Posts Tagged ‘Leeds United’

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

April 1, 2019

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

2019 marks fifty years since Leeds United were crowned Champions of the Football League for the first time. It happened on a wonderful night at Anfield, Home of Liverpool Football Club in 1969 and I was there.


Coming into final stages of the season we had only seen defeat twice: once at Manchester City two nil and a surprising five one defeat at Burnley which we avenged six one at home. Liverpool led the league all through the season but we had matches in hand – dare we say it – it looked as though we might make the coveted championship at last! One mighty barrier had to be breached first and that was Liverpool themselves at Anfield. This was to be the big one, the match that I shall remember when all others fade. I want to take you with me on that trip to Anfield on that wonderful April night.
We left work early that April night and slogged it across the Pennines, and it was a slog in the days before the M62 Motorway was constructed. There was going to be a capacity crowd in Anfield that night, a draw would do for us to lift the Champions crown but if we lost then Liverpool themselves would likely keep the trophy they already held.
We called at a shop for the traditional meat pie on the road that leads past Stanley Park; when the lad behind the counter heard our accents he wished us good luck, ‘Can’t have that lot up there getting too cocky’, he said. Obviously he was a staunch Evertonian. We were already in the ground by five thirty, it was like a great empty cathedral, in fact there was so much space and so long to wait before the kick-off that the four of us who made the trip drifted apart and were not united until the end of the game. One of our number, was a girl called Irene, she was the most fervent supporter of us all, she had been in Hungary for the Ferenvaros match the year before. So keen was Irene that she had written into her contract of employment that she could have time off to watch Leeds United and to have her office painted blue white and gold. She was later to fall foul with the authorities at Elland Road for allowing her banner to fall across the advertising boards. To return to Anfield: it was smaller than I had imagined it would be; the field seemed toy like and even the Kop directly across from us did not seem as immense as I had been led to believe. It was a spring evening which allowed the sun to shine directly into our eyes; it was so brilliant we could hardly see a thing. Perhaps we would be so blinded we would not be able to see the game. Anfield at that time was modern on three sides; the fourth side looked strangely quaint with its rounded timber fascia painted in red with the white letters: Liverpool FC. What an aura of tradition abounded the place. Leeds players came out to inspect the pitch in their lounge suits. In the streaming sunlight on that small elevated pitch even Billy Bremner looked tall; how giant size would the Liverpool players look when they appeared?
Leeds had a good following that night, with the chance of history being made and Leeds lifting their first major trophy what Leeds fan would want to miss out on a night like that? Almost all our end belonged to the Leeds support but somehow I had managed to become surrounded by Liverpool fans and what a great lot they turned out to be! They were a little shocked to hear our lot chanting the songs, they themselves, had made famous but with an added sprinkling of our own obscenities.
The match progressed as I had expected – Leeds had come for a point and played seventy five percent defensively. It was about quarter time before I announced my presence in the midst of a little pocket of Liverpool regulars; they seemed a little surprised to find a Leeds fan amongst their ranks, especially as I was shouting for the removal of a certain Liverpool player who had fouled. ‘Gerr ‘im off!’ but as I stated before, they were a great bunch; as they saw me sweating for the one point we needed for the championship they consoled me by comforting: ‘Only forty minutes to go lad’ – then, ‘Only thirty minutes now.’ It takes greatness to bestow such comfort, especially as our success would mean their failure but then Liverpool were well versed in success, and this was only our ‘maiden voyage’. As the time became shorter our fans shouted madly, ’Liverpool – Liverpool – runners up!’ It was so unnecessary, so pretentious a single Liverpool score even at that late stage and the dream would be over. I remember little of those final few minutes the tension was making it all a blur. But I do recall that the lads were dribbling the ball off our very goal-line, they did not resort to belting it up field, I would have been happy if they had put the ball into row ‘Z’. Then Alun Evens was through with only Sprake to beat, the goal seemed as wide as a field he couldn’t miss but miss he did. I daren’t look at my watch I knew if I did that would surely put the mockers on it. But for once the gods were with us – they didn’t pass that night. When the whistle did sound it was a little unexpected and a little unbelievable: our little team from Elland Road that I had supported from a lad, all those ordinary years in the second division were champions of the Football League!
The Leeds players congratulated each other and were congratulated by the Liverpool team, and then they ran to our end to be treated to hysterical applause. That done they started back to the tunnel; Mr Revie was on his feet and waved them away to the Liverpool Kop; the lads made their way, almost shyly to the famous Kop, hallway across they stopped and waved at the massed ranks of Liverpool fans. That which happened next was the highlight of the whole season and as it seems to have turned out, the highlight of my whole lifetime of watching Leeds United. The Kop arose in a mighty salute of red and white with the thunderous acclaim: ‘Leeds – Leeds – Leeds’. The Kop, which had seemed smaller than expected when entering the stadium, was now a colossal cathedral filling the whole panorama; the crescendo was a magnificent sight, enough to take the breath away. Any Leeds fan who remained dry eyed that night had to be a hard hearted beggar! We left Anfield treading air, the pubs and fish and chip shops all the way from Liverpool; to Leeds (remember there was no motorway) were filled with delirious Leeds fans.
Many of the travellers had their banners already made. I always thought it was tempting providence a bit but what a great sight to see them flying from cars, vans, buses ‘Champions’ when I arrived home it was late but Brenda was still awake and I couldn’t wait to speak those coveted words. ‘This was our night. We are the champions!’ I watched the lads for over sixty years but there was never another night like that night at Anfield
Date April 28th 1969.
Venue Anfield
Att: 53,750.Score Liverpool nil – Leeds United nil.
Teams:
Leeds: Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, O’Grady, Madeley, Giles, E, Gray.
Liverpool: Lawrence, Lawler, Strong, Smith, Yeats, Hughes, Callighan, Graham, Evens, St John, Thompson.
We had the championship with sixty-five points and there was still one match to play. The record points total at that time (and remembering it was only two points for a win) stood at sixty six points, we needed a win to beat it. The last match was to be against Nottingham forest at home. Even though they occupied a lowly position in the league they were not going to make it easy for us that night, although their goal was under perpetual siege they fought for every ball. ‘We want the record’, chanted the crowd but it was beginning to look as though Forest would hold out. It was beginning to be that sort of a night when there had been so many near misses you begin to think that fate has it we would not score but 1969 was our year we squeezed one in near the end; Giles I believe was the scorer. We had the championship and we had the record

