Part 2 - Dawning of a new era
1961-62 was the first full season of
Don Revie's reign at Leeds
United and the team came within a whisker of
an unprecedented drop into the Third Division, requiring a last
day victory at Newcastle to ensure a future in Division Two. For
all the unsettling jeopardy of their situation, however, and the
pervasive financial difficulties, there was a new found air of
optimism about Elland Road that summer.
The battling performances of the spring, inspired by the terrier
like qualities of Scottish international Bobby
Collins and the reborn defensive fortitude of Jack
Charlton, coupled with boardroom support for Revie's ambition,
offered hope for the new season. In the midst of the relegation
fight, £70,000 had been provided to fund the purchases of Collins,
Billy McAdams, Cliff Mason and Ian
Lawson, increasing the club's debt to around £150,000, underwritten
by United's wealthy directors.
McAdams, had been a dismal failure, and left in the close season
for Brentford in a £8,000 deal, while players on the periphery
of the side, Alf Jones, John Kilford, Alan Humphreys, Terry Carling,
Bobby Cameron and Derek Mayers, also departed. The sales generated
just £22,000, and the debt remained a grave concern.
Nevertheless, such was the faith in Revie and his new side, that
the directors were ready to go a step further when they heard
the rumours from Italy that a former favourite was on the market.
On Tuesday, 13 March, the Yorkshire Evening Post carried the headline:
"Now what price John Charles
It is unlikely that the Welsh superstar would have contemplated
playing in Division Three if Leeds had gone down, but the United
hierarchy opened discussions with Juventus regarding a possible
back to top
Charles had already set his mind on a return to the Football
League and was positive about United's overtures, seduced by the
memory of his first, glorious spell at Elland Road. The directors
and manager were similarly besotted and were resolved to raise
the money, thought
to be around £50,000, to make their dream come true.
Originally, their strategy under Revie had been to build from
the bottom by attracting and nurturing the best of the country's
teenage talent, but the urgency of the relegation battle saw patience
cast aside and the cheque book flashed.
The team's shortcoming had been a distinct shortage of goals,
and if Charles could remedy that failing and inspire a promotion
push, the directors reasoned, it would be money well spent.
And so began a protracted courtship which dragged on for weeks,
fraying the nerves of all connected with the club. There was a
series of emotional peaks and troughs as negotiations fluctuated
regularly with doubt as to whether a deal would ever go through.
On June 12, Charles welcomed United's interest: "With my wife
coming from there and in view of the fact Leeds released me to
come to Juventus, I must give them every consideration." Phil
Brown reported on 3 July in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "A United
negotiating party of four will reach Turin on Thursday afternoon
to have talks with the Juventus board … arrangements were rushed
through this morning for Mr Reynolds, vice chairman Alderman Percy
Woodward, and team manager Mr Don Revie to fly to Turin early
on Thursday morning. Another director, Mr Albert Morris, is on
holiday at Monte Carlo and will join them in Turin. Talks will
Manchester United, still rebuilding after Munich, were reputed
to have readied a £75,000 bid in 1959, but now Leeds' main rivals
for the signature were Cardiff City, who had sought to acquire
Wales' favourite son during his first spell at Elland Road. However,
Charles' professed preference for returning to his spiritual home
kept United in the driving seat.
The issue was not so much where Charles would end up as whether
he would be allowed to move at all. The sticking point was Juventus'
need for a replacement. The Brazilian World Cup player Amarildo,
for whom they were ready to fork out £185,000, was their target.
The Turin club were reluctant to sign any deal which could not
be voided if they were unsuccessful in their chase - Leeds were
understandably just as fixed on a deal without strings. The clubs
kept talking and
in the end, even though there were complications in the Amarildo
negotiations and the Juventus president Umberto Agnelli resigned
part way through talks, the deal eventually went through on Thursday,
2 August. The fee was £53,000, increasing Leeds' debts to more
back to top
During the negotiations, Don Revie briefed Charles on his ambitions
for the club, and how central he was to his plans. It was the
manager's gifts of persuasion which sealed the Welshman's commitment.
