Autumn 1918. The Great War is drawing to an end and the troops are coming home. The Leeds Pals who survived the carnage of the Somme are returning to a city in the grip of a deadly pandemic, food rationing and unemployment.

In Armley, a war hero needs one more big score to settle a crippling underworld debt, but his illicit wartime schemes are over, and time is running out for Frank Holleran and his family.

Wartime champions Leeds City FC find themselves in the eye of a financial storm and struggle to remain a footballing force as the full league resumes.

Sports reporter Edgar Rowley is diverted from Elland Road to track an occult animal killer, while helping his brother to overcome his battlefield demons.

1919 is set to be a momentous year, but for some in Leeds, the consequences of their past actions will mean that it’s never going to be peaceful.

Dark, World War 1 crime fiction from the year that the City became United.

(Independent Publisher. October 2022. Paperback: 175 pages)


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Feeling Leeds gazes into the curious world of the dislocated supporter, the football fan not born and bred in the shadow of their club’s ground.

Raiford Guins is one such fan. His book recounts the highs and lows of supporting a team from afar – from paying $20 to watch Leeds United matches in Florida via dodgy satellite feeds in the early 1990s, to ringing Elland Road when it was the only way to get midweek results before the internet, to working out league tables with out-of-date copies of Shoot!, to celebrating madly while fuelling his car and watching Leeds clinch a late winner against Villa in December 2018 on his iPhone. Trivial to the supporter who can easily walk to their ground, such moments form the backbone of belonging for those with an ocean between themselves and the turnstiles.

Feeling Leeds is the story of one supporter’s commitment to cultivating an emotional connection to Leeds United for nearly 40 years. It is written by and for supporters worldwide for whom every day is an away day.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. September 2022. Hardcover: 192 pages)


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Book Review: The O’Leary Years: Football’s Greatest Boom and Bust by Rocco Dean

Leeds United broke my heart.

I had been to my first game at the tender age of 8. We played Leicester City in the Texaco Cup. The legendary Peter Shilton was in goals for the visitors. But my eyes were on our goalmouth. I was transfixed by our keeper.

I started thereafter to go to games. It was different times, and nobody took me. I just went. I have no idea how many times I saw our keeper play but then, from October 1973, he was no longer there. Dave Stewart had played his last for Ayr United and signed for some other team. I was heartbroken.

Leeds United had stolen my idol.

Clearly, I recovered and went back but the personal stain and the joy of following a team, of any team lies at the heart of Rocco Dean’s The O’Leary Years. Here we are taken on a very personal journey from the emergence of a club living in the shadow of the legendary period – Don Revie – and the culture shock of disrespect – the Clough days – the misstep of a Scottish legend – Jock Stein’s tenure – and the cliché of being another “sleeping giant” to a promising land close to a title and a European Odyssey of achievement.

I think almost all of us have an opinion of Leeds United and in Scotland, especially, our view is littered with names from the past which make the emotions stir when we hear them. To read a fan’s account of a time when it looked like they had found a Messiah, had uncovered opportunities, here and in Europe and how these rollercoasters felt from a terrace, from their Kop is fascinating as a start.

But it needs to deliver.

Dean does. We begin with George Graham. Here is yet another Scot, not naturally associated with Leeds, but who has grit and determination writ large and who seemed to suit the doggedness of Leeds. But like many deluded Celts, he saw the bright lights of London town as a brighter prospect than giving a team with prospects their chance. What makes it a better read is having his mercenary ship jumping juxtaposed with the stories of camaraderie in queues for away game tickets that followed his treachery. Away games are different. The away fan may not be a completely different breed to the home fan, but they have a different perspective. Here Dean really shines as his ground hopping are drawn with a fan’s love of the game. Different grounds are to be treasured, not just for the away wins, but the respect to those supporters whose homes they are. But also Dean draws comparisons against his own matchday home experiences.

As Graham’s tenure comes to an end, we hear of the Academy graduates who should be ready for slowing bleeding into the first team. The future as created and prepared by the legendary Howard Wilkinson. One of Graham’s protegees, David O’Leary steps forward to take temporary charge of the First Team. Devastated by his leaving George Graham successor needed to bring something to the terraces. Dean took to him, like the Elland Road faithful, readily and heartily. He was instantly bringing excitement onto the pitch which was felt throughout the terracing. As a young man, Dean grew with his team and the progress of the club is excitingly told as O’Leary went from not wanting the job, through an Elland Road epiphany where they sang his name, to making the job, his own.

