Leeds United Book Project Still Needs Publisher and Anecdotes – by Rob Atkinson


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Leeds United – Football League Champions

This article was originally published on March 6 this year.

In late 1992, there was a sea-change in English football with the introduction of the FA Premier League – a “whole new ball game” as the moguls at BSkyB termed it, with more than a passing nod to the surface glitz and glamour of the Wide, Wide World of Sports, state-side.  Nothing has been quite the same since, we’ve been living with the consequences – good and ill – of that Murdoch-inspired schism in our game for well over twenty years now.  The current state of play is unrecognisable from the dear old muck and bullets game we used to know – prices have sky-rocketed, wages have transcended the merely obscene and have attained a level which is truly, nauseatingly gut-wrenching – and we’ve had to put up with a Taggart clone riding roughshod over our beloved sport for the greater part of the Uncle Rupert era.  A whole new ball game indeed.

At the time of the change, though, Leeds United were the reigning Champions of England.  Many will recall this, perhaps not entirely as accurately as they might.  You will hear it said that Leeds “pipped” Man U to the title, or that those hard-done-by heroes and the Pride of all Devon somehow gifted the Championship crown to an undeserving and opportunistic Leeds.  All myth and fancy, of course – but the media never did let facts get in the way of a nice bit of propaganda to support the delusions which drift like opium smoke around the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  Leeds won the title by four clear points, despite losing or drawing several winnable games late on, so if anything the margin could and should have been greater.  They won the most games and lost the fewest, scoring the second highest goal tally and conceding few with a mean defence.  They had the indisputably best midfield around and they were undeniably worthy champions – the Last Champions.  This is one of the things I want to nail once and for all at the latter end of the book I’m now writing, a book that ends with the revolution of ’92.

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Cruyff has the honour of meeting Bremner

Leeds were also reigning champions where this book starts, with my first games in LS11 as a comparative latecomer at the age of 13 in 1975.  I saw us lose to Liverpool in the league and then beat Barcelona in the European Cup semi-final before a 50,000 sell-out at Elland Road.  I was hooked after the Liverpool game, hooked for life.  And I was star-struck with wonder as Armfield’s heroes in white dismissed Barca, Johann Cruyff and all, with King Billy Bremner scoring my first ever live Leeds goal.  What an honour that was for a newly-fanatical kid of 13.  We couldn’t know it at the time, but I’d just witnessed the last hurrah of Revie’s Immortals at home in Yorkshire.  They were to burn brightly again, in Barcelona and in Paris – but were doomed as so often before to be cheated of their just reward.  From ’75 onwards, it was a time of decline and then stagnation, until Sergeant Wilko stomped into Elland Road and dragged us back to the top in his own inimitable style.

Those fallow years of bleak exile in the wilderness form a thinly-documented part of United’s post-Revie history.  It’s a gap I aim to fill, and I can draw upon many of my own memories in order to do so.  Attention is also demanded for the late seventies mini-revival under Armfield and Adamson, with a peak in 1978/79 when a Tony Currie-inspired Leeds played some fantastic football and threatened briefly to revive former glories.  Alas, it all crumbled into dust and relegation – but some rich promise was there, for a while.  The basic premise of my book (which still lacks for a title, among other important attributes like a publisher) is to take the time between my first game in April 1975 when Leeds were Champions, and the Charity Shield match against Liverpool at the old Wembley in 1992, when Leeds were Champions again – and try to describe what it was like to witness such a fall from glory, such a humiliating yet exciting spell in the shadows and then such a meteoric rise back to the very top.  The fact that this process covered the last seventeen years of the original Football League epoch lends a kind of poignancy to the whole saga of triumph, despair and triumph again.

