After a thoroughly depressing run through the autumn of 1914,
the turn of the year brought a promising upturn for Leeds City.
On 12 December, the Peacocks hammered
Leicester Fosse 7-2; a week later they lost at Barnsley but
then recovered to beat Glossop twice over Christmas, 3-0 on each
occasion. A 3-1 defeat at home to Stockport demonstrated the brittleness
of their nascent revival, but when City won 2-1 at table topping
Derby County in the first round of the FA Cup on 9 January they
confirmed an undiminished ability to mix it with anyone on their
The Leeds Mercury reported the Cup victory thus. "On returning
to Leeds from Derby on Saturday evening, I met a jubilant City
supporter. 'When I saw the score was one each at half time,' he
said, 'I was immensely pleased, and when I saw they had won I
could not believe it.'
"There is not the least doubt that the result would be a surprise
to 99 per cent of the football community. It is true Leeds City
had beaten Derby County at Derby, in October, by exactly the same
score (2-1), but that stood as Leeds City's solitary away victory
of the season, and since then Derby County had played fourteen
games without suffering defeat, winning eleven and drawing three,
whereas Leeds City had played thirteen games, and won only five
of them, against five defeats.
"Leeds City are to be congratulated on thus confounding the critics.
They played well, undoubtedly, but Derby County gave an astonishingly
weak display, a display that would not have done credit to a Midland
League side, and the surprising feature about the game was not
that Derby County were beaten, but that Leeds City did not win
a lot more easily.
"There was some excuse for Derby County. Eadie, their centre
half-back, was absent, as he is under suspension, and at the last
moment it was found that Leonard, the crack centre-forward, and
Baker, the outside-left, were unable to take the field owing to
influenza. Three reserves had therefore to be called upon, but
this alone does not explain the poor display of the side. The
regular members of the team must be suffering from the strains
of their struggle to keep the leadership of the League. There
was not much fault to be found with the forwards, but the half-backs
and backs were unaccountably weak, and were largely to blame for
the downfall of the side. Their kicking and placing was very poor,
even allowing for the heavy ground and the greasy ball.
"Leeds City were vastly superior in defence. Hogg was very safe
in goal, but had a very easy time of it in the second half. Blackman
was not quite steady in the early stages of the game, but he improved
as time went on and was very sound in the second half. Affleck
was in good form all through the piece. He was daring in his tackling,
but he got there, and he kicked with power and judgement.
"The half-backs were also very effective. Law in particular played
well, and Peart and Foley worked very hard, Peart making up for
his lack of inches by his pluck and grit. He was a good substitute
for Hampson, and it is rather singular that Peart also
played in the match against Derby County in October."
City had started to edge away from the Second Division re-election
zone and the nature of their victory at the Baseball Ground left
them in great heart for a Yorkshire derby at Hull City's Anlaby
Road on 16 January.
Previous clashes will Hull had usually been hotly contested affairs,
though Leeds had won only once in the League since October 1910
and had never won at Anlaby Road, where they were hammered 6-2
in November 1912. However, they could recall with pleasure the
memory of beating Hull on 11 November to win the West Riding Cup
for the first time in their history.
Yorkist in the Leeds Mercury: "For the first time on record Leeds
City have beaten Hull City in a Cup-tie, the final of the West
Riding competition at Elland Road yesterday, resulting in a win
for the home team by a goal to nil.
"What had given promise of being a very interesting contest was
almost entirely ruined by wretched weather. Heavy rain had fallen
all day, and continued nearly throughout the match. It was no
surprise there was only a small attendance, the number paying
for admission being 830 and the receipts being under £30, which
would barely pay expenses. It was a thoughtful action on the part
of the Leeds City management to allow the sixpenny patrons access
to the shilling stand soon after the start of the game, so that
all the spectators were under cover.
"Despite the conditions, however, the players entered into the
contest seriously, and there was a lot of interesting football.
The spectators occasionally derived amusement from the mud baths
of some of the players and twice in the first half Edelston, the
Hull City right-half, had long toboggan journeys in a sitting
back to top
"An unfortunate feature of the match was that Mr Sant of Barnsley,
who refereed, ordered Hampson, the Leeds City centre-half, off
the field in the second half for what seemed a trivial offence
against Halligan, the Hull City inside-left and captain, and the
former Leeds City player.
"No one was more surprised at the action of the referee than
Halligan, who, along with other players on each side, appealed
to the referee to recall Hampson, but Mr Sant adhered to his ruling,
much to the annoyance of the crowd.