Revie had a knack for getting his man, and used the fame of Charles
to convince another player that his future lay at Elland Road.
Free scoring Airdrie inside forward Jim
Storrie had turned down initial advances the previous season,
but when Revie came calling a second time, the Scottish part timer
was convinced. He said: "One of the reasons I went to Leeds was
because they had signed John Charles. I had no particular desire
to go to Leeds because they were in the Second Division but Revie
told me they had got Bobby Collins and John Charles and all of
a sudden the package looked pretty impressive."
The £15,650 fee and the Charles settlement took Revie's spending
on players to a shade under £135,000 in less than six months,
a phenomenal sum in those days.
But it was not the largesse of the directors which was being
relied upon. The purchase of Charles was a key component of a
The directors estimated that the club needed to generate around
£83,000 a year from gate receipts to break even financially. In
1961-62 average home crowds had been less than 13,500, which,
with a ticket price of 3s, would have generated around £40,000.
The attraction of the returning hero, it was reckoned, would boost
crowds to at least 20,000, which at the same admission price would
generate receipts of £63,000. A bold decision was taken to increase
entrance fees by 150% to 7s 6d, upping likely takings to over
£150,000. It made Leeds United the most expensive Football League
side to support outside London.
The Yorkshire Evening Post noted that "United's first thoughts
on the increased prices hovered for a long time on the basis of
charging £1 to go in," but such notions were swiftly dismissed.
As it was, rebellion was still very much in the air when the more
conservative prices were announced.
The Yorkshire Evening Post carried the news of the club's intentions
in its 9 July edition, more than three weeks before the Charles
deal was completed: "Leeds United today asked
reserved seat ticket holders to pay 3s a home match more next
season for the privilege of watching John Charles playing again
in United's colours. The Board, which has shouldered the burden
of the earlier transfers is giving the public a chance to show
the firmness of the promises to support the club if the directors
embarked on a policy of team-building and bringing personalities
to Elland Road.
"Season ticket holders, who had already been warned that prices
were subject to increase if Charles was signed, are being asked
to pay 10 guineas for West Stand seats and 8 guineas for the Lowfields
back to top
"The stand ticket increases, said Mr Reynolds, were the first
in six years. He said: 'I have a feeling that the public response
to this appeal will be an overwhelming vote of confidence in the
new policy that is being adopted at Elland Road and the spirit,
enthusiasm and effort that must be apparent to all.'
"Mr Reynolds went on: 'All must agree the Board has done a great
job in providing finance to make the progress that has been made
since the new policy was formulated. Now it is the turn of our
supporters and well-wishers.'"
However, United fans were distinctly unimpressed by the news
and were vitriolic in their response, with the Yorkshire Evening
Post printing many of their letters.
Mr T Young, Cookridge: "Whilst the directors are to be commended
on their achievements and ambitions, they are unrealistic in expecting
a return of capital outlay in too short a time. I feel sure that
old and new supporters would not have minded paying an extra guinea,
or even 30s, but three guineas will put season tickets beyond
the reach of many, and will antagonise not a few."
Mr D Siddle wrote on behalf of 49 employees of a local printing
firm: "We supporters have finally been let down by this outrageous
exploitation of the loyal followers. In the last two to three
years, the Leeds public have had to put
up with a struggling team and second class entertainment. Now,
after all the promises, we have to pay these absurd prices. Until
there is revision we shall not attend any first-team game."
"Ten Angry Supporters" from another printing firm wrote: "We
would like to thank Mr Reynolds and his directors for bringing
Charles back. What a pity we can't afford to watch him."
"Disgusted," North Park Avenue, Roundhay: "For 40 years I have
been a faithful supporter at every home game and many away. During
last season, I suffered, but United did not reduce their prices.
