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New book charts rise of one of England’s biggest clubs


Published on May 29th, 2023 |
by Martin Banks


Football is littered with tales of woe – clubs whose hopes and ambitions rise but then fall just as suddenly.

One minute a club can seem to be moving in the right direction but, next, it is heading the opposite way.

Such has been the fate of one of English football’s most respected institutions, Leeds United.

After 16 years spent in football’s equivalent of the wilderness – outside the top flight – it returned three seasons ago to the Premier League and set the division alight with a particularly exhilarating brand of football.

If that marked a high then the club experienced a terrible low this week with relegation back to the championship after just three seasons in the Premier.

If that represents a low in the history of this famous club a new book charts its rise. That was back in 1963, the year when Leeds United took its first steps towards dominance of English football.

The book, Summer of ‘63, has been penned by Leeds-based Gary Edwards, who is a lifelong Leeds fan and, surely, one of its most loyal having travelled to thousands of games, home and away, over many decades.

There can be few better placed than him to draw a comparison between the very different events of Sunday 28 May 2023 and the summer of 1963.

Back in 1963, the club was able to draw on a selection of exceptional young talent that would go on to dominate the English football scene for quite some years. What a sad contrast, then, with the current Leeds United, with its collection of journeymen footballers and questionable ownership.

The club had as its manager Don Revie, the man who, effectively built the club from relative obscurity into one that, with the likes of Billy Bremner, its fantastic captain, Jack Charlton and Johnny Giles would go down in football folklore.

The book, sub titled “Revie’s Plan for Leeds United,” is an excellent insight into those early days and how the club was transformed from the brink of relegation (sound familiar?) to Division 3 into one of the most feared teams in Europe.

As this brilliantly researched book explains, Revie had arrived at the club in November 1958 after an illustrious playing career and went on to fashion a team of experience and untested teenagers that quickly developed into a force to be reckoned with.

Edwards, not for the first time (this is his 7th book no less), is able to call on a remarkable network of contacts, data and memorabilia to tell the story of how one man’s vision turned a failing club into such a formidable force.

But it is also something of a homage to the often much put-upon football fan, with its stories of how Edwards himself, along with his fellow Leeds fanatics, went to amazing lengths to follow the club back then.

Indeed, he writes: “The word ‘unique’ is not out of place when referring to certain fans of Leeds United.”

Another such fan, he recalls, was Philip Dobreen, who thought nothing of making a 10 hour coach trip of 200 miles to get to a game. He became well known for his guitar playing at games earning him the nickname “the Minstrel.”

“It was not long before The Minstrel and his singing entourage were getting recognised and applauded everywhere –even Revie and the team became big fans of them.”

The summer of 1963 was when footy folk really started to sit up and take notice of these brilliant (mostly young) footballers in West Yorkshire but the club still had to wait to win its first major trophy.

“That was,” recalls Edwards “about to change in dramatic fashion.

During Revie’s final seven years at Elland Road, the club appeared at Wembley four times, in three European finals and won the League Cup, the FA Cup, two European trophies, two league championships and one Charity Shield.

Fast forward to the summer of 2023 and that is the glittering legacy the current regime and playing personnel have to live up. Bonne chance.

  • Summer of ’63 is published by Pitch Publishing.


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