"It was after Hampson had been sent off that Leeds City got the
winning goal and there was thus all the more credit in Leeds City's
victory. They were the smarter side all through the piece, adapting
themselves much better to the heavy ground than the lighter Hull
"To Speirs fell the honour of scoring Leeds City's goal, the
ball going to him at close range after McLeod had endeavoured
to force his way between the Hull City backs. The goal recalled
the famous English Cup final replay at Manchester, when Bradford
City beat Newcastle United. Speirs scored the goal on that occasion.
He was then captain of Bradford City and is now captain of Leeds
"Speirs, Sharpe and Bainbridge were the best of the Leeds City
forwards, though McLeod and Jackson were by no means idle. The
Leeds City half-backs were sound, Hampson playing well till his
departure. When he left, Jackson dropped back to centre-half,
and acquitted himself creditably in that position, though handicapped
by lack of inches.
"Blackman and McQuillan were stalwart defenders, McQuillan, in
particular, giving a fine display against his old colleagues.
He nearly scored in the second half with a long shot from his
own half of the field, the ball bouncing awkwardly to Hendry,
who could do no more than divert it over the bar. Hogg had a comparatively
quiet time in the Leeds City goal.
"On the Hull City side Turner was absent from the centre-half
position, Wright going from left-half to centre-half, with Morgan
dropping back from inside-left to left-half, while Lee took Morgan's
place. Halligan and Lee were Hull City's best wing, though Mercer
and Cameron were occasionally clever, but Stevens was not as prominent
as usual in the centre.
"Morgan played well at left-half, but Edelston was the pick of
the line. Pattison was the better of two useful backs, but Hendry
was not quite comfortable in goal, though he had no chance of
stopping Speirs' shot. It would not be fair, however, to seriously
criticise players under the prevailing conditions.
"Mr Joseph Connor, the president of the West Riding Association,
handed over the trophy at the close to Speirs, and presented the
medals to the players of both teams."
The FA Cup-tie at Derby had marked the start of a particularly
testing period for Leeds. After the trip to Hull there were three
successive away engagements: Blackpool, Queens Park Rangers (in
the Cup) and The Arsenal, the last-named pushing hard for promotion.
Later an additional game at Elland Road, against Clapton Orient,
was added into the schedule the week before the game at Highbury.
In the context of that run and City's recent form, the Yorkshire
Evening Post commented pragmatically, "They have a hard row to
hoe during the next four weeks… They will be cheered in their
difficult task if they can but succeed in sharing the points tomorrow,
as, on form, they should do."
Regular centre-half John Hampson was unavailable with a particularly
debilitating bout of flu and his deputy, Harry Peart, who had
played so well at Derby, was unavailable through suspension.
City manager Herbert Chapman
responded to the crisis by calling up wing-half Tommy Lamph from
the reserves. It was something of a risk as Lamph was untried
in the position and could have been identified as a weakness by
Hull City, with former Peacocks
forward Billy Halligan intelligent enough to exploit any uncertainty.
Hull, for their part, were still without injured right-back John
Pattison (who was to play briefly for Leeds a couple of years
later) and Arthur Betts continued to deputise, with the side unchanged
from that which put mighty West Bromwich Albion out of the FA
Cup the previous weekend.
Freewebs.com: "West Bromwich Albion were always second best at
promotion chasing Hull, who should have already been in front
before their legendary forward Sammy Stevens broke the deadlock.
Keeper Nick Hendry, nicknamed The Human Octopus, then stepped
in with an excellent second half display to keep Albion out. The
Tigers went on to see off Northampton and Southampton before bowing
out in the quarter finals against Bolton. Sadly the war broke
up their side before they could mount another challenge for promotion
and a team that included Irish International Billy Halligan was
broken up. Also in the side was Joe Edelston, whose son Maurice
later became BBC radio's anchor commentator for the Cup final
itself in the late Sixties and early Seventies."
Despite the attraction of a local derby, it was "witnessed by
a crowd of only about 5,000 spectators, of whom nearly half were
soldiers in khaki", according to the Yorkshire Post. "Taking the
lead in the first minute, Leeds City were always on top and except
for a period of about ten minutes immediately after the interval
they quite monopolised the play which was contested throughout
at a great pace, despite the heavy conditions."