They have made a profit of £12,000 on Charles by selling him for
£65,000 and having him back for £53,000 but at the expense of
the supporters meantime. After 40 years I shall find myself watching
the old blue and white stripes of years ago - but this time Huddersfield
Club chairman Harry Reynolds was enraged by the reaction, retorting:
"We have pinned our faith in the public by giving them what they
have clamoured for and all we ask is their support. When the return
of Charles was 99 per cent sure, we appealed to our supporters
to help us financially, and we started with an appeal to the season
ticket holders to help us by paying 3s a match extra for 21 matches.
We are pleased to say the response has been excellent. We feel
that it is now the turn of supporters who use the turnstiles to
do their share. It has been decided that the first two home League
matches should be all-ticket and that we would appeal to our supporters
to help us by paying the following charges. 5s for the Boys' Enclosure,
7s 6d for the 3s enclosure, 10s for the 3s 6d enclosure and 12s
6d for the paddock. Any seats that have not been taken up will
be 20s for Lowfields Road Stand and 25s for the West Stand.
back to top
"We have had many criticisms on the poor standard of play and
negative results that have been the spectators' lot for many years,
but let us forget the past, look to the success of the future
that we are starting to achieve and help the board and all connected
with United to achieve honours."
The controversy rumbled on for weeks, even temporarily superceding
the news about how the Charles negotiations were proceeding. There
was considerably less dispute about Don Revie's on field tactics
than there had been about the 'Reynolds Plan.'
Leeds' only weakness in the closing months of the previous season
- they had conceded just four times in the final nine matches
- had been their lack of goals. With the arrival of Storrie and
Charles, Revie reasoned that their chances would be much improved.
Despite some recent innovations in tactical arrangements - Brazil
won the World Cup with a revolutionary 4-2-4 set up, Alf Ramsey's
humble Ipswich Town scooped the 1962 League
title by abandoning wingers, while Revie himself was the fulcrum
of the deep lying centre forward style which had won Manchester
City the FA Cup in 1956, aping the original revolution by Hungary
- most teams still operated minor variations on the basic 'WM'
This involved a big centre half leading the defence, flanked
by full backs and protected by wing halves. Up front, a powerful
centre forward would be served by wingers, while skilful inside
forwards played down the channels, controlling play from their
Don Revie's favoured approach stuck to this main theme, but threw
in a few individual flourishes. Scottish keeper Tommy Younger
played behind Jack Charlton and the veteran full backs, Grenville
Hair and Cliff Mason. Skipper and half back Freddie Goodwin's
natural inclination was to defend, so he normally withdrew to
shore up the centre with Charlton, leaving combative Scottish
wing half Eric Smith to range in front of them.
back to top
Further forward, Revie sought aerial dominance via Charles, with
fleet footed South African
Albert Johanneson a constant outlet on the left flank. Billy
Bremner, a notional right winger, was in reality an energetic
midfielder who took the opportunity to get up and down the right
wing. Inside left Bobby Collins was the general of the side, and
played deeper, balancing Smith's holding role. Revie deployed
Storrie as a second centre forward, although expecting him to
drop back when required, particularly in away matches.
The game plan was simple - play a pressurising game, denying
the opposition space and time, and get the ball forward quickly
to Charles. He would secure possession and bring the other forwards
into the play, making openings
for them to run onto. It sounded effective, but there were flaws.
Firstly, many of the team were into their thirties and ill equipped
for the hard running game which Revie's plans demanded.
Secondly, Charles had never been an orthodox target man. In his
first spell at Elland Road, he had often played off another forward,
and was much more effective coming on to the ball than playing
with his back to goal. Italian football had demanded a subtle
and cerebral approach, where guile was needed to avoid the cynical
defensive tricks, rather than brute force. Charles retained the
physical presence to hold his own against big defenders, but preferred
playing to scrapping.
