Leeds United: Destiny and Pudsey

Sunday – the day of rest – getting up late, a bacon butty and coffee in bed. What more can a man want? How does going round an Antique Fair in Pudsey sound? Not convinced? Well the thing is you just never know. As I wandered aimlessly past the stalls, I found a folder labelled ‘football programmes’. I have to come clean and say football programmes are a weakness of mine. The house is groaning under the weight of my collection from 38 years of watching football. So it was with some excitement that I flicked through the binder. There were only probably 20 to 25 programmes contained and most were Cup Finals and International programmes that I already possess. However, I came across one in particular that I was drawn to.

“The Football Association of Wales, INTERMEDIATE INTERNATIONAL MATCH, Wales v Scotland, Wednesday 30th November 1966, Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Kick off 7-15pm, Official Programme – Price Sixpence” .

I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know what an “…Intermediate…” match alluded to, but on looking at the editorial inside it explained it was an Under 23 fixture. The programme itself was nothing exceptional, an 8 page white programme with bold black print, containing the editorial, team line-ups and pen pictures of the two teams. In looking at the classic 2-3-5 team lay out, I noticed that there were two Leeds United players in opposition. Number 9 for Wales was D. Hawkins and number 6 for Scotland was E.Gray. The pen pictures provided the following information:

DENNIS HAWKINS (Leeds United) – Centre Forward; Like team-mate Gary Sprake is Swansea-born; it would appear Leeds have a liking for this part of the Principality since they signed John Charles straight from a Swansea school! Only one first team appearance to date but is well thought of by manager Don Revie. Welsh Schoolboy International. Has a younger brother who plays in the current Swansea Schoolboy team.

EDWIN GRAY (Leeds United) – Left Half; From Glasgow schools football to Leeds three years ago. Players inside forward and on the left wing as well as wing half. Skilful dribbler.

I was intrigued as to who Dennis Hawkins was, so promptly paid a pound for this little gem of a programme. Once home, straight onto the PC to discover more about this player. Thanks to the internet I discovered the following. Dennis Hawkins was a Welsh inside forward who played professionally in the sixties and early seventies, and won six caps for his country’s Under 23 side. After developing in the youth team at Leeds United, and realising that his first team chances within such a strong squad would be limited, he left to join Shrewsbury Town. In all he made 58 appearances for the Gay Meadow club. During this period he was loaned to both Chester and Workington. He finished his league career at Newport.

Dennis played for Leeds United on only two occasions and in a career from 1966 to 1972 played in just 92 games scoring 12 goals. Eddie Gray on the other hand turned out to be a Leeds legend with 577 appearances and 68 goals. Where does all this lead? If you were at that game, or indeed were Dennis or Eddie at the time, you had no idea what the future held. That game was about that moment in time, two men from the same club on opposite sides, both representing their country at Under 23 level. Did they ponder what the future held for them, did the crowd that day have the same thoughts? These two players with similar paths were to have very different destinies and so for Leeds United fans, only one of these two men will be remembered. Fate dictated that Eddie Gray became a Leeds Legend, a man still involved with the club today. Dennis unfortunately never became one of the greats of the Revie era.

So as you watch Leeds United in these last two remaining League games, consider what fate has in store. Will history recall that this was the team that blew automatic promotion and then collapsed in the Play-Offs or had the character to clinch promotion at last. What of the Leeds players themselves? Is this their chance at fame or infamy? Eddie Gray and David Hawkins, two players, one club – two very different outcomes.