The story of Dirty Leeds - Don Revie, Harry Reynolds and the Team of the Sixties

21 Aug 2020 07:45 pm, by YorkshireSquare


Post-war industrial England, a dirty hinterland in the North and Midlands where the skyline was punctuated by grimy old stacks and evil-looking factories. It was a simpler time, but also less informed; if you said 'Prosecco', 'Paparazzi' and 'Literati' to even the worldly-wise gentlemen of the Press, after the sneer, you might have got a guess that you were discussing three greasy inhabitants of some mysterious Italian club's forward line. The world of the working man was all pie, peas and mash suppers, fish'n'chips, warm ale and a packet of Woodbines.

There will never be another story like that of Leeds United Football Club in the 1960s. Out of grime and obscurity came Don Revie and Harry Reynolds, two self-made northerners and their handcrafted club, and this is their story, from their perspective. Revie's Leeds were like Marmite, loved by the faithful, reviled by the rest, forever branded Dirty Leeds for their uncompromising approach. Within five years, Leeds were champions once, runners-up twice, FA Cup finalists once, semi-finalists twice and raised the League and Fairs Cups but are characterised as the ultimate example of serial bottlers.


'We can have some of that, can't we, Don?'
'We can, Harry, and we will.'
'Leeds United are going to be one of the biggest clubs in the country, mark my words.'
'You're not wrong, Harry, you're not wrong.'


And Harry wasn't. They tilted at windmills, did Don and Harry. The partnership of Revie and Reynolds was made in heaven. Revie couldn't have succeeded at another club or without Reynolds - they transformed a dreary football club into an industrial giant, but never forgot the little people.


Dirty Leeds: The First Title
Don Revie, Harry Reynolds and the Team of the Sixties

By Dave Tomlinson

Out of grime and obscurity came Don Revie and Harry Reynolds, two self-made northerners and their handcrafted club, and this is their story, from their perspective.

Revie’s Leeds were like Marmite, loved by the faithful, reviled by the rest, forever branded Dirty Leeds for their uncompromising approach. Within five years, Leeds had been champions once, runners-up twice, FA Cup finalists once, semi-finalists twice and raised the League and Fairs Cups.

The partnership of Revie and Reynolds was made in heaven. Revie couldn’t have succeeded at another club or without Reynolds - they transformed a dreary football club into an industrial giant, but never forgot the little people.

In November 2015, the Daily Mirror claimed that Leeds were the most sung about football club by fans of opposing teams. They reckoned there were 117 anti-Leeds chants, a massive 67 chants more than those against second-placed Liverpool. United have achieved little of genuine footballing note since their Champions' League odyssey in 2001 and have been without senior silverware since the championship in 1992, the last year before the coming of the FA Premier League.

And yet, a bitter hatred of Dirty Leeds 'and all they stand for' percolates through supporters of all other clubs. Even future 'saviour' Ken Bates, chairman of Chelsea when United fans damaged a scoreboard at Stamford Bridge in 1984, had the bug, promising, 'I shall not rest until Leeds United are kicked out of the Football League. Their fans are the scum of the Earth, absolute animals and a disgrace. I will do everything in my power to make this happen.'

Those words were trotted out in later years by United's own fans, expressing their 'We're Leeds and we don't care' declarations of siege mentality. 'All Leeds aren't we?' and 'we've had our ups and downs' are regular rallying choruses for the unloved faithful. So exactly why are Leeds United so universally reviled by rival football fans the length and breadth of the country?

The story of Revie, Reynolds and Dirty Leeds is truly unique.


Dave Tomlinson is the webmaster for the mightyleeds.co.uk website, and Dirty Leeds: The First Title is his fourth book about the club. Its 358 pages take us back to a more innocent time and place. This is Dave Tomlinson’s fourth book about Leeds United.

Dirty Leeds: The First Title: Don Revie, Harry Reynolds and the Team of the Sixties
ISBN-13: 979-8664896466 (Paperback) - £12.99
ASIN: B08DLMY1HB (Kindle) - £2.19
Paperback: 358 Pages



View all Showing latest five comments of six...

