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Season 1914/15 Part 3
Erratic in the extreme

Former Bradford City skipper Jimmy Speirs got the Peacocks' consolation goal against Stockport CountyPart 1 Ravaged by war - Part 2 Ten years in the making - Results and table

Leeds City Association Football Club had hoped that the 1914/15 season would see them finally secure promotion into the First Division. But extreme inconsistency through the autumn undermined those aspirations: City had followed a 6-3 reverse at Birmingham on 24 October by turning over Grimsby 5-0 a week later; a 7-2 thrashing of Leicester Fosse on 12 December was sandwiched between disappointing losses at Nottingham Forest and Barnsley.

Beating struggling Glossop twice over the Christmas holiday period, however, left the club at a season's high 13th position, looking to put together a run that would see them scale the table.

They expected to continue their advance with an Elland Road fixture against Stockport County on 2 January, but were sadly disappointed, as recounted by JRB in his report of the game for the Leeds Mercury.

'The defeat of Leeds City by Stockport County must have been a big disappointment to the majority of the seven thousand spectators who assembled at Elland Road. It cannot be gainsaid that on the day's play the visitors were fully entitled to both points, as they were quite as good as Leeds in attack and certainly superior in defence.

'Their victory of three goals to one was not brought about by means of really clever forward work, but owing to the weakness of the home backs. They frequently let in the County forwards, who made the most of the mistakes of Blackman and Affleck. The goal scored by Stockport after half an hour's play was the result of an error on the part of Blackman, who let Lloyd - a very good wing forward - get past him, to give the ball to Kenyon, who scored. With this goal the visitors led at the interval, although Leeds came near scoring on two occasions.

'Although the City managed to equalise about fifteen minutes after the interval, Speirs heading in from a pass by Bainbridge, they never played like a winning side, and appeared to be worn out at the conclusion of the game. It is true that they came within an ace of scoring towards the end when McLeod, with only Evans to beat, sent in a hard drive, which the County custodian smartly saved, but with difficulty.

'Stockport's other two goals came in the last eight minutes, Rodgers scoring from an accurately-placed centre by Proctor, who also took the corner kick which enabled Graham to beat Hogg for the third time.

'The City forwards did well. At times they passed splendidly, while Sharpe and McLeod sent in several good shots. They had to work hard to get past Goodwin and Fagan, an admirable pair of backs, who played a big part in the success of the visitors. In front of them were a good trio of halves, who supported their forwards well. The same can be said of the home lot, of whom Hampson was the pick. Law, who took the free kicks, narrowly missed scoring on two occasions.'

Thus thwarted, City did not hold out much hope for their FA Cup first round tie, away to Derby County on 9 January. The Rams were atop the Second Division table and had gone fourteen matches without defeat since Leeds beat them at the Baseball Ground on 10 October. That win was City's only success away from Elland Road thus far and they had won just five of their thirteen games since.

It was with a little trepidation, therefore, that the City party left for the East Midlands.

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The only change to the Leeds team was Harry Peart returning at centre-half for the injured Jack Hampson and the eleven read as follows: Tony Hogg; Fred Blackman, George Affleck; George Law, Peart, Mick Foley; Simpson Bainbridge, John Jackson, Billy McLeod, Jimmy Speirs (captain), Ivan Sharpe.

The Peacocks played a sound game, far better than their record suggested they might, starting "in a quick and confident style", according to the Yorkshire Post. Sharpe gave them a first half lead and though Fordham equalised for Derby following a free kick, McLeod scored the winner towards the end of the tie.

The victory was well deserved, though it was generally reported that it was a case of County being poor rather than Leeds playing an outstanding game. Nevertheless, it was a notable achievement and a rare Cup victory for City.

When the Peacocks followed on a week later with an astonishing 6-2 victory at Hull, McLeod contributing five goals, it seemed that they had turned the corner. Incredibly, the erratic form that had haunted the club continued unabated; City lost five games on the bounce, the first four without troubling the scorers.

The first of those defeats, at Blackpool on 23 January, came courtesy of a hotly disputed penalty eight minutes before the end of the first half. Tommy Lamph retained his position at centre-half with Peart suspended and Hampson injured, but conceded the spot kick after bringing down Blackpool inside-right Green.

Herbert Chapman was absent from the game, choosing instead to watch his old club Northampton play Queens Park Rangers, City's opponents in the second round of the Cup the following week.