Furthermore, his love of Italian food and lack of pre-season
training had eroded his fitness. When he returned to Elland Road,
Charles weighed in at 15 and a half stone - he was still an impressive
physical specimen, but his edge had been blunted, and he proved
a difficult challenge for trainer Les Cocker, who drove his troops
hard, demanding that they should be among the fittest in the country.
Cocker pulled his hair out at the antics of his new charge. Mario
Risoli, in his autobiography of the player: "Cocker's job was
made harder by the fact Charles had grown accustomed to the more
sedate Italian methods of training. 'John drove Les and Syd spare
in training,' reveals Storrie. 'The training at Leeds was very
hard. It was a lot of stamina work and running and the big fella
was having trouble with that. John would amble along and Les couldn't
handle that. He would scream and shout at John and John would
look at him as if he was daft. A lot of the young players like
myself accepted it because we were young and enthusiastic but
John was in the autumn of his career and he didn't want to go
through all that crap.'
"Willie Bell remembers one
occasion at training when Charles left Cocker lost for words.
'Les would select different players and take them outside to do
a warm-up. On this day he picked John. They went outside and John
just stood there, put his two arms out in front of him and started
flopping his wrists while the other players were stretching and
working. "What are you playing at?" said Les. And John just said,
"Three championship medals." Les had no answer to that.'
back to top
"'We were a very physical, hard-working and hard-running side,'
explains Jim Storrie. 'It was high-pressure football. We had to
put the opposition's players under pressure all over the park.
We harassed and chased. Revie was one of the first managers to
introduce that way of playing. I was a forward and my first job
was to defend. That was the mentality. John was like a duck out
of water playing that way. Had he been younger he might have adapted.
He wanted to play one-touch football and flick the ball here and
there. At the time
that wasn't Leeds' style. Long balls were played to the corner
flag and John was expected to chase after them. At half time in
one game I remember John saying, "I'm not running my pants off
for long balls." And wee Billy Bremner said, "You're making that
With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that Leeds had taken
a huge gamble by throwing Charles into their mix, an overweight
30 year old with dodgy knees and a love for pasta, but the mythology
of Charles as he had once been blinded even cynics to the facts.
Even in a pre-season friendly the signs were there. Charles made
his first appearance on Monday 13 August away to Leicester City,
and the report in the Yorkshire Post was scarcely flattering:
"John Charles was an ambling giant for much of an entertaining
match at Leicester. A crowd of 6,965 paid £741 and watched Charles
move patiently along a well-defined midfield channel for most
of the match. His presence was undoubtedly a comfort to Leeds
but his part in the game was rarely more positive than that of
linker. His first genuine attempt to score came in the 65th minute
when he failed to twist a header round sufficiently. Then came
a startling 40 yard sprint and a glorious flick to Storrie, but
the move foundered on the compact home defence."
The burly Leicester defenders gave their illustrious opponent
a rough ride. He came out of the game needing a stitch in a head
wound, and he felt the pace: "I'm stiff nearly all over, I am
not yet fit, not match fit. But it won't take long."
Despite reservations about the time it would take Charles to
readjust to the physical English game, the local papers were very
positive about Leeds United's chances for the new season, amazingly
so, given their mediocre performances over the previous twelve
Phil Brown: "I must say it feels strange to be talking about
promotion when it is only a few weeks ago I was talking of relegation
fears. Not many clubs finish the last Saturday of one season sweating
on relegation and start the next hoping for promotion as United
are doing. But it is not as daft as it looks. The side finished
the season with far better results and sometimes far better football
than that with which it began and played so much in 1961-62.
back to top
"United finished fourth from the bottom, having 36 points. Another
four points would have seen them half way. Another 10 points -
and they threw away just about as many as that - would have seen
"For all their poor final position there was little wrong with
the defence. They had 61 goals scored against them, and there
were only seven clubs with fewer. But the attack was the worst
in the division with the exception of the bottom club, Brighton.
United had but 50 goals. Charles and Storrie should alter that,
I am as certain as can be."
