1890-95

1890-95

(under the auspices of the Rugby Union)

The Leeds team which defeated Manningham in the first game on the Headingley grounds was as follows: F. T. Wilkinson; Southall, M. Fletcher, T. Summersgill; B. B. Burrell, H. Field; E. G.Load (Captain), J. Broadbent, G. Fowler, E. Hudson, G. Hoyle, G. B. Naylor, C. T. Sumner, S. Todd, J. Wood. Although the team won its first five matches the players did not live up to their early promise for they ended the season with more defeats than victories and failed to get beyond the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup.

Season 1891-2 was very much better. Losing only six matches in all Leeds reached the final of the Yorkshire Cup. They took a strong side to Huddersfield to meet Hunslet, the other finalists: F. T. Wilkinson; R. Place, T. Summersgill, B. Walker; J. H. Potter, T. Watts; W. Donaldson, W.Lorriman, E. Hudson, G. B. Naylor, M. Fletcher, T. Cousins, J. P. Munro, W. Watson and J. Lewthwaite. J. H. Potter, who had played in the St. John's Cup Final in 1887, was the only remaining link between the two cup teams. Hunslet, thanks to the Goldthorpes, ran out comfortable winners by 21 points to nil.

That season J. H. Potter set up a club record by kicking twelve goals in one match. It has since been equalled, but never surpassed. Potter, incidentally was at this time the heaviest man in the team, weighing 13 stones 9 Ibs., and a rare half-back he made. But the side was good all round as may be gathered from its scoring strength: Place had 24 tries that season, while Benny Walker, the other winger, had 13; Tommy Summersgill, the centre, had 22, and Potter 13.

It was the best season Leeds had in the Rugby Union. In their three remaining seasons as an amateur club they never got beyond the second round of the County Cup, but it is worth noting that except for the season in which they were finalists, all the finals were played at Headingley:

Attendance Receipts
April 11th 1891 Pontefract 3 Wakefield T. 3 17,720 £889
22nd 1893 Halifax 8 Batley 2 17,288 £820
21st 1894 Halifax 38 Castleford 6 16,093 £723
20th 1895 Brighthouse 16 Morley 4 14,038 £639

The biggest attendance at Headingley for a Rugby Union match was that for the 3rd Round Cup Tie with Halifax on April 2nd, 1892: 27,654

1896-97

1896-97

There were no major changes in the constitution of the Northern Union for this season, but the Yorkshire section was increased through the admission of Bramley, Castleford, Heckmondwlke,Holbeck, and leeds Parish Church. There was, too, an innovation in the promotion of the first Northern Union Challenge Cup Competition.

Several players left Headingley to join the Leeds Parish Church team, and other clubs, but there were compensating additions to the playing strength: l. Carys, B. Davies, J. Dyer, W. Glover, F. Greenwood, J. W. Jagger, A. Keech, F. Lumley, J. Lumley, T. Pickford, G. Riley, J. Thorpe, E. Tree, G. G. Woolley and W. S. Woolley. Bur only four of these new players really established themselves and made more than fifty first team appearances during their careers at Headingley: J. W. Jagger, centre; J. Lumley, winger; W. Glover and B. Davies in the forwards.

The team made a promising start to 'the season losing only one of the first six matches, and there were hopes of a very successful campaign, but from mid-October until the end of the year there was a complete reversal of form so that only one match out of twelve resulted in victory. Consequently, at the turn of the year the team was completely out of the running in the league competitions. We were soon eliminated from the Cup Competition, too, losing at Tyldesley after a long and fatiguing journey, but there was some consolation in the fact that the Leeds Club had the privilege of staging the first Northern Union Challenge Cup Final. Almost fourteen thousand spectators assembled to witness Batley's victory over St. Helens by 10 points to 3.

It is interesting to read of the Committee's efforts to arrange matches to be played under artificial lighting. Leeds Parish Church, and later Holbeck, were invited to take part but negotiations fell through, and the Committee, who planned to use Well's lights, deferred the matter for a time.

The Association Football Section did not use the Headingley Grounds during this season, the Directors having secured a lease on the Meanwood Road Ground. Unfortunately after a considerable sum had been expended in improving this new site, the tenancy had now expired, as a third of the area was to be used for the erection of Public Baths. Under the terms of the lease the Company received £200 as compensation.

The Report issued at the Annual Meeting, held at the Pavilion in May, 1897, revealed that there had been an increase of 2-40 members, with a corresponding increase in the average attendance, and a profit of £39 on the season's work. In commenting on the Balance Sheet, Mr. H. Knaggs, the Secretary, drew attention to the remarkable trend in regard to payment for" broken time": "Two years ago under amateur auspices this item stood at £988; last year, the first under the Northern Union auspices, it was reduced to £694, and this year it is down to £553."

Whilst the members present at the Annual Meeting were reasonably satisfied with the financial aspect of the Football. Club, several of them expressed intense dissatisfaction with the playing record contending that the time had come for the Committee to search through the length and breadth of the country for ". star" players as other clubs had already done. It was pointed out, in reply, that the Northern Union rules relating to professionalism were most definite: that professionalism was illegal, that a professional was one who received any money consideration whatever for services rendered to his club, and that the maximum payment for bona-fide broken time was six shillings per day.

1896-97

1896-97

This season saw the introduction of far reaching alterations to the laws of the Game, which further widened the breach between the Northern Union and the Rugby Union.

At the Annual Meeting of the Northern Union, which was held at Huddersfield on July 20th, it was decided to amend the scoring rule and to abolish the line-out. Under the new scoring system two points were awarded for every type of goal, and three points for every try irrespective of conversions. The abolition of the line-out obviously called for some new means of bringing the ball back into play from touch, and it was decided that a player of the side who hade been entitled to the" throwin" under the old rule should now be allowed to kick the ball in from touch in any direction, providing only that the ball did not alight behind his own goal line. The effect of this amendment was to reduce the number of loose mauls and scrummages, but it did at the same time, reduce the amount of running and handling, thereby detracting from the game as a spectacle.

At this same Annual Meeting it was suggested that two referees, without the assistance of touch judges, would be able to control the game more efficiently. This system of control was put to the test in the Lancashire County Trial Match and found to be impracticable, although improvements In the scrummaging were apparent.

Leeds opened the season in splendid style, losing only one of their first five matches. Indeed, the convincing and totally unexpected victory over the traditionally strong Liversedge team on October 2nd, suggested that Leeds were going to become a real power in the game. From that date, however, wins and losses alternated to the end of the season, so that once again we had to settle for a place in the middle of the table.

Called upon to visit Oldham in the 1st Round of the Northern Union Cup Competition, Leeds had apparently little chance of success as the Lancashire team had a splendid record. Our players were, nevertheless, undismayed and only just went down by 8 points to 3 after a gallant display. The playing record must have been extremely disappointing to the Committee who had made strenuous efforts to improve the team, introducing no less than twelve new players: W. Allison, H. Emmerson, W. J. Fothergill, J. Hayton, J. Hugginson, W. Jackson, J. Major, T. Mardy, T. Myland, S. Richardson, A. Sowden and G. H. West. The Committee had endeavoured to strengthen the back division, but the noticeable improvement in this department was nullified by a degeneracy in the work of the pack which had been the strongest section of the team during the previous two or three years.

Headingley was again chosen as the venue for the Cup Final. A record crowd of 28,000 witnessed a thrilling match in which Batley retained the Cup for a further year, defeating Bradford by seven points to nil.

The Association Football section, which had again shared in the use of the football ground; was discontinued at the end of the season owing to lack of support. As it became increasingly apparent that the laws relating to professionalism were being evaded in certain circles, a special sub-committee was appointed to study the problem. The recommendations of that committee were approved at a Special General Meeting held in February 1898, and adopted at the Annual General Meeting some five months later.

Professionalism was now legalised, but there were certain provisos; all professional players had to be registered, they had to follow legitimate full-time employment, and were to be paid on a match basis, receiving no retaining fee during the close season. The adoption of professionalism completely severed the last remaining link with the Rugby Union game, whose players. however, were now to .. turn" to the Northern Union game in increasing numbers.

1898-99

1898-99

It has been well said that" hope springs eternal in the human breast", and it is therefore no doubt equally true to say that the Leeds Committee, players and supporters looked forward with keen enthusiasm to the commencement of this season in spite of all the disappointments of the previous campaign. That being so one can well imagine the feelings of bitter frustration when the team opened the season with defeats at the hands of Brighouse Rangers and Holbeck. This was particularly disquieting as much had been expected from six new players who had made their first appearance in Leeds colours: H. Cole and R. Batchelor, centres; G. Grace, half back; H. Blackburn, H. Moon and F. Mylan in the forwards. The Committee acted ruthlessly in selecting the team for the following match, against Bramley, J. Lumley being the only survivor of the three-quarter line, and yet another three new players being introduced: A. Harrison, winger; E. Pearson and J. Quinn, forwards. A victory by the narrow margin of seven points to three resulted, Lumley justifying the faith of the selectors with a typical try whilst Grace and Pearson each contributed a goal. An unchanged team met with defeat at Headingley a week later, Leeds Parish Church, with G. Mosley as arch-schemer, proving to be much superior in all departments. This defeat was followed by three more in quick succession, so that on October 8th, when Hunslet won at Headingley by nine points to two, with Albert Goldthorpe contributing one of those dropped goals for which he was to become famous, Leeds had the unenviable record of having gained only one victory out of their first seven engagements. The tide turned a week later at Halifax where a hard fought victory by three points to nil, provided the tonic which the players so badly needed. Only Batley, and that at Mount Pleasant, were able to lower the Leeds colours in the following eight weeks, by which time the playing record had Improved out of all recognition. But the Christmas matches proved the turning point, a defeat at Holbeck on Christmas Eve commencing anotherdisastrous spell in which only four victories resulted from the last thirteen matches. There was some consolation in our performance in the Northern Union Cup Competition. A comfortable 1st Round victory over Rochdale Rangers, was followed by a visit from Wigan. This clash with the Lancastrians was spoilt through adverse weather, rain and sleet combining to make ground conditions treacherous, thus reducing scoring to a minimum. Leeds won through by three points to nil, Gregg scoring a try as a result of good work by Jagger and W. Glover. The 3rd Round draw called for a trip to Widnes, where Leeds were very unfortunate to lose. Leading by eight points to nil at half time, they had to face a strong wind in the second half, but they defended bravely and still held a lead of eight points to five in the closing stages. They were, however, foiled by goal kicks in the last few minutes, Bown dropping two goals and Baty placing a penalty. As Hunslet were one of the teams concerned, the Cup Final could not be staged at Headingley, the Fallowfield ground, Manchester, being chosen as the venue. Oldham were the Cup winners. Fifteen new players had been introduced during this most unsatisfactory campaign, others in addition to those already quoted being, D. Rogan, J. Barker, W. Scott, W. Stead, P. Connor, J. Renton. Unfortunately the efforts of the Committee to strengthen the side were hardly successful as apart from G. Grace and H. Moon those recruits were to have only relatively short careers at Headingley, failing to establish themselves as regular first team players.

1899-1900

1899-1900

To say that little success attended the team's efforts during the season Is almost an understatement. They could hardly have fared worse.

Indeed, as a result of the defeat at Brighouse on February 20th, at which stage only three matches had been won out of the twenty-five played, the team were in danger of finishing at the bottom of the table. Fortunately the players rallied strongly during the last two weeks of the league programme, winning four matches out of five, and thus escaped the indignity of having to playa" test match against the winners of the Second Competition.

The last match of the season was the 1st Round Northern Union Cup-tie at Normanton, where the following Leeds team met with defeat by five points to nil: Jagger; Lumley, Summersgill, Connor, Willey; Hallas, Jackson; Gregg, W. Glover, G. Glover, Allison, Westmoreland, Moon, Fothergill, Walker.

One remarkable feature of the season's work is the fact that more than fifty players were called upon for first-team duty, and as no fewer than twenty-eight of those players were making their first appearance in the Leeds jersey, there is probably little need to look further for the causes of failure. In addition to Tommy Summersgill, who made a welcome re-appearance from retirement, Leeds introduced: G. Allinson, A. Bentley, G. E. Biltcliffe, E. Biltcliffe, W. Bromley, W. Bryan, W. Bullock, G. H. Buttery, J. Collins, I. Crane, F. Daltry, W. Davies, J. Eddison, H. Glover, A. Hall, E. Hallas, J. H. Hartley, J. W. Hunt, A. Lee, J. W. Lister, J. H. Roberts, E. Tottle, J. W. Turner, J. C. Waite, F. Walker, R. Watson, W. Westmoreland, T. Wright. Unfortunately, as in the previous year, few of these players" made the grade" and the Committee were almost as far off as ever they were in their efforts to build a powerful combination. They might well have wondered how things would have turned out if brothers W. and C. Usher, of Cardiff, had honoured their agreement and come North to play against Batley in the opening match of the season.

At the Annual General Meeting held at the end of the season it was reported that the Football section had sustained a loss of almost £430, and that the average attendances were down to 3,500. The Chairman had to face a great deal of criticism, but he analysed the position most carefully, pointing out that in assessing the playing strength of the club, and the support given by the public, it must be borne in mind that four other teams in the Leeds area were taking part in the same competition: Bramley, Hunslet, Holbeck and Leeds Parish Church, none of which had met with any real success, though Bramley had easily the best playing record. It was, therefore, apparent that it would be better for all concerned if there were only three clubs in Leeds in membership with the Northern Union.

1900-01

1900-01

This was almost a case of" as you were", the playing record being identical with that of the previous season apart from the points scored" for" and" against".

On this occasion, however, the team did start on the winning track, gaining a splendid victory over Castleford at Headingley by 29 points to nil. There was general satisfaction with the performances of five new players: T. Coleman, from Leigh, and C. Law, centres; H. Varley, the International half-back from Oldham; A. Laycock and S. Malins, two Gildersome players. in the forwards.

But the rejoicing was short lived. By the turn of the year only three more victories had been gained out of eighteen matches, and the team was once again languishing near the foot of the table.

The first match of the new century did provide a real tonic, with a win over Hull Kingston Rovers at Headingley. In this match, too, the Committee introduced a promising young centre, R. Ward, of Pontefract.

The next game brought tragedy, the defeat suffered at Holbeck being of very small consequence compared to the injury sustained by Jimmy Lumley. Falling awkwardly in a tackle his right leg was fractured. This regrettable accident brought to an untimely end the career of a very accomplished and popular player. Lumley had made I 13 appearances, scoring thirty-six tries and thirty-two goals. A special match arranged for his benefit at the end of the season was controlled by two referees and two touch judges, but the experiment was a failure.

The League programme ended as it began with far more defeats than victories, so that we finished fourth from the bottom of the table, and the Cup competition brought no solace as Warrington completely outplayed a weakened Leeds team in the 1st Round. The Lancastrians were a powerful combination and they returned to Headingley eight weeks later to meet the challenge of Batley in the Cup Final. A record crowd of almost 30,000 thronged into the ground to see the Gallant Youths make their third Cup victory in five years.

The Football Committee had made strenuous efforts to achieve a successful team. In addition to those already quoted they had introduced: W. Bogg, F. Chadwick, J. Coleman, C. Crowther, H. Day, T. Hanson, E. T. Harrison, H. Horner, J. W. Phillips, T. M. Phillips, A. J. Ross and T. Taylor. They had, further, made several excursions into Wales and Southern England in attempts to secure" star" players, such as Pritchard, of Newport, Vivyan, Gould and Jenkins, of Devonport Albion, but they were unable to persuade these players to throw in their lot with the club.

Immediately the season ended the Committee set about the task of restoring the fortunes of the team with renewed vigour, and were soon on the track of two players who were to give good service: H. Littlewood, centre, from Lofthouse, and J. Dean, full back, from Shipley. But while the" scouting went on at full speed, there were other developments which were to have a vital bearing on the future.

1901-02

1901-02

At the Annual Meeting of the Northern Union a number of the leading Yorkshire and Lancashire clubs formed the Northern Rugby League: Batley, Bradford, Brighouse Rangers, Broughton Rangers, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull, Hunslet, Leigh, Oldham, Runcorn, Salford, Swinton and Warrington.

Those clubs which had been excluded, particularly founder members such as Leeds, were naturally indignant, but they took immediate steps to join the County Senior Competitions. The Leeds Parish Church team fell by the wayside, however, the decision being taken to disband.

That decision completely transformed the situation at Headingley. The Parish Church Committee generously placed the whole of their playing staff at the disposal of the Leeds Club who welcomed the incomparable George Mosley and seven of his colleagues: J. W. Birch. W. Corcoran. C. Crumpton, W. Evans, S. Harberts, G. Hewlett, J. McNicholas. These players did more than merely join the Leeds club, they gave to it all their loyalty. skill and spirit. Six of them gave exceptional service:

Appearances Tries Goals Points
J. W . Birch 232 26 1 80
C. Crumpton 99 2 6
W. Evans 123 65 195
G. Hewlett 150 13 41
G. Mosey 110 11 41 115
J. McNicholas 58 1 1 5

The Committee now had a wealth of talent at their disposal as. in addition to completing negotiations with Dean and Littlewood and re-signing G. Grace, they had also engaged several other new players: T. Midgley, of Liversedge; F. Mudd, of Hunslet; J. Morton of Shipley; T. D. Davies. Of Oldham; and H. Walker. Littlewood and Davies were to prove extremely valuable acquisitions, whilst Grace and Mosley became ideally suited as half-back partners.

The season opened amidst tremendous enthusiasm and the team immediately revealed its great possibilities in the first game, which resulted in a comfortable victory over Wakefield Trinity at Headingley. Two matches out of the next six were lost but by the end of October the players had welded into a powerful combination. and they went through their remaining League programme, consisting of nineteen matches, without defeat. Only Heckmondwike succeeded in taking a point from them during this period, in which the pack had been further strengthened through the addition of J. G. Moffatt, from Oldham. Such a run of success naturally gave the team an unassailable position at the head of the table. with the following magnificent record:

Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against
26 22 2 2 317 63

When Otley and Windhill had been disposed of in the opening rounds of the Cup Competition there was talk of" doing the double" but Huddersfield, with home conditions, proved much too strong. The Leeds team were delayed en route to Fartown owing to a railway mishap, and the game started long after the scheduled time. History was to repeat itself some eight years later!! The teams which did duty in this match were as follows: Leeds-Dean; Evans, Davies. Herberts, T. Coleman; Mosley, Grace; Crumpton, Hewlett, Moffatt, McNicholas, Birch, Hanson, Taylor, Midgley.

Huddersfield-Readyhough; Deere, Larard, Rawnsley, Kitchen; Marsden, Dewhirst; Sutcliffe. Chambers, Conley, Dawson, Knight, Driver, Naylor, Littlewood.

Leeds wound up this memorable season as real" Champions" by defeating" The Rest" at Headingley in a challenge match by seven points to five. At a reception which was held after this game, the Yorkshire Senior Competition Shield was presented to the Captain. George Mosley. The Shield.the first trophy ever to come to Headingley, was a fitting reward for all those who had been associated with the Club from the early days: those who had been called upon to face all the vicissitudes and disappointments as Committee members, and those who had worn the jersey with distinction and patience.

The secrets of this successful campaign are not hard to find: clever half-backs proved the almost perfect link between a determined, resolute pack and a clever three-quarter line; and, equally important, the team were given every opportunity to blend as the selectors called on only twenty-seven players during the season.

1902-03

1902-03

This was a critical season for the Leeds Club. The Northern Union had now decided in favour of having two divisions of eighteen clubs each, and there was a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the Leeds members when it was learned that the Club would only be re-admitted to the Northern Union conditional upon joining the 2nd division. The team, however, rose to the occasion in fine style and solved all the worries and anxieties of the management and supporters. Their fine league record enabled them to finish as runners-up to Keighley and assured them of promotion into the 1st Division for the following season.

The players also showed commendable determination and spirit in the Northern Union Cup Competition. Drawn to play away from home on each occasion they gained splendid victories at Dewsbury and Wakefield, but finally went down to Hunslet at Parkside. The latter game attracted an enormous crowd, a crowd which exceeded all expectations and burst through several barriers on to the playing area.

There was a loss of £794 on the season's work, but it must be borne in mind that there had been some major expenditure in laying the foundations of the first big Leeds professional side. W. Evans had been joined by T. Llewellyn and J. P. Jenkins. This Welsh trio scored 67 tries in this promotion campaign and were obviously developing a good understanding with those two stalwarts at half back, G. Mosley and G. Grace. Another addition to the backs was Bob Ward, who had made five appearances in 1900-01 and had then returned to the Pontefract Club. He was now to establish himself at Headingley and to become a popular figure for over eight seasons. The pack, too, was greatly strengthened through the acquisition of E. Barnett, W. Woolf, J. W. Stead, from Broughton Rangers, and Fred Webster. Making his first appearance in the Leeds jersey on the eve of his twentieth birthday, Webster was to put in 543 appearances and was to be in his thirty-eighth year before he retired from the Headingley arena. A wonderful record! !

It is rather remarkable that the last match of the season, versus Wakefield Trinity on April 27th a match which followed a run of 13 Leeds victories in 14games-should draw the lowest recorded gate at Headingley: £5-9s. paid by 712 enthusiasts. This was in a season when the attendances averaged 5,500.

A peculiar situation arose on the eve of the opening match of the season, as the following press report indicates: .. "

The Management of the Leeds Club found themselves in a very awkward dilemma on Friday night, the blame for which presumably attaches to the Officials of the Northern League. It appears that according to a rule of that body, the existence of which was unknown to the Leeds officials, new players are required to sign a special form before they are allowed to play with the club of their choice. The rule was never brought to the notice of the Leeds club on joining the League, and they were not supplied with the necessary forms for that purpose. Only on Friday night, less than twenty-four hours before the first match of the season, against Morecambe at Headingley, did the Leeds officials learn of the requirements of the League. It was then too late to send to Mr. Platt, of Oldham, for a supply of forms but fortunately the Headingley people were able to borrow some from the Hunslet club. These were signed either that night or on Saturday morning by J. P. Jenkins, T. Llewellyn and E. Barnett, the three Welshmen who have recently joined the Club, but F. Webster, the recruit from Brotherton, was not of course in the city at the time and the club were unable to obtain his signature. A courier had to be despatched to Oldham on Saturday morning with the signed forms for Mr. Platt's inspection, and not until noon, when a telegram arrived at Headingley to say that the forms were in order, was it known that the Welshmen could play. Webster, who had not signed the necessary form, was unable to play. There was one other hitch: the seven new players who should have turned out for the Leeds" A " team against Saville Green, on the latter's ground, were also ineligible and the game had to be cancelled."

1903-04

1903-04

Promotion into the First Division led, quite naturally, to greatly increased support, and the membership rose from 657 to 2,267. This was very encouraging to the management who were able to point at the end of the year to a profit of £773. This was the first time the accounts had been on the right side since 1897-98.

When the Annual meeting of the Northern Union clubs was held at Huddersfield on July '4th, some eight weeks before the commencement of the season, the delegates voted strongly in favour of a proposal that the Rugby game should be played by twelve players on each side. Indeed, the "ayes" had it by 54 votes to 24, but the necessary three-fourths majority was not obtained and the reformers had to yield to the minority. This question of minority rule was to be the stumbling block to many other reforms half a century later.

The League programme opened with an away defeat at the hands of Broughton Rangers, but a grand crowd assembled at Headingley a week later to witness the match with Hunslet. Leeds had to take the field without their crack three-quarters, T. Llewellyn and T. D. Davies, but they succeeded in holding their rivals to a pointless first half. Shortly after the interval J. W. Stead had to retire through injury, but there was still no score with only ten minutes remaining for play, and none seemed likely until Albert Goldthorpe dropped a neat goal from behind the serum. That goal rattled Leeds and inspired Hunslet who then scored tries through H. Whiteley and Hannah in the closing minutes. The teams which did duty rouse many memories: Leeds-Farrimond; Evans, Smithson, Mosley, Jenkins; Grace, Ward; Moffatt, Woolf, Webster, Moon, Stead, Hewlett, Crumpton, McNicholas. Hunslet-Place; J. Whiteley, H. Whiteley, W. Goldthorpe, Hannah; A. Goldthorpe, Jackson; Shooter, Wilson, Glew, Walsh, Uttley, Hopkinson, Brook, Wray.

Following this disappointing start to the season there was much destructive criticism, but the team rallied well and as a result of losing only three out of their next twenty-three matches they were making a bid for Championship honours when the Cup Ties started in March.

A weakened Leeds team (T. D. Davies, Moffatt, and Evans were absentees) gained a fine away victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in the Ist Round, the only try of the match being scored by G. W. Andrew, a winger who had made only very rare appearances in the two previous seasons. When Keighley were decisively beaten at Headingley in the 2nd Round there were high hopes of the team finishing the season in a blaze of glory, but April brought frustration. On" All Fools' Day" our Championship aspirations were negatived by a narrow defeat at Hull, and the following day Halifax ended our run in the Cup competition after a closely fought game at Thrum Hall. Halifax were, of course, the Cup holders and they went on to retain the Cup for another year.

This was, however, a highly successful campaign and the team fully merited the fifth position in the final League table.

Many new players were introduced: J. Farrimond, full back, from Birkenhead; F. Wormald, forward, from Oldham; E. Watts, forward, the ex-Millom captain; J. A. Naylor, winger, from Idle; W. D. Llewellyn, centre or wing, from Whitchurch; G. Mennell, forward; H. Smithson, centre; T. Waite, winger; E. Holder, full back.

It is interesting to note that R. Ward and J. P. Jenkins had to serve periods of suspension as they were deemed to have violated the" employment clause ", the Professional Sub-Committee ruling that these players were not in bona-fide employment.

The Cup Final, between Halifax and Warrington, was played at Salford and attracted only 17,500 spectators, thus increasing the outstanding claims of Headingley as the best centre for all big match occasions. Indeed the attendances and receipts at each final since the institution of the Northern Union Cup Competition afforded eloquent testimony to the superiority of Headingley.

1904-05

1904-05

This was another successful year: the team gained fourth place in the First Division, there as a slight increase in the membership to 2,335, the average attendance was 9,022, and there was a profit on the season's work of £151.

With the pre-season signing of Phil Thomas, the Oldham centre, at a fee of £250, the strength of the Leeds back division was the envy of many other clubs: H. Littlewood, T. Llewellyn, P. Thomas,W. Evans, W. D. Llewellyn, J. P. Jenkins, G. Mosley, R. Ward and G. Grace. Unfortunately Jenkins returned to Wales, along with Woolf, the forward, at the very commencement of the season. The acquisition of A. Brayshaw, the Bramley half-back, in December, more than compensated for Jenkins' absence and the club then possessed an attacking combination fit to rank with the very best in the game.

Other signings included: J. Clarkson and A. Murray, at full back; Ike Leonard and A. nderton, wingers; T. Bowen centre; and several forwards including W. Pickard from York, T. H. Wainwright from Bramley, A. Lunn and W. Walsh from Hunslet.

Leeds got straight on to the winning track with a home victory over Batley, but the next match at Parkside was a tough assignment. Our players put up a very fine show, however, and held an interval lead of 3 points to 2, Evans having scored a try in reply to a drop goal from Albert Goldthorpe. Within five minutes of the re-start Hunslet took the lead through an unconverted try by Everson. The game fluctuated right up to the last two minutes, and then the issue was decided in an extremely dramatic fashion. First Mosley dropped a goal to equal the scores, but immediately he had done so his team were taken completely by surprise. From Albert Goldthorpe's kick out one of the Leeds players made a poor return, and the powerful Hunslet forwards rushed the ball down field in a body, dribbled past Clarkson, and Uttley dropped on the ball to register a try, which Goldthorpe converted with the last kick of the match.

Five consecutive victories led to a rapid climb up the league table, but away defeats at Halifax and Bradford, and four more losses in December put paid to any hopes of winning the divisional championship. Reference must be made to the disgraceful exhibition at Mount Pleasant on December 31st. Before the game was a quarter of an hour old, Wormald, of Leeds, and Fozzard, of Batley, were sent off the field for fighting, and in the last ten minutes Birch, of Leeds, and Calvert, Settle and Wade of Batley, all received marching orders. This match, at which the official in charge was Mr. F. T. Rowlands of Bradford, was the subject of a special inquiry by the Management Committee.

A very comfortable victory over Ossett at Headingley in the 1st Round of the Northern Union Cup Competition resulted in a trip to Craven Street, and that was the end of the journey for Leeds. Although our defeat was by the narrow margin of three points to nil Kingston Rovers always had the game well in hand and only desperate work by the Leeds defence kept the score down. The teams were: Leeds-Littlewood; R. Ward, T. Llewellyn, P. Thomas, Naylor; Grace, Brayshaw; Webster, Lunn, Crumpton, Birch, Wormald, Moon, Wainwright, Stead. Hull K. R.-Sinclair; West, Robinson Phipps, Madley; Barry, Gordon; Starks, Kemp, Windle, Osborne, Spackman, Ellis, Townsley, Gorman.

In spite of the fact that no trophies had come to Headingley this was another satisfactory season's work, and at the Annual General Meeting of the Football Section the Chairman was most forthright in stating that" we might have held a much stronger position in the table and also done better in the Cup-ties had it not been for matters which had concerned the Committee very much during the season. The club played 36 matches, and on no fewer than 19 occasions referees from Bradford officiated." He was not casting any aspersion on any referee but he thought it was manifestly unfair for the Northern Union Committee to make them take that number. There must, he said, be some rivalry between Leeds and Bradford, and it was in the interests of football that the Bradford referees should visit Leeds far more infrequently.

1905-06

1905-06

The ever growing popularity of Association Football and the serious financial plight of many Northern Union Clubs led to a great deal of close season activity on the fart of the administrators. Eventually a bold scheme of reconstruction was proposed: the merging 0 the two divisions in.to one main league, the championship going to the club with the best percentage of points; the Institution of County Cup Competitions to be played during the first half of the season; and the continuance of the N.U. Cup Competition. The scheme failed to gain the necessary three-fourths majority, but the situation was so critical that another special meeting was convened in order to amend the bye-law, substituting "two thirds majority" for" three-fourths Of. This amendment was carried and the new scheme was then put into immediate operation.

The Headingley officials were too feel only to soon the serious effects of competition from "soccer" as this was the season in which Leeds City started their Association career. Membership dropped alarmingly from 2,335 to 535, and the average attendance from 9,022 to 5,632. This must surely have been heartbreaking to the management as the players were displaying sparkling football, and the team held third place in the League table at the end of the season. It has often been said, "Get a winning team and don't worry about support". No doubt that is normally sound, but Leeds certainly provided an exception on this occasion as the team wound up the season playing magnificent football, winning their last twelve matches, and yet the support was lacking. For all the efforts of the officials and players, there was a loss of £572 on the season's work.

There were two notable additions to the playing strength during the season: J. Hughes, winger, from Widnes, and W. F. Young, full back. Coupled with the welcome return of J. P. Jenkins there was a wealth of talent at the disposal of the selectors. Many Leeds followers think that the strength of the side of these days was greater than anything there has been at Headingley since, and there are many good judges who firmly believe that this 1906 team was the best that ever wore the Leeds jersey: Young; Jenkins, T. Llewellyn, Thomas, Hughes; Ward, Brayshaw; Hewlett, Stead, Lunn, Watts, Webster, Wainwright, Wormald, Birch. It may be that the passage of time lends enchantment, but it is certainly no exaggeration to say that manyofthe players in that team are still revered at Headingley: memory holding them dear. But, like so many Leeds teams which had gone before, and were to come after, it lacked the steadiness which must be allied to skill and strength to make greatness.

Frank "Bucket" Young certainly has a place all his own in the hearts of the old Leeds followers. He came to Leeds Simply because of the stupidity of the Welsh R.U. who suspended him sine die because he migrated to Tredegar following a disagreement with the Cardiff Club. The Leeds management acted promptly as soon as they heard from an agent that Young was willing to It turn ". A telegram was despatched asking him to come to Headingley immediately. He was interviewed on Thursday, January 27th, and Signed the following day for a fee of £70, with match terms of £2 for a win and 30/- for a draw or a loss. Within a few hours it had also been decided to transfer H. Littlewood to Dewsbury at a fee of £30. One day later Young made his debut against Bradford Northern and settled in the game as quickly as any man who ever came North. Indeed his first kick at Headingley so turned defence into attack as to enable Mosley to pave the way for a Leeds try.

Good as our League record was there was great disappointment over our showing in the Cup competitions. We had the luck of the draw, but Halifax, in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup, and Broughton Rangers, in the 2nd Round of the Northern Union Cup, scored victories at Headingley. Home defeats are a disaster at any time, particularly so in the case of Cup ties.

1906-07

1906-07

At the Annual Meeting of the Northern Union on June 12th, another revolutionary step was taken with the decision to reduce the number of players in a team to thirteen. Further, with the object of maintaining interest in the League right up to the end of the season, it was agreed that the top four clubs should play-off to decide the Championship, the club finishing first in the table to play the fourth and the second club to play the third, the first and second clubs having choice of grounds. The Championship Final, It was decided, should be played on a neutral ground. but in the County of the club (taking part In the final), having the greater number of points.

The first game at Headingley resulted in a Leeds victory over Wakefield Trinity by 37 points to nil. The spectators were treated to a brilliant exhibition of fast, open play and it was apparent that a spectacular season's rugby was going to result from the reduction in the number of players. This splendid start to the league programme was maintained. and at the end of January we had sustained only four losses out of twenty-one matches and were strong challengers for a place in the" first-four" Several games in this successful spell are worthy of special mention. The victory at Parkside was dramatic in the extreme as Hunslet held a five points lead with only twenty minutes left for play. when a try by Birch, which was converted by Brayshaw, touched off a brilliant Leeds rally which resulted in them scoring a further twelve points in the last ten minutes. The victory at Fartown, which incidentally completed a Leeds double, raised the ire of the Fartown spectators some of whom assaulted Wainwright and T. Llewellyn as the players left the field. As a result of such unsavoury incidents the Huddersfield club was reported to the Northern Union, but the Fartown officials had great consolation in the fact that the now famous Harold Wagstaff, who had made his first home appearance in the" claret and gold" jersey, had covered himself with glory, scoring a try and showing exceptional promise. The away victory against Oldham was particularly meritorious in view of the fact that Hughes, the Leeds winger. sustained a broken collar bone just before the interval.

It is rather remarkable that the team were called upon to play eight consecutive league games away from home in the closing weeks of the season. This was a tough assignment and only the most optimistic could have anticipated that Leeds would gain a place in the League semi-finals. Of these matches one only was won, and two were drawn, so that there was little at stake when Hunslet were entertained at Headingley in the last match of the season. A large crowd assembled, however, to witness a Leeds victory which gave them sixth place in the table, but Albert Goldthorpe had the last word as usual. receiving the ball from the serum and dropping a goal with the very last kick of the match.

Our interest in the Yorkshire Cup was again short lived. A brilliant 1st Round victory over Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue, was followed by an equally deplorable display against Bradford at Park Avenue.

Rochdale Hornets, who were the 1st Round visitors to Headingley, gave Leeds a comfortable passage into the next stage of the N.U. Cup Competition. The luck of the draw then called for a trip to Broughton and the manner of the Leeds victory was nothing short of miraculous. Losing by seven points to nil with only fifteen minutes left for play, Leeds made a determined rally but were unable to pierce the home defence. Two penalty goals by Brayshaw did however make the game open and excitement became intense when Young dropped a beautiful left foot goal nine minutes from the end. The defenders would not yield as Leeds made one last desperate bid for the winning points and then in the very last minute Young tried another drop at goal. The ball never rose sufficiently to have gone over the cross-bar, but in its flight it struck a Broughton player and was diverted into the hands of Rhodes, who was thus put" on-side" and scored a gift try which Brayshaw had no difficulty in converting. Salford, at Weaste, in the 3rd Round were losing by three points to two at the interval, but in the second half Jimmy Lomas proved to be the pivot on which the fortunes of the game turned and Leeds forfeited ten points without making reply.

W. Rhodes, winger, and F. Harrison, forward, were promoted from the "A" team and made their debut performances in the Dewsbury match at Headingley in September. Rhodes was to have only a short career, but Fred Harrison developed into a real Leeds stalwart. After making ten first team appearances he was advised to join his original club, Streethouse, for a short spell, but he was back at Headingley for the commencement of the 1907-08season and soon became one of the mainstays of the team.

1907-08

1907-08

The playing fortunes of the club reached a disastrously low ebb during this campaign. There was no silver lining, and no rays of hope in either the league or the cup competitions.

There was a profit of £295 on .the season's work, but the average attendance at Headingley of 5,476 was ridiculously low for the finest ground in the North of England. Perhaps the performances of the team merited nothing better.

There were tremendous changes in the playing personnel, and many players were transferred, including: T. Llewellyn, to Oldham; G. Hewlett, to Bramley; F. Wormald, to Rochdale Hornets; E. Watts, to Huddersfield; and A. Brayshaw, to Dewsbury; whilst W. Evans, J. A. Naylor, M. Lavelle and G. W. Andrew were not on the retained list at the commencement of the season.

Although departures from Headingley were on quite a big scale, they were almost as nothing compared to the numerous signings !! No fewer than twenty-nine players made their first appearance in Leeds colours. Need one look further for the root cause ofthe disappointing playing record.

These new players are best classified:

Full - Back-A. Stones.

Wingers - J. Batten, younger brother of the famous Hunslet player; W. E. Collingwood, who came from Bramley in exchange for G. Hewlett; R. B. Hargrave; E. Oliver; T. Seamans; T. Swindells, from the Cadishead club; F. E. Upton, from Rochdale Hornets; J. Wood, who continued his trials having made one appearance at the end ofthe previous season; J. Townend.

Centres - A. l. Howell; W. G. Noyes, Army Reservist from Grangetown in Wales; S. Reed; T. Smith, from the West Riding club; H. Wade, from Fartown.

Half - Backs-A. Burgess, from leigh; E. Chapman, from Ackworth; G. Desborough; J. Fawcett; P. Greaney; T. W. Wilson, from the leicester R.U. club; J. Wheatley.

Forwards - W. Biggs, who came from Briton Ferry; H. Brown, the young Sharlston scrummager, who had the doubtful distinction of being dismissed from the field twice within seven days-at Greenfield, against Bradford on Christmas Day, and at Headingley, against Oldham, on New Year's Day; F. Carter; H. W. Ibbitson, from the Castleford R.U. club; H. Pattison; S. Whitaker and J. T. Wray.

The management evidently adopted a" trial and error" method of team building, and, as was to be expected, few of the above players really made the grade. Indeed, three years later only the following were members of the first team: J. Biggs, who had been transferred to the Kingston Rovers shortly after signing for leeds owing to difficulty in obtaining employment, but was re-transferred at the commencement of the 1909-10season and gave yeoman service; J. Fawcett, who was discovered whilst playing for the Clarence Iron and Steel Works in a Workshops' Competition and became an invaluable utility back until his retirement in 1919; E. Oliver, who joined leeds from the Northampton R.U. club; and Sam Whitaker, who came from the Castleford Half Acre team with whom he had played following a dispute with Wakefield Trinity.

The playing record speaks for itself: 20th in the league Competition, eliminated from the Yorkshire Cup in the 2nd Round, and from the Northern Union Cup in the 1st Round. It is worthy of note that we suffered four defeats at the hands of Hunslet, as they completed a league" double" and also brought about our dismissal from each Cup Competition. But, of course, this was Hunslet's gloriously successful year in which they won the four cups.

The match against the New Zealand tourists was very keenly contested as our players rose to the occasion in grand style but finally had to admit defeat by eight points to two. The" All Black .. team was as follows: Turtill; Messenger, Smith, Wrigley; W. Wynyard, Todd (five-eighths); R. Wynyard (half-back); Wright, Gilchrist, Trevarthen, Cross, Byrne, Johnston.

1908-09

1908-09

Although this season could in no way be regarded as successful from a playing point of view, there was cause for great satisfaction with the results of an extensive team building campaign. The efforts of the Committee were, however, not to meet with immediate reward.

No less than four new players turned out for the opening match of the season against Broughton Rangers: Ernest Ware, centre, from Taunton, who had represented his County on many occasions; Reg. Jones, half-back, who in addition to having club experience at Tredegar and Cardiff had also been a regular member of the Monmouthshire County team; J. A. Lavery, winger from New Zealand, who was the first Colonial player to join the Leeds club; and S. Wildman, forward. The keenest Leeds partisan could hardly have hoped for a victory at Wheater's Field, but .the, team surpassed all expectations and might well have won, the score of 13 points to 17 hardly doing justice to the Leeds players.

This promising start did, however, flatter to deceive and by mid-November things were at a low ebb once again: seven defeats had been sustained in the first thirteen league matches, and Thrum Hall, the venue of our 1st Round game, had proved the graveyard for all our hopes of that long delayed Yorkshire Cup triumph. But the tide turned on November 21st, with a victory over Bramley at Headingley, a victory which was inspired to a large extent by that old Hunslet stalwart, Walter Goldthorpe, who was making his second appearance for .Leeds. Although Goldthorpe was to have only two seasons at Headingley he was to play a vital part In that first great Cup triumph.

The victory over Bramley was followed by four more, so that by Christmas Eve there was good reason for "hanging up the stocking" as usual. But it was not a Merry Christmas!! Three matches, and three defeats!!

The Australian Touring team were Christmas Day visitors, and a splendid game was witnessed by more than 12,000 spectators. Within fifteen minutes the Tourists held an eight points lead through two tries by Devereux, one of which he converted. Then Leeds got into their stride, and following excellent passing Oliver scored well out on the left, for Young to convert with a magnificent kick. The game was now going from end to end at a tremendous pace. Unconverted tries by Walsh (Australia) and R.Ward made the interval score 11-8 in the Tourists' favour. Early in the second half Young kicked a penalty goal, but a determined Colonial forward rush led to a try by Pearce. In the last twenty minutes Leeds tried desperately hard but they were dogged by misfortune: on four occasions players .. scored" but were called back for infringements. The teams were: Leeds - Young; Oliver, Thomas, Ware, Desborough; R. Jones, R. Ward; Webster, Harrison, Whitaker, lbbltson, Jukes, Townend. Australia-Bolewski; Rosenfeld, Devereux, Deane, Heidke; Butler, Halloway; O'Malley, Bevidon, Pearce, Hennessey, Courtney, Walsh. (Messenger was unable to play because of injury).

Hunslet proved to be much too strong at Parkside, on Boxing Day, and the cup of sorrow was full when Wakefield Trinity romped to victory at Headingley two days later. But this latter defeat held some consolation in the fact that Jarman, who W:lS to become a .. star ", made his debut in the Leeds jersey. As fine a forward as ever played for Leeds, Billy Jarman was to pay the supreme sacrifice in the Great War, being called to the Colours immediately following his participation in the 1914 tour of Australasia.

Our victory over Warrington at Wilderspool in the 1st Round of the Northern Union Cup created a sensation, but Hunslet, as if by sheer habit, ended our Cup run with a defeat at Parkside. The It Terrible Six" (Wilson, Brookes, Jukes, Walsh, Higson, Randall) paved the way to victory, and Albert Goldthorpe, as usual, dropped a goal at a vital stage of the game.

There was obviously no possibility of the team gaining any League honours, and the Committee now Wisely concentrated on their efforts to build up a strong team. C. L. Gillie, centre, made his debut against Barry, at Headingley on March 20th He hailed from Melrose, was a Scottish Trialist, and one of the few players from Scotland ever to have donned a Leeds jersey. S. Hunter, an ex-Army centre, played in the same match but his career at Headingley was relatively short. Three weeks later W. Ward, from Egremont, turned out in the second row against Oldham at Headingley. Billy Ward, an extremely popular player, served the Leeds club with great distinction for sixteen seasons, playing at loose forward for the greater part of that time. He, too, was to tour Australasia, in 1910.

To the short sighted this must have been a bitterly disappointing season-no cups, and only 15th In the league table But those with faith and vision, must have looked forward confidently to the start of the next campaign, knowing full well that those who were to wear the jersey were capable of great things. That faith was not misplaced.

1909-10

1909-10

1910!! This was the" Cup Year", the year which brought reward for all the toll of the twenty which had gone before.

The league record, too, was greatly improved with the team finishing in sixth place, but the story of this season is truly the story of that first great cup achievement.

The team had been considerably strengthened in the months before the Cup Register closed though the acquisition of several talented players: . H. F. Rowe, winger, who had toured this country as a member of the" All Blacks" team in 1907; Jimmy Sanders, scrum half, from Pill Harriers, who made his debut in the Leeds jersey at the age of eighteen, and who was to give many brilliant displays during his seven seasons at Headingley; Fred Barron, winger, and William Biggs, forward, from Hull Kingston Rovers, the latter being re-transferred to Leeds after spending two seasons at Craven Street; H. Topham, forward, from Oldham.

Other new players who assisted in the league matches, but did not take part In the Cup Competition were: T. Clint, winger; R. Hailes, forward; W. Andrews, forward; J. W. Duckworth, winger; H. Thurlow, forward; l. Marshall, winger; and T. Wagstaff, forward. The 1st Round of the Cup called for a visit to Craven Street, and an extremely dour match resulted. Leeds who were not at full strength, with Rowe deputising for the injured Goldthorpe in the centre, held a lead of two points to nil at the interval. Within two minutes of the re-start, Silcock scored an unconverted try and the Rovers took the lead. Leeds, however, replied almost immediately Barron scoring a try in the corner as the result of a clever kick by Ware, who was playing at stand-off. Now leading by 5 points to 3, the Leeds defence did not waver in the face of a desperate rally by the home team, and there was no further score.

Leeds had a much harder task than they had bargained for in disposing of Rochdale Hornets at Headingley in the 2nd Round. Shortly after half-time it was" anybody's game" with Leeds leading by only 5 points to 3. The Hornets then looked like pulling the game out of the fire, but a bad blunder by their full back, Farrar, resulted in a gift try to Gillie, and that proved to be the turning point of the game. ln a keenly fought 3rd Round game, at Keighley, Leeds gained a narrow victory and thus won a place in the Semi-Final of the N.U. Cup Competition for the first time. This was largely a one-man triumph, and that one man was" Bucket" Young, who time and again saved his side when the threequarters in front of him had apparently thrown up the sponge. His display was generously recognised by the Leeds supporters, and on the return to Leeds he was chaired from the railway station into the street. At the interval the score stood at four points each, Young having kicked two goals, one of them being from a "drop". Keighley pressed strongly in the second half and would surely have scored had it not been for the brilliant tackling of Young. Excitement was intense as the score still stood at four points each. Then with only ten minutes remaining for play, Young put in a long clearing kick to establish Leeds on the Keighley line. Craven, the Keighley serum half, attempted to force his way through the serum. He lost the ball, and Jarman, quickly snapping it up, had a clear run in for the winning try.

Warrington and Leeds clashed at Wheater's Field, Manchester, in the Semi-Final. At half-time Leeds, with a lead of eight points, looked easy winners but Warrington played with far greater determination after the interval and almost" pipped" Leeds on the post. The last fifteen minutes were as tense and dramatic as anything ever seen on a rugby field as Warrington, losing by 10 points to II, pressed again and again in one last desperate fling. Scrummage after scrummage was formed on the Leeds line, but the courageous Warrington attacks were more than matched by a magnificent Leeds defence. The teams were; Leeds-Young; Barron, Gillie, Goldthorpe, Fawcett; Ware, Sanders; Webster, Harrison, Jarman, Ward, Topham, Whitaker. Warrington-Tilley; Mcintyre, Dickenson, Taylor, Stuntz; Jenkins, lloyd; Thomas, O'Neill, Shugars, Naylor, Boardman, Belton.

The Cup Final match with Hull at Fartown commenced fifty minutes after the scheduled time owing to the late arrival of the teams who were held up by a breakdown in the railway arrangements between Leeds and Huddersfield. Heavy rain in the early part of the afternoon had affected the ground and conditions were thus against open football. Leeds went into the lead after two minutes through a penalty goal kicked by Young, but shortly afterwards Hull equalised when Wallace dropped a brilliant goal. This seemed to have a tonic effect on the Hull players who now combined brilliantly, and Cottrell romped over for a try when he gathered a clever cross-field kick from Wallace. Rogers converted from a difficult angle, and Leeds were up against it. Then came further tragedy. Sanders was severely injured fifteen minutes before the interval and was compelled to retire. Although there was no further score before half-time, it looked odds against a Leeds victory, particularly as Sanders was unable to take any further part in the match. But the gallant Leeds" twelve" set about the task with tremendous courage and determination, and their efforts were rewarded through a try scored by Goldthorpe following good work by Fawcett. The attempt at conversion narrowly failed, but Hull showed signs of panic as Leeds now crowded on full sail. Fifteen minutes from the end Anderson forfeited a penalty for off-side, and Young's sure foot made no mistake. With the scores now level, at seven points each, intense excitement reigned: Devereux, the Hull centre, who had scored twice for the. Australians at Headingley fifteen months earlier, almost put Rogers in for a try, but the winger was adjudged to have knocked down the flag before touching down; Young made two unsuccessful attempts to drop a goal; and then in the very last minute Leeds were awarded a penalty for obstruction on Ware, but Young's attempt at a long range kick, which could have won the game for Leeds, fell Just below the bar. The teams were: Leeds-Young; Fawcett, Goldthorpe, Gillie, Barron; Ware, Sanders; Biggs, Jarman, Harrison, Topham, Webster, Ward. Hull-W. H. Taylor; Cottrell, Devereux, Morton, Rogers; Wallace, Anderson; Herridge, Osborne, R. Taylor, Connell, Holder. Walton.

The story of the re-play is given in the following press report:

NORTHERN UNION CUP FINAL THE TROPHY WON BY LEEDS-A RECORD SCORE

A representative Challenge Cup Competition has at last been won by the Leeds Club. In the replayed final at Huddersfield yesterday they defeated Hull, who thus for the third consecutive year have disappointed their public and themselves by failure in the last stage of this annual tournament. Leeds have had to wait a long time for their success, but now that it has come the victory has been won under record circumstances. The draw which they made on Saturday was the first registered since the institution of the tournament in 1897; and the score, 26 points to 12, is unique also in the records of the competition. Broughton Rangers scored 25 points in the final in 1902, and 20 points have been reached in no previous final. If it is any consolation to the Hull Club, the fact may be added that no team have previously scored 12 points irr a final tie and been the losing side.

Yesterday's replayed match was favoured with more agreeable conditions than those which prevailed on Saturday, for the afternoon was fine and warm, and the turf drier and much faster than at the previous contest. It was not to be expected that the" gate" would reach Saturday's dimensions; still, there was a fine attendance for a Monday, the number of persons present being 11,600, and the receipts £657 6s. 6d. The sum of, roughly speaking, £1,700 has, therefore, come into the Northern Union's exchequer from the two engagements.

Traces of the severity with which Saturday's match was fought were forthcoming in the absence of two of the Hull players and one Leeds man from the competing teams. Taylor, the Hull back, and Anderson, their half-back and captain, both were present, but were too lame even to walk in comfort. Their places were taken by E. Rogers and Greg. Rogers, the first-named playing at full back and his brother at half. E. Rogers played at left wing threequarter in Saturday's match and Atkinson, the former Castleford Rugby Union player, now officiated in that position. Sanders, who has suffered severely from an injury he received in the first game-the necessity of an operation is feared-was deputised for at half back by Fawcett, and Rowe was included in the threequarter line. There was also a change in the forwards, Whitaker taking the place of Biggs. This contest did not pass without mishap, for late in the game Greg. Rogers found that a weak knee had given way, whilst almost in the last moment Fawcett sustained a broken collar bone.

In sympathising with Hull in their third consecutive failure, the point must be emphasised that they missed their chances of winning the Cup in the first half hour of Saturday'S engagement. They ought to have scored more points when the conditions favoured them. Today the luck did not go their way, and as often happens bad luck was accompanied by bad play. The winning of the toss was of greater moment than it was on Saturday, for the reason that the wind was much stronger and the ground faster. This time the toss fell to the Leeds captain, and while it might be too much to say that his success in this respect won his team the match, it is an undoubted fact that it very considerably aided Leeds in their victory. Then Hull suffered very much from the shuffling of positions. Especially was this the case at full back, where E. Rogers made mistakes of which Taylor would hardly have been guilty, though it is but fair to Rogers to say that his natural position is not that of custodian. Anderson was much missed at half-back also, not only for the lack of his own nippy efforts, but for the effect which he has upon the play of his partner, Wallace. In the second half Hull brought Connell out as an extra flying half in which capacity he did useful work, though it is a matter of opinion whether this quite compensated for the weakening of the pack.

While it was the Leeds forwards whose play had given the club the title of Cup-holders, the one man who has to be mentioned above all others in the victory is Young. He began by placing a goal from a penalty one of the Hull men most stupidly gave away under his own posts. Then he dropped a goal from a bad error of judgement on the part of .E. Rogers, who kicked the ball to him in the open field. Afterwards he placed five goals, making his afternoon s crop Into seven. He succeeded in every attempt at goal he made, a feat so unusual as to give point to the remark that fortune on this occasion ran the way of the Leeds team. The Leeds backs as a whole were for some time diffident in opening out the game, but Young's first two goals gave them confidence, and their subsequent scores were obtained by football which was open and good. At half-time they had a score on the board of 16 points to nil, but useful though this was, it was not until 10 points more had been obtained in the second half that the Leeds men could feel absolutely sure of success. With the wind Hull obtained 12 points, and these provided some solace for their heavy defeat. Heavy though the scoring was, the match could not be called a great one, for the keenness overshadowed the better points of the football. Still, there was no doubt that the better side won, and that the victory was due to the gameness and endurance which commanded the admiration of all who can admire those qualities in the football arena.

Description of the play.

