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Review of 1914/15 - Part 2
Ten years in the making

Evelyn Lintott in his England daysPart 1 Ravaged by war - Part 3 Erratic in the extreme - Results and table - printer friendly version

On 30 August 1914, Leeds City Association Football Club celebrated its tenth anniversary. In 1904, according to Mike Green in The Origin and Development of Football in Leeds, "a meeting of 50 people, including the officials of the Hunslet soccer club took place at the Griffin Hotel at Boar Lane. The meeting was told 'the time is ripe for a good Association club in Leeds'. The resolution was passed that the club be called Leeds City and that the action of 'renting the Holbeck ground for the season with the option of purchase up to April 30th' be endorsed. The new club quickly assembled a side and joined the new West Yorkshire League with a view to being fully operational in time for application for League status. On 15th October 1904 Leeds City took the Elland Road pitch for the first time against Hull City."

On the evening of Monday, 10 April 1905, the club was floated as a limited company at a directors' meeting at the Griffin Hotel in the city under the chairmanship of Norris Hepworth. The club's philanthropist leader passed away in February 1914, leaving a yawning void, with City going forward under the guardianship of the Receiver, accountant Tom Coombs.

Nevertheless, there was every reason to hope that the 1914/15 season would see manager Herbert Chapman deliver a long-awaited promotion, despite the uncertainty engendered by the onset of war.

One City player who would play no part in that attempt was former England half-back Evelyn Lintott, as recalled by Bantamspast.co.uk: "Evelyn joined up shortly after the outbreak of war. On 14 September 1914, frustrated at the delays in recruiting in Bradford, he enlisted at Leeds with the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) - the 'Leeds Pals'. He was still living in Bradford and gave his address as 13 Cornwall Place, Manningham - yards from Valley Parade itself. On his enlistment form Evelyn gives his occupation as a schoolteacher, as opposed to the professional footballer he was."

Lintott was one of comparatively few departures from Elland Road in the close season: Irish international keeper Billy Scott returned to Merseyside to join Liverpool having lost his place to Tony Hogg, while wingers James Johnson and Neil Turner both left Elland Road, for North Leeds Athletic and Raith Rovers respectively.

Chapman strengthened the playing pool by signing John Edmondson and Robert Cowen from junior football in April. Over the close season he added wingers Ernie Goodwin and Alf Rothwell, goalkeeper Willis Walker and left-half Wilson Wainwright from the non-League game, while Val Lawrence came from First Division Oldham Athletic.

The biggest signing was experienced full-back Jack McQuillan from Second Jack McQuillan, signed from Hull CityDivision rivals Hull City. McQuillan was brought in to partner Fred Blackman, who had joined the club from Huddersfield Town for £1,000 in February.

There were high hopes that the Citizens would mount a serious promotion challenge. Yorkist observed in the Leeds Mercury on 24 August, "There is a most successful season before Leeds City, if only the club can fulfil expectations. A crowd of nearly five thousand people attended the second practice match on Saturday, and if the club strike a lucky patch to begin with, the Elland Road ground will be too small for the crowds seeking admission... It would appear that Leeds City have been very fortunate in their new recruits."

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City kicked off the season on Wednesday, 2 September, at home to Fulham, a side they beat twice when the Cottagers finished mid-table in 1913/14. McQuillan made his debut, replacing George Affleck at left-back, alongside Blackman and goalkeeper Hogg. The half-back line comprised George Law, Harry Peart and Mick Foley, with Jack Hampson not yet recovered from the groin injury received in a pre-season practice match. Billy McLeod, suffering with ulcers, was also unavailable and Simpson Bainbridge, John Jackson, Jimmy Speirs, Arthur Price and Ivan Sharpe formed the front five.

In recognition of the conflict in Europe, City's management invited the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Edward A Brotherton, local MPs William Middlebrook and Rowland Brittan and Captain Kelly, the chief recruiting officer in the city, to address spectators at the end of the game, with the object of persuading spectators to join up. Tom Coombs received a positive reaction to the invitation and undertook to provide staff to take the names of all who wished to enlist. The match kicked off at 5pm, rather than the customary 5.15, to allow the post-match arrangements to be conducted in daylight.

