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This book is an absorbing mix of fact and fiction that details the factual life of Leeds United and the fictional life of a young Leeds fan throughout the Don Revie era. The fictional life of Jimmy O’Rourke is set amid real events both at the club and in the city of Leeds which adds context to the footballing narrative of Don Revie’s transformational time as manager of the club from 1961 to his departure to take up the England manager’s post in 1974.

Through the life of Jimmy O’Rourke we see that the ‘Dirty Leeds’ tag applies more to working-class life in Leeds in that period than a description of the football team’s ethics as the city starts to implement the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution; a particular issue for populous industrialised cities at that time. Jimmy and his Gran show us the dour existence and steely determination of working class citizens of 1960s Leeds and, as much as you will be moved by the seemingly endless mishaps and footballing heartache that was, ironically, Leeds Utd’s most successful period, you will also find that the author handles events in Jimmy O’Rourke’s life such as aspiration, injury and bereavement in a very touching and believable way. These, like the character itself, are described in a very ‘Leeds’ style (far from melodramatic, quite matter-of-fact; no-nonsense yet not without feeling).

Thankfully the book doesn’t preach on football matters, nor does it avoid controversial incidents or resolutely argue the innocence of Leeds United or its fans but it quietly and unassumingly (in that ‘Leeds’ style) puts the key events into perspective. Crowd trouble (a grenade at Millwall is my favourite), on-field misdemeanours and allegations of bribery are evident throughout the Football League and teams other than Leeds suffer the type of fixture congestion that not even today’s TV companies could dream up. As a consequence, without overtly defending Leeds, the book highlights the fact that the FA had much more to deal with than a few raincoat-clad middle-aged men with comb-overs arguing with a ref on the Elland Road pitch after a controversial West Brom goal.

The book clearly sets out to honour not only Don Revie but also less well-known characters that helped build the team, the club and its facilities; Harry Reynolds the Chairman and Ces Burroughs the Groundsman are revered by the author who clearly has some knowledge of their lives and the role they played at the club. It is here however that the book lets you down slightly; this knowledge leads you to mistakenly believe that you will subsequently receive some previously unknown detail about the club or the goings-on inside Revie’s office that would shed new light on the well-known events of that time.

The additional 50,000 words that the author has re-instated from the first ‘Dirty Leeds’ book give this unabridged edition more detail and texture and it flows through this historic and turbulent period with all the footballing information you need (without being reduced to a dry account of each season), and with a simultaneous view of real life in and around both Elland Road and the city of Leeds. It is a comprehensive review of the Leeds United’s Don Revie era but is written with imagination and emotion. Whether a Leeds fan or not, my advice would be (in that ‘Leeds’ style); read the book, it’s not bad at all.

Original review can be found here.

One Northern Soul was first published in 2002 featuring the character Steven Bottomley and whose story is continued in the 2005 sequel, No More Heroes.

This first book by J R Endeacott focuses on the life of the young Steve as he grows up in Leeds during the 1980’s. From the illustrations on the cover and back of the book, it is evident that Leeds United feature within the pages of this book. On the front, there is a picture of the ‘disallowed’ goal from the 1975 European Cup Final, when Leeds lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich in controversial circumstances. That game in Paris has significance as just as Steve recognises that upon his dad’s return from Paris, “…his passion definitely waned and he never went to watch Leeds away from Elland Road again in his life…”, that somehow this changed the course of his life. As the back cover of the books says, “…if that goal in Paris has been allowed then everything that followed could have been different…”

Indeed, football is used as a metaphor and so the trials and tribulations of Steve’s life are reflected in the ups and downs at Elland Road. The book provides such nice little cameos of growing up in the 1980’s especially of life in Leeds. The reader follows Steve through his final days at school, his early sexual exploits, hooliganism and friendship, all told with a humour, naivety and cockiness-to-shyness that our teenage years inflict upon us emotionally.

