Fifty Years of Watching Leeds United

Back on 31st October 1964, fifty years to the day, we didn’t have Halloween. Forget that. I had my first experience of watching Leeds United instead. Much scarier. A spell was cast that day that grips me to this day. It’s an entrancement for which there is no cure.

Leeds were taking on Sheffield United that day so, unaccompanied, my brother and myself took ourselves off to Elland Road for the first time ever. Presumably in the absence of anything else to do. Patrick was 10; I was 9. Things were a lot more relaxed in those days…

The mighty Leeds took the Blades apart 4 – 1. Belfitt, Collins, Storrie, Johanneson. We joined a crowd of 33,000 plus – more than we get now. Len Badger of Sheffield United was sent off for punching Jim Storrie, who went down like a deck of cards. Jim wasn’t the only one hooked that day.

Richard Ulyatt of the Yorkshire Post reported in November 1964: “… On October 31, Badger, the Sheffield United full-back, was sent off … Sheffield were so incensed that their programme comments for last Saturday’s home match against Chelsea included passages they may eventually regret. It described the Leeds match as a ‘travesty of soccer’. It was said ‘Badger was fouled and needlessly hacked’ (a free kick was awarded against Sheffield, not Leeds) and it was added: ‘It is significant that this incident was not the only flare up there has been at Elland Road in recent weeks’.”

We’ve had fifty years of that sort of stuff too, but we don’t care.

If J Alfred Prufrock measured his life out in coffee spoons, my currency of choice has been Leeds United games. Fifty years – bloody hell. Wouldn’t have missed a bit of it.

The start of a long obsession