18 Things You Never Knew About Leeds United

· Joseph Sheerin · Lifestyle

Discover the secret history of Leeds United.

Elland Road, Home of Leeds United

Sure, it’s had its ups and downs, but Leeds United has also has a marvellous history – and there are probably a few things you never knew about the Whites.

It’s the city’s club, and despite the chaos and controversy of the past two decades, Leeds United is still a source of pride around these parts. Now approaching its 100th anniversary, the club has built up a quite remarkable history, but you might not know all the stories of what has come before…

1. Formed out of disgrace

Before there was Leeds United, there was Leeds City. The club was formed in 1904 and played at Elland Road, managed by pre-war legend Herbert Chapman at one stage. During the First World War, however, the club came under fire for illegal payments to players and they were expelled from the Football League with the new United side forming in the Midland League.

2. Entwined with the Vale

Credit: Chris Robertshaw licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Believe or not, Staffordshire club Port Vale were greatly entwined in Leeds’ early days. They were the lucky side who prospered from Leeds City’s demise, taking their place in the Football League. When Leeds United finally joined them in the Second Division in 1920, who did the Whites play in their first professional game? That’s right, it was The Valiants from Burslem, who came out victors 2-0.

3. Revie to thank for your footy shirt

Gaetano Barardi, Leeds United

Credit: Rcousins licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

While Don Revie was dominating English football on the pitch with his brash Seventies team he was also revolutionising it off the field. You’ve got him to thank for having to fork out £50 a season for a new home shirt, as he saw the opportunity to sell replica kits and Leeds United were the first team to do so, with the help of sportswear makers Admiral. Others soon followed.

4. If it wasn’t for The Terriers

They’re white rose rivals now, but Leeds United has plenty to thank Huddersfield Town for. Former Leeds City boss Herbert Chapman was their manager as United started out, going on to win the First Division three times in a row. So much was the respect between the clubs, that Leeds’ first ever kits were The Terriers’ blue and white vertical stripes, while Town loaned their West Yorkshire neighbours £35,000 to get the club off the ground, only to be paid back when United won the First Division themselves – they’d have to wait until 1969 for the money back.

5. But it was Real Madrid for inspiration

Leeds United, 1960-61

From blue and white stripes in the 1920s to the city’s famous blue and yellow in the 1930s and royal blue shirts in the 1950s, just how did Leeds United become ‘the Whites’? Well, it’s that man Revie again. Taking inspiration from the five time Champions of Europe Real Madrid in 1960, the Whites they’d be forever more.

6. The rarest Leeds shirt of all time?

Only a few clubs in the modern era have had a shirt that was never released to the public, and that’s usually for special occasions such as cup finals or anniversaries. However, due to an eyesore of a kit clash, makers Asics, made a yellow version of their home shirt with a buttoned collar especially for the 5th Round replay at Port Vale (them again) in 1996. With only enough made for the squad who played, it can cost upwards of £200 to get one.

7. The first manager’s long history

Leeds United, 1920-21

Dick Ray will always be in the history books of football in Leeds. He was Leeds United’s first sole manager in 1919-20, before taking the job again from 1927-1935, gaining promotion into the top flight twice. However, he also played for Leeds City for three years, and was part of their team for their first ever Football League appearance.

8. First league title at Shankly’s Liverpool

Beating Liverpool in the 1960s was never an easy thing to do, and beating them at Anfield was even harder. So when Leeds United and the Reds were locked horns in a two horse race for the First Division in 1968-69, with the penultimate game of the season between the two sides at Anfield, many feared the Whites couldn’t see it through, despite their four point lead. However, they got it done, and 50 years after the club’s formation, they’d mastered the land, with Shankly remarking “Leeds United are worthy champions. They are a great side.”

9. The Gentle Giant’s remarkable record

Standing at 6ft 2in, John Charles was Leeds’ first proper superstar and he was built for the part. The Welsh international scored 153 times in 308 league games for the club, before departing for Juventus and becoming a part of one of their most successful teams ever. Throughout his career, The Gentle Giant was remarkably never booked or sent off, which in this day and age, is almost unthinkable.

10. Cloughy cost an awful lot

Brian Clough’s ill-fated time as Leeds United manager has been well documented over the years, in particular with David Peace’s incredible play The Damned United. However, it was a costly win more ways than one for the club whose reputation had gone through the mud, as Cloughy bagged a record £98,000 pay off for his 44 days in charge – a huge sum at the time.

11. Elland Road wasn’t always that

Elland Road

Credit: Gunnar Larsson licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

It’s always been the home of Leeds United, but Elland Road wasn’t always known as that. In its very early days, it was known as The Old Peacock Ground, because of the pub which faced the stadium. It remained as that until 1899, when the opening of a new stand saw the ground rechristened as its known today.

12. Ridsdale’s fish weren’t cheap to keep

The days of Peter Ridsdale running Leeds United conjures memories that many a White’s fan would like to stick in the depths of their mind rather than relive. However, if black comedy’s your thing, it might cause a few laughs that it’s since been revealed that the former chairman once charged the club £20 a month to keep his fishtanks full and flowing. Crackers.

13. 1972 gave us more than just the FA cup

Les Cocker with 1972 FA Cup, Leeds United

Credit: Uncle Ernie licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

The one and only time Leeds United won the FA Cup is one of the proudest moment’s in the club’s history. The 1-0 win against Arsenal thanks to Allan Clarke’s 52nd minute winner, will forever go down in the annals, particularly as it was the 100th anniversary of the competition. However, the cup final also gave birth to Leeds’ longest standing legend – the terrace anthem, ‘Marching On Together’.

14. Marching On Together

The song is as synonymous with Leeds as any other football anthem is to any other clubs. However, ‘Marching On Together’ wasn’t originally penned as the song’s title by Les Reed and Barry Mason in 1972. The song was in fact known as ‘Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!’, but its memorable chorus of ‘Marching On Together…’ has gradually taking over in the past 44 years.

15. Smudge, loved and hated

Alan Smith, Leeds United, Manchester United

Credit: Toni Smith licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Mention the name Alan Smith around Leeds, and you might get a difficult reaction. The Rothwell born-and-bred lad was a hero for the Whites, scoring 56 times in 228 matches until the club was relegated from the Premier League in 2004. His departure would have been understood but not to Leeds’ biggest rivals, Manchester United. Although he left under a cloud, he’s actually the last player to score against The Red Devils for Leeds in the top flight.

16. Orange kits can stay in The Netherlands

Don Revie Statue at Elland Road

Credit: Mtaylor848 licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

Don Revie was a superstitious man, sometimes with good reason, and there was no better example than what cropped up in September 1970. In a game against Stoke City at the Victoria Ground, Leeds United was forced to wear a different colour away kit, orange, for the first time ever. United crumbled 2-0 and Revie was so peed off, he reportedly burned them after the game, never to be seen again. Who could blame him?

17. Friendly? Not for Leeds’ Lions

There’s no greater source of pride for a Leeds United fan than seeing one of the team make their mark for the English national team. For Trevor Cherry, however, it comes as an embarrassment, as he was the first ever England international to be sent off in a friendly match, when he got caught in a scuffle with Argentinian Daniel Bertoni, which saw Cherry lose two teeth. It also meant he was only the third English player to have ever been sent off for the national team.

18. League One or Division Three?

Whatever you want to call it, until the dark days of 2006-07 season, Leeds United had never been below the second tier of English football. It meant the team digging in to get back out, and although it took its time, they started off their first campaign in the third tier with a 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers, courtesy of a Tresor Kandol 89th minute winner.

Elland Road cover image Chris Robertshaw licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.