After some excellent attendances at Elland Road the season before, the crowd of 8,000 was disappointing. Given the extreme differences of opinion regarding the advisability of senior football continuing, however, it was entirely predictable.

City had the better of the first half exchanges but found the visitors' defence in resolute form, goalkeeper Arthur Reynolds making outstanding saves from Sharpe, Jackson, Price and Speirs. In contrast, Hogg had little to do, but after 25 minutes he conceded the opening goal. Fulham centre-forward Lee pushed the ball past the advancing keeper after receiving from former Arsenal forward Donald Slade.

It was a poor game and City did not look likely to equalise until near the end, when two Sharpe corners brought some anxious moments, but Leeds lost the match 1-0.

City were in some disarray without McLeod and Hampson: Peart failed to do himself justice and City had to do without centre-half John Hampson for the first few games and it certainly showedSpeirs was not at home leading the line, which was shuffled in the second half. Jackson went to centre, Speirs assumed his customary inside-left role and Price switched to inside-right. The changes brought no improvement and the Cottagers finished worthy winners.

Any success ever enjoyed by City was based on their resilience at home, so defeat at Elland Road was disappointing, instantly deflating the optimism that had built up since Herbert Chapman took the manager's chair.

Three days later, Leeds lost 3-1 at Stockport County. The Peacocks were without Peart, Bainbridge and Jackson, with debutants Lawrence, Rothwell and Cowen coming into the side as replacements. Speirs returned to inside-left and Price was asked to play centre-forward.

All four goals came before half time with Gault, Wood and Rodgers giving County a 3-0 lead in the first half hour. Sharpe managed to pull one goal back but City were soundly beaten, ending the day as the only club in the division without a point to their name.

Bainbridge and Jackson were back for the return game with Fulham at Craven Cottage on 9 September, Rothwell and Cowen making way. With Sharpe unavailable through injury, Fred Croot was given his first outing of the season on the left flank.

The game was a poor one with City outclassed. The Leeds Mercury reported: "Fulham showed most of their superiority during the first half but there was one man on the City side that impressed himself strongly upon the memory of the onlookers, and he was Hogg, the custodian. Had it not been for him the visitors might easily have found themselves badly in arrears at the interval. Hogg commenced his good work quite early in the game, for the men in front of him were distinctly slow in settling down, and he kept his charge intact until a minute before the change of ends. At times he was like a piece of India rubber, jumping up here and there, everywhere, in fact, at the right moment, and it was really unfortunate for him that the only goal of the match came when he had no possible chance of saving.

"Fulham had all along been playing the more businesslike football. They were quicker, cleverer with their footwork and undoubtedly better together than the City, who played with a deal of vigour but very little method. The work that led up to the goal was commenced by Bellamy, the old Burnley winger, who made ground nicely, and then centred in a backward direction to Slade. The latter immediately made a quick, low shot, which Hogg would easily have saved had not Blackman, the back, stepped right in front of him under the crossbar. The result was Hogg became unsighted, and Blackman, in his eagerness to clear, assisted the ball into the net.

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"The City played better during the second half, when they went for the ball as if they meant City's Scottish captain Jimmy Speirs headed the Peacocks into the lead against Hull City at Elland Road on 12 Septemberto get it. The chief fault, however, was their shooting and except on one occasion, when Jackson sent in a terrific shot, which Reynolds diverted over the bar, the Fulham goal experienced very few escapes."

Billy McLeod and Jack Hampson were finally available for selection when City hosted Hull on 12 September. The return of the two stalwarts brought an instant improvement and the Peacocks played their best football of the nascent season.

It was the visitors, however, who shaded the first half, though the game was still goalless at the break. The second half started with a near thing when Hogg was charged off the ball by Hull centre-forward Sammy Stevens, but Blackman saved the day at the expense of a corner.

Leeds' hopes were raised when they opened the scoring ten minutes into the second half. McLeod sparked off a promising move which ended with Hull glad to concede a corner as Croot threatened. The accuracy of the winger's flag kick made it a straightforward task for Jimmy Speirs to head home. The home men did not have time to settle on their lead: within a minute, inside-right Kitty Cameron beat Hogg to equalise.

