Seasons 1915-19 Part 1
1915/16 Springtime triumph as war rages on
Following the onset of war in August 1914, competitive football continued unabated through the 1914/15 season, despite many protests that it was both inappropriate and an unnecessary distraction while thousands were losing their lives in the trenches. Leeds City were fancied for honours but trailed in fifteenth, their hopes unhinged by extraordinary inconsistency.
As the grip of war tightened in 1915, more players began to enlist and gates dwindled. In July, it was decided to cancel the regular League and Cup programmes, and replace them with regional leagues, one for Lancashire and the other for the Midlands (which bizarrely encompassed Yorkshire). The players would not be paid, and nor would there be any medals or trophies. Matches were to be scheduled only for Saturdays and holidays, with no midweek games to interfere with work in the munitions factories.
Many clubs decided to close their gates for the duration of the war. Leeds City were among those who chose to continue, competing in the Midland Section. They were pitted against The Wednesday, Sheffield United, Bradford Park Avenue, Bradford City and Notts County of the First Division, along with Division Two rivals Lincoln City, Hull City, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, Leicester Fosse, Huddersfield Town, Grimsby Town and Derby County.
Before the players could take the field, the club had to pick a path through the cloying financial undergrowth in which they had been enmeshed for several years.
Since March 1912, City's affairs had been managed by a liquidator, local accountant Tom Coombs. At the time of his appointment, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported: 'At the commencement of the present football season it was stated that the indebtedness of the club to Mr Norris Hepworth, the chairman, was £10,733, and that the club's total indebtedness to all sources at that date was £13,297. At a special general meeting of the shareholders, held just after the season commenced, the directors submitted a scheme which aimed at the liquidation of the whole of the club's indebtedness by an appeal for fresh capital. New proposals were advanced by the shareholders, however, and a small committee of shareholders was appointed to confer with the directors on the matter, but apparently no substantial result has been forthcoming from the movement. Mr Hepworth is still the principal creditor of the club, and holds the bulk of the debentures. It is understood that a scheme of reconstruction is in contemplation, and that the ultimate result will be to give the club a fresh and more prosperous lease of life.'
There had been no new dawn, and matters worsened when Hepworth died in February 1914, leaving Coombs to desperately pursue a sustainable solution to the financial plight.
On 2 August 1915, the Leeds Mercury reported that the Leeds Rugby League Club was considering 'the question of purchasing the Leeds City Club lock, stock and barrel, and transferring to Headingley.' Coombs instantly refuted the claim.
The following day the Mercury reported, 'The rumour of a proposed transference of the Leeds City Association Football Club from the Elland Road ground to Headingley … has caused a sensation in Leeds soccer and Northern Union circles.
'The position so far as the Headingley people are concerned is that they may buy Leeds City's fixtures at Elland Road, stands, etc, if they care to take them, and they would get the League rights in the players on Leeds City's books, plus, of course, the position in the Second Division of the League - if the League sanctioned the transfer.
'Given that necessary sanction, the Northern Union game would be banished from Headingley and soccer would be played instead. The Elland Road ground would become waste land for the time being, and its future would be a matter of doubt.
'People may ask, 'What about the Leeds City shareholders?' The answer is that in the circumstances the Leeds City shareholders do not exist. They have lost their money, and they have no legal right to say a word concerning the future of the club. Fortunately for them there is a distinct chance that the Management Committee of the League would take the view that the Leeds City shareholders have some moral right in the matter, and they may ask the Liquidator to call a meeting of the old shareholders and ask for their views before disposing of the club to anyone.
'The Liquidator need not call such a meeting unless he chooses, but his refusal to do so might be followed by the refusal of the Management Committee of the League to sanction the transfer of the club. In that case the Leeds City club would still exist, but its membership of the League would be gone, and it would have no claim to transfer rights in the players.
'It appears that, apart from the Headingley suggestions, there is another scheme afoot to save the Leeds City club. Several Leeds sportsmen, who desire to see the club take its place eventually in the First Division, have offered to buy the Liquidator out at the assessed value of the team and the position in the League. They have offered, it is said, to lease the Elland Road ground with an option to purchase the ground outright at any time during the next ten years. Compulsory purchase of the ground at the end of ten years has been suggested to them by the Liquidator, but they are not prepared to bind themselves to that in the present unsettled state of affairs. So far the offer of these Leeds sportsmen has not been accepted.