The advantage of winning the toss meant much to Leeds, and right from the outset they proceeded to make the most of the strong breeze which blew in their favour. Tall kicking put them in an attacking position right from the start, and E. Rogers had to .. mark" near his own line. His kick brought little relief, and another touch kick by Young was followed by a scrummage, from which Fawcett got the ball and made a wild attempt to drop a goal. The game had only been in progress five minutes when Leeds took the lead in a very similar fashion to the way in which they opened their score on Saturday. Someone on the Hull side played off-side right under the posts, and from the penalty which was awarded Young placed the easiest of goals. Leeds kept up the attack after this promising opening, and scarcely allowed the Hull defenders breathing-time. Certainly Hull were not allowed to find an opening, although on one occasion they looked like becoming dangerous when Rowe effectually tackled Cottrell. A rush by Herridge was repulsed by Barron, and, when the latter kicked, Wallace mis-fielded and let in Webster. The Leeds captain made a bold attempt to score, but lost the ball, and another Leeds forward who went over the line was penalised for being off-side.

A splendid position had been gained however, and try as they would Hull could not obtain relief. When twenty minutes had gone E. Rogers was so pressed that he had to run behind his own goal, from which position he kicked out to Young, who very deliberately and cleverly dropped a fine goal. Leeds again attacked on resuming, and a series of scrummages were hotly contested near the Hull line. In the end a sharp pass to Rowe led to a score, for though that player himself was tackled by Cottrell, Webster was at hand to pick up the ball, and with one of his characteristic dashes he went over for a try, which was converted with a brilliant kick by Young. With a nine points lead Leeds were for a time irresistible, and came desperately near scoring again. That was when Devereux misfielded and let in Barron, who, however, was beaten by the ball in his race over the line. But the Headingley brigade, had the satisfaction of scoring another rather" soft" try when Wallace had a kick charged over his own line by Topham, who was himset the scorer, Young again adding the goal points. Another success came Leeds way just before the interval, when Gillie made a mark, from which Young added another well-judged goal; so that at half time Leeds led by 16 points to nil.

The Second Half.

With the change of ends, Hull were expected to reverse the order of play, but in this they failed signally. On the contrary, they fell back before the well-sustained efforts of the Leeds forwards, and confounded all expectations by suffering still further reverses. Five minutes after the resumption they practically gave up the ghost when Leeds added another five points. It was W. Goldthorpe who started the movement which led to the score by engaging in a dribble, in which he was joined by Webster and two other forwards. E. Rogers failed to check the rush, and Goldthorpe picked up and registered a try, for Young to kick a goal against the wind. Hardly had the game re-started when a fine effort by Ware put Hull still further in arrears. Ware ran well down the touch-line side, and passed over his shoulder to Gillie, who in turn transferred to Rowe, the defence being completely beaten by the movement. As a matter of fact, Rowe was able to run round behind the posts, and Young had no difficulty in adding the goal. This was all the scoring done by Leeds, and when the Headingley men relaxed their efforts, Hull took on the running, , and with three scores in the last twenty minutes made the result seem less of a rout than it otherwise would have done.

The East Riding team, it should be said, played during the last twenty minutes with only twelve men, G. Rogers having retired owing to knee trouble. Connell had for some time previously been playing in the three-quarter line, but with Rogers' retirement he came a little further forward, and acted as a sort of flying half. The arrangement seemed to serve well for Hull were able to keep up a fairly persistent attack, which was at length rewarded by a goal, kicked by E. Rogers, when Leeds were penalised for off-side. Then Walton scored a good try after passing had taken place between Wallace and Cottrell, and Rogers" goaled". A further try was credited to Connell, who literally scrambled over the line, Rogers again adding the goal. Leeds made a rush to the Hull end on resuming, and in some scrambling play Fawcett was injured, and it was subsequently found that he had sustained a broken collarbone.

The game ends in Confusion

Almost immediately afterwards the game ended in some confusion, owing to the unseemly conduct of one of two spectators. All was practically over, of course, by this time, and the more enthusiastic of the crowd had vaulted the rails, and closed in on to the ground. So it came about that when the referee had occasion to caution two of the players he had to do so whilst standing within a couple of yards from the spectators. One of the crowd so lost control of himself that he made a rush at the referee, but was checked by Mr. Kennedy, the touch judge. He turned upon the latter, but was pushed aside by Topham, the Leeds forward. Others of the spectators, however, became embroiled, and the police had to rush to the spot. Probably they would have quelled the bother, which was confined to but a few individuals, but the referee blew his whistle and signalled the finish of the match, the scores then reading-Leeds 7 goals, 4 tries (26 points). Hull 3 goals, 2 tries (12 points). Teams-Leeds - Young, back; Rowe, Gillie, Goldthorpe, Barron, three-quarter backs; Ware and Fawcett, half-backs; Webster, Harrison, Topham, Ward, Jarman, Whitaker, forwards. Hull-E. Rogers, back; Cottrell, Devereux, Morton, Atkinson, three-quarter backs; Wallace, G. Rogers, half-backs; Herridge, Connell, Holder, Taylor, Walton, Osborne, forwards.

Referee: Mr. J. Priestley, Salford. Touch judges, Messrs, F. Farrer, Keighley and J. Kennedy, Broughton.

1910-11

1910-11

During the close season there was great interest in the progress of the first Northern Union team to tour Australia and New Zealand, and Leeds followers rejoiced particularly over the fine displays of Fred Webster, who played in 14 out of the 18 matches of the tour. Billy Ward created a favourable impression in the early stages and was a member of the team which won the First Test at Sydney, but then he suffered a temporary loss of form and was rarely in the picture. Frank Young was very unfortunate, being injured in the first game, and then again in the third, so he only played twice and on each occasion was unable to complete the match.

This was in fact to be Young's last season. Owing to injury he was able to make only nine appearances and he turned out for the last time when Wigan visited Headingley on March 25th. His penalty goal was the only Leeds reply to the twenty points scored by Wigan, and this heavy defeat must have meant an especially sad farewell for one whose name is still revered by many supporters who never fail to compare all full backs with the incomparable" Bucket Young". The Leeds and Wigan teams on this occasion conjure up memories of many other fine players: Leeds-Young; Barron, Gillie, Haycox, Oliver; Sanders, Dacre; Webster, Harrison, Ward, Jarman, Wagstaff, Biggs. WiganSharrock; Leytham, Jenkins, Todd, Miller; Gleave, Thomas; Seeling, Williams, Whitaker, Ramsdale, Francis, Cheetham.

The League programme opened badly with two defeats out of the first four matches, and although this lack of success was due in some measure to the absence of the tourists, there was great concern over the indifferent form of the backs. Goldthorpe was being greatly missed in the centre, but there was an outcry when Jarman, a forward, was played in that position at Bramley on October 1st. He acquitted himself well, however, and scored the winning try. Victory over Hunslet at Headingley, a week later, put the team in good heart for the trip to Hull in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup. This game should have resulted in a comfortable win for Leeds, but once again the backs failed to make the most of their scoring opportunities, and the interval lead of 6 points to nil was small reward for all the pressure exerted. Hull, aided by the wind, constantly attacked in the second half, but with only six minutes remaining for play we still led by 6 points to 2. Then Francis dropped a goal amid tremendous excitement, and from that moment pandemonium reigned as the fiery Hull supporters whipped up their team for one last desperate bid, which brought the winning try to Moreton, and Rogers sealed the verdict with a last minute conversion. The teams were: Leeds-J. Fawcett; Barron, Gillie, Jarman, Rowe; Sanders, Ware; Webster, Harrison, Biggs, Wagstaff, Topham, W. Ward. Hull-Clarkson; Rogers, Morton, Cottrell, Sykes; Wallace, Francis; Connell, Boylen, Holder, Walton, Herridge, Taylor.

Following this defeat the Committee set about the task of rebuilding the back division, and there was a great deal of activity in the transfer market during the next few months. Few were surprised when Rowe, a very accomplished player who had been unable to do himself justice at Headingley owing to injury, was transferred to Rochdale, but there was some concern when Ware, who had shown exceptional promise, was allowed to join Dewsbury. Moran was placed on the transfer list, and Bramley obtained the services of R. Ward. Meanwhile, new blood was introduced: T. Wynard, centre or wing, from Normanton St. John's; C. E. Haycox, of Normanton, who had played with the Hunslet 1st team at the age of 17; and Ivor Evans, centre from Newport, whose career at Headingley was limited to only ten appearances. The pack, too, was strengthened through the addition of Fred Godward, a miner from the Knottingley district, who made his debut at Headingley against Oldham on New Year's Eve. Godward became a real stalwart and served the Club loyally and well for thirteen seasons. Leigh were defeated at Headingley in the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup Competition, but the issue was in doubt until eight minutes from the end, at which stage Barron scored a memorable try, seizing on a loose ball and racing for the line with Bolewski and Neville in hot pursuit. The game was marred by many unpleasant incidents and W. Ward was dismissed from the field shortly after the interval. The 2nd Round match at Knowsley Road opened badly for Leeds as St. Helens scored two tries in the first ten minutes-one was the result of an error on the part of Ivor Evans who failed to make the ball dead. But our players rallied strongly immediately before the interval to score eight points, and from that time they were never in danger of defeat though it must be recorded that St. Helens were handicapped through injuries sustained by Greenwood and Kelly. A record Headingley crowd of 24,815 witnessed a splendid 3rd Round game with Wigan. Our players had first half advantage of wind and rain, but were only able to establish a two points lead through a penalty goal kicked by Young. Wigan's second half task was made much easier because of a tactical error on the part of Leeds who withdrew Jarman from the pack to play him as an extra back. This was fatal as up to then it had been essentially a forward game. The Wigan backs now had a preponderance of the ball from the scrummages, and Johnny Thomas soon showed the way to victory. This extremely disappointing season ended on a note of despair and frustration with only two victories out of the last seven League matches. There were obviously many problems to be tackled by the Committee, but the main concern must surely have been over the half-back combination. Analysis of the teams played during the season reveals that no fewer than fourteen different pairs were selected, with the following pIayers alternating in every conceivable way: Sanders, Ware, Brooksby, Brook, Jarman, Fawcett, Gillie, Dacre, Haycox. There could be no hope for any continued success until a successful partnership was allowed to develop.

1911-12

1911-12

There was a general air of expectancy when Hull were defeated in the opening League engagement as the Leeds team had been considerably strengthened during the summer through the signing of T. E. Thomas, F. W. Orchard, and F. Sullivan. II Drummer" Thomas who had been "bought" out of the Army had greatly impressed as a member of the 2nd Welsh Regimental team and had played several fine games for Llanelly. Orchard was obtained from the Huddersfield club, with whom he was unable to hold a regular place. Sullivan, who came from Pill Harriers, was unable to turn out against Hull as he was recovering from a fractured nose and a badly sprained ankle, which he had sustained in the pre-season practice games. He played in the next match, however, against Ebbw Vale, and another victory augured well for the future.

But our rejoicing was short lived as four defeats at the hands of Huddersfield, Oldham, Halifax and Hunslet, followed in rapid succession. The Huddersfield team which thoroughly routed our players at Fartown was just commencing that glorious run of success: Bartholomew; Rosenfeld, Wrigley, Wagstaff, Kitchin; Grey, Davies; Byrne, Clark, Gronow, Higson, Sherwood, Watts. (Moorhouse was rested for this match).

There were other signings before Warrington were entertained at Headingley on October 7th: W. G. Evans, Welsh International forward, from the Brynmawr club, and R. Ward who had been retransferred from Bramley. Meanwhile W. Biggs, and E. Oliver had joined Oldham. A brilliant exhibition of handling in the second half resulted in a comfortable victory over Warrington and hopes of a Yorkshire Cup triumph ran high when first Keighley, and then Halifax met with defeat in the opening rounds of the Competition. The Semi-Final brought Hull K.R. to Headingley and they turned out the following team: Carmichael; Brain, Thomas, Hughes, Spivey; Craven, Surman; Mann, Moore, Sandham, Huskins, Spackman, Blackmore. Any chance of victory which Leeds might have had disappeared when Jarman was compelled to leave the field after twenty-five minutes owing to a severe injury.

During November and December strenuous efforts were made to further strengthen the side and Walter Mackay, centre or stand-off, who had been in the same Regiment as II Drummer" Thomas, made his debut against Batley at Headingley. He never made the grade and only turned out twice for the first team. A difficult situation arose with regard to T. Price, Cumberland half-back, who had played with the Leeds" A Of. team in the early months of 1910, and who had then been allowed to join the Millom team on the understanding that he was bound to re-sign for Leeds when required. Price played such a splendid game for his County team that the Leeds Committee naturally endeavoured to obtain his services, but all their approaches were unsuccessful. C. E. Heaton, centre, who had played for Catford Bridge, Blackheath and Kent, made his first appearance on November 25th, when Bradford Northern were entertained at Headingley, and he rapidly established himself in the three-quarter line. Indeed, Sullivan and Heaton were the strongest pair of centres to have played for Leeds for quite a number of years. But the half-back problem remained and it was further aggravated when Bob Ward signified his intention of retiring. He then held the record number of tries scored for Leeds: 72, which was a surprisingly low Club record. On December 4th, Leonard Marshall, winger, made his first appearance for Leeds at the Barley Mow.

Any hopes of gaining Championship honours were finally dispelled when three games were lost during the Christmas period, and the Club Members voiced their disapproval at a Special General Meeting which they had convened by means of a petition.

Attempts were made to obtain the services of talented half-backs before the Cup Register closed. Cheshire and West, of Cross Keys, and Lloyd and Prosser of Pontypool, were considered, but there was some doubt as to whether they would" fill the bill .., and it was decided to take no further action when it was learned that the fees required were prohibitive.

Three excellent victories over Wakefield Trinity, Halifax and Oldham preceded the 1st Round of the R. L. Cup Competition, and a large crowd assembled at Belle Vue to see the battle with Trinity. The first half was very even, with the interval score at 2 points each, but Wakefield gained a preponderance of the ball from the set serums in the second half and thus gained a merited win.

Recruitment of players continued to the end of the season: W. H. Ganley, half-back, was signed from Leigh; F. Mirfield, a nineteen year old forward, with little knowledge of the handling game, joined the Club from Rawdon Association F.C., and soon established himself in the first team; A. D. Dennis, winger or full back, who came from York Leeman Wanderers thrilled the crowds with his tremendously courageous running.

Mr. Lazenby, a member of the Leeds Committee, presented a Silver Cup for annual competition between Leeds and Hunslet, the aim being to establish a fund for the provision of playing fields for teams in the Leeds and District Intermediate League. Leeds were the first to hold the Cup, defeating Hunslet at Headingley, on May 4th, by 14 points to 6.

During March the Committee endeavoured to secure a five year lease on the "Star and Garter" Field at Kirkstall, but the landlord would not agree to a lease, and offered the field at an annual rental of £20. It was therefore resolved to leave the matter in abeyance until further enquiries had been made with regard to Palliser's field at Kirkstall and the field at the top of Headingley Avenue.

Sullivan had the misfortune to sustain a fractured leg in the Wigan match at Headingley on March 30th, and this injury cut short a highly promising career. He was, in fact, able to turn out on only three more occasions.

1912-13

1912-13

This season which had little to offer in the way of outstanding achievements in the League or Cup Competitions was, however, notable in regard to additions to the playing staff. Amongst the many players who came to Headingley were three who were to have long and distinguished careers. Indeed, the passage of time has done little to erase the happy memories of J. D. Campbell, W. H. Davies and W. A. Davies .

"Dinny" Campbell's arrival at Headingley was foreshadowed in the Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on June 3rd: "Letter from D. Murray, New South Wales, that he will do his best to get us a good back ". Some weeks later we read of Campbell's cablegram: .. Three hundred fifty stop two pounds per match stop three years stop Campbell ". Murray's was no idle promise for Campbell more than fulfilled the highest hopes held when he was signed, and the three years quoted in his cable was only a third of his actual career in the Leeds colours. Carnobell, who was born at Penrith, near Sydney, is still revered on the terraces at Headingley and those who were privileged to see this great player and sportsman in action never fail to remind those who were not so fortunate. "Dinny" as he was so affectionately called, has maintained his interest in the Leeds Club and has been instrumental in other Australian players coming to Headingley.

W. Hugh Davies, whose birthplace was at Nantyglo and who was a member of the Brynmawr Club, made his debut in the Leeds jersey at Fartown on November 30th, and he soon established himself in a wing position, scoring 21 tries in 25 appearances in his first season.

Hughie Davies was quickly followed by his namesake W. A. Davies, who had gained Welsh International honours as a centre, and who had a very impressive dub career with Aberavon, Plymouth and Devon Albion. In addition he had made 16 appearances for Devon and 4 for Glamorgan. Willie Davies who made his debut at Headingley against York on March 22nd, served the Club with great distinction and honour for twelve seasons. He gained a place amongst the immortals of the game as a member of the team which won that glorious "Rorke's Drift" victory at Sydney in 1914.

There were numerous other signings, including no fewer than five wingers: G. Spivey, from Hull K.R.; S. C. Abbott, a young local player; R. W. Pae, from Leeds Moorland, and a member of the Headingley Lacrosse team; S. Stacey, from Keighley; and finally, just before the season ended " Dan" Lewis, from Cross Keys, who had been first reserve for the Welsh R.U. team. Forward signings included J. Sutton and J. O'Neill, from Leigh Shamrocks, and L. Leckenby, from York Leeman Wanderers. In view of this extensive recruiting there were naturally departures and the Club released C. E. Heaton, C. L. Gillie, F. Sullivan, and F. Barron. The records reveal that J. Brittain, who was later to become one of the famous" Busy B's" was showing exceptional promise with the "A" Team at this time, but his debut was to be deferred until September, 1915.

The outstanding achievement in an otherwise mediocre League record was the magnitude of the victory over Coventry, at Headingley, in the last match of the season. Every Leeds player scored in piling up the colossal score of 102 points, and Fred Webster had the remarkable distinction of scoring eight tries. Huddersfield (119 points to 2, versus Swinton Park Rangers at Fartown on February 28th, 1914) and Wigan (116 points to nil, versus Flimby and Fothergill at Central Park on February 14th, 1925) have since exceeded this record score for the Headingley grounds. Following a comfortable victory over Bramley in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup Competition, Hull Kingston Rovers visited Headingley. The game never reached a high standard but excitement was intense in the closing stages as Leeds clung desperately to a one point lead. With only seconds left for play Sandham, a Hull K.R. forward, attempted to force his way over for the winning try scorning to pass to four unmarked colleagues, and Leeds were through to the Semi-Final. Batley, at Mount PIeasant, proved much too strong, however, and Leeds had to admit defeat by 18 points to 2, after a pointless first-half.

Interest in the Northern Union Cup was almost stillborn, as Wigan, at Central Park in the 1st Round, riddled our defence with a series of combined attacking moves and scored 38 points without reply.

1913-14

1913-14

Although this season could in no way be described as outstandingly successful the Committee certainly left no stone unturned in their attempts to build a powerful combination. Unfortunately a great deal of their efforts were eventually wasted as this campaign was to be the last one before the outbreak of the first World War.

The opening games saw the introduction of three new players: Bernard Patrick Gould, forward, whose consistently good work with Penarth, Glamorgan Police and Aberavon had earned him a Glamorganshire cap; Fred Perrett, Welsh International forward, whose club experience was gained with Briton Ferry, Aberavon and Neath; and John West, half-back from Cross Keys.

Early reverses at Huddersfield and Hunslet indicated that the team would be unlikely to achieve any success in the League Championship, and this was more than confirmed when Wakefield Trinity gained victories at Headingley on successive Saturdays. The first match was in the League programme and the Trinitarians only narrowly gained the verdict by 9 points to 8, but a week later, in the 2nd Round of the Yorkshire Cup, the margin was much greater, though In fairness it must be stated that Leeds were handicapped for more than three parts of the game as W. H. Davies was compelled to leave the field owing to a thigh injury.

So by November 1st, our hopes of a Yorkshire Cup triumph had been frustrated, and three more consecutive League defeats in that month dispelled any faint hopes there may have been of gaining a prominent position in the League table. When the final reckoning was made at the end of the season we had only 18 victories to show out of 34 engagements, and our position was tenth.

The 1st Round of the Northern Union Cup brought Keighley to Headingley and they were well and truly beaten by 39 points to nil. The luck of the draw took us to Belle Vue to meet Wakefield Trinity yet again. No team could have been called upon to face a harder task, especially as the Trinitarians had already gained two victories at Headingley. However, the knowledge that the league match at Belle Vue had resulted in a pointless draw was some consolation, and Leeds went into the match determined to salvage something from the season's disasters. When at half-time, Leeds were leading by 6 points to nil, and Wakefield had lost the services of half-back Newbould, who had been dismissed from the field just before the interval, it looked odds on a Leeds victory. But a tactical error played into Wakefield's hands: Ward was withdrawn from the Leeds pack to help the defence. Consequently, Wakefield made it a forward battle, and no pack ever responded more bravely, gaining almost constant possession from the serums. A drop goal by Land, of Wakefield, was balanced by a Stacey goal for Leeds, but then a Willie Davies clearing kick was charged down by Poynton, who literally walked over for a try, which Kershaw improved. Then five minutes from the end Crossland fielded a clearing kick from Stacey, and II marked" at a spot about seven yards inside the Leeds half. Beattie placed the ball on the half-way line and kicked a miraculous goal to give Trinity the victory. The teams were as follows: Leeds: Lewis; W. H. Davies, Campbell, W. A. Davies, Stacey; Ganley, Sanders; Webster, Harrison, Sutton, Mirfield, Godward, Ward. Wakefield Trinity: Land; Abbott, Lynch, Poynton, Howarth; Newbould, Kershaw; Dixon, Crossland, Beattie, Johnson, Parkin E., Burton.

This defeat was the II last straw" in a disappointing season, but there had been indications from time to time that eventually the team would become a real power in the game. Recruiting had continued at full pressure and new arrivals during the campaign included: Joseph Hopkins, centre, and Arthur Llewellyn, winger, both from Abertillery; Ivor Jones, half-back. from Neath; Belfred Ward, centre, from Featherstone Rovers, and D. H. Blakey, forward, who had played with the Durham County team on nine occasions. In addition, Thomas Harkness, a product of Leeds and District Intermediate football graduated from the" A" team with whom he had played for two seasons, and showed exceptional promise. An offer of £400 was made to Huddersfield for the services of their celebrated centre, Edgar Wrigley, but Hunslet topped this figure by £100, and the player went to Parkside. There was some doubt as to Wrigley's fitness and Leeds were consequently unwilling to go beyond their original offer. Some few months later Hunslet placed Wrigley on the transfer list at £500, and thus the judgment of the Leeds Committee was vindicated.

Transfers during the campaign included: A. D. Dennis, to York; F. W. Orchard, to Brighouse Rangers; and E. Chapman, to Featherstone Rovers. Willie Davies and Billy Jarman were honoured with selection for the party to tour Australia.

1914-15

1914-15

The season opened on September 5th in an atmosphere of tension and anxiety, for August had suddenly precipitated a world conflict that few had anticipated and none relished, a conflict which was to reveal latent resources in our national characteristics. And so it was with unpredictable Leeds!! The team rose to great heights in the League programme and even gained the right to challenge Huddersfield in the Championship Final. Unfortunately this task was well beyond their capabilities.

The team was strengthened through the addition of Billy Lynch, centre, from York; George Rees, forward, from Ammanford; Albert Jenkinson, winger, from Hunslet; Jack Chilcott, forward, from Huddersfield; and Fred Carter, forward, from Castleford. George Rees was to serve the club as a player for nine seasons, to tour Australasia in 1920, and to return to Headingley as a member of the permanent staff after service at Dewsbury and York. Albert Jenkinson had made Test appearances against Australia at Edinburgh and Birmingham, whilst Jack Chilcott had just returned from the Australasian Tour with Willie Davies, with whom he had played in that famous Rorke's Drift game.

There was great satisfaction when it was learned that" Dinny " Campbell had agreed to extend his contract for a further period of four years.

There were, however, absentees: Bernard Gould was not to turn out again until 1919, Tommy Harkness was" loaned" to York, and Billy Jarman, who had also just completed the Australasian tour was required for military service and was never to wear the Leeds Jersey again.

Interest in the Cup Competitions was short lived. We did not proceed beyond the first round: Hunslet won at Headingley by 13 points to II in the Yorkshire Cup, and Warrington won at Wilderspool by the odd point.

The League programme opened in excellent fashion with four victories off the reel, but Bramley then gained a shock victory at Barley Mow-their first win over Leeds since 1900. Only one game was won out of the next four, but the team then settled down to give some consistently fine displays and by Good Friday were holding fourth place in the table.

A great deal obviously depended on the Easter Matches. A splendid Good Friday victory over Hull K.R. at Craven Street, was followed on the Saturday by a home victory over Oldham, but the visit to Central Park on Easter Monday resulted in a heavy defeat by 34 points to 12. Everything depended on the last match, but the players rose to the occasion and gained a comfortable win over Bradford Northern at Headingley.

Huddersfield, Wigan, Leeds and Rochdale Hornets held the first four places and few could have relished the visit to Central Park in the Semi-Final, particularly so in view of that crushing defeat on Easter Monday. But Wigan, on this occasion, were inferior in every department of play and Leeds were through to their first Championship Final appearance. The teams at Central Park were as follows: Leeds-Haycox; W. H. Davies, W. A. Davies, Campbell, Lewis; Jones, Sanders; Godward, Rees, Carter, Chilcott, Ward, Webster. Wigan-Seddon; Bradley, Curran, Price, Miller; Thomas, Owens; Seeling, Francis, Cold rick, Whitaker, Hayward, Haigh.

The Final took place at Belle Vue, Wakefield and there was a great deal of interest in the game as a result of the unexpected Leeds victory at Central Park. In winning by 35 points to 2, Huddersfield set up a record score for the League Final, the previous record being that of 29 points to 2 by which Huddersfield beat Wigan on the same ground in 1913. The foundation of Huddersfield's success was laid in the first ten minutes. Leeds were defending desperately in their own" 25 ", and in watching for a move on the part of the opposing backs they were taken unawares by the unexpected wheeling of a scrummage twenty yards from their line. Sanders and Jones failed to stop the rush of the oncoming forwards, and when Clark smartly picked up the ball he had an easy run for a try near the posts. Gronow added the goal. Immediately upon the resumption Leeds made an incursion Into the Huddersfield quarters, where Jenkinson was well held by Rosenfeld in an attempt to break through. A bout of passing by the Huddersfield backs ended in Moorhouse punting over the head of Lewis, and Campbell had to carry the ball over his line to prevent a score. From the resultant scrummage Huddersfield scored exactly as they had done before, Gronow, on this occasion, picking up to score a try which he converted. Following this early lead Huddersfield played with all their natural brilliance and attained that wonderful degree of cohesion, which had made them the talk of the Rugby world. The teams were: Leeds-Lewis; W. H. Davies, W. A. Davies, Campbell, Jenkinson; Jones, Sanders; Chilcott, Carter, Rees, Ward, Webster, Godward. Huddersfield-Holland; Rosenfeld, Gleeson, Wagstaff, Moorhouse; Ganley, Rogers; Banks, Clarke, Gronow, Higson, Lee, Longstaffe.

A week later Huddersfield won the Northern Union Cup at Oldham, and thus gained the coveted "Four Cups", a distinction which their brilliant play fully merited.

1915-16

1915-16

Competitive football had now been suspended for the duration of the war, and several clubs were unable to participate in the County Leagues which had been formed owing to the depletion of their playing strength. Clubs were not allowed to make any payment to their players.

Leeds were fortunate in that they were normally able to field something approaching a representative side, and most of the players on the register were able to turn out quite regularly. Joe Brittain, stand-off, who had shown exceptional promise with the II A" team for a number of seasons, made his debut in the opening match against Batley at Headingley and quickly established himself in the First Team. Brittain was to have a distinguished career and to make 210 appearances over a period of nine seasons. Another half-back, J. Thomas, was introduced into the team for the match against Hull at Headingley in October. Tommy Harkness, previously on II loan" to York, returned to Headingley.

Several II guest" players assisted the club from time to time, the more famous amongst them including Harold Wagstaff and Albert Rosenfeld. The season opened with eight consecutive victories, and the first defeat came at The Boulevard on November 6th, Leeds being badly handicapped through injuries sustained by Webster and W. H. Davies. Undefeated in the next sixteen games, Leeds held a commanding position at the head of the "Emergency League Table" at the end of March, but April saw a transformation.

Swinton came to Headingley on April 1st to inflict the second defeat of the season on a Leeds team, weakened through the absence of W. A. Davies, Campbell and Chilcott. A convincing victory over Hull followed, but Dewsbury, who also were making a strong bid for the League leadership, were too good at Crown Flatt for a Leeds team which included Wagstaff and Rosenfeld. .

Everything now depended on the outcome of the last four matches. Barrow presented no difficulties and were heavily defeated by 33 points to 2, but Wigan, at Central Park, before an excellent war-time attendance of 10,000, gained a narrow victory by 5 points to 3, the winning goal being kicked three minutes before the close. Thus more valuable ground had been lost, and there was tremendous interest in the vital match with Dewsbury at Headingley. Leeds had obviously gone II stale" and never looked capable of gaining the winning points, so that Dewsbury coasted to a comfortable ten points victory, and snatched the leadership from Leeds, who had held first place from September. Although our closing match, versus Hull, brought a comfortable win, Dewsbury made no mistake in their last game at Craven Street, and we had to settle for second place.

1916-17

1916-17

The Emergency league Competition continued. Leeds experienced increasing difficulty in raising representative sides, and had to call on a far greater number of " guest" players, but we had a most successful season, finishing once again as runners-up to Dewsbury.

The campaign opened in splendid fashion with six consecutive victories, the three at Headingley being of a very impressive nature: Dewsbury lost by 39 points to nil, Hunslet by 29 points to 5, and Huddersfield by 52 points to nil. As in the previous season Hull, at The Boulevard, broke the winning sequence.

Following a victory over Hunslet at Headingley, we met with a narrow defeat at Mount Pleasant, but then came sixteen successive matches without defeat, so that at the end of January we held the leading position in the league table. But Dewsbury, too, were enjoying a similar spell of success after an indifferent start and had climbed the table in a challenging manner since November. The previous season's battle for honours was to be fought all over again and everything hinged on the Leeds v. Dewsbury clash at Headingley on Easter Tuesday.

Unfortunately we were unable to call on W. A. Davies and Joe Brittain, who had hoped to be on leave from the Royal Navy. Hunslet and Bramley players came to our assistance, but a disorganised team was no match for Dewsbury who gained a comfortable victory by 13 points to 2. Leeds fielded the following team: Haycox; Rigby (Bramley), Campbell, Todd, Marshall; Hughes (Bramley), Jones (Hunslet); Webster, Chilcott, Harkness, Carter, Pearson (Hunslet), Walker (Hunslet).

The match played under Rugby Union Rules against the Royal Naval Depot team from Plymouth was a very enjoyable innovation and roused great enthusiasm amongst the Headingley supporters. The teams were as follows: The Navy: J. Jarvis (Somerset and Bridgwater); A. Hoar (Somerset and Devon), W. A. Davies (Wales, Devon, Leeds), S. G. Tovey (Monmouthshire and Pontypool), A. W. Ackroyd (Halifax); J. Brittain (Leeds), S. J. Budd (Bristol); H. Snell (Devon), J. Atkinson, (Aberavon), T. Williams (Swansea), H. Reynolds (Stroud), E. J. Davies (Neath), J. Urquhart (United Services), D. Keift (United Services), W. Luddington (United Services). Leeds-Haycox; Buck (Hunslet), Campbell, Todd (Wakefield), Lynch; Fawcett, Thackrah; Webster, Higson (Huddersfield), Banks (Huddersfield), Blakey (Wakefield), Marshall, Barraclough, Mirfield, Pte. Godward.

1917-18

1917-18

Owing to the unavailability of so many players because of Service duties teams were reduced to 12-a-side for the Emergency League.

The season opened in a blaze of glory once again, with eight victories off the reel, and some were particularly convincing, though it must be borne in mind that the selection of "scratch" teams often resulted in high scoring matches: Hull went down at Headingley by 44 points to nil, Halifax fared even worse with a defeat by 52 points to 3, and Hull K.R. were defeated at Craven Street by 32 points to 7. One feature of this opening victory sequence was that Hull held no terrors for Leeds on this occasion although similar spells of success in the two previous seasons had been broken at The Boulevard.

Everything augured well for another good season but November brought a transformation. Hunslet scored the first success of the season against Leeds with a victory at Parkside by 7 points to 5. The next four matches, against Bradford Northern, Batley, Hull and, Halifax, resulted in two draws and two losses. From that time the team revealed" in and out form" for the remainder of the season and never seriously challenged for the leadership. But few supporters were really concerned with achievement of" honours ", as the long drawn out hostilities had naturally caused a Jack of interest in sport. There were far more serious things to bother about.

The Royal Naval Depot team visited Headingley on Christmas Eve for a match played under Rugby Union Rules, and gained a victory by 9 points to 3. Navy-T. Campbell (Devon and Cornwall); H. Buck (Yorkshire and Hunslet), A. Hudson (England and Gloucestershire), A. W. Ackroyd (Halifax). J. W. Todd (Wakefield Trinity); J. Brittain, (Leeds), S. J. Budd (Bristol); D. Holland (England and Oldham), J. Edwards (Plymouth), L. Wallen (Newton Abbott), G. Reynolds (Stroud), A. Cutler (R.N. Depot), D. Milton (Devon port Albion), W. J. Snell (Seaton), Lt. T. J. Murphy (Ireland). Leeds-R. Hughes (Bramley); W. H. Davies, Campbell, W. Batten (Hull), Lynch; Habron and Ward (Bramley); Webster, Harkness, Godward, Carter, Marshall, Blakey, Chilcott, Crosland (Dewsbury).

Many imagined that the Naval men had an advantage through playing to the Rugby Union Rules but a few days later they proved themselves quite as adaptable at the /3-a-side game when they beat a Leeds team by 24 points to 3. On this occasion the teams were as follows: Navy-T. Campbell (Devon and Cornwall); H. Buck (Yorkshire and Hunslet), J. Parkin (Wakefield Trinity), A. W. Ackroyd (Halifax), J. W. Todd (Wakefield Trinity); J. Brittain (Leeds), S. J. Budd (Bristol); D. Holland (England and Oldham), J. Edwards (Plymouth), G. Reynolds (Stroud), A. Cutler (R. N. Depot), W. J. Snell (Seaton), S. Cranch (United Services). Leeds-Duckworth (Hunslet); Carter, Lynch, Beames (Halifax), Jones (Hunslet); Ward (Bramley), Habron; Pearson (Huns/et), Fisher (Hunslet), Anderson. Crosland (Wakefield Trinity), Harkness, Sykes.

1918-19

1918-19

The Emergency League continued on a 12-a-side basis for the opening months of the season, but with the cessation of hostilities on November 11th, the League Secretary, Mr. John Wilson, and his Committee made immediate arrangements for the resumption of a fully competitive League programme. This was arranged on a County League basis and the first matches were played on January 18th, with the normal complement of 13 players.

Leeds opened with a match at Thrum Hall on January 25th, and although they met with defeat it was a memorable game in that the illustrious Jim Bacon made his first appearance as a bona-fide Leeds player. He had already played under the assumed name of Arthur James some six weeks earlier, when he had visited Leeds to see his old friend, Dan Lewis. His display on that occasion showed obvious skill but it was the Boxing Day International at Swansea, when Wales played a team of amateurs and professionals against the New Zealand" Trench" team, which had the decisive bearing on Bacon's career. That afternoon he partnered Willie Davies, of Leeds, and it was a pass from Davies-one of those straight clean passes for which Davies was famed-which sent Bacon half the length of the field for the winning try. Word of that try and Bacon's speed and dash reached Headingley, and the result of it all was a trip by Mr. James Goldthorpe, then the Leeds Secretary, and Dan Lewis to Cross Keys. Bacon thought that he was not good enough for professional football, but the Leeds folk did and they felt highly satisfied when they got his signature to the necessary forms. The happenings of the following nine years prove that the capture of Bacon was one of the best pieces of business ever done in Wales by Leeds officials.

In February, Leeds negotiated the transfer from Bramley of Squire Stockwell, winger, who had been assisting Leeds for some months during the War Emergency, and had revealed such promise that the Committee were anxious to retain his services. L. Marshall joined the Barley Mow club in part exchange. Stockwell proved to be another great capture, and his name is still revered by those who were fortunate enough to see him in action. Efforts continued to be made at full pressure to bring the playing strength up to the desired standard. W. N. Whiting, forward, was signed towards the end of the season, but his career at Headingley was to be comparatively short.

The Leeds record in the shortened County League programme was encouraging. Hull headed the table, but we finished as runners-up.

1919-20

1919-20

Although no major honours came to Headingley this was a remarkably good season for those who wore the" blue and amber" jersey: Yorkshire Cup runners-up, Yorkshire League runners-up, and semi-finalists in the League Championship.

The league programme opened at Fartown where, although Leeds met with defeat, there was much in their display to give encouragement for the future. J. H. Roberts, making his debut at full back, was obviously lacking in confidence but he improved tremendously through the season. Six consecutive league victories followed and, in spite of a subsequent defeat at Craven Street at the hands of Hull K.R., the team went into the Yorkshire Cup competition brimful of confidence.

Dewsbury were 1st Round visitors to Headingley, and a crowd of fully 20,000 assembled to see a stirring struggle. There were many unseemly incidents, one of which resulted in the dismissal of Moran, the Leeds forward, early in the game. Leading by 5 points to 2 at the interval, Leeds soon yielded an unconverted try to Sharples, the centre, to make the scores level. Dewsbury now put on the pressure and appeared certain to win, but twelve minutes from the end Campbell broke through and handed on to Stockwell whose speed was too much for Billy Rhodes, the Dewsbury full-back. Bramley could not cope with the speed of the Leeds back division in the 2nd Round and Bacon's three tries saw Leeds through comfortably to the Semi-Final. The luck of the draw favoured Leeds yet again against Batley, but a very heavy early morning snowfall, which necessitated the employment of a large gang of workers at short notice, created conditions all against the Leeds backs. In spite of this an extremely fine match resulted. The interval came with Leeds leading by 8 points to nil, but the" Gallant Youths" stormed into the attack in the second half and quickly reduced the lead by five points, through a try scored by Ellis which Murphy converted. Then thrills followed in quick succession: Campbell saved an almost certain try when he raced back to cover a kick-through by Jackson; Bacon strode through the middle, kicked over the full back's head, and then knocked on with the line at his mercy; Davies put Bacon in for an unconverted try; Batley, now six points in arrears, stormed back, and Jackson knocked on with a try there for the asking; and then, Bacon, with two minutes to go, used his speed magnificently to run round under the posts to give Davies an easy conversion, which sealed the game.

The Cup Final match was played at Halifax against the redoubtable Huddersfield, on a "bony" ground covered with white frost. A fast open game developed but Leeds sadly disappointed their supporters by a weak display in the department in which their greatest strength lay-the backs failed dismally to produce their true form, whilst their pack, which had previously caused some concern, rose to the occasion magnificently. Leeds were never in the game with a chance and Huddersfield fully deserved their victory by 24 points to 5. The teams were: Leeds-Roberts; Bacon, Campbell, W. A. Davies, Stockwell; Jenkinson, Brittain; Mirfield, Webster, Godward, Ward, Whiting, Carter. Huddersfield-Holland, Rosenfeld, Gleeson, Wagstaff, Moorhouse; Habron, Rogers; Lee, Clark, Gronow, Swinden, Sherwood, Naylor.

The players now set about the task of consolidating their position in the League, and the victory over Wakefield Trinity at Headingley, in Fred Webster's benefit match, gave them a place on the fringe of the" First Four". Webster had given yeoman service to the Leeds club, commencing his career in 1902, and putting in 543 appearances before his retirement. His benefit match was marked, too, through the debut of Bill Davis, forward, from Gloucester, who was to give similar loyal service as Webster over a period of ten seasons.

The period up to the commencement of the Northern Union Cup Competition brought little satisfaction to either players or supporters: apart from a refreshing victory over Wigan at Headingley, there was little to enthuse about with five defeats and several unconvincing victories.

Additions to the playing strength before the Cup register closed included: G. S. Reynolds, forward, from Stroud, who had played at Headingley the previous season as a member of the Devonport Naval team; R. J. Ward, half-back from Bramley, who had turned out for Leeds as a .. guest" player during the war; and S. Short, centre.

Millom, who visited Headingley in the 1st Round of the N.U. Cup, were well beaten by 44 points to 5, but it is worthy of note that S. O. Walmsley, playing at centre for Millom, scored the first try of the match. Four weeks later he was to make his debut for Leeds against Wakefield Trinity, and thus commence a distinguished career in the Leeds jersey.

Leeds gained a sensational victory in the closing minutes of the 2nd Round match at Rochdale. With four minutes to go there was no score, and none seemed likely until John Corsi endeavoured to give his brother Joe a running chance. Stockwell stole the pass, and set off for the line with half the length of the field to go. Hesketh, the Rochdale full back came across to intercept his man, but Stockwell checked his pace, swerved, and skipped inside to score a glorious try, which Bacon converted with a magnificent kick from a mud patch.

The 3rd Round took us into Lancashire yet again, this time to Oldham. Conditions were atrocious, with snow, fog and mud. Leeds were unfortunate in that they had to face a severe snowstorm in the first half, and then lost George Rees through an ankle injury for fully three parts of the game. Oldham won by 9 points to nil, but Leeds were gallant losers in conditions which made the game almost farcical.

The last opportunity to bring a trophy to Headingley came in the League semi-final at Hull, but Leeds, well beaten in a very scrappy game, were handicapped through the absence of their three tourists: Rees, Bacon and Stockwell whose sterling work had fully merited their selection.

1920-21

1920-21

This was an extremely disappointing season in which the team failed to justify the high hopes which were entertained after the triumphs of the previous campaign.

The League programme opened with a splendid victory at The Boulevard, by 16 points to 6, which was an extremely good performance in view of the fact that the three tourists had not yet returned. There were three debutants: E. J. Owens, at full back, W. F. Wanklyn, at half-back and W. Pearson in the forwards.

Another victory, at Clarence Street, followed and then mighty Wigan were entertained at Headingley. This proved to be a grand game, which was memorable for the wonderful try scored by Dinny Campbell who raced through the whole of the Wigan team from his own" 25". Unfortunately, Wanklyn sustained a fractured collar bone towards the end of the match, and there was a good deal of speculation as to how the Selection Committee would deal with this problem for the visit to Fartown. They decided to introduce a young" A " team player, Arthur Binks. He certainly justified the faith placed in him, and Huddersfield only gained a victory by the narrow margin of two points to nil. Binks had certainly" come to stay" and was to play for Leeds with great distinction for seven seasons before going to Wigan whom he served equally well.

Home victories over Hunslet and Widnes, and a defeat at Batley followed, prior to the opening of the Yorkshire Cup Competition. Wakefield Trinity, the" old enemy", were the 1st Round visitors to Headingley and the game provided the thrilling encounter which all had anticipated. Although Leeds held a lead of 8 points to 2 at the interval the Trinitarians came into the game strongly in the second half and the issue was in the balance until the last fifteen minutes in which wingers Walmsley and J. H. Roberts scored the tries which clinched the victory. For the visit of Hull K.R. in the 2nd Round Leeds were strengthened by the inclusion of Bacon and Stockwell, and consequently were tipped to win, but the Craven Street forwards scrummaged so very strongly that apart from one brief period after the interval Leeds had to play second fiddle, and lost by 8 points to 2. The outstanding player of the match was the Rover's serum half, McGeiver.

Following the exit from the Cup competition only one game was won out of the next four with a consequent slide in the League table, but the team then had a very successful spell winning six consecutive victories, the last of them being over Dewsbury at Headingley, in Dinny Campbell's Benefit match on December 29th. Thus, at the turn of the year we held 6th place and were within easy reach of the leaders, but the New Year resolutions were certainly not kept as we suffered seven defeats in the last sixteen League matches!!

Prior to the closure of the Cup Register two forwards made their first appearance in Leeds colours: J. Hardaker, from Bradford Northern and H. W. Trusler from Northampton.

1st Round opponents in the Northern Union Cup were Hunslet at Parkside, and the tremendous interest in this" Derby" clash was evidenced by the crowd of more than 25,000, creating a new attendance record for the Hunslet ground. Leeds held a lead of 5 points to 2 at the interval, and apparently had the game well in hand when Bacon scored an unconverted try midway through the second half. But then Hunslet made a terrific effort. Guerin found touch at the corner with a penalty kick which went well over half the length of the field. From the resulting scrummage the Hunslet forwards forced their way over for a try, which Guerin converted with a capitally judged kick. Only a point now divided the teams. Leeds showed signs of panic, but they held out to win by 8 points to 7.

Salford were outclassed at Weaste in the 2nd Round, the Leeds back division combining splendidly. Called upon to travel for the third time in succession Leeds went down very gallantly at Fartown by only 5 points to 3. After eleven minutes Moorhouse scored a miraculous try when hemmed in to the touchllne by three opponents, but the Leeds defence then stood firm to the interval. Early in the second half Ward gathered a return pass from the left wing to gallop over for the equalising try. A few minutes later and with half an hour still to play, Rosenfeld was compelled to retire with a leg injury. Leeds piled on the pressure but it was Huddersfield who scored through a penalty goal awarded for obstruction. Leeds still had a great chance of pulling the game out of the fire but they seemed loth to take chances. It was a case of nothing ventured, nothing won, and Huddersfield proved the truth of that in no uncertain fashion. In the closing minutes they threw all they had into attack and ran out worthy winners. The hero of the match was undoubtedly Arthur Binks, serum half, who proved himself equal to all the strategy and guile of the renowned Johnny Rogers. The teams were: Leeds-Roberts: Walmsley, Davies, W. A., Bacon, Stockwell; Brittain, Binks; Hardaker, Gould, Godward, Pearson, Davis, Ward. Huddersfield-Thomas; Rosenfeld, Pogson, Wagstaff, Moorhouse; Williams, Rogers; Swinden, Gronow, Fenwick, Clark, Naylor, Sherwood.

1921-22

1921-22

The team displayed brilliant form in their opening spell, the only defeat in the first nine League engagements being at Widnes. During this period several players made their first appearance in Leeds colours: A. Brown, Welsh International scrum half from Newport; F. A. Davage, J. Dixon and R. Boagey in the forwards.

It was therefore as League leaders that Leeds entertained Huddersfield at Headingley in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup. The game, which was played at a rare pace, will no doubt be recalled as Stockwell's match. He snapped up a loose ball in the first three minutes and rounded three opponents to score at the corner, and then again, shortly after the interval, he intercepted a pass from, Wagstaff to score another of his sensational tries after a run over half the length of the field. Leeds won comfortably by II points to 2, and went on to reach the final stage of the competition with victories over Halifax and Bramley.

The other finalists were Dewsbury, and Thrum Hall was the venue. Harold Buck who had been transferred from Hunslet some three weeks earlier was ineligible, and Leeds were further handicapped through the absence of Stockwell and Trusler who were unfit. But the misfortunes of Leeds were of small moment compared to the tragedy which befell Dewsbury early in the game when Albert Jenkinson, the ex-Leeds player, sustained a fractured leg. The superior play of the Leeds backs was responsible for the victory which brought the Yorkshire Cup to Headingley for the first time, but many wondered how the game would have gone if Dewsbury had not been depleted, for the issue hung in the balance until six minutes before the close. The teams were: Leeds-Roberts; Walmsley, W. A. Davies, Bacon, W. H. Davies; Brittain, Brown; Gould, Hardaker, Godward, Boagey, Pearson, Ward. Dewsbury-Seddon; Bates, Rees, Catterall, Lyman; Jenkinson, Rogers; Craven, Dixon, Gallagher, Sharples, Birch, Leeke.

Four days later Bradford Northern were heavily defeated at Birch Lane, and we were apparently well set for a bid for the Championship, but then came five consecutive defeats at the hands of Huddersfield, Bramley, Warrington, and York (home and away). Although the players stopped the rot with a victory over Hunslet at Headingley on Boxing Day, and followed it up a day later with a splendid win over a strong Warrington team, defeats at Dewsbury, Hull and Huddersfield in January and February led to a consequent slide in the league table.

Unpredictable as ever, Leeds rose to the occasion in magnificent style at St. Helens in the 1st Round of the Northern Un ion Cup Competition and gained a fine win over the "Recs" by 20 points to 5. Leeds held a five points lead at the interval but the furious onslaught of the" Recs" forwards gave the Leeds defenders many anxious moments in the second half. Pyke reduced the deficit with a penalty kick, and then Owen scored an unconverted try at the corner to make the scores level.

There was a distinct prospect of a draw up to ten minutes from the final whistle at which stage Cracknell, who was playing his third game in Leeds colours, showed commendable determination in scoring under the posts. That try was the turning point and Leeds ran out comfortable winners by 20 points to 5.

Leeds went on to gain a fine victory at Craven Street, a victory which raised the intense ire of the Hull partisans who openly resented many decisions given by the Referee. The luck of the draw called for yet another trip, this time to Rochdale, and the clash with the Hornets brought back memories of that 2nd Round clash two years earlier when Stockwell won the match with his sensational try. On this occasion, however, Rochdale gained the initiative straight from the kick-off and had secured a lead of 13 points to nil before half-time. Leeds rallied in the second half but were unable to wipe out such a big deficit. Following this gallant exit from the Cup Competition the team made an all-out bid for a place in the coveted" first-four," but their chance of appearing in the League semi-finals were marred by defeats at the hands of Rochdale Hornets, Wakefield Trinity and Wigan.

There was still a faint chance when Bramley came to Headingley for the last match of the season, but the narrow Leeds victory was of no avail as Hull made no slip at Warrington and thus gained fourth place to the exclusion of Leeds. There were two other items of interest: Australia had to struggle hard to beat a full strength Leeds team by II points to 5; and Stockwell gained a place amongst the immortals with a brilliant try at Headingley in the Test match, a try which Leeds followers still recall with admiration to this day, a try which came from a pass given by the illustrious Jim Bacon.

Other signings during the season included: W. Anderson, winger; W. E. Lyons, winger, from Cross Keys; C. Arandle, forward. In addition three players who had graduated from the" A .. Team were to give valuable service: J. Roberts, half-back; G. Kibbler, forward; and J. Woolmore, half-back, who was to prove a good utility man over several seasons.

It is also interesting to note that the Leeds agents were recommending a player by the now famous name of Billo Rees who, it was suggested, would come North for £400. Negotiations were prolonged, and Rees eventually went to Swinton.

1922-23

1922-23

1923!! At the mention of that year the eyes of the older supporters sparkle with glee as they invariably say: "That's the year we won the Cup." And then they go on to sing the praises of the famous Busy B's.

Buck, Bacon, Binks, and Brittain had been a formidable quartet in the previous season but now they were joined by W. E. Bowen, the Welsh International stand-off half, from Swansea. His brilliant displays at both stand-off and centre during the season will long be remembered, and it was a great loss to the club and to the game in general when his career was cut short owing to illness. But more of that later.

The League programme opened with a defeat at Rochdale, but six victories out of the next eight matches put the team in good heart for the task of retaining the Yorkshire Cup. G. Jackson and A. G. Thomas made their first appearances in the Leeds pack. "Ginger" Thomas was to develop into a real stalwart and was to gain Test and County honours during his nine years at Headingley.

Featherstone Rovers, who were 1st Round opponents, could not cope with the speedy combination of the Leeds backs, and Bradford Northern, too, met with a similar fate in the next round. There were, quite naturally, visions of another Cup triumph when Batley were drawn to play at Headingley in the Semi-Final, but Leeds met with a sensational defeat by 28 points to nil. Just before the interval Stockwell had to retire from the game owing to a knee injury and Leeds had then to face terrific odds as Batley held an eight points lead. Almost the whole of the second half was played in the Leeds" 25 ", as Batley applied constant pressure. Five minutes from the end the Leeds indignity was complete when Bacon was dismissed for alleged tripping. The teams were: Leeds-Walmsley; Buck, W. A. Davies, Bacon, Stockwell; Brittain, Binks; Dixon, Jackson, Hardaker, Davis, Kibbler, Ward. Batley-Robinson; Murray, Rees, Williams, Carter A.; Scott, Fowler; Carter F., Gardiner, Douglas, Ramsbottom, Brennan, Mortimer.

The displays given in January and early February did not suggest that Leeds were likely to meet with any great success in the Northern Union Cup Competition. They were, however, strengthened in February through the signing of J. A. Ashton, loose forward, from York, and J. F. Thompson, Welsh International forward, from Cross Keys. Ashton had only a short career at Headingley but his experience was a vital factor in this cup campaign. Joe Thompson was destined for the highest honours in the game, and was to wear the Leeds jersey with great distinction for eleven seasons. Other debutants included E. Armitage half-back, and A. Slater, full-back.

The 1st Round at Leigh was a tough assignment, but Leeds played with rare determination to win through by II points to 5, features of their display being the dominance of Binks, at the base of the serum, and the brilliant defensive work of Walmsley at full back. Huddersfield, who were 2nd Round visitors to Headingley, were well and truly beaten by 19 points to 8, before a crowd of 34,300. The try which Bowen scored just before the end of the match was a demonstration of all the arts: a clever ground kick past the Huddersfield half-backs, a quick follow up, a smart pick-up, and a saucy dummy. York had to bow the knee at Clarence Street in the next round and chief credit for this Leeds victory must go to a lusty pack of young forwards: Pickles, Jackson, Trusler, Thompson, Davis, Ashton. The Semi-final match with Barrow at Broughton ended in a pointless draw, but Buck must long have wondered how he allowed the ball to slip from his grasp when the line was only five yards away. Bill Burgess, too, almost won the game in the very last minute with a penalty shot which just curled a foot wide. As a result of the re-play, at Salford, Leeds worthily went into the Final. A remarkable feature of the game was the fact that for more than an hour neither side could score, but once Binks with a clever break had paved the way for a try by Davis, 17 more points were scored by Leeds in the last twenty minutes.

The story of the Cup Final match is given in the following press report:

CUP FINAL WON BY LEEDS

A brilliant all round victory The second appearance of the Leeds Club in the final for the Rugby League-formerly the Northern Union-Challenge Cup, was an even more satisfactory one than was their first venture thirteen years ago. Then they defeated the Hull representatives in a re-play by 26 points to 12, and so set up a scoring record for the final-a record which stood for five years until Huddersfield ran up 3S points against St. Helens. On Saturday, at Wakefield, in the twenty-third final for the Cup, Leeds, by a curious chance opposed to Hull again, went one better than their 1910 final, and scored 28 points to the solitary try registered by their opponents. The score reflected the game!