It would be a while before the reaction to the price increases
could be tested, for the opening day fixture was away to Stoke
City. It represented
a stern challenge against fancied promotion candidates, who could
boast their own international superstar in 47-year-old outside
right Stanley Matthews, reunited with his home town club after
a lengthy spell at Blackpool. The Potters had other talented individuals
and it would be a difficult test for Don Revie's new XI, lining
up exactly as the manager wanted, with Storrie playing an orthodox
inside forward's role.
In the end, the sense of occasion got to both sides, and there
was little football of any real quality. Phil Brown confirmed
as much in his match report: "United's longest-serving player,
Grenville Hair, said to me as we walked into the ground together:
'Phil, I have never had butterflies worse than this.' For all
his long service with United, and his three heavy tours all over
the world, Hair was feeling the high drama of the match. And behind
John Charles' cheerful laughing there were signs of nerves, too.
The 'big feller' knew this was an occasion revolving around him
and his team like nothing before in the history of the club."
back to top
Neither Charles nor Matthews could impose themselves on the game,
although the Welshman did manage to show some decent touches.
Phil Brown: "Charles overwhelmed Stuart in a header after a cross
by Storrie. Charles was varying his positional game between deep
and forward. From a deep position he nearly had Collins through
with a long flick header … but the Welshman is not yet jumping
as high as he used to."
Stoke had the better of the game, but Storrie, Collins and Johanneson
played well, and Leeds managed to come away with the points after
Storrie scored the only goal five minutes before half time. Stoke
had a throw in near their own corner flag, but wing half Eric
Skeels miskicked it into Storrie's path inside the area. The Scot
was perfectly placed and took his time to drive home from 10 yards
with keeper O'Neill well beaten.
The lure of the returning Charles clearly had the desired effect,
for a crowd of 27,118 flocked into the Victoria Ground. However,
the promised rejection by Elland Road home supporters of the new
was evident four days later, as United entertained Rotherham United
- just 14,119 fans were in the crowd, less than a thousand more
than the previous season's average. Chairman Harry Reynolds was
apoplectic with rage - "It is very disheartening, in fact, I almost
feel like saying to the Board that if we cannot get support, and
the public do not want football in Leeds, what is the use of trying?"
He branded those who had complained so vigorously at the price
increases "nigglers," going on: "What would they have to say if
we could not meet our obligations - we still have payments to
make on players we signed last season - and that to pay them we
were going to have to go back to the old policy of selling our
players? There would be an outcry. Why should we spend time and
give money away. We are not obliged to foot the bill any more
than the supporters are. They have clamoured for this thing. They
Those who stayed away from the Rotherham match, the "summat for
nowters" (as Reynolds' contemptuously termed them), missed some
rare excitement for the match was a thriller. Don Revie kept faith
with the team that had played at Stoke, although he pushed Storrie
forward to support Charles.
Leeds were left light in midfield as a consequence, and fell
a goal behind after just three minutes. McIlmoyle broke clear
on the right and sent the ball across the area. Grenville Hair
and Tommy Younger were not on each other's wavelength at all and
allowed Alan Kirkman to tap home.
Rotherham, cheaply assembled and eager to impress, worked hard
and got the better of the game where it mattered most. The nippy
Don Weston on the right
wing was far too quick for Cliff Mason, while Freddie Goodwin
and Eric Smith, who ended the game limping with a knee injury,
were simply overrun. Bobby Collins and Albert Johanneson had decent
games, but Billy Bremner had an off day.
back to top
After 36 minutes Weston outstripped a loose and leaden footed
defence to get on the end of left winger Ian Butler's free kick
to put Rotherham two up, and the same man made it 3-0 five minutes
after the interval. A Leeds defender appeared to handle Butler's
shot on the line but as the ball came out Weston scored spectacularly
with an overhead kick.