For those of us from afar, O’Leary became, not another tracksuit manager, but the manager who had a coat that looked like a duvet! We thought Leeds must have been constantly bitterly cold…

The warmth from terrace to dugout was to keep things ticking along as Europe was now a thing, and the faithful wanted it to be a big thing. The UEFA cup, the Champion’s League and progress in each was emerging as an expectation. Such expectations needed more than Academy graduates. It needed funded and Leeds began to spend.

Perhaps here the parallels with Glasgow Rangers began to emerge for me. As I read, I could hear the faith put in people who “knew” business.  They had spending, the likes of which fans could not contemplate but were content that they were competing with other bigger clubs in a transfer market that was becoming a basket case. Ordinary, run of the mill, decent professionals were commanding finance even their mobile numbers were dwarfed by. It brought limited success and a gloomy horizon.

Telling the story, Dean’s structure takes each season from 1998/99 to 2001/02 and describes them in some detail with significant matches as subheadings. At times I found that some of the summaries of games in between each of these significant fixtures a little less than satisfying as there were games I wanted to know more about – the equalling of Don Revie’s 7 wins in a row for example. But then the detail as a fan, which is the principal focus of Dean’s narrative, draws you back. This is not a history lesson, but the reflection of a fan of following their club, telling their story, in the context of the club’s history. As such it is fascinating, and I could find parallels with my own – far more modest – experiences. As a fan’s book, it is therefore highly recommended. It adds colour to the spectacle simply because it has a very strong handle on the experiences of football as personal experiences as a supporter who will live on beyond the covers.

And so the reminiscences flow, from Match of the Day in the ’90s, trying to get to the Baseball Ground before kick-off, the lack of instant news throughout the period of O’Leary’s reign, the names of players that came, they saw, and conquered Elland Road – Kewell, Viduka, Matteo, Hasselbaink, Ferdinand, Bowyer, Hopkin and many, many more, the emergence of Sky, Chairman Peter Ridsdale’s ambitions which Dean suggests “had no ceiling”, a UEFA Cup run, chasing a Champion’s League spot, a Champion’s League semi-final, mistimed Inter Toto application, how the cheekiness of a father can get you an away ticket or two, even from the boss, beating Besiktas 6-0, the influence of the Geezer’s Guide to Football, O’Leary’s nose job and the eventual disillusionment with the team as O’Leary crashed and the team burned in season 2001/02. He then proceeds a much smaller chapter to end the tale of the club as the crash was followed by the abyss.

Dean does not miss the negatives. The effects of the death of fans in Turkey* should never be forgotten. The way that some football clubs had fans who tried to take advantage of this event, goading Leeds fans by chanting at them in glee at the deaths of these fans is a stain against which we should all protest. The arrests and trials of Leeds players over a fight on a night out is covered but this is not a book with insight in the dressing room. The effect of one player giving evidence against another is explained and expressed from the distance afforded by a fan’s love of his club. It is not a fist and tell account. How that ended up being a significant factor in the club failing to make it to the elite in Europe is however more than somewhat mentioned.

Finally, the nature of O’Leary’s own literary attempts is seen as a great mistake as O’Leary’s relationships with everyone seemed to dive. The book he had published, covering his Leeds time, is not a precursor to Sky style documentaries following Guardiola, Arteta, Sunderland and the like. It was an odd thing to do, especially as he was still at Leeds. Its oddness is highlighted as the money spent on players begins to unravel. The quality of the squad begins to suffer, and the writing begins to be drafted onto an Elland Road wall.

Dean’s structure also tends to dwell on the setup, so the demise has less attention and focus. For an observer this is where you want to know more but for the fan that is the tragedy. The dropping interest, and the sparsity of detail mirrors the disillusionment felt by Dean towards the end. It is understandable and, again, as a testimony of a witness to the emotional effect of the experience this is a very good one. As a history of the club, it still adds significantly. The insight of a fan is equally important, if not more so, over a given time, to that of any player. Dean has given us a significant contribution to understanding why money in football should be cautiously welcomed. This is the story of how we ended up with a team top of the Premier League at the dawn of a new century and then out in a wilderness some twenty years later awaiting an Argentinian messiah and it is fascinating.

There were a couple of moments which served, for me, as indications of the thrust of the reasons as to why this tale needed to be told. Firstly,  as dean writes, “… what an extraordinary job our beloved manager had done… In his first two seasons in management, he had overcome the champions of Serbia, Russia, Belgium, Italy and Spain and got the better of legendary managers Alberto Zaccheroni, Sven-Goran Erikson and Fabio Capello.” And he did.

