Leeds United History

Football was late to take a foothold in the City of Leeds and even when it finally did it had a troubled start. Leeds gained its first ever professional football club when Leeds City were elected to the Football League in May 1905 but their reign wasn’t to last long as they were thrown out of the league and disbanded following illegal payments made to players during the second world war.

Only hours after the famous Leeds City auction in 1919, more than 1,000 of the clubs supporters gathered at the Salem Hall in Hunslet where a new professional club, called Leeds United, would be formed. Things gained momentum when the new club was invited to join the Midland League where they took over the place vacated by Leeds City reserves. Leeds United joined the Football League on 31st May 1920.

And so began the 100 year history of our great club, promotions, relegations, one League Cup, one FA Cup and three league titles. Read more in our timeline of Leeds United…

1877

FOOTBALL IN A STUBBORN YORKSHIRE ROSE

Football came late to the city of Leeds, indeed to the county of West Yorkshire as a whole. There was a great deal of suspicion about the round ball game in the industrial city of Leeds, it’s inhabitants much preferred the tougher, more skilful code of rugby football. The first game of rugby in Leeds was recorded in 1864 and Leeds had grown to play host to an abundance of rugby football clubs who were members of the Yorkshire Rugby Football Union.

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1904

THE LEEDS CITY STORY: PROFESSIONALISM & SCANDAL

Leeds gained its first ever professional football club when Leeds City were elected to the Football League in May 1905. Leeds City also had a permanent home, Elland Road, thanks to the contributions of Norris Hepworth who was also elected Chairman. Lack of a permanent home had led to the demise of Hunslet FC three years earlier, the same mistake would not be made again. A new grandstand is built on the Elland Road side of the pitch, banked terraces erected surrounding the other sides of the pitch with a capacity of 22,000. The team word the blue and gold, the cities sporting colours, the team become known as the Peacocks due to the proximity of the two pubs, The Old Peacock and the New Peacock Inn.

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1919

A PEACOCK FROM THE FLAMES: THE BIRTH OF LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Only hours after the famous Leeds City auction at the Hotel Metropole, more than 1,000 of the clubs shocked supporters turned up at the Salem Hall in Hunslet to try and salvage something from a truly disastrous day. 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. 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.

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1939

THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES: FOOTBALL DURING THE WAR

On 8 September 1939, following the outbreak of war, the Football Association declared that all football was suspended as a ban on the assembly of crowds was imposed and the contracts of all players suspended. Many players were liable for conscription under the National Service Bill which enabled the call up of men between the ages of 18 and 41. The Players Union gave permission for players to participate in games should the FA decide to re-introduce them. Friendlies were played and gradually Regional Leagues were set up.

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1963

TWELVE AT THE TOP, THE REVIE ERA

Refer to it however you wish ‘The Glory Years’ or ‘The Revie Era’ but in the period between 1963 and 1975 Leeds United were one of the best teams in the country. Twelve at the Top by Colin S Jeffrey is the story in words and pictures of Leeds United’s greatest years. Originally published as a booklet in 1977 and later at csjtwelveatthetop.co.uk this fantastic site has sadly disappeared from the internet. We re-publish here to preserve this fantastic telling of our clubs glory years and to bring the story to a new audience.

1963-64 | 1964-65 | 1965-66 | 1966-67 | 1967-68 | 1968-69

1969-70 | 1970-71 | 1971-72 | 1972-73 | 1973-74 | 1974-75

1992

THE LAST CHAMPIONS

Howard Wilkinson’s arrival at Leeds United on 10th October 1988 was a total surprise as Leeds were next to the bottom of the Second Division, while Sheffield Wednesday were in the top half of the First Division. To lure a Manager of Wilkinson’s undoubted ability on a four year contract was a major coup for the club. When Wilkinson arrived United were a precarious 23rd with just 6 points to show for their 9 games played. League survival was the priority and a steady accumulation of points saw United safe long before the season’s end. Wilko now started to look to the future and began his team-building in earnest.

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