is never a pleasant experience for anybody, but Leeds United manager
Jack Taylor found it particularly
hard in 1960 when, within a year of him
taking over at Elland Road, the club lost their First Division
status. He felt let down by the players and decided that drastic
action was called for if the club were to recover their top flight
The youth development and scouting policy, which Taylor's predecessor
Bill Lambton had instituted,
was starting to bear fruit, and by the start of the new season
almost 50 local youngsters had been signed as amateurs. However,
it was to be a couple of years before any of them were good enough
for first team contention and in the meantime Taylor needed experienced
new blood to pep up his ailing side.
The club's supporters had little reason for optimism after the
tepid performances of the previous year, but the manager set about
rebuilding the side. He signalled a dramatic clear out: exciting
young winger Chris Crowe left for Blackburn in March, raising
a useful £25,000, but that was only the start. Before the new
season had kicked off, Taylor had also presided over the departure
of Wilbur Cush, Archie Gibson, George Meek and Jack Overfield.
The Crowe money had been used to buy Manchester United defender
Freddie Goodwin, who had steadied things at the back, but it had
proven far too little far too late.
Bagchi and Rogerson in 'The Unforgiven': "By the beginning of
the 1960/61 season, the bank's apprehension had become palpable,
and Taylor's request to recruit a few reliable, experienced professionals
had understandably been rejected by the Board. The other alternative,
to generate funds by selling one or two players, was also denied
him. Of the relegated squad, only three players had any significant
monetary value: Billy Bremner, who was just seventeen and had
only recently broken into the first team; John McCole, scorer
of 22 goals that season but widely perceived as a functional penalty-box
predator and little else, and who, anyway, would be vital to Leeds'
attempt to achieve promotion; and Jack
Charlton, whose inconsistency on the park and militancy off
it put off a whole host of suitors. There was to be no quick fix."
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However, Jack Charlton, who was frankly unconvinced of the merits
of a future at Elland Road, did not look to be a permanent resident
at Elland Road. Leo McKinstry: "By mid-1960, Jack was so fed up
with Leeds that he wanted out. Other clubs learned of his disillusion
and showed an interest in buying him. One of them was Liverpool,
where Bill Shankly had just taken over as manager. Now Liverpool
were hardly a major force in British soccer at the time. They
had been languishing in the Second Division for even longer than
Leeds, having been relegated in 1954, and were short of class
and cash. Nor was Shankly regarded then as a titan of management.
But Shankly was consumed with a passionate ambition for his new
club. Having seen Jack in action many times, he thought he could
mould him into the centre half he needed at the heart of his defence.
But Leeds, for all Jack's faults, were reluctant to sell him.
So the fee quoted to Shankly was £20,000 plus, which the Liverpool
board thought was too high. According to his biographer, Stephen
Kelly, 'Shankly reckoned Charlton was worth every penny' of this
fee, but his views did not wash with the directors, who would
allow him no more than £18,000 to be spent on Jack. The strict
limit meant that the negotiations went nowhere and the potential
deal collapsed, much to the annoyance of Shankly and Jack."
Taylor recognised that he needed reinforcements, and set about
making the best of the limited resources he was able to scrape
together. He raided the Scottish League, picking up two rugged
defensive half backs in Eric Smith of Celtic and Queen's Park's
Willie Bell, along with St Mirren
centre back John McGugan, who had been in the Scottish squad which
toured Europe that summer, and Queen of the South winger Tommy
Murray. Taylor also bought former England winger Colin Grainger,
known as 'The Singing Winger' for his vocal stints in night clubs,
for £15,000 from Sunderland and travelled to Holland to sign Irish
forward Peter Fitzgerald from Sparta Rotterdam.
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Taylor had also started building a formidable backroom team and
in the close season secured the services of two men who would
be major influences at Elland Road for years to come - Les Cocker
and Syd Owen.