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Don’t Let Our Old East Leeds Legends Pass Beyond Living Memory

May 1, 2018

DON’T LET OUR OLD EAST LEEDS LEGENDS PASSBEYOND LIVING MEMORY
The East Leeds I fondly remember includes a few folk notorious for their good works or perhaps their eccentricity that brought them to the attention of the rest of us. I take the liberty of including a few iconic events and places, including some from the greater Leeds area This is not scholarly research but just from my own memories or heresy. Please forgive my mistakes or omissions. These must be written down and remembered, many are about to pass from living memory and will be lost. Embrace them while you can.
*Means other tales on the site have reference to the entry.

Remember to ‘Click’ on pictures to enlarge
In no particular order:
*BIG ERNIE: Was commissionaire/chucker out at the Princess Cinema. Who does not remember Big Ernie in his green uniform standing outside the Princess organising the queues or sat besides the screen eating his sandwiches and balling out miscreants who went to the toilet too many times or for general quiet. As everyone in the forties and fifties surely attended the Princess Cinema his voice must have been heard by more East Leedsers than anyone else’s.

DORIS STOREY: Doris was a great local, international, swimmer who trained at York Road Baths. She won the breast stroke gold at that which was then called The Empire Games and it was said she would have won the Olympics if they had not changed the technicalities of the breast stroke. She later ran the family fish and chip shop near the Star Cinema.

14th  of MARCH 1941: Big date in East Leeds history: Richmond Hill School hit by German bomb. It was during the night so no casualties but the pupils were scattered about around other schools and some evacuated.