This was the first Rugby League Cup Final played on the ground of the Wakefield Club, and the League authorities had no reason to regret their choice. The number of spectators who passed through the gates was 29,350, and the cash receipts were £2,590. Thus, though no records were broken, the results were very satisfactory. The ground was hard and dry, and the weather conditions all that could be desired. There was a slight breeze, but it gave little advantage to Hull who were favoured in the Spin of the coin. Leeds played the side which proved so decisively successful at Salford in the Barrow re-play, whilst Hull had Samuel, the ex-Welsh R.U. international, at full back, in place of Rogers, who had an injured knee, and Whitty was in Batten's berth at centre three-quarter.

Leeds' superiority was very clearly marked; indeed, so great was their advantage after they had taken the lead, that it would not have been surprising had they set up a new final scoring record. Hull were as completely vanquished as ever a side has been in a final. They were never given a chance to rouse the hopes of their many followers, for they could not cope with the speed and skill of the Leeds men, and their fate was written twenty-two minutes from the kick-off, when Buck opened the Leeds scoring account. From that point to the close, except for spasmodic Hull rallies here and there, Leeds were confident aggressors. They held a master hand in which Thompson, Davis, Binks, Bacon and Bowen especially, were the big" cards "-there was no one quite like them on the Hull side.

The Men of the Match.

The Leeds forward play in the loose was a revelation. Davis and Thompson, assisted manfully by Trusler and Ashton, were always moving with the ball, and so complete was their domination at times that the Hull forwards, a heavier pack, were swept away. Even the mighty Taylor could not turn the tide. Usually the outstanding forward on the field, he was dwarfed into insignificance for the greater part of the game. Behind this swift moving, deadly effective Leeds pack was the wonderfully efficient Binks. He was in a happy mood, and though Caswell was a worrier, he played easily and coolly, and always called the tune. He was usually in the vicinity of the ball or the man with the ball, and he was equally alert to snap up the ball when it became loose, or to snap up the opponent who held on to the ball.

Alongside Binks was Brittain, who played with a nasty cut over his eye for 75 minutes of the game, but, despite this, Brittain was in a sufficiently happy frame of mind to give of his best. He and Binks saw that Bacon and Bowen were given full opportunities to assert their skill and speed, whilst the two wing men, Lyons and Buck, were always worrying the Hull defence. Walmsley had the happy and unusual experience for a full back of scoring a try in a final. He kicked a long-length ball with an accuracy only rivalled by Bacon, and Samuel, the Hull full back, who did all a full back behind a beaten team could do; whilst his work with his three-quarters was as pleasing to the Leeds crowd as it was discomforting to the Hull men.

How Scores were obtained

The first fifteen minutes of the game were comparatively tame, though so early on the Leeds forwards indicated their determination by the way in which they held the heavy Hull pack. Thompson had a couple of penalty shots at goal, but in neither case did he get the range. There was a lot of kicking in these early stages, but when the Leeds backs turned to their real game they showed how great an advantage they possessed. Then the Leeds forwards, with Davis and Trusler to the fore, got their feet to the ball, and swept into the Hull quarters, and the right wing, where Bowen and Buck had a nice understanding, began to press. Buck was over once, but was called back for a forward pass. However, a similar move, a moment later, gave the Headingley men the lead. It was the ubiquitous Binks who set the line going. Like a flash the ball passed from him to Brittain, on to Bowen, and then to Buck, who darted through a baffled defence to score in a position which enabled Thompson to place a goal.

Caswell fought hard, and once, after taking the ball almost out of Walmsley's hands, dribbled close to the line. It was a near thing, but the full back's speed saved the situation. From this point to the interval it was Leeds' game. Their football was a long way in front of that of Hull, whose backs were anything but happy. Leeds' second. try came a few minutes before half-time. A typical rush by Bacon took the ball within a few yards of the Hull line. The Leeds captain passed at the right time, and Ashton, Brittain, and Bowen again combined to outwit the defenders, and the ex-Swansea man placed the ball under the posts. Thompson's kick was all that was necessary to give Leeds their commanding lead of ten points at half-time.

The Hull forwards had some success in the first five minutes of the second half, but Brittain, Bacon and Bowen never gave the Hull backs an inch to work in. Once more the dribbling of Davis and Thompson told its tale, and Leeds were the attackers again. A great run by Lyons, one of the most promising of wing men, illustrated the superiority of the Leeds back division, and then Davis, the forward, picking up the ball in the loose, showed the speed of the forwards by breaking clean through the Hull defence for a try under the posts. Thompson kicked his third goal. Hull were rendered helpless almost at this period. Brittain gained the fourth try, and again Thompson goaled. The match was as good as over at this point. A run by Buck on the wing resulted in an inside pass to Ashton who scored the fifth try despite the challenge of Morgan. This time Thompson's goal kick struck the upright.

Then came Hull's belated try. Buck and Bowen both failed to field the ball, and Stone had the chance to show his opportunism. He passed to Kennedy, who made the score. Walmsley's try completed Hull's rout. The full back started to run in his own half. He and Buck went down the field passing and re-passing, until finally the former Millom player made a big dash to score at the corner. Thompson landed his fifth goal, and the final whistle came with the result:- Leeds-S goals 6 tries (28 points) Hull-I try (3 points)

Teams:-

Leeds-Walmsley, full back; Buck, Bowen, Bacon and Lyons, three-quarter backs; Binks and Brittain, half-backs; Trusler, Jackson, Dixon, Davis, Thompson and Ashton, forwards,

Hull-Samuel, full back; Holdsworth, Whitty, Kennedy and Stone, three-quarter backs; Caswell and Gwynne, half backs; Oliver, Bowman, Beasty, Morgan, Taylor and Garrett, forwards.

Referee-Mr. F. Mills, Oldham. Touch Judges-Mr. A. Brown, Wakefield, and Mr. A. Holbrook, Warrington.

1923-24

1923-24

The management faced the season with high hopes, based quite understandably on the cup winning triumph of the previous year. Early League successes over Bradford Northern, Keighley and Swinton certainly promised well. Even a heavy defeat at Thrum Hall by 20 points to nil, in a game marred by the dismissal of Trusler and G. Jackson and an injury to Binks, was quickly countered by five successive victories so that by the end of October Leeds held first place in the League table. November, however, was disastrous: two matches were postponed and we met with two defeats at home so that valuable ground was lost. A partial recovery in December was followed by five successive defeats so that Championship hopes were dead by the end of January and we only attained twelfth place in the final table. The Cup Competitions provided little interest for Leeds!! We were defeated in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup and in the second round of the Rugby League Cup.

Contributory factors to a disappointing season were the constant problems presented by injury, the chief of which was that suffered by Billy Bowen on whom so many hopes had been built. Bowen was unable to play in a single game. Indeed, at the beginning of the season medical opinion suggested that Bowen would be well advised to retire. But Bowen loved his Rugby and before long he was back at Headingley acting as .. coach" in an advisory capacity, and assisting the Captain, Jim Bacon, in training sessions. He was not allowed to actually play, but season 1924-25 was to see him back in action.

Several players were transferred from Leeds during the season: R. H. Cracknell to Huddersfield; George Rees to Dewsbury; F. Godward and J. A. Ashton to Bramley; whilst Billy Ward, Joe Brittain and J. H. Hook went to York to join many ex-Leeds players in Mirfield, Reynolds, Sykes, Whiting, Moran, Owen, Short and Sutton. Billy Ward served the Leeds Club for thirteen years and his transfer broke the last link with the 1910 R. L. Cup Final Team. Squire Stockwell made his last eight appearances with the Club during the season and was eventually placed on the" open to transfer" list.

The more important signings included George Broughton, who had successfully completed his period of trials in the previous season; Horace Bennett, a forward from Cross Keys; H. Goulthorpe, a centre from Robin Hood Colliery; E. D. Roberts, a stand-off from Northampton; Louis Corsi, loose forward and F. Millard, hooker, from York; Eddie Uren, a scrum half; and Jack Grant, a Cardiff scrummager, whose services were obtained to replace Joe Dixon whose police duties had led to a compulsory retirement. Negotiations to obtain the services of the Australian centre, Craig, almost succeeded but the lpswlch Club finally refused to release the player.

Bacon, Walmsley and Thompson were originally selected for the 1st Tour Trial which was played at Headingley, but Walmsley had to withdraw on account of injury, and Buck took part as a deputy for Joe Lyman. Binks, Walmsley and Bacon took part in the second Trial which was played at Wigan. Jim Bacon and Joe Thompson, the latter then only twenty-one, were selected to tour Australia and New Zealand.

Sir Edwin Airey, who had been elected Lord Mayor of Leeds, kicked off in Joe Brittain's Benefit Match versus York at Headingley, and delighted the crowd by taking part in two passing movements, scoring a try under the posts and making the conversion himself.

It is interesting to note that reference is made in the official programme to a Leslie Adams, of Meanwood Road School, who was showing great promise and had already gained City Team Honours. Rugby at Blackpool! !! Leeds met Barrow in a Charity match and the two teams delighted the crowd with a brilliant exhibition.

Ground improvements included the building of the" ginnel wall .. with consequent additional terracing for 4,000 spectators; whilst the roadway In St. Michael's Lane was greatly improved at the Club's expense.

1924-25

1924-25

Although our season's endeavours brought no major honours to Headingley interest was maintained at a high level throughout, and the team certainly met with more success than in the previous campaign.

The season opened on a bright note with the news that Billy Bowen had been given permission to play again, and he was consequently appointed captain. During the close season the management had succeeded in obtaining the services of two talented Welsh Rugby Union International backs: Mel Rosser from Penarth, and Joe Jones from Swansea. Rosser was to play an extremely valuable part in raising the fortunes of the club and during his seven seasons at Headingley, in which he made 223 appearances, he became a great favourite. His sterling play earned him a place in the 1928 party to tour Australia and New Zealand.

Fifteen points from the first nine League matches resulted in the team holding the third place in the table at the end of October, but once again November brought disaster in the shape of five successive defeats-four in the League programme and one in the Yorkshire Cup Semi-Final. By Christmas, then, we had slipped back to tenth position. A successful spell took us back to the fringe of the "first four" by mid February, but a heavy defeat at Headingley at the hands of St. Helens Recs. finally put paid to our championship hopes.

"Lady luck" smiled on us in the Yorkshire Cup Competition as we were drawn at home on each occasion. Victories over Castleford and Dewsbury raised enthusiasm to fever pitch so that 27,000 spectators assembled at Headingley to witness the Semi-Final match with Wakefield Trinity. The game hung in the balance right to the final whistle as Leeds pressed hotly to regain the lead but finally went down by 4 points to S. Many will recall, and few present will ever forget, an incident which probably cost Leeds the match. Leeds were penalised and Pollard essayed a kick at goal. His shot passed some five yards wide of the near post and at a great height. As the ball would have dropped amongst the spectators Walmsley caught it on the full whilst standing with both feet well outside the field of play. He then threw it forward to Bacon for the" drop-out ", but to the amazement of the Leeds players the referee ordered a five-yard scrum immediately in front of the posts A quick heel by Wakefield resulted and .. Jonty" Parkin, always the opportunist, was over the line in a flash. Apparently the touch judge indicated that the goal kick had been unsuccessful but omitted to indicate the ball had also gone dead.

Following an easy win over Twelve Apostles in the 1st Round of the R. L. Cup, we gained a magnificent victory over Wigan at Headingley by 2 points to nil, and once again enthusiasm ran high after Batley had been defeated at Mount Pleasant by 5 points to 4 in the 3rd Round. But the narrow defeat at the hands of Wakefield Trinity in the Yorkshire Cup Semi-Final was repeated in the R.L. Cup Semi-Final when Hull Kingston Rovers won by 7 points to 6. After playing against a strong wind, Leeds faced a deficit of seven points at the interval, but sterling work in the second half almost brought victory in spite of lack of possession from the scrums.

So after a season of great hopes and thrilling matches the only honour left to Leeds was that of being Runners-up in the Yorkshire League Championship, but there were happy memories of many fine victories and several honourable defeats.

Signings made during the season included Tommy Bailey, Winger from Buslingthorpe Vale; W. Stephenson, a forward from Bramley; and Joe Half, a hooker from Dewsbury; whilst two young reserve players, "Ginger" Thomas and Jack Woolmore, showed considerable promise in making 21 and 5 I first team appearances respectively.

Headingley was the venue for two Cup Finals. Wakefield Trinity defeated Batley by nine points to eight to win the Yorkshire Cup, and Oldham won the R.L. Challenge Cup by beating Hull K. R. by sixteen points to three.

1925-26

1925-26

To the management, and to our supporters, too, the season must have been full of frustration and intense disappointment with little apparently to show for all the endeavours, hard work, and loyal support. In hard, unforgiving and unchangeable fact Leeds had once again failed to gain any major honours: 9th in the Northern Rugby League Table, 4th in the Yorkshire League Table, quarterfinalists in the Yorkshire Cup and the Rugby League Cup Competitions. The unseeing and the unknowing might well say, .. No good. No progress. No hope." And yet, we, who can look back in retrospect, see the silver lining to the clouds knowing now, in certainty, that some of the "captures" made in the close season and during the campaign were to add greater glories to "Blue and Amber" and to see glorious days at Headingley.

For we who can now look back, in true perspective, know full well that those who obtained the services of Jim Brough, and Evan Williams had done a great stroke of business for the Leeds Club, and the R.L. game in general, and that these two along with some already at Headingley, and others to follow, were to carry the jersey to greater triumphs.

Jim Brough, an English R. U. International, was signed during the summer of 1925, and he made his first appearance with the Club in the York game at Headingley on 2nd September of that year. He was destined to make 442 appearances with the Leeds 1st team, to play in the Cup winning team at Wigan in 1932, to captain the successful Leeds team at Wembley in 1936 and to tour Australia in 1928 and 1936.

Evan Williams, not quite so colourful as Brough, but surely one of the finest tacticians who has ever played for Leeds, was to make 415 appearances and he, too, was to take part in those two tremendous Cup Final games.

The management must have had their worries at the end of this season for so little was apparently yet achieved-and yet, if they only knew, so much. The basis was now laid for the highly successful team of the thirties, and we are to read later of the players who put the finishing touch to a "highly promising Leeds team."

The season opened badly with a home defeat at the hands of St. Helens Recs. in the very first match, but consistently good performances resulted in the team gaining 5th position in the table by mid November. December found us third, and early January fifth, but three successive defeats in that month and three more in April caused a natural slide in the table so that our final position was ninth.

Fortune did not smile on us in the Yorkshire Cup Competition as we had to travel in the first two rounds. A narrow victory at Thrum Hall by two points to nil in the first round raised hopes, but it was expecting too much for a victory at Fartown too, although we went down gallantly. The R.L. Challenge Cup Competition also provided stern tasks and stiff opposition. Salford were narrowly defeated at the Weaste, and we obtained a splendid win over Wigan at Headingley, but Wigan Highfield, away, was our downfall. And there was no disgrace in that, for our opponents had already proved too good for Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield.

Surely one of the highlights of the season was our triple defeat of Wigan. At Central Park, in September, we gained a magnificent victory by five points to nil in atrocious conditions, and no one played a finer part than Joe Thompson who, literally, dribbled the way to victory. In January, at Headingley, we completed the double in great style in winning by 18 points to 5, and here Jim Brough provided the inspiration at the crucial stage ofthe game. Two Wigan forwards with the ball at their feet rushed at the Leeds line. Brough took the ball from their toes and kicked clear. He followed up and caught the ball as it bounced from Sullivan's hands and raced half the length of the field to score behind the posts. The third meeting came in the 2nd Round of the Cup Competition when Leeds deservedly won by seventeen points to ten before a crowd of 35,000. On this occasion Joe Thompson's goal-kicking was a vital factor-not in the number of goals he kicked but in kicking them when they were needed.

Other signings during the season included Bryn Williams, winger from Batley; C. Mason, the Cumbrian forward; and W. H. James the Aberavon back. Several players were transferred from Leeds including: E. D. Roberts to Dewsbury; H. W. Trusler, to Keighley; W. E. Lyons to Halifax; G. H. Broughton to Hunslet; F. Millard to Featherstone Rovers; and Syd Walmsley who had served the club so well, making 186 First Team appearances in five full seasons, went to Huddersfield. He obviously could not hold his place in view of the advent of Jim Brough, but Syd was to give great pleasure to our members for another 25 years by his exploits on the Cricket Field.

A disappointing season! Yes. Hope for the future? Definitely, yes.

1926-27

1926-27

The high hopes of brighter days which prevailed in April 1926 were dispelled in another season of gloom and frustration. But this was the final dark hour before the bright dawn.

During the close season the management had obtained the services of A. C. Lloyd, a centre threequarter from Penarth, and Jim McCade, a Cumberland County forward. Other signings made during the campaign included l. J. Slater, a forward from Broughton Rangers: Dan Pascoe, a Welsh International R.U. forward from Neath; and several" locals" such as Les Adams, F. Skelton, H. Jones, A. Rawlings, R. Eastwood, W. Swift and J. Casey. Whilst almost at the end of the season G. E. Andrews, a Welsh International R.U. winger, from Newport, joined the club.

The league programme opened disastrously with defeats at Oldham and at home to St. Helens Recs. An unconvincing victory over Castleford at Headingley was followed by yet another heavy defeat, this time at Wigan. Two victories over lowly clubs restored our fortunes a little but not our confidence, and successive defeats at Huddersfield and Swinton meant that the first eight matches had brought five defeats. This loss of form, particularly of the backs, caused consternation in the camp, and even five victories on "the trot" caused little jubilation for the teamwork was unsatisfactory. Following the defeat at Keighley on November 13th, no less than eight" regulars" were dropped for the following match, only Watkins of the pack holding his place. This" in and out" form prevailed throughout the season but a good spell in late March and early April did at least put a better face on things so the final League position was ninth.

The Yorkshire Cup Competition matches followed the same pattern as those in the League: an excellent away victory over Hunslet in the Ist Round was followed by a trouncing at Headingley when many ex-Leeds players carried York to a convincing win by twenty-six points to three. Enthusiasm did, however, run high at the beginning of February when a splendid League victory over Oldham at Headingley was followed by an equally meritorious win over Warrington at Wilderspool in the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup Competition. Then the mighty Wigan were defeated twice at Headingley in successive weeks-first in the League and then in the Cup, before crowds of 22,000 and 30,000 respectively. These four great victories came as the direct result of improved teamwork but the forwards (chosen from Hall, Thomas, Thompson, Slater, Pascoe, Watkins, Davis) were nothing short of tremendous in both the tight and the loose. A very convincing League win over Bradford Northern by forty-four points to three, prepared the way for the 3rd Round encounter with Oldham at Headingley. A tremendous crowd witnessed a game spoilt by too many infringements, and the match had little real sparkle. A strong, workmanlike Oldham team harassed the Leeds backs into defensive errors, and succeeded in neutralising the feared Leeds pack. Thus ended our hopes of the Cup for another year.

Harry Jones, a 'young local winger, had a grand debut versus Hull on New Year's Day and scored four tries. The name of Alf Ellaby appears in our records for the first time as he scored a "hat trick" against Leeds at St. Helens.

During the season F. Fletcher went to Halifax, and G. Kibbler to Huddersfield.

Joe Jones was appointed captain at the commencement of the season but he was handicapped by a knee injury, which eventually led to loss form and his consequent transfer to Wakefield Trinity. Jim Bacon, a very great favourite, took over the captaincy, and what could be better in this his Benefit Season. The Hull K.R. game on April 19th was granted as the Benefit Match and a good crowd assembled to pay tribute to one who had served the game and the Leeds club so loyally and so well. Jim came North towards the end of 1918 and played one game under the name of Arthur James actually he only came to Leeds in the first place to spend a week-end with his old friend, Dan Lewis. Twice he toured Australia and New Zealand, in 1920 as a wing and in 1924 as a centre. He captained Leeds when they won the R.L. Cup In 1923 and he was a member of the side which won the Yorkshire Cup in 1921. He played many fine games for his Club and his country, but he always recalls a try he scored against Hull K.R. at Headingley in 1922 as "his best ever". Well done Jim. A wonderful record!!! Jim was nearing the end of his great career-actually he was only to play three more matches in the following season. Imagine, then the worries of those responsible for team-building especially after the disappointments of this campaign.

1927-28

1927-28

This was a highly successful season. Leeds gained 2nd place in the Northern Rugby League table and thus took part in the Championship play-off for the first time since 1920. The Yorkshire League Championship Cup came to Headingley for the very first time, and in addition we reached the Semi-Final stage of the R.L. Cup. Happier days!!

The Rugby League public awaited the opening of the campaign with especial interest as the embargo on Dominion players had at last been removed and the arrival of several Australian and New Zealand stars was eagerly awaited. Wigan had signed Davidson, a centre; Brown, a winger, and Mason, a forward. Mills, a winger, was on his way to Fartown, and Wilson Hall, a serum-half, was to wear the "black and white hoops" at the Boulevard.

Leeds, too, had its own impressive contingent in Jeff Moores, Frank O'Rourke and Wally Desmond. Moores, a stand-off from Brisbane, was destined to develop into one of the finest centres of all time and was to reveal amazing technique, skill, and courage in making play for his winger. Frank O'Rourke, a centre from the University team, Sydney, was also to play his part in restoring the fortunes of the "Blue and Amber" jersey. Each gave excellent service over six seasons and memories of their performances still warm the hearts of the Headingley fans. Wally Desmond, from New Zealand, was not so fortunate and never seemed to settle, spending only two seasons with the Leeds Club.

Other signings included Frank Gallagher, then in the twilight of a great career; Stan Satterthwaite, a young Cumbrian forward, who was to work so solidly, loyally and well in an active career extending over 19 seasons; Billy Watson, the Keighley hooker; and Billy Demaine, who was signed almost at the end of the campaign in an attempt to remedy scrummaging defects. Departures included Jim Bacon, to Castleford; C. Litt, to Hunslet; Arthur Binks, to Wigan; J. Hall, to Featherstone Rovers; and Emlyn Watkins to Oldham. The League programme opened well with two splendid victories over Hull and St. Helens, and only one game had been lost when Moores and O'Rourke made their debut at Headingley against Bradford Northern on September 10th. This match resulted in an unexpected defeat, and there were two more in the next five weeks, but this was fully to be expected until the team had time to blend, and there was obviously the potential of a tremendously powerful combination. This was exemplified in a splendid run of nine successive League victories from early October to mid-December, which took Leeds to the head of the League Table. Another similar run of success at the beginning of 1928 virtually assured us of a place in the coveted "first four". Neither Leeds nor Featherstone Rovers were able to field representative sides for the League Semi-Final owing to the fact that the tourists had set sail for Australia, and Leeds had further depletions as Desmond was unfit and Satterthwaite and Demaine were ineligible. Although the margin of defeat was small, the score being fifteen points to twelve, Featherstone were worthy winners.

Our interest in the Yorkshire Cup was not prolonged, as York thwarted our ambitions in convincing style at Clarence Street in the 2nd Round, but the R.L. Cup Competition raised us, once again to fever pitch. A triumph at Wigan Highfield in the 1st Round was a smart performance particularly in view ofthe atrocious conditions provided by wind and mud. St. Helens Recs. provided stern opposition in the 2nd Round and they were much feared as they had often proved a "bogy" team at Headingley. So they almost did on this occasion. Reduced to eleven men for all the second half the Recs. Battled on gallantly and only went down by the odd point. Oldham were our third Round visitors and we had memories of their win in the corresponding match in the previous season, but on this occasion we won through by ten points to five, although we were subjected to long periods of defensive work at full stretch. The Semi-Final match at Rochdale was extremely disappointing. The game never reached the expected heights, and Leeds were definitely second best to an only moderate Warrington combination. In all the previous rounds lack of scrummaging possession had been a great handicap and it was the major cause of our defeat on this occasion. Billy Demaine, the Batley hooker, as already indicated, was signed a fortnight later in an effort to remedy this defect-and how successfully he did this job for the next three seasons!!

The first Tour Trial was played at Headingley with Thompson, Rosser, Gallagher and Brough selected to take part, but the latter had to withdraw owing to injury. Rosser and Brough were selected for the second trial at Rochdale, and they were both included amongst the final selection for the Tour along with Joe Thompson.

1928-29

1928-29

This was yet another highly successful season with Leeds well amongst the Honours. The Yorkshire Cup was regained after a lapse of seven years, and we were runners-up in both the Northern R.L. Championship and the Yorkshire League.

The playing strength was maintained at a high level with the recruitment during the season of J. W. Goldie, full back, and Tommy Askin, international centre, both from Featherstone Rovers; D. R. Jenkins, the Welsh R.U. forward, and Jimmy Douglas, a Scottish forward from Halifax. It is worthy of note, too, that the" A " Team was exceptionally strong with many promising young players such as .. Juicy" Adams, R. Eastwood, Harold Thomas, Harry Jones. Departures included W. H. James, to the newly formed Carlisle Club; J. Casey to Castleford; J. Woolmore and T. Bailey, to Dewsbury; and J. McCade, to Batley.

Jeff Moores was appointed Captain, and his responsibilities were very heavy in the opening stages of the League programme which yielded only three victories out of the first seven matches. This disappointing start was undoubtedly due, to a large extent, to the absence of the three Tourists, and when the full complement of players was available the team then went through seventeen matches without defeat: thirteen in the League and four in the Yorkshire Cup Competition. Thus, on Boxing Day, we stood as a very good second in the Northern League, had the Yorkshire Cup in safe keeping, and headed the Yorkshire League. Wigan ended our long period of immunity from defeat on December 29th, but thirteen points from the next seven matches guaranteed us a comfortable position in the first four in spite of four consecutive defeats towards the end of the season. The League Championship Semi-Final with Hull K.R. at Craven Park proved to be the anticipated stirring struggle. At half-time we were losing by four points to nil, but after a penalty goal by Thompson had reduced their lead, a sudden dart by Swift gave him a try and Thompson's touch line conversion was the final score. The League Final at Halifax was a very fast and keenly contested game with our players failing to grasp their opportunities in the second half: Andrews knocked down a pass from Rosser with the line at his mercy, and Davis followed suit with a pass from Moores. Leeds, however, were handicapped by lack of pace on the wings, with Mills and Smart easily neutralising Lloyd and Andrews. The Leeds team on this occasion was: Brough; Andrews, Rosser, O'Rourke, Lloyd; Moores, Swift; Pascoe, Demaine, Thompson, Davis, Thomas, Gallagher.

Our right to appear in the Yorkshire Cup Final could hardly be disputed in view of the manner in which we disposed of Hull K.R., Wakefield Trinity and Dewsbury, but the Final itself might well have gone either way. The Leeds team which did duty was the same as the one given above except that Douglas played to the exclusion of Davis. The match was played in wet, stormy weather and the atrocious ground conditions were all against the speedy Leeds backs, and the game was won by capitalising on an error by S. Denton, the Featherstone full back. In a loose rush by the Leeds forwards, headed by Douglas and Thomas, a kick sent to ball to Denton. He had plenty of time and space in which to field the ball and get in a kick, but he failed to pick it up. Three men were on it in a flash, and in the burst for the line O'Rourke's speed enabled him to touch down for a try which Thompson converted.

The R.L. Cup Competition took us to Wilderspool to face Warrington in the first round. This was a hard task at the best of times, and our chances were greatly reduced through the absence of Moores who was ill. Gallagher captained the side. The game opened sensationally, as other Cup games with Warrington in more recent times. We lost the toss, and kicked off with the ball going direct to Blinkhorn. The winger raced clear and passed inside to a colleague who was tackled just short of the Leeds line. Two scrummages followed and Leeds heeled the ball from the second. Gallagher flung out a long pass to Askin who fumbled the ball and Seeling, Warrington's loose forward, snapped it up to feed Flynn, who scored under the posts. Blinkhorn's conversion sealed our doom, for the team never fully recovered from such a disastrous opening and failed to take advantage of many defence-splitting runs made by Jim Brough, who rarely played better.

1929-30

1929-30

The campaign provided a "mixed bag" with small success in the Cup Competitions and only consolation Runners-up awards in the Northern League and Yorkshire League Championships.

Close season activity had been remarkably quiet so that the management could only report the signing of J. Fairhurst from Batley, and within a few months he had left Headingley to join Wigan Highfield. But during the season several important captures were made: Stanley Smith, Test winger, of Wakefield Trinity; Arthur" Candy" Evans, the Halifax and Welsh International forward. Stan. Smith stayed with Leeds until his retirement at the end of the 1938-39 season, making 261 appearances and scoring 187 tries, and yet he was unfortunate enough to miss selection for either of the R.L. Cup winning teams in 1932 and 1936. It is easy to recall that long, graceful stride which enabled him to score so many" thrillers" not only in the" Blue and Amber" jersey but also for his country in the Test matches played here and overseas during the period 1929-33.

The League programme opened rather shakily once again and only three matches were won out of the first six. A partial recovery through four consecutive victories enabled us to maintain some interest in the League Championship, but" in and out" form then continued right up to the end of the year, so that on New Year's Day we were placed eleventh. Nine successive victories naturally led to a rapid climb up the table, and although the advantage gained was almost thrown away in early April, we managed to squeeze into fourth place. This inconsistent form might well have been due to constant team changes, in many cases owing to injury and illness, but in some cases to the fickleness of the selection committee so that Brough, Rosser, Williams, Askin, O'Rourke rarely had a settled position. Teamwork was consequently bound to suffer.

The League Semi-Final took us to St. Helens, and in view of the disgusting clash between these teams at Headingtey in the R.L. Cup there was bound to be some anxiety, not merely about the result but also about the nature of the game. As it turned out a sadly weakened Leeds team (without Moores, who incidentally was Captain, O'Rourke, Andrews, Smith, Brough, Thomas and Swift) gave a glorious display of teamwork and won through by ten points to six. Jenkins, the second row forward, played on the wing opposite Ellaby and thus retains a special corner in the hearts and memories of Leeds supporters, and those of St. Helens too. The Leeds team was: Goldie; H. Jones, Askin, Rosser, Jenkins; Williams, Adams; Davis, Demaine, Pascoe, Thompson, Douglas, Gill.

For the first time in the history of the tournament the League Final resulted in a draw when Leeds met Huddersfield at Wakefield. It was a very scrappy game. Huddersfield are to be congratulated on holding out for so long after Banks had been dismissed from the field in the first half. The re-play took place at Thrum Hall two days later and on that occasion Huddersfield were worthy winners by 10 points to nil although Leeds were unfortunate in that Moores and Gill were unfit, and Williams was severely injured during the match. Once again Leeds made several positional switches and the combination apparently suffered.

A home defeat at the hands of Hunslet in the' st Round soon put paid to any hopes Leeds may have had of retaining the Yorkshire Cup.

Our interest in the R. L. Cup went in the 2nd Round game with St. Helens at Headingley-a game which had been awaited by all with great enthusiasm and which was a disgrace to the code. Pascoe, Moores and Halfpenny were dismissed from the field, Stan Smith had to retire with a damaged hip, and, as the final whistle sounded, Groves, the St. Helens scrum half, was being carried off in a more or less unconscious state. Leeds succeeded in defeating an Australian Touring Team for the first time though the margin was only one point.

During the season" Juicy" Adams gained vastly in experience and was obviously a star of the future. Other young locals who were called upon from time to time included E. Atkinson, R. Eastwood, H. Thomas and J. Gill. Wally Desmond was transferred to Batley in January before the Cup Register closed.

1930-31

1930-31

This was a memorable season. For the first time in the history of the Club two trophies were proudly brought to Headingley: the Yorkshire Challenge Cup and the Yorkshire Championship Cup. In addition, we gained second place in the Northern League Table, and finished as Runners-Up for the League Championship for the third consecutive year.

But Jeff Moores, captain once again, not only led his team to many glorious victories. He brought with him to this country, in September 1930, a young Australian winger who was to become famed throughout the Rugby World and was to be known for all time as "The Toowoomba ghost ". Eric Harris will always have a very special place in the hearts and memories of those who watched Leeds in the thirties. His record tells a wonderful story in itself (383 appearances and 391 tries in nine glorious seasons), but figures cannot possibly indicate the thrilling manner in which many of those tries were scored, nor can they express the clutching bewilderment of many an accomplished opponent. Jeff Moores brought this young stripling to Leeds, and then by his skill and courage" made him" on the field into one many consider the finest winger of all time.

The management found themselves in an embarrassing position towards the end of the season on the arrival of "Chimpy" Busch, Australian Test half-back. Negotiations had been opened many months earlier when there was apparently a need to strengthen this position, but II Juicy" Adams had now fully developed and was giving superlative displays week by week. Busch remained with the Club until 1935 but was never quite the success anticipated. Other signings included John Cox, a forward from Bradford Northern; R. H. Cracknell who returned to the Club from Swinton, but was shortly to be transferred once again; Harry Dyer, a promising young forward from a local intermediate side, who was to develop later into a real Leeds stalwart for a number of years; Bob Smith, a young forward, from Wigan Highfield; Les Grainge, a winger from Otley R. U.; whilst H. Goulthorpe had now returned from the Army and was proving a capable reserve back.

Several old favourites were transferred to York: Arthur Lloyd, Bill Davis, Mel Rosser and Dan Pascoe, along with a promising young winger, Harold Thomas. Castleford recruited "Candy" Evans and Tommy Askin.

The League programme opened disastrously once again with four defeats in the first half dozen matches, so that Jeff Moores, the Captain, faced a critical situation when he made his first appearance of the season in Eric Harris' debut match versus Featherstone Rovers on September 27th. That game was the beginning of better things, as the victory obtained set the team going on another long spell without defeat-s-seventeen matches in all, twelve in the League and five in the Yorkshire Cup. This spell equalled the existing record for Leeds, and was finally broken at Belle Vue, Wakefield, on Boxing Day, when we met with defeat by ten points to six. Following a period of indifferent performances our players rallied strongly to conclude their League engagements with nine more consecutive victories which took us to second place in the final table. A well-deserved victory over Wigan at Headingley in the Semi-Final took us to Wigan to meet Swinton, but the Championship Cup was not to be ours. Bad luck dogged us before the game in that Eric Harris and" Juicy" Adams were unfit, though their deputies Grainge and Fawcett performed creditably. Then during the course of the game Joe Thompson had the misfortune to hit the upright twice in five minutes with excellent efforts, whilst Jim Brough, who otherwise had an excellent match, made one obvious error which led to a Swinton try.

No one could question our right to the Yorkshire Cup, as our opponents never crossed the Leeds line during the whole of the Competition. The 2nd Round game with Halifax at Headingley was a very dour engagement, but the re-play at Thrum Hall definitely established our right to go forward to a Semi-Final, with Adams obviously the man of the match. The team which defeated Huddersfield in the Final was: Brough; Harris, Moores, Jones, O'Rourke; Williams, Adams; Thompson, Demaine, Thomas, Cracknell, Douglas, Gill.

The 1st Round Victory at Leigh in the R. L. Cup was a good performance and many felt that this fine attacking combination at Headingley was destined to grace the Wembley turf and to show Rugby League football at Its very best. But the 2nd Round match at Weaste was played in absolutely atrocious conditions so that our players never had an opportunity to exploit their undoubted skill. However, a Rugby League Cup triumph which all at Headingley yearned and worked for, was not long to be delayed, though Wembley was not to be the venue.

1931-32

1931-32

The season opened in splendid fashion, gradually merged into a period 01 mediocrity and uncertainty, and finished in a blaze of glory with the winning of the R. L. Challenge Cup.

Although the previous campaign had been quite successful the management paid particular attention during the close season to possible scrummaging weaknesses so that by the end of September no less than four new front row forwards had been signed: D. R. James, the Welsh R. U. International from Treorchy; C. Mann, the Yorkshire hooker from Halifax R.U.F.C.; J. Powell, from Castleford; and John Lowe, the ex-Wigan Highfield captain and one of the best hookers in the game. In addition negotiations had been completed for obtaining the services of Kingston, the Australian International loose forward, but a last minute hitch prevented him joining the club. The Welsh International R.U. wing forward, I. Jones, was signed later in the season, and had an impressive debut at Bramley.

Departures during the early months of the season included Walter Swift, to Batley; George Andrews, to Castleford; Harry Jones, to Halifax; Billy Watson, to Keighley, where he is still a member of the training staff, and II Ginger" Thomas to York.

The campaign opened in record style: nine successive victories (eight in the League and one in the Yorkshire Cup Competition) was the II best ever" start to a season for a Leeds team. Thirty years earlier, in 1902-03, there had been an opening sequence of eight victories. Thus, for a long spell we headed the League Table, but valuable ground was lost in January when we met with defeat at the hands of York, Swinton and Hull. Easter, too, brought disaster: on Good Friday, the match with Halifax at Headingley had to be abandoned after ten minutes play when fire broke out and completely gutted the North Stand; the remaining holiday fixtures brought defeats at Hull, and Dewsbury; whilst the following Saturday a very strange looking Headingley was the venue for our fourth successive defeat, this time by Oldham. Our chances of appearing in the First Four play-off now appeared extremely remote, but the five consecutive victories with which we wound up our League programme took us into third place, our final fate depending upon the last match, at Wigan, where we gained a convincing victory by sixteen points to seven. Our fifth successive appearance in the League Championship Semi-Final took us to St. Helens, but Leeds were compelled to field a weakened side as Stan Smith, Joe Thompson, Les Adams and John Lowe had already left these shores with the Australian Touring party. However, our depleted team put up a good show and only went down by 9 points to nil, having only one try scored against them. Thompson's goal-kicking was sadly missed, and might well have had an important bearing on the game.

Our interest in the Yorkshire Cup faded unexpectedly when York, with many ex-Leeds players, put paid to our hopes with a fully merited win at Headingley by 14 points to 9 in the 2nd Round.

But 1932 will always be remembered at Headingley because of our triumph in the R. L. Cup Competition. The luck of the draw took us to Hull in the 1st Round, where a late try by Jeff Moores, brilliantly converted by Joe Thompson, pulled us through by 5 points to 2. Easy victories over Keighley and Leigh took us to the Semi-Final stage, and now the battle for the trophy was really on. A crowd of almost 32,000 saw a stirring struggle with Halifax at Fartown, where the game finished with honours even at 2 points each. The replay was at Belle Vue, Wakefield, four days later, and Leeds gained a merited win by 9 points to 2. The chief factor in our success was the splendid half-back partnership of Evan Williams and" Juicy" Adams. Adams had not been available for the previous game owing to influenza. So Leeds were in the Cup Final once again, after a lapse of nine years, and many associated with the game had only one regret-that the Final was not to be staged at Wembley. The story of the Cup Final Match is given in the following Press Report.

RUGBY LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP FINAL, 1932
Wigan, Saturday

The thirteenth minute of the second half of this Yorkshire and Lancashire final for the Rugby League Challenge Cup this afternoon was the decisive one, for in it Harris, the tall Australian wing threequarter, got the try which, in the end, gave Leeds their victory, the final score being 4 goals. I try (II points) to 4 goals (8 points).

And so Leeds join the select circle of clubs which have won the trophy thrice. Batley, Huddersfield, Halifax, Oldham and Swinton are the other members, but only the" Gallant Youths" and the Fartown men share with Leeds the distinction of having played in three finals without defeat. Oldham have taken part in seven, Swinton in five, and Halifax in four.

Leeds, if only because of Harris's try, deserved the Cup. It was a grand effort, in which opportunism, skill, and a commanding speed were combined; a real Cup winning try in fact. But there was much more in the Headingley men's victory than this try. In the first half when they had the wind, Leeds worked to a definite plan of campaign which paid, and in the second half-when they had to meet the full force of a grim and prolonged Swinton attack they stood firm in defence and always had the last word.

Convincing Leeds Defence
The Leeds defence in the opening five minutes of the second half and the last ten minutes of the game was as convincing as anything they have shown in this Cup campaign, in which, be it noted, they have not had their line crossed. As a matter of fact, the only try scored against either side in this competition was that gained so brilliantly by Harris, and this plain statement in itself is surely proof enough of the merit of the Leeds victory.

Swinton folk may say that the scrummage half back failings of Bryn Evans, who could not put the ball into the pack to the satisfaction of the referee, Mr. F. Peel, of Bradford, cost them the Cup; but they must not overlook the four penalty goals kicked by Hodgson in reply to those kicked by Thompson.

Harris's try won the match. It came at just the right point in the game to hearten the Leeds men. They had turned round with a useful lead of 8 points to 2, and they had had that lead reduced by two points when, in the fourth minute of the second half, Hodgson kicked his second goal.

Then they had to stand the battering of a Swinton attack, which increased in fierceness and sureness as the Lancastrians' pack began to work up enthusiasm for what everyone thought was going to be the drive to victory. It was at this time that Leeds secured respite with a penalty kick, and it was from a scrummage near the halfway line, that the Swinton backs got the ball.

Bryn Evans had it out to Rees in a shot, and the stand-off half sought with his pass to find Green the young centre who took the place of Whittaker. But Green could not get to the ball. Moores swooped on to it, and passed to O'Rourke, who had taken up the correct supporting position, and O'Rourke let the ball go with the necessary rapidity and accuracy to Harris.

It was the only move likely to beat the quick covering of the Swinton defence. The left wing was partly opened. Harris went straight along the touch line to slip past Kenny, and then, with something like half the length of the field to go, he had only to beat Scott, the full back. But he had to stay on the touch line, for had he attempted the cut inside he would have met the rallying defenders.

Harris's Change of Speed

Scott, like Davies, the Halifax full back, who had a similar sort of attack to meet in the semi-final replay at Wakefield, must have felt sure of getting his man, for the Leeds winger was moving within inches of the touch line, But, again like Davies, Scott made no allowance for Harris's change in speed. Just when the tackle was to be made, the Australian accelerated, and left Scott groping in futile fashion while he dived in at the corner.

The try counted for three points-the three points that divided the scores when the final whistle sounded-but really it meant much more than that. It knocked Swinton out of their attacking stride for ten important minutes, and when they were again driven to the wall Leeds had the strength to fight all the harder.

Swinton never spared themselves, and the closing stages were as thrilling as anything seen in a Rugby League Cup Final, but Leeds never faltered. Adams held Evans, Williams held Rees, Moores and O'Rourke gave Green and Harold Evans no rope, and Glossop, who rose to the occasion in grand style-a style reminiscent of the time when he was loose forward to Jonathan Parkin in the Wakefield Trinity team-held Butters. When the last Swinton attack had been beaten back, Leeds indulged in a round of passing-their gesture of victory-which took the ball to the Swinton half, where it was when the 80 grim and testing minutes ended.

Attacks Mastered
It will be said, of course, that the match never produced the open football of which the sides are known to be capable. But what could be expected? The sides had gone through the four rounds of the competition without having their lines crossed: defence was bound to be the master of attack. And that, of course, is just what happened, though it is true that Leeds neglected at least one try-scoring chance in the first half, and that after Harris had got his try they lost another. It is true also that in the early moments of the last crashing Swinton attack Billo Rees for once found himself clear of the arms of Williams. He had whipped round Bryn Evans to take a reverse pass, and he was so keen on cutting out the opening for a pass back to Green that he ignored the avenue to the line there for him.

Adams had a good game for Leeds. He was generally in the right place at the right time, and at the scrummage he gave little away, though, because of the scrummaging superiority of the Swinton forwards, he was generally seeking the ball. At any rate, he and his partner, Williams, along with Glossop, the loose forward, were more than good enough for Bryn Evans, Rees and Butters; and these three Swinton men, with as much of the ball as they wanted in the second half, tried every move on the board.

Evans exploited his craft to the full, but always he was checked. He tried to run, he tried to link up his backs, he tried the interchange of positions with Butters and Rees, and he tried to get the quick winging forwards of Hodgson and Beswick away. He got near success only to see the Leeds defence stiffen successfully, sometimes in the last yard. He never made up for the penalty goals he conceded in the first half simply because he was not allowed to do so.

There came the time when he realised that his men, with all their short passing and quick backing up, had not the speed to get through, and then he gave the game into the hands of his forwards. But they were met at their own game by the Leeds pack, and the proof of this is that Hodgson, so often an outstanding figure, was only occasionally dangerous.

A Hardworking Pack

Thompson, the only man in the Leeds ranks who was in the cup winning side of 1923, led his pack in the right way, and everyone of the other five supported him untiringly. Douglas and Cox were grafters all the time, R. Smith, who was preferred to Satterthwaite in the front row, was just as useful and Lowe, the" hooker," was as good as any of the others when the line had to be held. Why, once in the second half Hodgson got the ball on the run and went with all his power to batter down the defence. He was seized on the line by Thompson and Lowe and carried shoulder high for five or six yards. Another time Butters, on whom Evans called in the last effort of all (one recalls Parkin using Butters in much the same way in a Test match at Headingley), tried to fight round the blind side of the scrummage to the corner flag. He also got to the line only to be torn back by Glossop.

The Leeds forwards had their share in this victory, just as they had in the semi-final triumph at Wakefield, and that though they were pushed about in the second half scrimmaging. On Stanley Smith's wing, Goulthorpe, without being called upon for anything especial in attack, never slipped in defence, and Brough, who kicked such a fine length with the wind in the first half, was a sure and resolute defender in the second. There were times when he had to go down to the Swinton forwards' feet. He never hesitated, and he was the man who held Harold Evans and Butters when they were very near tries at the post.

Comparatively, Scott had an easy time. He never had to face the attack against which Brough stood in the second half. There was all the craft and experience of a dozen league and Cup Finals in Swinton's second half work, but it was unavailing.

How the Scoring Went
In the first half, when they had the wind, Leeds, of course had the main part of the attack, and their kicking, guided by Brough, Moores and Adams, kept Swinton worried. Thompson kicked his first goal at the end of eight minutes, and the three others came in the next eleven minutes. Leeds' likeliest raids in this half were seen when Harris and the backs were following up the high balls which troubled the Swinton defenders so. Hodgson's goal, from a penalty for offside at the serum against Adams, came eleven minutes before half time.

Swinton were encouraged with another penalty goal early in the second half, and they were playing on lines which promised to take them to victory until Harris got his try. Then, with two more penalty goals by Hodgson, they reduced the Leeds lead from seven points to three and there their mighty and gallant attack was held.

It was a grand finish to a fast and gruelling game in which the unsatisfactory feature was the necessity for penalties at the scrummage. Mr. Peel, however, took the right stand from the start. He refereed a good game. Still, it is not pleasant to think that 16 of the 19 points came from penalty kicks, excellent though the skill of Hodgson and Thompson was in the conversion of the penalties into goals.

Another unsatisfactory feature was the attendance. There were no more than 29,000 spectators-the receipts were £2,450-at this the first final in the North since 1928. Wigan in these hard times is not the best centre for the final, that is clear. The distance from Yorkshire is considerable. This dearly is a point for the Rugby league to consider in future, and it is suggested that they might also debate whether a minimum admission charge of Is. 6d. and the broadcasting of the game did not also affect the attendance. Quite 11,000 more spectators were expected. The day was a good one.

Teams-Leeds -Brough; Harris, Moores, O'Rourke, Goulthorpe; Williams, Adams; Lowe, Thompson, R. Smith, Cox, Douglas, Glossop.

SWINTON-Scott; Buckingham, Green, Evans (H), Kenny; Evans (B), Rees; Armitt, Strong, Wright, Hodgson, Beswick, Butters. Referee-Mr. F. Peel (Bradford)

1932-33

1932-33

Football, indeed all sport, is full of unexpected thrills and disappointments. Triumph and. disaster, those "twin-impostors", go hand in hand. If proof were needed, it surely and certainly lies in the tremendous switch of fortunes which took place at Headingley between April 1932 and the same month in 1933.

The management, players and supporters were justified in looking forward hopefully to the season's work-the previous campaign had brought the R. L. Challenge Cup to Headingley, and third place had been obtained in the League Table. But reputations count for little, and the Leeds team languished in the middle of the table for the whole of the season.

There had only been one signing of note during the close season, that of D. M. Jenkins, the front row forward from Hunslet, but four players had been transferred: H. Goulthorpe, to Hunslet; G. Goldie, to Batley; whilst D. R. Jenkins and H. Broadhead joined Barrow. The team was handicapped at the outset through being unable to call on the four members of the Australian Touring Party, and Frank O'Rourke suffered an injury in the opening match at Barrow which prevented him turning out in the next five games. But it was soon apparent in view of our League defeats that the team-building process would have to start all over again-Huddersfield were in the self same plight, winning only two of their first seven matches.

Our performances in the Yorkshire Cup Competition were the only redeeming feature and, as will be explained later, they probably caused a wrong assessment of the team's worth. A win over Dewsbury at home in the 1st Round, was followed by a really fine victory over York at Clarence Street. Castleford fought well but gave us a fairly comfortable passage through the semi-final stage, and Wakefield Trinity had to bow the knee in the Final at Fartown. This was a grand match in which the architect of victory was Jeff Moores who played for three parts of the game in a severely concussed state, which became fully apparent when he collapsed at the reception to the team in Leeds after the game.

Huddersfield were in some ways fortunate, as they were dismissed from the Yorkshire Cup in the 2nd Round, and as their League position was almost hopeless by mid-October, they started to rebuild for the R. L. Cup Competition at a very early stage, signing Scourfield, from Torquay; Markham, from Australia; and Brindle, from Hull K. R. This team blended well and the seal was set upon it when .. Juicy" Adams was obtained from Leeds before the Cup Register closed. Leeds were unfortunate in that the team flattered to deceive, so that it was not until January that those responsible for team building policy fully appreciated the urgent need for" New Blood". It was reasonable to imagine that the players who had brought the Yorkshire Cup to Headingley in October, might well recover their League standing and also have a good run in the R. L. Cup. January brought tremendous activity so that W. J. Morgan, centre, and R. Green, second row forward were signed from Dewsbury, to be followed within a few days by utility man W. J. Davies, from York. Meanwhile, Glossop was transferred to Batley, Bob Smith to Warrington, and Adams to Huddersfield. The latter transfer was hotly criticised by many associated with the Club, but the management were entitled to sympathy as they were in a most difficult position.

As a result of, and following, all this activity it appeared that Leeds were going to retain a hold on the Challenge Cup. A splendid 1st Round victory over Wigan Highfield at Headingley by 36 points to nil, was a great tonic, but nothing compared to the miraculous win at Weaste, over Salford, by 4 points to 3. This game will long be remembered because of the two fine goals scored by Joe Thompson both against a strong cross wind. The 3rd Round victory over Hull at Headingley brought enthusiasm to fever pitch, so that confidence ran high when Huddersfield and Leeds clashed at Belle Vue, Wakefield, in the Semi-Final. Unfortunately Leeds had to carry a tremendous handicap before the game as Jeff Moores, who had sustained a broken nose against Hull, was involved in a dispute with the Club and thus not selected to play. In addition, Stan Smith was unfit. Misfortune dogged Leeds in the actual game, too, as W. J. Morgan was injured after twenty minutes play and took no further part in the match. Up to that stage Leeds were in the game with a chance, but immediately Morgan left the field Huddersfield ran riot, scoring 19 points in twenty minutes. Thus ended all real interest in the season's activities-one of great disappointment, and one in which two great favourites and extremely talented players, Jeff Moores and Les Adams, broke their long association with the Leeds Club. This obviously caused much controversy at the time,' but those responsible for team building and management could eventually point to .. the method in their madness" with more resounding victories and Cup triumphs just around the corner.

One truly amazing feature of the season's work was Eric Harris' fine scoring record: 55 tries, in spite of the fact that he had not been a member of a really good team. He returned to Australia for a summer holiday with the knowledge of a job well done, having scored over 150 tries in three seasons.

1933-34

1933-34

The season opened on a sad note with the news that Joe Thompson had decided to retire from the game, at the age of 31. Thompson had been a such a tower of strength for so many years-he played his first game with Leeds at Headingley on February 10th, 1923-that he was bound to be missed, not only for his vast experience but also for his prolific feats as a goal-kicking expert. He certainly left the game with the regard and respect of colleagues and opponents alike, with very happy memories of his time with Leeds, and of his three Australasian tours in 1924, 1928 and 1932. The Leeds directorate honoured Joe by offering him Life Membership of the Leeds Club.

But concern over Thompson's departure was tempered by news of other signings during the close season, so that no less than three new players turned out for Leeds at Headingley in the first game of the season: A. R. Ralph, Welsh International stand-off; I. Isaac, Welsh International loose forward, who had been the talk of the Rugby Union world following his wonderful display for Wales at Twickenham (many will recall the broadcast of that match with Isaac's name ever to the fore); and Sep Aspinall, loose forward from York, who had obtained the services of another Leeds stalwart, Jeff Moores, in exchange. Tribute has previously been paid to Moores, so suffice it to say that his name is still revered on the terraces at Headingley and will always rank amongst the immortals in "Blue and Amber." The second match of the season saw yet another addition to the ranks, with the arrival of Ken Jubb, from Castleford, and he, too, was destined to make his mark at Headingley, serving the club excellently over 14 seasons.

Unfortunately, no sooner had the management strengthened the team in an all-out bid for honours than there came yet another problem. Frank O'Rourke had been offered an excellent educational appointment in Australia and proposed to leave this country before December. He was actually only able to make seven appearances with the first team, and so yet another link with the all powerful team of the previous four years was broken. O'Rourke went with the good wishes of all at Headingley, and he, too, is still a name to conjure with whenever the teams of the past are discussed. Proof of his regard for Headingley is to be revealed at a later stage in this history. It was a relief to hear, then, that Eric Harris was definitely returning for another spell, and he was given a great welcome at Fartown on October 21st. Although Leeds were defeated Eric obliged with one of his usual brand in the third minute of the game. He certainly had not lost touch!!

In view of all the changes described above it was natural for the team to be labouring under difficulties. It takes time for a team to blend-as Sunderland have discovered only recently in the soccer world. But the equipment was not yet complete and there was a terrifying gap in the Leeds middle. The management made various attempts to plug it. Brough, and Grainge were played there with moderate success, with Don Pollard (younger brother of the famous Ernest) and W. J. Davies alternating at full back for Brough.

