Jason Tomas - Arthur Barker - ISBN 0-213-00498-4
- printer friendly version
Tomas is a well known football writer, whose most famous work
is probably WHITE HEAT The Leeds United Dream Team,
although he has written many other biographies, including ones
on Alan Shearer, Malcolm Macdonald and Alan Hansen, as well as
Beckham and Ferguson - Divided They Stand, a well
informed take on the fractured relationship.
He published The Leeds United Story in 1971, and
it covers their history from around 1960 to the end of the 1971
season when the Whites lost out to Arsenal in the League, but
gained the consolation of being the final winners of the Fairs
It's a fascinating and authoritative read, with many quotes from
key figures from the period, including Don
Revie, Harry Reynolds, Bobby
Collins, Jim Storrie,
Johnny Giles, Peter Lorimer, Jack
Charlton and Billy Bremner, and has some wonderful photos
from a momentous period in the club's history.
Tomas takes an objective and critical stance of his subject matter,
although he is clearly extremely knowledgeable and thorough about
his subject matter. His is a sympathetic account, which somehow
never manages to descend into cloying melodrama but skilfully
captures the mood and atmosphere of a historic period in the development
of English football.
Among the more fascinating sections of the book are a loving
recreation of some of Revie's renowned dossiers and the recounting
of the infamous Everton-Leeds riot in 1964 when the referee had
to take the players off to cool off while the fans hurled rubbish
onto the pitch.
This is a fairly typical extract from the book, from Tomas' retelling
of the 1967-68 season:
"Leeds' strategy of having Charlton standing on the opposing
goal-line for free kicks and corners had rankled with numerous
rival managers and players throughout the season, for it was widely
interpreted as yet another Leeds move to go beyond the laws of
the game - without being penalized by the referee. Certainly,
Leeds' ability to drop the ball on to Charlton's head from any
distance or angle made it almost impossible at times for referees
to decide whether his inevitable collision with the goalkeeper
was accidental or premeditated.
"During the early 1960s, Leeds
United were languishing near the foot of the Second Division
and attendances were so low that their ground was, in the
words of one of the club's players, like a 'Ghost Town'
on match days.
"Today (1971), United are rated
among the top clubs in the world, having dominated the English
soccer scene for seven years, and established a new level
of professionalism at the same time.
"The Leeds United story is, indeed,
an epic of tragedy transformed into triumph, and in this
book Jason Tomas pinpoints the factors which have made the
Yorkshire club's revival possible. It is a contemporary
story, one that does not dwell on the club's county history
but spotlights their revival from the early sixties."
Charlton said at the time:
"These protests are preposterous - there's nothing in the rules
that says I can't stand there, and I certainly don't do so to
foul the goalkeeper or anyone else. It is a great advantage for
Leeds to use me in this way. It takes the weight off other forwards,
if I can commit defenders to mark me. The fact that I can jump
allows balls to drop into positions where defenders don't want
them to drop! I have scored a few goals, but not many compared
with what have been scored by people around me. I get tremendous
satisfaction about making a goal for someone else. Our goal-line
plan has brought me a lot of abuse from opposing supporters, but
I quite like to hear it. If they ignore you, you're not doing
anything. If they get on to you, they're afraid.
"This was not the only facet of Leeds game that made them the
team the fans loved to hate. Indeed in February Leeds' blatant
time-wasting tactics against West Ham at Elland Road brought boos
from even their own supporters! West Ham, for so long English
soccer's Beau Brummells, were incensed at Leeds' disregard for
the spirit of the game, and some of their stars launched a scathing
attack on Leeds in the Press. Leeds, 2-1 ahead, closed up the
game fifteen minutes from the end by keeping the ball near the
corner flags, tempting West Ham to lunge in and push it behind
the line for a throw-in or goal kick!"
It all feels a little like another world these days, but Tomas'
book is one of the better ones about this period in Leeds' history,
told with enough insight, objectivity and detail to keep football
fans of all colours fascinated for hours.
back to top