*WILLIE KNOTT: Willie was a school boy champion in everything he attempted. He was a giant of a lad at school complete with moustache and legs like tree trunks already at a time when we left school at fourteen. Attended Victoria School but he was a hero to East Leeds lads in general He represented Leeds City Boys and Yorkshire at football, cricket, and Swimming. He was the best at everything he attempted including fighting, which ranks highly among schoolboys – when Willie walked past we stood aside in awe. He ran in the English School Championship sprints, some say he won others say he came third but whatever, the school bought him a bike. When he left school he signed for Leeds United but ironically, as he had been so huge at school he must have had his growth spurt early and he did not in the end grow tall enough for centre forward or centre half and he drifted out of the professional game. But which of us would not have taken that to have lived Willie’s school days as a tiger?

Willie is in the centre of the back row
*JILL ROBINSON MBE: Jill launched a group of amateur artists: The Show stoppers who raised a shed full of money for good causes.

*EAST LEEDS CRICKET CLUB: still going strong after all these years when the fabric of old East Leeds in general falls away.

*ABE WHITE: Genial, Jewish, roly poly proprietor of the Easy Road Picture House. He was always attired in his dress suit and greeted patrons with ‘I hope you enjoy the show tonight’. He was strict on miscreants but always a gentleman. His two sisters looked after the pay box and the interior. The Easy Road Picture house was not the most salubrious of cinemas but always claimed it had the best ‘Talkie’ in Leeds.

PAUL REANEY: Attended St Hilda’s, Ellerby Lane and perhaps Parkside Schools? He played for Don Revie’s great Leeds United team of the sixties and seventies. He could run like a stag and went on to play for England.

*‘CLEGGY’: Woodwork teacher at Victoria School and absolute legend for creating fear amongst the pupils. I didn’t attend Victoria Day School but attended his woodwork class on Friday afternoons along with lads from other schools. If you misbehaved he let fly with the pieces of ‘two by ones’. Before you met ‘Cleggy’ you would be painted a picture by those already attending they would say he lays you hand on the desk and asks, what do you want the chisel or the mallet. If you say mallet he lays you head on the bench and hits the bench with the mallet a few inches from your head so your head bounces up and down, if you say chisel he lays your hand on the bench and goes in and out the fingers with the chisel if you move your hand you’ve lost a finger. I have to say I never saw him do that trick but we were all terrified of him even the usual villians. The upside was: if you really tried he’d help to make you into a good carpenter.

*THE PADDY ENGINES: Kitchener, Jubilee, Dora and Antwerp In their green livery and later Silvia.

*MARY/VAL MILNER: Director of the famous film ‘Brought to Justice’ made entirely by the children of Ellerby Lane School in 1953.

LEEDS RHINOS: won 16 trophies in 13 years: eight Super League Championships, three World Club Championships, two Challenge Cups, and three League Leader’s Shields. In 2015, their finest year they won all three trophies – the Treble.

*HARRY BENDON: Who, who lived in our area in the forties and fifties will not have memories if Harry? He was a character and a half. He was a good singer around the local pubs and clubs but often could not resist blotting his copy book with vulgarity. I remember Harry in a smart camel coat with his a concertina. He is once said to have put his window cleaning ladder up against a bus standing outside the Corn Exchange and while whistling away started to clean the upstairs windows. I recall a night in the Scotsman Pub, a fracas was going on and the police were called, things were beginning to look really nasty. I expected fists to fly and arrests to be made when out of nowhere Harry turned up the middle of them all and started playing his concertina. The whole melee erupted into laughter and the situation was saved.

*TUSKY: (rhubarb). Our staple diet.

The 61,62,63,64 bus routes.

ROCKING HORSE: Rocking Horse was a bit before my time but those older than I remember him as a policeman with a rocking gate who had his beat in our area. This was at a time when gambling was frowned upon. ‘Pitch and toss schools’ of which there were many in the area were illegal. Rocking Horse would try to catch the culprits but the neighbourhood was friendly and would allow culprits to run into their houses and out the back door, if there was one. He was old school policeman and warmed to the locals by administrating a cuff behind the ear rather than to arrest.