Bagchi and Rogerson in 'The Unforgiven': "Les Cocker, the former
Stockport County and Accrington Stanley forward, had learnt, like
so many of his contemporaries, the fundamentals of fitness in
his wartime service with the Reconnaissance Regiment in France
after D-Day. He was temperamentally and professionally qualified
for the position of trainer. One of the first generation to take
the FA Coaching Certificate, he supplemented his tactical acumen
with exploratory studies in physiology and, more unusually, also
dabbled in the avant-garde sports sciences of kinesiology and
biomechanics. He had a stormy start with his new charges, who
were contemptuous of his dedication to their development, and
had many a run-in with that self-styled 'one man awkward squad',
Jack Charlton. Yet barely a year after joining Leeds, he was summoned
to Lancaster Gate and offered the prestigious job of putting England
squads through his revolutionary sequence of sadistic drills,
a position he was to occupy from 1966 right through to 1977.
"For all his ructions with Charlton and the initial scepticism
of the other 'seen it all' seasoned pros, it was obvious that
he was doing something right. Fanatical and often abrasive, there
was a touch of zealotry in his soul. Indeed, in Brian Clough's
characteristically brusque judgement he was an 'aggressive, nasty
little bugger'. 'Pots' and 'kettles' spring to mind, but it was
just these qualities that made Cocker so valuable. His loyalty
was unreserved and he brought structure, obstinacy and a certain
impassive relentlessness to his task, which was to become the
cornerstone of Leeds' physical authority.
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"Cocker was rather more than the stereotypical 'sergeant-major'
coach, but there is little doubt that, more often than not, he
played that role to perfection. However, it was the more cerebral
Owen who actually conducted the technical sessions. A full England
international, from 1941-46, he had served in the RAF with distinction,
on active service in Egypt, Austria and Italy. Along with Cocker,
he had joined Leeds from Luton Town in the summer of 1960 to help
Taylor's beleaguered team achieve promotion in their first season
back in the Second Division. Unlike Cocker, he had a distinguished
pedigree both as a player and a coach, and had actually, briefly,
been a manager himself. Having been sacked by Luton Town after
less than a year in charge, he was impatient in his desire to
prove that the progressive methods he had discovered at Lilleshall
could be a success as much on the field as on the blackboard.
He, too, had problems imposing his more modern philosophy on the
conspicuously cynical Charlton, but eventually, after one episode
when Jack 'offered to take my coat off to him', Charlton realised
that he was rapidly beginning to unleash his dormant potential
under Owen's shrewd instruction."
It was little short of a revolution and the Leeds supporters
were shocked by the sweeping changes after years of penny pinching
by the board. Some even began to half believe that Taylor could
yet get their team winning games.
The waters of optimism did not run deep, however. The first game
of the season saw Leeds United travel to face Liverpool at Anfield.
Shankly's up and coming charges had finished the previous season
third in the
table, and were on an exciting march to better things - they provided
a stern challenge.
Taylor's team included Smith, Fitzgerald and Grainger, along
with full back Alf Jones, whom the manager had picked up from
non-league Marine in April. Charlton and Goodwin remained in the
centre of defence, with Bremner and Revie in tandem on the right
and big John McCole leading the line.
Over 43,000 fans flocked to Anfield to see Leeds well beaten
and lucky to depart with only a 2-0 defeat.
Taylor rang the changes for the second game, four days later
at home to Bristol Rovers, with Grenville Hair, South African
winger Gerry Francis and Irishman Noel Peyton coming in for Jimmy
Ashall, Bremner and Fitzgerald, but there was little improvement.
Leeds drew 1-1 in front of just 11,330 fans, with McCole scoring
The next game, against Rotherham, brought further changes, with
Scottish inside forward Bobby Cameron and 18 year old local boy
John Hawksby replacing Smith and Revie. The match was Hawksby's
first and he marked it with the opening goal, while McCole weighed
in to produce a 2-0 scoreline. Hawksby scored the first Leeds
goal the following game, too, as Taylor kept faith with a winning
side. Grainger, Peyton and McCole were the other scorers as Leeds
drew 4-4 in the return against Bristol Rovers.
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Yet another switch came in the next match, with Tommy Murray
getting his chance in place of Hawksby for a trip to Southampton.