Four minutes later Hull took the lead with the softest of goals. McQuillan, as he attempted to hold Stevens at bay, called for his goalkeeper to come out and collect but the full-back got in Hogg's way, and the two Leeds men confused each other. Stevens had the easiest of tasks to slip the ball into a gaping net.

Leeds tied the scores at 2-2 after Hull right-back John Pattison handled on the edge of the area. John Jackson headed home from Croot's free kick, the ball striking both keeper Nick Hendry and the post before entering the net.

Fifteen minutes before time, Hull were gifted a winning goal. Weak play by Leeds defenders left winger Jack Lee with a clear run on goal and he beat Hogg easily.

The Peacocks went all out for an equaliser over the final quarter of an hour and were unlucky to be denied, but their dismal run continued with a fourth straight defeat, 3-2.

Yorkist observed in the Mercury, "Hogg was in no way to blame for Leeds City's defeat, his only mistake being the misunderstanding with McQuillan. The left-back played well against his old colleagues, but Blackman was not as sound as usual. The reappearance of Hampson strengthened the half-back line, and there was little fault to find with the forwards, though McLeod, who was making his first appearance of the season, gave the impression that he is not yet quite fit. On the whole, Leeds City's display was an improvement on their previous work this season, but they had the misfortune to find Hull City in their happiest mood."

The Yorkshire Post: "To lose the first four matches off the reel is an experience which does not conduce to much confidence respecting Leeds City's chances of promotion. We observe that in the Elland Road club's official programme the excuse offered for the team's disappointing start is that the players have been discouraged by the Press crusade against the playing of football during this stage of the war. That, clearly, is an explanation which does not hold good, seeing that it applies to every team in the country, and The first appearance of the season came for Billy McLeod against Hull in September, but he didn't seem match fitequally to the teams who have proved Leeds City's victors. The only true explanation of the City's bad start is that the majority of the players have not as yet reproduced their form of last season. The failure of the half-backs to give the desired assistance to their forwards was very marked on Saturday, and that circumstance in conjunction with at least one sorry blunder at full-back must be held responsible for the team's defeat.

"McQuillan may be judged too harshly upon his share in the defeat. He is, in general, a sound back, and showed himself as such on Saturday, though lacking somewhat in speed, but he must learn that it is risky to signal his goalkeeper to come far out of his goal, and particularly that the goalkeeper must be left unhampered in such circumstances.

"Allowing for their gift of a goal to the other side, Leeds City were beaten on their merits. The lack of judgement shown by the half-backs in placing the ball too far forward caused the home front line to have to do most of their own foraging for the ball and consequently McLeod was seen at a disadvantage compared with Stevens, the Hull City centre-forward, who was very judiciously fed by Deney… Croot, with many perfect centres, was the most successful of the Leeds City forwards, but the effectiveness of the line was, as suggested, reduced by the inadequate support from behind."

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This represented the most depressing of starts, but some of the display at Hull hinted that Leeds were coming back to form and a week later they registered their first victory. At home to Blackpool, Webb Richardson and Ernie Goodwin were given League debuts. Goodwin had a splendid game, contributing a goal and some wonderful wing play in a 2-0 victory with McLeod getting the other goal.

JRH in the Mercury: "That the City deserved their victory cannot be denied… The changes in the Leeds team proved successful, both Goodwin and Richardson on the extreme wings of the front line acquitted themselves well, although Richardson could have improved upon his corner kicks. Goodwin, apart from sending in some splendid centres, was entrusted to take a penalty kick. Kidd managed to stop the ball, but Goodwin rushed forward and scored for the City. This was ten minutes from time.

"The other home forwards showed improvement on their previous displays. Their combination was better and their shooting more accurate. McLeod, who was a better leader than Lane, scored the City's first goal before the interval, but this was made for him by Hampson. The centre-half sent in a fine effort with his head, and before Kidd could effect a proper clearance McLeod gave Leeds the lead.

"In addition to the good work done by Hampson, the other halves did well in the way they supported the men in front of them. The same can be said about the Blackpool intermediate line, but their forwards did not always make the most of their opportunities."

City could not build on the victory and ended September with a 2-0 reverse at Clapton Orient. The Tony Hogg saved a penalty at Clapton on 26 September but to no avail - City lost 2-0game was goalless at half time after good defensive play by both sides, but the Londoners got two goals in quick succession in the middle of the second period. Hogg saved a penalty near the end to keep the score respectable, but City were well beaten, as reported by Metro in the Leeds Mercury.

