first season in Division One had been
a major struggle for Leeds, but the signings of Willis
Edwards, Tom Jennings and Russell Wainscoat at the end of
the season had proved just enough to keep them safe. In the close
season manager Arthur Fairclough
made a number of notable additions to his squad, including wingers
Billy Jackson, Harry Duggan, Jackie Fell and Bobby Turnbull plus
full back Jimmy Allan.
To finance all the imports, Fairclough shipped out Sam Powell,
Lawrie Baker, Albert Bell, Alan Noble, Fred Graver, Tom Bell,
Bill Moore, James Clark and Walter Coates, with George Speak retiring
and Billy Down, Jack Swan, Joe Harris and Bert Duffield leaving
in the first three months of the new season.
Clearly the high level of player turnover and financial outgoings
were an endorsement by the board of what they saw as a successful
manager, but it was a high risk approach by Fairclough which did
not pay off too handsomely. Indeed, Leeds United had to struggle
against relegation right to the very last day of the season.
They didn't start off too badly, however, and despite an opening
day defeat at Notts County, Leeds United won five of the next
8 matches, with their forwards in fine form, Jennings hitting
8 and Wainscoat scoring four. Turnbull, Jackson, Percy Whipp and
Joe Harris managed five between them. They looked on the way to
a good season, but things soon went sour.
After a 4-0 thrashing at home to Huddersfield Town, who had just
won their second successive championship and were on the way to
completing a hat-trick of titles, Leeds lost 4-2 at Everton and
then 3-2 at home to Bury. They had already conceded four in a
defeat at Arsenal and the defence was proving as leaky as in the
old days. The run up to the New Year was dismal: United won just
once in the 13 games between October 10 and a 6-3 hiding at Burnley
on Boxing Day, conceding 34 goals in the process. They had also
now sold Down, Swan, Harris and Duffield which had severely depleted
their options. They had, however, paid out £5,000 to capture Falkirk
centre half Tom Townsley, who kept out Ernie Hart for most of
the next couple of years before being successfully converted to
right back. Following his debut on Christmas Day, Townsley missed
just one League game in a run that stretched right through to
March 30 1929, playing in 136 matches out of 137.
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United were still scoring freely, mainly due to the change in
the offside law, and John Armand was also now contributing. In
the 22 games
to December 26, Jennings had scored 12, Wainscoat 6, Armand 5
(in just seven matches) and Turnbull 4. Armand followed up with
another two penalties as Leeds beat Sunderland, Notts County and
Leicester in their first three League games in the New Year to
give the United supporters some brief hope of a revival, but it
was short-lived. During the run, there was another first time
exit from the FA Cup, with Leeds on the wrong end of a 5-1 thrashing
at the hands of Second Division Middlesbrough.
After the Leicester win, things started going badly wrong for
the club. Tom Jennings scored in all five of the next games, but
there was only one win. It was a glorious one, however, 4-2 over
Arsenal (who were on their way to runners-up spot), including
a Jennings hat-trick. The Yorkshire Post: "The forwards gave
an exhibition of skill ... that made their supporters wonder why
they had not won more matches this season. The result was a personal
triumph for Jennings: his tally of three goals ... indicates that
he has come back to the form which made him such a formidable
centre forward in the early months of the season."
They managed to put together a decent little run of three wins
in the four games to April 3, but then faltered again, losing
four out of the next five games and scoring just once. Goalkeeper
Jimmy Potts had arrived from Blyth Spartans towards the end of
February and took over immediately from Bill Johnson. He made
a difference almost immediately, although United kept losing.
On a brighter note Willis Edwards was honoured with his first
cap for England in March as they lost to Wales and retained his
place for the defeat against Scotland in April.
Now, in the end of season pressure cooker at the end of April,
Leeds were staring relegation squarely in the face. They had just
one match left, on May 1 at home to Tottenham and there was a
simple equation facing them. Bottom club Notts County were already
certain of finishing bottom. Above them, however, Leeds and Burnley
were level on 34 points, and Manchester City, who had lost in
the Cup final a week earlier, had 35. City looked safe as they
only needed a draw at Newcastle to be certain of staying up.
If Leeds failed to beat Tottenham they would be going back down
to the Second Division.
Burnley soon established a winning lead against Cardiff City,
being three goals in front at the interval. Leeds, however, had
a stiffer fight against Spurs. The match was played on very heavy
ground, and though the London club played the cleverer football
the conditions were all against them. But they were level at half
time. In the
second half, however, the United players carried all before them,
as they ran out 4-1 victors, with Jennings scoring twice.
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Manchester City showed their old disastrous weakness in defence,
conceding three goals to Hughie Gallacher, Newcastle's Scottish
centre forward. At the finish, City would reflect that they had
missed a golden chance of making their position safe, for after
Roberts had scored they were awarded a penalty, and Austin failed
to score. Then, a little later, Browell scored a fine goal, but
it was not enough and they had lost 3-2.
United were saved as they finished three points ahead of Notts
County, one point clear of relegated Manchester City and level
with Burnley, but with superior goal average seeing them finish
19th. It was a narrow squeak, however.
The goals of Jennings were what had made the difference and he
was top scorer with 26, being also the only player to appear in
every game. It was the best individual total so far for United.
However, goals had dried up from the rest and there was no-one
else in double figures, but Leeds had survived once more.
Other Football Highlights from 1925-26
- The alteration in the offside law certainly shook things up
and the expected goal glut duly arrived. The total number of
goals scored in the Football League rose from 4,700 to 6,373.
On the opening day of the season Aston Villa scored 10 against
Burnley; then Newcastle beat Arsenal 7-0; Arsenal retaliated
by putting five past Cardiff; Tottenham and Huddersfield drew
- New Arsenal manager Herbert
Chapman bought 33 year old Charlie Buchan from Sunderland.
The financial arrangements were handled by the Arsenal chairman
Sir Henry Norris, who refused to pay the £4,000 Sunderland
wanted. When Bob Kyle, the Sunderland manager, justified the
fee by claiming that Buchan would score 20 goals in his first
season, Norris challenged him to put his money where his mouth
was and the deal struck was £2,000 down with another £100
per goal. Buchan eventually hit 21 and won an argument with
Chapman about a formation to cope with the changed offside law.
The old 2-3-5 formation was now moving to 3-3-4 as the centre
half dropped to the back and and an inside forward was withdrawn
into the middle
- League Champions again, Huddersfield became the first club
to win the title three seasons running. They finished five points
clear of Arsenal, managed by their former boss
- Manchester City, relegated from Division One to end a 17 stay,
also lost in the Cup final after beating champions Huddersfield
4-0, Crystal Palace 11-4 and neighbours United 3-0 in the semis.
A goal from Bolton's David Jack saw Wanderers win the Cup 1-0.
Jack's goal also won the 1923 final. No other club had previously
endured the agony that City experienced in the same season
- Bobby Skinner of Dunfermline set a British record with 53
goals in the Scottish Second Division
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