The crowd were silenced by what they were seeing, but Leeds came
back into things a minute later with Storrie heading in from Bremner's
free kick. After that, United seemed to finally realise they were
in a match, according to the Yorkshire Post's Eric Stanger: "Raid
after raid, hammering after hammering fell on the stout Rotherham
defence but Ironside, Jackson, Morgan and Madden were magnificent
even if their tackling was sometimes more vigorous than discreet."
For all Leeds' attacking frenzy, it was the 75th minute before
the Rotherham defence was pierced again. Bremner was brought down
in the area by centre half Peter Madden and the referee had little
hesitation in pointing to the spot. John Charles had been the
penalty taker during his first period at Elland Road, and the
crowd expected him to take it, but it was Albert Johanneson who
stepped forward, converting the spot kick with ease.
Five minutes later, the United fightback seemed to be complete,
as Charles got in the spirit, recalling the glories of his earlier
days at Elland Road by blasting home a splendid equaliser. The
Welshman had already seen a shot
on the burst kicked off the line, before playing a one-two with
Storrie on the edge of the Rotherham area and driving the ball
home without breaking stride to beat keeper Roy Ironside.
The crowd rose as one to acclaim the sort of goal with which
Charles had earned his fame. At that point the heartaches of the
summer and the controversy of the ticket prices seemed to be irrelevant.
King John had shaken off the cobwebs and returned from the dead.
Unfortunately, the gallant Rotherham side had sufficient resolve
to come back for a last gasp winner. With five minutes to go,
Butler sprinted down the left wing and centred perfectly for Kirkman
to finish things off with his second goal. It was 4-3 and the
Elland Road faithful were devastated.
They went away crowing, however, at Charles' magic moment, although
in truth his contribution was mediocre. Eric Stanger: "By his
own standards Charles had a modest match until late in the game
when he was set aflame by the spark of the Leeds rally. To that
point he had been outjumped and often outfought on the ground
by Madden. Perhaps too much is expected of him. He was not last
night the Charles of old; no doubt he will be with a few pounds
off as the result of some hard training."
back to top
United and Charles were still getting to know each other, as
Phil Brown commented: "He has not yet fully adjusted to the side,
nor the side to him. There were too many high centres altogether
last night, for instance."
Stanger echoed the comment: "There is one lesson his colleagues
must learn and that is to play with him as well as to him. Often
he was a move ahead of them especially in the first half."
It had been a disjointed and disappointing performance, with
the formerly tight rearguard exposed as hesitant, flatfooted and
slack, while the attack looked one dimensional and over eager
for much of the time.
The following Saturday brought the real test of the policy of
high prices, with the visit to Elland Road of a promising Sunderland
side. Willie Bell was recalled in place of the injured Eric Smith,
but otherwise the side was unchanged. All the talk before the
match was of the contest between Charles and the away side's celebrated
centre half, Charlie Hurley, acclaimed by many as the best defender
in the country.
Despite an early morning apology from Harry Reynolds to the fans
following his previous outbursts against them, the crowd was only
marginally up on the Rotherham game - 17,753. It was much better
than many of the home crowds enjoyed the previous season - less
than 8,000 witnessed December's goalless home draw with Leyton
Orient, while 4,517 had been present to watch John McCole's four
goals defeat Brentford in the League Cup - but after the big money
signing of Charles, a useful away win and a thrilling home match,
it was too disappointing for words as far as the board were concerned.
In fact, it could have been worse, for, according to Phil Brown,
"at 2.30, with only half an hour to go, there were hardly 4,000
It was evident that the Leeds public felt strongly about the
scheme, for Sunderland were one of the big guns of the division,
managed by Alan Brown, and featuring the goalscoring talents of
the remarkable Brian Clough, the promise in goal of young Jim
Montgomery and the hard working Anderson at right half.
Sunderland had the better of the opening exchanges, but were
thrown into disarray after 26 minutes when inside left McPheat
was taken off on a stretcher with a broken leg after a clash with
Bobby Collins. The Sunderland manager was furious, claiming that
the damage was intentional.