The opening goal came directly after the kick off, as reported
by Yorkist in the Leeds Mercury: "The game had a most sensational
opening, as Leeds City got the lead before a single one of the
Hull City players had a kick at the ball. Halligan had beaten
Speirs in the toss, and Leeds City had to face a troublesome breeze.
back to top
"McLeod, in starting the game, sent the ball wide out to Sharpe,
who promptly lofted it over the heads of the Hull half-backs.
Betts ought to have got to it in time to clear, but the left-back
hesitated and Speirs reached it first. He immediately passed the
ball inside to McLeod and the Leeds City centre-forward could
not have been more than five seconds in progress and naturally
everybody was taken by surprise. The goal gave Leeds City confidence,
and despite having to play against the wind they had the better
of the exchanges to
That stunning opening undermined Hull badly, but Halligan almost
managed an immediate equaliser, missing what was practically an
It was a rare moment of promise for the home side and when Leeds
came again they did so with verve and style, their forwards combining
in stunning fashion on several occasions.
Sharpe was denied by the crossbar when he fired in a spectacular,
swerving drive, but his side were not to be rebuffed for long.
The persistent probing saw them increase their lead after half
Speirs and Bainbridge combined well on the right to feed McLeod
who sent the ball on to Sharpe on the left. A mistake by the covering
Betts allowed the England amateur to get away and McLeod got his
head to a fine cross and nodded home his second goal.
That was the signal for Hull to rally: in the 38th minute, after
forcing a corner which was only partially cleared, Halligan fired
a shot against Fred Blackman. The full-back was slow to recover
and Sammy Stevens had time to fire home the loose ball. Their
recovery was nearly completed when a fine drive by David Mercer
struck the bar, but Leeds were worth their half time advantage
The first ten minutes following the resumption went the way of
Hull, but they wasted a number of scoring opportunities thanks
to indecision in front of goal. Their best opportunity came when
Stevens struck the foot of the upright with a raking shot. Then
Leeds keeper Tony Hogg was twice pressed hard before he could
throw the ball out and Stevens got possession, beat Tommy Lamph
and George Affleck and got in a shot which ran narrowly wide.
Having withstood some determined assaults, the Peacocks responded
by increasing their lead in the 62nd minute. Full-back Doug Morgan
failed to clear a corner kick and John Jackson seized on the opportunity
to make an opening from which McLeod was able to complete his
That served only to whet Leeds' appetite for more goals and they
scored again with around twenty minutes remaining. Hull forced
a corner which was well placed by Jack Lee, but Fred Blackman
headed away. McLeod got to it and lofted a long ball out for Ivan
Sharpe to chase with practically an open field in front of him.
He was partially checked in his advance by Betts, but recovered
possession to break away and finished off a good run by beating
goalkeeper Hendry from close range to make it 4-1.
Five minutes later a centre from Bainbridge allowed McLeod to
beat Morgan and fire home his fourth and City's fifth goal.
At that stage, Jimmy Speirs was forced to retire with a badly
swollen knee and the Peacocks had to see out the final fifteen
minutes with ten men.
With eight minutes of time remaining Billy Halligan pulled a
goal back for Hull following a great run by Mercer, but that only
prompted the visitors onto the attack.
Within a minute, it was the redoubtable McLeod once more, crowning
a fantastic personal performance by scoring his fifth goal of
the game after good build up play by Jackson and Bainbridge.
A number of records were established by this astonishing game.
It was the first occasion on which any visiting team had scored
six goals at Anlaby Road, the site to which the club returned
in December 2002 when they left Boothferry Park for the newly-built
KC Stadium. Leeds had never scored six away from home in a League
match and never beaten Hull on their own enclosure. McLeod's five
the highest by a Peacocks player in a single game, beating the
four the same player managed against Nottingham
Forest in November 1913. That haul matched those of Fred
Hargraves and Dickie Morris
against Morley in the FA Cup in October 1905 and David
Soldier Wilson against Clapton Orient in March 1906.
The Yorkshire Post: "Following upon a good start, Leeds City
played with every confidence and fully maintained the excellent
form which won their Cup-tie the previous week at Derby. Although,
to use a football expression, everything came off for the winners,
they were decidedly superior to the home team in every point of
play. Two players in particular distinguished themselves. McLeod
surpassed himself as a sharp shooter, but it was not alone in
his shooting that he excelled; he showed wonderful control of
the ball in midfield, and was generally much too clever for the
defence. Ivan Sharpe was the other conspicuous individual success
of the match. His pace was too much for Betts, but it was in his
centres, admirably judged whilst on the run, that he showed his
skill. No players were so much in the picture as McLeod and Sharpe,
and it is not too much to say that it was their enterprise and
enthusiasm which carried Leeds City to triumph.
back to top
"Leeds City's success was all the more remarkable in that their
team included the reserve player Lamph, who, whilst being essentially
a wing half-back, was played in the important position of centre-half,
rendered vacant by the continued illness of Hampson and the suspension
of Peart. The newcomer, although somewhat shaky in his defence,
succeeded in his special mission of holding Stevens in attack,
and fitted admirably into Leeds City's scheme of attack.