"The City forwards were very weak, and rarely did they hang well together. Goodwin made most of the running but his colleagues badly neglected several of his centres. McLeod was always a great trier, but he seldom could negotiate the keen attentions of Scott, the Orient centre-half, who was chiefly responsible for the disorganisation of the City attacks. The Leeds halves were usually too busy endeavouring to quell the home forwards to be of much service to their own forwards, although Foley at times made some fine openings for Goodwin. Blackman and McQuillan, the backs, were both excellent, while Hogg did splendidly in goal. The City team as a whole, however, did not work well together. They should have played with more dash in order to hold the enthusiastic Orient men."

The start of October brought scant respite: City hosted table-topping Arsenal. The Peacocks welcomed back Sharpe from injury after four games and gave a debut at left-half to locally-born Wilson Wainwright, a 21-year-old signed from Morley in the close season.

After showing such poor form through the opening weeks, it might have been anticipated that City would struggle, but not a bit of it, as reported by JRB in the Mercury: "In what proved to be the best game of the season at Elland Road, Leeds City made a draw with The Arsenal in the presence of 10,000 spectators. The Arsenal came to Leeds with a record of nine points from six matches; a hard task therefore confronted the City team.

"There was plenty of exhilarating football, and the form of the City team was far, far better than at any other time this season. They played convincing football throughout, and they could claim superiority in attack in the first half, but in defence the visitors held their own. With such an admirable pair of backs as Shaw and Benson, the Arsenal goal was kept intact, although it had three very narrow escapes.

"The home front line, which included Ivan Sharpe, combined very well, and they finished their movements in the first half better than the visiting forwards. McLeod, however, might have improved upon some of his shots.

"It should be mentioned that the halves on both sides supported their forwards admirably, and Wainwright made a useful substitute for Foley on the left of the Leeds trio, while Buckley and Hampson, in the centre, did any amount of work both in attack and defence."

The Yorkshire Post: "There were about ten or twelve thousand spectators at Elland Road to witness the match between Leeds City and The Arsenal. They had the satisfaction of seeing a lively game and an exciting finish, for after being placed a goal in arrear three minutes from time the City made a draw of the match.

"The ground was swept by a strong, gusty wind, but the players mastered its difficulties very well; indeed, the kicking of both sets of backs formed a prominent feature of the game. The City had the wind in their favour to start with, and most of the attacks came from their forwards. They found it difficult to get past Shaw and Benson, however, and the few shots - the best was from the foot of Goodwin - that reached Lievesley were cleverly dealt with. The nearest approach to a score in this period was a shot by Bradshaw which struck the far post and then, rebounding across the goalmouth, enabled McQuillan to clear.

"In less than five minutes from the change of ends, Leeds City scored. Lawrence was palpably fouled in the Leeds were awarded a penalty when Val Lawrence was fouled by Arsenal on 3 October - it turned out to be the half-back's final appearance for the Peacockspenalty area, and the usual punishment being awarded, Goodwin shot hard into the left hand corner of the net. Twenty minutes passed before The Arsenal equalised. A corner followed a free kick just outside the penalty area, and from Rutherford's flag kick, a scrimmage ensued in front of goal and out of this Hardinge scored. The City defence was heavily tried after this, but held out until near the close, when from a corner kick by Rutherford the ball glanced off the crossbar to Bradshaw, whose shot Hogg had no chance of stopping. Hardly had the genuflexions of The Arsenal at this success ceased, when the City left wing was seen tearing away to the other end. Here there was a corner, and, Goodwin dropping the ball in front of goal, Speirs sprang up to it and headed it into the net. Thus the City drew the match with the score 2-2."

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The point saw City edge their way up to fourth from bottom and things continued to improve when they won 2-1 at Derby County on 10 October to register their first ever success at the Baseball Ground. Harry Peart and Mick Foley returned in the half-back line with Hampson out with lumbago.

Leeds began the game at a high pace and the first ten minutes were spent in and around the Derby goal, but then the Rams broke out for Baker to give them the lead. City equalised three minutes before the break. Derby full-back Waugh missed his kick and Ivan Sharpe seized possession and centred for Jimmy Speirs to score.