In the Leeds AGM of 2001, Peter Ridsdale, as reported by Dean, told fans, “I can assure everyone – shareholders and supporters alike – that your board are managing the club for sustained success, and that the club’s long term financial position is healthy.” It was not.

This is a supporter’s tale of how the Wilkinson master plan in draft never made it, and how fans endure much better.

*Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were brutally murdered the night before the UEFA Cup semi-final second leg against Galatasaray in Turkey.

Donald C Stewart

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. January 2022. Hardcover: 256 pages)


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Book Review – The Reality of the Dream: My unique journey from non-league to the Premier League by Malcolm Christie

At the back of Malcolm Christie’s biography titled The Reality of the Dream, is a table showing his appearances and goals from his youth and amateur career and his time in the semi-professional and professional game. Putting aside Christie’s scoring record as an amateur and youth player, what stands out is that as a professional from 1998 to 2009 – some 11 years – he only managed 132 starts and 51 appearances from the bench. Now it could be interpreted that at his three clubs, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Leeds United, the management team simply didn’t ‘fancy’ Christie and so his first team opportunities were limited. However, the reality is that his career was decimated by a series of debilitating injuries which meant Christie was more familiar with the treatment room than the dressing room and therefore unsurprisingly features large in this autobiography.

The book opens with two Forewords, one from Steve Round and the other from Steve McClaren who worked as assistant and manager, respectively, during Christie’s spells at Derby County and Middlesbrough. It also includes an Introduction from current England manager, Gareth Southgate, who was Middlesbrough skipper and then manager during Christie’s time at the Riverside Stadium. All as you would expect praising Christie’s character during his difficult playing career.

As readers we first hear Christie’s ‘voice’ in the Prologue, which details his goal at Old Trafford on May 2001 as Derby beat the Premier League Champions elect, a result which would see the Rams eventually hold onto their top-flight status. It is undoubtedly the highlight of Christie’s career, with him scoring against the club he supported since boyhood and its importance in Derby’s fight to avoid the drop, providing it with immense significance.

The story then opens with the first of 24 chapters as it goes back to Christie’s childhood, and his playing days at school, detailing how he came to support Manchester United, despite growing up in Lincolnshire. Although rejected by Peterborough United early on, Christie found his way into the professional game after a successful spell at non-league Nuneaton Borough, scoring 14 goals in 21 games. Jim Smith was the Derby County manager in 1998 and he signed the 19 year old Christie, who at the time besides his part-time football was working in Somerfield’s supermarket. Having not come through an Academy meant that Christie (as he admits in the book) wasn’t grounded and groomed in the same way as other young professionals and so wasn’t confident in this new environment and indeed his first experience as a substitute warming up at Anfield in the Premier League was an eye-opener for the teenage Christie.

1998/99 though saw Christie make his Premier League debut with two substitute appearances, first against Sheffield Wednesday on 30 January 1999 and then on 20 March 1999 against Leeds United. In the following season, 1999/2000, Derby started badly and by December had only three wins from seventeen games and were in one of the relegation spots. Christie too was struggling on a personal level after receiving a misguided Secret Santa gift from a fellow player, “I became even more self-conscious and retreated further into my shell…I spent too much energy trying to be the person I thought people wanted me to be, instead of being my normal self. As a result, my teammates never got to know the real me.” Nonetheless, on 15 January 2000, Christie made his first start for the Rams and scored twice as they beat Middlesbrough on their own patch 4-1. It saw him finish the campaign with six goals from ten starts as well as eleven appearances off the bench and earning him the Club’s Young Player of the Year award. This brought Christie to the attention of Howard Wilkinson who was then the England U21 manager, who had guided his team to the European Championships in the summer of 2000. Having flown out to Slovakia, Christie was not included in the final squad so returned to the UK. He then contracted viral meningitis and as would sadly happen on other occasions in later years, found his fitness hit by illness and injury.

Thankfully in this case, Christie’s absence from the first-time wasn’t a long one and he returned to duty in early September 2000 with Derby once again getting off to a poor start in their league campaign. However, it proved to be a memorable one as Christie finished as Derby’s league goals top scorer with 12, the Rams retained their Premier League status, and he scored his first England for the England U21s. However, what topped it off for Christie was becoming a sticker in the Panini Premier League album! It illustrates how much of a fan he was and retained a schoolboy enthusiasm even as a top-flight professional.

