Tag Archives: Wars of the Roses

Scott Wootton Can Become the Latest to Leave Man United For “The Damned United” – and Find Success

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This week’s signing of young defender Scott Wootton has reminded us all that the transfer history between the two Uniteds of Leeds and Manchester is notable mainly for its scarcity – understandably so, considering the bitterness of the rivalry between the two clubs.  A mutual antipathy still festers among the fans on either side despite the rarity of actual meetings of the respective Reds and Whites on the field of play.  Anyone who has witnessed the poisonous atmosphere which prevails at such meetings will appreciate the difficulties which can arise for players who have sought to serve both clubs.  Accusations of betrayal are far more common than warm welcomes back when a player swaps one shirt for the other.

Revisionists who count their history from the founding of the Premier League might not appreciate that, in the comparatively few direct deals between Elland Road and Old Trafford, Leeds have come out not at all badly.  Two transfers in particular can be said to have sparked the Whites’ greatest historical successes, but the focus in more recent years has been on the move of a certain iconic Frenchman, and the kick-start that appeared to give to Man United, a club that had starved for title success for over a quarter of a century.

The fact remains, however, that Leeds can thank the management at Old Trafford for their generosity – or misjudgement – in two different eras, firstly when John Giles (pictured above) made the move to Elland Road in the sixties, sparking the Glory Years of Don Revie’s reign, a transfer later described by Revie as “robbery with violence”.  Gordon Strachan then arrived in LS11 to complete the renaissance of Leeds under Howard Wilkinson in the late 80’s and early 90’s, cementing their position as the Last Real Champions by finishing the pre-Sky era at the pinnacle of the domestic game.

Enfant terrible Eric Cantona did much to redress the balance of transfer success between the two clubs, but there are strong grounds for suspecting that Man U’s era of domination would have happened anyway, so favourable were the conditions for a global franchise in the Murdoch-funded Premier League.  Giles and Strachan, then, stand out as the two most influential transfers between the two clubs, and there are also a few memorable if slightly lesser transfers worthy of mention: Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen left Leeds for Man U in the 70’s, but found limited success, as did Arthur Graham a few years later; while Brian Greenhoff and Danny Pugh were journeyman additions to the Leeds squad from the also-rans of the Man U gene pool.  The less said about Lee Sharpe, “Plug” Ferdinand and Alan Smith, the better.

It’s asking a lot of youngster Wootton to turn his career at Elland Road into anything like the glorious impact of a Strachan or a Giles, but there are grounds for supposing that he may have a significant contribution to make and maybe – just maybe – cause the fans of Man U to regret his departure.  Already there are wistful noises emanating from the hotbeds of support in Milton Keynes and Torquay.  One fan remarked that Wootton might have developed into “another Johnny Evans” – surely a case of being damned by faint praise. Another stated that if Wootton was to be denied his chance at Old Trafford, he might as well play for a proper club, which seems quite a generous attitude in the circumstances. Leeds fans don’t appear to hold the boy’s past against him – he seems to be regarded as a prospect rich in potential, and after all he’s made a career choice of which we can all heartily approve.

Above all, we have to respect Brian McDermott’s increasingly acute eye for a player, especially of the young, there-to-be-coached-and-improved variety.  Like it or not, Man U deal in an entirely different transfer sphere to Leeds, and it’s much more difficult for a rough diamond to be polished up for the first team there, when so many crown jewels are bought in every season.  They are bound to lose the odd star-to-be, and on this occasion we at Leeds may just be the beneficiaries of this kind of overspill.   We can certainly hope so, and hope also that this latest cross-Pennine import enjoys a long and successful career at Elland Road, returning frequently to Old Trafford to haunt those who have seen fit to let him go this week.  With our vivid memories of Gilesy and Wee Gordon, we’re certainly entitled to such a dream.

Should ‘Richard Crookback’ – The Vanquished Richard III – Be Welcomed “Home” To Yorkshire?

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The late King Richard’s remains.  Note the pronounced spinal curvature.

The news that ancient remains, discovered under a Leicester car park, have been positively identified as those of King Richard III of England has led, predictably, to a bit of a tiff over where the late King should be re-interred.  There are some calls from traditionalists for the royal bones to find a final resting place at Westminster Abbey, where so many of our rulers are whiling away eternity.  Then again, there are those who argue that Richard’s own desire was to find a resting place at York Minster; and he was indeed the last king of the House of York – but he left no explicit instructions, and the sudden, violent nature of his demise would have made it difficult to be certain of the Royal Prerogative.

The argument for the remains to travel “home” to York may, in any event, be a little dubious, as the identification of the House of York with the geographical area of Yorkshire is less than completely accurate.  Those who see the Wars of the Roses as a battle between factions equivalent to modern-day Lancashire and Yorkshire, are somewhat wide of the mark – the alignments were more upon ancient heraldic lines than any local rivalry.  So estates and houses of the Duchy of York were spread throughout England and the Welsh Marches, rather than being confined to the Broad Acres.

In any event, it has to be said that some of Richard’s alleged activities during his lifetime would not reflect well upon any region claiming him as an Old Boy.  On the death of his older brother, Edward IV in 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector, with responsibility for the 12 year old King Edward V and his younger brother Richard.  However, our potential fellow Tyke acted swiftly to have his late brother’s marriage to the boys’ mother declared invalid, resulting in their illegitimacy – and meaning young Edward was ineligible for the throne.  Richard was subsequently crowned King, and the two young princes were never again seen in public.  Accusations were rife that Richard had fatally disposed of them, thus creating the legend of the Princes in the Tower.

Richard’s reign proved to be short – only two years – and tempestuous.  After suppressing a rebellion led by supporters of the late Edward IV, including the Second Duke of Buckingham who was then executed at Salisbury, Richard was less fortunate when Henry Tudor challenged for the throne, and he eventually became the last English king to die in battle, slain on Bosworth Field in 1485.  Due to the manner of his death, he was afforded only a cursory battlefield burial, and there he remained until he was recently unearthed from beneath that Leicester car park.

So Richard’s place in history owes much to a fairly negative press over the centuries since his death.  The taint of innocent royal blood on his hands has never really gone away, despite many scholarly efforts to discover the fate of the lost princes.  The identification of his remains will do little to solve that particular mystery, though it does now seem clear that Shakespearian references to a withered arm were false, though poor Richard did indeed have a distinct curvature of the spine – but again, not the “hunchback” of popular legend.

It would seem that the late king’s supposed wishes as to his long-term home after his death are unlikely to bear fruit, just as his ambitions in life were doomed to be thwarted, and perhaps that is no bad thing   It seems after all more than likely that he was a fairly unscrupulous sort of chap, and given to the sort of behaviour in his own interests that we’d like to think ill befits a proper Yorkshire lad.

In any event, it would appear that the Ministry of Justice license permitting the excavation to proceed in the first place also provides that the legal partners, Leicester City Council and Leicester University, have the right to choose where Richard will end up; so a reburial with all due ceremony at Leicester Cathedral is set for early next year.

It is not yet known whether any of the present-day Royal Family plan to attend.