'Apparently, in view of the attitude of the Management Committee of the League, the old shareholders of the club can play a very large part in settling the future of the club. It should be understood that the Management Committee can refuse to allow the Leeds City headquarters to be removed from Elland Road to Headingley so long as Leeds City remain members of their body. The question last cropped up in League football when Woolwich Arsenal removed from Woolwich to North London, and it was pointed out then that there was nothing to prevent Woolwich moving to Manchester if they cared, and continuing their membership of the League there.
'To prevent the obviously possible abuse of such a state of affairs it was decided that the Management Committee have power in future to veto any proposed transfer of which they did not approve. If the shareholders say that they do not like the suggested Headingley deal, then it is extremely probable that the Management Committee will insist that if Leeds City want to play Second Division football when the war is over it must be played at Elland Road.
'Out of all this arises the question of the views of two sets of supporters, the soccer enthusiasts, who with their sixpences have helped to build up Leeds City and the Elland Road ground, and the Rugby followers, who have kept the Northern Union flag flying at Headingley. Given a transfer to Headingley, the Leeds City supporters would doubtless be inconvenienced to a considerable extent, while the Northern Union people would be forced to become converts to soccer, something that a great number would refuse to do.
'Mr J Connor, president of the West Riding FA, is entirely opposed to the scheme, which he considers unfair to the supporters of both clubs. He asks, if the sporting public of Beeston, Holbeck, Hunslet and Morley, who have been the principal supporters of the club, are not to be considered. He would like to see Leeds City and Leeds Northern Union clubs make progress in their respective codes. It would be detrimental to sport to allow one club to sink, simply to bolster up the rival code. It would be ridiculous to have only one first class club running in Leeds when football comes to its own again.'
On 10 August, the Mercury reported that Connor had decided to intervene more actively.
'There was a surprising development yesterday in connection with the proposal to transfer the Leeds City Association FC from Elland Road ground to Headingley. Early in the afternoon a Mercury representative was informed that the offer of the Leeds, Cricket, Football and Athletic Club had been withdrawn, and thus an arrangement had been arrived at by which Mr Tom Coombs, liquidator of the Leeds City Club, will sell the assets of the club to a syndicate comprising Messrs J Connor (president of the West Riding FA), J C Whiteman, S Glover (Morley), Geo Sykes and W H Platts.
'In view of the fact that a special meeting of the Leeds City shareholders had been convened to take place in the evening, the news that the proposed transfer had fallen to the ground came as a big surprise to followers of soccer and Northern Union football.
'There are 400 shareholders of the Leeds City Club, representing a capital of about £5,000 and these were summoned to the special meeting.
'The shareholders who were present expressed their approval of the action taken by the syndicate and the general feeling was that continuing to play football on the Elland Road ground would be instrumental in furthering the Association game in Leeds.
'Mr Tom Coombs, the president, said the object of convening the meeting was to place the position of affairs before the Leeds City shareholders. For some time past he had been acting as receiver and manager on behalf of the debenture holders of the company, and also as liquidator of the company.
'About twelve months ago the position of the club looked very rosy, but soon after the season finished the country was plunged into the greatest war of all time. Probably there was nothing in the country which had such a very serious financial element of business in it as football that had suffered to the same extent, and when last season's programme - which had to be carried out - was completed, he stated that he could not continue any longer to act in the capacity of receiver and manager and to continue the club as a business.
'He had been endeavouring to dispose of the assets of the club on behalf of the debenture holders with the result that yesterday he had entered into an agreement for the disposal of those assets.
'The shareholders of the club were at liberty to take up the same position as the proposed purchasers under that agreement, that they were prepared to undertake the same obligations and pay the same price as those gentlemen who formed the syndicate were preparing to undertake. The shareholders could not have the assets under different conditions or on any better terms, and subject to the approval of the Management Committee of the English League they could enter into possession at once.
'The undertaking which the syndicate had entered into was that the management and other current expenses should be taken over immediately.
'As to the responsibilities of the club which had been undertaken by the syndicate, Mr Coombs said the first was the payment of £1,000 unconditionally. Then there was a payment of £250 conditionally upon that amount of money being received by them in respect of the transfer fees of players who were at the present time on the retain or transfer list of the club.