REG PARKS: (Mr Universe) lived in the Saville’s.

*SOUTH ACCOMMODATION ROAD SUSPENSION BRIDGE: with its great, bowed, green, parapet that Jimmy Thrush daringly crossed on his bogey.

MR SHAW: Scary manager at York Road Baths.

DOLPHUS: The park ranger on east End Park in the 1940s.

MULLIGAN’S MANSIONS:  (Bridgefield Place)

*THE OLD PRIMAY SCHOOLS; Hilda’s, Mary’s Vicky, Ellerby, South Accomm, All Saints Saville Green, Charles’s, East End Park Special School. York Road board School, the Bombed out Richmond Hill School. All with their teachers good and bad.

*THE NAVVY: our dangerous playground

*THE PUBS: Gone but not forgotten: Cross Green, Bridgefield, Black Dog, Fish Hut, Waterloo, Prospect, Slip, Hampton, Shepherd, Yew Tree, Spring Close, Cavalier, Shaftsbury and Dog and Gun.

*HARRY: Waiter extraordinaire at the slip, He would come waltzing through a busy concert room balancing a tray of seven or eight pint glasses on a tray above his head without spilling a drop and he would have already calculated the note you were going to give him and have the correct change already worked out and ready in his top pocket.

*AGNES LOGAN STEWART: (Mother Agnes) opened St Saviour’s Institute a school and home for girls from dysfunctional families in Knostrop in 1872 and staffed it with sisters in holy orders. She wasn’t in holy orders herself but wore the dress of one. She was a woman of private means and boundless energy and also opened the St Hilda’s School for boys in Cross Green Lane, all from her own funds.

RED ROAD AND BLACK ROAD: Portals to adventure.

*EAST END PARK: Happily spruced up and still with us

*SNAKEY LANE: One pitch now instead of the two we had but it’s a good ‘un.

CHARLIE ATHA: Had a bicycle repair shop near the Princess Cinema. He could just about build your bike up from a single spoke but you had to catch him when he wasn’t in the Shepherd pub.

THE CHURCHES AND CHAPELS: St Hilda’s, St Mary’s, All Saints, St Saviours, St Patricks, New Bourne Chapel, Richmond Hill Chapel, Zion Chapel and others long time closed with their great incumbents that looked after our wellbeing and tried to keep us on the straight and narrow. Lots attended then, few now.

*THE KNOSTROP EXPERIENCE: Knostrop House, Knostrop Old Hall, Knostrop New Hall Knostrop Institute, Thorpe Stapleton Hall, The Humbug House, The ABC Houses. Most of them stood for hundreds of years but all sadly demolished during our watch.

*STOURTON SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM: a tiny school by modern standards but one year in the 1930s they became school football champions of all England.

*THE BASINS AND THE BLUEBELL WOOD: Pleasant features on the walk from Cross Green to Temple Newsam.


*ATKINSON GRIMSHAW: a bit before our time – born in 1836 but he lived in Knostrop Old Hall and was a wonderful moonscape painter – The way he deals with artificial light passing through windows onto wet pavements makes him my particular favourite painter. His pictures of Leeds, Liverpool and Whitby in particular hang in Leeds and national galleries and now sell for ‘telephone number’ prices.

WOODBINE LIZZIE: Lizzie was not particularly an East Leeds woman but probably the best known lady in Leeds in the 1940s. She would stand in the entrance to the Whip Public House In Duncan Street – near the three stumps – in a moth eaten fur coat and hat and ask you for a Woodbine when you passed , if she didn’t get one she’d let you have a barrage of obscenities not usually heard from the mouth of a lady.

JOHN CHARLES: John was not an East Leeds lad not even a Leeds lad he was Welsh but he played for Leeds United in the 1950s and his standing was so high amongst we East Leeds youngsters I feel he warrants and entry. He was 6ft 2ins when, not like today, when 6ft 5s are not abnormal. He was a giant on the field. A sight not to be forgotten was John dropping the ball down from his chest and accelerating up the field tacklers more or less melted away rather than getting a tackle in and there would be john tucking the ball into the corner of the net and walking back and he was impervious in the air – one season he scored 40 goals. When he was transferred to Juventus lads cried openly In the street. The £65,000 we got for his transfer (what would he have brought today?) helped us build the new West Stand He was always a gentleman into the bargain. Big John, the Gentle Giant.