But the back equipment was not completed until March 30th. Gwyn Parker, the immaculate ball-player, was signed from Huddersfield in late January, before the Cup register was closed, but that measure was unavailing as we were drawn to play at Widnes, where the" Locals" played like men inspired and put paid to our dreams of another Cup triumph. But on March 30th Leeds supporters were thrilled to hear at Belle Vue, Wakefield, that" Broggie" had just been signed from Huddersfield and would be turning out immediately in Leeds colours. Now the equipment was almost complete for yet another spell of triumphs in the Cup and the League.

Whilst all this team building was going on the team was doing quite well, but the standard of football was not to the liking of the supporters so that the gate at Headingley for the Featherstone Rovers match was less than 1,000 with receipts of only £29, (admittedly a Wednesday match), and the following Saturday was only 3,000, with receipts of £130, for the visit of Batley. But, in spite of the fact that the team were not" pulling up any trees" they did gain third place in the league table, and might well have beaten Wigan at Central Park in the Semi-Final. Sixteen minutes from the end of the match Leeds held a lead of eight points, but then a Wigan rally produced two tries, by Bennett and Morley, and three goals from Sullivan's sure boot, so that we finally went down by 14 points to 10. The winning try, scored by Morley, was hotly disputed. A Wigan forward rush caught the Leeds defence out of position, and the ball was dribbled to near the Leeds posts, where, after a final Wigan kick, it bounced sufficiently well for Smith, the Leeds winger, to take it with one arm. He was in danger of crashing Into the posts, but as he pushed himself off the post with one hand Morley crashed into him and they went to ground together. The referee, Mr. A. Brown, promptly awarded a try. The Leeds team on that occasion was:-Brough; Harris, Aspinall, Parker, Smith; Ralph. Busch; Jenkins, Lowe, Satterthwaite, Jubb, Dyer, Jones.

For all the hard work of the players, and the enterprise of the management In their team building efforts there was only the Yorkshire League Championship to show, but better times lay ahead, and the foundations of another grand team had been well and truly laid. Immediately the season closed the team toured France to help in the pioneer work and played games at Lyons, Paris and Villeneuve.

1934-35

1934-35

In view of the tremendous recruiting drive of the previous campaign close season activity was on a very reduced scale, so that the only important signing was that of Len Higson the prop forward.

On Christmas Day Leeds were on top of the world. Consistently good performances had taken the team to the top of the Northern League Table, and also of the Yorkshire League, in which competition we were undefeated at that stage. In addition, the Yorkshire Cup had once more found a resting place at Headingley.

No doubt many will readily recall the thrilling encounters in that Yorkshire Cup Competition. Leeds were favoured with luck of the draw and only" had to travel" for the Final itself. Bramley provided the 1st Round opposition and were easily disposed of by 35 points to 8. One feature of that game was the accurate goal-kicking of Jim Brough, who" notched" seven goals with apparent ease. Hull were the 2nd Round visitors and they provided a fairly comfortable passage Into the Semi-Final, though they were in the game with a chance until Joe Oliver sustained a nasty mouth Injury. It was anticipated that Hal ifax would provide very stern opposition in the Semi-Final, but they failed to make the most of numerous scoring opportunities with tries and goals simply thrown away. And so to the Cup Final.

Never in the history of Rugby League Football had there been such a welter of excitement before the destination of a Trophy was finally established. Two Cup Final replays were necessary before Wakefield Trinity bowed the knee. The first meeting at Dewsbury, where, incidentally, the Dewsbury officials proved their right to stage the Final with an attendance of over 24,000 and receipts of £1,500 ended with a score of 5 points each. Few could quibble at the result: Wakefield certainly did not deserve to lose, but Leeds, too, deserved to fight again as they had to field a weakened team from the start (Fawcett deputised for Busch), and then had to battle on for fully 50 minutes with only 12 men when Gwyn Parker had to leave the field owing to concussion.

The re-play was held at Fartown on the following Wednesday, and those who were present will never forget those last ten thrilling minutes, when Leeds, faced with defeat, (Wakefield were leading 2--0) realised that they had a three-quarter line in which there were three of the fastest men in the League, and that they had a chance if they threw the ball about. With Exley, Horton, Pollard, Smith, and the others fighting with glorious resolution to save their line the game became a magnificent affair. A round of passing-a kick through by Busch-a chase by the Leeds speed merchants-a try saving gallop and dive by Horton-a serum five yards out-Higson diving for the touch down when the ball eludes his grasp-the kick-out-Leeds swinging it again and this time Harris is away, with now only Bonner to beat-Harris tries his famous" ghost" acceleration but Bonner's dive pushes him into touch five yards from the line-Wakefield still penned in their own 25 and the seconds ticking away too quickly for Leeds-a penalty award to Leeds right out on the touch and Brough makes the fateful decision to go for goal and the match saving points-a glorious kick but it just misses the mark and rebounds from the upright-a flurry of tackles-a pass goes astray-a scrummage-and it's almost all over with only 30 seconds left as Bonner, who had played so well, kicks down the field, thus hoping to transfer play from the Wakefield danger zone-and there Ralph fields it so cleanly, so coolly, and calmly drops a perfect goal to save the game. A story book finish to a thrilling encounter!!! The teams on that occasion were as follows:

Leeds Brough; Harris, Brogden, Parker, Smith; Ralph, Busch; Higson, Lowe, Satterthwaite, Jubb, Dyer, Aspinall.

Wakefield Bonner; Farrar, Smith, Moore, Smart; Pollard, Burrows; Wilkinson, Field, Hobson, Horton, Exley, Rowan.

The Referee: Mr. Cowell.

The following Wednesday the second re-play was held at Parkside and on that occasion Leeds finished as worthy winners by 13 points to nil, with Stan Smith scoring a hat trick against his old team. Thus the Yorkshire Cup came to Headingley once again, and victors and vanquished came out of the "ordeal by fire" with great credit.

The second half of the season provided an anti-climax, as we failed to maintain our position at the head of the League table and finished in fifth place, though we did win the Yorkshire League Championship.

The decline in our League performances caused some concern, and two more signings were made before the R. L. Cup register closed: Aubrey Casewell, giant forward from Salford and Fred Harris from Leigh. Both were destined to grace the Wembley turf with Leeds at the end of the next Cup competition, but Huddersfield but paid to any hopes they might have had this year when we were beaten In the 1st Round at Headingiey by 4 points to 3. Fred Harris was signed in the hope that he would provide the centre skill so sadly lacking since Moores' departure, and we shall read later of the wonderful combination he developed with his namesake, Eric.

Other signings during the year included Cliff Whitehead, loose forward, from Hunslet; and Ronnie Richards, serum half, from Swansea. The former was to put in four valuable years at Headingley but Richards only made twenty appearances in Leeds colours.

1935-36

1935-36

1936 !! This is the year which is richest of all in memories, for those who were in any way associated with the Club at that time it conjures up visions of the glorious Wembley Cup Final triumph, and glorious is the correct description because much of our football in that season was simply magnificent.

The personnel of the team was little changed from the previous year. Edgar Jones, a Welsh International front row forward was signed during the close season, but he was unable to command a place in the team and only made seven appearances in the Leeds colours. John Hall, the hooker from Batley was, however, a valuable acquisition. During the season, John Jones, a young local, made rapid strides and performed very creditably at centre and stand-off, whilst Charlie Eaton, who had made two 1st team appearances in the previous season, played an extremely valuable part 1ft the Cup competition.

The Yorkshire Cup was retained, but not without a very stern struggle. The 1st Round brought Bramley to Headingley, as in the previous year, and we readily accounted for our opponents by 37 points to 8. Hunslet were the 2nd Round visitors, and they almost succeeded in forcing are-play, but Ken Jubb came to the rescue in the closing minutes with an acrobatic dive for a try at the corner. The Semi-Final was at Hull, and on this occasion Dicky Ralph performed his drop-kicking feat in the closing minutes once again, to force a draw with a score of" points each. Our victory in the re-play was never in doubt, with Ralph and Eric Harris the architects of victory. The Cup Final, versus York, was played at Thrum Hall and the only score was a try by Stan Smith in the opening minutes of the game.

The League programme opened well with five consecutive victories, but valuable ground was lost during October and November. A very consistent spell during the next three months took us into the first four, but as we went from strength to strength in the Cup competition so our interest in the League waned and we finally finished in eighth place with the consolation of being runners-up in the Yorkshire League.

The R. L. Cup triumph was remarkable in that the luck of the draw only gave us home advantage in the 1st Round, when Dewsbury gave us a comfortable passage by 18 points to 7. We were full value for our second Round victory over Streatham and Mitcham, particularly so in view of the fact that the ground was in an atrocious condition. The battle at the Boulevard in the next round brings back memories-the terrific tackling; the famous switch of Eric and Fred Harris, which had bamboozled so many opponents earlier in the season and was still to do the trick in the Semi-Final and the Final; the dismissal of Barlow and Oliver; the tremendous crowd which swept over the boundary rails and thus delayed the kick-off. The Semi-Final match against Huddersfield, at Wakefield, was another fine game and Leeds went through to Wembley with the good wishes of countless supporters all over Yorkshire who had been thrilled by the brilliant back play revealed, with the Harrises mystifying friend and foe alike.

Eric Harris established a new Leeds record with 63 tries. In one spell he scored in seventeen consecutive matches, obtaining 36 tries in that period.

Jim Brough, Stan Smith, Stan Brogden and Fred Harris were members of the party selected to tour Australia.

The story of the Final is given in the following Press Report.

LEEDS EQUAL A GREAT CUP RECORD
Wembley, Saturday.

Biggest Wembley win before largest crowd: Memorable Tries

Leeds equalled Huddersfield's record of four victories in the final of the Rugby League Challenge Cup when they scored 3 goals, 4 tries (18 points), to Warrington's I goal (2 points), here this afternoon. The sun was bright and warm, the turf as good as it will ever be, and the setting was provided for a great game. The crowd of 51,250 was the biggest by nearly 10,000 that the Rugby League have had in this country, and the receipts of £7,200 were the highest-but the football was disappointing.

The game, which must be reckoned one of the poorest of the seven finals played at Wembley, never got going. The scrummages would not work to the satisfaction of the referee, who had to speak to men on several occasions; there were displays of temper, the like of which have not been seen at Wembley before, and the Warrington forwards allowed themselves to get rattled in a fashion that was surprising after the cool and competent way in which they played against Wigan in the third round, and Salford in the Semi-Final.

No return for Scrum Mastery
The margin of victory, the widest there has been in a Wembley final, in no way exaggerates the superiority of Leeds, who were never really extended after the first quarter of an hour, and that despite the fact that Warrington maintained, until near the end, the scrummage mastery everyone expected them to have. In the match they heeled the ball from 46 of 64 scrummages, and yet they failed to score a try.

Their backs, too, though they kicked too much, had an idea or two, but they were not fast enough or slick enough in their handling to make them pay against the covering of the fastest defence in the League. Yet when Warrington first tried the move to which they generally turned when they sought to pass, they ought to have had a try with it. Garrett, with an open line, knocked on, just as in a movement a minute or two earlier, Hawker had knocked on after Jenkins, following a high kick, had cracked the Leeds defence.

Isaac's Try
These mistakes followed on the heels of the try with which Isaac gave Leeds the lead when, at the end of seven minutes, they attacked for the first time, and, they, together with the try about which there always will be argument, put paid to the account of the Lancastrians.

Isaac's try was obtained in this way. The Leeds backs opened out in their own half, and got the ball away to Eric Harris on the right wing. He made ground quickly and kicked, but instead of kicking straight as he invariably does, he put the ball across the field to confound the Warrington defences sweeping across to cover. Isaac flashed into the picture, and went straight for the ball which was only a few yards from the Warrington line. He took the ball in his stride to dive straight for the touch, just wide of the posts.

The Warrington defenders who were roundabout made no move. They obviously expected the whistle to sound for off-side; but Mr. Dobson, who was in the best position of all to note the vital points-the position of Harris when he kicked, the position of Isaac, and the speed with which Harris went straight down the wing to put all his men onside-had nothing to say. Williams kicked the goal, and Leeds had a lead they never lost.

Leeds Grip Tightens
Warrington might have recovered from the shock of this try, which emphasised so markedly the danger of the Leeds speed, had either Hawker or Garrett been able to take the openings provided for them; but they saw these chances wasted, and they saw the grip of the Leeds tacklers, whose pace gave them such an advantage, tighten. They were a well-beaten and tiring side when half time came along, and they had derived no benefit from either the sun, which was bright enough to trouble the Leeds defenders, or the wind, which was much stronger than it seemed to be.

Warrington made spasmodic efforts to open out play, and, at times, they indulged in speculative passing in the faint hope of being able to do something for Garrett on the right wing; but Brogden rarely gave his stronger opposite any rope, for he tackled brilliantly.

Useful Work in Loose
The Leeds tackling was good all the way round. The middle men were sure, Ralph had the legs of Newcombe, Williams was better than Goodall, the wings made no mistakes, and always the forwards, with Jubb, Casewell and Isaac leading the way, were getting about usefully in the loose. It may be that the Leeds second row men would have served their side better in the scrummaging had they not broken away so quickly, but they had a mission-to check the manoeuvres of Goodall and Newcombe-and they succeeded. Casewell's tackling of the Warrington forwards had much to do with the subjection of the Warrington pack in the loose.

Now and then we saw Miller, but he did not let the ball go as freely as in the second Tour Trial at Headingley, and we rarely saw anything of Arkwright, Warrington's other Tourist. Shankland, the fifth full back to be played by Warrington in this season's tournament, had a worrying and tiring afternoon, and was no match for Brough, whose tactics had much to do with the victory.

Brilliant Brough
Brough fielded with superb confidence, and he kicked craftily. It may be that the kicking duels he had with Shankland-there was more kicking between the full backs than we have seen for many a day-were prolonged, but they were a vital part of the game. Brough caused Shankland to run about so much that the Australian could hardly lift a leg in the closing stages

Brough was not the aggressive full back he can be, tellingly, so tellingly, in fact, that the way was opened for a try providing, of course, that the movement was carried on in the right way.

All the best football was produced by Leeds, and their four tries-each of a different type-will be happily remembered when the dull and stodgy patches of the game are forgotten. Isaac's try was followed by one by Fred Harris, and there will be those who will say that this try alone made the Journey to Wembley worth while.

Fred Harris's Thrilling Try.
There was skill, speed and judgment, and, above everything else, inspiration in it. The middle backs opened out, and the ball rested safely in the centre's hands. He went away, trying, first of all, to carve the opening for Eric Harris on the wing. Again, as in the Hull and Huddersfield games, he had to go to the touch line, and again, as in the Hull and Huddersfield games, Eric Harris cut inside. The crossing defence wavered as he did so, and Fred Harris" offered" the ball for that variation of the "scissors" used by Leeds. Then, just as at Hull and Huddersfield, the centre accelerated to leave all the baffled defenders, save Shankland.

He could not make the inside pass as he did at Huddersfield, for there were men in between him and Eric Harris, and he could not beat Shankland on the touch-line side because there was not room. He put his boot to the ball to lift it over Shankland, he went on to take it before it touched the ground, and he ran in as fine a try as ever will be seen at Wembley.

Before this, Shankland had kicked a grand goal for Warrington from a penalty given against Fred Harris for a foul, and, as Williams kicked a penalty goal for Leeds in the 38th minute of the game, Leeds led 10-2 at half-time.

They were rarely troubled in the second half, when they had a little more of the ball from the scrummages. Warrington were held at every point, and they had tries scored against them by Eric Harris and Parker, who, in every way, played his best game for Leeds.

Eric Harris, who had knocked on with the line a yard away after one movement started by Brough, made no mistake with his second chance. He took the ball from Fred Harris as he cut Inside, he forced a passage through three defenders, kicked, and beat the challenge of two more defenders to regain the ball and swing himself over the line.

Williams kicked the goal, but could not manage the shot after Parker had run gloriously through a beaten defence to get the fourth try.

Lord Derby Presents Cup.
If Leeds had had as much of the ball as Warrington they would, with their speed and skill, have put up a record score for a final. They must have done, for they were sound everywhere except in the scrummaging, and there were times when they were as brilliant as they can be. Their tries and their tackling redeemed this afternoon's game.

Lord Derby, the President of the Rugby League, presented the Cup to Brough, and the Leeds players chaired their captain across the ground to that part of the terracing where were the 1,600 cheering and delighted schoolboys from Leeds and Hunslet.

Teams-

Leeds: Brough (captain): Harris (E), Harris (F), Parker, Brogden: Ralph, Williams: Hall, Satterthwaite, Dyer, Jubb, Casewell, Isaac.

Warrington: Shankland (captain): Garrett, Hawker, Dingsdale, Jenkins: Newcombe, Goodall: Cotton, Hardman, Miller, Flannery, Arkwright, Chadwick. Referee: Mr. A. S. Dobson (Featherstone).

1936-37

1936-37

Although strenuous efforts were made by the management to maintain the playing strength at a high standard in the hope of attaining further honours, particularly the League Championship which had so far eluded the Club, we had to yield the R. L. Cup and the Yorkshire Cup, and to find consolation in winning the Yorkshire League Championship.

The only close season signing of note was that of Ernest Pollard, the International back, from Wakefield Trinity. He was to have the remarkable record of kicking over 100 goals in his one and only season with Leeds. Five other players of note joined the Club: Cliff Evans, from Salford; Dai Prosser, from York; Con Murphy and Dai Jenkins, from Streatham and Mitcham; and Ted Tattersfield, from Hull Kingston Rovers. Each of these players was to serve the Club loyally and well over a number of years, and it is worthy of note that Prosser, Jenkins and Murphy were to II survive" the war period and take their places with the Leeds team at Wembley in 1947, over ten years later.

One would have imagined that with this additional strength the Cup winning combination of the previous campaign would have been more than strong enough for all-comers. But football is a strange business, and many factors come into the blending and welding of a successful combination, and It may well have been that the playing strength was far too unwieldy, with consequent team selection problems and the constant temptation to .. chop and change". As an example of this, the records reveal that no fewer than eight players alternated in the half-back positions: Richards, Pollard, Jenkins, Evans, Ralph, Williams, Brogen and J. Jones. How could any attacking or defensive combination develop if the pivot of the whole team was being constantly switched? A similar situation was created in the three-quarter line, because there were so many players of undoubted talent and ability. A settled team, playing consistently well, is the obvious ideal to aim for in matters of selection.

Sound work In the League enabled the team to head the table at the end of the year, but valuable ground was lost in January and February, and this falling off can be traced to the constant switching of half-backs. Up to Christmas, Ralph and Evans had linked well and had been a vital factor in the team's success, but the advent of Jenkins created a problem. It is true to say that the management had only intended signing Murphy, the hooker, from Streatham and Mitcham, but when he suggested that Jenkins, with whom he had played for several years, would also like to join Leeds the bargain was struck. And a bargain they both proved to be ! !

From early March onwards the first choice half-backs were Jenkins and Jones, and with a settled pair the team went from strength to strength, to finish in third position. The League Semi-Final took us to Wilderspool where the following weakened team lost by 12 points to 2; Eaton; F. Harris, Evans, Pollard, Brogden; Jones, Jenkins; Dyer, Murphy, Prosser, Jubb, Casewell, Tattersfield.

We entered the Yorkshire Cup Competition with high hopes of making our third consecutive conquest, but this was not to be. We met Bradford in the 1st Round at Odsal and just squeezed through by 12 points to II. This, however, was quite a good performance as Casewell had to leave the field after thirty minutes play with a dislocated shoulder which he sustained in scoring Leeds second try. Ernest Pollard's goal-kicking was the winning factor. Hull was the venue for the second round and as Leeds had won there in the League a week earlier hopes of victory were justifiable, but on this occasion the Hull forwards ran riot, subduing the Leeds pack completely, strangling our speedy back division, and leading the way to victory.

The visit to Belle Vue, Wakefield, in the 1st round of the R. L. Cup gave the Trinitarians an opportunity to gain revenge for that Yorkshire Cup Final defeat, and with true poetic justice we lost by a goal kick to nil, and missed six reasonable shots at goal! ! !

On Coronation Day, May 12th, Leeds and Salford played an experimental twelve-a-side game at Headingley, with each pack scrummaging In 2-3 formation. It was an extremely interesting and thought provoking exhibition. This formation, the idea of the late Mr. Lance Todd the Salford Manager, did generally improve the entry of the ball into the serums, and also quickened up the heeling. Leeds won by 15 points to 9.

1937-38

1937-38

This was another remarkably successful year with the team performing most creditably in all four competitions. Once again the Yorkshire Challenge Cup and the Yorkshire League Cup came to Headingley, we gained honour as runners-up for the League Championship, and made a very gallant showing in the R. L. Cup. .

Close season activity resulted in the signing of two more talented players: VIC Hey, the Australian Test stand-off, and Woods, the former Liverpool Stanley and England front row forward. The latter never settled in Leeds and only had a very short career in our colours, but Hey soon became established and would undoubtedly have had a long and extremely valuable spell with the Club had it not been for the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. His powerful cut through and twinkling sidestep will long be remembered. With the signing of Hey came the transfer of Dicky Ralph to Batley. Ralph had served Leeds exceptionally well, but had not always been given full credit for his extremely sound constructive work, and for his ability to draw the best from the three-quarters who played behind him.

During the season further additions to the playing staff included Alf Watson, loose forward, from Wakefield Trinity, who signed Johnny Jones in part exchange; Frank Lingard, centre from Bramley and Cliff Carter, hooker.

York, the Cup holders, were entertained at Headingley in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup Competition, but a powerful display by the home team carried us through comfortably to the 2nd Round. This was played at Odsal where more than 30,000 spectators assembled to establish a round record. Another comfortable victory took us through to the Semi-Final which brought Batley to Headingley. Although we carried the day by 10 points to 5 our backs gave a very disappointing display, and there was some trepidation at the thought of meeting Huddersfield in the Final at Belle Vue. But the fears were soon dispelled as the Leeds halves and three-quarters unleashed a series of brilliant attacking moves which thrilled the crowd and bewildered the opposition. Huddersfield were unfortunate in that they had to play young Swallow at stand-off half, as Hey was in his most scintillating form, making the youngster's defensive task tremendously heavy. Thus the Yorkshire Cup was won by Leeds for the sixth time in ten seasons.

With only three League matches lost, and two drawn, we proudly held first place in the table at the turn of the year, but then came the tragic month of January with five successive defeats. Following a splendid victory over Halifax at Thrum Hall on New Year's Day we went down to Batley, Liverpool Stanley, Halifax, Bradford Northern and Wakefield Trinity. It is fair to point out that only the Halifax match was at home. On the other hand we scored but two tries and two goals in those five games together. The records reveal that only at Wakefield did we field a weakened side, so it was evidently one of those extraordinary lapses which unaccountably strike a team. The first game in February brought the turn of the tide, with a narrow victory over Bradford Northern, at Headingley, by 12 points to 11. Strange to relate, only one more League match was lost to the end of the season and we finished in second place. Leeds has rarely known such enthusiasm and such partisanship, as Hunslet finished at the head of the table, and fans on both sides trusted that their favourites would win through to the Final. Then, and only then, would there be an opportunity to settle those arguments which could be heard at street corners, in workshops, in pubs, and wherever Rugby League supporters gather.

Twenty-nine thousand spectators congregated at Headingley on Monday evening, April 25th for the Semi-Final with Swinton, and excitement was intense as Hunslet had already won through to the Final by beating Barrow at Parkside two days earlier. Leeds were compelled to field a weakened team owing to various injuries: Eaton; E. Harris, Lingard, Brogden, Smith; Williams, Jenkins; Satterthwaite, Murphy, Prosser, Dyer, Tattersfield, Duffy. Compared with the full strength side the following were unavailable: Hey, Whitehead, Brough, Fred Harris, Evans, in addition to Jubb and Watson who were under suspension. The game was in the balance until the last quarter with Swinton holding a lead of 2 points to nil. They could reasonably have had a greater lead as the mighty Hodgson, who played a tremendous game, had missed three kicks at goal with which he would normally have scored. Then Eric Harris, whom Swinton must surely remember as the dreaded Toowoomba ghost, intercepted a pass between the Leeds 25 and the halfway line. His devastating pace took him clear of all but Barnes the full back. Harris turned inside across him and the crowd cheered his every stride as he went relentlessly to the Swinton posts to make Evan Williams' conversion a mere formality. Harris, who put paid to Swinton's hope of a Cup Final triumph in 1932, had snatched this game too out of the fire, and the Leeds supporters mobbed him joyfully from the field.

Now the battle royal was really on!! Originally the R.L. Management Committee had fixed the Belle Vue ground at Wakefield for the League Final but, following representations from the Leeds and Hunslet officials. the decision was reversed and Elland Road was made the venue for the long awaited meeting.

Before the biggest crowd then seen at a Rugby League game in England-over 54,000-Hunslet gained merited win over Leeds and thus carried the Championship Trophy proudly to Parkside. Whilst it's true to say that injuries to Smith and Hey hampered the Leeds attack, it is equally true to maintain that Hunslet had fully deserved their lead of 6 points to 2 at half-time, and that the real damage had been done while Leeds were at full strength. The powerful and clever running of Morrell was the chief factor in Hunslet's successful attacking thrusts. What the outcome would have been had Leeds been able to field a fully representative side can never be determined, but about this there can be no argument; three out of the four Cups rested at Headingley and at Parkside, and players of both sides could sit back, proudly lick their wounds, and prepare for yet another season.

The teams which took part in this Final were:

Leeds: Eaton; Harris E., Williams, Brogden, Smith; Hey, Jenkins; Satterthwaite, Murphy, Prosser. Tattersfield, Dyer, Duffy.

Hunslet: Walkington; Batten, Morrell, .Winter, O'Sullivan; Morris, Thornton; White, Tolson, Bennett. Newbound, Stansfield, Plenderleith. Referee: Mr. F. Fairhurst (Wigan).

1938-39

1938-39

This campaign saw the complete disintegration of the famous back division of the middle thirties, and it was not until the closing months of the season that the management were able to show the foundations of the team of the future.

During the close season there was only one signing of note: Reg. Wheatley, prop forward, from York. But immediately following the Lazenby Cup match with Hunslet, Stan Brogden was transferred to Hull and thus yet another link with the teams which did duty at Wembley In 1936 and at Elland Road in the previous April was broken. Jim Brough had virtually retired, since he had taken up a business appointment in South Africa; and other departures during the previous two years included I. Isaac, to York; L. Higson and Ernest Pollard, to Bradford Northern; Gwyn Parker, to Keighley; J. A. Casewell, to Halifax; J.Woods to Wigan; John Hall and A. R. Ralph, to Batley; Cliff Whitehead to Hunslet. And now, Broggie ! !

One would have imagined that a team shorn of so much talent would have languished in the middle of the League table, but that was far from the case. On December 31st we had met with only one defeat, and that was at Warrington where we went down by 7 points to 17. Indeed we headed the League until the end of January. Charlie Eaton had proved an excellent successor to Jim Brough, and Jack Kelly, a former Bramley O. B. Rugby Union player, was an able deputy. The only apparent weakness in the team was at centre, and this department was boosted in no uncertain fashion at the turn of the year. Gareth Price, the centre from L1anelly, made his debut against Batley on December 27th, in a game which brought us a narrow victory by 5 points to 4. Dicky Ralph, at serum half, John Hall, hooker and Blackburn, all ex-Leeds players, gave us a severe jolt. Within four weeks two more talented players joined Leeds: Idwal Davies, the Welsh International centre, and Dennis Madden, who had worn the Fartown colours with such distinction. Although valuable ground was lost in the League Table during late February and early March it did appear likely that we should obtain a coveted position in the First Four, but, following our defeat in the R. L. Cup Semi-Final at Odsal, only one victory was gained out of the last five matches, and we finished in fifth position.

Our first round Yorkshire Cup victory over Featherstone Rovers at Post Office Road was most impressive, with Jubb, Hey and E. Harris giving sterling displays. Huddersfield, at Fartown, was a stiff 2nd Round obstacle, and we were well beaten although the final score was only 8-6. The normally reliable and dependable Eaton had a most unfortunate evening, with nothing going right for him, whilst a revitalised and remodelled Fartown pack paved the way to victory.

The 1st Round of the R. L. Challenge Cup Competition gave us an opportunity to gain revenge over Huddersfield, and our players gained a merited win by 9 points to 2. Dennis Madden had been transferred from Fartown just before the Cup register closed but he was unable to play for Leeds on this occasion as there had been an understanding to the effect that he should not play against his old club if the luck of the draw put Leeds and Huddersfield in opposition. Evans had to play at off-half on this occasion as Vic Hey was kept on the touchline with a pulled leg muscle, so Idwal Davies made his debut at centre in this extremely important match. Widnes were our visitors in the 2nd Round, and 36,000 spectators saw Madden score both Leeds tries in his first game at Headingley. A victory over Keighley, at Lawkholme Lane, by 2 points to nil, took us to Odsal to face Halifax in the Semi Final. Incidents in this game have been hotly debated ever since, but history records that Halifax won by 10 points to 4 and went on to Wembley to beat Salford in the Final. At Odsal, Leeds never fully recovered from a shock try scored by Bassett after seven minutes play. A scrummage on the Leeds 25 line gave a quick heel to Goodall, who left the fringe of the pack as though intent on making play for Todd and the big Halifax centres. But instead of passing, Goodall kicked over the pack towards the corner flag. and there, Bassett, who was prepared for the move, took the ball before it bounced to make a try, to which Lockwood could not add the goal points. Many have argued that Bassett was off-side before Goodall kicked, but there was merit in the unexpected nature of the move for which Leeds were unprepared. There were other incidents in the game which many Leeds fans still recall: an inside pass from Smith to Madden which was ruled forward, a pass dropped by Eric Harris with the line at his mercy, and the unfortunate recurring injury which reduced Hey's attacking threat. The Leeds team on this occasion was: Eaton; E. Harris, F. Harris, Madden, Smith; Hey, Evans; Dyer, Murphy, Prosser, Jubb, Tattersfield, Watson.

One other memory of the season's play keeps crowding in: the beautifully clean, yet devastating tackling of Cliff Evans, when he faced big Charlie Smith in the Halifax match at Headingley. Skill guts determination were the hallmark of this grand little player.

1939-40

1939-40

With the international situation deteriorating rapidly there was little close season activity, and there were no new faces in the Leeds team which met Hunslet in the Lazenby Cup match at Headingley In mid-August. But the management were concerned over the persistent groin Injury which had troubled Vic Hey for over twelve months, and they eventually decided to obtain the services of another stand-off half. Hunslet agreed to part with the services of Oliver Morris for a big fee, and Leeds contracted to pay a further sum to Hunslet if hostilities did not break out within a specified period.

Morris made his debut against Broughton Rangers in the opening League engagement and scored two excellent tries. A narrow victory over Halifax by 9 points to 8, was followed, on September 2nd, by a storming win over Bramley.

The following day war was declared-a war which many had considered inevitable ever since the days of Munich, a war which all expected but none could relish-and those fateful words of Mr. Neville Chamberlain disrupted the life of every home in the land just as surely and Irrevocably as they denuded every Club and team, from Headingley to Central Park, and St. James Park to Highbury, of many players who had given such pleasure and so many thrills to the sporting fraternity.

Some there were, like Oliver Morris, who were to pay the supreme sacrifice in the cause of freedom; some there were, like Reg. Wheatley, who were to undergo supreme hardship and privation in prisoner of war camps and yet return to the field of their former glory; some there were, like Eric Harris, to whom the outbreak of war meant a premature retirement from the game; some, too, were to serve in distant parts and then return six years later to help to rebuild the fortunes of the Club; whilst others, who were more fortunate, were engaged in work of national importance and thus were able to .. turn out" week by week in the Emergency Competitions.

Thus ended the" golden thirties "; but not entirely, for the memories of many of the games chronicled in this book were a source of great pleasure and delight to players, officials, and supporters through the dark days. Many a weary and depressed serviceman was cheered by the thoughts of "Blue and Amber", many yearned for a glimpse of the one and only Headingley, and many a one came whilst on leave to stand at his favourite spot-to look, to dream, to hope.

The Yorkshire League (War Emergency) Competition commenced on September 30th, and provided a welcome relief for an anxious public. The Home Office restricted the Headingley crowds to a maximum of 8,000, as a precautionary measure in case of air attack.

Only half our matches were won, and we finished in eighth position, but the fare provided was very entertaining. The work of Jenkins and Morris at half-back, coupled with the supporting play of Hey, in the centre, and the strong running of Madden on the wing. made one appreciate what might have been in days of peace.

Our appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Competition was confined to the 1st Round as we met with a heavy defeat by 22 points to 3, at Odsal.

1940-41

1940-41

Owing to the state of emergency no fewer than 55 players wore the Leeds jersey during the season. The pre-war players who were able to turn out more or less regularly were Hey, Eaton, Jenkins Morris, Murphy, Jubb, Tattersfield, F. Harris, Prosser and Satterthwaite, whilst Cliff Evans was fortunately available for the Cup Final at Odsal. Des Foreman who was to take part in post-war rugby at Headingley, and who had made his debut in May of this year, put in twelve appearances, whilst a promising young player, Dennis Warrior, made his debut at Headingley on October 12th. B. E. Toothill, an ex-Leeds Grammar School boy, who was later to pay the supreme sacrifice, showed commendable skill and determination on the wing in several games.

Many guest players assisted the Club during the season, the more famous of them including Gus Risman, Eric Batten, J. Garrett and J. Lawrenson.

The League programme was confined to Yorkshire Clubs, and we showed a little improvement on the previous season, winning fourteen matches out of twenty-five.

Wigan were granted special permission to take part in the Yorkshire Cup Competition and they entertained Leeds in the 1st Round. A crowd of pre-war size and enthusiasm saw a grand game, and we succeeded in being the first club to lower the "cherry and white" colours for eighteen games. A try by Dai Jenkins, a drop goal from Ken Jubb and two placed kicks by Jack Kelly took us through by 9 points to 3. But Featherstone Rovers, the Yorkshire Cup holders, were too good for us at Post Office Road in the 2nd Round.

We had a bye in the 1st Round of the R. L. Cup Competition, and a narrow win at Dewsbury in the 2nd Round, by 6 points to 5, took us to Parkside. This was the fourth successive time Leeds had been asked to travel in Cup competitions this season, and a stern task was anticipated, but sounder teamwork resulted in a victory by 17 points to 10. A crowd of 16,000 (the Home Office had relaxed their controls to some extent as danger from the air was now not considered quite so alarmingly) saw an excellent game at Headingley with Bradford Northern as visitors for the • 'first leg" of the Semi Final. Each side scored two tries and two goals, and over 22,000 assembled for the II second leg" at Odsal, where Leeds were unquestionably superior on the day, inflicting on Bradford their second defeat of the season and their first at home.

Halifax were the other finalists, having defeated Wakefield Trinity after two thrilling games (Halifax II-Wakefield 2, at Thrum Hall: Wakefield 10-Halifax 5, at Belle Vue). Odsal was the venue for the final and a crowd of 29,000 witnessed a game which had far too much "needle". At half-time Leeds held a lead of only three points but the final score was 19-2, and so the Rugby League Challenge Cup came to Headingley for the fifth time. It was an amazing record: Five times Cup Finalists, and five times Cup Winners!! The Leeds team on this occasion was: Eaton; Batten, Evans, Hey, Lawrenson; Morris, Jenkins; Prosser, Murphy, Bennett, Satterthwaite, Pearson, Tattersfleld.

1941-42

1941-42

Eighteen clubs took part in the opening stages of this season's League competition, fourteen Yorkshire Clubs and four from Lancashire, but owing to transport problems and the difficulty of raising teams the League table was worked on a percentage basis with each team fulfilling as many fixtures as possible. Dewsbury headed the table at the end of the season and won the Championship, defeating Hull in the Semi-Final, and Bradford in the Final. Leeds finished In eighth position, winning twelve matches out of twenty-three.

Wakefield Trinity provided the opposition in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup, and gained a more than useful lead of five points in the" first leg" which was played at Headingley. Goodfellow plotted and schemed the Wakefield victory in a style reminiscent of the famous "Jonty" Parkin. The "second leg" at Belle Vue, brought Leeds victory by 5 points to 4, but the margin was insufficient to put us through into the 2nd Round.

Leeds and Wakefield clashed again in the 2nd Round of the R. L. Cup Competition (Leeds had a bye in the first Round, in which Wakefield had defeated Batley by 7 points to 4). The "first leg" was played at Belle Vue, where Leeds did well to come away with only three points deficit, which was comfortably wiped out in the" second leg" which w.e won by 8 points to nil. The" first leg" of the 3rd Round brought Hull to Headingley and the lead offourteen points which we obtained gave us a comfortable passage into the Semi-Final although Hull won the" second leg" at the Boulevard. Oldham were our next victims, a Leeds victory at Headingley in the first leg being repeated, far more convincingly, at Watersheddings a week later.

Thus Leeds and Halifax, finalists in the previous season, met at Odsal to decide the Final. The teams, each of which included notable guest players, were as follows:

Leeds: Brough; Edwards, Risman (both of Salford), Hey, Evans; Morris, Jenkins; Prosser, Murphy, Satterthwaite, Gregory (of Warrington), Brown (of Batley), Tattersfield.

Halifax: Lockwood; Bevan, Smith, Rule, Doyle; Todd, McCue; Brereton, Jones, Irving, Millington, Meek, Dixon.

Leeds earned a splendid victory by 15 points to 10, and the probability is that their winning margin would have been greater had Hey, who pulled a leg muscle in the opening minutes, not been a passenger on the wing for more than three-quarters of the game. The Leeds backs always were the better lot, and their forwards were sturdy enough to stand against the keen challenge of the Halifax six. Brough, who was in his thirty-ninth year, played a remarkably fine game, fielding the ball faultlessly, kicking with power and skill, and linking with his three-quarters in a style which roused memories of earlier days. Gus Risman and Alan Edwards had a big share in the victory, and scored all but three of their team's points. Edwards, in fact, put Leeds on the victory track in the early minutes when he followed up at great speed to field a cross-kick and dived in at the corner to score the first points. Morris got the second Leeds try, making full use of a crafty punt by Jenkins, and Edwards claimed the third which was in the nature of a gift from the faulty Halifax defence. Lockwood, with five penalty goals, scored all the Halifax points.

So the Challenge Cup was retained at Headingley and an already impressive record enhanced: six appearances in the Final and six Victories.

1942-43

1942-43

Only fourteen Clubs took part in the Emergency League Competition, and Leeds finished fifth with a percentage of 67.64. Halifax with 68.42 were in fourth place so Leeds only narrowly failed to gain a place in the "First Four".

Our interest in the Yorkshire Cup did not survive the 1st Round. Dewsbury were defeated at Headingley in the 1st Leg by 15 points to 7, and the 2nd leg match was therefore faced with a certain amount of justifiable confidence, particularly as we were able to field a strong team: Walkington; Batten, Rookes, Croston, Evans; Hey, Thornton; Prosser, Murphy, Thompson, Jubb, Desborough, Jones. But Dewsbury had now recruited a very strong side including, Risman; Francis, Hudson, Stott, Kenny, Hammond, and they gained a victory by 18 points to 5 which gave them an aggregate margin of 5 points. They went on to win the Cup, defeating Huddersfield in the Final.

The R. L. Challenge Cup competition was very protracted as each round, including the Final was played on the II two legs" principle. York, Wakefield Trinity and Keighley were disposed of on the way to Leeds third successive appearance in the Final and the fact that we had never been unsuccessful finalists lent much piquancy to the situation. In addition, Dewsbury, the other finalists, were the Yorkshire Cup holders and the League Champions, so the stage was set for a battle royal.

The first leg was played at Crown Flatt and the teams were as follows: Walkington; Callighan, Rookes, Warrior, Eaton; Evans, Jenkins; Satterthwaite, Murphy, Prosser, Gregory, Jubb, Tattersfield. Dewsbury: Bunter: Hudson, Edwards, Robinson, Lloyd; Kenny, Royal; Hammond, Curran, Gardiner, Kershaw, Smith, Seeling.

Leeds lacked power in the middle of the back division and Dewsbury fully merited their lead of 16 points to 9, but they had to play second fiddle in the 2nd leg at Headingley two days' later when Leeds were magnificently served by their forwards and by serum half Dai Jenkins. Lack of speed, however, handicapped Leeds and although they got within two points of Winning the Cup they were unable to discount that seven point lead gained by Dewsbury at Crown Flatt. A Leeds victory by 6 points to nil still gave the cup to Dewsbury by 16 points to 15, and thus the Leeds record of immunity of defeat in the R. L. Cup Final was broken.

On January 23rd the Northern Command Sports Board promoted a match between R. U. players and R. L. players of the Northern Command. The game was played to Rugby Union Rules, and 8,000 spectators assembled to witness a very fine match which the R. L. players won by 18 points to 11.

The teams were as follows:

Northern Command R. U. Cpt. J. Bond (Cumberland); Lieut. T. G. H. Jackson (Scottish Public Schools and Army), Capt. N. M. Walford (Oxford University), Lieut. D. R. McGregor (Rosslyn Park), Sgt. Inst. D. F. Mitchell (Galashiels); 2nd Lieut. L. Bruce Lockhart (Cambridge University), O-Cadet H. Tanner (Swansea); Major R. O. Murray (London Scottish), Sgmn. J. D. H. Hastie (Melrose), Cpl. J. Maltman (Hawick), Cadet R. C. V. Stewart (Moseley & Waterloo), Cpl. R. Cowe (Melrose), 2nd Lieut R. A. Huskisson (Oxford University), Pte. A. Crawford (Melrose), 2nd Lieut. R. G. Furbank (Bedford).

Northern Command R. L. L/Cpl. G. R. Pepperell (Huddersfield), Sgt.-I. R. L. Francis (Dewsbury), Trooper H. Mills (Hull & Yorkshire), Pte. J. Stott (St. Helens), Cpl. E.W. Lloyd (Castleford &Wales); L/Bdr T. H. Royal (Dewsbury), Sgmn. W. Thornton (Hunslet & England); Sgt.-I. D. R. Prosser (Leeds & Wales), L/Cpl. L. L. White (Hunslet & Wales), Gnr. L. White (York), Cpl. K. Jubb (Leeds & England), Cpl. E. Tattersfield (Leeds & England), Pte. W. G. Chapman (Warrington & Wales), Cpl. H. Bedford (Hull), Sgt.-I. T. Foster (Bradford Northern & Wales).

1943-44

1943-44

Sixteen teams took part in this season's Emergency League Competition, and Wigan gained Championship honours, defeating Dewsbury in the Final.

Leeds finished in seventh place, and did remarkably well in view of the fact that no less than eighty players were called upon during the season. On many occasions great difficulty was experienced in raising a team.

Several players who were on the staff prior to the outbreak of hostilities were able to turn out from time to time: Brough, Dyer, Eaton, Evans, F. Harris, Hey, D. Jenkins, Jubb, Murphy, Price, Prosser, Satterthwaite and Tattersfield, but Vic Hey, who had appeared unsettled for some time, was transferred to Dewsbury towards the end of the season. Two" guest players" from Bramley, brothers Dennis and Eddie Murphy, played in the majority of the matches and gave invaluable service. Dennis was later to join the Leeds club as a bona-fide player. Jimmy Ledgard played In five games as a trialist, but his services were not retained.

There were, however, some extremely important signings during the campaign. The opening match, against Wakefield Trinity at Headingley, brought the debut of Ike Owens, who was to develop so rapidly and to become one of the brightest "stars" of the immediate post-war era. His brilliant handling, his devastating speed off the mark, and that rapier-like cut through, provided many thrills for the Headingley fans, and bewildered many an opposing team. His play on the 1946 tour of Australia has been described as .. gloriously magnificent Of, The fortunes of war brought Owens to Headingley- he was introduced to the Club by Cliff Evans, with whom he served in the R.A.F.

Tommy Cornelius, a centre-three-quarter who had appeared in Welsh R.U. Trials, played in the match against Featherstone Rovers at Headingley on October 2nd, and was signed immediately following the game. He was to prove a valuable asset for five seasons and was to appear at Wembley in 1947 as a member of the Cup Final team.

Bernard Gray, a young local off-half, made his debut in the flrst match of the season and showed exceptional promise.

Another young local player, Arthur Staniland, made his first appearance in Leeds colours, at York, on New Year's Day. His determined running and whole-hearted endeavour were to endear him to the Leeds spectators and all at Headingley for ten seasons.

The League programme contained little worthy of special mention apart from two very heavy defeats: at Odsal by 38 points to 3, and at Belle Vue, Wakefield, where the Trinitarians trounced us to the tune of 40 points to 2. This latter defeat was nothing compared to the indignity which we had yet to suffer at their hands in 1945! ! !

We gained a fully merited victory over Hunslet in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup Competition, but Bradford Northern proved altogether too strong for us in the next round. The weight of such big men as Whitcombe, Higson, Roberts and Hutchinson counted heavily in the scrummaging, whilst the artistry of Billy Davies and Ernest Ward created ample running chances for strong-running wingers Batten and Best. Leeds played W. E. Jones at off-half in this match.

The R.L. Cup Competition, played on the two-leg basis, provided Leeds with extremely interesting and exciting matches. In the 2nd Round we gained a winning margin of six points over Huddersfield at Fartown, but only just managed to go through into the next round by the odd point as our opponents won at Headingley by 7 points to 2.

Leeds and Wigan clashed in the Semi-Final, and two splendid matches resulted. In the first, at Headingley, Leeds gained a winning margin of five points. With only one minute left in the 2nd leg, at Central Park, the aggregate scores were equal, but then Belshaw landed a splendid penalty goal amid wild cheering, and thus Wigan were, rather remarkably, R.L. Cup Finalists for the first time in their history.

1944-45

1944-45

Seventeen teams took part in the Emergency League Competition, and Bradford Northern became League Champions, defeating Halifax in the Final.

No fewer than ninety players turned out for Leeds during the season, and It was often necessary to field scratch teams. This was fully reflected in the performances: tenth in the final league table with only nine victories from twenty-three engagements and first round dismissals from both the Yorkshire and the R. L. Cup Competitions.

This dismal record caused quite a deal of concern to the Officials, and as the Allied Forces pushed on rapidly to victory in Europe and the Far East so there was increasing anxiety about the playing strength, which was obviously nothing like good enough for a normal peace-time Competition. It was apparent that much hard work lay ahead if the team was to be restored to its pre-war standard.

One major step in that direction was made, however, during November, when the team which travelled to play St. Helens included a player introduced to the Club by Tommy Cornelius. Such difficulty had been experienced in raising a team on many occasions that any player, even only of average ability, was more than welcome. This slightly built young player soon showed in that match that his ability and potential were well above the average, and consequently he was signed immediately after the game. The fortunes of war which had already brought Ike Owens to Headingley, had now produced yet another II star of the future" in Dicky Williams, who was to wear the Leeds jersey with such distinction and honour over a period of ten seasons. Williams, who hailed from Mountain Ash, and who had gained Welsh Schoolboy International Honours in 1939, was to gain every honour in the game: he made his Test debut against Australia at Swinton in 1948, toured Australia and New Zealand in 1950, captained Great Britain in this country in 1951, and finally joined a very select circle when he was chosen to lead the party which toured Australasia in 1954.

There were other signings during this campaign: Hector Gee, the Australian serum-half, from Wigan; Eric Hesketh, a very speedy stand-off or centre; Walter Cussans, a young local full back; and John Hickey, a second row forward, from Wales, who was later to play for Dewsbury. Dennis Madden, who had not played since 1940, bravely answered an S.O.S. in the early weeks of the season when the playing strength was at a very low ebb. but he was able to make only four appearances owing to illness and was compelled to retire on medical advice. Idwal Davies, too. made two of his rare appearances, but on each occasion he had to leave the field with a damaged collar bone. The outbreak of hostilities had prevented these two extremely talented players from making more than 66 appearances between them in Leeds colours, whereas Gareth Price, who joined the Club at about the same period, was to put in 153 appearances and to be a tower of strength in the immediate post-war period.

In view of the denuded playing strength it was difficult to understand the action of the management in parting with the services of Charlie Eaton, Ted Tattersfleld, Hector Gee, and Harry Dyer at the end of the season. These players. who were transferred en bloc to Batley. would have been more than useful in the next campaign.

1945-46

1945-46

This season can best be summed up in that expressive phrase: "Bitter Sweet ". As the victory bells pealed out their joyful news, so many a weary munition worker and many a home-sick Serviceman turned to his beloved Headingley, to his home of sport and relaxation, hoping and expecting to make a link with the joys and glories of days gone by. He rejoiced to see some of his pre-war favourites still wearing the "Blue and Amber" jersey; he gave a whoop of delight when he saw that grand old war-horse, Dai Prosser, leading his men on the field; he talked of Eric, Oliver, and Vic, and wondered what might have been; he had a special cheer for Alf and Reg, for they had suffered privation and hardship in prisoner of war camps; he found new stars In Dicky and Ike, and took them to his heart; but all the while, he suffered torment as he saw his team languish at the foot of the table and suffer one indignity after another. And yet he understood and knew that it would take time to "pick up the threads ".

The programme opened with a heavy defeat at Central Park, where an extremely weak and inexperienced team battled bravely against all conquering Wigan. Any hope of defeating Featherstone Rovers in the second match was soon dispelled as Fred Harris and Dicky Williams were compelled to leave the field before the interval owing to serious injuries. Harris sustained a fractured jaw and this proved to be his last game for Leeds, whilst Williams, with an injured back, was unavailable for six weeks. This double blow greatly increased the already heavy burden of the management, who were experiencing the greatest difficulty in raising a team. The acute nature of this problem was made apparent at Belle Vue where Wakefield Trinity piled up the highest score ever recorded against Leeds, 71 points to nil. Little time was allowed to get over this severe shock, as four days later Bradford Northern, not to be outdone, created another record-the highest score ever made against Leeds at Headingley, 54-3.

Defeats continued to be the order of the day until the II magic" of the Yorkshire Cup seemed to transform the situation. A very much stronger side was assembled to entertain, and defeat, Castleford in the 1st Round, 1st Leg: Lockwood; Tate, Price, Cornelius, Batten; Evans, Jenkins; Satterthwaite, Murphy, Wheatley, Jubb, Scott, Owens. The most pleasing feature of this game was the greatly improved defence, which did not yield a single try, and that is certainly worthy of note as opponents had crossed the Leeds line on no fewer than 53 occasions in the previous seven League matches. A sound, but not particularly convincing win over Featherstone Rovers in the 2nd Round, raised hopes of a Yorkshire Cup triumph, but, much as we would have liked to reverse that crushing League defeat, Wakefield Trinity proved too strong in the Semi-Final.

It was imagined that this improved form would show in the League matches which followed, but that was far from the case-in point of fact only one League match, out of fourteen, was won in the period "between the Cups". And yet, strange to relate, the R. L. Cup Competition brought another revival.

The following team gained a useful lead of 10 points to 2 over Batley in the 1st Round, 1st Leg at Headingley: Cornelius; Best, Evans, Price, Whitehead; Jenkins, Williams; Prosser, Carter, Wheatley, Foreman, Fox, Owens. At Mount Pleasant, a week later, the manner and extent of Leeds victory in the 2nd Leg was an eye-opener, so that enthusiasm ran high once again. But the luck of the draw took us to Widnes for the 2nd Round and Naughton Park had been the graveyard of many hopes and aspirations. As the game turned out we might well have won had we taken advantage of the early scoring opportunities which presented themselves, but Tommy McCue, behind a Winning pack, eventually controlled the game and dictated the tactics.

The management made strenuous efforts to build up the playing strength during this period and players were recruited from all quarters: Billy Banks, scrum half, and George Hughes, forward, from Wales; Ernest Whitehead, winger, from Wakefield Trinity; Walter Best, winger, from Bradford Northern; Johnny Feather, scrum half, Wilf Cox, centre, Alan Horsfall, forward, and Jack Rogers, full back, from local teams; Les Tate, winger, and Bob Batten, utility back, from Fitzwilliam; J. H. Fox, forward, from Castleford; J. Newbound, forward, from the Hunslet area.

It is pleasing to note that Halifax readily granted permission for Hubert Lockwood, whose skill and experience were invaluable, to assist the Club during the early weeks of the season.

Dai .Jenkins and Ike Owens were honoured with selection for the party to tour Australia, and all sympathised with Con Murphy who would have been an automatic choice had he not sustained a fractured leg in the game against Keighley on December 1st.

1946-47

1946-47

Although no trophy was brought to Headingley this was a very successful season. The team building efforts of the management wrought a remarkable transformation and certainly "set the city alight". Those bitter memories of the previous season were dispelled as the team went from strength to strength, challenging bravely for a place in the coveted "First Four", and handsomely disposing of all opposition on the road to Wembley.

There was only one signing of note during the close season: T. L. Williams from Newport R.U.F.C. Williams had a somewhat chequered career with Leeds, and it was always a source of regret that, for various reasons, his undoubted tactical ability, extremely sound technique, and shrewd scheming were never fully utilised at Headingley.

Before September was out the "Jonahs" were busy forecasting another season of gloom and frustration. Following two League defeats Castleford came to Headingley and gained a lead of 3 points in the first Round of the Yorkshire Cup. It was a black week-end, as Walter Best sustained a fractured leg and Cliff Evans retired from the game. The 2nd Leg only served to confirm Castleford's right to go forward into the next Round.

But there were obvious signs of better times when Huddersfield were well and truly beaten at Headingley in the next match, and no player impressed more than Jim Tynan, serum half, who had been introduced from the Salford area by Cliff Evans. Another victory, over Liverpool Stanley, followed, and on this occasion, H. Caldwell made his debut on 'the right wing in place of the injured Best. Although only two victories resulted from the next six games the team was plainly on the up-grade, and the displays of the forwards, now strengthened through the signing of Chris. Brereton from Halifax, were a pointer to eventual success.