'The syndicate will undertake all management expenses from the date of the purchase and any existing agreements between the club and the secretary manager, or between the club and any other clubs in reference to provisional transfers. To lease the ground for a period of five years certain, with an option of a further five years, at a rental of £250 a year, and to give satisfactory personal guarantees for the payment of the rent for the first period of five years, with an option to purchase at a price of £5,000.
'Mr Alf Masser appealed to the shareholders to come forward and help the City Club, which, he stated, had suffered from its initiation owing to being governed by an autocratic body instead of a democratic one. The shareholders were to some extent to blame for the position the club was in at the present time, and it would have been a calamity had the Association code been allowed to go to Headingley.
'He was glad that the Management Committee of the Football League had insisted that the old shareholders of the club must be consulted before any transfer could take place, an action which was approved by all sportsmen. He was prepared to go to £50 or even more towards the raising of £3,000.
'Mr J Connor, who was loudly cheered, said when he and his colleagues approached Mr Coombs with the object of taking over the affairs of the Leeds City club, they did so for the good of the Association code, and they had no intention of making money out of professional football. (Applause.) He was of opinion that football ought to take a back seat at the present time, but he hoped that when the war was over, and football came to its own again, that Leeds City would be a successful organisation.
'A resolution was passed to the effect that the purchase made by the syndicate be confirmed, and thanks be accorded to Mr J Connor and his colleagues for the timely steps they had taken in saving the Leeds City Club.'
It was an astonishing turn of events, promising a new lease of life for the club. After the League Management Committee approved the changes, it was announced that Connor would be chairman, with J C Whiteman acting as vice chairman.
Connor was described by the Athletic News as a 'valuable acquisition' and the 'responsible and qualified adviser from a football standpoint which Mr Herbert Chapman has needed'. They claimed that City's future was more assured, with the growing popularity of soccer in Leeds and a 'progressive manager' in Chapman.
City announced that admission charges would be set at 6d, in accordance with League rules, with a charge of 1s and 1s 6d for the stands and season tickets priced at 10s 6d for the duration of the war. 'Local leagues and associations are being approached with a view to the arrangement of fixtures with the City reserve team for the development of local talent.'
The Mercury reported, 'The majority of the professional players on the club's retained list are in different parts of the country, and therefore it cannot be expected that anything like so good a team as that which represented Leeds City last season will be available next month. Several are engaged upon the manufacture of munitions or other government work.
'There are, however, half a dozen of last season's players still in Leeds who will be able to assist the club. These are Copeland, Lamph, Goodwin and McLeod, who are engaged at local engineering works, Wainwright, who is in a khaki factory, and Ivan Sharpe; George Law will probably return to Leeds for the football season, and Price, who is working at Sheffield, may be able to assist in most matches.'
In the event, Billy McLeod instead threw his lot in with Bradford Park Avenue, while Jimmy Speirs, returned to Glasgow to join up with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. Speirs died in action, perishing at Passchendaele in August 1917.
There was one notable new celebrity in City's ranks, Fanny Walden, a tricky winger who stood just 5ft 2ins, weighed 9 stone and had made his England debut in April 1914. Herbert Chapman had long been an admirer of the 27-year-old, whom he had discovered at Wellingborough in 1909 whilst he was in charge of Northampton Town.
Stephen Studd in Herbert Chapman: Football Emperor: 'What he lacked in build he made up for in speed and skill, nipping in and out of solid defences with astounding ease. He came into the Northampton side at home to Luton on 30 October and scored a hat trick in a 6-1 win, following this with another against Southend in December.
'Walden was so small that on one occasion, entering the players' quarters behind his teammates on arrival at an away game, he was told, "Go away, sonny," by an official. His size, combined with considerable talent, made him a popular figure at Northampton.'
Walden signed for Tottenham for £1,700 in April 1913 a year after an attempt by Chapman to take him to Elland Road. Leeds City's bid was thwarted when Northampton supporters set up a shilling fund to keep Walden at the club. At the time, Chapman commented, 'In no instance have I personally suffered so great a disappointment,' for he 'would be the making of the Leeds City team if only I could get him to Elland Road'.
