Tag Archives: Inspiration

How a Don Revie Disciple is Spreading the Leeds Legend Down Under – by Rob Atkinson

It’s the stuff of legend; the story of how new Leeds United manager Don Revie looked for inspiration to Real Madrid in their brilliant all-white strip, as he set about the mammoth task of turning the Elland Road also-rans into the best team in Europe. There’s possibly a touch of the apocryphal about that version of events – after all, there’s strong evidence that United turned out in all-white before The Don took the helm. But the irresistible romance has persisted to this day, that of a young and visionary manager looking from afar at the early sixties Galacticos as his ideal for creating Yorkshire legends of equal prowess. Ultimately, there’s little doubt that Don Revie did create Europe’s top team, the most-feared and respected outfit just about anywhere. It was his dearest wish that United and Real should meet in competition; sadly that never happened in Revie’s lifetime.

The finished article - Yorkshire's answer to Real Madrid

The finished article – Yorkshire’s answer to Real Madrid

Now, over fifty years on, Real Madrid have emerged from their own relatively barren years to once again reign as European Champions, with another galaxy of glittering stars and wonderful footballers. They have Cristiano Ronaldo, too. At Leeds, the wheel has turned full circle in that half-century; the Whites languish once more outside the top flight, a lowly sphere they’ve inhabited now for well over a decade. A new revolution is sorely needed at Elland Road, but where is our latter-day Don Revie? The best hope for Leeds is that the club can benefit from another outstanding crop of youngsters, as we saw back at the start of the 1960s. And still we have that iconic (more or less) all white strip, the symbol of past domination and the inspiration, we hope, for future success.

All of that represents a lot of wistful nostalgia and a fair measure of somewhat shaky optimism that we might one day see achievement on a comparable scale, all based on the symbolic value of that inspirational all-white kit. But way over on the other side of the world, in New Zealand, one ex-pat Yorkshireman and fervent Leeds United fan is creating his own dominant team of all-whites – and he’s drawn inspiration from that Revie story in order to galvanise his own young team.

Jon Stanhope, Leeds United fanatic and (I’m happy to say) a regular reader of this blog, found to his bemusement when he arrived as a teacher at Trident High School in New Zealand, that none of the boys under his guidance had really heard much about Leeds United. “Brainwashed by Sky Sports Premier League coverage” is how Jon puts it. Grimly determined, he set out to put that to rights and, on taking over the reins of the school 1st XI, he echoed Don Revie’s legendary decision, changing the team’s colours from blue to all-white – their former away kit.

Jon Stanhope's Trident Whites

Jon Stanhope’s Trident Whites

The effect of that change of strip has brought about a transformation in fortunes not a million miles away from the one enjoyed by Revie’s Whites in the early days of his time at Elland Road all those years ago. Jon’s Trident High School 1st XI went on to finish third in a national tournament; the best-ever performance in their history. “It had to be the kit!!” enthused Coach Stanhope. “The lads look magnificent when they take to the field wearing the all white strip (although parents complain that it’s hard to wash !!!)”, he adds. “They know why they are wearing an all-white strip as they all know how much I love Leeds United. I feel genuinely proud when I see them lining up before games, the new white strip has lifted the team, they look like a class act wearing it and this has given them huge confidence.”

This confidence and the unprecedented achievements of Jon’s team have been rewarded by the prospect of a first-ever UK tour this coming April, playing teams from South and West Yorkshire. Jon, a native of Yeadon who moved out to New Zealand to be with his fiancée, is looking forward to seeing his charges take on all-comers in their all-white strip, as well as visiting a few stadiums and training grounds along the way. An undoubted highlight of the tour will be a visit to Elland Road to see Leeds United – “the only other team who look magnificent in all white”, as Jon puts it – taking on old enemies Cardiff City. “It should be a spicy affair,” observes Jon. “The lads and myself can’t wait to come over and they are very intrigued as to how I can be so ferociously loyal to a team that is never shown on TV!!! They don’t quite ‘get it’ just yet…..well, they will in April!!”

Jon is quite clearly one of those guys who won’t let the small matter of twelve thousand miles or so separation get in the way of his life-long love affair with Leeds United – and with the zeal of any prophet, he’s set about inspiring the young players in his team and converting them to Leeds fans as well, if he can. “The boys were not really aware of who Leeds United were when I first arrived….they know now and often come and see me on a Monday morning to tell me the Leeds score! How times are changing!!”

The idea of changing times is one that all Leeds fans will wish to embrace after the last mainly miserable decade and a half at Elland Road. The fans, as Massimo Cellino has pointed out, remain the real wealth of the club – with enthusiasm bordering on the fanatical among thousands who live too far from LS11 to hope to see their heroes in the flesh. It’s a globe-spanning devotion that deserves to be rewarded by success. Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything wishes the Trident High School team – and their inspirational Coach Stanhope – every success on their forthcoming tour to the UK. Three points against Cardiff City wouldn’t go amiss, either.