The long-awaited revival commenced at Keighley on November 23rd and a splendid run of victories took us up the table to seventh place by Christmas. Enthusiasm amongst a" sport-hungry public" became even more infectious when two new stars arrived on the scene. Bert Cook, who had previously played at Headingley in 1946 as a member of the powerful New Zealand Army R. U. team, made his debut on January 18th. He soon proved himself a popular and valuable acquisition. Always a colourful and truly sporting personality he gave excellent service to the Club for over seven seasons. His accurate goal-kicking, which established a new Club record of 150 goals in 1950-51, was a tremendous team asset. No sooner had Cook made his debut than Arthur Clues, the young Australian Test forward, made his first appearance against Hull at Headingley on February lst. Clues, too, proved to be a great capture, and many claim, with some justification, that no better 2nd Row forward ever played the Rugby League game. His tactical kicking, herculean tackling, devastating side-step, indomitable spirit and great powers of leadership were revealed on countless occasions during his eight years' distinguished service with the Leeds Club.

As if to show these newcomers from" down under" how bad an English winter really can be, heavy snowfalls caused mass cancellations of matches for five weeks, and teams went into the R.L. Cup Competition on March 8th, sadly lacking in match practice. But Leeds, with their forwards magnificently overcoming the atrociously heavy ground conditions gained a comfortable lead at Headingley in the 1st Leg, and gave almost a repeat performance a week later when Barrow again had to travel to Headingley for the 2nd Leg as the Craven Park ground was still unfit. Hunslet in the 2nd Round, fought extremely hard but once again the Leeds pack paved the way to victory. In the loose they were now responding magnificently to the deft touches of Brereton, and in the tight they were gaining ample possession through the clever hooking of Con Murphy, now fully recovered from his fractured leg. The luck of the draw took us to Central Park for the 3rd Round, and this game will always live in the memory because of the miraculous goal which Bert Cook kicked out of a morass at 50 yards range. The victory gained over Wakefield Trinity, at Huddersfield, in the Semi-Final, was most convincing and Leeds became the first team in the history of the Rugby League to reach the Cup Final without having a point scored against them.

The Final, played at Wembley, was a disappointing affair and never reached the heights expected of it, but Bradford Northern were worthy winners. The redoubtable Leeds pack was mastered in both the tight and the loose, and the Bradford backs, with Billy Davies ever prominent, were more than good enough for the Leeds set. The Leeds team was: Cook; Cornelius, Price, Williams T. L. Whitehead; Williams R., Jenkins; Prosser, Murphy, Brereton, Watson, Clues, Owens.

Leeds still had hopes of gaining a place in the First Four, and a record crowd of 40,175 (record receipts for a League match of £3,297) assembled at Headingley to see the vital League clash between the Cup finalists. The game, which was drawn at 2 points each, was equally as disappointing as the Wembley Final. Featherstone Rovers won at Headingley four days later, but Leeds wound up their programme with two victories and thus earned the right to travel to Central Park, for the Championship Semi-Final. Wigan, however, had the measure of this weary Leeds team whose much vaunted pack had now lost its sting.

During this highly successful campaign, which had extended from late August to mid-June the following players were transferred: W. Banks, J. Booth and G. Hughes, to Wakefield Trinity; B. Gray to Hunslet; E. Hesketh to Batley.

1947-48

1947-48

The management, whose tremendously hard work and enterprise had been rewarded with that Cup Final appearance at Wembley and a place in the First Four during the previous season, could be excused for imagining that the team would give a good account of itself in this campaign. But this was far from the case and, apart from an unsuccessful appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Final, no major successes came our way.

Recruiting continued at full pressure, and Leeds were fortunate in obtaining the services of Teddy Verrenkamp from Australia. Verrenkamp's whole-hearted play, and great pluck, were greatly admired at Headingley, but his versatility proved to be his greatest handicap. Rarely in a settled position he gave, however, many fine displays.

Other signings included: Len Kenny, winger, of Australia; Joe Flanagan, forward, from Keighley; Norman Davies, hooker, from Wales; Joe Hulme, forward, who had been recently demobilised: Maurice Ogden, forward and" Ginger" Downes, stand-off, from local junior teams; and back Pansegrouw, forward, from South Africa. Another welcome addition from H.M. Forces was Dennis Warnor, who resumed his rugby career and soon gained a regular place in the back division. Players transferred included; Des Foreman, to Castleford; Jack Kelly to Dewsbury; and Walter Best, to Featherstone Rovers.

Although our League record was only very moderate, the team rose to great heights on several occasions, especially when meeting the top class Lancashire teams at Headingley.

Leigh, who came with an unbeaten League record, were unable to cope with the brilliant handling and speedy running of the Leeds players, but for all that, they too swung the ball about to make their contribution to as fine a game of rugby football as one could wish to see. T. L. Williams gave a brilliant exhibition in the Leeds centre.

The clash with Wigan, the League leaders, provided another capital game and, on this occasion, the final issue was in the balance until eight minutes from the end. Ted Ward, who had previously kicked three splendid goals, gained the winning points with a magnificent penalty kick from the touch line. If proof were needed that there is ample support for truly competitive games between well matched teams, Leeds and Warrington provided the answer. In spite of a transport workers' strike 30,000 spectators made the long trek to Headingley and they were rewarded with a thrilling exhibition, which ended in a draw at five points each. Warrington were, perhaps, unlucky in not taking both points, as in the last few minutes Bevan and Helme each lost the ball after having crossed the Leeds line.

Bradford Northern were our 1st Round opponents in the Yorkshire Cup Competition, and few Leeds supporters could have been optimistic as Bradford had already gained a convincing League victory at Headingley. Our players, however, rose to the occasion in the 1st Leg and held a six points lead when they turned out for the 2nd Leg at Odsal. This game, in which Bradford could only reduce the Leeds lead to one of four points, was packed with dramatic incident: Bradford were prodigal in the manner in which they threw away scoring chances; Dicky Williams made a thrilling try-saving tackle on Kitching with the line only a yard away; Arthur Clues and Frank Whitcombe were dismissed from the field following an unseemly brawl. Dewsbury were eventually beaten in a gruelling 2nd Round match, but at one stage they were well on top and had it not been for Clues and Williams it is doubtful whether Leeds would have reached the Semi-Final stage, in which they gained a comfortable win over Castleford at Headingley.

The meeting of Wakefield Trinity and Leeds in the Final at Fartown gave the Trinitarians a chance to reverse that R.L. Cup Semi-Final defeat of the previous year. They were holding a lead of seven points to two, and apparently had no cause for anxiety, when Stott put in a long touch-finding kick, but the wind curled it away to Kelly, who initiated a splendid passing movement which carried the ball over seventy yards, and resulted in a try under the posts. Whitehead's conversion was the final score of the match, and the teams were called upon to meet again at Odsal four days later. The closing minutes of the re-play were intensely thrilling as Leeds threw in all they had in one glorious effort to wipe out the Trinity lead of six points: Dicky Williams looked a scorer all over until Perry made a glorious tackle; Flanagan, speeding away like a threequarter, scored a try which Whitehead converted, to make the score 7-8; and then a Whitehead penalty kick, which could have won the match, hit the upright. Trinity were worthy winners, however, and Leeds had handicapped themselves heavily in the early stages through defensive blunders which had presented tries to Bratley and Wilkinson.

Our interest in the R.L. Cup was short lived. Convincing victories over York in each leg of the 1st Round, resulted in a visit to Central Park and although Wigan were not at their best they were more than good enough for a Leeds team which was handicapped early on through an injury to Bert Cook. The New Zealand touring party turned out a strong team, including ten Test players, for the game at Headingley and they were much too strong for a weakened Leeds team which included two debutants: "Ginger" Downes, stand-off, and Norman Davies, hooker.

1948-49

1948-49

"Nothing but the very best" has always been the policy of the Leeds Club, and during this season a tremendous effort was made to build a team" second to none" and also to bring the ground amenities to a similar high standard. Players were recruited on an unprecedented scale, and ambitious schemes were prepared for ground improvements.

During the close season the management announced the signing of four extremely talented players: Bob McMaster and Ken Kearney from Australia; Tommy Wright and Andrew Turnbull, from Scotland. These four, however, were to have mixed fortunes at Headingley. McMaster, who was to stay with the Club for five seasons, was extremely consistent but he never became the power anticipated. Kearney returned to Australia on the termination of a three year contract by which time he had become a first-class hooker. Wright was never able to reveal his undoubted ability owing to a very persistent shoulder injury, but II Drew" Turnbull, who was only seventeen when he signed his contract, was to develop into a Great Britain Test Winger and was to thrill the Headingley crowds for many seasons with his tremendous powers of acceleration. The arrival of these players led to the transfer of Carter, Cornelius and Flanagan to the newly-formed Whitehaven Club. and of Brereton to Keighley.

There was naturally great excitement and enthusiasm amongst the Headingley fans when Bramley were entertained in the opening League engagement, but any hopes of a Leeds walk-over were soon dispelled and the game ended in a draw at 7 points each. Yet another transfer deal was effected during the next few days: Les Thomas, second row or loose forward, was signed from Oldham to whom Batten, Tynan and Tate were transferred in part exchange. Thomas, who made his debut at Leigh in the second match of the season, was never happy at Headingley and his stay was relatively short.

Leeds went into the Yorkshire Cup Competition with only one League victory out of five matches played, and consequently the victory over Halifax at Thrum Hall in the 2nd Leg, following a draw in the 1st Leg, was totally unexpected. Three League matches followed, with very heavy defeats at Warrington and Wigan, and a home victory over Dewsbury, in which game a young" local ", Alan Kendrick, made his debut in the pack. Hunslet came to Headingley for the 2nd Round of the Yorkshire Cup and qualified to meet Bradford Northern in the Semi-Final with a win by 10 points to 7. Ten days later Ike Owens was transferred to Castleford. Although the management were most reluctant to part with his services the player was adamant in his desire to leave Headingley.

Five consecutive League victories gave hope of better times, but an equally bad sequence, with only one victory out of six, led to another recruiting campaign before the Cup register closed. For the visit of Wigan on January 8th, three new signings were introduced: Des Clarkson, from Leigh, Gwyn Gronow, from Hunslet, and Ike Procter, from Halifax. Wigan, however gained the two points they vitally needed in their bid for Championship honours, and this strengthened Leeds team only just managed to gain narrow victories over Whitehaven and Featherstone Royers in subsequent matches. In a final endeavour to bring the team up to the requisite standard, Bob Bartlett, centre, and Dennis Murphy, forward, were signed from Bramley, to whom Dennis Warrior and Joe Hulme were transferred in part exchange. This might well have turned out to be a masterpiece of enterprise on the part of the Leeds management, but unfortunately Bartlett was very prone to injury and Leeds were never able to capitalise fully on his great potential. Murphy, however, although never a "star", proved himself a very reliable and whole-hearted team player.

Great hopes were entertained when Batley were comfortably beaten in the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup Competition, and enthusiasm reached fever pitch when Hunslet were defeated at Headingley, before 37,000 spectators in the next round. Huddersfield, were the 3rd Round visitors and almost a capacity crowd assembled to see the expected II classic". The Fartown team included three Austtalian stars in Cooper, Devery and Hunter, in addition to Ike Owens who had been transferred from Castleford. The game, which had promised so well in the early stages, was marred by the dismissal of Gronow in the first half, and Huddersfield ran out comfortable winners by 20 points to 9.

This exit from the Cup Competition was the final blow in a disappointing season, In which only eighteen League matches were won and the final placing in the Table was 14th.

Such hopes! So much hard work! Such disappointments! Such is football.

Amid all the hustle and bustle of the season's activity one decision, which at the time was apparently of small moment, was to have a vital bearing on the future of the Leeds Club: in mid-October very definite action was taken to develop local talent With the formation of a Leeds liB" team.

1949-50

1949-50

Although no trophies were brought to Headingley this was a grand season, and Leeds were always well "in the running" for Honours.

In view of the extensive recruiting campaign of the previous twelve months there were, quite understandably, no close season signings to report, and it was felt that there was sufficient talent to blend into a really first-class side.

Reputedly "slow starters" it was good to see our players gain four victories out of the first five engagements, but then came disaster in the shape of five defeats off the reel, which seriously jeopardised our Championship aspirations and also resulted In a sudden exit from the Yorkshire Cup Competition.

This bad spell began at Central Park on September 3rd, when Wigan were only saved in the very last minute by Mountford who suddenly cast aside a crippling limp and sped brilliantly through a bewildered defence. Huddersfield proved much too good for us in each leg of the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup, and when Hunslet came to Headingley to beat us, although they had only ten sound men and two cripples for almost half the game, our cup of sorrow was full. The last match of this black September took us to Craven Park to meet a lively Hull K.R. team which just gained both points as Cox, deputy full back for Bert Cook, missed a simple goal under the posts.

October brought the "turn of the tide" so that only one match was lost out of the next fourteen. This change of fortune could be attributed in the main to the signing of Frank Watson, scrum half, from Hunslet. Watson made his debut for Leeds, at Parkside of all places, on October 1st, and his matchless display not only contributed to a Leeds victory but also drove his old colleagues and supporters to desperation. Those responsible for obtaining Watson's services did a great stroke of business. Always a fine team man, his artistry at the base of the scrum and his uncanny anticipation were only matched by his cool, unruffled temperament. He quickly struck up a very happy partnership with Dicky Williams, and the team soon achieved that balance and blend which are so vital. Victories followed in rapid succession and a great crowd assembled at Headingley on New Year's Eve to witness a splendid victory over Wigan, which put us into third place in the League Table.

January brought defeats at Halifax and Workington but we still held a place in the "First Four" when the R.L. Cup Competition opened on February 4th. The team had been strengthened through the signing of W. E. Hopper, forward, who had made such a fine debut for Warrington at Headingley thirteen months earlier. Hopper was to prove a real grafter, always being in the thick of it, and never failing to give of his very best.

Leigh were 1st Round visitors to Headingley and they provided stiff opposition so that Leeds were somewhat fortunate in gaining a seven points lead. The 2nd Leg, at Kirkhall Lane, was a real thriller, with Leigh rallying desperately in the closing minutes as our players clung bravely to an aggregate lead of two points. Following a comfortable league victory over Dewsbury, we entertained Wigan for the second round. An all-ticket crowd of 37, 144, which paid £4,830, were favoured with a wonderful game in spite of the atrociously heavy ground conditions. It was primarily a day for forwards, and the Leeds pack rose to great heights: Prosser and McMaster never played with more fire and determination, whilst Clues repeatedly harassed the opposition with accurate touch-finding kicks. The only try of the match was scored by Dicky Williams who hovered in the rear of a play the ball movement and then suddenly shot in to make the vital extra man on the left flank. Wakefield Trinity were called upon to visit Headingley in the 3rd Round, and as the Trinitarians were handicapped through the suspension of Higgins and Murphy, few could have anticipated the very real challenge they were to make. Up to twenty minutes from the end it was anybody's game, with Trinity holding a one point lead, but then our players rallied strongly to score ten points and Leeds were through to the Semi Final once again.

Enthusiasm and excitement knew no bounds when Leeds were drawn to meet Warrington, but there was some concern when it was known that Odsal was to be the venue, for that vast arena had not been a happy hunting ground for Leeds. The fears of the superstitious were confirmed when McMaster was sent off the field during a League match played at Odsal a fortnight before the Semi Final. His subsequent suspension made him unavailable for the Cup match.

A tremendous crowd converged on Odsal and there was such a congestion of traffic that Warrington had established a lead through a try by Derbyshire long before many spectators had got into the ground. This early lead gave the Wirepullers all the confidence they needed, and their line was never in danger apart from .once, when Naughton made a glorious tackle to prevent Cook from putting the ball down for a try which might have changed the course of the game. Having blunted the Leeds attack Warrington scored three tries in rapid succession: Johnson gave a dummy to an imaginary colleague to send the Leeds defenders the wrong way, Bath shoulder-charged his way over and then, just before half-time a thoroughly demoralised Leeds defence allowed Helme to dart over near the posts. Palin's conversion of Helme's try gave Warrington an interval lead of 14 points to nil. Our players managed to reduce the winning margin by two points in the second half, but they played with an apparent inferiority complex and were never" in the hunt". The indignity was complete when Clarkson was dismissed from the field about twenty minutes from the end.

There were still hopes of a Championship triumph as we were well placed in the League but only two matches were won out of the six that remained to be played. The last match, versus Halifax at Headingley, saw the introduction of a young local centre, Gordon Brown. He made an impressive debut, but few at that time could have imagined that he would eventually captain the Leeds team and gain renown as a member of a victorious Great Britain side in a World Cup Competition.

Dicky Williams was worthily honoured with selection for the party to tour Australasia.

Bert Cook equalled the existing club record, held by J. H. Potter and Ernest Pollard, by kicking twelve goals in the match with York at Headingley.

1950-51

1950-51

This was almost 1949-50 all over again: 5th in the League, R.L. Cup Semi-Finalists, and knocked out of the Yorkshire Cup Competition by Huddersfield. On this occasion, however, there was some consolation in winning the Yorkshire League Championship.

There was only one close season signing of note: Bruce Ryan, the Australian winger, from Hull. Ryan, who was to wear the Leeds jersey for only two seasons, had exceptional ability but rarely did he produce the form of which he was undoubtedly capable.

Before the season was a week old, there was another addition to the playing strength, and Bernard Poole made his debut in the second row at Bramley. Poole, who also was transferred from Hull, displayed in that game the relentless tackling, enthusiastic backing up, and wholehearted endeavour which were to be the hallmark of each of his subsequent performances.

Early League successes raised hopes of a Yorkshire Cup triumph, but after gaining comfortable victories over Featherstone Rovers in each leg of the 1st Round we had to play" second fiddle" to Huddersfield at Headingley. The Fartowners gained a convincing win by 29 points to 2, but there was little to choose between the teams until careless play by the Leeds backs presented Huddersfield with two gift tries which virtually settled the issue.

Following this reverse, however, our players gained eight consecutive victories and many will recall some of these games with pleasure: the brilliant tries scored by Bruce Ryan at the Boulevard and Parkside; the rally at Fartown when, with only fifteen minutes left for play, tries by Ryan and Cook and two glorious touch-line conversions by Cook, gave us a thrilling victory by the odd point.

Consistently good performances enabled the team to be challenging strongly for Championship honours, when the R.L. Cup Competition opened in February. Oldham were 1st Round visitors to Headingley. Few present observed the game as the field was shrouded in fog, but our players established a lead of 18 points, which proved more than sufficient although they met with defeat in the second leg at Watersheddings. It was anticipated that Leigh would provide very stiff opposition in the 2nd Round but they were sadly lacking in determination and Cup-Tie fervour so that our players gained an unexpectedly easy victory. Favoured with yet another home draw, Leeds had to give of their very best to subdue the Halifax pack in the 3rd Round, but a merited win took us into the Semi-Final. Those who were superstitious shook their head when it was announced that Odsal was to be the venue for our meeting with Barrow, and their pessimism was more than justified when it was announced that, Bartlett and McMaster would be unable to play owing to injury. A weakened Leeds team had, however established a lead of nine points shortly after the interval and the game appeared to be "in the bag" eight minutes from the end when the score stood at 14-7. But then Barrow staged a rally which was as thrilling as anything ever seen on a Rugby field: their forwards threw in all they had in one tremendous effort which had Leeds reeling. but it was Horne who showed the way with a long reverse pass to Toohey, which opened the way to the line for Lewthwaite. Stretch's conversion brought Barrow to within two points, and Leeds, now obviously very rattled, were defending desperately in their own "25" when Clues was penalised. Stretch calmly took the kick in an electric atmosphere and notched the goal which gave Barrow the right to fight again. The teams were as follows:-Leeds-Cook; Turnbull, Feather, Procter, Ryan; Williams, Watson; Horsfall, Kearney, Hopper, Clues, Poole, Clarkson.

Barrow-Stretch; Lewthwaite, Jackson Goodwin, Castle; Horne, Toohey; Longman, McKinnetl. Hartley, Grundy, Atkinson, Ayres.

Our players were naturally suffering under a psychological handicap when the replay took place at Fartown four days later. Barrow started where they finished at Odsal and there could be no possible argument as to their right to go to Wembley, their victory by 28 points to 13 being fully merited.

That disappointing display at Odsal not only destroyed our hopes of a Cup triumph but also undermined that vital enthusiasm and spirit which could yet have taken us to the Rugby League Championship play-off. The League programme ended in gloom and frustration: only one game was won out of the remaining six and there were constant problems presented by numerous injuries.

Cook established a new Club record with 150 goals for the season, whilst Turnbull, with 33 tries, established a post-war record.

1951-52

1951-52

Three main prongs of future club policy emerged as the result of a very careful review which had been carried out during the early weeks of the close season: to discontinue the practice of signing players on short-term contracts; to strengthen the team when necessary through the acquisition of established players and to give the utmost priority to plans for the development of young local talent.

These main principles having been established the Chairman moved quickly carrying out four important transactions within five days. Clues and Cook signed "life contracts", as Williams had done some months earlier, but McMaster, who had already made plans for a world wrestling tour, was engaged for only a short term. Kearney, with whom the Club were unable to come to terms, decided to return to Australia. Two days before he sailed, Arthur Wood, Yorkshire County and English International hooker, was signed from Featherstone Rovers.

The immediate first team problems having been settled activity still continued at full pressure: the reserve strength was improved through the signing of Geoffrey Moore, loose forward, from Bradford Northern; negotiations with Lewis Jones, the Welsh R. U. star, were re-opened; and special consideration was given to the scheme for training and coaching junior players. The seeds were being sown, and eighteen months later there was to be a rich harvest.

The opening match of the season brought a good win at Crown Flatt, but this excellent start was not maintained as, following a drawn game at the Barley Mow, we met with defeats at the hands of Warrington and Halifax. But the team obviously had a great potential of which there was ample evidence at Warrington in a glorious game which thrilled the Wilderspool crowd.

The tide turned on September 1st, on which date the team commenced a sequence of nine consecutive victories. Memories of that successful spell, which carried Leeds to the head of the league table, keep crowding in; Ken Ward's debut against Batley at Headingley, after being signed only three hours before the match; Turnbull, gleefully diving in at the corner for the winning try against Workington after brilliant handling by Watson, Clues, Williams and Brown had taken the ball over three parts the length of the field; the crushing defeat of Huddersfield with Clues in his most rampant mood; and the laying of the Odsal "bogy" with two victories there in four days.

Leeds, then, naturally turned out at Headingley as favourites in the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup, but Wakefield Trinity, dour cup-fighters as ever and with many a surprise victory over Leeds to inspire them, pulled out that little extra to win by the odd point in thirty-five. Few who were present will ever forget those tense closing minutes as Leeds battered away at an unyielding defence.

The resumption of the League programme brought a further shock with an overwhelming defeat at Central Park where Wigan romped to victory by 44 points to 5, but a week later the team were back on the winning track with a convincing win over Bramley, in which match Jimmy Dunn, the young II nursery" product, had a splendid debut, kicking eight goals and showing cool competence. This win touched off another successful spell which resulted in six victories from eight engagements. As one of the defeats sustained was against the New Zealand Touring Team, on which occasion Dennis Scholes, from Hull Kingston Rovers, made his first appearance in Leeds colours the team still held 2nd place in the table on December 14th. Another debutant during this period was Jerry Garbutt, winger, from the Castleford area.

Whatever hopes there may have been of achieving League honours had faded completely by the beginning of February, at which stage only two victories had been obtained from nine games. This complete reversal of form was largely due to injuries: Watson sustained a fractured ankle at Batley on Christmas Day; six more were unfit for the match on the following day against Wakefield Trinity but a "shadow" team, which included another newcomer in Harold Oddy, riddled the Trinity defence and gained a magnificent victory; Williams finally broke down with a displaced cartilage in the Doncaster match. This latter game had, however, one compensating feature in the introduction of Keith McLellan, Australian centre, who had been recommended by that old Leeds favourite, Frank O'Rourke.

Almost before there was time to wonder what might have been if injuries had not crippled the team the R. L. Cup Competition was in full swing. Having eliminated Hull K.R. in the 1st Round we entertained Oldham at Headingley. The game was as thrilling as any ever seen on the Headingley grounds. Leading by ten points to two at the interval Leeds seemed to have the game well in hand, but Oldham attacked almost incessantly throughout the second half. After a penalty goal from Ganley, Warham scored a glorious try under the posts, and Ganley's conversion brought Oldham to within a point of Leeds. Two minutes later Dunn increased the lead with a fine goal, but Oldham pressed more strongly than ever as Goldswain, scorning four reasonable chances of penalty goals, whipped up his men for one final effort. But the Leeds men held their ground, with Dunn, only eighteen years of age but playing like a veteran, saving the line on many occasions with glorious tackles, whilst Scholes miraculously pulled down Warham with the line only two yards away. Having won this match by 12 points to 9, Leeds went to Leigh, in the third round, in good heart, and there is little doubt that they would have reached the semi-final had it not been for an inexplicable decision made by the referee. At a crucial stage of the game an apparently good try, by Bartlett, was disallowed. During the remaining weeks of the season the management took every conceivable opportunity to "blood" some of the extremely promising young players: Alec Dick, forward; Billy Pratt, serum half; Bernard Prior, hooker; Jeff Stevenson, serum half, who had represented the R.A.F. at Twickenham; and Dudley Reyner, winger.

Five players had been transferred during the campaign: Clarkson, to Halifax; Procter, to Warrington; Ogden, to Featherstone Rovers; Grace and Gronow, to Doncaster.

1952-53

1952-53

During the summer months Headingley was a hive of ceaseless and fruitful activity with the accent on youth. First, a series of Trial Matches, held early in May, resulted in several young players signing for the club as amateurs. Amongst them was Clifford Last, loose forward from the Middleton area, who was destined to make his first team debut within twelve months whilst still only seventeen years of age. Equally beneficial was a "Summer School" which extended over a period of ten weeks to give valuable practical and theoretical instruction to more than forty talented juniors.

But those supporters who had learned over the years to automatically expect news of big close season signings by the Leeds club must surely have been puzzled by the apparent lack of enterprise on the part of the management as there had been no announcement regarding a successor to Bob Bartlett who had already left these shores for Australia. In point of fact the search for a centre replacement had gone on unremittingly but without immediate success, and there were no new faces in the Leeds ranks for the opening of the season.

The campaign opened badly, so that by the end of September we had lost five of the first nine engagements, and had been eliminated from the Yorkshire Cup Competition by Hull in the 1st Round, after winning the first leg at the Boulevard. In fairness it must be recorded that the team had been severely handicapped by injuries: Keith McLellan sustained a fractured cheek-bone in the Lazenby Cup match, which rendered him unavailable for eight weeks; .. Drew" Turnbull, Bert Cook, and Bill Hopper all suffered with injuries of a less serious nature; whilst Dicky Williams, still feeling the effects of the cartilage operation, was unable to do himself justice.

Team selection problems were made more acute when Johnny Feather, who some two years later was to meet his death in a tragic motoring accident, was transferred to Oldham at his own request. In addition, owing to .. Military Service," the club were unable to call regularly on such players as Dunn, Brown and Pratt, and the management were therefore obliged to take emergency action to plug the gaps through the signing of two established players: Ralph Morgan, international full back from Swinton, and Elwyn Gwyther, Test blind-side prop forward from Belle Vue Rangers. These two players, who made their debut at Barrow along with T. Lynn from the II A " Team, were to reveal such skill that one could only regret they had not come to Headingley as younger men.

Although the team got on the winning track against Hull K.R. at Headingley and showed greatly improved form in subsequent matches the Club officials were by no means complacent. Approaches were made in many quarters in an attempt to sign a class centre, but all without success. A special meeting which was convened to discuss the matter at length and to explore every possible avenue was equally unproductive and was adjourned with the solution as far off as ever. Then out of the blue, and within two hours of that adjournment, a telegram arrived at Headingley to the effect that Lewis Jones, "target" for many clubs for almost three years, was willing to "turn." The source and the content of that telegram were carefully checked, and then the decision was made to "sign him at all cost." Travelling by car through the night, two club officials arrived at Gorseinon the following afternoon, after making calls on two other famous Welsh R.U. stars en route. Warrington, also in the chase, were beaten on the post and negotiations were completed within an hour. The officials travelled back to Leeds that same night and arrived at six in the morning carrying the forms of a signing which created a sensation. Leeds had certainly lived up to its reputation for being first in the field, and had given a tremendous boost to the rugby league game in general.

Two days later Jones made his first appearance in Leeds colours against Keighley at Headingley. The team celebrated with a grand display whilst Jones marked the occasion by kicking seven goals.

Apart from a heavy defeat sustained at the hands of the Australian Touring Team, Leeds kept on the winning track, the victory at Fartown on a frostbound ground being particularly meritorious. A week later there was yet another addition to the ranks with the acquisition of George Broughton from Castleford, to whom H. Oddy and A. Staniland were transferred in part exchange. Broughton, treading the turf on which his father scored many fine tries, turned out for the first time in the team which gained a convincing win over Warrington.

Although a defeat at the Boulevard followed, by the end of the year the team had an outsider's chance of gaining a place in the first four as a result of four consecutive victories. January, however, brought tragedy in the shape of four defeats, and a serious injury to Lewis Jones who sustained a compound fracture of the arm at Mount Pleasant. This bitter blow, causing grave concern to officials, incapacitated Jones for more than six months. With no hope of any major success in the league, the team braced itself for a R.L. Cup triumph. Called upon to meet Wakefield Trinity in the 1st Round they wiped off one or two old scores with a magnificent 1st Leg victory at Belle Vue, and "rubbed it in " at Headingley ten days later. Widnes, 2nd Round opponents, provided far stiffer opposition than anticipated and Leeds would certainly have been in trouble had it not been for Drew Turnbull who showed brilliant form and bewildering speed in scoring five tries.

The road to the semi-final was a hard one as Leeds were called upon to visit Warrington in the 3rd Round. During the 1st quarter of the game Leeds did everything but score and then, with Verrenkamp developing leg trouble, the initiative gradually went to the Wirepullers. Our fate was sealed when Brian Bevan scored two typically brilliant tries. The Leeds team was: Cook; Turnbull, McLellan, Ward, Broughton; Verrenkamp, Stevenson; McMaster, Wood, Gwyther, Poole, Moore, Clues.

Although we finished the League programme with a flourish winning seven matches out of eight, we had to settle for sixth place in the table, well behind the leaders. Records cannot possibly reveal, however, the progress in team-building which had undoubtedly been made: four established players, two of them young, had thrown in their lot with the club; one young local player, Jeff Stevenson, had gained a season's valuable experience and had become established; and, equally important was the fact the calendar revealed the passage of time, valuable time, time in which all those other promising youngsters were twelve months nearer football maturity, and those in the Forces were twelve months nearer release.

1953-54

1953-54

From the point of view of .. Honours" this was yet another disappointing season, as once again Leeds failed to win even one of the coveted trophies. At one stage there were visions of a "First Four Triumph", at another visions of a trip to Wembley, but when the final whistle sounded and the boots were hung up for the summer break we had little tangible to show: 10th in the Northern Rugby league, 5th in the Yorkshire League, Semi-finalists in the R.L. Challenge Cup, and an early dismissal from the Yorkshire Cup. Much of our play was positively brilliant but we failed dismally at the crucial stages of each competition. This inconsistency was due in some measure to unfortunate and very persistent injuries, and partly to the comparative immaturity of many members of the team.

There was only one close season signing of note: Billy Blan, International and Lancashire County loose forward from Wigan. Within a few hours of Blan being placed on the transfer list Leeds opened negotiations for this talented player, whose tactical skill, clever handling and vast experience were immediately revealed in the Lazenby Cup match at Headingley when Hunslet were defeated by 15 points to 10.

The League programme opened badly with only one victory out of the first three engagements: a good display at Hull resulted in defeat because of vital passes going astray so that the Boulevarders ran in sixteen points in 15 minutes in a second half rally; and a convincing home win over Doncaster merely flattered to deceive, as it was followed by a thoroughly depressing performance at Oldham where we went down by 14 points to 5. But two days later a revitalised team riddled the Bramley defences at Barley Mow with brilliant, high-powered attacking play which revealed the great potential of the Leeds combination when fully geared up. This was no flash in the pan as, after Featherstone Rovers had been comfortably disposed of in each leg ofthe 1st Round ofthe Yorkshire Cup, Warrington met the full blast of the Leeds attack at Headingley. The Wirepullers forfeited 43 points-the highest score against Warrington by any team since the war-and the Headingley crowd were thrilled by a glorious exhibition of all-round teamwork. When this was followed by an equally convincing win at Leigh, where a magnificent second-half rally wiped out a heavy deficit, there were quite naturally hopes of an outstandingly successful season, but then came the rude awakening.

Odsal, as so often in the past, proved the graveyard of all our hopes of a Yorkshire Cup triumph. Playing well below par and revealing only a fraction of the teamwork which had produced such fine wins, we met defeat by 27 points to 9 in the 2nd Round. At this stage the management decided to release the ever-popular Bert Cook and he was very promptly engaged as player coach by the Keighley club. Wins over Oldham and York considerably strengthened our League position, but then came disaster: four consecutive defeats at the hands of Halifax, Hunslet, Leigh and Warrington. But the Leigh game had its compensations in that Gordon Brown, making his first appearance at stand-off, gave indications of his ability to fill the pivot position more than satisfactorily.

November brought another "purple patch" with three brilliant victories and a very narrow defeat at Thrum Hall where we certainly merited a win. The Castleford game saw the speedy return of Jeff Stevenson, who had been incapacited only seven weeks following a cartilage operation. But November brought, too, a note of sadness with the decision to part with the services of Dicky Williams who had failed to reproduce his best form over a considerable period. Thus ended a long and distinguished career in the Leeds jersey, and there was understandably a good deal of anguish and disappointment when such a fine player ceased to grace the Headingley turf.

December was yet another successful month with five more consecutive victories and it was indeed a Merry Christmas with hopes of a Championship triumph, but it was certainly not a happy New Year. Four consecutive defeats in January put paid to any" First Four" aspirations, and we turned, ever hopeful to the R.L. Cup for one last redeeming chance.

Batley at home in the 1st Leg seemed a" pretty safe thing," but the Gallant Youths would have none of it and went back to Mount Pleasant with a lead of seven points. Admittedly we were unfortunate as Billy Blan sustained a thigh injury which necessitated an operation, and Tom Shirtliffe, an eve-of the-Cup signing from Batley, collapsed during the game and was advised to retire permanently, after making only four appearances in the Leeds jersey. But there was little in our play to give cause for confidence and the week before the 2nd Leg was an anxious one as the players did rigorous special training spells in snow and slush. As it turned out, however, our right of entry into the 2nd Round was indisputable as our players gave a fine exhibition at Mount Pleasant, winning by 23 points to 6. Leigh, 2nd Round visitors to Headingley, met with defeat by 12 points to 3 at the hands of a Leeds team in which Bill Hanson, a young forward from the Oldham area, deputised for Arthur Clues who was under suspension. Cup-tie enthusiasm ran riot when Workington were drawn to visit Headingley in the next round, and no team ever entered the semi-final stage more convincingly than Leeds did on this occasion. A brilliant exhibition of handling and running led to the utter and complete rout of the Cumbrians and all at Headingley, with fingers crossed, thought that this was "our year"

A few days before the clash with Warrington, however, we sustained a bitter blow when Keith McLellan, a vital link in the back division, broke down completely in training. The game opened sensationally as young Challinor, using the threat of Brian Bevan as a foil, pierced the Leeds defence to score that vital first try. Our players never fully recovered from that shock start and failed to capitalise on the fact that Warrington had only four fit forwards for the greater part of the match. Be that as it may, it was perhaps just one of those days, but officials, players and supporters were naturally disappointed and the remaining League engagements had that inevitable atmosphere of anti-climax.

Lewis Jones and "Drew" Turnbull were honoured with selection for the party to tour Australasia.

Other players to make their debut during the season included Jack lend ill, centre; Gordon Parker, winger; Tony Skelton, prop forward; whilst T. L. Williams rejoined Leeds after a spell at Doncaster.

1954-55

1954-55

Whilst the season's work could in no wise be described as brilliantly successful, it was at least a vast improvement on that of the previous two or three campaigns. Showing far more consistent form, and playing week by week with honest to goodness determination, our players were always in the hunt throughout the season, and they fully merited their Yorkshire League Championship Trophy. This, it was felt, was yet another stage in the evolution of a side which could really put Leeds on the Rugby League map.

Lacking the two Australian tourists, Lewis Jones and Drew Turnbull, the Leeds side which was narrowly defeated at .Barrow in the opening League engagement included two close seasons signings: John Sewell, Cumberland County and English Trialist forward, and Derek Wilkinson, centre, from Doncaster. Four days later we met with another reverse at Rochdale but then came seven consecutive victories, five in the League and two in the Yorkshire Cup Competition. Of these victories two gave extreme pleasure: that over the redoubtable Halifax at Headingley by 22 points to 8, and that at the Boulevard by 36 points to 18. During this successful month of September three players were transferred: the extremely versatile and great-hearted Teddy Verrenkamp to Keighley, Geoff. Moore to Dewsbury, and Ken Ward, persuaded to come out of retirement, to Doncaster. Lewis Jones, with twelve goals against Hull K.R. in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup, equalled J. H. Potter's record.

October opened badly with a Yorkshire Cup semi-final defeat at Thrum Hall, and then, following a home win over Keighley, there came two sensational items of news within a few hours: the departure of Arthur Clues, world-famous Australian star forward to Parkside, and the signing of David Rose, Scottish International winger from Huddersfield. The impending transfer of Clues, one of the finest forwards of all time, had been discussed at almost every street corner and in every hostelry in the city for close on a fortnight, but negotiations for Rose had remained" top secret" and news of his signing came like a bolt from the blue. With Broughton and Turnbull unfit, and Brown to be absent for three weeks as a member of the Great Britain World Cup team the management had taken strong action to supplement the back division. But football ever makes a mockery of all the best laid plans. Rose, originally a reserve, was eventually called upon to join Brown in France, where their displays in that valiant World Cup-winning team brought great honour to their country, their club and themselves. Gordon Brown was, indeed, one of the outstanding players of the whole competition. A grand crowd of almost 18,000 assembled at Headingley for the match with St. Helens to welcome back these two players but it was a sad homecoming: in the opening quarter Leeds revealed brilliant attacking football to gain a lead of six points but defensive lapses then gave St. Helens the initiative and they romped home to a comfortable victory by 21 points to 10. As if that was not enough Dame Fortune decreed that Rose should sustain a fractured leg in the closing minutes.

A great effort was now necessary if the team was to make any real bid for Championship honours, and the players rose to the occasion in grand style so that by the turn of the year we were on the fringe of the"first four". But the New Year victory at Thrum Hall was marred by the loss of Billy Blan, who was playing his last game in the Leeds jersey. His request for a transfer to St. Helens, based solely on domestic reasons, caused intense disappointment to officials, players and supporters. Some ten days later, Joe Anderson, prop. forward, was signed from Castleford, to whom Alan Horsfall went in part exchange. Anderson too, fell to the Headingley injury "hoodoo," sustaining a dislocated shoulder at Parkside in his second game for Leeds.

Having lost only one match of the previous thirteen Leeds went into the Rugby League Cup competition with great confidence, and Huddersfield had to bow the knee at Headingley in the 1st Round. This was a great game which thrilled friend and foe alike. Two spectacular tries, scored by Turnbull and Scholes, in the last thirteen minutes of a thrill-packed match gave Leeds the right to appear in the 2nd Round, but it was a near thing. The luck of the draw called for a trip to Workington which was a tough assignment, but we made it even harder through failing to capitalise on splendid approach work. The first half belonged to Leeds but we had nothing on the scoreboard to indicate our superiority. In the second spell Workington took the initiative and clinched the match with some first class tries.

The battle for championship honours continued at full pressure, and although the programme was not particularly arduous the players were showing signs of staleness. Week by week games hung in the balance until the closing minutes, and by the time Easter came the tension was really on. Hunslet particularly with Clues and Williams, were a big attraction at Headingley on Good Friday evening, and almost 23,000 attended to witness an excellent game which produced all that is best in Rugby football. Leeds ran out worthy winners by 22 points to 12, and thus became assured of the Yorkshire League Championship. Honour was done to all: Clues shone for Hunslet, but the Leeds forwards won the day; Williams had his moments of inspiration for Hunslet, but Stevenson, deputising for the injured Brown at stand-off, was undoubtedly the "man of the match."

Only three points were obtained from the remaining three fixtures but Leeds squeezed into third place and thus earned the right to meet Oldham at the Watersheddings in the play-off. Once again we were handicapped by injuries to Lewis Jones and Jeff Stevenson, but our team put up a very good first half performance. As at Workington, however, all our pressure failed to produce points, and in the second half an Oldham victory was never in doubt. Once again that Championship Trophy had eluded the Leeds club, but no group of players ever showed more determination and courage than those to wear the" Blue and Amber" jersey. The skill and teamwork were there too, and one of these days may it be soon. That is the fervent wish of all at Headingley.

1955-56

1955-56

For once in a while, Leeds had no notable close-season signings to report, and it was the Rugby League Council that stole the headlines by introducing, within days of the start of the season, an amendment to the Law governing Play the Ball. The new '3-yard rule', it was hoped, would create more opportunities for opening out play, but its effect, sad to relate, was merely to intensify the monotonous creeping barrage, with one side retaining possession for even longer periods

It took just one week of the new season to bring Leeds face. to face with stark reality: the pack was not good enough. Defeat In a thrilling opening match at Leigh, albeit by the narrow margin of three points, and a flattering mid-week victory over Hull K.R. at Headingley, had sown the seeds of doubt. Three days Iater, we reaped the whirlwind of certainty, Wakefield Trinity putting paid to our Yorkshire Cup hopes with ruthless ease: whereas the Leeds forwards ruled the scrums, they were no match. for a rampant Trinity pack in the loose, with Robinson outstanding. The need for an experienced pack leader was apparent; the solution, less obvious.

Imagine, then, the welcome given to Billy Blan, the accomplished, balI-handling loose-forward, whom Leeds had reluctantly released to St. Helens only nine months earlier and had now re-signed as a temporary measure. Three consecutive wins over Bradford Northern, Oldham and Hunslet followed, and there was certainly honour in defeat at The Boulevard where we attacked in glorious style to lead by 17 Points to 4, before the mighty Hull forwards belatedly took control to salvage their reputation with just one point to spare. A dazzling eight-try conquest of Warrington at Headingley, and a match-winning rally at Crown Flatt, despite the absence of Brown, Jones and Stevenson on Test duty, took Leeds up amongst the leaders, with confidence running so hi.gh that the New Zealand Tourists, leading 18-2 at the interval, almost surrendered In face of a second-half bombardment as we mounted wave after wave of thrilling counter­attacks to score fourteen points without reply.

Up in the clouds I Down in the depths I Such is sport' Three successive defeats followed; and wins over Batley, with Turnbull scoring five tries, and at Doncaster, where young Peter Lendill kicked seven splendid goals out of eight attempts, were followed by yet another home defeat at the hands of Huddersfield. This was a remarkable game, in that one Leeds try merited a standing ovation, yet possibly contributed to our defeat, will-o'-the-wisp Stevenson taking too much out of himself with a length-of-the-field sprint against the wind. Be that as it may, of far greater significance was an apathetic second-half performance by the forwards, to which the management responded with the signing of Colin Tomlinson, the strapping ex-Guardsman from Bramley, in time to turn out against Leigh at Headingley. Well as he played, it was an unhappy debut, Leeds going down to their sixth defeat in eight games, and the future looked ominously grim. This, however, was to be the last dark hour before the dawn of justified hope.

Within three days, Harry Street, Wigan's vastly-experienced Test loose-forward, had agreed to throw in his lot with Leeds, and the whole atmosphere changed almost over­night. Knowledgeable and shrewd, the quietly-spoken Street knew what he wanted from his pack and had that rare knack of being able to express his ideas in simple, uncom­plicated terms. With McLellan out through injury, Street captained a much-weakened team in his first game, and very nearly led them to victory at Thrum Hall. It really was a happy Christmas, with three wins in four days, and though two more defeats at the turn of the year virtually ruled out any prospect of League honours, we faced the R.L. Cup Competition with confidence, especially after visiting Wakefield, where we lost the match and parted with Fred Smith, a winger of great promise, but came away with the richly-prized signature of Don Robinson, Trinity's powerful, young Test forward. Now for the Cup!

Confidence was more than justified by a superb 1st Round victory at The Boule­vard: the forwards, inspired by Street, gave a tremendous lead, taming the Hull pack with herculean .tackling, .covering and backing up; and the backs responded nobly, with Broughton scoring the Vital and only try of the match, and Jones kicking three goals. Alas,. it was victory at a price: in the closing minutes, with Leeds under siege, Lewis Jones sustained a cracked fibula In making a desperate try-saving tackle on the fearsome Markham. The Leeds team was: Dunn; Scholes, McLellan, Jones, Broughton; J. Lendill, Stevenson; Anderson, Wood, Hopper, Robinson, B. Poole, Street.

Not surprisingly, there was a vast Headingley crowd of 33,000 for the 2nd Round tussle with Oldham, and Leeds rose. to the occasion with never-say-die courage and determination. Down, Just after half-time, by 7 points to 2, we fought back to get on equal terms and then pounded away relentlessly until the Oldham defence finally wilted in the last two minutes, when Hopper and Scholes combined to put McLellan over for the winning try. With cup-tie fever now rife, Headingley was packed yet again for the 3rd Round visit of Halifax, but this was to be the end of the road for Leeds. Nevertheless, after trailing by 12 points, a team lacking four regular backs through injury, battled away heroically to reduce the deficit to 5 points, and then set the pulses racing in the final quarter with a prolonged rally, until the final whistle sounded the knell on yet another season s hopes. The Leeds team was: P. Lendill; Scholes, McLellan, G. Brown, Broughton; Stevenson, Pratt; Anderson, Wood, Hopper, Robinson, B. Poole, Street.

As the season drifted to its close in an inevitable atmosphere of anti-Climax, there was no cause for despondency: Indeed, with a strong pack and highly-talented backs to match, there was every reason to look forward to 1956-57 with optimism.

In addition to Peter Lendill, three other young players had made their debut-appearances during the season: Del Hodgkinson and Barry Charlesworth, wingers' and Vic Fuller, forward

1956-57

1956-57

1957! A vintage year! A year for Keith McLellan and his squad, and all associated with the Leeds club, to recall with justifiable pride: R.L. Challenge up Winners, Yorkshire League Champions, Championship Semi-Finalists, and 18 consecutive victories to establish a new Club record.

Once again there had been little close-season activity: 'Drew' Turnbull, with the remarkable record of 228 tries in 230 appearances, had joined Halifax on the expiration of his contract; and 17-year-old Del Hodgkinson, a winger, had graduated to .professional status from the Headingley 'nursery', along with Michael Pratt, a. forward. In eight seasons with Leeds, Turnbull had never appeared in a Challenge Cup Final, yet by some strange quirk of fate, within nine months Hodgkinson was to be receiving winner's medal at Wembley, and scoring a try into the bargain. So, too, was Pat Quinn, whose midnight phone call during the first week of the season ended a five-year chase for his services. Quinn, a great-hearted centre, who had toured South Africa with the British Lions a year earlier, was doubly welcome in view of a spate of injuries: Jack Lendill dislocated shoulder; Dunn, cartilage operation; Brown, doomed to prolonged inactivity with a knee condition; and the unfortunate Rose, compelled to retire on medical advice.

All in all with an unsettled team it was hardly surprising that Leeds made a mediocre start to the league programme, 'and sustained a crushing defeat at Wakefield in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup. Even so, by the end of September the.re were com­pensating factors of far greater significance than immediate results: Lewis Jones had celebrated his return to complete fitness with a record-breaking 31 points at Odsal; Bernard Prior, a first-class ball-playing hooker, had won his spurs as a worthy successor to the long-serving Arthur Wood; Hodgkinson, taking over from Charlesworth on the right wing, had made a strong bid for regular inclusion with a hat-trick of tries against York; and, most important of all, there were unmistakable signs that Headingley was infected with that elusive bug called 'team spirit'.

Morale was given yet another boost in October, craggy Don Gullick, a fearless utility back, being generously released on -loan by Leigh, in time to confront 'Bandy' Adams, the Australian winger, and thus share in a memorable victory over the Tourists by 18 points to 13. When two more splendid wins over Hull K.R. and Wigan followed, we were on the crest of a wave, and nothing, it seemed, was impossible. Meanwhile, with Dunn and Lendill fit again, Scholes had been transferred to Featherstone Rovers and Wilkinson had rejoined Doncaster.

Nothing was impossible! We lost to Hunslet at Parkside, where winger George Richardson made his debut, and then to Barrow and Halifax Perhaps those setbacks were a rebuke to complacency; certainly they were a spur to ambition: we beat Keighley at Headingley on November 24th, and then never tasted defeat until we visited The Boulevard four months later. December was notable for a superb display at Barrow, and for the regrettable loss of Gullick with a fractured collar-bone at Keighley; in January, we thrashed Warrington at Wilderspool; signed Malcolm Davies, Bradford Northern's free-scoring winger; and reduced the St. Helens pack to fawning servility at Headingley.

After eleven consecutive victories, R.L. Cup fever had naturally reached epidemic proportions, so that for the 1st Round visit of Wigan, Headingley was besieged by an incredible crowd 38,914, with an estimated 5,000 locked out. They missed a titanic battle, with Wigan bravely discounting the loss of the injured Bolton, and the game balanced on a knife-edge of suspense five minutes from the end, as Ashton squared up on the '25' for a crucial attempt at goal. Would he earn Wigan the replay which none could fairly have begrudged them? Headingley held its breath, and Leeds were through!

We won our next league game at York in a canter, Quinn establishing himself at full-back, and then put paid to Warrington in the 2nd Round in a Headingley snowstorm. This was a triumph for team spirit in every sense: 22,000 Leeds diehards braved the elements, and .track-suited reserves constantly brushed the dye-marked lines, whilst thirteen heroes In blue and amber blended skill with stamina and resolution. Their reward was a 3rd Round visit to Thru Hall, a veritable graveyard for visiting teams, and many supporters must surely have given up the ghost when Traill scored twice to put Halifax ten points up within twenty minutes but Leeds, refusing to bow to the seeming inevitable, found their best form In adversity Jack Lendill scored a vital try just before the interval, so that With Jones kicking four goals we took a one-point lead with thirteen minutes to go the tension was unbearable. Two minutes from time, and winger Freeman was tackled ju.st a yard short. a .minute to go, and Street came away in the Leeds '25, a pass to Hodgkinson, then an inside pass, and there was McLellan striding away to crown a miraculous victory with a majestic try

League wins over Wakefield trinity and Bradford Northern followed, but Hull brought to an end our sequence of 18 Victories, just a week before a nerve-racking Semi-Final against Whitehaven at Odsal. Thanks to two splendid tries by Broughton and a goal from Jones we were leading by 4 points with 28 minutes to go, when the game swung in a twinkling! McKeown converting a McMenemy try with a magnificent goal. Now leading by a point, Whitehaven played the time-consuming possession game': 40 consecutive times they played the ball: 39 times the acting half-back was tackled in possession. Not the fortieth! Diving round in sheer desperation, Anderson stole the ball; there was a neat pass to Stevenson, and then a towering .35-yard drop goal. Within seconds, a flash of genius had transformed those fading visions of Wembley's twin towers into a glorious reality.

Championship aspirations were jolted by a heavy defeat at St. Helens and the loss of Anderson with a dislocated shoulder; nevertheless, with Skelton proving himself a capable deputy, and Les Belshaw available on loan from Bradford Northern, we won five of our remaining fixtures, attracting a crowd of 38,000 for the visit of Hunslet, and thus squeezed into fourth place. Making a valiant bid for the 'double', we were holding our own in the Semi-Final at Watersheddings until Cracknell scored the crunch try on the stroke off half-time; thereafter, Oldham proved their superiority on the day. The Leeds team was: Jones; Quinn, McLellan, J. Lendill, Broughton; G. Brown, Stevenson; Skelton, Prior, Hopper, B. Poole, Robinson, Street.

And so to Wembley! Fortunately, Anderson had proved his fitness in a specially arranged 'A' team fixture, but neither the team nor the Press were aware that Robinson was to play with strapping on a cracked scaphoid. The story of the Final is given in the following Press report.

LEEDS SURVIVE BARROW'S COURAGEOUS WEMBLEY RALLY

Thrilling Cup Final Climax

Leeds 9 Barrow 7

While everyone around me at Leeds's Rugby League Cup-winning celebration beamed delightedly at everyone else and chattered animatedly about the best of all possible worlds -as it assuredly was-my thoughts kept turning to two men who were not present. I wondered what Jack Grundy and John Rea were thinking about.

Two years ago when Barrow beat Workington Town at Wembley, Jack Grundy won the Lance Todd Trophy for the outstanding individual performance and jumped to the top of the ladder which leads to Test status. That was his greatest moment in football. Against Leeds, on the same ground, he had his worst-the moment fourteen minutes after the interval when a wild pass, less than ten yards from his own line, presented second row forward Don Robinson with one of the softest tries ever scored in a Cup Final. But for those three points!

John Rea is only 20 and a bright career stretches ahead of him, but as long as he plays he will wonder whether he did the right thing in the last minute of the 1957 Final. Horne, his captain, had given him a chance to run from his own line, and he broke strongly. He got past halfway, and as the scattered Leeds defence strained desper­ately to recover, he kicked ahead. Broughton crossed from the Leeds left-wing to save at the feet of what must have seemed an alarming number of red shirts, and the whistle blew for time. From my seat it looked as though Barrow must have scored had Rea passed to the fleet-footed Castle on his left instead of kicking. The referee, Mr. C. F. Appleton, said afterwards that he was of the same opinion. But Pat Quinn, the Leeds full-back, would have none of it. "I could see that Lewis Jones was coming across to cut Rea off," he said. "I yelled to him that I would take Castle. I am sure that we could have handled the situation between us, but it was certainly a dodgy moment."

So ended one of the most exciting Finals in the Wembley series-and one of the best, in my opinion. There were very few classic moves, it is true, but one always had the feeling that something was likely to happen because both sides were quick and enter­prising in their efforts to beat deadly tackling. The game never stagnated, as so many Wembley Finals have done in the past.