Stephen Studd: 'Fanny Walden offered his services to City while working with a nearby firm of motor engineers. Tottenham were furious and protested to the League, only to be told that under wartime regulations it was perfectly in order. Not to be put off, Spurs urged the FA to hold an inquiry - but to no avail.'
A sub-committee of the League, consisting of John McKenna, J J Bentley and C E Sutcliffe, met at Preston on 13 September and confirmed Walden was available for selection by Leeds as he was employed in the city.
The diminutive forward was one of the finest players to sport Leeds colours during the war years and displayed outstanding form throughout the 1915/16 season.
Walden's City debut came on the opening day, away to Derby on 4 September. Also making maiden appearances were the Newcastle pair, inside-right Tom Bennett and goalkeeper Bill Bradley, who would win the FA Cup with the Magpies in 1924 when they beat Aston Villa in the final at Wembley.
With Fred Blackman returning to his roots in London and guesting for Fulham, and Jack McQuillan playing for Hull, the two Scottish Georges, Law and Affleck, formed the full-back partnership, with Law captaining the team. Tommy Lamph, Jack Hampson and the Irishman Mick Foley constituted the half-back line, while John Edmondson, Arthur Price and Fred Croot completed the vanguard.
According to the Mercury, 'The County maintained a vigorous offensive up to the interval, after which there was a complete reversal of form. Leeds gave evidence of better training, and their wonderful staying powers were the chief factor in their success. Bradley distinguished himself by some fine work, and shots poured in upon him from all quarters without effect, except on one occasion, when Leonard, taking a right wing pass from Benfield, scored at short range with a fast, low shot. Both goals experienced several narrow escapes, and more than once the ball hit the woodwork. A particularly fine shot from Edmondson struck the upright and on another occasion Lawrence, in negotiating a shot from Price, turned the ball against the post, but it cannoned back into play.'
There was a complete reversal of fortunes after the break when Leeds quickly took command, 'and it was only the brilliant goalkeeping of Lawrence that prevented the City forwards from running up a very big score. Derby's clever goalkeeper was seen at his best, and he has rarely been more busily employed than during the second forty-five minutes.'
Hampson, Edmondson and Walden all went close before City drew level just after the hour, when Edmondson pounced on a defensive mistake. Fifteen minutes later Bennett scored after Edmondson helped on a Croot centre, and in the closing seconds Price wrapped up a 3-1 victory with a first time shot on the run after being played through cleverly by Edmondson.
The Mercury concluded: 'The form shown by Leeds was very convincing. Their backs played steadily under pressure, and when the forwards had their turn they were equally efficient. A feature which cannot pass unnoticed was the half-back play of Lamph, Hampson and Foley, who were equally as good in attack as defence. This and their superior stamina largely explain the remarkable and somewhat unexpected result.'
That was the start of a fine run, during which Walden was outstanding. Five wins in the first seven games saw City second in the table on 16 October, following a 7-1 thrashing of Barnsley, lit up by five goals from Arthur Price.
The Mercury: 'To the all-round clever play of the Leeds men can be attributed the City's victory, which was in every way deserved… The game was only six minutes old when Price gave the City the lead... Price was indeed the best forward on the field, and he scored another four goals - one penalty goal - before the game was concluded. He scored three goals in succession within twenty minutes and so accomplished the hat trick for the first time.
'Edmondson was an adroit centre-forward. He distributed the ball splendidly, and his goal, scored in the first minute of the second half, was perhaps the best of the match. He also took a prominent part in the scoring of the seventh goal, obtained by Bennett, who, along with Walden, played extremely well on the right.
'Barnsley, who were outclassed throughout the game, must attribute their heavy defeat to the weakness of the defence. The backs and goalkeeper had given such a poor display in the first half hour that the team was rearranged at this stage of the game. Carpenter went into goal in place of Cooper, who took the outside-right position, and Tufnell played right half-back. These alterations brought about an improvement and within a minute of the interval Lees scored their only goal.
'The first of the City's goals was cleverly worked for by the forwards. Edmondson took up the ball in midfield, and transferred to Bennett. He promptly passed to Price, who scored with a low drive. The second goal was obtained in similar style, but the third was scored by the weakest of shots, the ball only just rolling over the goal line.