ALMA: Genial conductress on the 61/62 bus and member of the Showstoppers troop

*THE CINEMAS: The Picture House Easy Road, Princess, Star, Regent Shaftsbury, Hillcrest, Victoria, Premier, Strand and Regal. (The Shaftsbury had double seats at the back for courting couples)

*THE QUARRY: Located at the back of the Easy Road Picture House. Dirty, but An adventurous playground for the Easy Road gangs.

*DAVID WILSON: He jumped all the way down the navvy for a bet, five comics and six pence. He didn’t get the comics or the six pence; he did get a broken arm but also legendary status for the feat – look he’s mentioned here sixty years later.

BOB BATES: Ran Mount St Mary’s football teams for years and years and better years and the boy’s club too. He could be seen marking the Snake Lane football pitch out before a match all on his own with little thanks, the lime we used to use for the job blowing all over his good suite. Sometimes his best players let him down and didn’t turn up but he just got on with the job. To me he was a prince among men.
NEVILLE HILL HOPPER AND SHED WITH CLOCK:

RED WALLS: Where we would paddle and fish for tiddlers, and sometimes get glass in our feet..

*THE ARMY AND POW CAMPS DOWN BLACK ROAD/KNOSROP: With their ack ack guns an barrage balloons.

*CHUMPING: They only seem to have communal bonfires today.

*THE GREAT WINTER SNOW SPORTS OF 1947.

AIR RAID SHELTERS.

THE CANE FROM THE TEACHER.

LEEDS UNITED : THE REVIE YEARS: We won the cup in 1972 and the league championship in 1969, 74. And two European trophies. We won the championship again in 1992 but not under Revie.

TRAMS:

*THE MARKET DISTRICT BOY’S CLUB: It was supposed to have been opened by The Parish Church to keep us lads off the streets but it became much more than that.

THE RICMOND HILL WHIT WALK: Disappeared with the demise of the pubs but before that it was run from The Cavalier and later The Prospect pubs. It went down Dial Street and on to a couple of circuits of East End Park. Crowds would turn out to cheer the walkers. There was a money prize and I can remember Jimmy Croll won it on a couple of occasions.

DOLLY DAWSON: legendary Hunslet rugby League player and genial ‘mine host’ of the Hampton Hotel.

THE PREFABS: Much better accommodation than the properties they replaced.

THE MONKEY BRIDGE: Iron bridge where dare devils would trapeze hanging above the navvy.

GEORGE TOOTLE: George was blinded by his time in the boxing ring, he too was an old Hunslet ruby league player’ He was a popular figure who lived in Knostrop Old Hall during the war. Knostrop was very dark during the ‘black out’ and George endeared himself to the folk of Knostrop by singing in a low rumble when he came home in the dark with his three littler guide dogs. so that females of the area knew it was only old George and not to be afraid.

THE GINNEL: Spooky little tunnel between Fewston  Avenue and Easy Road to allow the paddy train to pass overhead on its way to the coal staithe.

THE RED HILLS and the THE BLACK HILLS: The Red Hills at Knostrop the Black Hills near the Shaftsbury.

EDGAR STREET CLINIC: ‘Our own Little place of horrors.’

