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One Northern Soul

J R Endeacott - Route Publishing; ISBN: 1901927172 £5.95

If that goal in Paris had been allowed then everything that followed could have been different. For young Stephen Bottomley something died that night. One Northern Soul follows the fortunes of this Leeds United fan as he comes of age in the dark days of the early eighties with no prospects, no guidance and to cap it all, his beloved football team suffer relegation to the Second Division. This book is a reminder of a recent past and of connected fates. J R Endeacott has drawn a story that captures the mood of a time and a place, bottling the atmosphere of the terrace in its final days as disaster was about to strike and bring about wholesale and lasting change.

Extract -

Leeds United versus Europe

From a pocket I called my heart, I drew a story of Leeds. Pete Wylie had a 'Story of the Blues', this was a Steve Bottomley story of The Whites.

'David Harvey - in for the brilliant but inconsistent Gary Sprake - plucks Neeskens' cross out of the air while Gerd Muller can only look on. Harvey rolls the ball out to Paul Reaney at right back. Reaney quickly squares the ball to Big Jack Charlton who coolly steps over it, allowing it to run to Norman Hunter. His short pass to Terry Cooper at left back eludes the bemused genius Johann Cruyff, who appears to be at odds with the world. Cooper looks down the line, searching for Eddie Gray, but instead plays the ball inside to the nonstop captain Billy Bremner. He swivels and ghosts by Paul Breitner in the centre circle before laying the ball off to his partnering midfield general Johnny Giles. Giles, visionary and always aware, sprays it out wide right to 'Hot Shot' Peter Lorimer just inside the opponents' half. He chests it down, gently bounces it on his right thigh and unleashes a thunderbolt volley which flies not towards goal but all the way across the pitch to his fellow Scot, the mercurial Gray on the opposite wing. Gray traps Lorimer's missile dead with his left foot, causing gasps of wonder from the Elland Road faithful and a wry admiring smile from the as yet pedestrian Georgie Best.

'Gray, shoulders hunched as always when about to delight fans and dazzle opponents, commences his attack. With feet faster than Fred Astaire, he shimmies and swerves and then breezes by the tormented Ruud Krol. Krol, playing out of his accustomed central position, tries to tackle again to his credit, only to be finished off with a Gray dragback and a deft flick of the ball past him. Gray paces towards the penalty area and curls a pinpoint cross to unsung hero Mick Jones, who gracefully beats Bobby Moore in the air to nod the ball down to Allan 'Sniffer' Clarke. In one fluent movement, the predator Clarke has tapped the ball through the legs of his marker and skipped around him - would you believe it, Franz 'The Kaiser' Beckenbauer 'nutmegged'! Paul Madeley, the Leeds substitute, chuckles with Don Revie and Les Cocker in the dugout - this was one of Clarke's regular training tricks. The bamboozled Beckenbauer can only watch as Clarke collects the ball near the penalty spot and rifles it past the flailing arms of Dino Zoff, fizzing the net.

'Three - nil to Leeds United and it's not even half time yet.'

The story was for my dad, he would've liked to remember Leeds as the footballing kings of Europe. My dad used to tell me how important 'the team behind the team' was at Leeds, meaning the boss Don Revie and his crew, Les Cocker, Syd Owen, Maurice Lindley and even Bob English, who looked like the cheerful granddad of the club to me. And then there were the behind the scenes people too, the overworked and underpaid groundstaff, the laundry women and the admin workers. Once, on a freezing day when the groundsmen were tending to the pitch, Don Revie went out to them to give them each a nip of whisky to warm them up. It was a sign of the family atmosphere the club had at the time and little wonder the pitch was one of the best, suitable for a great side.

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My dad took me to Leeds games from the age of four, when I was getting under my mum's feet, and from the (kick) off, I was addicted. It wasn't long before I was pleading to go to all the home games with him. I'd marvel at the four fantastic floodlights, how high they were, and many a time I'd just stand at the foot of one of them, holding on so as not to lose my balance, gazing upwards and getting dizzy at the clouds floating by and the ever so slight sway of the monumental steel structure. When they were switched on at nightime for first team and reserve matches, you could see the glare from miles and miles away and I bet lots of locals saved on their lighting bills. Near to where we entered the stadium was the West Stand fašade above the club reception: a rich blue background with the club's coat of arms and LEEDS UNITED A. F. C. in glorious golden lettering over it, just another reminder of the class and sophistication the club had. The cost of my getting in wasn't really a problem for my dad, he had this long grey Mac that he'd smuggle me through the turnstile with, me clamped to his body like a limpet and the wooden rattle stuffed up my jumper digging into my ribs and I'd watch the games seated on his lap.

The team should have been the champions of Europe but in football as in life, things don't always turn out as they should. That final against Bayern Munich for instance, should have been just the first European Cup win for Leeds, and ... well there's no need to go on about it just yet. It's safe to say though, that in defeat something died that night - something in the hearts of the players, something in the hearts of the Leeds supporters and people, and possibly football fans around the nation. My dad travelled to the game in Paris and whether it was the injuries he returned with or just his hurt pride, I don't know, but from then on his passion definitely waned and he never went to watch Leeds away from Elland Road again in his life.

There was no recovery from Leeds United after that defeat and in 1979 my dad died from a heart attack, a fucking heart attack. What age was forty-two to have a heart attack? NO age, that's what. Me, I was only thirteen at the time; suddenly, without any kind of warning, I'd lost my best friend and my guide for life. Where was the justice? This was the first time anything truly bad had happened to me - the first time I'd encountered death - and no one could tell me why. It wasn't fair, it just wasn't fair. God only knows how my mum got through it because I was of little help. I lost count of the number of times I was snapped out of my sleep in the early hours by her sobs from across the landing, every one a pull at my insides. The Bottomley house was not a happy one to be in for a long, long time, I yearned to hear my mum laugh again and I often felt guilty for smiling ever or being remotely cheerful. I couldn't take any of it in properly, it was like I wasn't really here. I begged for none of it to have really happened, that it was all a horrible dream which would disappear when I awoke. Instead of trying to share the grief with my mum and my young brother Andrew, I retreated in to my own personal shadows.

It was the time when my mate Gaz proved how great a friend he was. He was the only person who called for me at our house, who dared mention my dad's death and the only one who had the guts to give me a hug to show how sorry he was about it all. There's no denying it, I was a selfish, thoughtless little shit for some time after, and I spent a lot of the time with Gaz when I should have been home for my mum. He helped me begin enjoying life again and I owed him for it. My dad dying didn't make me go off the rails as such, but with the help of Gaz I chose some wrong turnings. At home, I was late to realise I wasn't alone in the darkness.

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