'No sooner had the second half commenced when Walden centred, and Edmondson being quickly on the ball scored with a really fine shot. Price then obtained the ball during a scrimmage, and easily beat Cooper, who had no chance of saving a penalty kick by the same player for a foul on Bennett, who scored the seventh goal.'
For most clubs, maintaining continuity was proving to be a major challenge. City kept the general shape of their side together until well after Christmas, but there were many examples of teams turning up short on the day and having to borrow a player from the opposition. There were other problems to contend with, not least of which was the potential for indiscipline with sanctions irrelevant when players were going off to fight.
One notable incident in a game played by City reserves at the end of October was featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post. 'The match at Elland Road between a team drawn from clubs playing under the aegis of the Leeds and District Association, and a reserve eleven of the Leeds City Club, was marred by a regrettable incident … Two thirds of the game had expired when, to the surprise of the spectators, W Wainwright, who was playing his last game for the City before joining the Royal Garrison Artillery, was requested to leave the field by Mr H Brown of Leeds, the referee, for using bad language in connection with one of his offside decisions. Wainwright, however, refused to comply with his request, and Mr Brown blew his whistle for the cessation of play. As the referee approached the touchline leading to the dressing room, Mr Cripps, a local enthusiast who has done so much for local junior football, and is a league linesman, went out of his way to try to get him to alter his decision, but Mr Brown was obdurate. Not to be beaten in his efforts to secure a continuation of the play, Mr Cripps persuaded one of the linesmen to take up the duties of referee for the remainder of the match, his place being taken by another gentleman, while the other original linesman was not to be seen afterwards.
'No doubt the incident will be brought before the proper local governing authority, and adjudicated upon, and without referring in any way to the action of Mr Cripps, one may be persuaded to observe that the referee in no sense exceeded his authority. He was the sole arbiter in the matter and the referee's decision in well-regulated football is always upheld. Even when play was recommenced, Wainwright was still in the team, but in a few minutes the City's assistant trainer persuaded him to leave.'
Stephen Studd: 'The politics of war had taken a new departure. Although Kitchener's recruitment campaign was bringing in more men than the Army could properly train and equip (by January 1916 two and a half million men had enlisted), public pressure was mounting for conscription. In a last attempt to avoid this very un-English measure the Liberal Government introduced a scheme, organised by Lord Derby, whereby men "attested" their willingness to serve if called upon. In December 1915 (Herbert) Chapman, (Joseph) Connor and most of the City players attested.' Conscription was introduced a month later.
After an excellent start to the campaign, City lost their way following the trouncing of Barnsley in October and went five games without scoring, claiming just two points. They bounced back resiliently to beat struggling Derby 4-1 at Elland Road on 4 December.
Goalkeeper Willis Walker replaced Bill Bradley and made his first appearance of the season, being ever present thereafter. Three games earlier Charlie Copeland had been called up to play right-back, allowing skipper George Law to move forward to right-half when Jack Hampson was injured. Copeland became another stalwart of the side, playing in all but two of the remaining fixtures.
According to the Leeds Mercury, 'Throughout the game the players experienced difficulty in keeping their feet owing to the treacherous state of the ground, but Leeds adapted themselves to the conditions far better than the County, whose short passing was of little use.
'The light was very bad after an hour's play. The players frequently misjudged the ball, and it was exceedingly difficult for the goalkeepers, in particular, to defend anything like they would have done under ordinary conditions. But before this darkness came on, Leeds City had made sure of victory, having three clear goals to their credit. The first of these came five minutes after the interval, Edmondson scoring after a fine individual effort.
'The play of the home forwards in the second half was admirable. They swung the ball about in clever style, and their shots were usually well-directed. The corner kicks, too, were dropped right in front of goal, but the Derby goal was saved by a clever defence. Had it not been for Stone, who played finely in goal, and Barbour and Flanders, who were a pair of sturdy defenders, the County would have been defeated by even a heavier margin.'
City couldn't build on the victory, failing to win any of their next four games. Left winger Simpson Bainbridge returned to the team for the 3-2 defeat to Sheffield United on 27 December. The Blades took a three-goal lead in the first half, but, with Walden 'prominent with speedy runs and beautiful centres' (according to the Mercury), City fought back strongly with Walden laying on a goal for Bennett before the break. Ten minutes from time, Law sent a free kick against the United crossbar and Bainbridge forced home the rebound.