However, after dodging the bullet of relegation in two previous seasons and despite the addition of Fabrizio Ravanelli the club was relegated at the end of the 2001/02 campaign. Christie stayed at the Pride Park for the start of the following season but departed for then Premier league Middlesbrough on deadline day in January 2003 in a joint deal with Chris Riggott who was to have a significant impact on Christie’s career. At that time, Boro’ were a decent side under Steve McClaren with the like of Gareth Southgate, Croatian striker Alan Boksic and Brazilian superstar Juninho in the squad.

Whilst things on the pitch were good for Christie as he scored in his first start, he reflects that it was a period when his mental health was suffering to the extent that, “my anxiety levels had been increasing at an alarming rate since the 2002 Euros and by the time I joined Middlesbrough, I was no longer able to suppress it and I began to suffer with bouts of double vision.” Indeed, Christie is open throughout the book on his struggles acknowledging that stress wasn’t viewed by sport and indeed society back then as a real issue, which thankfully today is being addressed.

With the 2002/03 season at an end, Christie underwent surgery for a groin injury and removal of his tonsils which impacted his pre-season preparation. However, battling the physical tiredness and on-going mental issues, he started the season, scoring the winner in extra-time against Brighton in the League, a goal that would set Boro’ on their way to Wembley. For Christie though what happened next was to change things irrevocably.

“I will never forget the 4th November 2003. It was the day my life changed forever. It was the day my football career ended. It’s as simple as that.”

In a routine training session, Christie had his leg broken in a tackle with Chris Riggott who had joined Middlesbrough with Christie. Christie attached no blame then or in the book for what happened. He wasn’t out of plaster until February 2004 so was not part of the Boro’ squad which went on to win the League Cup. Christie like the other injured players were kept away from the squad on the day and it deeply hurt him. “Whilst the Boro’ players were celebrating in the dressing room…myself and the other cast-offs…were boarding a coach back to the airport, again missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.” His feelings were that strong that he did not attend a celebration dinner and had to be persuaded by manager Steve McClaren to be part of the bus-top parade to show off the trophy.

With the dawn of the new season and Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup, Christie was still struggling with is leg despite playing for the reserves and a sub appearance in Europe against Banik Ostrava. Eventually he had a CT scan which revealed his leg was still effectively broken and so required surgery. Christie pulls no punching in being critical of the treatment he received and the impact it had on his physical and mental health. He returned to action 15 months later in February 2005, scoring on his return at Portsmouth only to be injured in his next match with a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal, which required surgery.

2005/06 saw Middlesbrough back in the UEFA Cup and Christie back in pre-season training. However, once again the footballing gods were not on his side as operations were needed to deal with the rod in his leg which was causing knee problems and nerve problems in his feet. Even after coming through these and returning to training, injury struck again with a re-fractured foot. Whilst he sat on the side-lines, Boro’ reached the FA Cup Semi-Final and UEFA Cup Final, the most successful period of their history. By April 2006 Christie was back in action, and unlike the League Cup previously travelled as part of the squad to the UEFA Cup Final in Eindhoven.

The following season Steve McClaren left the Riverside Stadium to become England manager with Gareth Southgate coming in as Boro’ gaffer. Once again Christie suffered another injury, this time, torn ankle ligaments. Returning in November 2006 he scored against Aston Villa, a first goal in 21 months. In a stop start season, Christie started his final match for Boro’ in April 2007 playing a full ninety minutes for the first time in three and a half years. With his contract expiring in June 2007 his time on Teesside was over. As with some much of this book, Christie is honest about his mindset at the time, “leaving was the right thing for me and the club, I needed to get away from football for a bit…part of me had given up and I’d begun to fall out of love with the beautiful game.”

Without a club, Christie went on trial at Hull City in what provided to be another demoralising experience with him suffering some poor treatment by then Tigers manager Phil Brown. Burton Albion offered a contract which Christie turned down and was then given a lifeline trialling at Leeds United in January 2008. However, unbelievably in training Christie suffered a fractured spine which meant that he didn’t play a single game in 2007/08. In November 2008 he signed for Leeds and debuted against Northampton Town in the FA Cup. With Leeds manager Gary McAllister keen to sign Christie, he was then sacked and replaced by Simon Grayson. With his back problems persisting the final straw for Christie came in late January 2009 when after not being picked for a game against Peterborough United and an overhead outburst from Grayson, Christie walked away from football. Christie reflects on the moment saying, “my overriding emotion was one of pure relief. My injury problems had started way back in November 2003 and had dragged on through to January 2009…over five years of injury hell.”

