Book Review: Leeds United – A History by Dave Tomlinson

The press release with this book declares, “Leeds United: A History…relates the complete and definitive history of the club from foundation to the present day”. It is quite a bold statement from the publisher and is therefore worth scrutiny.

The book does indeed detail the history of Leeds City, from 1904 until its expulsion from the Football League during the 1919/20 season and then picks up the story of the birth of Leeds United from 1919 to the present day, including the glory years under Don Revie to the chaos of the Cellino reign. However, given that the book extends to just 159 pages, it means that it would be more fair to consider the book a concise history of the club, since some seasons are detailed in a couple of paragraphs, indeed 1993/94 is covered in just five lines.

The book is essentially a season-by-season review of the on and off field goings-on at Elland Road, but then changes format for sections of Chapter 11 – Wilderness Years 1982 – 90 and Chapter 14 – Chasing the Dream 1996-2002, where events are looked at under the reigns of various managers. Why the change? For consistency it would have made sense to either continue season-by-season or have classification by manager from the beginning.

Undoubtedly there is a great deal of research that has gone into the book from author Dave Tomlinson, emanating from his excellent website Mighty Whites ( Nonetheless, the restraint on the book size means that often the details of a season are kept to a minimum with facts such as, transfers in and out, leading scorers, average attendances and key games the common topics. Overall, this gives the feeling that there are not enough ‘nuggets’, such as the proposed amalgamation of Huddersfield Town with Leeds in November 1919, within its pages.

Despite this, Tomlinson is able to get across the idea that the life of a Leeds supporter then and now has always been, “dogged by a cycle of brave new dawns that inevitably give way in a resigned shudder to a disaster even grimmer than the last.” Indeed the last chapter, Take Over My A***! 2012-15 is perfectly pitched as the focus is about all the shenanigans behind the scenes and not those on the pitch.

At the time the book was published in August 2015, Uwe Rosler was in the managerial seat. Now just three months on, Rosler has gone, Steve Evans has come in and Chairman Massimo Cellino first agrees to sell his shares to the Leeds Fans United, before doing a U-turn and reneging on his word.

As Tomlinson prophetically says in the closing lines of the book, “only time would tell whether Rosler would be given longer to prove his managerial worth than the four men that had already been victims of Cellino’s whimsical moods. A period of stability was an absolute necessity for Leeds United as it once more set course on a voyage into the unknown.”


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Posted November 5, 2015 by Editor in category "Reviews

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