The loss left City in eighth place, eleven points behind table topping Nottingham Forest, who were running away with the title.
City's New Year's Day game at Hull was ruined by atrocious conditions, with heavy rain and a gale battering the Anlaby Road ground. So strong was the wind that it tore the roof off one of the stands. Fortunately the incident occurred prior to the gates being opened and thus no one was injured. Playing into the teeth of the gale in the first half, the Peacocks reached the break without conceding and within three minutes of the restart Irish wing-half Mick Foley put them ahead. Fourteen minutes later a slip by Hull right-back Betts let Edmondson in and he dribbled on before sending a low shot past goalkeeper Hendry. Leeds were awarded a penalty when Edelston handed in the area but Walden's spot kick was straight at the keeper. A minute later Walden was fouled in the box and a second penalty was awarded. This time Price was entrusted with the responsibility and he made no mistake, hammering the ball home to complete a resounding 3-0 victory.
A week later City beat leaders Forest 1-0 at Elland Road. Aston Villa international Sam Hardy gave a superb performance in goal for the visitors, denying a rampant Leeds attack time and again. Nevertheless, he could do nothing to prevent the score, just the second conceded by Forest since November 6. It came five minutes from half time when Edmondson fed the ball to Bainbridge, who netted with a hard drive.
Jack Hampson twisted his knee after twenty minutes and played out the game as a limping passenger but City secured the points. According to the Evening Post, they 'deserved to win by three or four goals, and despite the brilliance of Hardy's goalkeeping, they might have done so with a little more incisive and finished attack at centre-forward. Edmondson was not exactly at fault - certainly he was always a trier - but he has not developed quite as he was expected to do, and, as he showed on Saturday, he has much to learn in the art of controlling the ball before he can be ranked in the first class. Otherwise, the play of the whole team reached a very high standard. Particularly gratifying was the display of Copeland, the right-back, who by his promptness in tackling, held the dangerous international winger, Martin, in complete subjection. Copeland is one of those who, when happier times evolve, will be found to have fully secured his place in the City team.'
Four successive away defeats between 15 January and 12 February sandwiched a single goal victory at home to Leicester Fosse on 22 January, destroying any chances of a decent finish to the Midland Section campaign. The final game in that run, at Huddersfield, saw a first appearance in City colours for Aston Villa inside-forward Clem Stephenson.
The Peacocks lost 5-1 with the Mercury complaining that 'seldom has Leeds City given a more unsatisfactory display'. Leeds were five behind at the break but responded pluckily in the second half with Stephenson registering a consolation goal to mark his debut.
The coming of Stephenson compensated for the failure to secure the services of Manchester United's international winger, Sergeant George Wall of the 11th Black Watch. Wall offered his assistance, but the taxi sent to collect him from the station waited in vain. The player wrote to Herbert Chapman to say that he could no longer help because of military duties.
Other future City stalwarts were bustling Notts County centre-forward Jack Peart, debuting on 5 February at Bradford City, and Newcastle half-back Bob Hewison, given his first game a fortnight later at home to Grimsby when England amateur Ivan Sharpe returned on the left wing; Peart, Stephenson and Sharpe were the scorers in a 3-1 victory.
Leeds City now moved on to the Subsidiary Tournament, established to fill the final weeks of the campaign. They competed alongside the two Bradford clubs, Huddersfield, Rochdale and Barnsley.
Hewison, Peart, Stephenson and Sharpe all missed the first fixture, away to Rochdale on 4 March, but City were able to field Hearts outside-left Willie Wilson at centre-forward, with locally-born reserve Stan Robinson at inside-left and Northampton's Bobby Hughes on the left wing. Wilson scored the only goal of the game, though City should have won at a canter.
Wilson moved to left wing the following week, when Bradford Park Avenue visited a blizzard-plagued Elland Road. Hewison, Peart and Stephenson returned to the side, the latter scoring all three goals in a 3-2 victory.
The Mercury reported: 'Although Bradford put up a good fight against Leeds City at Elland Road in the first half of the game, they were outplayed in the second, and in the end were beaten by the odd goal in five. It cannot be denied that the points went to the better team, for in every department and particularly the defence Leeds City were superior to their neighbours. They were two goals ahead within the first fifteen minutes and from this point until the close of the game they were always masters of the situation.