Most of the excitement stemmed from Barrow's spirited effort in the second half. They took a shattering blow in the first minute after the interval when Hodgkinson scored, and another when Grundy's slip increased their arrears to 2-9, but so powerful was their rally that even with only five minutes to go no one would have gambled heavily against their winning. It was Leeds's young men who showed most signs of wilting during this period, not Barrow's old ones.

Yet it· would be totally wrong to give the impression that Leeds were lucky to win. They scored three tries to one, and they were at least as much on top in the first half as Barrow were in the second. The near misses were about 50-50. Broughton missed one chance for Leeds because he was not quick enough to squeeze past Lewthwaite at the corner flag; Hodgkinson missed another because he failed to take a difficult but by no means impossible pass from Jones on the other wing; Robinson was pulled down inches from the line according to the referee-over it, according to Robinson. Leeds's anxious moments were caused by Lewthwaite, who would certainly have scored had his short kick travelled another yard; by Castle, who made his effort to beat Quinn too soon, and was shouldered into touch near the corner; and by Wilson, who found Jones underneath him when he forced his way over the line, and could not ground the ball.

Prior beat Redhead only 8-7 in the scrums before the interval, but Leeds had much more possession because they moved smoothly together, rarely dropped their passes, and were quick to take advantage when Barrow dropped theirs. Prior won the second-half scrums 12-10, but Leeds lost their grip on the game because the forwards lacked the energy to storm into the tackle at the play-the-ball. They waited for Barrow to come to them, and Wilson, Grundy and Horne had the manoeuvring space to bring Jackson, Rea, Healey and Harris into moves that became more and more difficult to stop as the second half went on.

Stevenson won the Lance Todd Trophy by a clear majority, from Robinson, McLellan and Wilson. Fifteen minutes from the end I could not decide between him and Wilson for Illy vote, but Stevenson won it because he continued to be in every Leeds attack and at nearly every danger point in defence, as he had been from the start.

Quinn also had a capital game. He never put a foot wrong in his general full-back play, and he supplied invaluable embellishment by sneaking up unexpectedly at a play the-ball to take Prior's pass and force his way over for the only score of the first half. McLellan was the staunch, strong player he has been all season-an inspiring captain. People around me blamed Jones for passes to Broughton and Hodgkinson that went astray, but I thought he played well. His very presence caused Jackson so much anxiety that we never saw the Jackson-Lewthwaite wing in attack; he made two of the finest runs of the match; and he paved the way for the second try scored by Hodgkinson.

The movement, from the first scrum of the second half, was a replica of that which brought a try at a crucial point of the Good Friday match against Hunslet, except that in this case Jones crossed behind the serum from left to right to take Stevenson's pass, instead of McLellan crossing from right to left. Barrow eyes were on Lendill, who did not touch the ball at all. Hodgkinson still had Ball to beat after Jones had made the running. His inside sidestep was so perfectly timed that ball was left at a standstill a lovely try from start to finish.

That made it 6-0, to Leeds. Horne stopped the rot by landing an easy penalty goal, but it took considerable courage to rally as Barrow did after Robinson had scored. They had their reward when Jackson, slipping through Broughton's tackle, scored a try which Horne improved to make it 9-7 with 16 minutes to go, although I do not expect Leeds to believe that. To them it must have seemed like 116. (Attendance 77,000).

Leeds: P. Quinn; D. Hodgkinson, K. McLellan, L. Jones, G. Broughton; J. Lendill, J. Steven­son; J. Anderson, B. Prior, W. Hopper, B. Poole, D. Robinson, H. Street.

Barrow: J. Ball; J. Lewthwaite, P. Jackson, J. Rea, F. Castle; W. Horne, J. Harris G. Woosey, M. Redhead, R. Parker, J. Grundy, D. Wilson, B. Healey.

Referee: Mr. C. F. Appleton (Warrington)

During the season, Lewis Jones scored a phenomenal, record-breaking 496 points (194 goals, 36 tries) In club and representative matches (excluding the Lazenby Cup).

Jeff Stevenson and Lewis Jones were selected to represent Great Britain in the World Cup series In Australia.

1957-58

1957-58

All too soon, the euphoria of Wembley was .dissipated in a campaign which yielded no honours, only heartaches and frustration. Anxious to match the best and to provide more attractive fare for the Headingley spectators, ambitious Leeds had welcomed an opportunity to play In the Lancashire League, but the combination of extra travelling and stiffer opposition placed undue strain on a squad which had given its all only a few months earlier. Another innovation, a flat rate of pay; irrespective of results was discontinued in mid-season, to the delight of the cynics, after a distressing sequence of events.

Maclolm Davies, who had failed to play his undoubted potential, had been retransferred to Bradford Northern during the summer; Arthur Wood, a first class club winger, whose stay was to be curtailed because of his inability to obtain a work permit. There was just acquisition on show in the Lazenby Cup match: Trevor Whitehead, a centre from Otley RU, who had signed after trials during the previous season.

It was Champaign all round at Headingley as the Cup-winners opened the season in style with three sparking, high scoring performances: 68 points against Blackpool Borough, with Jones kicking 13 goals to establish yet another new club record and Hodgkinson now due for National Service, scoring 4 tries; 52 points against Barrow, with 3 tries and 7 goals from Jones; and 55 more against Bramley in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup. Away from home, however, it was flat ale, with defeats at Hull and Huddersfield ominously exposing our forward limitations.

September presented a severe test of stamina, resources and resolution. A home Win over St. Helens, in a bad-tempered game watched by 25,000, put us In good heart for a 2nd Round visit to Castleford, where an early try from Quinn and two more from Tom­linson brought our first away victory of the season. With a lead of 7 points, it looked as though we were even going to triumph at Central Park, too, until Platt fractured a leg and bulldozing Billy Boston switched to stand-off. Even so, after an .unconvincing display against Widnes and an abysmal collapse at Thrum Hall, following an Injury to scrum-half Pratt, the writing was on the wall the Wembley pack was a spent force, and there was need for extra pace on the wings.

Victory at Fartown in the Semi-Final of the Yorkshire Cup would merely have delayed the inevitable. It very nearly did! Trailing by 9 points to 2, Leeds fought back gallantly, twice crossing the Huddersfield line for disallowed tries, before Sullivan sealed our fate with a try of sheer brilliance. Disappointing as defeat was, it cleared the decks for action.

Garry Hemingway, a winger of lightning acceleration, had been signed ten days earlier from Old Thornensians R.U. Now the management decided to part with Ernie Hopper and Bernard Poole, two stalwart forwards who had served Leeds loyally and well; whilst Harry Street, whose two-year stay at Headingley had been all too brief but so rewarding, was to be gradually phased out, prior to joining Featherstone Rovers. Tony Skelton had already established himself at prop in place of Hopper; obvious candidates for the loose-forward berth were Clifford Last, whose early promise had been blighted by injuries, and Alec Dick.

The process of rebuilding in readiness for the R.L. Cup, was to be an agonising test of nerve and patience for management and supporters alike. We won not a single game in October, yet had our moment of glory at Parkside, where eleven Leeds heroes refused: to bow to the inevitable after losing Jones and Broughton through injury. During November we were as unpredictable as the weather. We beat Halifax handsomely at home, and signed trialist winger, Walter Garside, after the match; sank to ignominious defeat at lowly Blackpool, and then, with a reconstituted pack, tamed mighty Wigan at Headingley, with Quinn tackling Boston out of the game and Stevenson cutting loose to score a scintillating 60-yard 'special'. It was too good to last! Defeat at Whitehaven, where Ron Murray, the newly-signed forward from Hawick, fractured a wrist, was followed by reverses against Hull and Widnes.

Plumping for greater experience at loose-forward, the management signed Fred Ward from Castleford in time to celebrate Christmas with three consecutive victories, only for plans to go awry at the turn of the year, With three successive defeats and the loss of Ward with a wrist injury at Barrow. In the circumstances, how ironical it was that White­head, a back, should be, an instant success at loose-forward and hold the position for the rest of the season, with Ward In the second row. Be that as it may, with confidence boosted by four wins in a row, and Challenge Cup appetites whetted by a pre-match visit to the nearby Lounge, Cinema to see a brief. film of the 1957 Final, Leeds gave Castleford a 1st Round grilling to Win by 31 points to 6, with a superlative display of open rugby in heavy conditions: The forwards paved the way to success, Dick's precision passing forging the Vital links as the backs ran riot, with Hemingway scoring four. of the nine tries. Of the team on duty, only seven had played at Wembley the previous year: Quinn; Hemlngway, McLellan, Jones, Hodgkinson; G. Brown, Stevenson; Skelton, Prior, Robinson, Tomlinson, A, Dick, T. Whitehead.

There was just one change for the 2nd Round at Clarence Street: Ward for Tom-Inison., Five times Leeds had let York In the R.L. Cup, and triumphed on each occasion, but this time .arch-schemer Riley, at scrum-half, was to engineer our defeat with his constant prodding .and probing. Nevertheless, it was a desperately close finish.

In the remaining league matches, Leeds were exasperating: going down to a massive defeat at Swinton, one week, for example, and then, seven days later, putting on a magnificent exhibition at Wilderspool. It had been that kind of campaign!

Two young players were blooded during the season: Barry Simms hooker d Michael Pratt, forward; and there were two more signings: Eric Horsman, stand-off, from Bramley Old Boys R.U., and Stanley Dodds, forward, released by Hunslet.

For the first time, the Leeds club was not represented on an Australasian Tour as a result of Jeff Stevenson's decision to withdraw from the party.

1958-59

1958-59

Much to the disgust of those Yorkshire clubs who were deprived of an attractive fixture, Leeds once again volunteered to. go into the Lancashire League, and then added insult to injury by winning the Yorkshire Cup for the first time since 1937. Overall , however it was another disappointing season, with a mediocre league record and 1st Round elimination from the R.L. Cup Competition.

Speculating in Southern Rhodesia during the summer, the management had signed the Deysel brothers, Ernie and Ossie, both threequarters, but neither was to show sufficient promise to warrant retaining their services.

Before the season was very old, we were bidding au revoir to three more of the Wembley team and one of the reserves: Keith McLellan, a popular and inspiring captain of great integrity, left for Australia in early .December, on completion of his contract: George Broughton, scorer of those vital Semi-Final tries and 97 more beside, retired, Joe Anderson, a sterling prop, joined Featherstone Rovers; and dependable Billy Pratt, a scrum-half of no mean ability, went to Halifax.

It was the Yorkshire Cup Competition that provided the season's highlights. Only hours before the 1st Round was due to be played at Headingley, an early-morning fire had destroyed the clock tower, and would surely have gutted the pavilion, too, had it not been for prompt action by the Fire Service. Before the afternoon was out, Huddersfleld could have done with dialling 999! Leeds were irresistible: scoring no less than 16 tries, including six by Hodgkinson, through brilliant inter-passing and smooth backing up. The 2nd Round, also at Headingley, brought us down to earth. Inspired by an interception try from Hollingdrake, converted by Phillips, Keighley stubbornly refused to contemplate the possibility of defeat, until McLellan scored a crucial try, his last in .a Leeds Jersey, with admirable coolness. Even so, at the end, there were only two points in It. The Semi-Final at York displayed Rugby League football at its best. Two first-half tries by Hemingway, with Jack Lendill kicking to the corner for the first, and Dunn racing up to make the vital link for the second, gave Leeds an eight-point lead at the interval. The second half was a thriller: a Flannery try, converted by Yorke, 8-5; a long pass from Dick to. put Ernie Deysel over, 11-5; a converted try by Hargreaves, and Clarence Street was In a turmoil of feverish expectation at 11-10; a goal by Jones, and Leeds were through to face Wakefield Trinity at Odsal four weeks later.

Subsequent performances in the league were no sort of preparation for a Cup Final: we won at Wakefield; lost to Rochdale at home, and to Hunslet under the Elland Road floodlights; won at Liverpool; and then, just seven days before the Final, went down to Warrington at Headingley by 17 points to 47!

Nevertheless, it all came right on the day, with Jeff Stevenson, the new captain, proudly showing the Cup to the ecstatic Leeds supporters after a memorable game. It was Barry Simms, the 19-year-old reserve hooker, deputising for the injured Prior and playing in his first cup-tie, who opened the door to victory. Three times in the first half, he won possession from serums near the Trinity line. Each time Leeds scored. From the first, Stevenson passed to Brown, ran round for the return pass, and shot under the posts; from the second, Quinn burst on to Brown's pass from full-back and carried Fox over the line with him; from the third, a chain of slick passes put Jones over. Simms scored himself. too, for good measure, to make the half-time score 18-7. Two Hemingway tries early in the second half, put Leeds in an unassailable position, but we unaccountably relaxed our grip, and paid for it with pangs of anxiety before the final whistle sounded at 24-20. The Leeds team was: Quinn; Hemingway, J. Lendill, Jones, Hodgkinson; G. Brown, Stevenson; Skelton, Simms, Tomlinson, Robinson, F. Ward, A. Dick.

Celebrating in style, we beat Wigan at home, with Garside scoring a hat-trick; and two more wins over Blackpool Borough and Salford, the latter under Old Trafford flood­lights, indicated a bid for league honours. So much for pipe dreams! We lost our next six matches, and sweated our way through a nightmare of disillusion to gain a surprise victory at Widnes, only to face an impossible Christmas. Christmas? Was there a Christ-, mas that year? We played three games in three days, travelled to Workington and White­haven, lost all three matches, and saddest blow of all, lost Stevenson through a club suspension which was to result in his eventual transfer to York. To the inexperienced Jack Pycroft, signed some months earlier, fell the awesome task of stepping into the shoes of an outstanding scrum-half of inimitable, mercurial magic.

The tide turned in the new year, Headingley becoming a hive of activity as the management strove to salvage lost pride with a successful run in the R.L. Cup. Within a matter of weeks, they had made three notable signings: Derek Hallas, from Keighley and formerly of Roundhay R.U., as a centre replacement for McLellan; Russell Robins, the Welsh International forward, from Pontypridd; and Wilf Rosenberg, a Springbok centre, who proposed to continue his medical studies at Leeds University. With Rosenberg due to arrive from South Africa after the cup deadline, his father signed on his behalf, claiming power of attorney, but the R.L. Council ruled him ineligible. Meanwhile, the team had recorded five consecutive league victories, but the 1st Round hurdle, presented by Wigan at Central Park proved insurmountable. Even so, despite the late withdrawal of Jones through injury, Leeds gave a good account of themselves, Hemmingway scoring a .fine try from the slimmest of chances, and Quinn converting, to put Wigan under considerable pressure, until Bolton seized on a dropped pass to race away and bounce out of Quinn's valiant but despairing tackle

The loss of five of the ten remaining league fixtures was purely academic; features of far greater significance included: a splendid display by Hallas against Barrow at Headingley; a spectacular try by Rosenberg against Widnes; the vastly improved form of Sewell; and SIX more tries by Hemingway, to swell his total to 40.

Three other players were introduced during the season: Jim Hainsworth prop from Batley, to whom half-back Ian Geldard went in part exchange; Alan Jubb, forward son of the former Leeds favourite; and Michael Hinch, scrum-half.

1959-60

1959-60

Hopes that a return to the Yorkshire League, and a less demanding fixture list, would automatically result in a stronger challenge for championship honours were not fulfilled Leeds finishing in 14th place for the third season in succession. Nor was any consolation derived from the cup competitions. Nevertheless, by the end of the season, the management were much nearer completing the team-building jigsaw than they can ever have imagined at the time.

Five players were transferred during the season: Fred Ward, after little more than eighteen months at Headingley, went to Keighley; Clifford Last. to. Hull K.R.; Alec Dick, to Batley; Jim Hainsworth to Bramley; and Pat Quinn, who captained the side until his marriage prompted a move to Lancashire joined Wigan. Three other players, who had served Leeds well over a number of years gradually faded out of the picture:. Jack Lendill, scorer of that all-important try at Thrum Hall. and his brother Peter; and Jimmy Dunn.

With Lewis Jones already out of action for seven weeks with a broken arm sustained in a match in Paris, Leeds could ill afford to lose the services of Gordon Brown for four months with knee trouble, after the very first game at Oldham. In the circumstances, an increased burden rested on the shoulders of the relatively inexperienced Pycroft, and four new players who were thrown in at the deep end from the start: Fred Pickup, an 18-year-old centre from the Intermediates; Vince Hattee, a 19-year-old stand-off from Heworth; Peter Parker, a centre from Lock Lane; and Eric Horsman, who was to alternate between stand-off and scrum-half.

It was hardly surprising therefore, that Leeds lost aII but one of the first eight league matches, and also went down heavily to the Australians. Far more remarkable was the valiant bid we made to retain the Yorkshire Cup. In the 1st Round, with Peter Lendill at full-back in place of the injured Quinn, and Hattee paired with Horsman at half-back, we registered a splendid win over Keighley at Headingley by 28 points to 14, with Horsman scoring two of the six tries. and Hattee kicking five goals. With five backs unavailable for the 2nd Round clash with Hunslet, make-shift Leeds gave an inspired display to triumph over adversity, each member of the following team giving everything he had, and a little more besides: Hattee; Hemingway, Hallas, T. Whitehead, Hodgkinson; Horsman, Hinch; Skelton, Prior, Robinson, Tomlinson, Robins. Last. Nor did we succumb without a fight in the Semi-Final at Post Office Road. Indeed, with Hemingway scoring a try and Jones kicking two goals to mark his first appearance of the season, the result hung in the balance at 7-9, until Fawley crossed three minutes from the end to clinch a Featherstone victory.

Starting October on a promising note we staged a thrilling rally to beat Bradford Northern by the odd point at Headingley, despite the loss of Prior and Hallas through injury, and then accounted for Dewsbury and Bramley, but satisfaction over the signing of Dennis Goodwin. Barrow's International second row forward, was tempered by the news that two more backs were out of action: Garside. with a cartilage operation; and Hemingway, with a knee ligament condition, which was to render him inactive for almost two seasons. Neither Goodwin, nor Eddie Ratcliffe, a reserve winger, had a happy debut against Keighley, Leeds slumping to defeat with a deplorable second-half display.

November was notable for yet another capture, this time Jack Fairbank, Huddersfield's boisterous second row forward, whose first appearance coincided with a magnificent victory over St. Helens at Headingley. Finesse and fury went hand in hand, with Jones, the virtuoso. conducting the backs, whilst a rampant pack utterly crushed the St. Helens forwards.

Alas, the memory of that performance had to keep us warm through a bitterly dis­appointing December, with a solitary win over Castleford to compensate for five defeats, including a 39-5 drubbing at the hands of Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day. Thus we finished the old year with a lamentable league record: played 21, won 7, lost 14, points for 336. points against 442.

The fact that no less than ten different half-back combinations had been tried since August, pinpointed the need for real authority and skill at the base of the scrum. To that end, the management recruited not one. but two, International scrum halves immediately before the Cup deadline. Tommy Gentles, of South Africa and Wigan, being signed for a comparatively modest fee, purely as an insurance against a possible breakdown in the negotiations to obtain the services of Colin Evans, who had played for Wales at Twicken­ham only a fortnight earlier.

Evans passed his .entrance examination with flying colours in a league game against Doncaster: prior to facing Hull K.R. at Headingley in his first R.L. Cup-tie. It was baptism by fire, With Leeds fighting a desperate rearguard action in the second half as the Robins attacked relentlessly in a vain bid to snatch victory. Drawn to visit Central Park in the 2nd Round, Leeds gave a superb exhibition, with heroic tackling, brave running and incredibly long touch-finding by Jones, only to be cruelly robbed of victory by a diving try from Sullivan in the dying seconds. To Wigan, the victory; to this gallant Leeds team the glory: G. Brown; Hodgkinson, Hallas, Pickup, Ratcliffe; Jones, Evans; Fairbank, Simms,

There were no 'Cup blues' at Headingley! Just the opposite, in fact, as Leeds won developing into a thrilling winger of exciting pace and resolution. There was a bonus, too, with the arrival of Ken Thornett, a young Australian full-back, who was to become a great Headingley favourite.

Two other players were introduced during the season: Paul Stacey, loose-forward who had graduated through the junior teams; and David Johnson, a trialist winger who eventually joined Hull.

1960-61

1960-61

Thou shalt not covet! Leeds must plead guilty to breaking the Tenth Commandment Five times R.L. Championship runners-up, for sixty years they had coveted that one piece of silver which had always been denied them. Now, in 1961, there it was, proudly raised aloft by Lewis Jones, as ecstatic Leeds supporters, young and old alike, and some near to tears, swarmed across Odsal Stadium in their thousands. Rugby League Champions and Champions of Yorkshire! A day, and a year, to remember!

Six players were transferred during the season: Gordon Brown, senior professional, with more than ten years' yeoman service went to Keighley, where he was later joined by Jack Sewell; Walter Garside, to Bramley; Jack Pycroft,. to Oldham: Barry Charlesworth, to Featherstone Rovers; and Bernard Prior to Parkside, in a sensational record-breaking deal which brought Brian Shaw, Hunslet's Test forward, to Headingley. Other players introduced included: Michael Cadywold, winger; Vic Sawyer, stand-off; Jack Brook, winger; and 16-year-old Trevor Oldroyd, stand-off

Consistently successful in the League, Leeds surprisingly failed to measure up to the challenge of the Cup Competitions. Drawn at home In the 1st Round .of the Yorkshire Cup we comfortably disposed of Hunslet, but ,found the 2nd Round visit to Crown Flatt a far tougher proposition, with Dewsbury earning a creditable draw through a Ledgard drop goal sixteen minutes from the end. Dewsbury Ied 11-8 at half-time In the Headingley replay, too, and showed no signs of weakening their grip In the second half, until ,hooker Lockwood limped to the bench for treatment. By the time he returned, Leeds had capitalised on serum possession, with Thornett bursting on to a pass to storm ,.n at the corner; and Rosenberg's third try then virtually clinched the issue. Favoured with a home draw in the Semi-Final and favourites to beat Huddersfield, unpredictable Leeds slumped to defeat, with Jones, for once in a long while, out of touch with his goal-kicking.

In the R.L. Cup, with Wigan the 1st Round visitors to Headingley, it was almost like 1957 all over again. Certainly it was another grim tussle, with Leeds holding a 5-3 lead, thanks to a Hallas try and a goal from Jones, when Sayer, the Wigan hooker, was dis­missed for tripping, midway through the second half. Leeds, however, missed their chance, failing to take advantage of increased possession, and paid dearly for it when Wigan were awarded a penalty way out on the touchline. In 1957, from a far easier position, Ashton had missed. Not Griffiths! The ball sailed over from a magnificent kick, and Wigan lived to fight, and win, another day. Four days later at Central Park, a reshuffled Leeds team went down by 32 points to 7, our heaviest R.L. Cup defeat for 48 years.

Conceding only six league defeats in the season, the lowest in the club's history, Leeds finished at the head of the table for the first time, but the critics were loath to give credit: ... 'an easy fixture programme' ... 'Leeds are in a false position', They had to eat humble pie!

Certainly they could not deny Leeds the merit of a thrilling Semi-Final victory over St. Helens at Headingley, where every man played his part nobly, not least the two reserves, Vince Hattee and Eddie 'Vollenhoven shall not pass' Ratcliffe. We took the initiative from the start, Lewis Jones kicking a goal after only three minutes, and Rosenberg diving over four minutes later to register his 43rd try of the season, a post-war club record. St. Helens, however, gathered themselves, countering a smart try by Hattee with two goals from Rhodes, and the second half found Leeds penned in their own quarters, grimly hanging on to an 8-4 lead. Bravely as the forwards tried to break out, St. Helens maintained a vice-like grip, and centre Donovan went over in the corner, only for the try to be disallowed. And still the siege went on. At Headingley, in 1938, in similar circumstances, Eric Harris, the Toowoomba ghost, had stolen a pass and thwarted Swinton's championship hopes with a memorable try. Now it was Rosenberg's moment of glory! The breakout was sudden: slick passing between Simms, Evans and Hallas put Rosenberg in possession forty yards out. Sullivan turned from challenging Hallas to find his quarry beyond pursuit; the covering Watson dived in vain; full-back Rhodes had Rosenberg just where he wanted him. on the touchline, but going for a push rather than an all-out tackle, missed him completely, as Rosenberg slipped through the eye of the proverbial needle to score a try which will always be treasured in Headingley's rich storehouse of memories.

Champions beyond dispute! There could be only one verdict after an unchanged team, brilliantly led by Lewis Jones, had risen to the occasion in glorious style and reduced Warrington to bewildered also-rans in the Odsal Final. Revelling in their previously unsuspected ability to keep the ball moving when challenged, the Leeds forwards were irresistible in the loose and dominant in the tight, with Simms heeling from three out of every four scrums; the backs, eager and resourceful, responded magnificently, combining well, running bravely, and tackling as though their lives depended on it. With teamwork the key to success, it would be invidious to single out individual players: suffice i to say that there was not, a weak link in the chain that forged a famous victory, Four times we crossed the Warrington line, to put 18 points on the board, before they even opened their account. A Goodwin burst in the 16th minute put Fairbank over for the first try; the second came just before half-time, when Evans dived over from a play-the-ball, after Jones had been tackled a yard short; and two more from Hallas in the second half in a five-minute purple patch of attacking rugby, virtually sealed Warrington's fate. They did make a belated rally, Gilfedder converting two tries from Challinor, but it was merely a forlorn gesture, and Jones had the last word, like a good captain should cutting through with nonchalant ease to go between the posts. The conversion was a formality, the final whistle never sweeter. Sixty years! This had been worth waiting for!

Leeds: Thornett; Rosenberg, Hallas, Hattee, Ratcliffe; Jones, Evans; Robinson, Simms T. Whitehead, Fairbank, Goodwin. Shaw. '

Warrington: Fraser; Bevan, Challinor, Pickavance, O'Grady; Greenhough, Edwards; Brindle, T. Whitehead, Fairbank, Goodwin. Shaw. ' Referee: Mr. R. Gelder (Wilmslow).

1961-62

1961-62

The scalpel was poised I Seeking to arrest the cancer of ever-dwindling 'gates' the clubs had finally opted for exploratory surgery through the introduction of a two-divisional competition in 1962-63 on a three-year experimental basis. For many clubs therefore the current 'pre-med' season was shadowed by apprehension as they strove desperately to qualify for First Division salvation. and thus avoid the dreaded descent into the Second Division limbo of uncertainty

Four major news items emerged from Headingley during the close season: Lewis Jones, whose 9-year contract was due to expire in November, had agreed to a two-year extension; Tony Skelton had emigrated to Australia; the management .had signed Geoffrey Wriglesworth. an 18-year-old winger from Heworth; and Garry Hemingway was back In training, after an absence of almost two years.

Past achievements in sport provide no automatic passports to future success. and all that Leeds could set alongside the glories of the previous season was a consolation prize as runners-up in the Yorkshire Cup Competition. It was almost one-way traffic in the 1st Round at Headingley. with the lights rarely at red and no danger of a breathalyser test as we ran in ten intoxicating tries against befuddled and depleted Hull K.R .• and though hard-tackling Castleford sobered us up in the 2nd Round, Ratcliffe ruled out any possibility of defeat with the first hat-trick of his career. Lucky Leeds! Drawn at home yet again for the Semi-Final and including John Sykes a local product, In the pack to entertain Featherstone Rovers, we barely managed to survive on goal-kicks in an extremely dour game. With Hallas, Hattee. Rosenberg and Wriglesworth all unavailable, and Goodwin at centre for the Final against Wakefield Trinity at Odsal. Leeds made a promising start, with Hemingway capitalising on an error by full-back Round, to cross within the first five minutes and an interval score of 5-5 was a fair reflection of play. It was a different story in the second half! Within ten minutes. Fox had kicked two superb penalty goals out of the touchline mud; and when Skene scored a disputed try, Thornett claiming that he had made the ball dead, there was Fox, to virtually put the game beyond redemption with a magnificent conversion from the other touchline. There could be no argument: bravely as Leeds had challenged, Trinity fully deserved to retain the Cup. The Leeds team was: Thornett; Hemingway. Pickup, Goodwin, Ratcliffe; Jones, Evans; Robinson, Simms. T. Whitehead, Fairbank, Sykes, Tomlinson.

Meanwhile, after making an encouraging start to the League programme we had only seven wins to show from the first twelve matches, in which there had been several notable features: a disgracefully violent confrontation at Parkside, with Simms and Prior sent off, Moyser stretchered off, and Rosenberg sustaining a fractured jaw; the debut of Louis Neumann, a non-European. South African loose-forward against Dewsbury at Headingley; and the success of Wriglesworth as an emergency centre, with three second-half tries against Keighley following an injury to Hattee.

Following the Yorkshire Cup Final, recruitment seemed to be the order of the day, with the management signing Derek Davies, the Bradford Northern stand-off, and Abe Terry, the St. Helens prop forward. so there was considerable consternation when the shock transfer of Wilf Rosenberg to Hull, at his own request, was followed by the departures of Dennis Goodwin to York and Trevor Whitehead, also to Hull. Nevertheless, by the time the R.L. Cup Competition came round, Leeds had climbed to 6th place in the table after winning nine of their last eleven matches, including three especially fine per­formances against St. Helens, Hull and Swinton, with Thornett thundering up-field from full-back to playa storming game on each occasion.

Cup magic attracted a Headingley crowd of 19.000 for the 1st Round visit of Bramley, and they certainly had their money's-worth, the Villagers showing enterprise in attack and solidarity in defence, until they lost the injured Chamberlain; whereupon, Leeds waxed affluent to win 34-6. Wriglesworth finishing with four tries. The 2nd Round visit to Leigh was a daunting proposition, but our forwards drove themselves to the limits of flesh and blood to establish a two-point lead, Shaw's strength and determination creating the opportunity for Wriglesworth to squeeze in for the vital try, only for the hard-won advantage to be imperilled by two trivial play-the-ball offences: from the first, Botha levelled the scores; from the second, his kick went mercifully wide. The replay was a gladiatorial .battle with 24,000 spectators in a ferment as the second half built up into a thrilling climax. Down 7-12 at the interval we resumed in tremendous style. Simms winning five scrums In a row, and Ratcliffe crossing twice. to make it 13-12 to Leeds, with Leigh apparently tottering. Alas, with just eleven minutes to go the ball bounced away cruelly from Thornett and Owen dived over for a disputed try, there being a suspicion that. Brooks had initially knocked on. Be that as it may, the conversion gave Leigh a four-point lead. but Leeds rallied yet again, Jones putting Wriglesworth over in the corner. Everything now depended on the touchline conversion! Our hopes soared with the ball, only to sink in despair as it dropped under the bar. Leeds fielded an un­changed team for both matches: Thornett; Ratcliffe. Hattee. Hallas, Wriglesworth; Jones, Evans; Terry. Simms. Robinson. Fairbank. Tomlinson, Shaw.

There was still the championship! Winning six consecutive matches in April, Leeds made a strong bid for a place in the play-off, but failed to qualify by two points after losing at home to Wakefield Trinity and Feathersone Rovers in successive matches.

As the curtain came down on a frustrating season, there was rich consolation in Wriglesworth's splendid tally of 34 tries, and in the exceptional promise revealed by several of the young players who had been introduced: Gilbert Ashton, forward, and Robin Dewhurst, centre, from the 'nursery'; George Simpson. full-back; Graham Charlesworth hooker; Brian Sadler and David Walker, forwards; and 17-year-old Mick Shoebottom, scrum-half from Bison Sports, who was destined to meet those two impostors, Triumph and Disaster.

For Del Hodgkinson, plagued by a shoulder injury which was to terminate his career, there were commiserations. Even so, he had experienced his hour of matchless glory!

1962-63

1962-63

This was the season of the big freeze! Not a single game was played at. t:ieadingle.y between December 1st and April 3rd, a period of seventeen weeks, and Leeds finished their First Division programme with 18 games in 55 days. Never again! The Leeds Board are resolved that Headingley should have an 'electric blanket: similar to the one at Murrayfield, and pressed ahead with the installation of an under-soil heating system involving thirty miles of cable.

The season opened on a sad note, Garry Hemingway reluctantly deciding to retire. from the game, with a fine record of 82 tries in 87 appearances, after breaking down again in the Lazenby Cup match. With Ratcliffe already out of action, having broken a collar-bone in pre-season training, Leeds were hard pressed for wingers In the opening matches.

In view of the inclement weather which was to persist from mid-December onwards, it was most unfortunate, if not ludicrous, that the ideal conditions prevailing during the early weeks of the season should be wasted on a meaningless and artificial Eastern Division Championship. Not that there would have been any harm in winning it, but Leeds, with a comparatively easy fixture list, paid for a drawn game at Batley and a shock defeat at lowly Doncaster by finishing in 5th place. Even so, by the time this competition ended in September, two notable Rugby Union captures had set Headingley buzzing m keen anticipation: Alan Rees, Maesteg and Welsh International. stand-off,. and Glamorgan cricketer; and Ronnie Cowan, the 20-year-old Selkirk and Scottish International winger, who had toured with the British Lions. Of even greater significance. in the long term, however, was the fact that Alan Smith, a young winger from the Wakefield area, had crowned his debut against Dewsbury with four tries.

Our interest in the Yorkshire Cup Competition did not extend beyond the 1st Round, York going through by the odd point after two tense struggles. The first, at Headingley, reduced the 12,000 spectators to a state of nervous exhaustion as Leeds rallied after conceding York an early 10-point lead. Jones lit the fuse with a try and two goals, and Leeds exploded into a frenzied onslaught, with attack after attack breaking down, until the injured Rees, playing on the right wing, produced a flickering sidestep and carried Yorke over the line with him for the equalising try. Alas, no sooner had Jones goaled in the grand manner from the touchline, than Yorke earned a replay with a mighty 44-yard penalty goal. It was just as tight at Clarence Street. With Simms dismissed before the interval for persistent feet-up, and Terry a lame passenger, Leeds fought gallantly, Thornett constantly plunging in with never-say-die defiance, but it was not to be, Jones narrowly failing to snatch victory in the very last minute with a 40-yard goal kick

We played ten games in the First Division before the big hold-up, and won five, including a double over Oldham which was marred by unsavoury incidents: at Headingley, Holden and Fairbank were sent off, and Rees, twice felled after parting with the ball, was taken to hospital with his nose broken in two places; at Watersheddings, Evans came off even worse, with a fractured jaw. Meanwhile, activity in the transfer market had been brisk, with Derek Hallas rejoining Keighley, Abe Terry going to Featherstone Rovers, Eric Horsman to Doncaster, and Alan Jubb to Bramley; whilst Leeds recruited two more forwards, Don Devereux, from Huddersfield, making his first appearance at Widnes in October, whereas the debut of John Davies, the Welsh R.U. International from Neath, who signed in December, had to be deferred until April 10thl

The Leeds players who came away from Fartown on December 15th, can scarcely have imagined that their next game would be eight weeks later, in the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup. Nor would they have played then, had it not been for a massive de-frost operation mounted by the Castleford officials, with 150 braziers to promote a thaw and pneumatic drills to assist drainage. In an imperfect world, enterprise often goes unrewarded: Castleford had done all the work, Leeds had the luck! Just five minutes before half-time, Castleford were in possession and leading 3-2, when a pass went astray and the ball stuck in the mud whereupon Lewis Jones fly-kicked, coolly gathered the rebound off full-back Lunn and cantered under the posts, to convert with ease. Although Pickup crossed in the second half to give Leeds a match-winning lead in the conditions, Castleford battled on to the bitter end' to gain a consolation try by Walker, which Lunn converted with the last kick of the match. '

Five weeks were to elapse before the 2nd Round at Wigan. In similar chaotic circumstances, In 1947, Leeds had .won in Central Park's mud and slush, and gone on to Wembley, but prospects of a repetition looked bleak, with Jones, Wriglesworth and Cowan unavailable. All the more .credit, then, to the heroic thirteen who, despite injuries to Walker and Neumann, almost achieved a sensational victory: Thornett; D. Davies, Pickup, Dewhurst, Ratcliffe; Rees, Evans: Robinson, Simms, Walker, Devereux, Neumann, Shaw. Drawing inspiration from a brilliant try and two goals from Dewhurst, and a drop goal by Rees, they were leading 9-5, only for the cup of triumph to be dashed from their lips in the last fifteen minutes as Ashton, Wigan's lynch-pin, conjured victory out of seeming defeat.

Now began the gruelling, energy-sapping sprint to clear the backlog of First Division fixtures. At the end of April, With nine matches still to play, Leeds were still in touch with the leader, but could ill afford to lose the services of the lion-hearted Thornett, who returned to Australia, and Dewhurst With a fractured leg. Certainly, with playing resources stretched to the limit, we could not match the pace and stamina of Swinton who romped home with 17 successive wins, to leave us trailing in seventh place.

Other players introduced during the season included: Dennis Burke, a centre from Australia on a working holiday; Michael Creary, winger, from the Huddersfield area' M' k Joyce, forward, from Brookhouse; Dennis Toohey, winger, from Mirfield Youth Club' and Barry Seabourne, a 16-year-old serum-half of cunning craft and guile, from the Leeds Juniors.

1963-64

1963-64

Leeds had not experienced a season like this in peace time since 1907. Hard as they tried, and do what they would, it seemed all too often that management and players. alike were in the clutch of cruel circumstance and doomed to misfortune. Knocked out in the 2nd Round of the Yorkshire Cup and the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup, and failing once again to qualify for the Eastern Division play-off, Leeds staggered through the First Division programme like a brave, punch-drunk boxer and lost all but ten of the thirty matches. Fortunately, with Keighley and Hull faring even worse, there was little or no danger of relegation, but it was a welcome relief, just the same, when an extraordinary general meeting of the clubs resolved that the two-division experiment should be discontinued at the end of the current season.

Early season results gave no hint of the traumas that lay ahead, and there seemed to be no cause for immediate concern, with Andrew Broatch, a close-season signing from Hawick, settling in well at centre, and splendid wins over Hull at The Boulevard and Workington Town at Headingley to discount defeats against Hull K.R. and Keighley. During September, however, confidence began to be eroded by the drip, drip, drip of persistent defeat, broken only by a solitary victory over Castleford in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup. Reverses at Wigan and Swinton, and at Featherstone in the 2nd Round of the Cup were unwelcome, yet not entirely unexpected, but the home defeat at the hands of Hunslet, which let the alarm bells ringing, would surely have been averted had we shown the same determination as we did against the Australians a week later. Perhaps the presence of Ken Thornett, at full-back for the Tourists, provided the spur; certainly, he engineered our defeat With an overhead pass which put Cleary in for the only try of the match.

In the meantime, with Cowan due for a cartilage operation, Devereux about to take up a coaching appointment in Australia, and Simms labouring under the handicap of a troublesome knee condition, the management had recruited two welcome additions to the playing staff: Alan Lockwood. the Yorkshire County hooker, from Hull K.R., and Mick Clark, Salford's second row forward. Talented as they were, they could only share, rather than dispel, the prevailing gloom, so that by the end of October even the optimists were beginning to drift into the ranks of the pessimists. Two more defeats in the First Division were bad enough, in all conscience, but to lose to Doncaster at Headingley in the Eastern Division, with Horsman mainly instrumental in our downfall, was a bitterly ironic humiliation. Yet, within days, Hattee was joining Horsmanl

The first match in November presented a rare gleam of light in a dark labyrinth of despair. with Hull routed at Headingley by 30 points to 7, and that by a young and drastically changed team which included: 18-year-old Ray Batten, signed from Heworth and grandson of the immortal Billy Batten, at loose-forward; 18-year-old Jack Thomas. a local product, at prop; Robin Dewhurst. recovered from his leg fracture, at full-back; and 16-year-old Barry Seabourne, making his second appearance at serum-half. Alas, the relief was only transitory! The sad saga of frustration and failure continued' through November and December, despite the signing of three more forwards, who all turned out for the first time at Widnes: Bill Drake, from Hull; Les Chamberlain from Hull K.R., and Peter McVeigh. from Batley. Thus we rang out the old year with an abysmal record in the First Division: played 17, won 4, lost 13, points for 179, points against 311. We rang in the new without the services of versatile Fred Pickup, who had been released to join the Manly-Warringah club in Australia.

January heralded four successive wins, including a double over Huddersfield, but still the Headingley hoodoo persisted: 23-year-old Barry Simms, who had worn the No.9 and No. 13 jerseys with equal merit, was compelled to retire on medical advice; and Dick Gemmell, a centre signed from Hull in readiness for the R.L. Cup, sustained a broken fibula in his very first game, against Hull K.R. at Headingley. Whereas the transfer of Derek Davies to Hull had been expected, the eve-of-cup departure of Colin Evans to York came as a great shock, despite the rapid strides made by the irrepressible Shoebottom and the undoubted promise of Seabourne.

Our luck was out in the Cup draw, too. Salford, away! Five times previously, Leeds had faced Salford in the R.L. Cup and always at Weaste. On this occasion, ground advantage perhaps made all the difference, Salford scraping through with four points to spare, though to be fair, they did score the only two tries of the game. It was a match of "ifs and buts': Lewis Jones could well have been awarded an obstruction try in the first half, and there was a. suggestion of a knock-on when Southward scored his second try. Even so, the following Leeds team was never sufficiently in command to make its own luck: Simpson; Cowan, Broatch, Dewhurst, Wriglesworth; Jones, Shoebottom' Drake Lockwood Chamberlain, McVeigh, Shaw, Neumann.

Incredibly, a fortnight later, Leeds defeated St. Helens at Knowsley Road for the first time since 1947, but then relapsed into a sequence of three consecutive defeats. On Easter Monday, however, with Lewis Jones donning for the last time the blue and amber jersey he had worn so modestly yet with such distinction, the team rose to the occasion to beat Halifax handsomely, young Dewhurst earning a nod of approval from the master himself for five .excellent goals. As the final whistle sounded, and Lewis left the field with the outstanding Leeds record of 385 appearances, 144 tries, 1244 goals and 2920 points, it was the end of an era, and countless thousands, to whom he had given so much pleasure. doubted whether they would ever see his like again. A rugby genius, who had become a legend in his own lifetime, had left for Australia. Lucky Australia!

As the season drifted to its close, Leeds won only two of their six remaining matches, but it was good to see Gemmell back in action again, and the younger players justifying the faith placed in them by the management. Time and patience were to bring a rich reward.

Two other players were introduced during the season: David Hartley, winger from Normanton; and Ernest Towler, forward, from Yorkshire Copper Works. For ever-reliable Colin Tomlinson it was the end of a 9-year stint. with 200 appearances and 22 tries.

1964-65

1964-65

It was back to a one-divisional competition, with two innovations: a championship play-off involving the top sixteen clubs, and the introduction of substitutes for injured players, Bare as the Headingley sideboard was at the end of the season, 'Operation Recovery' basically went according to plan, with the younger players gaining invaluable experience, and the overall record a vast improvement on that of the previous season, Regrettably, winning matches was to prove far easier than winning back spectator support, and Headingley's empty terraces reflected the general decline in rugby league attendances.

During the summer, the final link with the 1957 Cup-winning team had been broken through the appointment of Don Robinson as player-coach at Doncaster; and the revival of Bradford Northern had attracted Gilbert Ashton to Odsal. Transfers during the season included: Graham Charlesworth, to Hull, and Jack Thomas, to Doncaster.

A home defeat at the hands of Warrington provided an inauspicious start to the season, but Leeds promptly restored morale by keeping their line intact to record victories at Featherstone and Keighley. The line was still intact, too, after the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup at Headingley, with Hunslet the equal of Leeds in everything except finishing. Certainly they could not match the power and determination of Ratcliffe, who resisted the challenge of Preece, Langton and Ramsey, to score the first try of the match Just before the Interval. Thereafter, with Hunslet's injured Stevenson virtually a passenger, Leeds took control to run in four more tries, with Ratcliffe completing a hat-trick. Three days later, Hull K.R. also failed to pierce the Leeds defence, and though Huddersfield then crossed three times to win 19-9 at Fartown, it was good to see the growing authority of Shoebottom, Seabourne and Dewhurst.

There was a meagre crowd of only 3,000 for the 2nd Round visit of Keighley, but the faithful were rewarded with a splendid eight-try extravaganza, and three more league wins followed, with Dewhurst's nine goals saving the day against Bramley, and Ron Morgan, the second row forward from Swinton, making his debut at Batley, as did stand-off Robert Smith against Keighley. Now for the big one! Halifax at Thrum Hall in the Semi-Final! We travelled hopefully, we came back on cloud nine in rapturous delight. Leading 9-7 at the interval, thanks to a magnificent try by Cowan and three goals from Dewhurst, we repulsed a typically ferocious second-half barrage from Halifax, and then struck back with imagination and intrepid daring, Shoebottom scoring twice and Seabourne diving over in the closing minutes, after a weaving run from the dummying Chamberlain. Within five days, however, with Albert Firth, a recent signing from York, in our second row, Halifax took their seven-try revenge; and an unconvincing home win over Doncaster, followed by a defeat at Castleford, clearly indicated that we yet lacked sufficient all-round experience and maturity to straddle the peaks of consistent success. Confirmation came in the Yorkshire Cup Final at Fartown, where Wakefield Trinity moved the ball about with dazzling speed and assurance in a fluent display of vintage rugby to win by 18 points to 2, with sprinter Berwyn Jones scoring two breathtaking tries, and Fox two tries and three goals, against a goal by Dewhurst. The Leeds team was: Dewhurst; Cowan, Broatch, Gemmell, Wriglesworth; Shoebottom, Seabourne; Drake, Lockwood, Chamberlain, Clark, Neumann, Sykes.

Four more players were introduced during November and December: Bob Landers. centre or wing, from Eastern Suburbs, Australia, on trial until the end of the season; Alf Meakin, the Olympic sprinter, who was not retained; David Hick, a back, from Southlands, York; and Peter Astbury. a hooker, from Normanton. Meanwhile, with Seabourne, Batten and Oldroyd contesting the serum-half berth, Leeds won five of their next eight league matches, a thrilling ten-man rearguard action to thwart Halifax at Headingley, and a Gemmell-inspired victory at Hull, compensating in some measure for a lamentable Boxing Day display against Wakefield Trinity.

Although January's inconsistent performances hardly augured well for the R.L. Cup Competition, we eliminated Liverpool City with comparative ease in the 1st Round, Dewhurst scoring a gem of a try besides kicking five goals. and hopes began to soar when an impressive league win over Huddersfield at Headingley, with Dewhurst contributing 17 more points and Landers scoring twice on his farewell appearance, was followed by yet another over Hull K.R. at Craven Park. Nevertheless, there was little to spare in a 2nd Round confrontation with Bramley, so that despite the two fine tries Gemmell created for Broatch and Dewhurst, we were reduced to hanging on grimly to a one-point lead, with Headingley's 8.000 spectators on tenterhooks, until Broatch went over again in the closing stages. Hunslet, at Parkside! Alas, no sooner had the 3rd Round been drawn than Leeds faced a double injury setback: .goal-kicker Dewhurst was to undergo a knee operation; and Shoebottom, who had missed the Bramley game through injury, would still be unavailable. Goal.-kicks, 2 to 1 in Hunslet's favour, were the deciding factor! Otherwise, there was nothing between the teams: for all that Hunslet dominated the scrums, Prior heeling four out of every five, the Leeds defence never looked like faltering, until Wriglesworth slipped in turning, to cover a stray pass, and Griffiths coolly steered the ball from half-way to score Hunslet s solitary try; and Leeds profited in similar fashion, Batten seizing on a loose ball to initiate a flurry of passes, for Cowan to go over in the corner. The Leeds team was: Simpson; Cowan, Broatch, Gemmell, Wriglesworth; Oldroyd, Batten; Clark, Lockwood, Walker, Morgan, Neumann, Chamberlain.

Hopes of finishing in the top eight, and thereby qualify for home advantage in the championship play-off, were vain indeed, as Leeds won only two of their last seven matches, to finish in 10th place, and were promptly eliminated at Thrum Hall Even so one of those end-of-season matches was to prove of particular significance: at 'Wakefield' Leeds introduced Stewart Coulthard, a forward, from. Wakefield Trinity Juniors, and Syd Hynes, a centre from Leeds NALGO, who was destined to attain the highest honours in the game.

1965-66

1965-66

An end-of-term report, in respect of 1965-66, could justifiably have read: "Making very good progress. Given reasonable luck and consistent effort, Leeds now have the potential to attain the highest honours in the immediate future."

There were two close-season acquisitions on parade in the Lazenby Cup match: Ken Rollin, the former Wakefield Trinity scrum-half, who had been out of rugby for more than a year and was not yet fully fit; and substitute Ken Owens, a hooker, from Australia.

Three wins in August, including a 37-7 battering of Hunslet to atone for an inept display at Hull, represented an encouraging start to the season: September, however: put the damper on immediate aspirations, with a solitary league Win .over Keighley providing poor consolation for elimination from the Yorkshire Cup Competition. Whereas Bramley were easily disposed of, in the 1st Round at Headingley, with Dewhurst linking up brilliantly to add two tries to his eight goals, prodigal Leeds frittered away possession With reckless abandon and were never in the hunt in the 2nd Round at Fartown. Three days later, after trailing 2-14 against the New Zealand Tourists, we rallied to within a point with fifteen minutes to go, only to fall from grace when the non-stop-tackling Neumann withdrew with an injury; and a thoroughly unsatisfactory month ended With a fruitless visit to York

A fourth consecutive defeat, at Bramley, would normally have aroused deep mis­givings and recriminations, but criticism was muted by two notable signings: Harry Poole. the vastly-experienced loose-forward, from Hull K.R.; and Ken Thornett, who was to do a three-month stint at Headingley during the Australian close season. Popular and talented, as Thornett undoubtedly was, the merits of a short-term signing were debatable as Dew­hurst, despite a suspect knee, had kicked 49 goals in the opening ten games. Be that as it may, with Thornett to provide his own special brand of zest and adventure, and Poole to marshal the forwards, Leeds were immediately 'on song', winning six successive league matches, with Gemmell, Cowan and Ratcliffe, the chief try-scorers, and Shoebottom far more impressive as an enterprising stand-off than an emergency goal-kicker. Meanwhile, following a drawn game at Castleford and a defeat at St. Helens, we had failed to qualify for the Floodlit Competition play-off; and November ended on a sad note with news of the retirement of Alan Rees, who had made only 27 appearances since that brutal assault in 1962

December brought us down to size! Whereas the Leeds Iine had been crossed only twice in the previous six league matches, we now conceded half a dozen tries in losing to Leigh and Oldham. Nevertheless, we made amends with a splendid one-point victory at Thrum Hall, and then staged a thrilling finale to the old year to the thunderous applause of Headingley's 21.000 spectators. Down 8-9 against Wakefield Trinity, with just ten minutes to go, Thornett fielded Fox's abortive long-range goal-kick and lunged up-field to the Leeds '25' ... a long pass to Gemmell ... a dummy and acceleration another pass ... and there was Wriglesworth, dragging himself out of Metcalfe's tackle, to end a 50-yard burst with a superb match-winning try.

A New Year's Day defeat at Hull K.R. was disappointing, but of little moment compared with the vacuum created a week later by the departure of Ken Thornett. With Dewhurst unfit, and Michael Broom failing to impress, Leeds had neither a full-back nor a goal-kicker. To their eternal credit, the management promptly found both, in Bev Risman, of Leigh. A former England R.U. stand-off and centre, and son of the famous Gus, Risman readily applied his wealth of natural ability, expertise and experience, to his new role, and Leeds went into the R.L. Cup Competition with another six consecutive wins under their belt. For all that, York were miserly 1st Round visitors to Headingley, offer­ing little in attack and giving away nothing at all in defence, until Leeds clinched victory with three tries in the last twenty minutes.

Throughout March, the Headingley band-wagon rolled on with gathering momentum we put paid to. Hull in .a 2nd Round rehearsal; committed daylight robbery with an incredible 12-point rally In the last ten minutes at Wilderspool; showed resolution and courage in the cup-tie against Hull, with Clark playing a storming game and Poole's leadership always in evidence; and then rounded off the month with three more league victories, With winger John Atkinson, ex-Roundhay R.U., running in two tries against York to start a long and distinguished career.

Alas, it was a bumpy ride in April I Well as we played at Wilderspool in the 3rd Round, we only managed a 2-2 draw by courtesy of Melling, the Warrington centre who threw away a certain try by neglecting to pass .to an unmarked colleague. Our Easter egg was addled: too, three defeats in. four days virtually ruling out any possibility of winning the Yorkshire League Championship. Even so, urged on by a Headingley crowd of almost 14,000, we triumphed over Warrington In the 3rd Round replay, despite losing Shoebottom with a severe fib injury, and thus qualified for our first R.L. Cup Semi-Final since 1957, only to find the road to Wembley barred at Fartown. All credit to Wigan! Taking the field without a recognised hooker, and beaten 12 to 1 in the second-half scrums, they lost goal-kicker GiIfedder and scrum-half Parr, both injured, yet still clung to the lead Boston created with a first-half try.. The Leeds team was: Risman; Cowan, Hynes, Gemmell, Wriglesworth; Broatch, Rollin; Clark, Lockwood, Firth, J. Davies (Neumann), Chamberlain, H. Poole.

A. fortnight later, Wigan rubbed it in at Central Park, in the quarter-final of the Championship play-off, the crucial try coming midway through the second half, with Leeds 5-9 down and attacking strongly, when the ball was knocked out of Clark's grasp, for second-row forward Stephens to snap It up and race seventy-five yards to the posts. Thus a season of infinite promise ended, yet again, in disappointment. Patience!

During the season, Leeds also introduced Peter Moscatt, a hooker, from Australia' and Bernard Watson, stand-off, of Thornhill B.C. Players transferred included: George Simpson to Bramley; and Trevor Oldroyd, to Batley.

Harry Poole was honoured with the captaincy of the Australasian Touring party which Included Geoff Wrlglesworth.

1966-67

1966-67

League Leaders and Yorkshire League Championship! This was the dawn of an era of unprecedented success in 'The Headingley Story', surpassing even the glories, of the 'Golden Thirties', It was a season of change and innovation, too, with Headingley s floodlights switched on for the first time for the County match between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and the Laws of the Game amended to introduce the 'penalty plus a free play-the-ball' and the 'four tackle rule'.