The second half was evenly contested but Leeds snatched an 87th minute winner, Billy McLeod heading home from a Sharpe centre. Tony Hogg had to make two late saves to preserve City's advantage, but they deserved the victory for their "good and superior football, as many of the 5,000 onlookers could be heard after the match to acknowledge," according to the Yorkshire Post.

The Mercury added, "There was no gainsaying the visitors' superiority in the first half, and although they were afterwards thrown more on the defensive they never lost ground. Derby neglected several chances, but their inability to score was due more to the steady play of Hogg and the Leeds full-backs than anything else. Hogg was a little unfortunate in regard to Derby's goal, which Baker scored ten minutes after the start. The latter hardly expected to succeed from the angle at which he aimed, and the ball appeared to cannon into the net off the goalkeeper. Otherwise Hogg was admirable and as much may be said of Scattergood, who, at the other end, had probably more to do. Ivan Sharpe had a good deal to do with the success of his side, and it was work by him that led up to both goals… Leeds' best wing was the left, Speirs showing wonderful form, and having much to thank Goodwin for."

During the week, City made it through to the final of the West Riding Cup, beating Bradford Park Avenue by the odd goal in seven at Elland Road, with McLeod getting a brace and Bainbridge and Speirs the others. Bradford came back from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 with eight minutes remaining. With the crowd starting to leave the ground, McLeod equalised and then Speirs drove home the winner with three minutes left.

When they followed up by defeating Lincoln City 3-1 on 17 October, thus moving up to 15th in the table, it seemed that Leeds had finally got their season on the move. According to the Yorkshire Post, they "proved to their numerous followers - about 10,000 spectators were present - that they still possess the talent from which the promotion problem may be tackled with some degree of confidence."

However, they got a rude awakening a week later at Birmingham. United in the Mercury: "If Leeds City had gone to Birmingham and found the home side in the form in which Stockport County encountered them a fortnight ago, the three goals the visitors scored would most assuredly have been sufficient to give them the victory; but although Leeds City scored thrice, and The Leeds City team pictured before they lost 6-3 at Birmingham on 24 October 1914 - Back: George Law, J C Whiteman (director), Tony Hogg, Fred Blackman, John Hampson, Mick Foley, Herbert Chapman (manager), Jack McQuillan - Front: Dick Murrell (trainer), Ivan Sharpe, John Jackson, Billy McLeod, Jimmy Speirs, Ernie Goodwin, Val Lawrencegave anything but a poor display, they found themselves in opposition to a forward line capable of registering half a dozen goals. Nine goals did the match yield, of which Birmingham scored twice as many as their opponents.

"Considering the wretched conditions, for, apart from the drizzling rain, the men were playing in a heavy mist, the football seen was thoroughly good and attractive, and Birmingham were unquestionably right at the top of their form. Rarely have their forwards shown such cleverness and initiative as they did in this game. The inside men were particularly smart and nippy. They brought some resourceful tricks out of their respective lockers, and they were abundantly successful with their shots. But it must not be imagined that the goals were due to indifferent custodianship. On the contrary, Hogg gave an excellent display between the Leeds posts. It was simply a case of the ball being usually placed so that the goalkeeper was helpless.

"Blackman and McQuillan kicked fairly strongly, but they slipped about a good deal. Why they should have been at such great disadvantage when compared with Womack and Ball, it is impossible to say. They were unable to keep their feet, and more than one goal accrued in consequence. The Leeds half-backs were by no means at their best; indeed, it was here that there was a great disparity between the work of the two sides. It is true that the Leeds halves had pretty well as much as they could do to try to hold the Birmingham vanguard, so there was some excuse for them if they failed to give their forwards as many favourable passes as they would have liked.

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"Coming to the forwards, Ivan Sharpe played very good football. He showed pace, got the ball across well, and was remarkably successful in front of goal. McLeod was another man who rendered his side useful service. He scarcely shot as well as he might have done, but he was one of the useful workers in the attacking division and Speirs was another. Goodwin and Jackson were not quite so The Yorkshire Post of 9 November 1914 reports on City's defeat at Huddersfield the previous Saturdayprominent as the others and do what Leeds would, they could never produce the same versatility and trickery of their opponents."