The final chapter explores Christie’s life after his playing career, which saw him work in the motor industry until 2019 and find a more settled family life, reconnecting with his parents once more. Christie though rediscovered his love for the game through his boys, leading to him setting up his own Academy, Christie Coaching. As this review is written Christie has taken up a post at former club Middlesbrough as a Youth Development Phase Coach and one can hope that he translates the undoubtedly ability he had as a player to the youngsters under his charge.

The Reality of the Dream is an incredibly honest account. As readers we share the joy of his journey to being a Premier League player and scoring the winner against his boyhood club. However, equally it is not an easy read at times as you feel Christie’s anxiety, pain and torment as his career drifts away from the high of that goal at Old Trafford in May 2001 through the strength sapping injuries to the low of walking away from Elland Road in January 2009. Christie is open about his mental health struggles, and it is hoped that this book has been cathartic and part of the process in his healing process and his re-engagement with the game that he loves.

(Publisher: Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. June 2022. Paperback: 248 pages)


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Programme Review: 2022/23 Yorkshire Amateur AFC

Fixture: Toolstation Northern Counties East League (NCEL) Premier Division

Date: Tuesday 28 September 2022

Venue: Roxholme Road

Result: Yorkshire Amateur 0 (0) – (1) 3 Hemsworth Miners Welfare

Programme cost: £2.00

Pages: 20

Front cover

Leeds may have only one professional football club but has a host of clubs playing in the non-league system. Among them, is Yorkshire Amateur, a club based in the north east part of the city and less than three miles out of the centre.

The Ammers as they are nicknamed, were founded in 1918, but didn’t start playing matches until the following season. The club played at Elland Road after Leeds City FC were dissolved in 1919 due to financial irregularities. However, Yorkshire Amateur’s decided in 1920 to sell the lease to the newly formed Leeds United for just £250. The clubs have since has driven down very different paths, with Leeds United one of the best clubs in the country in the 1960s and ‘70s and now back in the Premier League. The Ammers meanwhile were founders of the Yorkshire League in 1920 playing in it until 1981/82 when it was merged with the Midland League to form the Northern Counties East League (NCEL).

Following the disrupted seasons in 2019/20 and 2020/21 due to the global pandemic, The Ammers were promoted to the Northern Premier League, East Division (Step 4 of the National League System), their highest ever playing level. Despite a respectable mid-table finish, the club was relegated back to the NCEL due to failing ground grading. This led to major changes to the club both on and off the pitch.

With so much upheaval it has not been an easy start to the 2022/23 campaign for the Roxholme Road team. Coming into this fixture they were bottom of the league after nine games, having won just one game, drawn one, with seven losses and suffered early exits in both the FA Cup and FA Vase. Despite all this and with crowds averaging just 77 from their five home games, it was great to see that The Ammers produce a physical programme (and it should be noted provided a link on their website to a free pdf version).

Back cover

The 20 page offering is as most non-league programmes tend to be A5 size and printed on glossy paper and in colour throughout. The cover is of a thicker material to the inner pages and has the club nickname splashed large across the front with the usual match details – opposition, club badges, date, league logo and additionally the FA club accreditation badge. It also has the image of one of the Ammers players.

Inside, page 2 provides a “Welcome to Ammers” with a brief mention of the recent defeat to Barton Town and the standard greeting to the visiting players, fans and officials. It is unfortunate that it contains a couple of typos including opening with “Good afternoon” despite this being an evening fixture. Page 3 is taken up with the league sponsor’s advert, leading into a double page spread (pages 4 & 5) dedicated to the “Club History”. It is in the main an interesting read for those unfamiliar with the Ammers story, but once again contains typos and provides no real update of the Club since 2007/08 which is a real shame. Pages 6 & 7 contain headshots of the current squad, with the manager allocated pages 8 & 9. Page 8 is completely taken up with a picture of Mark Maspero, with page 9 “Ammers Challenge” notes from the manager with an honest appraisal of the teams current plight acknowledging, “we have a very young side with an abundance of technical ability, but very little league experience.” The centrespread (pages 10 & 11) are given over to the fixture list and results, with the next two given over to a history of the visitors Hemsworth Miners Welfare. This material is provided by the opposition and suffers from a lack of proofreading as a number of typos are evident. Pages 14 & 15 are given over to the NCEL Premier Division table, with page 16 advertising the next home game and page 17 providing brief details about the club set-up. Page 18 is a simple “Thank You for Your Support” and the penultimate page is given over to an advert for the Football Foundation. The back cover is dominated by the club badge, with additional details including the ground address, club twitter details and logos for league sponsor Toolstation and FA club accreditation.