The campaign opened under a cloud with Harry Poole returning from Australia with a troublesome knee injury, but Leeds were soon making hay In the August sunshine, with four successive league victories. The debut of John Langley, a centre from Normanton, was the occasion for a sparkling display from the exuberant Shoebottom, whose 4 tries and 9 goals utterly deflated Batley, and left him just one point short of the individual scoring record established by Lewis Jones against Bradford Northern In 1956.

In view of early season form, a home defeat by Bramley in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup came as a rude shock. The Villagers got away to a flying start to gain a commanding 20-7 lead, before Leeds made a late rally to reduce the margin to two points, only for Cowan to drop the ball in the very last minute in the act of touching down for what would have been a dramatic match-winning try. Someone had to suffer! It was Hunslet, at Parkside, going down to their heaviest defeat for twenty years, but no. doubt their bank manager managed to raise a smile on receipt of a cheque for the services of prop forward Ken Eyre, who was to fracture an arm only a week later, on his first appear­ance in Leeds colours, Even so, we put paid to Wigan in a free-scoring game, and ended the September programme, still unbeaten in the League, with a rousing win at Odsal.

If the hallmark of a good side is its ability to win when playing below par, Leeds qualified in October. Losing rhythm, as a result of injuries, and slipping from fluent authority into drab mediocrity, Leeds still stayed on the winning track to achieve a best-ever start to a season, with eleven consecutive league victories, before losing at St. Helens at the end of the month, Moreover, playing under the Headingley floodlights for the first time, we had earned a draw against Castleford.

Our interest in the Floodlit Competition ended in the Station Road mud, but super-fit Leeds, now back on top form, blended flair, tenacity and teamwork, to win all but two of their next fourteen league matches. It was first-class fare, providing a fascinating kaleidoscope of colourful incident: two magnificent, searing runs by Gemmell, against Oldham at Headingley; a fright at Lawkholme Lane, where Keighley wiped out a 12-point deficit in as many minutes, before a Risman goal and tries from Gemmell and Ratcliffe restored sanity; three frustrating drop goals by Curry, to rob us of victory at Watersheddings; the unlucky Ken Eyre, cracking the same arm bone at Halifax; three tries in the last ten minutes to snatch an incredible win at Featherstone; reserve wingers, John Atkinson and Alan Smith, showing their paces on Boxing Day, to thrill a crowd of 16,000; Clark forcing himself over the line to clinch a tremendous triumph at Hull; and two nail-biting finishes against Bradford Northern and Featherstone Rovers, as Leeds went into the R.L. Cup Competition with a firm grip on the League leadership. Meanwhile, with Peter Moscatt due to return to Australia, hooker Tony Crosby had been signed from York.

There were no losers in the 1st Round at Headingley! Leeds, with superior speed and expertise, were always certain winners; and Blackpool Borough, who had forfeited ground advantage, were amply rewarded with an attendance of 9,000, No sooner had Leeds been drawn to visit Oldham in the 2nd Round than we were parting with two players, Louis Neumann making his farewell appearance against Castleford, before joining Eastern Suburbs; and Test winger Geoff Wriglesworth, scorer of 98 tries in 173 appear­ances, being surprisingly transferred to Bradford Northern at his own request. Leeds had not won a R.L. Cup-tie in Lancashire for twenty years, but the result at Watersheddings was never in doubt from the 14th minute, when Risman glided up on the blind side to create an overlap for Atkinson to wrong-foot Curry and finish the move in classic style, Four minutes later, Broatch went through a yawning gap, to make the interval score 6-2; and Atkinson, ever quick to profit from a loose ball, put the game beyond Oldham's reach. in the second ha If. The 3rd Round meeting with Swinton, watched by a tense Headingley crowd of 20,000, was a hard, and at times ruthless, battle for survival, with Leeds triumphing over all manner of ill luck and adversity, the broken arm sustained by Poole being purely accidental, unlike the two high tackles that put Risman out of action for several minutes and felled Atkinson in full flight. Even the ball seemed perverse, crucial goal-kicks bouncing off the posts, and few present will ever forget that agonising last quarter of an hour as Swinton bombarded the Leeds line to pull up to 15-17, with Gowers desperately trying to drop a goal in the closing minutes, Alas, the road to Wembley was once again barred at Fartow! Already assured of the League Leaders' Trophy, Leeds were clear favourites in the Semi-Final, and two splendid tries by Alan Smith and Hick, together With a Seabourne drop goal, gave us an 8-4 lead with half-an-hour to go, but hope turned to despair as Featherstone exploited a monopoly of possession to turn the scales with a match-winning barrage.

Wembley might be deferred for another year, but not the Yorkshire League Championship! Leeds routed Dewsbury at Crown Flatt to make doubly sure, Ratcliffe scoring four tries, and thus rounded off the League programme with only five defeats in 34 games. Misfortune struck .again in. the 1st Round of the Championship play-off, an unconvincing home win over Widnes being marred by Clark breaking a thumb; and a season of high endeavour, far exceeding expectations, ended on a disappointing note with a quarter-final defeat by Castleford as Leeds threw away points with wanton prodigality.

During the season, Ken Owens and Ron Morgan were transferred to Hull; and other players Introduced Included: Frank .Brown, centre; Ted Barnard, Peter Fozzard and Phil Sunderland, forwards.

1967-68

1967-68

The barren years were truly over! The seeds of teamwork and fitness, honest endeavour and flair, had borne fruit yet again, as Mick Clark and all his squad garnered a Headingley harvest rich beyond compare: the Rugby League Challenge Cup, the League Leaders' Trophy, and the Yorkshire Championship Cup.

With Albert Eyres, signed from Keighley, to join his brother in the pack, Leeds opened the season with a comfortably-paced victory at Bramley, but i.t was soon a case .of bellows to mend in a breathlessly-exciting August. St. Helens Wiped out a 10-polnt deficit to win a thrilling encounter at Headingley; against Featherstone Rovers, we lost Atkinson with a dislocated shoulder, and very nearly the game, too, after leading by 17 points; and at Fartown, where Chris Fawdington from the Intermediates made his debut, we were gasping on a precipice of anxiety, until Gemmell strode away for a superb try.

September opened in the same vein! Batley, who had conceded 155 points in their first four games, led by 10 points to 2 at ha If-time, in the 1S! Round of the Yorkshire Cup at Headingley, and incredulity had given way to clock-watching desperation before Hynes started a 23-point avalanche in the final half-hour. And so It went on: a last-minute defeat, through a Gorman drop goal at Mount Pleasant; a death-or-glory rally: with Hynes and Cowan crossing in the last ten minutes, to snatch victory from Workington Town; and then a nerve-tingling 2nd Round cup-tie against Hunslet at Headingley. With Leeds losing 10-11, and just ten minutes to go, Gemmell broke clear on his own '25', reached half-way through sheer bluff, and then watched Crosby race to the posts like a winger; but no sooner had Risman converted than Evans went over for Hunslet, to rekindle the embers of doubt, until Rollin put Clark through for the nail-in-the-coffin try just three minutes from time. Four days later, the deep touch-finding and sure goal-kicking of Price, the Bradford Northern full-back, brought our second home defeat of the season, and though we clicked into form with a five-try win at Castleford, it was, perhaps, the shock-therapy of a Semi-Final trouncing by 31 points to 6 at The Boulevard that put Leeds on the road to ultimate success.

At all events, following wins over Bradford Northern at Odsal and Halifax at Head­ingley, in a Floodlit Competition replay, Leeds ran amok with 23 dazzling tries in three matches, to humiliate Hunslet, Doncaster and York, and then came back in triumph from Craven Park, where Hynes had cleverly kicked ahead for Langley to score the only try of the match, Alas, fate prescribed yet another unpalatable dose when we least expected it! Within five days, Bramley's pack had laid the foundations for their first league victory at Headingley for 22 years; three days later, we could salvage only pride in a hard-fought game against the Australians; and a brave second-half bid at Wheldon Road to end Castleford's three-year unbeaten record in the Floodlit Competition, was frustrated by injuries to Hynes and Dewhurst.

Three defeats in a week represented a challenge, not a disaster! Lacking Risman, Hynes, Gemmell and Dewhurst, all injured, Leeds restored morale with a tremendous victory by 26 points to 9 at Hull, with half-backs Shoebottom and Seabourne, and centre Watson, out­standing. Nor was Gemmell's transfer to Hull, on domestic grounds, allowed to dampen enthusiasm, Bill Ramsey, Hunslet's hard-foraging second row forward, being signed two days later, in time to score a debut try against Keighley, and then share in a 50-point frolic against Doncaster. Undeterred by a three-point defeat at Workington, we cooked Wakefield Trinity's goose on Boxing Day, rattling up 13 points in one spectacular seven-minute flash, and then, with Shoebottom in devastating form, blitzed York with seven tries at Clarence Street. Three more high-scoring wins followed in January, and though Castle­ford reduced our gallop to a trot, we went into the R.L. Cup Competition as League leaders, but without the services of talented Robin Dewhurst, who had joined Bramley. Although a 1st Round victory at Headingley was a mere formality, with Liverpool City clearly outclassed in all departments, Leeds never touched peak form and were surprisingly casual, squandering several excellent try-scoring opportunities. Not so in the League! Disregarding the absence of Clark and Risman, on International duty, we accounted for Dewsbury at Crown Flatt, and turned Halifax into puppets of convenience with a seven-try display of magical, matchless rugby. Now for Bramley in the 2nd Round! qIt was all too easy, a strangely-lethargic performance by the Villagers offering meagre fare for a Head­ingley crowd of almost 12,000; and we turned from the Cup to record three more wins in the League, though had it not been for Seabourne's astute generalship, our unbeaten run would surely have been in peril at Keighley. It certainly seemed to be in the 3rd Round .at Watersheddings, with Joyce on as substitute for the injured Clark, and a second-half Wind to face with only a slender three-point lead. Yet, within ten minutes of the resumption, victory was virtually assured, with the ball bobbing from Curry's grasp in a tackle, for Joyce to canter over unopposed, and a slide-rule pass from Seabourne putting Alan Smith over for his second try of the match.

Now only one step from those twin towers of glory, Leeds pressed on regardless in the League, with admirable victories at St. Helens and Featherstone, to establish an unassailable seven-point lead, before lining up opposite Wigan in the Semi-Final at Station Road. It was not .to.be 'third time lucky', rather 'third time magnificent'! If we needed inspiration, we .found It In the 20th minute, a perfect pass from Ramsey leaving Boston stranded, for Atkinson to embark on a glorious try-scoring run; if we needed a little luck it came our way just. before the interval, when Boston crashed through four tackles 'only to lose the ball In the act of touching down; if we sought to entertain, surely none present will ever forget that second-half display of dazzling virtuosity as we ran in four more tries to crush Wigan by 25 points to 4. .

The sequence of 18 wins, equalling the record of the 1957 team, ended at Belle Vue In the last league match of the season; and dreams of the 'double' were dispelled in the 2nd Round of the Championship play-off, Wigan taking advantage of the absence of Hynes and Risman, to exact retribution for that Semi-Final humiliation. Still to come were the agony and the ecstasy of a dramatic Wembley Final, which is described in the Press report which follows.

SLAPSTICK AND WAGNER MAKE A WEMBLEY SPLASH

Leeds 11 Wakefield Trinity 10

Normally, the captain of a Cup-winning team, the sweat of victory still on his brow and the trophy still in his hands, is about the last person one would call on for a dispassionate assessment of the events from which he has just disengaged himself. But the comments made by Clark after Leeds had beaten Wakefield Trinity in the .Rugby League Cup Final make him an exception to the rule. "Neither side deserved to lose in such conditions," he said. "We won because we had most of the luck. Football skill didn't count for much." Brave words from a winner.

I join with Clark in refusing to treat the occasion in terms of rugby. but there is plenty to say about it in terms of drama. There will never be another splash like It. Wembley was awash so much so that one felt concerned whether the players' insurance against injury included the risk of death by drowning in the pools which covered the pitch.

A queer mixture

For much of the time the surface was simply not fit for football to be attempted, though I am not quarrelling with the decision to carryon, in an attempt to entertain 90,000 people, most of whom had travelled a long way.

The entertainment provided was a bizarre mixture of Laurel and Hardy slapstick and Wagnerian high drama (yes, thunder and lightning and all), though whether the principals enjoyed the funny bits is doubtful. Two of them at least will enter an emphatic disclaimer. Atkinson, the Leeds left-winger, gave away the first try (entirely blameless, I must say) and then was the fortunate recipient of a penalty try which won the match for Leeds.

Cruel trick

On Don Fox, alas, fortune played one of the cruellest tricks I have witnessed in a long association with sport. After 79 minutes he was the man who won the Lance Todd Trophy for the outstanding individual performance in the Final; a minute later, he was the booby who threw away the Cup by missing a kick at goal from in front of the posts. Fox's left foot, he said, slipped on his last run-up step and caused him to slice the ball wide.

A controversial try

The justice of Mr. J. P. Hebblethwaite's award of a try to Atkinson, after the Leeds left-winger and three Wakefield players had chased Atkinson's kick to the line, was bitterly contested. The referee (and Atkinson, naturally) were both convinced that Atkinson would have reached the ball first had not Coetzer impeded him. Brooke maintained stoutly that he had his hand on the ball at the time, so as far as the award of a try was concerned what­ever happened between the other two players was irrelevant. Penalty, perhaps; try, definitely not. Mr. Hebblethwaite's decision surprised me, but he was a lot better placed to see what happened than I was.

Tries from kicks

All the three tries came from kicks. Atkinson teed one up for his opposite number, Hirst, by preventing the ball from going into touch, and then skidding uncontrollably into the cinder track surrounding the touchline. Don Fox's conversion enabled Trinity to lead 7-4 at half-time, for previously he had landed one penalty goal, against two for Leeds by Risman. In normal circumstances, to have led at all, would have been an achievement after the hammering Shepherd took in the scrums, but here Crosby's 15-3 advantage merely gave Leeds twelve extra chances to make mistakes.

The Laurel and Hardy interlude lasted from the 15th minute to the 70th when Risman's improvement of the penalty try put Leeds ahead and gave the cue for Wagner. The frenzied congratulations showered on Risman when he landed a 40-yard penalty goal In the 79th minute showed that Leeds believed they were home (if not dry) with the score 11-7.

But straight. from Fox's kick-off, Hirst, Trinity's right-winger, went clean through the Leeds defence with a couple. of hearty kicks, and before anyone had realised just what was happening, he had thrown himself on the ball for the try which was to result in the most shattering experience of Don Fox's long career

Leeds: Risman; A. Smith, Hynes, B. Watson, Atkinson; Shoebottom, Seabourne; Clark (captain), Crosby, K. Eyre, Ramsey, A. Eyre, Batten. Subs: Langley, M. Joyce.

Wakefield Trinity: Cooper; Hirst, Coetzer, Brooke, Batty; Poynton (captain), Owen; Jeanes, Shepherd, D. Fox, Haigh, McLeod, Hawley. Subs: Garthwaite, Round. Referee: Mr. J. P. Hebblethwaite (York).

During this memorable season, David Walker was transferred to Keighley; and three other players were Introduced: Harry Beverley, John Burke, and Robert Coverley, a hooker from Hull.

Four Leeds players were honoured with selection for the World Cup squad to tour Australia: Bev Risman (Captain), John Atkinson, Mick Clark and Mick Shoebottom.

1968-69

1968-69

A glass of Chateau Latour 707 Or, perhaps, Chateau Beauregard 717 No, give me every time, the exquisite 'Headingley 69', a vintage which embodies the rich flavour of yet another wonderful season, and captures the sparkle of the League Championship Cup, the League Leaders' Trophy, the Yorkshire Championship Cup, and the Yorkshire Challenge Cup:

The season opened with a flourish, 16-year-old John Holmes, a full-back from Kirkstall B,C. showing rare promise in scoring ten goals and a try, as Hunslet slumped to a crushing defeat in the Lazenby Cup match. It was nothing like as easy five days later, however, a three-point defeat at Leigh indicating that Leeds were still 'running-in': rugby of Rolls Royce perfection and Alfa Romeo acceleration was to follow in due course! Even so, we won our next four games in the League, yet would surely have lost at McLaren Field, had it no.t been for Seabourne's tap and dive over, whilst the Bramley players were still arguing with the referee.

The Yorkshire Cup Competition called for a touch on the accelerator pawn by five points at half-time in the 1st Round at The Boulevard, we left Hull standing in the second-half, scoring 26 points without reply. We went on to ride rough-shod over Warrington, too, brilliant handling yielding 6 peerless tries, and though Featherstone Rovers applied the brake for a time in the 2nd Round of the Cup, tries from Langley and Alan Smith, together With five Risman goals and the inevitable Seaborne drop goal, saw us safely through to the Semi-Final. Drawn away yet again, this time at Thrum Hall, where survival was always the name of the game, no quarter was asked or given, with the result hanging in .the balance. until Hynes engineered the vital links for Alan Smith and Ratcliffe to power their way over In the closing minutes. And so to the Final, against Castleford at Belle Vue! This was a truly remarkable game, in that although the spotting was keen and the tackling relentlessly hard, Castleford virtually made a gift of tries to Watson and Atkinson, whilst Leeds, with a meaner streak, offered only one to Hill. For all that, Leeds did contrive two tries on their own account, with the alert Smith profiting from a delayed pass by Batten, and Hick crossing towards the end to confirm that the Yorkshire Cup was coming back to Headingley after a ten-year lapse. The Leeds team was: Risman; A. Smith, Hynes, B. Watson, Atkinson; Shoebottom, Seabourne; Clark, Crosby, K. Eyre, Ramsey (Hick), A. Eyre, Batten.

Meanwhile, Leeds had out-dazzled both Salford and the Headingley lights to qualify for the 2nd Round of the Floodlit Competition, but performances in the League had been erratic, a draw at Belle Vue, in conditions reminiscent of that never-to-be-forgotten Wembley Final, and two breathtaking displays at Headingley to rout Leigh and Bradford Northern, being followed by an alarming second-half collapse at St. Helens. Now, however, free from cup-tie inhibitions, and with Seabourne taking over the captaincy from Clark, Leeds gave full rein to their talents, tries bearing the hallmark of perfection streaming off the assembly lines, match by match, in great profusion, so that despite elimination from the Floodlit Competition at Leigh, we approached the R,L. Cup Competition with a sequence of 15 consecutive league victories,

With Andrew Broatch and John Sykes already transferred to Bradford Northern, John Davies about to go to Crown Flatt, where he was soon to meet a tragic and untimely death, Leeds signed Mick Lamb, the Yorkshire and Headingley R.U. centre, before the Cup deadline

Perhaps someone had forgotten to feed the pavilion black cat! We had been drawn away in each round of the Yorkshire Cup; our luck was out in the R.L. Cup, tool Back at Thrum Hall for the 1st Round, a five-point margin of victory was uncomfortably close, for though we exploited superior speed and polish to score five tries, Risman had a rare off-day with his goal-kicking. At Lawkholme Lane, in the 2nd Round, razor-keen Keighley never recovered from a first-half shock, Hynes stealing a short pass from Kellett almost out of Aspinall's hands, to race under the posts; so that, with Seabourne thriving on the second-half glut of possession provided by Crosby, Leeds cruised to victory with all the assurance born of consistent success. Alas, the Wembley trail ended at Wheldon Road, in a 3rd Round encounter that was unduly physical. Certainly Seabourne's effectiveness was reduced by ultra-vigorous tackles; yet it was his long pass, and Batten's sleight-of-hand which put Risman over, to give Leeds a slender lead with thirty agonising minutes still to go. That was Just eight too many, a late try by Briggs, converted by Redfearn, taking Castleford through to the Semi-Final.

All was not lost! Bravely bouncing back from the springboard of acute disappointment, Leeds completed their last seven league matches in impressive style, to finish as League leaders and. Yorkshire Champions for the third successive year. One of these games was of particular significance, the much-weakened team which lost at Odsal to end a run of 23 league games without defeat, including two promising young forward's: Phil Cookson and substitute Graham Eccles.

Now for the final prize! Memories of the Championship play-off games are legion. In the 1st Round, we were only leading Oldham 14-12, until Crosby scored the crucial 'killer' try on the stroke of half-time; in the 2nd, against Workington Town, we withstood a bombardment, and yet found reserves of courage, stamina and ingenuity to score four splendid tries .. And why could ever forget that dramatic Semi-Final clash with Salford: two spectacular tries by Dixon; Seabourne retiring to the bench four times with a dislocated shoulder; and. a thrilling match-winning rally led by Clark. And then, that tremendous grandstand finish In the controversial Final against Castleford at Odsal, with Leeds trailing by 3 points and the pendulum of fate inexorably ticking its way into the last five minutes .... a high kick from Redfearn .... the ball scrambled away to Risman near the Leeds '25' ….. a 30-yard run. , .. a finely-judged kick .... and there was Atkinson striding away In triumph, for Risman's sure boot to give Leeds the Championship Cup they so richly deserved. The Leeds team was: Risman; Cowan, Hynes, B. Watson Atkinson, Shoebottom, Seabourne (Langley); Clark (Hick), Crosby, K. Eyre, M, Joyce, Ramsey, Batten: Shepherd, and Philip Holmes.

1969-70

1969-70

Measured against the yardstick of their own high standards, Leeds enjoyed a slightly less successful season. Yet success is a relative term: for the majority of clubs, and for Leeds too, in their barren years, the League Leaders' Trophy, the Yorkshire Championship Cup and the European Club Championship Trophy, together with runners-up medals In the League Championship, would have represented a bonanza beyond their wildest dreams.

Three players were transferred during the season: Mick Clark, a proud Wembley captain, who had given six years' yeoman service, joined Keighley; Mick Lamb, unable to command a regular place in a talented back division, went to Bradford Northern; and Frank Brown to Wakefield Trinity.

It was a death-or-glory start to the season, Leeds finding themselves involved in a deplorable free-for-all with Bradford Northern in the 1st Round of the Yorkshire Cup. Fortunately cool heads and skill eventually prevailed, Leeds taking control in the final stages to win by 20 points to 6. There was no time for unsavoury incidents in the 2n.d Round, with Halifax chasing shadows as Leeds revelled in a display of fast, open rugby, With Alan Smith scoring three of the eight dazzling tries. Alas, the Semi-Final against Hull at Headingley was a tragedy of lost opportunities! Bravely discounting the absence of Seabourne, recovering from a shoulder operation, Risman on holiday, and Ramsey, Crosby and Albert Eyre, 8.11 injured, Leeds battled away for an hour to lead 17-11, only to let victory slip through their fingers in the last frantic twenty minutes. As strains of 'Old Faithful' swelled in a crescendo of triumph, we could only lament the two tries thrown away through mishandling. It was all so galling: Leeds had let six points go begging; Hull had collected six from drop goals alone.

Tranquillisers were in demand for a time in September, tool A point down against Wakefield Trinity at Headingley, Watson tipped the scales with a drop goal seven minutes from time; at York, we scored five tries yet were reduced to holding on desperately until the final whistle; at Parkside, where Harry Poole was now coach, we were tethered in bovine sterility at 5-5, until Shoebottom started a second-half stampede with a brilliant solo try. Against Huddersfield, however, with Seabourne back at the helm, we matched the glory of Headingley's autumn sunshine with a 9-try spectacular, Cowan scoring a hat-trick, and then ended the month with five more tries at Thrum Hall, including an Atkinson 75-yard 'special', to qualify for the 2nd Round of the Floodlit Competition.

Settling into a groove of impressive match-winning consistency, Leeds now began to hold sway with massive authority. The good, the bad and the indifferent, all suffered the same fate in the next nine matches; yet no sooner had we assumed our rightful place at the head of the table, and romped to victory against Perpignan in the European Club Champion­ship, than we suffered two defeats in three days. The first, by a single point at The Boulevard, was of little consequence; the second, in a bruising Floodlit Competition clash at Wheldon Road, was both disappointing and costly, with Watson breaking an arm in the first five minutes, and hopes of victory fading when Hynes came under the referee's ban in the second half, immediately following the dismissal of Castleford's Dickinson. The experience was bitter, the sequel reassuring: we won our next nine games; blood ad Trevor Briggs, a three-quarter from the Intermediates; and set out on the Wembley trail in good heart.

The 1st Round, at Headingley, was grim. Suffice it to say that Leeds' fires of inspira­tion were so effectively damped down by Batley's defensive blanket that the game died of boredom, with few mourners, Leeds winning 17-5. There was no lack of atmosphere, however, in the 2nd Round mud-bath at Wilderspool where Seabourne's cunningly disguised pinpoint passing opened the door for first-half tries by Shoebottom and Atkinson. And how bravely Leeds clung to that 8-5 lead in the second half! Sadly short of scrum possession, and under almost constant siege, we never wilted and even found the resilience to crown a splendid victory with an injury-time try by Hynes. Now for Hull K,R. at Craven Park, where Leeds had only lost once in a R.L. Cup-tie, and that in 19051 So much for history! Missing the experience of the injured Risman, and starved of possession on another quagmire, our hopes foundered time and again on the rocklike tackling of Geoff Wriglesworth, the former Headingley favourite, who finally put us out of our misery with the only try of the match.

In similar circumstances a year earlier, Leeds had shrugged off R.L. Cup 'blues', to end the season in triumph. We could do it again! Winning five of the seven remaining games, .we finished as League Leaders and Yorkshire Champions for the fourth year in succession Furthermore, although neither would be eligible for the Championship play-off, two signings were Introduced: Peter Dunn, a hooker from Hunslet, who in a matter of days sustained a .dislocated shoulder against both St. Helens and Hunslet; and Bob Haigh, Wakefield Trinity s outstanding second-row forward. Nor were promising 'locals' overlooked, With Steve Pitchford, an 18-year-old Intermediate forward, making his debut at Featherstone.

Now for the Championship! Halifax, Whitehaven and Hull K.R., were reduced to hypnotic helplessness at Headingley, as Leeds turned on three spellbinding exhibitions of sheer rugby wizardry, to run in no less than 26 tries, but St. Helens, shrewdly prompted by Frank Myler, were made of sterner stuff in the Final at Odsa!. Even so, thanks to Crosby heeling two out of every three first-half scrums, and the inspiration provided by a remarkable try from Cowan, Leeds led 8-7 at the interval, with one hand at least on the Cup Alas it was not to be! In one crucial second-half spell, St. Helens won five scrums out of six to score 14.points to 2, and thereby clinch a Championship which this gallant Leeds team had so worthily contested: Holmes; A. Smith, Hynes, Cowan, Atkinson; Shoebottom, Seabourne; Burke, Crosby, A. Eyre, Ramsey (Hick), Eccles, Batten.

Five of those players had already been honoured with selection for the forthcoming Australasian tour: John Atkinson, Syd Hynes, Barry Seabourne, Mick Shoebottom and Alan Smith. Would that Bev Risman had been joining them, rather than contemplating retirement from a game which he had graced with sportsmanship and outstanding skill.

1970-71

1970-71

This was a bitter-sweet season of pomp and cruel circumstance; two cup triumphs; many glorious displays; a sad day at Wembley; and, over all, the shadow cast by the grievous injury sustained by Mick Shoebottom.

Leeds opened the campaign with convincing wins over Featherstone Rovers and Widnes, in readiness for a 1st Round battle with Wakefield Trinity, who had all too frequently dashed our Yorkshire Cup hopes. They might have done so again, too, had Holmes failed to stop Fox in his tracks midway through the second half, when Trinity were bidding to take the lead. As it was, with Ramsey excelling in a pack of unsuspected virility, Leeds fully merited the victory which Cookson sealed with a tearaway 70-yard burst.

September was hectic! Nine matches were played; two players were transferred: Bernard Watson, to Bradford Northern, and Ken Eyre, to Keighley; and four players were blooded: Alan Bence, forward; Barry Parker, winger; Tony Wainwright, stand-off; and Les Dyl, a 16-year-old centre destined for stardom. Well as Leeds played in the League, with an 11-try rout of Bradford Northern at Odsal, and four more wins besides, the highlights came in two tremendous Yorkshire Cup victories. Facing the 'old enemy' at Wheldon Road in the 2nd Round, with four props out injured and young Pitchford pitted against the might of Hartley, we were well beaten in the tight but never gave an inch in the loose, to go in at half-time with the score 2-2. We came out like men inspired, scenting victory: a typical short-passing ploy by Batten, and Dunn was over within minutes of the resumption; a burst from Hynes, support from Holmes, and there was Shoebottom going like the wind, his every try-scoring stride confirming that the Wheldon Road bogey was well and truly laid. Now we faced another in the Semi-Final at The Boulevard, where the second half developed into an absolute cliff-hanger, with Hull four points ahead and the 'threepenny stand' whistling for time, even as Cookson seized on a pass from Hynes to charge between the posts. The conversion was simple, yet so crucial. Holmes made no mistake.

The merry-go-round continued in October, with four games in ten days, so it was hardly surprising that victory at Thrum Hall should be followed, two days later, by a slump at Wigan, but Leeds set their sights on that elusive Floodlit Trophy, with a 1st Round win at Barrow, and then crushed Featherstone Rovers in the Le3gue with a devastating 50-point onslaught, Haigh feeding off Batten with ravenous zeal to score three fine tries.

The tempo slackened in November. With Tony Fisher, signed from Bradford Northern, to replace Tony Crosby, who had joined Hull K.R., we made a flying start at Widnes, scoring three tries in the first eight minutes, to qualify for the Semi-Final of the Floodlit Competition, and then boosted confidence for the Yorkshire Cup Final with a 6-try romp at Wilderspool. We need hardly have bothered, as a somewhat hollow victory by 23 points to 7 was there for the taking from the 12th minute, when Morgan, the Featherstone Rovers hooker, was dismissed. The Cup had been won at Wheldon Road and The Boulevard: this was merely an Odsal victory parade! The Leeds team was: Holmes; A. Smith, Hynes, Cowan, Atkinson; Wainwright (Langley), Shoebottom; J. Burke, P. Dunn. Cookson, Haigh, Ramsey, Batten.

December for glorious rugby! In the League, Leeds reached the acme of perfection, scoring 25 tries to record four tremendous wins; in the Floodlit Competition, we ran in six more against Hull K.R., and then triumphed over St. Helens, under Headingley's reduced emergency lighting, in a magnificent Final. The pace was fast and furious, the tension high, the scoring low: a burst by Chisnall, and Jones swept inside the Leeds cover in the 10th minute; a penalty goal by Hynes; and then, on the stroke of half-time, a reverse pass from Ramsey prised open an oyster-like defence, and Hynes was over in a flash, for Holmes to make it 7-3. The pace never slackened in the second half, the tackling never wilted, each side adding two points. Rugby League was the winner, but Leeds took the Trophy for the first time, and St. Helens shared the glory.

Now for the Challenge Cup! Having released Trevor Briggs and Peter Astbury to Bramley, and Albert Eyre to Keighley, Leeds went into the 1st Round as cup favourites. Poor Oldham! After all, they only had 13 men! Unable to cope with superb Leeds team­work, the Batten-Haigh duo, scything runs, electrifying bursts, and the ubiquitous Shoe­bottom, they died of shame: 49-2. Six days later, Salford suffered a similar fate, but our sequence of 18 wins ended, like that of the 1957 Cup-winners, at The Boulevard. Could this be an omen? Hopes soared when Leeds survived a dour 2nd Round war of attrition with St. Helens, and then ploughed to victory through McLaren Field's cloying mud, .to qualify for .an Odsal Semi-Final against Castleford, who were bidding to reach the Final for the third successive year. No way! A surging break by Haigh, and Cowan was over for a try, converted by Holmes; a kick intended for Alan Smith retrieved on the bounce, and Hynes was crossing, to put Leeds eight points ahead and in the road to Wembley after only ten minutes. Nor, as the unflagging Leeds tacklers thereafter made plain, had they any intention of turning back now!

Meanwhile, a scratch team including Alan Preece, substitute Neil Goodwin, and Fred Pickup, back from Australia, had understandably conceded two valuable points at St. Helens, and .though we made a gallant bid to retain the League Leaders' Trophy, with Bob Haigh establishing a new try-scoring record for a forward, we had to settle for 3rd place. Then came disaster! In the play-off against Salford, Mick Shoebottom sustained a serious he.ad Injury, which was to affect his whole future and terminate his playing career. For Mick, a personal tragedy; for the Leeds Club, and the game in general, an irreparable loss.

Championship dreams faded at St. Helens, and Wembley was to offer no consolation. Weakened still further through the unavailability of Alan Smith and Batten, and with Sea­bourne struggling to regain form after injury, Leeds lacked rhythm and inspiration, and went down to Inglorious defeat against Leigh, with Murphy stretchered off and Hynes heading for the tunnel in disgrace. Minutes later, Murphy was back to collect the Lance Todd Trophy. Leeds: Holmes; Langley, Hynes, Cowan (Dyl), Atkinson; Wainwright, Seabourne' J Burke Fisher, Barnard, Hick, Haigh, Ramsey. Referee: Mr. W. H. Thompson (Huddersfieid). ,

During the season, six Leeds players had taken part in. the World Cup series (in England): John Atkinson, Tony Fisher, Bob Haigh, Syd Hynes. Mick Shoebottom, and Alan Smith.

1971-72

1971-72

The season opened under a cloud, with Leeds withdrawing from the Yorkshire Cup Competition, in protest against the 1st Round ties being played in late July; It ended In a blaze of glory, with the League Championship Cup, the League Leaders' Trophy, and very nearly the Challenge Cup, too, on the Headingley sideboard.

Eight players were signed during the season: Alan Hardisty, the Castleford stand-off, who was joined some months later by former serum-half partner, Keith Hepworth; Terry Clawson, the Hull K.R. prop; David Ward, the young Shaw Cross hooker, who was to make an immediate 1st team impact; Chris Sanderson and David Barham, half-backs; Brian Hughes, prop; and George Claughton, a winger, who joined Castleford after only one appearance. Other transfers included Chris Fawdington, to Keighley, and two players who had given outstanding service: Barry Seabourne going to Bradford Northern; and Ronnie Cowan, to Hull.

Injuries took a heavy toll in the first half of the season: .Hynes, who was al.so under a 6-match suspension after the Wembley Cup Final, played In only 3 of the first twenty matches' Alan Smith in 5' Fisher in 10; Atkinson in 11; and, worst of all, In the 2nd Test at 'Castleford, Haigh sustained a broken arm which was to keep him out of action for five months and plague him for considerably longer. In the circumstances, 4th place in the League table at the turn of the year, with only three defeats in nineteen games, reflected great credit on the leadership of Hardisty the resolution of the whole squad, and the rapidly developing ability of Dyl and Holmes, in particular, to shoulder an increasing burden of responsibility. There were several high-scoring performances, notably against Oldham, Widnes and Salford, all at Headingley, but nowhere was team spirit more in evidence than at Wheldon Road, where a team containing only five regulars played as though their lives depended on it, to bring back a point.

We gave a good account of ourselves in the opening rounds of the Floodlit Competi­tion, too, romping to victory over Hull K.R., with Holmes, Hardisty and Cookson in fine fettle, and then disposing of Halifax. In the Semi-Final, however, St. Helens inflicted our first home defeat of the season with a superb blend of skill and power, even allowing for the retirement of Hepworth, Hardisty and Cowan with injuries

As for the John Player Competition, Leeds put paid 'to Leigh, in a bitter rehash of the Wembley Final, and then emerged triumphant from an absorbing tussle at Castleford, thanks to the opportunism of Burke, only to be robbed of a 3rd Round victory over Wigan at Headingley by the very last kick of the match, Tyler squaring the scores with a towering 45-yard penalty. Even so, we went to Central Park in good heart for the replay and won a tremendous battle against all the odds, with Eccles doing a two-man tackling stint after Pickup had been dismissed early in the second half. On this form, it seemed that Leeds were surely destined for success in the second half of the season.

Alas, following a New Year's Day victory over Wigan, we sank to ignominious defeat against Halifax in the John Player Semi-Final, with an incompetence almost as embarrassing as that revealed on TV, when a missing numbered ball resulted in the original draw for the 1st Round of the R.L. Cup being declared null and void. In the event, it made little difference: drawn at home on each occasion, first against Leigh and then against Widnes, Leeds were still sadly out of touch and apparently playing from memory, and a bad one at that, yet managed to survive by 17 points to 8. Perhaps there was something in the Wakefield airl At all events, it was there that Leeds found the elixir of sparkling vitality, to gain our first league success at Belle Vue for 11 years. Now we looked like a Wembley team! Going to the Boulevard for the 2nd Round, we demolished Hull with four glorious tries, so that with cup fever rife, and Headingley staging its first-ever Rugby League match on a Sunday, it was like old times for the 3rd Round visit of Wakefield Trinity, with a vast crowd of 21,000 dithering on a tight-rope of expectancy, until the final whistle con­firmed that Leeds were through to the Semi-Final by 11 points to 5. Now for Halifax, at Odsal! With Wembley the prize, revenge for that earlier shock defeat in the John Player Competition could hardly have been sweeter, especially for the two Leeds trouble-shooters, with Fisher tackling danger-man Fogerty out of the game, and Clawson opening the door to victory with five magnificent goals.

A win at Leigh, four days later, brought the League Leaders' Trophy back to Headingley for the fifth time in six seasons, and Leeds went into the play-off with high hopes of achieving the ·double'. Leigh bit the Headingley dust in the 1st Round by 40 points to 2, and Widnes capitulated in the 2nd after Hardisty had created tries for Alan Smith and Dyl In. a ten-minute spell of devastating speed and ingenuity; but a hard-fought Semi-Final triumph over Salford, with Clawson missing seven out of eight attempts at goal, and Holmes limping off with an ankle Injury, cast two ominous shadows of anxiety which were to have a vital bearing on the Wembley Final.

Indeed, in the very first minute, with Holmes deliberately relieved of his normal clearing-kick role after the third tackle, acting half-back Fisher was confused, with two forwards calling for the ball ... a stray pass .…. a desperate kick by Hepworth, charged down by Rees ... and St. Helens were five points up. Nevertheless, Leeds proved their mettle, holding St. Helens to six points by half-time, and storming into the attack on the resumption, for Cookson to burst over under the posts from Batten's delayed pass: 9-12, and two certain points to follow from the conversion! Alas, only Don Fox would know how poor Clawson felt as that crucial kick went wide! Try as Leeds would to make amends, the chance had gone, and the Cup too, yet pride had been redeemed by a gallant team: Holmes; A. Smith, Hynes (Langley), Dyl, Atkinson; Hardisty, Hepworth; Clawson, Fisher, Ramsey, Haigh, Cookson, Batten.

Fickle fate! A week later, at Swinton, Clawson was the hero of the hour with three fine goals: as Leeds turned the tables on St. Helens to bring the Championship Cup back to Headingley.

1972-73

1972-73

Yorkshire Cup Winners, John Player Trophy Winners, and Championship runners-up! The honours gained were considerable, the entertainment provided not quite as attractive as in previous seasons. At times, Leeds seemed all too prone to forsake that secret com­bination of flair, imagination and teamwork, which had previously flicked open the strong-door to success as if by sheer magic; now they tended to rely rather more frequently on blasting their way through by hard graft and persistence.

Apart from the transfers of David Hick and Ted Barnard at Hull K.R., the close season had been relatively quiet, but there was no lack of talking-points In August: official time­keepers; hooters; the new 'six-tackle rule'; the transfers of Peter Dunn to Bradford Northern, and John Burke to Keighley; the signing of full-back Geoff Nicholls from Barrow; and three fine wins in the League. But pride of place went to a splendid victory in the 1st Round of the Esso Yorkshire Cup at The Boulevard, where Leeds trailed by eight points after only as many minutes, yet quickly recovered through tries by Hynes and Batten, converted by Clawson and Holmes, to take a 10-8 half-time lead. The second half went to the brave, and none braver than Hepworth, as Leeds withstood a constant Hull barrage, and then sallied forth to silence 'Old Faithful' with nine more points in the closing stages.

September brought the signing of David Jeanes, the Wakefield Trinity prop; the transfer of Tony Wainwright to Oldham; and six further wins, to maintain our 100% record. Twice we topped the half-century mark, with Atkinson and Haigh claiming hat-tricks against Don­caster, as Eccles did at Blackpool in the 1st Round of the John Player Competition, but first priority was the Esso Yorkshire Cup. In the 2nd Round against Featherstone Rovers, we loitered, seemingly without intent, for twenty minutes, and then suddenly snatched 18 points in a ruthless twelve-minute smash and grab, master-minded by Haigh. Thereafter, crime paid, with Atkinson and Alan Smith ever ready to make a quick get-away with a 5-try share of the loot. As for Huddersfield, they offered much sterner resistance in the Semi-Final, yet had no answer to the jinking opportunism of Hardisty and the supercharged finish­ing bursts of Dyl, as Leeds ran in six sparkling tries.

September's open rugby had yielded 45 tries from six games: an unaccountable switch to 'down the middle' tactics at Belle Vue in October, brought our first defeat of the season. Nor could lack of possession be pleaded in mitigation, as a week later, in the Esso York­shire Cup Final at Odsal, Leeds heeled from only four scrums in the entire match, yet scored eight tries, seven of them by backs, including three by Holmes, to crush Dewsbury by 36 points to 9. The Leeds team was: Holmes: A. Smith, Hynes, Dyl, Atkinson; Hardisty, Hepworth (Langley); Clawson (Fisher), D. Ward, Ramsey, Cookson, Eccles, Batten.

There was barely time to celebrate! Within four days, Hardisty was robbing Chisnall of possession in injury-time, and streaking away like a thief in the night to set the seal on a thrilling 1st Round Floodlit victory at St. Helens, but hopes of success in this Competition drifted out with the tide in a torrential 2nd Round downpour at Widnes. Even so, Leeds continued to make progress in the John Player Competition, giving Leigh short shrift in the 2nd Round, and establishing a 15-6 half-time lead at The Boulevard, only for Hull to earn a draw in a dramatic finish, with Leeds swarming on the Hull line and Sullivan seizing on a loose ball to sprint away for a sensational 100-yard try. There were no heroics in the replay, Hull going down 37-51

Meanwhile, Leeds had triumphed over the New Zealand Tourists and won six consecu­tive league games, the utter rout of a scratch Wigan side, by 58 points to 3, precipitating the transfer of Alan Bence to Central Park. Marching through December with confident tread, and introducing full-back John Hay, formerly of Clayton Amateurs, we reached the turn of the year in 2nd place, just three points behind Warrington, with two matches in hand. Thus, with the recruitment of Geoff Clarkson, the Warrington prop, and Derek Edwards, Castleford's utility back, the Headingley barometer was set fair, with no hint of the deep depression to come.

So much for barometers! Apart from a tremendous 19-0 victory over St. Helens in the Semi-Final of the John Player Competition, 1973 opened disastrously, persistent injuries and a taxing sequence of fixtures, taking heavy toll With four consecutive defeats in the League. Worst of all, however, dreams of Wembley turned into an agonising 1st Round nightmare of defeat at Headingley, Ashurst dropping four goals with fiendish ease and then fluffing a fifth, only for the ball to cannon off a Leeds player to present Nulty with a 5-polnt try, as Wigan took what the gods offered them to win by 25 points to 11.

With other peaks of glory yet to climb, there was no time for despair, and Leeds were soon .heading towards new horizons with gathering momentum, seven successive league victories taking us back into 2nd place In the table, prior to tackling Salford at Fartown in the John Player Final. Billed as a spectacular, the match was a disappointment, yet no less rewarding for Leeds, who survived the shock of an early Dixon try and gradually took complete control with clinical efficiency. For all that, there was one unforgettable flash of Wizardry as Alan Smith doubled back after a brave thrust on the right ... a pass to Dyl another to Holmes ... a lightning sidestep and an incredibly long one-handed pass :….and Atkinson was racing away for his second try, to put Leeds 10-5 ahead at the Interval. It was stalemate in the second half, Holmes and Watkins each kicking a penalty goal. Some stalemate, with a handsome trophy and £5,000 for the winners! The Leeds team was: Holm1es; A. Smith, Hynes, Dyl, Atkinson; Hardisty, Hepworth; Clawson (D. Ward), Fisher (Pickup), Jeanes, Haigh, Cookson, Eccles.

The Championship Cup was there for the taking, tool Settling for 3rd place in the table, after defeats at St. Helens and Featherstone, Leeds trounced a weak Bramley side in the 1st Round of the play-off; ran Castleford dizzy in the 2nd; and then survived a tense Semi-Final against St. Helens, only to slump to a shock defeat against Dewsbury at Odsal with the unfortunate Hardisty dismissed for the first time in a 15-year career

During the season, four Leeds players were selected for the World Cup series (in France): John Atkinson, Terry Clawson, John Holmes and David Jeanes.

1973-74

1973-74

It was back to Two Divisions, and a fixture programme which had neither rhyme nor reason: the first half of the season, cluttered with knock-out competitions, reduced spectator to confusion and bewilderment; the second half, hopelessly congested with league fixture, taxed playing resources to unbearable limits. In the circumstances, it was hardly surprising that Leeds, entering a period of transition, should find life at the top increasingly hard and have to make do with winning the Esso Yorkshire Cup for the twelfth time.

Four established players were signed during the season: David Marshall and Phil Sanderson from the disbanded Hunslet club; John Ward, briefly on trial, from Salford; and Mervyn Hicks, from Hull; and nine other players, from various Junior clubs were .Introduced: Bryan Adams, Stephen Cooper, Kevin Coussons, Steven Dickens, Roy Dickinson, Paul Fletcher, John Hutchinson, Brian Murrell, and Derek Parker. Eight players were transferred: Geoff Nicholls and Fred Pickup, to New Hunslet; Bill Ramsey, to Bradford Northern; Terry Clawson and Brian Hughes, to Oldham; Derek Edwards, to Keighley; Barry Parker, to Wakefield Trinity; and Alan Hardisty, to Rockhampton, in Australia.

Consistently sound in defence throughout August and September, and at times devastat­ing in attack, Leeds scored 51 tries and conceded only 7 in the first eleventh match.es of the season, losing just once, at Wilderspool, in the league, and winning all SIX Cup-ties. Even so, there were moments of anxiety: at Bramley, salvation came by virtue of a Ramsey drop goal; at Mount Pleasant, in the 2nd Round of the Esso Yorkshire Cup, stubborn Batley were trailing by only three points, until we ran in three second-half tries In a Six-minute tantrum of frustration; and Bradford Northern were most uncooperative In the subsequent Semi-Final, with the five-point verdict in favour of Leeds held in abeyance right up to the final hooter. The elimination of Hull in the Preliminary Round of the Floodlit Competition was surprisingly easy, however, with Marshall kicking seven goals at The Boulevard to mark his debut; and Bradford Northern presented few problems at Odsal in the 1st Round of the John Player Competition.

Five games played; four won; points for, 57; points against, 471 Wear and tear was already beginning to show in October! A 1st Round Floodlit victory by a single point over tenacious Keighley, was followed by a chapter of accidents at Belle Vue, with Atkinson carried off, Marshall missing a sitter of a penalty, and Wakefield scoring a crucial gift try when Leeds failed to play to the whistle. Nevertheless, with Hynes in spellbinding form, we put paid to St. Helens, and went into the Yorkshire Cup Final against Wakefield Trinity with ground advantage, Headingley having been chosen as the venue at the outset of the Competition. In a stirring encounter, Wakefield drew first blood through a Crook penalty, but Hepworth, ever prodding and probing, set up a try for Langley, and a towering 35-yard drop goal from Hynes gave Leeds a 5-2 interval lead. It was a cut-and-thrust second half, a solid Leeds defence and a Marshall penalty ensuring that the Cup remained at Headingley, with Trinity left to ponder whether the tables would have been reversed had the Final been played at Belle Vue. Be that as it may, ending the month with yet another knock-out clash with Bradford Northern, Leeds went into the 2nd Round of the Captain Morgan Compe­tition with a 14-6 win at Odsal.

Leeds played just three League games in November and December, and won them all, but went down for the count three times in the knock-outs. In the Floodlit, we got away to a fine start against Hull K.R., with two Alan Smith tries in the first five minutes, but it was 10-10 at the interval, and Millward had the last word with a penalty goal; in the Captain Morgan, we disposed of Swinton, only to lose at home to Warrington in a confrontation all too reminiscent of Henry Morgan's skull and cross-bones; and our John Player hopes sank in the Rochdale mud, with Holliday kicking an incredible 40-yard, left-foot drop goal in injury-time.

January provided a novel experience, by way of four consecutive league matches! Leeds won them all in convincing style, too, especially at Central Park, where we trailed 6-15 at half-time, yet scored 23 points without reply in a magnificent second-half display. Now it was back to R.L. Cup rugby again, and more frustration in the 1st Round at Mount Pleasant, with only a one-point lead and fifteen minutes to go, until Clarkson ensured victory with a solo effort that took him through three tackles and between the posts. 'Les Diables Rouges' at Headingley! Memories of Barney Hudson, Gus Risman, Alan Edwards, Emlyn Jenkins, Jack Feetham, and others In that famous team of the 19308' came flooding back as Salford went down 10-6 in the 2nd Round, with their colours still bravely nailed to the mast. To win at Crown Flatt in the 3rd Round, lacki.ng Dyl, Hepworth and Hynes from the start, and with Holmes carried off In the first ten minutes, was a tall order. Even so, with the inex­perienced Coussons and Fletcher operating at half-back, Leeds courageously defied the odds for seventy minutes, until Chalkley slammed the Wembley gates in our faces with the only try of the match.

At this stage, Leeds had played 16 league matches in 29 weeks and won 13 of them' now, in a frantic chase, which made no concession to injuries and reduced the programme to an absolute travesty, we played. no less than 14 matches in five weeks, and won only 7,to finish in 3rd place. Of the many young players pressed into service, none made a more impressive .debut than Bryan Adams, who scored three tries at Salford, to lighten the gloom of a crushing 13-61 defeat.

Breathing-time was allowed between rounds in the play-off! In the 1st Round Keighley floundered In the second half, in face of a scoring spree inspired by Hepworth and Batten; In the 2nd, With Widnes 7-3 ahead and 17 minutes to go, all seemed lost until Hepworth cracked the whip, for Leeds to surge to victory in a breathtaking 17-point rally. Exhaustion won in the end! Leading 10-3 at half-time in the Semi-Final, Leeds collapsed in the second half, St. Helens running us into the ground with a superb non-stop display, to win 23-10.

John .Atkinson and Les Dyl were initially selected for the Australasian Tour. Bill Ramsey joined them later, as a replacement.

1974-75

1974-75

No Yorkshire Cup! No John Player Trophy! No Floodlit Trophy! No Wembley! The inexorable wheel of fate had. it seemed, turned full circle; yet no sooner had we resigned ourselves to living off a rich storehouse of memories, than all our blighted hopes miraculously blossomed as the May into a glorious climax, with victory In the first-ever Premiership Final.

Filling the vacancy created by the retirement of David Jeanes had b2en relatively simple. if costly, the management signing Mick Harrison, the Hull.prop, during the close season, but they were less fortunate as regards stand-off, a Welsh trialist failing to measure up to requirements at Bramley in the opening match of the season. Even so, we won .In convincing fashion, and then put paid to Keighley in the 1st Round of the Esso Yorkshire Cup, with Chris Sanderson filling the No. 6 berth with verve and enterprise.

The alarm bells were soon ringing away from home in September I Lacklustre defeats at Wigan and St. Helens, with Leeds showing symptoms of debilitating 'trans-Penninitis·, were unwelcome if not unexpected, but a 2nd Round reverse at The Boulevard, our first In a Yorkshire Cup tie since 1969, was extremely frustrating, with Hull's .eleven men .holding out for forty-five minutes after an explosive incident had resulted In the dismissal of Hancock and Casey. At home, however, we triumphantly took up the gauntlet thrown down by Warrington in a magnificent end-to-end spectacular, and rounded off the month by routing New Hunslet in the 1st Round of the John Player Competition.

October followed the same pattern. At Headingley we reigned supreme, imposing our sovereign will on Halifax and Featherstone Rovers; away from home, we became uninspired, leaden-footed automatons. merely going through thf3 motions, to lose at St. Helens by a crushing 28-point margin in the Floodlit Competition, and at Rochdale in the League.

Although November brought four consecutive wins, including two at Keighley, with substitute Brendan White, a young forward from Illingworth, making his debut in the league match, and Hynes initiating a second-half avalanche of points in the 2nd Round of the John Player Competition, Leeds lacked the elusive blend of flair, cohesion and resolution that breeds consistent success. Confirmation came in December! After beating Bradford Northern at Odsal in the League, with Hepworth deserving double pay, we returned a week later, only to slump to defeat in the John Player Competition, to the intense delight of Seabourne, Ramsey and Lamb. Wakefield Trinity rubbed it in, too, winning at Belle Vue, where centre Neil Hague was introduced as substitute, and then gleefully snatching a draw through a last-minute drop goal on Boxing Day.

During January, Leeds alternated between home wins and away defeats on a yo-yo of utter frustration. Whereas victories at Headingley over York and an abysmally weak Dewsbury, yielded four valuable points but little real satisfaction, that over St. Helens, with Mel Mason, signed from Featherstone Rovers, making his debut at stand-off, and Holmes kicking a fourth crucial goal ten minutes from the end, was a triumph for all-round teamwork. Meanwhile, we had released Geoff Clarkson to York, John Langley to Dewsbury, and John Hay to Bramley, and journeyed in vain to Warrington and York; and bravely as we struggled at Castleford, a further defeat was no sort of preparation for the R.L. Cup. Win at Whitehaven, in the 1st Round? You must be joking!

It was no joke! Within eight days, Leeds were taking command at the Recreation Ground like men possessed, incisive in attack, solid in defence, to confound the Jeremiahs with a comprehensive victory by 16 points to 7. A flash in the pan? A 2nd Round visit to Salford would provide the answer. It did. tool Eight points up after a flying start, we reeled momentarily in face of a breathtaking 12-point rally by Salford, but Hynes promptly rolled back the years with a vintage try, and Marshall's touchline conversion together with a penalty goal, gave us an invaluable half-time lead of 3 points. We needed no more; the only score in a bruising second half being a Marshall penalty goal. Bradford Northern at home, in the 3rd Round, and Wembley getting ever nearer! Whetting our appetites with a league win over Wigan, and ravenously hungry for success, we made a meal of Bradford, Marshall contributing five goals and a try, and went to Wigan to face Warrington in the Semi-Final with high hopes. Not this year! Beaten in the forwards, and 8-0 down at half-time, the glimmer of hope provided by two Marshall penalty goals, flickered out in injury-time as Bevan crossed for his third try.