The defeat at Blackpool was not the best preparation for facing a team who were champions of the Southern League in 1908 and 1912 and had gone unbeaten since the end of November. But memories of the first round victory at Derby were still vivid and gave supporters hopes of another win. The only team change saw Hampson restored after three games out with flu. The City party travelled to London by train the day before the tie and spent the evening at the Kings Cross Hotel.

City negotiated for the game to be played at Elland Road as both Chelsea and Fulham were also playing at home, but their request was rejected by Rangers.

Given the competition from the other games in West London, an attendance of around 10,000 was as good as could be expected, and among them were a number of Leeds soldiers attached to the Yorkshire Light Infantry, in training at Whitley Common in Surrey. Though the day was fine, the pitch was greasy and holding. Jimmy Speirs won the toss but there was little wind and little advantage to be gained.

Rangers were committed to an aggressive pressing game and two free kicks were awarded against them in as many minutes. The Londoners' right winger, Thompson, had a couple of promising runs and sound defensive work was required of first Hampson and then Blackman to deny him.

Bainbridge led the first City attack and Rangers keeper MacLeod had to be smart to block a Speirs header and then a hard drive by the same player. City came close to scoring from a well-placed corner by Bainbridge but MacLeod saved a header from his Leeds namesake before Bainbridge hammered the loose ball wide.

Rangers responded powerfully and when one fierce drive came in from Birch it was only denied by a City defender throwing A mistake by full-back George Affleck cost City the winning goal at QPR in the Cuphis body fearlessly into its path.

At the other end, Billy McLeod beat a number of defenders before feeding Jackson, but the inside-forward had little room to fashion a shooting opportunity for himself.

A closely-fought contest reached the interval without a goal, but Rangers pressed hard at the start of the second half, with Leeds showing the effects of the first half pace and the heavy pitch. Hogg was brilliant in saving from Donald and Mitchell, at one stage diving at the ball and then flicking it clear as he lay sprawled on the ground. Blackman was cautioned by the referee for bringing down Miller on the edge of the area.

Seven minutes after the resumption, Hogg's goal was pierced. Affleck misjudged his kick and gave Broster and Thompson the chance to break down the right. Thompson fired across the face of goal and inside-left Simons registered an easy score. There were protests that Simons was offside, but the referee dismissed the claims.

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Rangers continued to attack and Affleck, Hampson and Blackman were forced to concede corners before Hogg was injured and required treatment following one save.

Yorkist in the Leeds Mercury: 'With only fifteen minutes left for play, Leeds City rallied in remarkable fashion. Twice in rapid succession the Rangers custodian was almost beaten. Then City forced a corner, and immediately following this McLeod and Jackson appeared certain to score between them. McLeod was in the act of shooting when one of the Rangers backs, who had fallen, held McLeod as in a vice with his legs, and the Rangers custodian was able to clear. Had the referee noticed the incident he must have awarded a penalty. Then Jackson was nearly through again, the Rangers custodian saving with a crowd of players on top of him.

'Try as they would, the City could not get the ball in the net, and it was a great relief to the crowd when the whistle went for time.

'The two outstanding men on the Leeds City side were Hogg and Hampson. Hogg gave a remarkably fine display of goalkeeping, and he came through a very trying time in the second half with distinct credit. Blackman and Affleck were not quite as sound as usual at back. They made few serious mistakes, however, and it was distinctly hard luck on Affleck that one of his few errors should have cost his side so dearly. Apart from that mistake, his work was good.

'Hampson distinguished himself at centre-half, and his display was all the more noteworthy because of the fact that it was his first appearance after the illness which kept him out of the team since the Stockport County match on January 4th. He was the best half-back on the field. Law was a good second to him, and Foley, of less prominence than the other two, also worked hard.

'The forwards were good in the first half and in the last quarter of an hour Speirs, McLeod and Jackson were the pick. Bainbridge made the most of his chances, but most of the play was on the other wing. Ivan Sharpe was not allowed much time, however, as he was well watched.'

City lost a midweek match at home to Clapton Orient thanks to a breakaway goal five minutes before half time. Hogg caught a centre but his clearance fell to Orient centre-forward Jonas, who scored easily.

The Londoners were on defence for most of the game and were lucky not to concede when City were awarded a penalty in the first ten minutes. Sharpe drove the kick straight at the goalkeeper. Shortly afterwards McLeod headed against the bar and Speirs then went close with two headers.

'On the run of the play they ought easily to have won,' reported the Yorkshire Post. 'In the second half quite four fifths of the play again ran in the City's favour, but score they could not.'

