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Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Don, tickets and statues.....another week on Planet Leeds!

This week saw the 50th anniversary of the most significant event in the history of Leeds United, the appointment of Don Revie as manager.  Back in those dark days of 1961 the Mighty Whites were neither mighty or white as they struggled in the lower reaches of what was Division 2 and now called the Championship. The club were one of many northern clubs who struggled from one season to the next with neither the money nor the support to fantasise about real success.  Don Revie changed all that although in the end Leeds were somewhat lucky to get him.  Having moved from a successful playing career at Man City to spend the twilight of his playing days at Elland Road the ambitious Don was all set for a move to Bournemouth to start his managerial career before the Leeds board decided to give him a chance at LS11.  The fact that Bournemouth refused to pay Leeds request for compensation of £6,000 for him might have had something to do with it though!  And so started a remarkable period in the history of not only Leeds United but English football as the Don assembled a squad of players that would compete for every major honour in the game across England and Europe.

Key signings of Bobby Collins then Johnny Giles mixed with a youth policy that brought in the likes of Lorimer, Gray, Reaney to add to the youthful Charlton and Bremner who were already at Elland Road were the critical building blocks of Don's team.  Don added his unique personal touch to football management with principles hewn on a commitment to hard work, discipline, forward thinking tactics and a burning desire to win.....................and a bizarre bag full of superstitions.  His Fatherly style of management endeared him to his charges and created a granite like bond of team spirit that is still evident today when you hear any of his famous team speak fondly of the gaffer.

To say that Leeds United ruffled a few feathers in the established hierarchy of Football at the time is an understatement.  Their uncompromising, win at all costs philosophy earned them the tag of "Dirty Leeds" that certain parts of the media were all too happy to focus on rather than the exquisite football Don's disciples produced.  People forget that in that era football was definitely a contact sport with the likes of Tommy Smith, Chopper Harris and Dave Mackay thriving with their uncompromising interpretations of how to tackle an opponent!  Success came to Leeds in the shape of League titles, the FA and League cups and European success in the Inter Cities Fairs cup (EUFA Cup) aswell as the disgraceful cheating that robbed us of the Cup Winners cup in 1973.  Revie and his team marched on but outside the circle of his bloody minded team and their even more bloody minded fans they won few friends.  If shirt sponsors had been allowed in those far off days Leeds undoubtedly would have been supported by Marmite.  You either hate them or love them.  Nothing much changes I suppose? Once Don left Leeds things were never going to be the same.  His sourjon with England and swift departure to the Middle East gave his critics more ammunition to deride his achievements but to Leeds fans the world over he will remain the one and only Don Revie, the man who dragged Leeds United kicking and screaming into the limelight and made them a household name all over Europe.  So this week's celebrations of Don Revie day have brought lot's of wonderful memories flooding back to many fans in West Yorkshire and beyond.  Is there a parallel with what Lord Larry is doing with the present day team?  I do hope so.

Before we finish on Don Revie I was amazed to see that there is an appeal for money to build a statue for him?  Can't the club stump up the funds to build a suitable statue to their greatest ever servant?  It's a poor do if they can't.

Back on the current Planet Leeds we have the slight matter of the Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane to occupy our minds this Saturday.  I finally found a ticket for the game after the shambolic online ticket failure so the match report will go ahead as normal.  Will Becchio return to the starting line up? Will Bannan start? Will we keep another clean sheet?  Will we find the scoring touch that was temporarily missing last week? All questions that will be answered by 2.50pm on Saturday.  Just in time to put the pressure of another 3 points for the Mighty Whites onto our promotion rivals before they kick off. Wonder if the Don will be watching down from above?  Somehow I think he will and I bet he's still got his lucky blue suit on!
Can't wait.

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