I’d like to think that Leeds United itself might perhaps extend some courtesy to a team visiting from so far away. The story of success after a change to all-white is a blessedly familiar one in Leeds, and maybe the way it seems to be playing itself out again half a century on and half a world away, can serve as some little inspiration for the current staff and players of the Mighty Whites. Let’s hope so. Leeds United and Trident High School 1st XI – Marching On Together! 

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Leeds Fanatic? Get Involved With the Life in the Leeds United Universe – by Rob Atkinson

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This blog has been going over a year now, but only since last September has it benefited from the wider exposure that the NewsNow aggregator affords. This has seen reading figures go through the roof, and the blog has also gained an inspiring following of committed Leeds fans who are ready, willing and able to contribute their own views on the full range of topics inspired by our club, as well as various other aspects of the game.  It’s a thriving blog, I’m glad to say – and I hope it will continue to grow.  What is needed is continuing and increased involvement from the people who read it.  From you – and for a very good reason.

There are a variety of ways in which a variety of people can get involved and help this site.  The reason I’m putting this out there now is that I need more time to devote to a book I’m writing about the seventeen years between my first match as a Leeds fan in April 1975, and the last old-style Football League game I saw at Elland Road in 1992, just prior to the inception of the Premier League and the start of Murdoch’s domination of English football.  So Leeds were reigning champions in that first game I saw, as they were again when Norwich visited Elland Road to bring down the curtain on the Football League Championship competition as we’d always known it in the last game of 1991-92.  In between were years of decline, stagnation and, eventually, recovery – to take us back to the top.

This period encompassed the second division years of 1982 – 1990, a largely neglected period that I wish to chronicle – because I believe there are thousands of fans out there who fondly remember that time, and some of the characters who passed before our eyes as we travelled the country from Plymouth to Carlisle by way of Shrewsbury, Millwall (Old Den) and sundry other delightful spots.  I think it’s a book that will evoke great memories of the time between two Champion teams and I’m enjoying working on it – when I can.

What I really need are contributions of various sorts – so if there’s any of the following ways that you can help, then please do so if it’s not too much trouble.  Basically, I need memories, commissions and cash.  That cash thing is obviously a sticking point when times are hard and friends are few; but if a good many people donate very little – even a quid – then it all goes towards affording me the time to work on this and other projects.  So if you’ve ever enjoyed reading an article on this blog, perhaps you would be kind enough to click the PayPal button and contribute – just a little will help.  Those who can afford to be a bit more generous – a fiver or more – will be remembered when complimentary copies of the book are distributed, whether they are e-books or the genuine paper type that grows on trees.  As those of you who have already donated know, I always email to say thank-you – and those who have given five pounds or more in the past are already – for what it’s worth – firmly on that complimentary copy list.

Any financial contribution will help me devote more time to the book, but commissions of various sorts would also help me work from home for a greater proportion of my time, and therefore enable me to spend more time on researching and writing my Leeds United project.  So, if you’re involved with any concern which needs a freelance writer who can write to a specification – then please consider me, perhaps drop me a line via the Contact page of this blog.  If you’ve read my stuff, you know what I can and can’t do – I’m happy to be judged on that basis.

Equally, for the executives and company owners out there – if you would consider advertising on this blog, I’d be very happy to hear from you.  I average in excess of 100,000 views per month and it’s growing all the time. Any way in which I can attract some investment in the blog will spare me more time  to continue with the groundwork and writing of this book. Incidentally, you may have noticed that I consistently fail to refer to the book by a title – for the very good reason that it hasn’t got one yet.  Any suggestions??  The idea I have is of a long fallow period between two peaks of success, so anything on those lines could be considered, or if you want to be more imaginative – go ahead.  Again, the person who comes up with the best suggestion will be remembered and will benefit – if they consider a free copy beneficial.

For those who read this and feel that I’m selling my soul for personal gain – it’s really not like that at all.  I have this project gnawing away at me and it’s got to come out.  Don’t forget, any help is to be given entirely of your own free will – anyone who is offended by the very idea of an appeal for help should simply turn away from it.  On the other hand, anybody of massive wealth who is inclined to be extremely generous should feel absolutely entitled to do just that.  I’m not going to be an inverted snob about this, and if there’s a benefactor out there, he or she is enormously welcome!

Fans’ own input is also going to be invaluable.  There must be so many fantastic memories out there that just pass to and fro across the bar-room table – it would be wonderful to have some of those to supplement the material I already have to hand.  My own time supporting Leeds is something I can draw on, but I’d be immensely grateful for the memories of those who wish to contribute their own anecdotes.  Anything between the start of the 1974-75 season and the end of 1991-92 (including the following season’s Charity Shield match) would be great.  I’m especially interested in the thinly-documented years of the second division eighties – the Eddie Gray/Billy Bremner era.  But equally, the brief near-glory of the Armfield/Adamson years, with that Jock Stein 44 days in between, are times I would love to cover in more detail, with illustrative anecdotes – there was even that short spell in the UEFA Cup that hardly anyone remembers these days.  So please – cudgel your grey cells, and get those reminiscences sent in.  Credit will be given as appropriate.

