The Birth of Leeds United

Only hours after the famous Leeds City auction at the Hotel Metropole, more than 1,000 of the club's shocked supporters turned up at the Salem Hall in Hunslet to try and salvage something from a truly disastrous day. Leeds solicitor Alf Masser was elected to chair the meeting and a proposal that a new professional club be formed was unanimously carried and a supporters' club formed. It was agreed that a seven-man committee should run the club. It comprised Masser, Joe Henry junior (son of the Lord Mayor of Leeds who had worked so hard to save City), Mark Barker, R.E.H.Ramsden, Charles Snape and former players Dick Ray and Charles Morgan.

Things gained momentum when the new club, called Leeds United, was invited to join the Midland League where they took over the place vacated by Leeds City Reserves. Yorkshire Amateurs, who now occupied Elland Road, graciously offered to make way for the newly-formed United. Dick Ray was appointed manager and the committee chipped in with money to help meet the club's expenses. Advertisements asking for players were placed in the Athletic News and local newspapers.

All this activity was watched with great interest by Huddersfield Town's wealthy chairman, Mr Hilton Crowther. Disillusioned by the lack of support in Huddersfield, where the sports-loving public preferred to watch the local rugby team at Fartown rather than the Terriers, Crowther offered to take his team 'lock, stock and barrel' to play at Leeds.

Crowther proposed that Second Division Huddersfield would play all their remaining fixtures that season at Elland Road. His idea won the blessing of the Huddersfield players, and talks were opened with the United committee. Part of the debate centred on whether the club should be called Leeds United or Leeds Trinity. The Football League studied the proposals and gave Town until 31 December to find £25,000 to pay-off Crowther or move its operation to Elland Road.



Leeds United's first ever game was against Yorkshire Amateurs on 17th November 1919. They won 5-1


Faced with the prospect of losing their town's soccer team, Huddersfield supporters stirred themselves and got behind the Terriers whose playing fortunes began to improve. Attendances had increased at Huddersfield's Leeds Road ground but only £8,000 had been raised to pay off Crowther. Complicated legal problems also dogged the proposals and as Town continued to improve and their support swelled, the scheme eventually fell through.

Crowther, however, decided that his future still lay at Elland Road. He loaned United £35,000, to be repaid when Leeds won promotion to Division One, and gave the new club his full backing. He wasted no time in bringing Barnsley's successful manager, Arthur Fairclough, to Leeds and on 26 February 1920, Ray stepped down to become Fairclough's assistant. Dick Murrell was recruited as trainer and Albert Stead as assistant trainer and groundsman. Crowther, now chairman of the Leeds United board, was supported by fellow directors Alf Masser, Mark Barker, Kaye Aspinall and William Platts.

On 31 May 1920, Leeds United were elected to the Football League. They polled 31 votes and stepped into the Second Division along with Cardiff City, who won 23 votes. There was a touch of irony when the 1920-21 fixtures were published and United found their first-ever Football League match would be at Port Vale, the club who took over Leeds City's fixtures after expulsion.



Leeds United 1919, Including Billy George Birds, E Rodgers, Elija Rounds, John Parsons, John Tate, Herbert Dodsworth, George Mason, Matt Ellson, George Moiser, Ernest Batley, Bernard Williams

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