Don Revie: Always Remembered, Never Forgotten
A look back at the career of the club's greatest manager
Tuesday 26th May marks the 31st anniversary of the passing of our greatest ever manager, Don Revie. He sadly lost his battle against motor neurone disease in 1989 at the age of 61.
Revie had initially arrived at Leeds United from Sunderland in 1958. The Middlesbrough born striker had two years earlier helped Manchester City lift the FA Cup and also won six caps for England, scoring four times. He was also named the 1954/55 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Joining Leeds at the age of 31, Revie made his playing debut on Saturday 29th November 1958 in a 3-2 victory over Newcastle United at Elland Road. He scored the first of 12 goals against Preston North End at Deepdale on Saturday 17th January 1959.
The following season, Revie featured 35 times, scoring seven goals, but he couldn’t help Leeds from suffering relegation to the Second Division, missing out on safety by one point. With Leeds struggling in the lower realms second tier, Jack Taylor resigned as manager and Revie was named as his successor. Despite a losing start at Portsmouth, Revie’s Leeds ended the campaign in 14th place, five points clear of relegation.
Leeds struggled during Revie’s first full season in charge, finishing 19th in the Second Division (W12, D12, L18), surviving by just three points. Revie signed Bobby Collins from Division One side Everton in March 1962, whom he later described as his “best ever signing”. Leeds, who were bottom of the table prior to his arrival, lost just one of the final 11 league games. Despite Leeds’ lowly position, Revie was given time to rebuild the club and developed a youth policy, which would prove to have great results in the future. Revie also changed Leeds United’s kit, to the current all white strip the club wears today, as he wanted to emulate Spanish side Real Madrid.
The 1962/63 campaign saw Leeds improve, with Revie building a team around Collins, Jack Charlton in defence and a young Billy Bremner. Youngsters Norman Hunter, Albert Johanneson, Paul Reaney and Gary Sprake were also integrated into the side. Leeds improved massively, finished in fifth place in the league (W19, D10, L13), with things on the up.
Johnny Giles was the latest recruit for Leeds ahead of the 1963/64 season as Revie guided Leeds back to the top flight. Leeds finished as champions of the Second Division for the second time in the club’s history at the end of the 1963/64 campaign (W25, D15, L3), with Revie earning his first piece of silverware as a manager.
Few changes were made to the playing side upon promotion and Leeds made an instant impact, finishing as runners up in the First Division (W26, D9, L7) in the 1964/65 campaign, missing out on the title only on goal difference to Manchester United. Revie also led Leeds to a first FA Cup final in 1965, with Leeds suffering defeat against Liverpool.
Revie had managed to secure the services of two of Scotland’s brightest talents in Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer, with the latter becoming integrated into the side throughout the 1965/66 campaign. Once again Leeds finished as runners-up in the top flight (W23, D9, L10) and also reached the semi-final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Revie continued with his youth policy, with Mick Bates, Gray and Paul Madeley all going on to feature for the first team. Leeds finished fourth in 1966/67 (W22, D11, L9) and made reached the final of European competition for the first time in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, but were defeat 2-0 over the two legs by Dinamo Zagreb.
Revie bolstered his attacking line in September 1967 with the arrival of Mick Jones from Sheffield United and then guided the club to a first major honour in 1968. Arsenal were defeated 1-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley, courtesy of Cooper’s goal. Leeds also went on to lift the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, defeating Ferencvaros 1-0 over two legs, with Jones’ goal proving the difference.
Success continued as Revie led Leeds to the First Division title for the first time in 1969 (W27, D13, L2). Leeds rewrote the record books, picking up the biggest points tally in a league campaign. Giles’ goal against Nottingham Forest on the final day of the season saw Leeds reach a points total of 67, eclipsing the previous record of 66 set by Tottenham Hotspur.
Allan Clarke arrived at Leeds in 1969 for a fee of £165,000, with Revie now having an attacking line of Gray, Jones, Clarke and Lorimer- one of the most feared in Europe. The season began with Gray and Charlton netting against Manchester City to secure the Charity Shield. Leeds went on to reach the semi-final of the European Cup, losing to Celtic over two legs and also reached the FA Cup final for a second time, defeated by Chelsea in a replay. Leeds also finished as runners-up in the league to Everton.
Revie oversaw Leeds to second place finishes in the league in the 1970/71 campaign (W27, D10, L5) and 1971/72 (W24, D9, L9) with Leeds missing out by a point to winners Arsenal and Derby County in both seasons. In 1971, Revie guided Leeds to a second success in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup with Juventus beaten on away goals following a 3-3 draw over two legs. Clarke’s goal also secured Leeds the FA Cup in 1972 as Arsenal were defeated 1-0, completing a domestic set for Revie and the majority of the squad he had assembled.
Leeds finished third in 1972/73 (W21, D11, L10) and again reached the FA Cup final, but were defeated by Sunderland. The Whites also controversially lost the European Cup Winners' Cup final to AC Milan.
The 1973/74 season would prove to be Revie’s last season in charge at Elland Road and he went out with a bang, as Leeds were crowned First Division Champions for a second time (W24, D14, L4) and set a new Football League record of 29 games undefeated at the start of a campaign. Revie was then appointed England manager.
No manager to date has repeated the feat of Revie at Leeds. A statue of the great man stands outside the East Stand at Elland Road, whilst the Kop is also named in his honour.