Leeds won 4-2 with goals from Grainger, Cameron, Francis and McCole,
but the continual changes made it impossible for the team to find
any shape or rhythm. Taylor seemed incapable of settling on his
most effective line up, although injuries and poor form left him
few alternatives but to fiddle while Rome smouldered.
In an unwitting glimpse into the near future, Leeds swapped their
standard kit of blue shirts, white shorts and blue and gold socks
for an all white strip, trimmed with blue and gold, for the home
game against Middlesbrough on 17 September. The match finished
in a spectacular 4-4 draw, but the normal club colours were quickly
That match somehow encapsulated the whole season for Taylor and
his men. The manager's continual chopping and changing brought
no solutions, just uncertainty and inconsistency. Sloppy defending
had seen Leeds concede 92 goals in 1959-60. Relegation brought
no respite and Second Division forwards gorged themselves, with
the three keepers that Taylor used, Ted Burgin, and the youngsters
Humphreys and Terry Carling, picking the ball out of their vulnerable
net 83 times.
Bagchi and Rogerson in 'The Unforgiven': "Among those stationed
in front of the novice goalkeeper, Freddie Goodwin, had joined
Leeds to reignite a stalled career over the Pennines at Manchester
United. A former 'Busby Babe', he had shone intermittently at
Old Trafford after graduating into the first team in the aftermath
of the Munich disaster but could never quite convince Matt Busby
that he had sufficient class to prosper at the highest level.
Originally a midfielder, he was converted to centre-half in the
hope of capitalising on his perceived versatility.
"Chronically one-paced and over-reliant on his brute strength,
he nevertheless had much to offer a struggling side. Good in the
air and blessed with natural authority … unfortunately, in contradiction
to all his other admirable leadership qualities, he lacked composure.
His method was redolent of the 'get some blood on your boots'
approach loved by fans, but it failed to mask his technical flaws.
"Managers love forceful characters and are willing to excuse
many defects if effort is always shown - but it can have its downsides.
Goodwin managed to persuade Taylor that Leeds should adopt a man-to-man
marking system. It enabled Goodwin to exploit his powerful tackling
style, but other players were run ragged tracking attackers all
over the park. Charlton hated it but reluctantly deferred to his
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In sharp contrast to the shaky rearguard, the United attack,
spearheaded by John McCole, did well. McCole carried on where
he left off in the previous season, scoring 20 goals in the League,
following on from 22 the year before. He also provided a good
return in a new competition, the Football League Cup, the brainchild
of League secretary Alan Hardaker.
It was to be several years before the public embraced the competition,
but Leeds enjoyed some good performances in the trophy's debut
Don Revie scored the club's first goal in the competition, hitting
the first in a 3-1 replay success at Blackpool, with McCole and
Grainger finishing the job. A 4-0 win at Chesterfield followed
and United hit four again in the next round, at Southampton, but
still lost in one of the most remarkable games in the club's history.
The Saints stormed into a 4-0 lead with Derek Reeves scoring
all four goals. Leeds showed uncharacteristic spirit by pulling
level with goals from Noel Peyton, McCole, Jack Charlton and a
Bobby Cameron penalty. But with just
25 seconds remaining Reeves crowned a personal triumph by netting
his fifth in an amazing game which went on until 10.10pm because
of two floodlight failures, making it the longest-ever match in
Both teams finished the match a man short. Southampton goalkeeper
Ron Reynolds had gone off while United full back Alf Jones, who
had only recently regained his first team place from Terry Caldwell,
was withdrawn following a knee injury.
Matters continued in a haphazard way all season, with Taylor's
indecision and a bad run of injuries prompting the use of 27 different
Concentration and professionalism were sadly lacking, with much
of the blame laid at the doors of the manager. Eric Smith was
appalled by what he found when he arrived from Celtic: "The club
was fifth rate and the players were undisciplined. It wasn't their
fault. Jack Taylor had let the thing go. I thought beforehand
I was coming to a top club. I found out otherwise in the first
three or four days. We would go on long training runs and at the
end, some players, quite senior players, would walk in with ice
lollies in their hands."