Please help, if you can – whether it’s a monetary contribution, an offer of work, an advertising or sponsorship proposal or – last but not least – your recollections of following Leeds between 1974 and 1992.  I know there are a lot of fanatics out there, real Leeds United nutters, people who love our club every bit as much as I do, and more.  We’ve all known the pain and joy of being Leeds fans, we’re all part of a common experience.  I want to reflect that in every word I write as part of what will, I trust, be a work that makes it clear what it is to be a fan of the greatest club in the world.  I know there are thousands out there who share that belief, that knowledge. Many will be going through hard times, and all I will ask of you is your good wishes, and perhaps a story or two.  And equally I know that some of you have a fair bit of clout in one direction or another – so if you’re minded to, and able – please consider helping with this undertaking in any way that you possibly can.  After all – we’re all Leeds, aren’t we?

Thank you – and MOT.

International Break is as Important for Leeds as it is for England – by Rob Atkinson

....or divided we fall

….or divided we shall most certainly fall

It’s no exaggeration to say that the next couple of weeks might very well make or break Leeds United’s season.  It’s as serious as that.  Not for any reasons of points or league placings, but to nip in the bud the deadly, creeping disease of apathy that can seize hold of a club’s supporter base and throttle all hope out of it.  Don’t get me wrong; the international break is clearly important for England too.  But all they have to do is win a couple of games at Wembley, with everything going for them and the cream of the country’s talent (such as it is) at their disposal.  Easy peasy.  Leeds United have no such simple task.  Leeds United must somehow conjure up a whole new philosophy, advance further down the road of securing significant investment and cheer up a moribund fan-base to the point where they can inspire the team again, instead of reducing it to nervy inefficiency.  No pressure, then.

Conflicting noises have come out of Elland Road this last week or so.  First we’re told that new players are on their way, but the existing squad should have won in the most hostile of Lions’ Dens.  Then there were glad tidings of “investment to take us to the next level”, but with the same breath we were told it was hard to secure such investment and that promotion was “a harsh target”.  Neither was the tantalising concept of “the next level” defined.  The next level of what?  Angry Birds?  Surely, they couldn’t have meant the next level up the league ladders, better known as the Premier League.  That is, after all, a harsh target. None of these pronouncements have come from the football side of the club, though you might be forgiven for thinking they had, what with learned opinions being offered about the capabilities of the existing squad vis-a-vis Millwall.  So confusion reigns, and the sickly stench of discouragement and resignation begins to drift among the fans in their expensive seats.  If promotion is a harsh target, they muse, aren’t these seat prices slightly harsh then?  What are we being invited to hope for, and at premium prices too?

Maybe, a mere two weeks hence, things will look better.  Perhaps, after we’ve sat and watched England cruise to qualification for Brazil 2014, we can turn our attentions back to Leeds United in a more positive frame of mind.  Will we have new faces to slot into our supporters’ team formations and post on Twitter? (Do I go traditional 4-4-2 or should I stick with the diamond? What about wing backs either side of a three in defence, eh? Hmmmm. Complicated, ain’t it.)  A couple of new faces could do a lot for morale out here, among all the armchair coaches and strategists, not to mention the galvanising effect on the team and its performances under the man who matters, Mr McDermott. And maybe there’ll be rumours of money coming into the club. There certainly should be, we’ve rarely been without them this past two years.  Rumours we have aplenty; pounds sterling, dollars or even shekels have been in somewhat shorter supply.  But you never know.  There’s no football for Leeds United for two long weeks. Surely something will happen in that time.  Perhaps even … something wonderful??

It’s to be hoped so.  The present mood out here is not positive, and the people responsible for those conflicting statements – and for what amounts to defeatist talk, dammit all – must hold their hands up for that.  If nothing else happens in the next fortnight while England’s millionaire playboys are poncing about at Wembley, it would at least be nice to see a more unified Leeds United emerge at the end of that time, singing the same song, or at least avoiding such excruciating discords.  A couple of high-class loans would do us all the power of good and maybe – just maybe – we could then go Marching On Together into the January market with a bit more hope than seems likely right now.  After all, we’re all Leeds, aren’t we?  Of course we bloody are. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Seize the Day

Chance puts hazards in our way
And yet this life is ours to make
Reject the part luck has to play
Pause and think; make no mistake
Each of us must seize the day

Dare defy the whims of fate
Innate ambition is your friend
Exert your will, it’s not too late
Make YOUR life what YOU intend.