What I really need is input in the form of memories and anecdotes – the experience of fellow fans who, like me, were there through it all, or even those who followed from afar, separated from events in England, but still fanatically involved.  I know there are many such far-flung but devoted Leeds fans out there.  And I need help, advice, assistance.  I’m confident I can write the thing, and it will be written in the same idiom that has seen this blog grow and thrive.  It’s taking shape well, a good few thousand words in.  But I could use – and would be very grateful for – any information and advice about publishers, publishing, contacts – that sort of nitty-gritty thing.  And I still need a title! – although I’m now fairly certain that “Full Circle” will figure in it somehow.  All feedback is gratefully received; do people think a book of the kind I’m proposing has a market out there?

I mustn’t end without saying how massively grateful I am for the help, encouragement and assistance I’ve already received.  To those who have dug into their pockets and donated to this blog, enabling me to give more of my time to the book project – thank you so much.  It’s a humbling experience to discover the willingness of people out there to help get an embryonic project off the ground.  I appreciate the time you’ve secured for me to put the work in and get this thing down in words.  I’ve sent emails to everyone who’s provided such generous support, but rest assured – when The Book finally sees light of day, you’ll receive a copy of whatever it’s eventually titled, with my sincerest compliments.

Going forward – publishers, agents, those with connections – please do get in touch if you can help.  I’m confident I can produce a worthy addition to any fan’s Leeds United bookshelf, given some supplementary material and someone who will take a punt on me and maybe profit from it.  Who knows, maybe it can be a Leeds United book with something to say about football in a broader sense too.  You can rest assured that those I dislike will not be neglected!  Football is a tribal thing and, true to my tribe, I will be looking to have a pop here and there at that lot from ovver t’hill.  It’d be rude not to, after all.

Finally, after a big influx of blog followers over the past few weeks, can I just say welcome to anybody who’s new to “Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything”. I hope you’ll all stick around and be regular readers and responders! MOT

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Full Circle – The last Football League Champions in ’92

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29 responses to “Leeds United Book Project Still Needs Publisher and Anecdotes – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Im sure it will be a cracking read rob.a must have for all us fellow leeds fans,across the globe.lets hope the football league dont dampen our spirits.

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  2. Good luck with your book project. it sounds interesting.

    I may be stating the bleedin’ obvious, but have you tried Great Northern Books, who published Richard Sutcliffe’s books on Revie and Bremner? They have got new Yorkshire-based books out by Joe Sayers (ex-Yorkshire batsman) and Peter Jackson (played for some of the county’s minor clubs), so they should perhaps be your first port of call.

    Great Northern Books Ltd, PO Box 213, Ilkley, Yorks, LS29 9WS. Telephone 01274 735056

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  3. Mark Jones

    Hi
    I’ve been a Leeds United supporter since 1968 and so have seen all the ups and downs! I am a scriptwriter and have worked in TV and have written a few books. I’d be happy to offer my services as a proofreader for your book.
    All the best
    Mark Jones

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  4. I think the title you need may be in the picture above Rob, THE FULL CIRCLE (75-92)?!!

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  5. How about the title , love from bremner to stachan

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  6. Hope its on amazon I can’t wait to write a review and rip it to shreds

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  7. sniffersshorts

    aside from your offerings of war and peace, and our history, the last few months will add a few chapters. one thing I have just read, has had me thinking IL DUCE, has property in Miami, surely this boat thing is a complete wind up, the Sardinians must be mighty pissed of he is leaving a sinking ship (sic) and investing in a slightly more buoyant one, the case is being helf in sardinia surely the boat is registered in America, I don’t think his lawyers would have been so stupid to let him no pay VAT. after all he has had a few scrapes in the past as we know….. it doesn’t add up to me other than journos twisting the knife, also nothing has come from Cellino himself only his lawyer.

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  8. Good luck with your new book Rob, I can’t wait to read it, when it comes out.
    That was my most favourite era watching Leeds, when you could go to Elland Road with £10 and still come back with change.
    When I started watching Leeds in 1980, it cost only 50 pence to stand on the Kop and even up to its final use as a terrace in 1994, it only cost £7 to stand on the Kop. That was value for money, before the rip-off, all-seater days and the domination of the greedy SKY revolution.

