Welcome to Marching on Together

22 Jan 2018 02:31pm, by Shields53

Today we learned of the passing for former Leeds United manager Jimmy Armfield. Armfield was born in Denton Manchester on 21st September 1935 and moved with his family to Blackpool at an early age. He signed for Blackpool in September 1954 after being spotted in a practice match at Bloomfield Road by then Manager Joe Smith. He made his League debut on 27th December 1954 at Portsmouth and after making just two appearances in the 1954-55 season quickly established himself as the club's first choice right-back in the following season. This started his long association with the club which culminated in him being the holder of the Bloomfield Road club's appearance record with five hundred and sixty eight League games, in which he managed six goals.

Armfield was voted Young Player of the Year in 1959. In 1966, he narrowly lost out to Bobby Charlton for the Footballer of the Year award and had to content himself with being Blackpool's Player of the Year. Although Blackpool were a consistent First Division club they never won any honours until after they had been relegated in 1966/67 and the loyal full-back was part of the 1969/70 promotion-winning team who fought their way back into the top flight as runners-up. Unfortunately the club again suffered relegation in Armfield's final season with them before retirement in 1970/71 after seventeen years loyal service to the one club, who he played six hundred and twenty-seven times in all competitions.

Armfield won forty-three caps for England between 1959 and 1966, and captained his country on fifteen occasions. He made his international debut on 13th May 1959, against Brazil in front of over 120,000 fans. He played in the 1962 World Cup in Chile, where he was acclaimed as "the best right-back in the world". He was also voted "best right-back in Europe" between 1962 and 1964. He was included in the 1966 World Cup-winning squad but missed out on the tournament through injury. He also represented the Football League twelve times and gained nine Under-Twenty-three caps for his country.

Gentleman Jim took his first steps into football management with Third Division Bolton Wanderers and got them to seventh place in his first season of 1971-72 and soon tasted success the following season when they finished up as the Champions of Division Three and were duly promoted to the Second Division, where he consolidated with an eleventh position finish. After the turmoil at Leeds caused by the Clough debacle it was understandable that the club did not rush headlong into another disaster. The board deliberated before appointing the quiet, unassuming and immaculate temperament possessing ex-England Captain. On the one hand he certainly had an excellent football brain and a calming influence, but was relatively untried as an elite Manager.

As it turned out he was just what Leeds required in their hour of need and soon after he took over the club's position improved. While the atrocious start they had made to the League season would inhibit their ability to mount any challenge for the League Championship. Therefore Armfield concentrated on the European Cup. He made few changes to the playing staff in his first season and relied upon the hunger of the older players to take them to the their first European Cup Final with a string of outstanding performances. He achieved what Don Revie had not been able to do but luck was not on United's side in the Final with Bayern Munich in Paris.

In the aftermath of the defeat there was a riot by the hooligan element of the supporters and only a well-reasoned defence by Armfield at the UEFA hearing managed to cut down United's ban in Europe from four years to two. There was also a fifth place in the League as he relied on the old guard. It fell to his task to dismantle the ageing Revie team of heroes of the Glory Years. He quietly and efficiently released Terry Cooper, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and, due to barracking by the fans, Terry Yorath.

He brought in the immensely popular and talented Tony Currie from Sheffield United, Welsh midfielder Brian Flynn and striker Ray Hankin from Burnley and flying Scottish winger Arthur Graham from Aberdeen. Leeds reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup in 1977 and a steady tenth in the League. A place in the League Cup Semi-Finals in 1978 and a solid ninth in the League was not good enough for the success-hungry board and although Armfield had, with the help of his able coach Don Howe, moulded United into a solid dependable team capable of better things, he was dismissed at the end of the season and replaced by Jock Stein.

The Leeds post was Armfield's final managerial role, and he decided to work in radio. He became best known as a match summariser for BBC Radio Five Live. He also became a consultant with the Football. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE and in 2004 he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of his home county of Lancashire. In 2005–2006 he served as High Sheriff of Lancashire. Armfield was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year's Honours list for services to the community in Lancashire. The South Stand at Bloomfield Road, which was opened on 20 March 2010, was named the "Jimmy Armfield South Stand". A life-size statue of Armfield was unveiled on 1st May 2011 at Bloomfield Road.