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Leeds should have been ahead by then, despite some scares, as
Albert Johanneson had fluffed a penalty. Anderson appeared to
take Bremner down at the edge of the box to bring a fortunate
penalty award. Again Charles was passed over for the penalty because
he had lost confidence after missing six spot kicks in a row during
his last season in Italy. Johanneson was again preferred, but
his shot was weak and Montgomery was able to pounce on it.
Despite his miss, Johanneson continued to trouble Sunderland,
combining well with the aggressive Collins on the left, although
it was the North East side who continued to have the better of
the game, with Hurley dominating Charles for the most part. The
10 men of Sunderland worked much harder than United and it was
little surprise when the match reached the break without a goal.
In the second half, the greater numbers eventually told and Leeds
were able to generate some momentum, scoring the only goal of
the game after 57 minutes. Billy Bremner cleverly
steered home Johanneson's centre from 10 yards with his head.
The game signalled the end of the experiment with ticket prices,
Harry Reynolds finally admitting that the move had been a mistake:
"I have been wrong, as wrong as could be, I can see that now.
We have to have a lot of money by September, and I was sure that
the public of all ranks would come in behind us when we had made
that tremendous effort to get them Charles back. I was misled
by my own experiences of people saying to me how they would give
us every support for Charles. Very clearly I did not judge the
average reaction, and I must take full blame for the whole business.
"I want to make it clear that my co-directors opposed the increases
in the form we made them. They said they were too steep. I told
them I was absolutely positive that they were not - that people
would willingly pay them. So they agreed to my way. You know the
rest. Then I got mad. I am a plain-speaking man, and I said a
few things out of the heat of my disappointed enthusiasm that
I should not have said. I am very sorry if I have given offence."
Before the impact of the change of heart could be assessed, Leeds
United had two away games to face during the next week, against
Rotherham and Huddersfield. For the Rotherham trip, Ian Lawson
and John Hawksby came in for Goodwin and Johanneson. The half
back was dropped, but while he was out he sustained an injury
which kept him out of the side until the beginning of November.
Grenville Hair took over as captain from Goodwin. John Charles
scored his second goal of the season in a 2-1 defeat, a match
chiefly remembered for a clash in the Leeds dressing room at half
back to top
Jack Charlton: "There'd been a corner against us in the first
half, and their centre forward had sent in a floating header from
the edge of the eighteen-yard box. Tommy (Younger) should have
collected it easily, but as the ball hit the ground he dived over
it and it bounced into the net. When Don (Revie) came into the
dressing room at half time he was not best pleased. He pointed
at me and said that I should have picked up the centre forward
on the edge of the eighteen-yard box. 'Wait a minute,' I said,
'the bloody ball was headed from about twenty-five yards away.
I'm not bloody responsible. If a guy gets in and heads a ball
within ten yards, that's my responsibility. If I'd have gone out
there and somebody else had headed the ball where I should have
been positioned, then you would have bollocked me!'
"I had a teacup in my hand and I threw it against the wall. It
missed Don by about a foot and smashed to pieces. Everyone else
went quiet while I went ranting on. Then Don just walked out of
Jim Storrie: "I remember John (Charles) looking around with a
'What have I come back to?' expression on his face. There was
shouting and bawling. It was pandemonium."
Charles scored his third goal in a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield,
although he was again disappointing with Town defender John Coddington
eclipsing him. According to the Yorkshire Post's Richard Ulyatt:
"Coddington seldom was slipped by Charles and often outjumped
his famous rival," although Phil Brown argued "Charles
had been 100 per cent improved right from the start."
Whatever, Charles had one goal disallowed and equalised for Leeds
in the 34th minute, driving home from 16 yards after a battle
in the area.