The club is to be praised for producing a physical copy, which is well designed, has some cracking graphics and is in full colour. However, where it falls down is that it suffers from a number of easily avoided typos and a lack of content with too many pages just large graphics simply describing the facing page (i.e. fixtures and league table). Eradicating these typos will help improve the read as well as the addition of more content, which can be provided by for instance the Non-League Paper (and can be requested by contacting who will produce a free weekly column, as well as sites like ourselves who are happy to provide free content.

The Ammers are going through a tough transition after the trauma of relegation and the impact on the club, but one can only hope that there are better times around the corner in this part of Leeds.



A long-awaited labour of love from Andy Wells, director of the brilliant ITV documentary. GET SHIRTY is the definitive, lavishly illustrated account of the untold Admiral story, featuring 250 images of rare kits, unseen behind-the-scenes photos, cult collectables and period catalogues.

Back in the 1970s, a small Midlands underwear firm changed football forever when they won the contract as England’s kit supplier. Admiral Sportswear’s bold designs and branding were controversial at the time but helped pioneer today’s multi-billion-pound sportswear industry. It was Admiral that invented the replica football strip and revolutionised the worlds of football finance and street fashion alike – before their colourful empire finally came crashing down around them.

Drawing on hours of previously unheard interviews and years of research, it reveals the true stories behind Coventry City’s infamous chocolate-brown strip and England’s disastrous kit fiasco at the 1982 World Cup finals. Read about Admiral’s Wales international shirt bonfire, Manchester United’s laundry scandal – and the deals that got away, including the prototype Liverpool kit that saw Bill Shankly clash with directors at Liverpool.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. September 2022. Paperback: 200 pages)

Book Review – Cocker Hoop: The Biography of Les Cocker, Key Man for Ramsey and Revie by Robert Endeacott & Dave Cocker

Book cover.

The great Leeds United side of the late sixties and seventies and the England World Cup winning team of 1966 are remembered for the men that managed them, Don Revie and Sir Alf Ramsey respectively. But there is an individual that connects both, and whose name is not so familiar – that of Les Cocker. And whilst there are various books about Revie and Ramsey detailing their respective playing and managerial careers, the story of the assistant to both these giants of the English game is pretty much unknown.

That wrong has been righted with the publication of, Cocker Hoop: The Biography of Les Cocker, Key Man for Ramsey and Revie by Robert Endeacott & Dave Cocker. Endeacott is a well-known writer of a number of books, many about his beloved Leeds United, and co-authors this book with Les Cocker’s son Dave. Given then that one of the co-authors as a die-hard Leeds fans could be seen to be wearing white rose tinted glasses and the other co-author is the book subject’s son, some may question how dispassionate a book this can be.

Following a generous Foreword from ex-Leeds United player John Giles (as he signs himself in the book, rather than the Johnny familiar in his playing days) about his time working at the Elland Road club with Les Cocker, there follows an Introduction from Endeacott. Here, his distain for the film The Damned United is detailed given its portrayal of people and events, including Cocker. Now as a non-Leeds United fan and given my view that the film is deeply fictionalised for cinematic effect, I don’t have the same misgivings or deep rooted anger towards the film as many of the Elland Road faithful have. However, with Endeacott having expressed this, from this point on for me as a reader, there was a nagging feeling that the book felt like it had to come up with a justification to dispel the ‘fictional’ Cocker figure.

So who was the ‘real’ Les Cocker?

Readers are told his story in a traditional timeline, with the opening chapters looking at his childhood and family as the young Cocker grew up in Stockport, following his birth there in March 1924. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Cocker was too young to join up, but in 1941 was called up for National Service. In 1944 D-day 06 June, Les suffered a head wound which saw his returned to England to recover. Like many men of the time, we discover that he didn’t like to talk about his wartime experiences and in understated fashion referred to his injury as, “just a graze” indicative of a stoic nature.

With the war over, we discover that Cocker had a professional playing career, beginning in 1945 and finishing in 1958 as a forward with local side Stockport County and then Accrington Stanley. Probably the most significant part of his transfer and which was to ultimately create his future career was the agreement that Accrington would pay for his FA coaching courses and Treatment of Injuries course.