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The problem was not that Leeds were doing particularly badly.
Indeed, although they dipped at times into the very lowest reaches
of the table, they never looked in serious danger of a second
successive relegation. However, for a team which had been in the
top flight so recently, they contrived to look very mediocre indeed,
against even the most limited opposition. There was an air of
despondency and resignation around Elland Road, with team spirit
virtually non existent and discipline in shreds. Apathy set in
amongst the fans, and gates dwindled significantly. Only the presence
of the bigger sides could generate any interest and the average
home gate was below 14,000, lower than it had been at any time
since the very first steps of Leeds United as a Second Division
the 1920s. Many matches saw less than 10,000 hardy souls braving
the elements in search of what little entertainment could be had
at Elland Road.
In fact, the only party who seemed to give a damn were the shareholders,
dismayed at seeing the value of their 'investments' plummeting.
An extraordinary general meeting was forced in December 1960 amid
demands for a vote of confidence in the board. The arguments were
long and passionate, but in the end a declaration of support was
carried by a poll of seven to one. However, the unrest was acknowledged
and changes were afoot. Harry Reynolds, a board member since 1955,
became increasingly dominant behind the scenes.
He eventually went on to succeed chairman Sam Bolton, who was
becoming weary at having to lead the club through such desperate
times. Reynolds was an eccentric self-made millionaire who continued
to live in a two-up, two-down terraced house despite having made
a fortune as a steel stockholder after starting out in life as
a railway cleaner and fireman. He was born in Holbeck, just a
few minutes' distance from Elland Road, and was a lifelong Leeds
fan, nurturing a vision of the club as a leading power in the
The boardroom revolt coincided with a brief revival in the club's
results on the field and they went through December and January
undefeated in the league, winning five of their eight games and
climbing to ninth in the table from a lowly fifteenth spot.
But, just as it seemed the team's fortunes were looking up, those
of Don Revie were in sharp
decline. His appearances all season had been sporadic as his form
and confidence suffered, and he chose to surrender the captaincy,
arguing that the fates did not smile on his leadership. Freddie
Goodwin took on the responsibility but enjoyed no better luck
with either consistent team selections or results. Revie played
his final game of the season in a 3-0 win at home to Southampton
on January 14 as his thoughts turned to the future and a potential
move into management.
Revie kept his ambitions largely to himself, although Taylor
relied on his experience and capacity to evaluate a player. The
manager one day invited both Reynolds and Revie to travel with
him to look at a player in Bolton. On the trip, Reynolds spoke
of his hopes for the club. His views on the way forward coincided
in many respects with Revie's ideas about the game, and a bon
of mutual respect was forged between them.
The prospect of Revie's departure was not a matter of great concern
to the club. At thirty-one the former England international was
already past his best when he joined from Sunderland in November
1958. Anxious to secure a player-manager's job as his on-field
career drew to a close, he had applied for the job at Bournemouth
in February 1961. Chester City and Tranmere Rovers were interested
in him and Adamanstown from Australia held out the promise of
a five year contract as player-coach.
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However, events for Revie and Leeds United were soon to take
a startling turn.
The team's strong form around the turn of the year had proven
to be a mere flash in the pan and all the old failings came flooding
back in February. Four straight defeats and 13 goals conceded
were enough - the new board met behind
closed doors to discuss the situation and Harry Reynolds pressed
for change. Jack Taylor had the final twelve months of his three
year contract still to run, and the miserly board were apprehensive
about paying out the £2,500 it would take to terminate his contract.
Reynolds decided to push the issue and met Taylor to tell him
of the board's concern, hinting that he would be pressing for
the manager's dismissal.
Leeds managed to beat Norwich 1-0 at Elland Road on 11 March
to end their losing run, but Taylor had had enough and decided
to call it a day, resigning a couple of days later, despite his
team being in a comfortable ninth spot. There were no protests
and the story merited few newspaper headlines. Even the local
paper, the Yorkshire Evening News, contained only a fleeting report
that club secretary Cyril Williamson would assume managerial responsibilities
pending the appointment of a successor. Sam Bolton admitted to
being more concerned with arrangements for that week's FA Cup
semi-final between Leicester City and Sheffield United, to be
staged at Elland Road. "We have not yet had time to consider an
official appointment," a stressed Bolton said. "We shall give
the matter plenty of thought in the near future."