One Northern Soul is not a large book, at less than one hundred pages, but contains enough little gems within it to appeal to an audience wider than the good citizens’ of Leeds and the supporters’ of its football club.

Original review can be found here.

The true story of Don Revie’s three years as England manager, 1974 – 1977; the follow-up to Dirty Leeds.

July 1974, Don Revie leaves Leeds United to take over the England job from the sacked Sir Alf Ramsey. The departure upsets many Leeds people, he is The Don after all, while his England appointment is not exactly met with universal approval either. Already with enemies within the Football Association, the Football League, the game itself and of course the media, he needs to win over a lot of people, and quickly. Undaunted, he vows to restore the nation’s team to its former heights as well as win over all the doubters and the cynics. But it doesn’t take long for him to realise that there might be too many obstacles in his way to achieve the success he craves, and he can only look on helplessly as his beloved Leeds United slides alarmingly too.

Seemingly forever maligned as being too ‘professional’ and obsessed with money, Revie learns that two reasons for England’s downfall have been the lack of professionalism and the mismanagement of the sport by its penny-pinching and not entirely honest rulers.

Numerous reports and theories abound about Revie’s time as England manager: the players he selected or dropped, the tactics, the dossiers, money, why he resigned and if he was pushed, and the ‘deceitful’ manner of his leaving. DisRepute addresses the myths and rumours and allegations, to paint a clearer, more honest picture. Truth is stranger than football!

The main storyline of the book consists of the trials and tribulations endured by Revie’s England from 1974 to 1977, the High Court in 1979 is revisited too to recount Revie’s appeal case against the FA after their 10-year ban on him from club management after he walked out on England. Revie won the appeal case but took a harsh and unjust verbal beating from the judge nonetheless.

Working from numerous books and biographies, as well as (more importantly) previously unpublished notes written by Don Revie and Les Cocker, DisRepute – Revie’s England tells the truth about his exit from Leeds, his time as England boss and his departure to take charge of the United Arab Emirates national team. The story, which is told from Jimmy O’Rourke’s perspective, sets records straight, corrects myths and rumours and puts right certain ‘selective memories’.

Original review can be found here.

Players such as Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney, Terry Cooper, Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, John Giles, Eddie Gray, Paul Madeley, Bobby Collins, John Charles, Willie Bell, Albert Johanneson and Mick Bates – all managed by Don Revie. The famous Leeds United AFC – the team they love to hate, run by the man they love to hate. Thirteen years, thirteen chapters. Thirteen, unlucky for some…

Dirty Leeds is the novelisation of Revie’s thirteen year reign as Leeds manager, entwined with the tale of Jimmy O’Rourke, a local lad with the rare ambition of playing for his favourite, his only, football team Leeds United. And he is good enough.

March 1961, Don Revie plans to leave Leeds. They want him out anyway so he will beat them to it and sign for Bournemouth. The truth though, is that Leeds chairman-to-be Harry Reynolds wants him to stay as Leeds’ player-manager. It’s an offer that Revie can’t refuse, and big improvements at the club soon follow. But not on the football pitch, as a torturous two seasons sees the team sink to its lowest ever point. And then comes the arrival of Bobby Collins, heralding a slow but sure and startling recovery. By 1964, newly promoted Leeds are battling for the League and FA Cup while Revie is revered by the fans. That popularity is uncommon away from West Yorkshire however – to many, he is ruthless, corrupt, bizarrely superstitious, and obsessed with money. His and the club’s reputations are not helped by the tag ‘Dirty Leeds’, inadvertently given them by the FA in a misleading report. Despite Leeds’ miraculous rise, Revie becomes one of the most maligned men in the history of sport.

