1930-31 had promised
great things for Leeds United, but in the end all it delivered
was relegation. Manager Dick Ray
made a number of changes in the close season to try and address
The previous season, he had sold John White, Eric Longden and
Harry Roberts, and in the summer he continued clearing the decks.
George Reed, Tom Jennings, Bill Johnson, Ben Underwood and Tom
Mitchell all departed. Before the end of October, Russell Wainscoat
and Tom Townsley followed them. The departure of Jennings in June
to Chester was a sad one and the reliable centre forward had scored
112 times in 167 League matches since arriving in 1925. The only
new arrivals were left half Tom Neal plus goalkeepers Reg Savage
and Stan Moore.
Ray felt his team had been unlucky and knew from recent experience
that descent into the second division was not a disaster. Already
new forwards had appeared when regulars Jennings and Charlie Keetley
became injured or lost form: inside left Billy Furness, from non-League
Unsworth Colliery, played most of the season, Tom Cochrane had
replaced Tom Mitchell on the left wing and Harry Duggan would
take over from Bobby Turnbull on the right.
Essentially Ray stuck with the men he had during the relegation
year, goalkeeper Jimmy Potts, full backs Jack Milburn and Bill
Menzies, the brilliant half back line of Willis
Edwards, Ernie Hart and Wilf
Copping, and the forwards Joe Firth, Keetley, Cochrane, Furness
and Duggan. Arthur Hydes, signed in 1930, had a few games up front,
but was still a force for the
future. There was a lot of class at the club and they now had
a smattering of Division One experience, making them strong candidates
for a quick return to the top flight.
They did not disappoint their fans and, as with previous seasons,
went off at pace, winning their first two matches. They then had
two home defeats, both by 1-0, against Barnsley and Millwall,
before embarking on a 15 match unbeaten run, which lasted until
December 19 when they went down 2-1 at Southampton. That run included
nine straight wins. Those 15 games resulted in 41 goals for with
only 14 against, prime form, including five goal wins against
Oldham, Manchester United (who had been relegated with them) and
Burnley. Keetley was finally established as first choice centre
forward following the departure of Jennings and he was revelling
in the Second Division, scoring 15 goals before the turn of the
year. Billy Furness had amassed 10 goals and Joe Firth 8.
The Southampton defeat also saw an injury to the inspirational
captain and right half Willis Edwards, who was by now a seasoned
England international, having won 16 caps between March 1926 and
November 1929. He only played in half of the remaining games with
Cyril Hornby and Alex Stacey being called up as cover for him.
Edwards was a key figure in the Leeds side and they certainly
missed his presence. His injury problems heralded a worrying slip
in form and the club had some hiccups during December, including
a 3-0 reversal at Bradford. They managed to recover sufficiently
to win three consecutive League games around the turn of the year
as they entered 1932.
Another FA Cup dismissal at the first stage at the hands of Third
Division opponents, this time QPR, was disappointing, but not
unusual, and knocked United off their stride in the League. They
started dropping points regularly and gained just 8 from the last
10 matches, as their scoring form
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They'd already built up a sizable points tally, however, and
in the end there wasn't too much damage done. For some time, Leeds'
only real rivals for the promotion places were Wolves and Stoke.
Leeds had beaten them both at Elland Road in October, and the
crucial returns resulted in a 1-1 draw at Molineux on February
27 and a 4-3 win away to Stoke on March 12. Those points were
crucial in the end and Leeds were able to secure promotion as
runners up to Wolves. They could have finished with the same number
of points as the champions had they not lost their final game,
2-0 at home to another Midlands club, Port Vale. The win enabled
Vale to avoid relegation.
It was disappointing that there was no silverware at the end
of a wonderful season but it was promotion that was the goal.
A two point margin over Stoke was enough to signal the return
of the yo yo club to the top flight.
Keetley ended top scorer with 23 goals from his 37 appearances.
Crowds had continued to dip with relegation, however, and the
average attendance at Elland Road was just above 14,000, the lowest
level since 1922-23. Less than 10,000 plucky souls watched the
final match against Port Vale.
Other Football Highlights from 1931-32
- Sectarianism in Scotland took a macabre, ghoulish turn when
Celtic's brilliant 23 year old keeper, John Thomson, died in
hospital five hours after a collision in the match between Rangers
and Celtic at Ibrox on September 5. Thomson, who had won four
Scotland caps, fractured his skull when he dashed out of his
area and dived at the feet of Sam English as they both went
for a 50-50 ball. Although neutral observers attached no blame
to English for Thomson's death, bigoted crowds did and claimed
the accident was deliberate. English, who had been devastated
by the incident was barracked mercilessly. In an attempt to
escape the morbid taunts he moved to England a year later and
played for Liverpool. However, the tragedy still haunted him,
and, disillusioned, he eventually returned to his native Ireland
- Everton, who had stormed out of the Second Division the previous
season, went on a goalscoring spree in the First, particularly
at Goodison where they notched up 84. In total Everton amassed
116 goals with Dixie Dean on target 44 times. They finished
two points clear of Arsenal, who beat them home and away, but
were distracted by their second FA Cup final in two years
- Arsenal finished Double runners up as they lost 2-1 to Newcastle
after being a goal up. Newcastle's equaliser after 38 minutes
was controversial, to say the least. Right winger Jimmy Richardson
sent over a centre for Jack Allen to score, but photographic
evidence clearly showed that the ball had gone over the goal
line before it was pulled back.
- England wrapped up the Home International Championship with
a 3-0 victory over Scotland at Wembley, finishing with maximum
points and a 12-3 goal record. England's experimental line up
against the Scots included five new caps
- England also avenged their 4-3 defeat in Madrid in 1929 with
a 7-1 demolition of Spain at Highbury in December
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