What is engaging and works to provide real insight into Cocker are the interviews that Endeacott provides within the book. One such and relating to Cocker’s time at Accrington as a player, is with the ex-Lancashire and England player and until recently Sky Cricket Commentator, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd. Accrington born Lloyd speaks with affection about Cocker the player, “he was a marauding centre-forward, I mean fearless, all action, all effort…yeah, he was a dirty bugger but a really nice bloke.” This interview forms part of Chapter 2, taking Cocker’s story up to the point of him accepting his first coaching role at Luton Town in 1959.

Chapter 3 sees him make the move to Leeds United in July 1960 who along with Cocker’s previous employer, Luton Town had been relegated from the First Division at the end of the 1959/60 campaign. In another of Endeacott’s insightful interviews, former Leeds player Gerry Francis, provides an early assessment of Cocker’s impact at Elland Road. “Les was a very good coach and trainer…he was also very strict. If you did not train as hard as he thought you could, Les would be tough on you.” Leeds though struggled in the 1960/61 season and in March 1961, Don Revie took up the reins at the club as Player/Manager, keeping the Elland Road club out of the ignominy of relegation to the then Third Division.

Meanwhile Les was starting on a path to connection with the England national team set-up, becoming trainer to the Under 23 side in November 1961. The remainder of the chapter takes readers through to the 1963/64 season, when Leeds won the Second Division title to return to the top-flight of English football, with John Giles highlighting that Cocker’s skills didn’t simply extend to coaching, with Les also taking “care of the medical side of things for the players too, in the afternoons. Les was a huge contributor to the success of the club.”

1965 FA Cup Final programme.

Chapter 4 sees Leeds start to make their make on the English game with a first appearance in the 1964/65 FA Cup Final, although ultimately losing 2-1 to Liverpool. There is also a telling story offering another view to the alternative as Cocker as just a tough trainer. In a Under 23 friendly in Vienna, Alan Ball was sent off with Les providing a consoling arm to the distraught player. England senior manager Sir Alf Ramsey noted this as “it showed that he (Cocker) would influence, for the better, the player’s future conduct” and was no doubt part of Ramsey’s decision to promote Cocker to trainer of the senior England squad and therefore a key part of the 1966 World Cup preparations.

The lead up and the tournament in 1966 dominate Chapter 5, with an excellent interview with the Three Lions right-back of the time, George Cohen, providing a great inside view of the England set-up and Cocker’s contribution during that historic time. Once again readers get to see another part of Cocker’s range of skills, with Cohen stating, “he (Cocker) knew what an individual needed, he was very good that way, spotting areas that a player might need to work on.”

Chapter 6 1967 to 1970 – Leeds’ time and turn for glory?, centres on the Elland Road club finally bringing major silverware to LS11, with the League Cup, First Division title and Inter Cities Fairs Cup adorning the trophy cabinet. It highlights Cocker’s contribution to success and how he understood the support that injured players needed in their rehabilitation during a period when Leeds were playing for a number of trophies at home and in Europe. The chapter also looks at England’s preparation for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and the unsuccessful defence of the Jules Rimet trophy.

Chapters 7 & 8 look at the period up to 1973, with Leeds picking up more silverware in the shape of the 1971/72 FA Cup but missing out on the First Division title as runners-up in 1970/71 and 1971/72. Cocker again continues as the no-nonsense and loyal assistant as part of Revie’s backroom staff. However, for the England national side dark clouds gather as they miss out on qualification for the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany.

Programme from 1973/74 First Division title win.

1974 and past it? focuses on the period of change both from an England perspective and that at Elland Road. April 1974 saw Sir Alf Ramsey sacked, prompting all the backroom staff including Cocker stating they would resign in a show of loyalty to the ex-England boss. However, Ramsey whilst appreciating the gesture, talked them all out of the course of action. Indeed throughout the book, the FA is not seen in a good light, with the institution in one incident more concerned with looking after the FA Council members than those on the frontline. Leeds went onto win the 1973/74 First Division championship and with it, put Don Revie in a position as favourite to take the England job. Interestingly, the book details how Cocker “urged him (Revie) not take it as it was the worst international squad Les had known in his career; there were too many ‘ordinary’ players around.” Despite Revie’s recommendation of John Giles as the new manager, the board went with Brian Clough, and in doing so, Cocker left to take up a role as Assistant England Manager.