The Peacocks' misery was compounded when McLeod suffered a ricked back and finished the game a limping passenger on the right wing.

The centre-forward was an absentee when City visited Highbury on 6 February to play The Arsenal. The Leeds line up showed a host of changes with Herbert Chapman resting a number of players who required a break. John Edmondson was given his debut in McLeod's stead, as was goalkeeper Willis Walker as replacement for Tony Hogg. Jack McQuillan made his first appearance since the middle of November, taking the place of Fred Blackman, while John Jackson ousted Simpson Bainbridge on the right wing.

The turf was 'simply not fit for serious football', according to the Yorkshire Post. 'The greater part of the playing pitch was ankle deep in mud. It was gravely stated that the condition of the ground was not as bad as it had previously been for some weeks;The 1915 Arsenal side that saw off City at Highbury in early February hence the advantage of acquaintance with it by the home side will be obvious.

'As it was, the game was well and closely contested, and the City on the general play deserved at least to share the points. They had rather the worse of the play in the first half, but were the more aggressive side afterwards, and only the splendid goalkeeping of Lievesley, combined with examples of really bad luck, prevented them from scoring.

'The Arsenal scored the two goals of the match in the first half, one after twenty minutes' play and the other just before the interval. Rutherford was the scorer in the first instance, and he also initiated the movement that led to the second goal. He had just had a hard, direct shot excellently parried by Walker in the City goal and then sent across a left leg drive, which was obviously intended for a centre, but the ball curled in and found the far corner of the net. Walker was taken by surprise, and fell before he could reach the ball.

'In the other case Rutherford made a fast run and centre, and Bradshaw was allowed to score more easily than he should have done, for Walker did not anticipate the shot, and again stumbled in trying to save it. The Arsenal goal had narrow escapes from shots by Edmondson and headers by Speirs, and it was generally acknowledged that Leeds did not deserve to be two goals behind at half-time.

'In the second half the City showed the better stamina and were triers to the last minute. Their own goal was several times assailed, but without falling, Walker saving some good shots, and Law, Hampson, Affleck and McQuillan showing good defence. Flanagan and Bradshaw caused them the most trouble. On the other hand, the City attacked hotly, especially in the last twenty minutes, and Edmondson found his best shots splendidly dealt with by Lievesley, who can still claim to be as good a goalkeeper as he was at Sheffield. Twice, however, he was lucky in having shots cannon harmlessly off him when he had fairly been beaten.'

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The 2-0 defeat was disappointing after such a splendid performance, but was not unexpected against a team who moved into second place in the table as a consequence. The following weekend brought no respite, for the visitors to Elland Road were table topping Derby County, eager to gain revenge for the two defeats they had suffered at home to City earlier in the campaign.

Walker and Edmondson retained their places, though Billy McLeod was recalled, playing inside-right; Harry Peart deputised for Jack Hampson, excused service on compassionate grounds after the death of his father during the week.

Yorkist in the Leeds Mercury: 'It was only in accord with the many curious results of A Derby County line up from 1914 - inside-left Jimmy Moore (second left on the front row) was one of the scorers at Elland Road in the Rams' 5-3 victory on 13 February. Future Leeds United manager Frank Buckley is pictured third from right at the backfootball this season that Leeds City should be beaten at home by Derby County. The Elland Road representatives astonished the football world by winning at Derby in October by the odd goal in three, and they repeated the performance in the first round of the Cup competition, these being the only occasions Derby County have failed on their own ground this season. Their victory by 5-3 at Elland Road on Saturday was a fair measure of revenge.

'The match was altogether a disastrous one for Leeds City. It had promised to be one of the most attractive of the season, but it was ruined by the blizzard. It was surprising that as many as four thousand people had the courage to turn out in such shocking weather, but the majority of them were under shelter in the stands.

'The players had a gruelling time of it. The ground was little better than a lake of mud, while rain and sleet, driven by a chilling breeze, fell practically throughout the ninety minutes. One or two of the players were scarcely fit to turn out in the second half, so severely had they been buffeted by the storm.

'In spite of all this, however, quite an interesting game was served up. There were naturally numerous mistakes, and it was the mistakes of Leeds City which contributed to their defeat more than the cleverness of Derby County. Leeds City undoubtedly had the better of the play for the greater part of the game, but mistakes on the part of their defence cost them four of the five goals recorded by Derby County and that was how the visitors succeeded.