However, Ronald Crowther, the editor of the paper and a long
time supporter of the club, played a part in resolving the issue.
Crowther had already written angrily in condemnation of the directors,
"It will not surprise me if United carry on with a secretary-manager
- Mr Williamson - at the helm, with chief coach Syd Owen responsible
to him for team affairs." Revealing the insecurity that would
always haunt him, Don Revie asked Crowther to draft his letter
of application for the Bournemouth post. Crowther instead pressed
Revie to apply for the Leeds job.
It is the stuff of legend that Revie asked Reynolds for a reference.
The director wrote the letter, recommending Revie in glowing terms,
but paused as he did so and, considering his man's qualities,
decided to rip up the letter and exploit the potential himself.
He managed to persuade his fellow directors to give Revie the
opportunity to begin his management career in West Yorkshire,
although when Leeds told Bournemouth that it would cost them £6,000
to sign Revie, the South Coast club were given considerable food
for thought. The Times celebrated the historic milestone with
a terse and economic paragraph: "D Revie, the Leeds United inside
forward, was yesterday appointed team manager of the club in succession
to Mr J Taylor, who resigned on Monday. He has been given a three-year
contract. Revie will go on playing as long as he can."
The beggars on the board could not afford to be choosers - two
years before, when they had appointed Taylor, even as a First
Division club, they had struggled to find a manager. As a side
struggling in the depths of Division Two, it would be doubly difficult
to do so.
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Bagchi and Rogerson in 'The Unforgiven': "In reality, therefore,
the Leeds Board had little choice but to take the radical option
and appoint Revie. Mired in the lower half of the Second Division,
they were palpably less marketable to the ambitious or established
manager than they had been two years previously. After such a
variety of managers and methods since the war, it was little wonder
that Eric Stanger in the Yorkshire Evening Post concluded: 'Nothing
would benefit Leeds United more than a long stable period of sound
management. In fact, in their financial position, it is their
only hope for the future.'
"Not only was Revie available, affordable and impressively full
of ideas, he was also, ideally, aware of the staff's shortcomings
and the precariousness of the club's standing at the bank. Crucially,
he was far more likely to accept the offer than any other candidate
suited to the job.
"Three days after Crowther's erroneous prediction, the die was
cast. The thirty-three-year-old Revie was appointed on a three-year
contract - on terms markedly inferior to those that Taylor had
enjoyed. His pay was pegged at the £20 maximum, which had until
recently been the maximum wage. The Leeds Board were insistent
that Revie should keep his 'playing' contract for as long as possible.
It was far cheaper that way. Desperate to stay in football and
singularly unsuited for the stock career route of the ex-professional
a pub, Revie knew he had little option but to agree. He never
forgot their initial caution, hardly a brilliant tactic to adopt
with one so temperamentally vulnerable. In future, even if their
compromised position at the bank had given them little choice,
they would pay a heavy price for their attempt to screw him."
A marriage made in heaven had an unpromising courtship.
Revie's first game involved a trip to struggling Portsmouth on
18 March. The line up in that first game read as follows: Alan
Humphreys; Alf Jones, John Kilford; Bobby Cameron, Freddie Goodwin,
Peter McConnell; Gerry Francis, Peter Fitzgerald, Jack Charlton,
Biily Bremner, Colin Grainger.
Revie chose to spring a surprise by aping a decision of former
Elland Road boss Major Frank
Buckley. Back in the 1950s the Major had decided to experiment
with centre half John Charles
in the forward line. Now Revie broke the news that his argumentative
centre half Jack Charlton would be asked to repeat the trick by
wearing the number nine shirt.
