years later.  I was lucky enough to be in the boys paddock in the West Stand for the Southampton game and the performance was fantastic.  Why were Leeds such a good team?  What was the Don Revie trademark?  
Teamwork pure and simple.  They did everything as a team from playing bingo and carpet bowls before the match, to "standing up to the opposition" during the match but most of all when they had the ball everyone worked for each other and supported each other with no little skill.  It wasn't a bad formula.  So if Don is reading this in virtual heaven here's a big thank you from all today's fans because without you we wouldn't have the club we have today.............................................Mmmm I dont mean it's your fault we're in Div 3...............well you know what I mean!
I know it's a long time ago but I never get tired of watching this!(You need to adjust the volume slider at the the bottom to get David colemans commentary)


oldlufc said...

GREAT BLOG - however a couple of editorial 'errors' on this thread:

1. Leeds were in the (old) 1st Divison in 1958 when Don Revie signed (from Sunderland for £12,000 in November 1958) on as a player having been promoted in 1955/56, we were relegated along with Luton in 1959/60.

2. The 7-0 Southampton game was played on 4 March 1972 (1971/72 Leeds greatest ever season), several weeks before the FA Cup Final vs Arsenal.

Marching on Together said...

Thanks for the comments and corrections.....clearly your memory is miles better than mine. Thanks for reading and here's to a successful year next season.

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