'Only twice in the first ten minutes of the game did Derby County become dangerous, but on each occasion they were virtually presented with a goal. On the first occasion both Peart and Blackman missed the ball and Moore, the County inside-left, got away with a clear course, and scored from short range. A similar mistake by Affleck led to Derby's second goal, Leonard, the County centre-forward, also getting a clear course. Walker came out to meet him, but Leonard drove the ball past the custodian and it went into the net from the crossbar.

'It looked as if City were in for a severe beating, but the players never lost heart and were invariably hovering in the vicinity of the County goal. Speirs made a bad mess of one great chance, but City nevertheless succeeded in drawing level two minutes before the interval. Their first goal was the best of the match. Foley sent Price away on the right and Price flashed the ball into the centre, where it was met by Edmondson running at top speed. Without hesitation Edmondson let drive with a terrific rising shot, the ball crashing against the underside of the crossbar and going through.

'Edmondson was nearly in again a minute later. He forced a corner, and this led to the equaliser. George Law took the kick instead of Price and placed the ball so well that Speirs headed past Lawrence, the custodian getting his hand to the ball, but failing to hold it. The enthusiasm of the crowd was naturally great at these successes, but their joy was quickly damped, for two minutes later Walker, the young City custodian, let a simple shot from Moore slip through his hands. Thus the County led by the odd goal in five at the interval.

'Only six minutes of the second half had elapsed when Walker again caused consternation in the City camp by allowing a long ground shot from Baker, the County outside-left, to again slip through his hands. City nevertheless continued to play up pluckily and Lawrence was frequently tested, but refused to be beaten.

'The issue was placed out of doubt eight minutes from the end, when Derby County scored again, Leonard getting a good goal at close range from a centre by Baker. City got a curious goal in the last minute, during a scrimmage, the ball cannoning off Sharpe's arm into the net. The Derby players appealed for a free kick, but Mr Pearson allowed a goal, a very questionable decision.

'One of the disappointing features of the match was that Walker, the young county cricketer, should fail to do himself justice in the City goal in his first big match before the home crowd. He had shaped well on the occasion of his League debut in the match against The Arsenal at Highbury on the previous Saturday, but he must now have been seized with a bad attack of nerves.

'It may be that he was upset by the two early goals scored by Derby County, for which he was in no way to blame; Young goalkeeper Willis Walker did well on his City debut at Highbury on 6 February but went through the wars a week later at the Baseball Ground as he shipped five goals against Derbybut, no doubt, he is still marvelling to himself how he missed stopping the shots which secured the third and fourth goal. With a little more experience, however, I feel convinced that Walker will make a first rate custodian.

'The experiment of playing Price and McLeod on the right wing was not quite a success, as neither player was at his best, though Price had a share in the first goal. Edmondson, the young centre-forward, shaped well and that great opening goal he scored stamped him as an opportunist. He looks like making a name for himself. Speirs and Sharpe were clever on the left wing.'

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Undeterred by the defeat, the fifth in succession, which left them seventeenth in the table, City came back to form a week later, winning 1-0 at Lincoln City.

The home team were unbeaten since November, but the Peacocks outclassed them. Hampson and Jackson were restored to the team and Ernie Goodwin returned for his first appearance since the end of November, though he was now on the right flank.

The Yorkshire Post reported that Leeds 'were not so frequently in front of goal as their opponents, but there was more polish about their methods, and Butler, the home custodian, had more dangerous shots to negotiate than Walker'.

Sharpe was the most threatening of the Leeds forwards and early on the Lincoln keeper was relieved to concede a corner after saving a shot from the amateur.

Leeds took the lead after seven minutes. Edmondson capitalised on Goodwin's cross to fire home the opening goal, which turned out to be the only score of the afternoon.

Lincoln fought hard to get back on terms and Egerton shot against the bar with Walker beaten; the same player rounded the keeper before losing possession and seeing Blackman clear.

Just before the interval, Edmondson netted again after getting past the Lincoln custodian but saw his effort ruled out for offside.

The Peacocks' defence was resolute in the second half and successfully kept out the Lincoln forward line to secure a much needed victory.

City built on that success by beating Birmingham 2-0 at Elland Road on 27 February with goals from Jackson and Price. It was a notable achievement for the Midlanders were pressing hard for promotion.

In the week that followed, Leeds City tendered the club's resignation from the Midland League so that the reserve team could play instead in the more suitable Central League competition. They successfully applied for admission two months later and in accordance with regulations Herbert Chapman resigned from the Central League management committee.

On 6 March a City team unchanged for the third successive game triumphed by 5-2 at Grimsby.