'The City forwards adapted themselves to the bad conditions far better than Bradford, who really did not make the most of their chances. Consequently Leeds City had the most of the play, and were perhaps unlucky in not securing more than three goals. The forwards, who were well supported by a fine trio of halves, often worked their way into the vicinity of the Bradford goal, and several shots missed scoring by inches only.
'Walden and Private Wilson, the outside-left from Heart of Midlothian, together with Stephenson, played brilliant football throughout, and although Stephenson scored all three goals, the wing men took a big part in the success. Indeed, Walden and Wilson made practically all the openings for Leeds. They got over the muddy ground very speedily, and centred with remarkable accuracy. Stephenson proved what a fine opportunist he is by seizing the ball at every possible opportunity, shooting with much power. The Aston Villa man repeatedly nonplussed the Bradford custodian by his clever manoeuvring.'
A draw at Huddersfield and a 1-0 defeat at Bradford City stayed the momentum, but on 1 April, Jack Peart scored four goals, with Fanny Walden and Clem Stephenson getting the others, in a breathtaking 6-4 victory at Barnsley.
City followed up by beating Rochdale 3-1 with two goals from Wilson and another from Peart, and then an effort from Price was enough to secure both points at Bradford Park Avenue. It took the Peacocks two points clear of Bradford City at the head of the Subsidiary Tournament table with three games remaining.
On Good Friday, 21 April, the one remaining Midland Section fixture was played out, with another Price goal earning a 1-1 draw at Notts County to confirm a tenth place finish.
The following day, City entertained Huddersfield Town at Elland Road without Hampson, Peart and Wilson. 'They ought to have won with two or three goals in hand,' commented the Yorkshire Post, but a Best goal two minutes from the end condemned them to a 2-1 defeat.
The result saw the Terriers (eleven points) overtake both Leeds (11) and Bradford City (9) at the head of the table though they had played a game more than the other two.
Leeds were in action again on Easter Monday, at home to Barnsley, and things looked bleak when Wilson was injured in the early stages. However, with Walden and Stephenson in irresistible form, City won more comfortably than the 1-0 scoreline suggests, the goal coming three minutes into the second half from Stephenson.
With a single game remaining, City were now two points clear of Huddersfield, the only team who could still catch them. While Town entertained Bradford on the final day, the Peacocks were at Bradford City knowing a point would be enough to secure the title.
Leeds were able to field both Peart and Wilson and gave a debut to Sunderland centre-half Harry Sherwin, an England schoolboy international.
Price scored from a Walden centre after five minutes and Peart then shot against the upright, but Duckett equalised for the Bantams. Five minutes later the same player put Bradford into the lead, scoring from a penalty awarded for a foul on Logan.
Leeds were still in arrears at the interval but fought back and ran away with the game in the second half, as reported by Parader in the Mercury.
'The brilliance of Leeds City early in the second half put the issue beyond doubt. Within a minute Wilson, with a grand shot, put the ball just inside the far post, and four minutes later Sherwin shot at thirty yards' range through a crowd of players. Sutcliffe struck the ball down, but failed to gather it and it rolled into the net.
'Leeds kept pegging away, and Peart rushed the ball through when Walden centred, but the goal was disallowed for a foul. He got one almost immediately afterwards, however, with a penalty kick awarded against Bradford City for hands. That completed the scoring.
'The forward play of Leeds was a treat. Stephenson and Walden were a wonderful pair, and on the other wing Price and Wilson were often brilliant, whilst the bustling Peart gave the necessary thrustfulness to the attack. Hewison and Foley were also notable successes, whilst the defence was always dependable.'
While the 4-2 victory secured the title for Leeds, the points had in the event been unnecessary. Elsewhere Huddersfield lost 3-1 at home to Bradford Park Avenue, who thus came through to secure the runners up position.
Leeds took the title by a clear three points, owing much to the goals of Peart (six goals in seven games), Stephenson (6 in 9) and Wilson (4 in 9). Sparked by the arrival of Stephenson, City had played some brilliant football in the spring, sustaining just two defeats in twelve games. It was clear that Herbert Chapman had secured a gem in the cultured Villa forward - he would be City's main man for the following three years.