:

YORK ROAD LIBRARY AND SWIMMING BATHS: Have been closed for a long time and I thought we were going to lose them but they have put the clock back up and they say it’s going to be a gym

I’m sure there are more that deserve a mention if you can think of any please send them on a comment

Electricity and Football at Elland Road

May 1, 2016

Here are more great memories of East Leeds
Electricity and football at Elland Road and East End Park
By Eddie Blackwell

The Terraced House I was born in was serviced by Coal and by Gas. In simple terms the heating, oven and set pot, were part of a Coal fired Range, and the lighting and the cooking ring were powered by Gas.
This was producer gas made from Coal in Coke Ovens then using the Water Gas Process to make producer gas which was pumped into Gasometers, (which still exist today) for storage, and supplied to your house for your domestic needs.
The gas that flows to your needs today, is usually Natural Gas formed over Millions of years by layers of decomposing animal and vegetable matter being subject to high pressures and high temperatures deep within the bowels of the Earth and is usually odourless and has to have a smell added to make it detectable and therefore less dangerous for domestic use. The Producer Water Gas to which I refer needs no such treatment and has a horrible sulphurous smell.
In our house our lighting was provided by gas, each room had a gas mantle which was ignited at night to give light to enable us to see. If the mantle was damaged the light did not provide sufficient luminosity, and the mantle had to be replaced. This was a delicate operation and required a steady hand and an understanding of what needed to be done. The mantle was a silky mesh bag that had to be tied to the ceramic collar through which the gas passed, once this had been completed then the silky bag was ignited and shrunk to form a delicate mantle, when the gas was turned on and ignited the mantle glowed giving off a white luminous light, not dissimilar to the famed Limelight of the Music Halls of years ago, if you touched the mantle then it would disintegrate and become a white powder and the process would have to be repeated, so Mum always had a supply of candles handy as a reserve..
At this time Electricity was in its infancy and although the Trams were powered by this unseen power, domestic distribution was still only for the rich, however we did have a wireless powered by electricity, and the electricity entered the house from an external source.
The wireless although very posh looking with its highly polished wood exterior, did not work. Dad had left to fight in the War, and looking into the back of the wireless we could see valves and wires and solder, it was much more complicated than a Crystal Set, so there was no way we could repair it. At the bottom of our Street across the other side of Pontefract Lane next to the Sheppard Pub, Mr Charlie Atha had his bicycle shop, he also charged batteries and accumulators, and repaired electrical things, he was a strange man whenever I went into his shop I would always see odd pennies and coppers on the floor, I used to pick them up and put them on the counter and when he appeared I would say I’ve found these pennies on the floor Mr Atha I think someone has dropped their change, and he would smile knowingly tapping the side of his nose and say Good Lad what can I do for you today.. Mum called in to see him and asked if he could repair a wireless, what make is it he asked, and Mum said I don’t know that’s my husband’s department and he’s away helping to fight the war, bring it down Lass and I’ll see what I can do..
So off we went home to get the Wireless Set, well I knew nothing about electricity, and my sister who was older than me had no knowledge of it either, everything to us was powered by coal or gas, Mum didn’t know because technology was Dads department, so she got a knife from the kitchen, Stainless Steel blade with a bone handle made in Sheffield, and decided to cut through the wire attached to the Wireless, well it was a live connection, there was a huge bang and sparks were flying every and Mum fainted, run and get Aunty Margaret (she only lived across the way in Ascot place) my sister said as she tended to Mum who was on the floor, by the time Aunty Margaret and I got back, Mum was sat on a chair and my sister was making her a cup of tea, and a flood of relief come over me I thought Mum was seriously hurt. I picked up the knife from the floor and the blade was almost completely destroyed, go and get Mr Atha to come down this needs to be made safe Aunty Margaret said, and off I went like a rocket, I related what had happened to Mr Atha, and he said you run home and tell them that nobody must touch anything , I’ll get some tools and then I’m on my way..
When he arrived he sized up the situation and said you’ve been very lucky you could have been electrocuted, but you were holding the bone handle of the knife and that insulated you against the electrical current, there’s 240 volts going through there, then he walked over to where the wire came through the wall and said this is called a switch, and switch it off, and this is called a plug and pulled it out, now it’s disconnected and safe..
Well I was only a boy not yet old enough to be a member of the library, and I wasn’t an exceptionally good reader, but I said to my sister I need a book about electricity from the library, I just have to find out what electricity is. The following morning off we went to York Road Library and I found this book called “The Boy Electrician”, in the children’s section, the lady said but you’re not old enough to join yet, and my sister said I’ll take it out for him, then looked at me and said don’t damage it and make sure you return it on time otherwise I’ll kill you, she loved me really and had carried me many, many miles on her back when I was very small and my legs were tired, I recall some years later she said to me you see how my bum sticks out at the back, that’s from carrying you on my back when you were little…
This book turned out to be a gem it was full of pictures and drawings of magnets and armatures and windings and things and names like volts, currents and amps and watts, it described how electricity was produced, and how powerful it was, and all sorts of things you must never do, and there were rules and laws about circuits, Watts = Volts x Amps I seem to recall, and parallel and series circuits, a lot of it I couldn’t understand Dynamos and Alternators, but I’d put my foot on the first rung of the ladder, if in doubt find out..