JackGiles wrote on 23 Aug 2020 04:56 pm

It annoys me that the tag "Dirty Leeds" has stuck for as long as it has. It reeks of Brian Clough. Some Leeds fans seem to wear it as a badge of honour and other's fans seem to revel in the fact that they can hide behind the Dirty Leeds tag and cover up their own short comings. The laughable thing is that 90% of them never saw the great Leeds team that were given the tag, nor did they experience how different football was back then, even the pitches were mud baths. All teams were DIRTY but the F.A. were the dirtiest of the lot. The F.A. was basically an old boys network and if an outsider decided to upset the F.A.'s applecart, they were relentless. Match congestion and long suspensions and ref decisions were the order of the day. Leeds were the bridesmaids on so many occasions because of these decisions and the cover up was to label us Dirty Leeds. The Jacks and the Giles and the Hunters and the Grays and Mick Jones laying it off to Sniffer were all great great players, BUT TOUGH, NOT too Dirty. Even today I hope that Leeds are beaten in the 1st round of the lesser comps + the F.A. CUP because of the match congestion that denied Leeds so many BIG trophies in the past

Byebyegeegee wrote on 22 Aug 2020 09:06 am

That team should have won twice, three times as many titles and cups as they did but were thwarted by dodgy/corrupt refereeing, here and abroad, and unsympathetic, nay vindictive English football authorities who couldn’t accept that the upstarts Leeds United were so much better than their beloved London clubs and Manchester United.

Yes I am a conspiracy theorist and make no bones about it. I also believe that we face that same vindictiveness from the football establishment today as we did then and have done throughout the last 50 years since those heady days in the sixties when Leeds United first took English football by storm.

CHAPELALLMAN wrote on 22 Aug 2020 08:56 am

Talking about the Revie side, I remember Eddie Gray coming to our school ( Allerton High ) in the late 70s and giving a talk from the stage in the school hall. I can't really remember what he talked about now, but I think it was some kind of motivational talk - work hard to achieve your goals in life etc.

Also, Paul Madeley had a shop about half a mile away from where my parents were living on the Harrogate Road. It was a sports shop, and I remember when I was about 18 going in to look for some trainers, and instead ended up having a long chat with him about the World Cup which was going on back then. He made the time to chat to me ( there was nobody else in the shop ) and I remember that he was polite and unassuming - a real gentleman. He and his brother had a chain of DIY stores throughout Leeds, and they were always advertising on Yorkshire TV I seem to remember.

Then there was Paul Reaney, who was a patient at my father's dental practice for quite a few years. My mother was a receptionist there for a time, and I remember she would remark on how he was always cracking jokes - she thought he was ' a real character. '

CHAPELALLMAN wrote on 22 Aug 2020 08:53 am

CHAPELALLMAN wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:52 am Talking about the Revie side, I remember Eddie Gray coming to our school ( Allerton High ) in the late 70s and giving a talk from the stage in the school hall. I can't really remember what he talked about now, but I think it was some kind of motivational talk - work hard to achieve your goals in life etc.

Also, Paul Madeley had a shop about half a mile away from where my parents were living on the Harrogate Road. It was a sports shop, and I remember when I was about 18 going in to look for some trainers, and ended up having a long chat wih him about the 1982 World Cup which was going on back then. He made the time to chat to me ( there was nobody else in the shop ) and I remember that he was extremely polite and unassuming - a real gentleman. He and his brother had a chain of DIY stores throughout Leeds, and they were always advertising on Yorkshire TV I seem to remember.

Then there was Paul Reaney, who was a patient at my father's dental practice for quite a few years. My mother was a receptionist there for a time, and I remember she would remark on how he was always cracking jokes - she thought he was ' a real character. '

CHAPELALLMAN wrote on 22 Aug 2020 08:52 am

Talking about the Revie side, I remember Eddie Gray coming to our school ( Allerton High ) in the late 70s and giving a talk from the stage in the school hall. I can't really remember what he talked about now, but I think it was some kind of motivational talk - work hard to achieve your goals in life etc.

Also, Paul Madeley had a shop about half a mile away from where my parents were living on the Harrogate Road. It was a sports shop, and I remember when I was about 18 going in to look for some trainers, and ended up having a long chat wih him about the 1982 World Cup which was going on back then. He made the time to chat to me ( there was nobody else in the shop ) and I remember that he was polite and unassuming - a real gentleman. He and his brother had a chain of DIY stores throughout Leeds, and they were always advertising on Yorkshire TV I seem to remember.

Then there was Paul Reaney, who was a patient at my father's dental practice for quite a few years. My mother was a receptionist there for a time, and I remember she would remark on how he was always cracking jokes - she thought he was ' a real character. '