Cestus in the Leeds Mercury: 'Leeds City recorded a great success at Grimsby, when they claimed five of the seven goals scored in a game which was quite one of the most exciting seen at Blundell Park this winter.

'On the run of the play Leeds City were fortunate to win by so decisive a margin, for Grimsby did much more attacking than the visitors, and the success was due primarily to a wonderful display of goalkeeping by Walker - who must have broken the hearts of the Town attackers by the uncanny manner in which he seemed to anticipate the strength and angle of their shots - and by the power of the forwards to keep their heads and shoot with judgement when chances did come their way.

'To say that Grimsby did three fourths of the forcing work is but to give them their due, but their work, though fiercely energetic at times, was deficient in style and polish. At close quarters, too, they lacked confidence. Walker was given opportunities to save balls which, had the opening been used properly, he never ought to have had a chance with. Still that was Grimsby's look out. The custodian made no mistake if the attackers did.

'In striking contrast was the finishing power of the Leeds raiders. They may have advanced to Grimsby's end a dozen times in the course of the game - certainly not more - and yet they made five goals! The shooting was quite deadly. One could not wish to see anything more workmanlike than the first time shots with which Jackson and Sharpe scored their respective goals, while as every forward in the line helped himself to a point it is obvious that every man was equal to opportunity when it waited upon him.

'Sharpe and Price were the better wing. The amateur was much too speedy for the Town defenders. Edmondson was seen to advantage as a distributor in the first half, but he sustained a kick which caused him to limp, and to be subdued in the second stage. Jackson was always good, while Goodwin showed ability to keep his head cool and his feet busy when a mistake by Arrowsmith allowed him to cut in for goal and score.

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'The middle men were a sounder trio than the home line. Foley was the cleverest, but Hampson was a great worker. Blackman was the better back, but the outstanding man of the defence was Walker.'

A week later a 1-0 victory over Huddersfield courtesy of a goal from Ivan Sharpe took City up to a season's high of twelfth place, ten points clear of the re-election zone and getting close to securing their Second Division status.

A crowd of 12,000, the highest at Elland Road all season, witnessed a lacklustre game in which Huddersfield rarely threatened a goal. City were not much better, though they did dominate possession. The Terriers defence performed admirably in difficult circumstances and denied the Leeds forwards on a number of occasions.

The Peacocks gave a better performance at Bristol City on 20 March, but were defeated by a single goal, scored right at the end of the first half. The Yorkshire Post claimed that 'a draw would better have represented the play, for the visitors were quite as good a side as Bristol though fortune did not befriend Arthur Price scored the winner against Bury on 27 March and a hat trick against Forest on 10 April, his second trio of the campaigntheir scoring efforts.'

Goals from McLeod and Price were enough to secure a 2-1 victory at Elland Road against Bury on 27 March, with all the goals coming in the first half hour of the game. The victory all but guaranteed City would retain their Second Division status, though one more point was needed to be mathematically assured.

That left City with little to play for in their remaining six games and there was little surprise when they lost 2-0 at second-placed Preston on 3 April. Nevertheless they started the game well and should have taken the lead in the first fifteen minutes, but Sharpe sent the ball over the bar when faced with an open goal. Preston opened the scoring three minutes later, but had to wait until the closing minutes before adding to their score.

That same afternoon, a startling 5-4 victory by Leicester Fosse against Stockport County meant that the Fosse retained the slimmest of chances of catching Leeds, but when the East Midlanders lost 1-0 at Derby County two days later the result confirmed City's Second Division future.

It was just as well, for the Peacocks were hammered 5-1 at Wolverhampton that day. Twenty-four hours later the same two teams met at Elland Road and the Wanderers emerged victorious once more, but it was a rather closer affair with Leeds going down by the odd goal in five.

Further evidencing their chronic inconsistency, City snapped back to winning ways with an emphatic 4-0 defeat of Nottingham Forest on 10 April after three successive defeats.

Arthur Price scored three of the goals, the first after just eight minutes with a low drive. He added his second in similar style midway through the first half and completed his hat trick five minutes after the break. Ivan Sharpe scored a fourth, atoning for some wayward shooting earlier in the contest. The victory could have been even greater: George Law saw his penalty saved by Forest keeper Powell.

Inevitably, a tremendous win was followed by just as one-sided a reverse the following week, with Leicester earning revenge for their 7-2 defeat at Elland Road in December by hammering City 5-1.