Football at Elland Road and East End Park.

I recall in the mid 1940’s I think the war had just finished, I had a school friend called Kenny Walker, he lived in Bickerdyke Street which started in York Road almost opposite the Library and ran all the way down to the ‘oller in Saville Green that was adjacent to Torre Road. He was a fanatical Leeds United fan, he wore the Blue and Old Gold scarf, and his Dad took him to all the games both home and away. he also had a Collie Dog called Lassie just like the Lassie in the films at the cinema.
Well one day when Leeds United were playing at home, Kenny said shall we go and watch them play, I said I’ve only got twopence halfpenny, Kenny said well we don’t have to buy tickets I know where we can sneak in, “famous last words” so we walked into town and caught a tram that dropped us off at the ground.
It was nothing like the ground is today and there was a large flat cindered area around the back there was a high solid fence as I recall and at the end of the fence a large Wrought Iron Double Gate with a chain and padlock holding it closed, Kenny said it’s locked, I’ve never seen it locked before, so we went up and looked through the gate and a voice said you can’t come in here without a ticket, but you can watch for 10 minutes through the gate then be on your way, so much for sneaking in, but I was relieved really because I didn’t like that idea anyway.. We watched for a while and I must say I wasn’t impressed at all, they were playing an Irish winger called David Cochrane that day, and he was a good ball player and dribbler, but all he did was go back and beat the same man again and again he never crossed the ball into the penalty box which I thought he should have done, but in fairness we only had a limited view of what was happening, but I said to Kenny we can play better than that, well that got his backup and he said I’m getting some football boots and a football for Christmas and I’ll play you down on East End Park, I’ll race you to the end of the fence…ready steady go.. But he could never beat me, and would always have an excuse like ahh! I’ve got a stone in my shoe, or I’ll have to stop I’ve got a stitch, they were great times when we were lads..
Well I put football boots down on my Christmas list that year, and true to his word on Christmas morning there was a knock on the door, and It was Kenny football boots round his neck hung from the laces, football in his hands and a big smile on his face, are we on then he said, did you get your football boots, yes I said and produced these Light Buff coloured all leather football boots, shall we go to East End Park then and have a game, Mum chimed in but it’s snowing you can’t play football in this, we’ll be all right Mum it’s not going to lay it’s melting as soon as it touches the ground, “again famous last words”..
Off we went down to the park, by this time the snow was starting to lay, but this was a game of honour and the reputation of Leeds United was there for the taking, well it was hopeless you couldn’t do anything in the snow which by now was about 2/3″ deep, we finished up just kicking the ball to each other for about 1/2 an hour and packed it in, but the worst was yet to come..
You lads look frozen to death I told you it was a silly idea here’s a towel each, get your selves dry and I’ll make you some Bovril, and what have you done to your boots, well we lads had never heard of Dubbing and when the label said real leather what they meant was compressed cardboard the football and our boots had just expanded as the snow had melted turned to water and saturated the surfaces, Kenny was almost in tears when he realized, he said my Dad will kill me he spent a full weeks wages on these and he said I had to look after them.. well we placed them near the fire and they dried, and Kenny’s were probably leather because they were not that bad, Mum got some brown polish out and polished them for him and they looked OK, but my boots were unbelievable, so I said well they were hurting my feet anyway Mum, trying to offload a bit of the blame…
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Thanks Eddie for sharing your great memories with us.