That City should so emphatically reverse the trend the following week, thrashing Grimsby Town 5-0, only demonstrated the startling inconsistency with which manager Herbert Chapman had to contend.

Billy McLeod opened the scoring after five minutes and notched his second just before half time. Speirs made it 3-0 midway through the second period and Bainbridge and Jackson completed the scoring as Leeds climbed to 14th.

Their stop-start run continued when they lost by a single goal on 7 November at Huddersfield, a match they were "distinctly unlucky to lose," according to Yorkist. "It was not a brilliant game, but it was intensely interesting all the way through, and the crowd was kept on tenterhooks right up to the final whistle. Leeds City certainly gave a fine display in all respects but one, and that was in shooting.

"Playing fast and open football, they were much the better side in the first half, but their finishing was wretched. Jackson, McLeod and Ivan Sharpe were the most notable sinners, as each missed glorious chances. Only once did Huddersfield Town really look like scoring in this half, and that was when Hogg fell in clearing a shot from Smith, the City custodian being lucky to scrape the ball out at the expense of a corner.

"Huddersfield Town improved considerably in the second half, but still Leeds City quite held their own. Even after Huddersfield Town got the lead the City continued to play pluckily, and no one could have grudged them a share of the points. Everybody agreed that the City did not deserve to lose.

"City had so much the better of the play in the first half, and had so many chances of scoring, that they ought to have made victory practically certain. Then it was chiefly a misunderstanding on the part of the City backs, Blackman and McQuillan, which enabled Shields, twenty minutes from time, to snatch the goal which gave Huddersfield Town the victory.

"Practically the only fault that can be found with Leeds City was the weak finishing of the forwards. All played quite cleverly in the open, but all were weak in the vicinity of goal. Ivan Sharpe, usually so accurate with his crosses, could not now find the right direction. Bainbridge, at outside-right, did well despite the fact that he sustained an injury to his right foot in the first half.

"Hampson played a great game at centre-half and Foley was also at the top of his form at left-half. Law worked hard at right-half, but was at times slow in parting with the ball. McQuillan gave a splendid display at left-back, but Blackman was not quite up to form against his old colleagues. Hogg was not much troubled in goal, and had no chance with the shot which The Yorkshire Post of 12 November 1914 reports City's first winning of the West Riding Cupbeat him."

Yorkist went on to suggest that City would beat Hull in the West Riding Cup final at Elland Road the following Wednesday, and his prediction proved well founded.

Leeds recovered from the sending off of centre-half Jack Hampson at the start of the second half to win the game with a goal from captain Jimmy Speirs.

The game was ruined as a spectacle by the appalling weather, with heavy rain falling and players slipping and sliding on a mud bath of a pitch. The conditions limited the crowd to 830 and receipts to less than £30, which only just covered expenses.

It was the first time City had won the trophy, which they were presented with after the game by Joseph Connor, president of the West Riding FA, who took the opportunity of responding to those who wanted competitive football suspended while the conflict in Europe raged on. "It was not fair that the game should be singled out for special criticism. As a matter of fact Association football had responded creditably to the country's call. In the West Riding Association alone the returns showed that about 2,000 players had enlisted in one or other of the national forces. The Association gave every encouragement to players to enlist and would continue to do so."

When Hampson's dismissal was considered by the West Riding FA some weeks later, it was decided, in view of his previously exemplary disciplinary record, that his punishment should be limited to a fine of four shillings.

City's following three League games, against Bristol City, Bury and Preston, all resulted in draws, with the only goal coming from McLeod against Bristol on 14 November. The goalless draw at home to Preston on 28 November left them five places off bottom.

Following the Bury game, both clubs reported the official, Mr G M Pardoe of Kidderminster, to the Football League for his "indifferent refereeing".

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During the first half McLeod secured possession while in an offside position and passed out to Goodwin. As McLeod prepared to hammer home the cross, he was brought down. The referee awarded a penalty, but was persuaded to change his decision when Bury players asked him to consult his linesman. Earlier, Pardoe had also refused Bury a spot kick.

