of the players who took Leeds United to an 8th place finish in
the Second Division in 1922, were still
around the following year. The defence was meaner than ever with
captain Jim Baker and young Ernie Hart formidable twin pillars.
Hart, one of United's earliest finds, had signed as an 18 year
old from junior football in Doncaster and evolved into a skilful,
tenacious defender, serving for 16 years and winning eight England
The combination of Baker and Hart, alongside Fred Whalley in
goal, full backs Duffield and Frew and right half Harry Sherwin,
was a sound basis for a promotion team. Centre forward Jack Swan
remained up front from the previous season, but Tommy Howarth
was on his way to Bristol Rovers in November 1922.
Glaswegian winger Joe Harris (Bristol City), Alan Noble (Brentford)
and Percy Whipp (a £750 buy from Sunderland at the start of November)
were brought in to pep up the forward line. The team was very
settled and Whalley (42), Duffield (41), Frew (33), Hart (41),
Baker (42) and Harris (39) all played more than 30 League games.
In addition, Whipp and right winger Noble missed just three matches
between them after they both came into the side at the beginning
The defensive stability was still there and the club created
another defensive record, conceding only 36 in the League and
keeping 19 clean sheets. The attack was still struggling, however,
and the team managed just 43 goals all season. Jack Swan, who
had previously been so productive up front, scored in both of
the first two games, but struggled to a miserly season's total
of 8 in the League. If he had maintained his previous strike rate,
Leeds may well have seriously been in the promotion hunt. Manager
Arthur Fairclough tried
all season to find the best combination up front, but apart from
Whipp, none of them stood out.
The team started none too brightly and had won only five of the
first 12 games by the time Whipp was signed on 3rd November. The
Scottish inside forward admitted that he had never been to Leeds
before , but
he was an instant success, hitting a hat-trick in his debut against
West Ham the day after he joined Leeds. He went on to be top scorer
for the season with 15 goals in his 29 matches, a very healthy
return. His arrival sparked off a very good spell for the club,
and they won 8 of the 12 games following his arrival, with Whipp
hitting 10 of their 15 goals, while they conceded just 6.
The team could not keep up the improvement, however, and won
just five of their remaining 18 matches, trailing in a disappointing
7th place, although they finished just four points off promotion.
They ended strongly, with three straight wins, including a 3-0
victory at Elland Road over champions Notts County and took a
point out of their visit to County in the preceding match.
Clearly things were heading in the right direction and Fairclough
was building a powerful outfit, although Dick
Ray had decided his future lay elsewhere and he quit in June
1923 to manage Doncaster Rovers. Fairclough's solution was to
renew the partnership he had enjoyed at Barnsley in their halcyon
days, by bringing in Blackpool manager Dick Norman as Ray's replacement.
Other Football Highlights from 1922-23
- The FA Cup Final moved to its new home at Wembley Stadium.
It was nearly a disaster when more than a quarter of a million
people converged on a ground whose capacity was 127,000. The
crowd overspilled and the pitch became a sea of people. The
occasion will be forever known as the "White Horse final"
as PC George Scorey and his 13 year old horse Billy became the
focal point of attempts to calm matters. The match, between
Bolton and Second Division West Ham, kicked off 45 minutes late
with the crowd standing on the touchlines. A single goal from
Bolton inside forward David Jack after two minutes secured the
- Liverpool retained the League Championship for a second season,
finishing six points clear of Sunderland with Huddersfield Town
in third spot
- Players threatened a strike but ultimately took no action
when the League cut the maximum wage from £9 to £8
before the start of the season
- The increasing use of substitutes by amateur teams persuaded
the International Board to redraft the laws of the game. League
and Cup matches were restricted to 11 players, but subs were
permitted in friendlies if both teams agreed beforehand
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