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    • Ah – happy days…

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    • Counte of Monte Fisto

      Paul,
      My season ticket when we got promoted under Wilko was £60 if i remember rightly.
      £60 for the greatest season ever its barely the cost of a game now
      I do remember a particular low point for me was the playoff defeat at Charlton, Sheridan was majestic then 2 late goals and 20k in our end watching a couple of hundred Charlton fans going mental.
      But from the day Wilko took over it was a special feeling, I was watching England get stuffed by Australia at Headingley when the Yorks post guy wandered by shouting “United sign Jones”. In my Leeds happy mondays type hat (taken from the head of Chris Fairclough away at Shrewsbury on the last game of the last season) I chased after him ‘accidently’ stepping on a couple of Bradford fans on the way. Yes we had bought Vincent Peter Jones who was to become a hero & eeey eeii eeeye eeii oh was to become the song on the season.
      Many dark days though (I was there away at BCFC and Barnsley when the ground got trashed, I was even there (very youthful) when Kens new scoreboard was converted to amunition. Worst places to go for me were Ayesome Park, Roker Park and Maine Road. I know bad things happened but sometimes I feel for the young fans now, everything is different (mostly better in terms of facilities etc) but they will never feel what we all felt the buzz of an away game, turning up and taking over a whole town, Plymouth away stopping off in Bovey Tracy & being stared at like aliens had landed. One this I really miss is the sheepskin coat / swallow on neck tattoo combo.

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  9. Good luck with the book Rob, I’m sure you’ll sell a fair few of them Down Under.

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  10. Rufus Valentine

    I hope you do get to write a book. Anyone who can pluck phrases such as “it will be written in the same idiom that has seen this blog grow” and “nauseatingly gut-wrenching” out of desolately thin air deserves a shot at the big time. Good luck.

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  11. How about “Riding Full Circle On the Leeds Roller Coaster”. A tad long but covers everything. With a picture of you on the BIG ONE in Blackpool Pleasure Beach which could be done without you actually having to ride it.

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  12. Rob

    I think that the period you describe will be a big hit with anyone of my age who first went to ER in 74 .

    I would describe it as growing pains – a bit like Adrian Mole with a Leeds scarf. My first trip was as a child aged 8 then the demise kicked in around the time of getting a first girlfriend aged 14 followed by many years on the road in division 2 with many highs and lows both with Leeds and girlfriends.

    Finally got married when we won the title in 92 but then things went down hill again on the pitch and off it with a divorce in 96.

    Got remarried in 2001 while we were living the dream and now my 3 young boys aged 7, 9 and 12 have been living the nightmare ever since.

    I do think you may need a second book my friend to cover the next phase which is the rise from the ashes of our great club with Cellino to win the premier league , preferably with Man U relegated the same season – a real full circle!

    ( I always said 3 title wins in a lifetime was enough for anyone)

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  13. John van Dam

    How about, “Waiting for a white 180”?

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  14. Just seen an offer on the official site to meet the players this Easter. Do we have to bring our own hammers and nails,or will they be supplied?

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  15. Could Paul who wants to slag your book off on amazon be uncle Ken in disguise?. anyway for the first time in years it feels good to a Leeds fanatic.

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  16. Have you read Dave Simpson’s “The Last Champions”? This book covers a lot of what your book is proposing. I think you will need to cover some new ground and write from a new angle to make it fresh. Good luck with the project, I look forward to reading it!

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    • I’m actually part way through that right now mate. It’s a really good read – and while I’ll be covering some of the same ground, I’m aiming for – as you say, a different angle. Thanks for that comment, it’s sharpened my focus a bit.

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  17. If you can’t get a publisher, Rob, how about publishing it as an e-book? I’m a Liverpool fan actually but my brother’s a Leeds fan.
    Title: how about “To Hull and Back”…?

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    • I have thought about it. I’m being a bit timid about it at the moment to be honest. Crisis of confidence! But the book is still a work in progress anyway.

      Good luck for the rest of the season, hope you win it. So good luck to Everton next weekend too!

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