Ulyatt reserved his main praise for the previous season's heroes,
Bobby Collins and Jack Charlton: "The vastly experienced Collins
and the greatly improved Charlton held United together. Collins
got through such a great amount of work in the first half - back
in defence, forward in attack, that he might have been expected
to flag, but at the end he was still going strong, still half
a thought ahead of most other players. It seemed as though he
played strictly to orders, plugging, prompting, urging. Every
other Leeds United player must have been grateful at one time
or another for his assistance. Charlton's merit was in preventing
Stokes scoring and rescuing his team when White or Massie seemed
on the point of scoring. Some of his clearances were inelegant,
but at least one pass, along the touchline side, was a memorable
part of the game."
back to top
After five games, United were sitting in a disappointing eleventh
position, and questions were being asked about when the star would
start to shine. Richard Ulyatt had been a stout supporter of John
Charles ever since his debut as a youngster and gave the following
insight in Monday's Yorkshire Post following the Huddersfield
"John Charles is finding life as Leeds United's most expensive
footballer slightly burdensome. Even in England's Indian summer
of the last week he has missed the heat of Italy. He shivers off
the field and sweats
frustratingly on it.
"Charles realises as well as those of us who have watched him
play in five matches for Leeds United that he has a long way to
go before he becomes the man who can lead his team to promotion.
Charles has not been the footballing giant he was five years ago
when leaving Leeds for Turin.
"At the same time, he has scored three goals, which is a reasonable
average and which suggests that once he is match fit he will do
nearly as much as has been expected of him. On the day in July
Charles signed, Mr Revie said it would be mid October before he
was fully fit and supporters were warned not to demand too much
The same day, Phil Brown ran a less supportive story in the Evening
Post, noting the rumours that had started circulating:
"The crop of national newspaper stories about John Charles being
already unsettled and wanting to go back to Italy will be the
subject of a special report by team manager Don Revie to United's
directors this afternoon. Mr Revie tells me: 'I have already interviewed
Charles, for I was greatly upset by the stories and I have had
his firm and ready assurance that he does not want to leave United.'
"Charles said he thought the reports this weekend stemmed from
what he described as exaggerated remarks he had made as friend
to friend, rather than as a newspaper interview with a reporter
on a Sunday newspaper. Coming from a highly paid man who is currently
short of form and fitness, Charles' widely reported comments
yesterday may well have left a bad impression with many supporters,
even after his explanation."
Charles had told the Sunday Express' Alan Hoby: "I haven't told
anyone this before but never in my life have I been so worried.
Normally I never worry. But night after night I've lain awake
unable to sleep trying to work out what is wrong, why I should
feel like this, why my confidence seems to have gone, why my form
has been so disappointing." It was a mark of Charles' habitual
naïveté that he was surprised when the confidence was broken.
back to top
Despite all the gossip, the directors could at least comfort
themselves with the knowledge that reducing their ticket prices
paid off handsomely in the midweek match at home to Bury - the
crowd swelled to a healthy 28,313, the biggest seen at Elland
Road since September 1959, when they were still in the First Division.
Matters went less well onfield, however, and after 20 minutes
Charles strained his back in a heavy fall, and was rendered an
ineffective passenger on the left wing, hobbling his way through
the remainder of the game. Even before the mishap, however, Leeds
were second best, although Billy Bremner opened the scoring in
the 26th minute, after being slid in by Bobby Collins. Leeds could
not retain their lead, and ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1
defeat, which could easily have been far heavier. The home side
had simply not been at the races, although once again one player
had shone out.
Eric Stanger: "Collins time after time shrewdly created order
out of disorder in midfield … Collins apart - he was the best
forward on the field - Leeds could scarcely raise a gallop. Bury
swarmed around the Leeds goal and it was as much good luck as
good management which kept them from a third score."
The crowd were hugely disillusioned, as was the manager, and
Don Revie knew as his side dropped into the bottom half of the
table that it was simply not good enough - things had to be done.
And things were done … things which were to impact on the Elland
Road club in a way that could never have been imagined.
Part 2 - Dawning of a new era