Eleven year-old Jimmy O’Rourke lives next door to Leeds’ Elland Road stadium. His mum died when he was a baby and his father fled, leaving Jimmy’s grandma to look after him on her own. Jimmy, inspired by the success of local boy Paul Madeley, trains twice a day as well as craftily using the club’s facilities thanks to the generosity of Ces, the head groundsman, and his assistant John. At fourteen, playing well for a ‘pub’ team, Jimmy’s progress is monitored by various club scouts until at fifteen he gets a trial with Leeds, the chance he has dreamed about. He plays well in that trial and his prospects of success look genuinely good. But it all goes nightmarishly wrong when he is violently fouled by an opponent. His leg and ankle are broken. He has to endure torturous pain and a long lay off from playing football. The club doesn’t abandon him though and he is eventually given casual work with the Leeds ground staff. Physically and mentally he slides into depression, finding pain-killing solace in booze, much of which he gets for free from Aitch, the generous, sympathetic landlord of the Old Peacock pub on Elland Road.

April 1974, Leeds manager Don Revie, his team about to win the League Championship, is the unwitting subject of Eamonn Andrews’ This Is Your Life programme. Revie is forced to look back on his life. Jimmy O’Rourke tells his story at the same time.

Dirty Leeds covers major events in the lives of Don Revie, Jimmy O’Rourke, Leeds United and the city and its people. It is the famous players, memorable matches and battles, jibes, allegations and insinuations. It is pollution, high-rise and redbrick squalor, cobbled streets, tainted landmarks. It is truths and lies, friends and enemies, saints & sinners. Dirty Leeds is a secret history of Leeds.

Original review can be found here

Dirty Leeds is an enjoyable read on some levels, but almost certainly not those envisaged by the author. With its provocative title and its projected first person narrative it seeks to inhabit the same niche as The Damned United by Robert Endeacott’s friend David Peace. However, whereas Peace’s Brian Clough offers a coruscating examination of the motivations of a well-known historical figure, Endeacott’s Jimmy O’Rourke simply reels off a history lesson through the eyes of a fictional would-be apprentice.

Endeacott goes to a lot of trouble to set up O’Rourke’s back story as a teenager desperate to play for his beloved Leeds being brought up by his ailing gran in the streets around Elland Road, but then ensures our guide to the Don Revie era gets no closer to its core than casual work as a ground staff assistant. That vantage point allows O’Rourke to succeed at what Endeacott mostly gives him to do, which is to deliver lengthy and curiously emphasised descriptions of Leeds’ campaigns in the Sixties and early Seventies while occasionally giving us a brief update on his own predictable career-blighting injuries or his gran’s decline.

The book opens promisingly with an engaging portrayal of interviewer Eamonn Andrews ambushing Revie for his 1974 appearance on This Is Your Life dovetailed with Jimmy’s first encounter with the Don, still just a player, while seeking his autograph 13 years earlier. We go on a training run with Jimmy as Revie begins in management, but 25 pages in the novel succumbs to the enthusiastic schoolboy descriptions of matches and team news that before long choke the whole enterprise. It’s 35 pages and three seasons later before the reportage is interrupted by more than a couple of para­graphs of Jimmy’s story and that balance continues for the remaining nine chapters.

The longer accounts of individual matches are at their best strongly evocative of their time and could serve as an excellent catalyst for personal reminiscence or an entertaining way for a young fan to learn Leeds Utd folklore. Before long, however, their sheer weight suffocates any ambitions the book had to emerge as a genuine novel. Even then, a semi-final defeat can merit a blow-by-blow account over three pages while action in the 1969 title decider at Anfield rates only a handful of lines referencing newspaper reports. You have to read a further few paragraphs past unnerving images of bricks through coach windows and David Harvey and Johnny Giles watchingRosemary’s Baby before discovering what the outcome of the most important match in Leeds’s history to that point actually was.

By the end, the book’s title seems more an exercise in window dressing than anything that genuinely embodies the work. Early on it’s made clear a couple of times that Jimmy thinks the “Dirty Leeds” tag is a bit unfair and that’s the end of the matter. We don’t get enough of a look at the city to decide whether that might serve as the focus instead and in the end you are left with the feeling that if the book had been called “My Leeds United Scrapbook and Me” it might have sold more copies to more people who would have genuinely enjoyed it.

Original review can be found here.