After a long and courageous battle with cancer Armfield passed away at the age of 82 at Trinity Hospice in Blackpool. Leeds United have lost one of their greatest managers and football one of its greatest voices. RIP Jimmy.

21 Jan 2018 01:16pm, by Shields53

Yesterday’s game versus Millwall was a rollercoaster of emotions; frustration, misery, hope, joy and ultimately disappointment all in one match. The lifelong emotions of being a Leeds United fan condensed into one afternoons worth of football. It was a crazy macth, thos looking at the latest football scores must have been wondering what was going on. The start was all too familiar, ill-discipline has plagued the side this season, especially in recent weeks, and it came back to haunt us yesterday. Club captain Liam cooper said ahead of the game;

Stupid red cards which can be avoided are disappointing. That’s what they’ll always be. We as a team won’t stand for that. We’ve got to sort it out and we will do. We’re not a horrible group or a dirty group. We’ve spoken about that behind closed doors this week. It’s about finding a balance with the officials of not being too soft and not being too over the top. But we can’t go into games lacklustre. You’ve got to put your foot forward and make people know you’re there. Maybe we’ve taken that a bit too literally.

It is disappointing then following Samuel Saiz’s red card for spitting against Newport County and Eunan O'Kane’s red card for a head-butt against Ipswich that Cooper himself should see red for a late challenge on Saturday. Yes, it’s a different kind of offence, a footballing incident rather than off the ball stupidity but discipline should be at the forefront of all the players’ minds, particularly the captains, following two red cards in the previous two matches.

Down to ten men and two nil down before Christiansen has reorganised things it looked as though the afternoon could only get worse. Whatever was said to the team at half time certainly worked. A different Leeds United emerged for the second half. Within thirty seconds Lasogga pulled one back for Leeds before Kemar Roofe bundled the ball over the line to make things level. It was then Lasogga again, who has received much criticism lately, who fired home to give Leeds United the lead.

This is the Leeds United we have come to love this season. Playing on the front foot, attacking and pushing our opposition back. Could it be, could we win this? Of course the answer was no. That’s the problem with being a Leeds fan, your hopes and dreams are built only to be crushed. Two late goals from Millwall, we slumped to defeat and down to tenth in the table.

In some ways it was inevitable, playing with only ten men for over fifty minutes and coming back from a two goal deficit was bound to take its toll. Our attacking players were fatigued and needed to be replaced, Christiansen opted to go more defensive for the final minutes of the game. But did we need to? Could we have maintained an attacking game? Did the players have enough left in them?

It is a frustrating loss but in reality the game was lost in the first forty five minutes not in the last five. The come-back was spirited and shows that there is fight in the team but it is a shame it takes having a man sent off and being two goals down to see that spirit. This is Leeds United and we expect our players to be up for every game. Our season is in danger of slipping away, just as last season did.

We may not have been expecting to challenge for the automatic places this season, we are still a work in progress but I would at least hope for progress on last season. This could be a defining moment for Thomas Christiansen and his side. The team have a week off now before we place Hull and a trip to Spain to clear their heads. How we react next Tuesday is as important as yesterday’s result.

It was a bad end, when you lose in the way that we lost today. I am disappointed, we always have to get punished before we react and I hope we react next time before we get punished, I want us to open the scoring. The reaction in the second half was very positive, but we haven’t taken anything out of the game. It was a really good performance in the second half, everyone gave the maximum they had inside of them and this is what I expect from my players, they have to die on the pitch and give everything. We cannot go on like this.

We spoke about discipline through the week, today’s red card wasn’t a spit or a provocation though, it was a strong challenge in a situation. On Monday we will go to Murcia to prepare for an important game at Hull, we will be away, have time to speak, train and get ready for this next game. In this time we will also have many individual talks as well, about what we want and expect.

Christiansen knows but is required but the question is can he turn things around? With Saiz still suspended for four matches, O’Kane for two, Cooper for four and now Phillips for two having reached ten yellow cards we are four players down due to discipline. Whether off the ball stupidity or bad tackles we need to stamp it out, we need all our players available if this season is not to fade away like last.