JTS in the Mercury: 'It was a very remarkable game, in which a team of far greater talent and football ability was hopelessly outclassed by what would be an inferior side under anything like ordinary conditions. The Fosse team as a whole is a very light one and the forwards, in consequence of their lack of stamina, are generally no match for a side of greater weight, especially when the turf is damp and holding. But on Saturday the conditions were not those which generally prevail at football. The ground was hard, fast and true, but at the same time no one imagined that this factor would prove so great a drawback to a side of the speed and resource of Leeds City.

'The crack was a sudden and deep one, for after twenty minutes' play, the Fosse began to make rings round the City defence, so that Walker in goal had quite a lot of very hard work to do. The City goalkeeper, too, seemed to be upset by the rapidity with which the attacks were developed, and the fast drives which were fired at him from all angles. Then he fell into temptation.

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'A Fosse forward centred the ball into that zone of danger which lies behind the backs, and yet well in front of the goalkeeper. Walker went for the ball, but as he was on his journey, the ball was popped over his head into the tenantless goal. Then Walker failed to hold a low, fast drive from Douglas, and the ball passed between his legs for goal number two. A minute or two later King walked past with the ball as Walker lay prone on the ground. These three goals were scored in six minutes.

'Leeds could not get going, and their fancy movements, their openings, and all the other ornamental drapery were of no avail on a hard, true surface. Before half time Leicester added yet another goal, and as Leeds could not score on their own, one of the Leicester backs presented them with a goal by deflecting the ball against one of the uprights. At the interval the score was 4 to 1 in favour of the home side.

'In the second half Leeds City could do nothing right; they hit the crossbar often, and forced many corners all in vain. The Fosse, on the other hand, added yet another to their substantial total. That is the story of a very remarkable match.'

City completed their campaign on 24 April with a drab 2-0 defeat at home to Barnsley. The South Yorkshire team were always the masters on the day, with Willis Walker earning a man of the match rating for his goalkeeping display, denying Barnsley an even higher score.

Joe Green, a local recruit, was given his debut at left-back, and he was culpable for the first goal after five minutes. In attempting to clear a low drive from Lees, Green saw his kick charged down by Fletcher, and the ball rebounded into the net.

That setback knocked the stuffing out of City and they rarely looked like getting back on terms, FA secretary Fred Wall predicted an uncertain future for the gameconceding again on the half hour. They rallied a little in the second half but were always the inferior side, seeing out a disappointing season with a feeble whimper.

On a positive note, Billy McLeod's 18 League goals made him the club's leading goalscorer for the ninth successive season since joining City from Lincoln, a tribute to the centre-forward's astonishing consistency. His record in the League for City now stood at 163 goals from 281 appearances, with a further six goals in 12 Cup games.

Leeds finished fifteenth, victims of the appalling inconsistency that had dogged them all year. The onset of war had left little incentive for the winning of promotion, as it was almost certainly going to be the final season of normal competitive football. This brought with it plummeting attendances and a consequent lack of atmosphere.

In March, the Football Association decreed that no wages were to be paid to professional footballers between May and July, and that the maximum weekly wage was reduced from 4 to 3. A transfer embargo was put in place until August.

In April, FA secretary Fred Wall revealed there was unlikely to be any Cup-ties or League matches played in 1915/16, basing his conclusions on the action of the FA Council in deciding to defer consideration of dates for Cup competitions and international matches and agreeing that the future action of the Council should be guided by developments in the War.

Wall added that in 1914 there had been large financial barriers to such an action as contracts had been made with players, landlords and building contractors, involving about 750,000. This rendered any suspension of games in 1914/15 impossible, the war coming so unexpectedly in August, after all arrangements had been finalised.

Although competitive games only normally began in September, the engagement of players was effective from May. For 1915/16 matters would be different: no agreements with players would be countenanced.

There was consequently little to look forward to that spring for Leeds City, as outlined by the Yorkshire Evening Post towards the end of April: "The end of a very unsatisfactory football season will find practically every League club in the Football Association and the Northern Rugby League much worse off financially than it was at the beginning of the season. Leeds City, Hunslet and Bramley have all been on the parish, in other words they have found it necessary to apply to the League Relief Fund for assistance. Leeds City have indeed found it very difficult to continue, and now that their season has ended it is a matter of great concern for the Receiver for the debenture holders (Mr Tom Coombs) and the directors how to keep the club afloat until another period of activity comes along after the War."

That particular problem was to be eased a few months later, but Elland Road in the summer of 1915 was a very depressed environment.

Part 1 Ravaged by war - Part 2 Ten years in the making - Results and table

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