The referee's decisions incensed the crowd and after the final whistle there were rowdy scenes, which were also the subject of an official report to the Football League. As the players left the field, Jimmy Speirs got into a heated argument with one of the Bury players and when the City players reached their dressing room they found their way blocked by a hostile crowd of home supporters. A nasty confrontation was avoided when some calmer attendeesArthur Price's hat trick destroyed Leicester Fosse on 12 December intervened, "although one threatening individual was detained", and officials managed to clear a way through.

City ought to have beaten Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on 5 December, but lost 3-1. They found their best form a week later, however, when they hammered Leicester Fosse 7-2 with the reinstated Arthur Price getting a second half hat trick.

Again, City failed to build on the result and lost 2-1 at Barnsley on 19 December. They were handicapped by Jack Hampson's concussion; when he returned to action he was forced to play out the game at inside-right with John Jackson dropping back. Barnsley equalised Sharpe's opening goal in the twenty minutes that Hampson was off recovering. Lees scored the winner for Barnsley in the 70th minute.

City finished the year off in style, however, with two victories over bottom club Glossop. Both games, on Christmas Day at Glossop and Boxing Day at Elland Road, finished 3-0. Fred Croot featured in both matches, recalled for the injured Ivan Sharpe, and it was from his cross that Jackson opened the scoring at Glossop. Speirs was unlucky when he hit the post with keeper Causer beaten but McLeod soon increased the advantage, drawing Causer out before sliding the ball home. Jackson completed the scoring, again from a Croot centre.

City returned the same score at Elland Road the following day, but there were complaints in the Leeds Mercury that the Peacocks let themselves down.

"Most of the spectators at Elland Road on Saturday would be inclined to blame Leeds City for having been content with three goals in the game against Glossop. It will undoubtedly be a long time before they get such another chance of pushing up their goal average. Indeed, if they had netted ten times, it would not have been surprising. In the second half, for instance, it was pitiful to see both McLeod and Price helpless in front of goal when Jackson presented them with openings. Later, too, Price was a delinquent and once or twice Croot refused to bustle in as he might have done.

"Despite the second half shortcomings, one was compelled to admire the home attack for its splendid opportunism early on, and much of the credit for this is due to McLeod. He arranged his assaults in a perfectly cool and confident fashion, and the The Yorkshire Post of  28 December 1914 reports the Boxing Day defeat of Glossop at Elland Roadgoals were practically inevitable.

"The first of the trio was a masterpiece of accuracy and insight… Hampson had put an end to a rather erratic movement by the Glossop forwards and had given Croot and Price a start in the right direction. It was the winger who polished the movement, forcing his way in and centring right over everybody's head to Bainbridge, who was totally unmarked. For the latter to swing the ball into the net was simplicity itself. The third goal was the outcome of a similar effort from Croot, when McLeod headed in another centre.

"The second, however, was the result of a fine piece of unselfishness on the part of McLeod. He had determinedly worked his way to within ten yards of the goal and when having drawn both backs he passed in to Price."

Those two wins saw City end the year 13th in the table, as high as they had been all season, and hinting that they might yet be able to fashion some sort of promotion challenge, if only they could quell their remarkable inconsistency.

Part 1 Ravaged by war - Part 3 Erratic in the extreme - Results and table - printer friendly version

Other Football Highlights from 1914/15

  • New League champions Everton owed their second title win (they had won the third ever Championship back in 1891) largely to their results away from home, where they won 11 times and conceded just 18 goals in 19 games. Only bottom club Spurs won fewer than Everton's eight at home. Everton's winning total of 46 points was the lowest since the First Division was increased to 20 clubs. They were only six points above West Bromwich Albion in 11th place
  • With the War in progress since August, the Cup final was a very low key affair. It was held at Old Trafford in wet, gloomy conditions, with thousands of servicemen in uniform among the near 50,000 crowd, many of them bearing signs of injuries sustained at the Front. The outcome was an easy 3-0 win for Sheffield United over Chelsea
  • As the War dragged on, and news came back of terrible casualties at the Front, the football authorities began to view the situation with growing concern. The season was allowed to finish, although the fixtures played out with little enthusiasm. It was understandably difficult for the players to concentrate on football. As soon as the season was over, there was a rush to change their football strip for the uniforms of the armed forces

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