Charlton had often clashed with Revie since his arrival at Elland
Road in 1958 as a player, and the defender was apprehensive about
the move: "I tried my best, but the No 9 shirt didn't feel right
to me. I didn't know what to do, and nobody showed me. I remember
Joe Shaw of Sheffield United laughing at me, I was making such
a mess of it. You are the wrong way round up there. The ball comes
to you when you have your back to the goal and I prefer to be
Despite all his reservations, Charlton somehow managed to get
on the scoresheet, hitting Leeds' goal in a disappointing 3-1
reverse. Revie persevered with the experiment, only withdrawing
Charlton when Goodwin was unavailable. The manager also blooded
a promising new talent on the left wing.
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The twenty-year-old black South African Albert
Johanneson, later to be christened the Black Flash, arrived
at the club in April after Revie was tipped off to his talents
by a school teacher. No transfer fee was involved, just the cost
of transport from Johannesburg, and the young winger joined his
countryman Gerry Francis at Elland Road. It
took only a couple of training sessions to convince Don Revie
of the boy's talents, and he was pitched into the first team.
He was only a shadow of the exciting talent he later became but
did enough in a closing run of five games to excite tremendous
With Charlton managing a further four goals to add to the one
he hit at Portsmouth, Leeds squeezed enough points out of the
final few games to secure Leeds' Second Division status, even
though the only win came from an extraordinary 7-0 drubbing of
already relegated Lincoln City. Those two points were enough to
end any lingering threat of relegation with a couple of games
It had not been an auspicious start to a fledgling management
career, but Revie did well to get any return at all from an ailing
and dispirited squad. The Elland Road support were not impressed,
however. The cynical jeer of "Here come the mugs" which drifted
from the terraces was by no means the harshest of the taunts the
Leeds team suffered in this dreariest of seasons - the final home
match of the season against Scunthorpe United, while not a major
attraction could draw a crowd of just 6,975, the lowest home attendance
since 1934. There was much work to do if the hopes of Revie and
Harry Reynolds were to be realised, but at least the devastating
impact of two successive relegations had been avoided.
Other Football Highlights from 1960-61
- English football was only days away from its first national
strike when the Football League backed down in its long running
dispute with the PFA. The arguments over player's wages and
the terms of their contracts had dragged on for years. There
was a maximum wage of £20 a week in the season and £17 during
the summer and players were not allowed to move to a club of
their choosing at the end of a contract. After five hours of
last ditch talks at the Ministry of Labour on January 18, the
League finally agreed to abandon the regulations
- The moment that the maximum wage was established Tommy Trinder,
the Fulham chairman, made Johnny Haynes the first £100 a week
footballer in England. That kept Haynes in England, but Italian
clubs raided for the best of British talent - Joe Baker moved
from Hibs to Torino for £73,000, Denis Law Manchester City to
Turin £100,000, Jimmy Greaves Chelsea to AC Milan £80,000 and
Gerry Hitchens AC Milan to Inter Milan £80,000
- England beat their bitterest rivals Scotland 9-3 on April
15 at Wembley, with Jimmy Greaves scoring a hat trick and Bobby
Smith and Johnny Haynes both getting two
- Sir Stanley Rous was elected the president of FIFA. Denis
Follows replaced him as the secretary of the Football Association
- Everybody believed that the Double would never be achieved
in modern times, but Spurs and their cultured Irish captain
Danny Blanchflower did the impossible this year. Tottenham had
a record breaking start, winning their first 11 League matches
and only dropped one point in the first 16 games. They were
so far ahead by Christmas that bookmakers refused to take any
more bets on them. They wrapped the title up on April 17 with
three games still to go. Then they completed the job by beating
Leicester City 2-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup
- Rangers reached the final of the inaugural European Cup Winners
Cup before losing 4-1 on aggregate to Italy's Fiorentina. The
Glasgow club did manage to win the Scottish Championship and
the Scottish League Cup, however
- Peterborough in their first season in the League raced through
the Fourth Division and were promoted as champions, scoring
a record 134 goals. Terry Bly was their leading marksman with
52 goals in the League, a post war record
- Real Madrid's perfect European Cup record was ended and Portugal's
Benfica beat Barcelona 3-2 in the Final
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