"It was the short passing game, in which McLeod, Speirs and Jackson
are masters, which baffled the home defence, and often left Betts
and Morgan completely nonplussed. Defence was not a strong point
with the home side, and in that particular the sound tackling
and volleying of Affleck and Blackman were in striking constant
to the hesitating methods of Betts and Morgan. Although completely
outplayed for three parts of the game, Hull City were by no means
dispirited, and some of the efforts of Halligan and Stevens deserved
something better than the hard luck with which they were attended."
Yorkist in the Mercury: "For the second Saturday in succession,
Leeds City startled the football world, and their performance
at Hull was even more amazing than that at Derby. Who would have
deemed that a Second Division side could score six goals against
Hull City on the Hull City ground? This is what Leeds City accomplished.
"This latest performance of Leeds City was much more meritorious
than their Cup triumph at Derby. Leeds City won at Derby not by
reason of their own brilliance so much as the astounding weakness
of their opponents. But Leeds City did play magnificent football
on Saturday, and the score of 6-2 does not unduly flatter them.
"They were a great side all round, more especially in the second
half, and five of their six goals were thoroughly well-deserved.
It was an extraordinary game, and by no means as one sided as
the score indicates, for it was not until the last half hour that
Leeds City gained the mastery, but even then Hull City never ceased
"Leeds City's display was a revelation, and was certainly the
best they have provided this season. The forwards were not convincing
at Derby, but they were all on the top of their form on Saturday,
and were admirably assisted by the half-backs and backs.
"McLeod had a great day, and he was cleverly supported by Speirs
and Sharpe on the one wing and Bainbridge and Jackson on the other.
It is pleasing to know that the injury to Speirs is not likely
to prove serious enough to keep him out of the team.
"Law and Foley did splendid work at half-back, and the experiment
of playing Lamph at centre-half was a success, the youngster giving
a pleasing display. He pluckily shadowed the bustling Stevens,
and never allowed him much rope. With a little more weight and
experience Lamph should develop into a first rate player.
"As at Derby, Blackman and Affleck distinguished themselves in
defence. They were sound throughout and scarcely made a mistake,
while there was little fault to find with the work of Hogg in
goal. There was not a weak spot on the side.
"Hull City had the same side as triumphed over West Bromwich
Albion in the Cup-tie, and the victory of Leeds City was therefore
all the more remarkable. Though Hendry had six goals scored against
him, he could not be blamed for any one of them. Betts, who again
deputised for Pattison at right-back, was below form, but Morgan
was invariably sound. Edelston, Deacey and Wright had a gruelling
time at half-back, but they worked hard
"Of the forwards, Cameron was the least conspicuous, but he was
lamed early in the game and could not do himself justice. Halligan
and Mercer were the pick of the line, but Stevens and Lee also
did good work."
Unfortunately, the comprehensive victory produced no sustained
improvement for the Peacocks and they lost their following five
games. That included Derby County exacting revenge for their Cup
exit by winning 5-3 at Elland Road on 13 February. Curiously they
then won four games on the bounce before losing six of their final
eight fixtures in this most inconsistent of seasons. Manager Herbert
Chapman could be excused for feeling beside himself with frustration.
Stephen Studd in Herbert Chapman: Football Emperor: "Leeds finished
a poor fifteenth in the Second Division in 1915.Wartime conditions
had robbed players of the incentive to win promotion because of
the uncertain future of League football, and caused a sharp fall
in gates which made it virtually impossible to spend money on
improving the team. Set against wage reductions and the receipt
of several hundred pounds from the League Relief Fund was an average
gate yield of less than £200. But other clubs facing similar conditions
had done better than Leeds. And the factory hours and Rugby support
which militated against soccer in Leeds had been challenged with
some success from 1912 to 1914.
"A more likely explanation for the slump can be found in the
shaky financial structure of the club, which made it hard for
Chapman to act with any confidence. For some time financial control
had been in the hands of a receiver after the Leeds City company
was wound up."
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