Chapter 10 looks at the three years for Les in the England senior camp. It shows how the world of club and international football differ with the lack of regular contact that was enjoyed at Leeds not able to be replicated for England, and as Endeacott reflects, “recreating such wonderful alchemy was a romantic but implausible idea at international level.” With Revie unable to work his magic for the Three Lions and the FA it seems working behind the scenes to bring in another manager, he resigned in in 1977 taking up a role as the manager of the United Arab Emirates national team. Cocker the ever-loyal assistant joined his ‘gaffer’ in Dubai.

The final chapter, The UAE and then ‘Donny’, sees Cocker complete the two-years of his contract in the Middle East, leaving Revie to stay on and later manager Emirati clubs, Al-Nasr and Al-Ahly. Cocker returned to England as assistant to Billy Bremner at Fourth Division Doncaster Rovers, “working there voluntarily, being paid only for his travel expenses.” There is another well conducted interview from Endeacott, with Glynn Snodin who was at Rovers at the time (and later went on to play for Leeds), explaining that Cocker’s enthusiasm and input was the same whatever the level of the game, “if you needed help, Les was always there for you. He’d tell you things but ask you things as well, he wanted your opinion, he wasn’t just about ordering you about.” Tragically, Les was to die suddenly of a heart attack, only 55 years old, on 04 October 1979, a shocking loss to his family and the world of football.

Co-authors Robert Endeacott and Dave Cocker have provided a wonderful tribute to Les Cocker in this book, with Endeacott’s insightful interviews and knowledge of Leeds United combining with Cocker’s family anecdotes and stories of the time. It shows Les Cocker as a talented individual, whether as a coach, assistant manager or trainer, loyal, hardworking, wanting nothing more than to make players and the team the best they could be. A great read for the Elland Road faithful, but also for anyone wanting to get a view of football from the 1960s and 1970s.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. July 2022. Hardcover: 256 pages)


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League One Leeds is the story of Leeds United’s three seasons spent in the third tier of English football. An illustrious club who had never fallen so low, their journey through League One would become the most chaotic period in Leeds’s history and the drama started before a ball was kicked.

An unprecedented 15-point deduction that plunged the Whites from promotion favourites to relegation fodder set the tone, as the club’s fortunes undulated wildly over the course of three bizarre seasons.

Record-breaking winning runs, long barren spells, FA Cup defeats at Histon and Hereford, victory at Old Trafford – this is a football story that twists and turns all the way through to a hair-raising finale.

The book is written through the eyes of the author and features exclusive insight from Simon Grayson, Jermaine Beckford, Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, David Prutton, Casper Ankergren and Luciano Becchio, whose first-hand experiences are interwoven with his own.

The result: a riveting account of a fascinating period in Leeds United’s history.


(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. August 2022. Hardcover: 256 pages)


Cocker Hoop is the authorised biography of football coaching great Les Cocker. A tenacious and resilient forward, Cocker played for two clubs: Stockport County (196 games, 48 goals) and Accrington Stanley (130 games, 50 goals) before retiring in 1958 to move into coaching.

As one of the first recipients of full coaching badges at England’s Lilleshall, he established himself as a supreme trainer and coach for Leeds United and helped build a famous footballing dynasty alongside Don Revie. His rising reputation attracted the FA’s attention, and Cocker helped the England team achieve their pinnacle success in 1966.

Filled with interviews, anecdotes and revelations from throughout Cocker’s career, Cocker Hoop brings us a personal portrait of the great man and is co-written by his son Dave Cocker and sportswriter and novelist Robert Endeacott.


(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. July 2022. Hardcover: 256 pages)


Like most young boys, Malcolm Christie grew up dreaming of becoming a professional footballer.

Rejected by his hometown club Peterborough United and working at Somerfield supermarket, playing amateur football at 19, Malcolm thought the moment had passed him by.

But dreams do come true.

Just months after he was stacking shelves, Malcolm was playing for Derby County in the Premier League. International honours and a big money move to Middlesbrough followed as Malcolm became one of English footballs brightest prospects until a succession of injuries led to a premature end of his promising football career.

The Reality of the Dream chronicles the amazing story of Malcolm Christie’s journey to become the only person in history to go straight from non-league to scoring in the Premier League and representing his country without ever joining a professional academy.

Sad, funny and often emotional, Malcolm’s unique tale provides a brutally honest insight into the reality of life as a footballer, an injured footballer and worse – a retired footballer.

(Publisher: Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. June 2022. Paperback: 248 pages)