The dream was over, reality ominous! Slipping back into a well-worn groove, Leeds ran amok at Headingley to dispose of Bramley, Castleford and Rochdale Hornets, and thrashed Halifax at Thrum Hall, but, true to form, lost at Featherstone, Salford and Widnes to finish in 3rd place, with apparently little hope in the Premiership. Who could tell, with gloriously unpredictable Leeds? We ran in seven tries, to beat renowned cup-fighters Featherstone Rovers at Post Office Road; continued in the same irrepressible vein at home against Castleford, .with Pitchford and Dickinson in blockbusting form; and then, prompted by the ever-industrious Hepworth, won an enthralling Semi-Final against Hull K.R.

After so many disappointments during the season, defeat by St. Helens in the Final at Wigan would have been unbearable. There was never any danger of that, the Leeds forwards establishing their authority from the start, with a frontal assault that sent the battleworn St. Helens pack reeling in dismay. Thereafter, Leeds dictated play, drawing inspiration from the attacking flair and defensive determination of Mason, to establish a 16-polnt Interval lead, and valiantly as St. Helens sought to salvage pride in the second half, we never relaxed our grip, to end the season with a display of matchless splendour.

Leeds: Holmes (Marshall); A. Smith, Hynes (Eccles), Dyl, Atkinson; Mason, Hepworth;

Dickinson, D. Ward, Pitchford, Cookson, Batten, Haigh.

Three other players were introduced during the season: Ian Payne, hooker, from York (to whom Stephen Cooper went in part exchange); Derek Howard, winger, from Shipley; and Gordon McHugh, forward, from the Intermediates. Gordon Pritchard, a centre from Newport R.U., had yet to make his first team debut.

Five Leeds players were selected for the World Championship: John Atkinson Cookson, John Holmes. and Les Dyl, for England; and Tony Fisher, for Wales.

1975-76

1975-76

One by one, the peaks of glory which had dominated the Headingley horiz0r'! for almost a decade, were obscured by the mists of failure, as Leeds ended a comparatively disappointing season with merely the Yorkshire Cup. Merely, indeed I Leeds had never laid hands on that trophy between 1937 and 1958, yet now, after winning it for the fifth time In eight seasons, it was taken for granted. That was a measure of the standard Leeds had set themselves: a standard which was a source of justifiable pride, but at times a millstone of responsibility as management and players sought to straddle once again the pinnacles of success.

Three players were transferred during the season: Tony Fisher, to Castleford; Derek Parker, to Bramley; and Gordon Pritchard, after trials with Bramley, to Bradford Northern. Two players were introduced: scrum-half Kevin Dick, son of the former Leeds forward, from the Colts; and Harold Budby, ex-Wakefield Juniors.

By the end of October, Leeds had established the springboard for a successful season, with progress in three knock-out competitions more than compensating foe league setbacks at Hull K.R. and St. Helens. Following a 1st Round victory over Halifax, with Hague deputising commendably for the injured Dyl, we had qualified for the. Esso Yorkshire Cup Final with further wins at Odsal and Lawkholme Lane. In the Floodlit Competition, with Hague again in the limelight, we had disposed of Castleford at Headingley, and then wriggled out of the strait-jacket imposed by the narrow Greyhound Stadium pitch, to beat New Hunslet by a single point. A visit to Swinton for the 1st Round of the John Player Competition had proved far less exacting, Leeds winning 23-7.

November's programme, with three away matches in the League and four Cup-ties, presented a formidable test of stamina and resolution, from which Leeds emerged with considerable credit. Within three days of a second triumph at Station Road, we were successfully withstanding a tremendous battering from Wigan in the Floodlit Competition, Dyl tipping the scales with an explosive burst, to put Hynes in the clear midway through the second half. Travelling to Hull five days later, in the John Player Competition, we gallantly discounted the loss of the injured Hepworth, to gain a 9-5 interval lead, and though a Flanagan try turned The Boulevard into a seething cauldron of fury with fifteen minutes to go, Leeds missed not a tackle and gave not a yard, only for Davidson to level the scores with a drop goal in the 77th minute. Ail the more disappointing, therefore, was the replay, with Hancock scoring a try of meteoric brilliance and dropping three goals at a critical stage, as Hull stormed to victory by 23 points to 11.

And so to the Yorkshire Cup Final, against Hull K.R. at Headingley, with Hynes, now player-coach, taking over at scrum-half in a bid to counter the wiles of Millward. Five times the lead changed hands in a match throbbing with vibrant expectancy: a Sullivan try, 0-3: a Cookson try, converted by Holmes, 5-3; a Holmes penalty, and it was 7-3 at the interval; a second-half escape for Leeds, with Sullivan stepping in touch just a yard out: a prodigious dummy by Fox for a 5-point try, 7-8: a Holmes penalty, 9-8; a Millward drop goal, 9-9: a Fox penalty, 9-11, and Leeds desperate with thre9 minutes to go .... a play-the-ball .... Dyl dashes up as acting half-back, ignores a call for the ball, and charges over the line in a thrust of irresistible, jet-propelled power, for Holmes to convert and then make doubly sure of victory with a drop goal in the dying seconds. Glory for Leeds! Sympathy for Hull K.R., who had forfeited ground advantage and so very nearly won the day The Leeds team was: Marshall; A. Smith, Hague, Dyl, Atkinson; Holmes, Hynes: M. Harrison, Payne, Pitchford (Dickinson), Eccles, Batten, Cookson.

Rounding off the November programme with wins at Dewsbury and Oldham, Leeds had played seven of their first nine league matches away from home, and lost only twice: so that, with the Semi-Final of the Floodlit Competition against Dewsbury still to come, and eight of the next nine league matches scheduled for Headingley, prospects could hardly have looked brighter at the beginning of DeGember. So much for rose-coloured spectacles! Sterile down-the-middle tactics, with neglected wingers, Atkinson and Alan Smith, qualifying for redundancy pay, extinguished our Floodlit hopes at Crown Flatt: and worse was to follow, three home defeats and the unexpected retirement of Bob Haigh putting the damper on championship aspirations.

Wembley! One word was sufficient to dispel the doldrums of depression! Waxing confident, Leeds swept to victory at Fartown, and faced up to Bradford Northern in the 2nd Round at Headingley with buoyant assurance. We needed it, too, in a nerve-racking first half which ended in controversy, with Leeds' 8-5 lead momentarily in peril as Mordue crashed over near the posts, only for the try to be disallowed, presumably for failing to ground the ball. The escape was fortuitous, the warning salutary, Leeds taking complete control in the second half with an authority born of conviction. This was our year! Alas, a 3rd Round visit to Post Office Road brought shattering disillusionment: bewildered before the kick-off by the non-arrival of Hepworth, we had been reduced to serfdom by Feather­stone long before the hooter put us out of our misery at 33-7!

With ten league matches still to play, and every point vital in the championship race, Leeds Immediately lengthened the odds by losing at home yet again, this time to Castleford, and then suffered a further setback through the loss of Atkinson with a severely dislocated ankle. Even so, seven consecutive victories took us into 2nd place, with the championship still there for the taking If we could round off the programme with wins at Wigan and Odsal but hard as we tried, it was not to be. How we regretted those four home defeats!

There was still the Premiership! Playing with tremendous spirit, Leeds beat Widnes in the 1st Round, and put up gallant displays against Cup-winners St. Helens in the Semi-Final, going down 5-12 in the 1st Leg at Headingley, after Pimblett's attempted drop goal had glanced off a post to give James a 5-point try; and refusing to bow to the inevitable in the 2nd Leg, until Ward's dismissal precipitated a 15-point collapse.

It was the end of an era, with Ray Batten, arch-schemer of countless try-scoring moves. going into retirement after making 420 appearances.

1976-77

1976-77

The Willows and Wembley! Poles apart in a bitter-sweet world of tears and laughter! Unutterable grief, as we learned of Chris Sanderson's death; unspeakable pride, 8S the Challenge Cup was raised yet again in triumph.

The previous season had bequeathed a thankless legacy: Atkinson, .unlikely to .be fit before November; Hepworth's future uncertain; and Alan Smith contemplating the possibility of following Haigh and Batten into retirement, because of a recurrent knee condition. The immediate problems were all too obvious, the question of recruitment complex, having due regard to the wealth of youthful talent already on the register. In the event, Alan Smith decided to 'soldier on' and the management made just two close-season signings, scrum-half Peter Banner from Featherstone Rovers, and winger David Smith, from Wakefield Trinity, turning out in the Lazenby Cup match, along with Chris Burton, a rangy second row forward from the Colts.

Going, going, very nearly gone! Late bids for the Esso Yorkshire Cup turned the first ten days of the season into a gruelling ordeal. Three points down in the 1st Round .at Odsal, Leeds were seemingly doomed to defeat, until Pitchford put Alan Smith over in injury-time, for Holmes to win the day with a crucial conversion. In the 2nd Round we were cruising to victory at Wheldon Road, only for Castleford to equalise in the dying seconds with a dramatic 7-point penalty try; and the Headingley replay was balanced on a knife-edge at 20-20, with the sands of time fast running out, when Holmes again cheated the hooter of destiny with a drop goal. Three cup-ties: points for, 44; points against, 41; the difference, a place in the Semi-Finals!

Blood pressure was back to normal in September I A Semi-Final win over injury-ravaged Dewsbury was never in doubt, with Holmes orchestrating the attack, and Burton showing great promise as he tagged along behind the belligerent, bulldozing bursts of Pitchford. Performances in the League, too, gave cause for optimism, despite a setback for a weak­ened team at Workington, where Dick proved himself a courageous deputy for the injured Banner, and Sean Miller made his debut as reserve hooker, following the transfer of Ian Payne to New Hunslet. One other forward was introduced during the month, Peter Harrison making a brief appearance as substitute against Leigh at Headingley.

October brought autumn glory, in the sunshine of almost constant success. A thrilling triumph at Widnes, generated by Alan Smith in a 50-yard dash to set up a try for Dyl, and a home win over mighty St. Helens, with David Smith striking in a double flash of streak lightning, boosted morale in readiness for the Esso Yorkshire Cup Final. Nor, as it turned out, had there been reason to fear the redoubtable Featherstone pack, the young Leeds forwards rising to the occasion in magnificent style; so that, with Dyl scoring two super­lative tries in the first twenty minutes, and Hynes working an old move to put Cookson over, Leeds led 11-5 at the interval, and went on to win the Cup for the third time in four years since Headingley became the automatic venue for the Final. For John Holmes, as Captain, a proud moment; for Syd Hynes, his sixth Yorkshire Cup-winner's medal. The Leeds team was: Marshall; Hague, Hynes, Dyl, D. Smith; Holmes, Banner; Dickinson, D. Ward, Pitchford, Eccles, Burton, Cookson. Subs: C. Sanderson, Dickens.

Enthusiasm and determination were boundless, compensating for any inexperience, as young Leeds progressed into the 2nd Round of two more competitions, beating New Hunslet in the Floodlit, and Rochdale Hornets in the John Player, on each occasion at Headingley. In the League, too, exuberant Leeds were fired with the same indomitable spirit, losing only in the closing minutes at Wigan, and ending the month, despite the inclusion of several reserves, with a home win over Rochdale Hornets, Dick kicking five goals. Meanwhile, three players had been transferred: Keith Hepworth, to Hull; Mel Mason, to Barrow; and David Barham, to Batley.

Came the fall, as golden October declined into sombre November! No sooner had we staged a pulsating second-half rally to eliminate Salford from the John Player Competition, than our fortunes slumped alarmingly, a league reverse at Leigh being sandwiched between two defeats at Headingley, with Bruce Burton running in five tries as Castleford put us out of both the Floodlit and the John Player Competitions. Moreover, any hope engendered by an end-of-month victory over Barrow was illusory: confirmation came in triplicate in cheerless December, with further setbacks at St. Helens and Warrington, and against Wakefield Trinity at Headingley.

A New Year's Day victory over Hull K.R., with John Atkinson scoring twice in his first full game for nine months, was but a transitory oasis of relief in a desert of near-despair, as Leeds approached the R.L. Cup Competition with only two wins to show from their previous twel.ve games. The signing of Stan Fearnley from Bradford Northern, and the departures of David Marshall to Hull, and Bob Haigh and Derek Howard to Odsal, seemed only of academic interest. For Leeds, and newly-appointed captain David Ward Wembley was surely beyond the realms of possibility in a never-never land of make-believe.

Truth is ever stranger than fiction! Within a fortnight, after home wins over lowly Batley and Barrow, we were waiting as hopeful.ly as ever for the 3rd. Round draw. Workington Town, away! The assignment was daunting, the response defiant, with the Leeds pack fearlessly storming. the Town citadel, before a vital second-half try by Alan Smith, and a tremendous touchline. goal from Murrell, set the seal on a memorable victory. Incredibly, we were now only eighty minutes away from Wembley! Excruciating they were too for well as Leeds played against St. Helens in the Central Park Semi-Final, with 'Harrison Ward and Pitchford outstanding in the forwards, visions of those famous twin towers were shrouded In the mists of uncertainty, until Atkinson rounded off an SO-yard movement with a. try as glorious as any that have earned a place at Wembley. Could it be true? Only six weeks earlier we had been in the slough of utter despond.

During those six weeks, Willie Oulton, a goal-kicking centre, had been signed from Wakefield Trinity, and three more young players had been blooded: Dave Heron, forward; Tim Wilby and Stuart Johnston, backs. Priorities in the seven outstanding league matches were twofold: to qualify for the Premiership play-off; and to decide between Chris Sansderon and Kevin Dick for the scrum-half vacancy created by Banner's departure to Aus­tralia. Cruel fate resolved both issues! In the very last match at The Willows, Chris Sander­son was carried off after a tackle and died shortly afterwards in hospital, whereupon the game was immediately abandoned. Helpless and shocked, we could but stand in stunned silence. Showing great character, the Leeds players responded to the challenge of Wembley, with a superb triumph, as described in the following Press report.

GREAT LEEDS TRIUMPH -16-7

Leeds, the underdogs, gained a great 16-7 win over Widnes in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. Leeds prop, Steve Pitchford, won the Lance Todd Trophy. While 19-year-old serum-half Kevin Dick had a great personal triumph in scoring 10 points.

LEEDS: Murrell; A. Smith, Hague, Dyl, Atkinson; Holmes, Dick; M. Harrison, Ward, Pitchford,Eccles, Cookson, Fearnley. Subs: Dickinson, D. Smith.

WIDNES: Dutton; Wright, Aspey, Eckersley, O'Neill; Hughes, Bowden; Ramsey, Elwell,Mills, Dearden, Adams, Laughton. Subs: Foran, George.

Referee: Mr. J. V. Moss (Manchester)

Leeds, who have already won the trophy more times than any other club, were seeking their ninth triumph. They went into the game very much as underdogs against Widnes, a side making their third successive Wembley appearance and out to regain the trophy they lost last year. An already soft pitch was made more greasy by showers in the hour before the match, suggesting handling errors, at least early on.

Leeds took the first scrum, and Dyl made ground before Fearnley moved well from a Holmes pass, both players having to ride high tackles before Dick landed a neat touchfinder. Leeds heeled again and Dick was fouled by Ramsey. The Leeds scrum-half got up and confidently pushed his side ahead with the resulting 35-yard penalty goal.

The first real break came when Pitchford split the Widnes defence with a thundering run and blustered his way through Dutton's tackle, but he failed to see Dick unmarked inside, and his lobbed pass, which Atkinson gathered to go over, was ruled forward. Laughton made a fine run and Wright moved nicely, as Widnes began to settle ominously well. They were desperately close when Adams cut through and kicked for the line. Widnes came again, with Laughton slipping round the back to give Aspey a chance, but Cookson got across to make a good cover tackle. Then big Mills popped up in the centre to serve Eckersley near the line as Widnes kept up the pressure, but Hague tackled well.

Leeds also covered a bid by Mills, and were taken clear by another tremendous surge from Pitchford, but were caught off-side, for Dutton to level matters with a good 40-yard goal. Ward and Holmes were prominent as they moved the ball around on the Widnes '25', without being able to find an opening, and a clearing penalty took play back to the Leeds '25', where Widnes camped to collect a shock try. There seemed no danger when Aspey was given possession, but Hague mistimed his tackle, diving far too early, and the Widnes man was left clear. In a 25-yard run to the line, Aspey slipped inside Murrell and went behind the posts for Dutton to add the goal.

It was a shattering blow for Leeds, who had looked well in things, and Aspey again found a gap in the defence to set Widnes raiding. Smith did well to hold Elwell's kick almost on the line, with Eckersley breathing down his neck. But now Leeds began to get their handling working, a glorious back pass from Holmes sending Fearnley through, and the loose forward kicked for the line, but Wright beat Dick in the chase and scrambled the ball to safety.

A storming midfield run by Smith kept Leeds deep, but Hughes intercepted and the Headingley men were glad to see the hard-working Ward make a sound tackle; and Ward was on the spot again when Mills and Ramsey tried to barge through. Eccles, Holmes and Ward produced the best Leeds move to date, but Harrison was the next man in the line and Widnes got back to cover. However, Leeds gained reward when Holmes measured a fine kick to the line. The ball seemed to stand up, and Atkinson tore up, to snatch it almost from Wright's grasp and plunge over. Dick's angled kick was just wide.

A smart move behind the scrum by Bowden and Laughton put Leeds under pressure, and they had to cover to prevent Aspey going over. There was then a torrid spell just a couple of yards from the line, in which Mills, Adams and Ramsey were thrown back, before rushes by Harrison and sterling running by Ward and Pitchford helped Leeds to safety.

Dick, showing no signs of Wembley nerves in his first Cup-tie, slipped a neat pass to set Fearnley moving, and the interval came with Leeds regretting just the single defensive lapse.

Half-time: Leeds 5 Widnes 7

Widnes gave their forwards a tilt, but Ward and Eccles brought off sound tackles to snuff out danger, and Aspey was again the man to cause problems, until Atkinson covered well. A penalty for feeding kept Widnes on attack, and again the Leeds defence stood up well to a good deal of pressure, with Murrell, Ward - who seemed to be every tackle - and Dick distinguishing themselves, before Pitchford again produced his party piece, another bundling run. Widnes kept up the pressure, however, and Mills charged up the wing, before Dick halted him with a good diving tackle.

Little had been seen of Leeds this half, but fine play by Holmes and Ward, the latter using a slick dummy, gave Smith a run. He shook off O'Neill, but Bowden covered .well. Now Widnes came again with a good six-man move, and Hague this time distinguished himself with a valuable stop on Dearden.

Pitchford, very much the action man today, again charged up-field to set up the position for the second Leeds try. They took a serum 14 yards out, and Dick and Holmes handled, with the latter sending a glorious reverse pass to Dyl, who outpaced Dutton to score a classic try. Dick, however, missed badly with the reasonable goal shot. Leeds played up to this score, and Cookson made a fine run, before the ball was fanned across the field, with Holmes sending out another inch-perfect pass. Murrell collected and gave to Smith, who was just edged into touch 15 yards out.

The crowd of 82,085 were seeing plenty of football, and Holmes again brought Dyl storming through, for Eccles and Cookson to drive in, before Holmes was just wide with a drop attempt. Then Cookson, Ward and Fearnley drove for the line, before Dyl was held only inches short. It made little difference, for from the play-the-ball Dick sold a huge dummy and dived between the posts. He also added the goal, to give Leeds a precious breathing space at 13-7, as Widnes brought on Foran for Dearden.

Mills, who seemed to have completely lost his cool, was involved in an incident with Pitchford, but Dick hooked the penalty shot wide. Dickinson now came on for Fearnley, who was holding an injured arm, and Leeds set about checking some desperate Widnes attacks. Dickinson promptly drove them back, however, with a lusty run as the game went into the last five minutes. With two minutes left, Cookson charged through and appeared to make the line, but was just rolled back without being able to ground the ball.

Dick landed a drop goal to round off a Leeds victory based on sound defence and tremendous attacking flair. Seconds from the end, Widnes brought on George for Wright, and Leeds, David Smith for Alan Smith, who was given a great ovation as he was hugged by coach Syd Hynes as he left the field. Right on the whistle, Dick added a penalty goal to complete a great personal triumph.

Leeds: 4 gls. 3 tries 16 pts.

Widnes: 2 gls. 1 try. 7 pts.

Four Leeds players were honoured with selection for the World Cup squad to tour Australia: Les Dyl, John Holmes, Steve Pitchford and David Ward.

Syd Hynes had ended a playing career, extending over 13 seasons, with a fine record:

355 appearances, 158 tries, 188 goals.

1977-78

1977-78

Escapologists in blue and amber! Knocked out in the early rounds of all the Cup competitions but one, and trailing in the League, Leeds extricated themselves from the shackles of mediocrity, with a brilliant double-escape act which even the great. Houdini could hardly have bettered: merely to reach Wembley for the second successive year bordered on the incredible; to concede St. Helens a ten-point start In the Final, and still retain the Challenge Cup, was nothing short of miraculous.

The campaign opened inauspiciously, a shock defeat in. the Lazenby Cup, our first since 1960, providing an unhappy debut for half-back David Treasure, from Oldham; centre Chris Gibson, from Wakefield R.U.; and forward John Carroll, from Shaw Cross. By the end of August, the Esso Yorkshire Cup had gone, tool whereas the 1st Round trip to Mount Pleasant was little more than a pleasant Saturday afternoon Jaunt, Leeds winning 33-6, the 2nd Round meeting with Hull developed into a protracted battle for survival. At Headingley, with Hague sidestepping off either foot in sudden darts of electrifying pace, Leeds led 18-10 with fifteen minutes to go, yet only escaped defeat through. Marshall's failure to kick a relatively simple conversion, after Hull had levelled the scores in a frantic

rally; in The Boulevard replay, Hull held a 10-point interval lead, but Leeds fought back heroically, with tries from David Smith and Hague, and a touchline conversion from Oulton, and were bidding for victory at 11-14, until Macklin went over for a late try.

The return of Dyl, after a brief rest following his tour exertions, and the signing of 'Sammy' Sanderson, a spring-heeled half-back from Wakefield Trinity, coincided with an impressive start to the League programme, with three wins and a commendable draw at Workington, but September's highlights came in an enthralling struggle with Widnes in the Preliminary Round of the Floodlit Competition. Two Elwell tries and a Dutton goal gave Widnes a flying start, but Leeds countered strongly, Holmes putting White over and Ward opening the way for Cookson, so that with Dick kicking a goal and Ward dropping another, we held a 9-8 lead at the interval. Tension mounted in the second half as Widnes went ahead through a Dutton penalty goal and a dazzling 75-yard solo try by George, and though a Dick penalty reduced the margin to two points Leeds were apparently doomed, with injury-time running out as Dickinson and Atkinson surged down the wing in one last

desperate fling ... a flip inside, and Sanderson was stretching out to touch down for a dramatic reprieve. The conversion was academic, yet no less glorious for that, as Dick gleefully drove the ball home from the touchline.

Of the six games played during October, one is etched painfully deep in the memory. League successes over Warrington and New Hunslet, disappointing performances at Central Park and against St. Helens at Headingley, and a Floodlit Competition victory over Rochdale Hornets, all pale into insignificance alongside a traumatic second-half confrontation with Wigan in the John Player Competition. Going into a 10-point lead with just fifteen minutes to go, Leeds were apparently home and dry, until Nulty sounded the alarm with a 5-point try. Within a flash it was panic stations as Green Vigo, a first-half scorer, scorched away from Atkinson on half-way, for Nulty to make it 20-20; and no sooner had Dick tried to restore sanity with a penalty goal, than Nulty levelled the scores yet again, with Headingley a bedlam of babbling bewilderment. How long? Leeds! Leeds! Leeds! Lee.. The chant faded in utter disbelief, as Vigo broke away once more to complete a sensational matchwinning hat-trick in the very last minute. The inquests were many, the sequel initially sad, with John Atkinson deciding to retire, but within three months he was to be back in action, to adorn a distinguished career with yet more superb tries of balanced, rhythmic grace.

If, as the heroic believe, failures are the seeds of ultimate success, Leeds certainly sowed plenty in November and December, losing on six occasions in a taxing eight-match programme. Burton, the Castleford stand-off, and the scourge of Leeds so often in the past, struck twice in four days, first with an injury-time try at Wheldon Road to end our interest in the Floodlit Competition, and then at Headingley as we slumped to defeat in the League. Whereas reverses at St. Helens, Odsal and Widnes were perhaps predictable, that at Crown Flatt was something of a humiliation, with 'bump and barge' Leeds inexplicably sterile and unimaginative. Nevertheless, an exhilarating display of open rugby accounted for Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day, and yielded a first try in Leeds colours for looseforward Mick Crane, who had been signed from Hull ten days earlier.

The rainbow arch of hope, conjured up by. three consecutive wins in the New Year, was quickly dissipated by two more defeats as Leeds prepared to set out on "Mission Impossible'. Wembley? A story-book figment of the imagination! Nor was there any reason to think otherwise, after a merely adequate 1st Round victory over plucky Halifax at Headingley, with Atkinson and David Smith scoring two tries apiece, and a stray dog escaping the referee's ban to hog the TV cameras. Wakefield Trinity, at Belle Vue! Ah well, there's always next year! This year! Three first-half tries from Crane, Dyl and Cookson in thirteen minutes of rampant rugby, set the adrenalin flowing as revitalised

Leeds stormed to victory with all their erstwhile authority and power. Now it was 'Mission Possible'! The 3rd Round clash with Bradford Northern was unforgettable, with Headingley's 18,600 spectators risking cardiac arrest in a frenzy of constant stress and excitement. The interval scoreboard was blank after a tension-packed half, but within two minutes of the resumption Bradford went five points ahead and continued to pile on the pressure, with Leeds reeling in dismay, even as they heeled from an untidy scrum on their own '25' ... a short blind-side dart from Sanderson to half-draw Barends ... a neat pass ... and Atkin.on was striding away in .triumph, for Oulton to convert a glorious

75-yard try. The crisis was over, Holmes dropping a goal, and Dyl supporting a powerful Cookson thrust, for Atkinson to round off another splendid 65-yard move. Thereafter the issue was never really in doubt, with Wembley once again just eighty minutes away! Was it all a dream, or would it turn into a nightmare of disappointment at Odsal in the Semi-Final? Trailing 7-9 at the interval, we were stretched on a second-half rack of 70 bravely disregarding a gaping calf wound, dummied his way over for a prodigious try, matched by Oulton's tremendous touchline conversion: 12-9, and almost safe! An Oulton penalty, and we were there! A figment of the imagination? A breathtaking reality!

The League programme ended with a thrilling Headingley finale, Leeds beating Warrington in a grandstand finish, to qualify for the Premiership, with a team composed largely of reserves: S. Johnston; D. Smith, C. Gibson, T. Wilby, A. Binder; R. Winterbottom, K. Dick; R. Dickinson (P. Harrison), N. Whitehouse, ,8. White, D. Heron, J. Carroll(B. Adams). S. Fearnley. Alas, it was all to no avail, as Leeds went down to defeat at Odsal in the 1st Round of the play-off, but there was yet to come a truly dramatic Wembley Final, which is described In the following Press report.

CUP SNATCHED IN DRAMATIC WEMBLEY RECOVERY - LEEDS IN SUPER TRIUMPH

Leeds snatched the R.L. Cup from the jaws of defeat at Wembley, in a dramatic nail-biting fight-back that saw them pull up from 10 points down to 12-12, and then go ahead with 2 drop goals, to win 14-12. Holmes and Ward were the men who dropped Leeds in for victory-and left St. Helens shattered.

LEEDS: Oulton; D. Smith, Hague, Dyl, Atkinson; Holmes, Sanderson; M. Harrison, Ward, Pitchford, Eccles, Cookson, Crane. Subs: Dick, Dickinson.

ST. HELENS: Pimblett; Jones, Noonan, Glynn, Mathias; Francis, Gwilliam; Chisnall, Liptrot, James, Cunningham, Nicholls, Pinner. Subs: Ashton, Karalius.

Referee: Mr. W. H. Thompson (Huddersfield).

A capacity crowd of 97,200 was in rare voice as the teams had a look at the pitch beforehand. Centre Les Dyl 'played up' to the Saints fans, who booed Leeds roundly, by pretending to touch down for a try at their end.

There was a no-nonsense touch about the early tackling, Nicholls being involved in the first four tackles as Leeds gave their forwards a chance, and Chisnall's blockbusting effort caused Crane to lose possession. After Nicholls had been stopped by Ward, Pimblett was wide with a drop attempt.

Holmes kicked deep as Leeds moved out, but nice play by Pimblett, Mathias and James cleared comfortably. The expected high kick from St. Helens duly came after five minutes and, as in the Semi-Final, it brought a try. Pinner sent up a towering ball, which bounced out of Oulton's arms over the line, and Atkinson also dropped it, for Liptrot to dive over for a gift try. Pimblett added the goal, in a start which resembled the last Final between these two sides six years ago.

St. Helens played up to their lead and Pinner made a fine break, before putting in another high kick, which Oulton held. A foul by Chisnall on Eccles gave Leeds their first look at the Saints '25', and Holmes brought Cookson on the burst, but James met him with a solid tackle. The first serum near the Saints' line almost brought a try, as Sanderson stole the ball and very nearly wriggled over.

The Leeds' problems were added to when St. Helens were caught off-side, and Oulton sent his shot wide. St. Helens promptly broke out and created an overlap to send Jones racing through a tackle by Holmes. He beat Oulton with ease, and it needed a magnificent diving stop by Sanderson to halt the winger a couple of yards out. It made little difference, however, for Saints won a serum heel near the line and Francis beat the defence easily, to score between the posts. Pimblett added the goal, and Leeds were 10-0 down after only 13 minutes.

Another long ball from Holmes gave Crane room, but his pass to Dyl went astray, and Leeds were tackling again, and at this stage far too many tackles were being missed for comfort. Holmes figured twice in one Leeds move, and sent a fine long pass to Atkinson but the cover nailed the winger. Saints' confidence was reflected when Sanderson kicked for the line and Pimblett coolly served Jones behind the line, for the winger to go 25 yards before Eccles tackled him.

Again Leeds lost the ball when handily placed, and after a run by Smith, Pitchford and Crane got into the act, only for the latter's pass to go adrift. At last, Leeds got things together, and a gem of a long pass from Holmes got Crane into his stride; Dyl supported and gave to Atkinson, who left Pimblett for dead and scored a classic try at the corner. Oulton added a magnificent touchline goal, and Leeds at last suggested they were going to make a game of it.

Sanderson was setting a great tackling lead to his much bigger colleagues, and he stopped Cunningham in full cry, before Pitchford had a useful run, only for Ward to lose possession. Chisnall almost got Gwilliam through, and it needed three men to hold a thundering run by James almost on the line. Smith again looked sharp when gathering a long St. Helens kick, and it seemed a pity he was not seeing more of the action. Determined bids by Dyl and Pitchford, and a strong run by Eccles gave Leeds hope, until a move misfired in the St. Helens '25'.

Cunningham, Glynn and Mathias had Leeds back-pedalling, and they were unlucky when Eccles was ruled to have obstructed Chisnall in front of the posts. It seemed the second- row man had committed himself to the tackle when Chisnall kicked, but Pimblett's goal meant that Leeds were seven points in arrears. Pitchford showed that the Saints could be rattled with a bustling run, and a penalty for oft-side at the serum gave Oulton an angled chance 40 yards out, but he sent the ball wide. The first-half story had been very much a case of Leeds' errors contributing to their own downfall.

Half-time: Leeds 5 St. Helens 12

A dropped ball by Pimblett set Leeds attacking, and they cut the arrears by a point when Ward landed a neat drop goal after two minutes. Leeds were desperately unlucky, too, when Holmes measured a kick for Atkinson, and the winger outpaced Jones only to be beaten by a wretched bounce. Francis was prominent as St. Helens came on to attack, taking advantage of a foul by Dyl, and James and Nicholls were flung back as they drove for the line.

Little had been seen of Hague to date, but he produced a good cross-field run to get Dyl into his stride, and the centre went well for 30 yards, but only to lose possession when Atkinson overran him. Then Cunningham came perilously close to breaking clear, Pitchford just taking his ankles, and Leeds came again, with Holmes sending Crane on a strong run.

Hague was out of luck when he kicked ahead and was felled, and the referee waved play on, in a similar situation to that in which Eccles had been penalised. But Leeds drove on, with Pitchford and Harrison charging through, and Eccles causing all sorts of problems with another mighty surge, before Holmes almost got Cookson in. Reward came when Holmes served Hague, whose long pass was well taken by Smith, to score at the corner. Qulton failed at goal, but for the first time the Leeds fans really made themselves heard. The Headingley men were a much-improved outfit to earlier in the game, with their forwards really causing Saints tremendous difficulty. They were turned, however, by a serum penalty, and Nicholls and James gave Mathias a run, but the winger lost possession. Leeds took the serum, and Pitchford, Crane and Harrison crashed their way clear. The tearaway Eccles made further gaps in the Saints' defence, before Dyl made a powerful burst. Leeds brought on Dick and Dickinson for Sanderson and Harrison, and the fascinating game almost took another swing, when Pimblett tried a drop goal which hit the posts.

Leeds swept back, and Dyl and Dick went desperately close, before Holmes kicked ahead and Pinner scrambled the ball clear. Only a handling mistake by Cookson stopped what seemed a certain try. The terrific Leeds fight-back, magnificently led by Eccles, Holmes and Dyl, brought reward when Holmes turned the ball inside and Cookson forced his way over to level the score. It seemed at first that Dick would take the kick, but Leeds persevered with Oulton. At first, the ball rolled over, and the full-back placed it again and, with Dyl and Holmes unable to look. he sent his shot inches wide.

Nicholls was awarded the Lance Todd Trophy for the game's outstanding player. Rampant Leeds were led back again by Eccles, and Dyl and Holmes broke clear before Dick was held. The Leeds fans went mad, however, when a quick play-the-ball 'went to Holmes, who put his side ahead for the first time with a left-foot drop goal. Cookson was almost over from Crane's pass, before Ward added another drop goal.

Result: Leeds 14 - St. Helens 12

No doubt, the above report had gone to press before a last-minute sensation, Noonan failing to hold a pass, with the line seemingly at his mercy. Kevin Dick had played in only two Challenge Cup-ties, both of them at Wembley, and had earned a winner s medal each time!

1978-79

1978-79

Never write off Leeds! Approaching the end of a fruitless campaign, with pride in pawn and honour in hock the men in blue and amber redeemed themselves in a glorious grandstand finish for the third year in succession, with a prestigious triumph in the Premiership Final. The reprieve was merited, the relief immense, after a. long, hard winter of discontent, with several months in the doghouse of frustration and failure.

Three players had been transferred during the summer, Chris Burton and Gordon McHugh going to Huddersfield, and David Treasure, to Keighley; two more were released during the season, Stuart Johnston and Ricky Winterbottom joining Bramley:

No Esso Yorkshire Cup for Leeds this timer We could hardly complain: two years earlier at Odsal Holmes had sealed a 1st Round victory with an injury-time conversion; now it was Bradford Northern's turn to win a thrilling pipe-opener to the season, With a converted try in the 77th minute. Nevertheless, it was galling to lose by the odd point after leading 15-5 midway through the first half, and we promptly vented our spleen on Bramley with a crushing 47-11 victory in the Preliminary Round of the Floodlit .Competition, with Alan Smith scoring three of the eleven tries, and hooker Gary Hetherington, signed from York as additional cover for David Ward, kicking four goals.

September opened with little indication of the traumas that lay ahead, a 9-point-draw at Workington being followed by wins at Post Office Road and over Salford at Headingley, with Gibson at full-back, showing his prowess as a goal-kicker. Confidence was suddenly drained, however, by the onset of a bout of highly-contagious dropballitlis, which contributed in no small measure to successive defeats at Widnes, at St. Helens In the 1st Round of the John Player Competition, and then against Hull K.R., who recorded their first win at Headingley for twelve years, with Agar dropping four goals.

October brought little relief! A further setback at Leigh was bad enough, but a fifth consecutive defeat this time at the hands of Hull in the 1st Round of the Floodlit Competition, was grim to bear indeed. With only four minutes remaining, and Headingley's clamorous cauldron of commotion at boiling point, Leeds were heading for victory with a hard-earned 8-7 lead, only for Lloyd to put the Boulevarders ahead with a mighty penalty from half-way, and 'Old Faithful' had b--,rely struck up his haunting hymn of praise, before Macklin dummied his way over, for Lloyd to rub salt into our wounded pride with a touchline conversion. Now saddled with the stigma of 1st Round elimination from three knock-out competitions,. Leeds sweated blood to break the sequence of defeats with a win over Castleford, put up a highly creditable display against the Australians, and then compensated for a narrow defeat at RochdaIe, where forward Neil Lean made his debut, with a victory over lowly Barrow. Even so, rhythm and cohesion were still sadly lacking, and the defensive screen was woefully suspect.

If confirmation was needed, Wigan and Warrington were only too willing to oblige, as we slumped to the unenviable record of two wins from our last eleven games. Enough was enough I Frustrated in their earlier negotiations for established players, the management signed Graham Joyce, second-row forward, and Ian Slater, stand-off or centre, from Bradford Northern. The immediate effect, be it coincidental or otherwise, was remarkable: with Hague now at full-back, we won four of our next five matches in impressive style, scoring thirty-one tries in the process and conceding only nine.

Thus, with self-respect and credibility restored, Leeds reached the turn of the year with sights firmly fixed on the R.L. Cup trail, but only to slip back once more on the switchback of inconsistency in the League, a home defeat against Bradford Northern being followed by two splendid wins over St. Helens and Widnes, and then a confidence-sapping, lacklustre display at Wigan, just a week prior to the 1st Round of the Cup. As ever, a 'visit to The Boulevard was daunting, the battle hard. At half-time we held a 3-2 lead, thanks to a try by Crane, yet had frittered away a 10-5 scrum advantage through haphazard handling. We paid for it in the second half! No sooner had Norton swerved powerfully between the posts, for Lloyd to convert, than Hull went 10-3 ahead through a Norton drop goal and a Lloyd penalty, and though hopes of a dramatic recovery were raised by an unconverted try from Dyl, dreams of a Wembley hat-trick were finally shattered when Lloyd was awarded a penalty try. The decision was perhaps controversial, not the final result: Hull were worthy winners on the day.

Now there was only the Premiership I Reason said it was outside the bounds of probability, Faith thought otherwise I Taking full advantage of Headingley's electric blanket Leeds avoided any embarrassing backlog of fixtures and won nine of the ten remaining league matches, to finish in 4th place. Ironically, the solitary and inexplicably abysmal defeat, against Workington Town at Headingley, would have beggared description had it not been the occasion for John Atkinson to score his 300th try in Leeds' colours,

No fixture fatigue for Leeds! Fresh and eager, after almost a month's lay-off we beat St. Helens in the 1st Round of the play-off with flashes of superb rugby, and then the Semi-Final against Wigan hung in the balance at 5-5 just after the interval the introduction of substitute Dick and .an opportunist try by Hague generated a 15-point match-winning rally. And so to the Final at Fartown! Sanderson had contributed a couple of tries In. each of the earlier rounds, and Dick three goals against Wigan: now paired together, like Cheek and Impudence, With Sanderson working the scrums and Dick at

stand-off for the unfit Holmes, they pointed the way to victory with such exuberant self-assurance that Leeds never even contemplated. the possibility of defeat, despite the loss of the Injured Dyl. For all that, it was a team victory, With Ward an inspiring captain, and backs and forwards alike as enterprising in attack as they were sound in defence. The result brooked no argument, .Leeds winning hands down by 24 points to 2. Nor could there be any question as to the winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy: Kevin Dick's sure boot had not only .kicked seven goals. and dropped .another, but had also, along with Sanderson s, driven Bradford back time and again with touchfinders of unerring accuracy.

The Leeds team was:. Hague; A. Smith, D. Smith, Dyl (Fletcher), Atkinson; K. Dick, J. Sanderson; M. Harrison, D. Ward, Pitchford, Joyce, Eccles (Adams), Cookson.

1979-80

1979-80

1980-81

1980-81

Like the season before, the only solace for the Loiners came in the Yorkshire Cup; in a disappointing campaign which saw them end in their lowest league position since the re-introduction of two divisions in 1973-4.

Their tenth placed finish saw them miss out on the Premiership and at no time during the year did they head the table. Again, that was in part due to a seemingly never ending run of injuries, skipper David Ward one of the first to succumb being out for six weeks with a broken jaw, which prompted the signing of John McNeill from Featherstone as back up. The lengthy treatment list also meant that there were more opportunities for a host of youngsters who had starred in the Colts ranks. Wayne Heron, Peter Lister, half back brothers Andy and Ian Mackintosh, wingers Mark Massa and Terry Naylor, Andy Sykes and Ian Wilkinson - who had trialed with Scunthorpe United - all made their senior bows.

Just before the season began, Eddie Cunningham moved to Widnes for £20,000 citing traveling difficulties from his St Helens home as the reason to cut short his stay, meaning that he played only 26 matches in the blue and amber. There were significant changes off the field as well, the club finally acquiescing to the norm and deciding to switch its match day from Saturday to Sunday. Jack Myerscough was installed as chairman of the RFL and the Leeds board was strengthened by the appointments of Harry Jepson and Dennis Greenwood. Also, Headingley became the first rugby league ground to install an electronic scoreboard.

Off setting the disappointment of losing their previous record signing, the club moved quickly to splash the cash, landing Wakefield and Great Britain under 24's hard working, strong running second rower Keith Rayne for a new landmark figure of £35,000 although he was quickly to fall prey to the injury curse, badly pulling a hamstring soon after his debut in an away defeat at Warrington.

The season started promisingly, with big victories in the newly re-named Webster's county cup over York and Hunslet which yielded 78 points and 17 tries. In the opening league clash against Hull, a crowd of over 10,000 saw Graham Eccles and world record capture for a prop Trevor Skerrett given their marching orders as Leeds - courtesy of two Neil Hague drop goals - held on for victory.

A Maurice Bamford side again stood in the way of their progress in the Yorkshire Cup, the avuncular coach having swapped Halifax for Huddersfield who, despite being underdogs, took Leeds all the way at Headingley in the semi final. Two John Carroll tries proved to be the difference as Leeds qualified for their 20th White Rose decider, equalling Huddersfield's record with the final set to be played on their Fartown ground.

In the run up, the Loiners hit an alarming slump, losing six of their next eight games and five in succession, including an embarrassing home defeat to a Mick Adams inspired Widnes. Castleford inflicted similar six-try reality check and the New Zealand tourists cantered home 25-5, with Mark Graham - who the Leeds management made a bid to sign - posting two tries. With Yorkshire Cup final opponents Hull Kingston Rovers riding high, few gave the Loiners a chance, not least their fans, who barely travelled and were heavily outnumbered. Coach Syd Hynes produced a tactical masterstroke in the three quarters, switching John Atkinson to centre for the first time, Willie Oulton to the wing and Neil Hague to full back. The audacious plan seemed to have backfired when Rovers, inspired by former Loiner Mick Crane, swept into a 7-2 interval lead but with half backs John Holmes and White Rose trophy winner Kevin Dick taking control and Alan Smith registering his 300th career try, Leeds produced a thrilling finale to take the spoils by a point, despite skipper David Ward playing with a broken hand. The victory was particularly sweet for Dick who, after gaining his only two Test caps, was dropped by the selectors for the series decider against the Kiwis although Atkinson's heroics saw him gain a re-call aged 32 for his 26th Test appearance in place of injured Barrow winger Chris Camilleri.

Continued poor league form prompted the signing of reinforcements with centre David Heselwood, who had earlier rejected overtures from Salford, joining from Roundhay RU and Jeff Townend arriving from Wigan for £5,000.

More ignominy followed, though, in the first round of the John Player Cup. Drawn away at League newcomers Fulham, and in front of a then record crowd of over 12,500 for the competition, the Londoners triumphed 9-3 with David Eckersley the scourge. A double over St Helens, with Ward leading a sensational second half fight back at Knowsley Road and Heselwood scoring a hat trick - the only one of the season for the club - in the home game, was the highlight of more inconsistent league form.

In the re-christened 'Three Fives' Challenge Cup, the most daunting of draws took Leeds to their Boulevard graveyard where although they battled gamely, Terry Naylor scoring their sole touchdown, they went down 14-5 in front of over 15,000 fans. Steve Norton was the home architect and two early defensive errors ultimately proved costly. The season ended with only two wins from the last eight fixtures including losing by a point in a thriller at home to Leigh and a nilling, at Widnes, for the first time since December 1975.

Neil Hague, Kevin Dick and Dave Heron gained Yorkshire selection; David Ward was part of England's European Championship sides that lost notoriously to France at Headingley and then beat Wales and Colin Cooper and Mark Campbell won Colts international caps against France. Leaving the club during the year were Neil Lean who moved across the city to Hunslet, coached by Paul Daley; Chris Gibson, who denied first team opportunities departed for York, and popular midfield schemer Sammy Sanderson who linked up with Hull K.R. while stalwart centre Les Dyl was granted a benefit.

1981-82

1981-82

Never can a run of trophy success have ended in crueler fashion. Having garnered silverware in every campaign from 1966/7, Leeds' sideboard was empty for the first time in almost a generation, but in the most dramatic of circumstances. Knocked out in the early rounds of the Yorkshire Cup, surprisingly ousted by second division opposition in the quarter final of the John Player and with a league position that promised little hope of success in the Premiership; all the glory eggs were in Loiners' challenge cup basket. First division outfits York, Barrow and Wakefield were disposed of and with one play remaining in an incredibly tense semi final at Swinton, blue and amber was seemingly destined to decorate Wembley way and face Hull. In a never-to-be-forgotten split second, all that changed as Widnes' Mick Adams' Hail Mary somehow bounced back off the cross bar into the arms of a surprised Keiron O'Loughlin who had merely to fall over the line to secure a scarcely believable victory for the Chemics.

This was a season that signalled the changing of the guard at Headingley, heralded by the installation of new goal posts at the famous venue. Syd Hynes stood down after six years as coach which yielded seven trophies, and twelve seasons as a truly outstanding player. He was replaced by former full back Robin Dewhurst, whose promising career in the 60s was unluckily cut short by a series of knee injuries, and who was promoted from Colts coach. His assistants were veteran wingers and contemporaries Alan Smith and John Atkinson, with another of the greats from the Roy Francis side, Barry Seabourne, taking up the Colt's duties. Their reign got off to the best possible start with a Yorkshire Cup victory at their usual Boulevard graveyard, with the side becoming the first to come back from a ten point second half deficit in any cup tie at Hull. Atkinson and John Holmes - who the club strenuously denied was open to transfer - scored superb tries, David Ward kicking a crucial drop goal.

Disappointing defeat at home to Bradford in the second round, was followed by three consecutive defeats to open the championship season as the club sent an SOS to Australia as they searched for prop Roy Dickinson who had apparently gone walkabout. Initial transfer dealings were all done with neighbours Bramley; Paul Fletcher moving to McLaren Field for £8,000 and Peter Lister involved in a swap deal for Billy Woolford. In November, Leeds paid the Villagers a club record £25,000 for 20 year old, Wigan-based prop Tony Burke. The League season got back on track with home wins over Castleford - when four players received their marching orders - and York while Les Dyl appeared for the first time in seven years on the wing - a position he was to play for England - and John Atkinson made his 500th appearance for the club. In October, the management surprisingly ventured to Barnstable to sign teenage England rugby union colt's flanker Kevin Squire, who scored a try on his 'A' team debut at Hull but soon after Phil Cookson announced that he was quitting the club and was listed at £30,000.

Inconsistent form boded ill for a run in the John Player Cup but dogged home wins over Wigan and holders Warrington with Keith Rayne and Kevin Dick to the fore raised hopes, which came crashing at Oldham; Mick Parrish's four towering goals proving to be the difference. Undeserved defeat at Wigan followed, with Steve Nicholson's try at the death, in atrocious conditions clearly being over the dead ball line but again Leeds rallied in December and January. Poor weather meant that they played five consecutive home matches thanks to Headingley's undersoil heating and won them all with exciting young winger Mark Massa crossing for five tries. Just before the New Year, the club placed a world record price of £100,000 on Kevin Dick's head and shelled out a club high £41,500 to snare Kevin Rayne from Wakefield, having signed a 3 year £40,000 sponsorship deal with Scottish & Newcastle breweries. Moving out, winger David Smith signed for Bradford after seeming set to join Carlisle and in January, a 14 year association was broken when Graham Eccles - who was wanted by Wigan - moved to Wakefield. Hull K.R. offered Paul Rose in exchange for Les Dyl and Steve Pitchford asked for a move before withdrawing the request a month later. A week before the first ever six-figure sponsored Challenge Cup started, Leeds gained confidence with a good win at St Helens and carried that in to the tie against York where they posted 8 tries, former prop Jeff Townend kicking the Wasp's points. Defensive fortitude was the key to further progress; John Atkinson's two tries the difference in a narrow win at Barrow who had already beaten the Loiners at Craven Park in the league, while Wakefield were accounted for at Belle Vue in the mud thanks to two great tries from Tony Burke; meaning Leeds had not conceded a try in their away run to a post war record 14th semi final. Tragedy struck the week before when ball-handling second rower John Carroll, who was in great form, broke his leg in two places at Whitehaven. After the heart breaking loss to Widnes, Leeds ended the campaign with four wins and three defeats to finish sixth, going out of the Premiership in the opening round, at a rampant Widnes for whom Mike O'Neill scored two tries. Other transfers during the campaign saw Gary Hetherington move to Huddersfield and winger Andy Smith join from Halifax rugby union. Mark Conway and prop Andy Sykes earned Colts international honours in a side managed by Harry Jepson, and England and Great Britain skipper David Ward was granted a testimonial.

1982-83

1982-83

At the turn of the calendar year, matters could not have looked much rosier for the Loiners. League leaders, not least by virtue of an astonishing away record in the West, and having qualified for the John Player final - amazingly the first decider in any competition against Wigan - the side were playing determined and attractive rugby and looked destined for silverware. A measure of that was, at the half way stage, John Holmes led the way in the 'Man of Steel' voting. Narrow defeat at Elland Road, two consecutive losses against St Helens and an alarming injury jinx scuppered those hopes; the campaign ending with a fourth successive heavy defeat against eventual champions Hull in the Premiership.

This was a season of three key rule changes and the visit of the 1982 Kangaroos, who were to revolutionize the manner in which the game was played with their eye-opening speed and intricate support play. In came the sin bin on the 1st January 1983 as well as the four point try and the handover. Coach Robin Dewhurst's contract was renewed as Jack Myerscough stepped down as chairman, Harry Jepson taking over and Alan Smith marked twenty years as a player. Exciting BARLA tourist, full back Paul Gill from Clayton, was signed while John Atkinson, who ended his 17 year Leeds career with 340 tries - the second highest in the club's history - took up the post of assistant coach at Carlisle. He was joined there by Maurice Lucas, fellow prop Mick Harrison returning Hull later in the season. Leeds signalled their intent with a crushing victory in the pre-season Wigan Sevens, masterminded by Holmes and then thrillingly beat Great Britain 22-21 at Headingley in David Ward's testimonial game.

Victories against three promoted sides in which they scored 19 tries, sent the side into the Yorkshire Cup in good form. Castleford were thrashed at Wheldon Road in the opening round with Dave Heron - who had scored a hat trick on the opening day against Halifax - posting two terrific scores. Any pretensions were rudely undermined by Hull in the following round as, inspired by teenager Lee Crooks, they romped home 20-0 at Headingley despite Keith Tindall suffering a broken leg, Loiners' first home nilling for 11 years. Back in League action, Leeds extended their one hundred per cent and best ever First Division start to eight games, with a particularly noteworthy success at Naughton Park; Kevin Dick ruling the roost with 16 points as Widnes were downed.

The run came to an end with another midweek thrashing against the Airlie Birds, this time at the Boulevard when Crooks was again the scourge posting a hat trick and seven goals; Steve Pitchford suffering a broken arm. Blue and amber fans saw the might of the green and gold's first hand when a full strength Australian side posted their 135th point in five opening matches. The bewildering tourists ran in seven tries, the best a 50 metre special from Eric Grothe, prompting the Headingley management to sound out their coach Frank Stanton. Exciting, narrow wins over Hull Kingston Rovers and St Helens maintained Leeds' unbeaten home record but Cas, with the Beardmore twins rampant, gained revenge with a hiding 'down the lane'; hooker Russ Sowden making his debut after a £7,000 move from Halifax where he had captained their 'A' team. Another close triumph over Wigan led into the John Player competition, with Maurice Bamford bringing his fourth different side to Headingley in as many seasons in cup competitions as Leeds defeated neighbours Bramley in the first round. Andy Smith posted his first hat trick in a comfortable win over York before the Loiners defied typical Cumbrian grit and freezing conditions to deny Barrow in the quarter final at Craven Park. In the semi at Huddersfield, Mark Conway's nerveless kicking, some commendable self-discipline and a terrific pack performance despite Kevin Rayne suffering a broken jaw disposed of Widnes in an enthralling contest that did not contain a try. With fixture congestion mounting, a last minute Dick try salvaged a home point against Oldham and Kevin Squire made his first team bow in a determined one point win at Warrington. Prior to the John Player showdown, a slipshod display allowed Featherstone to end the home league record, and although credibility Leeds led courtesy of two Dick penalties against Alex Murphy's men at half time in front of nearly 20,000 at Elland Road; Brian Juliff's late try of a terrific spectacle began the revival that was to see Wigan become the dominant trophy winning force in the game for the next thirteen years, as they triumphed 15-4. Retribution was taken out on Workington, Ian Wilkinson posting a hat trick, and three more consecutive wins saw Leeds open up a four point gap at the top of the table in February as the Challenge Cup came around. Another brilliant televised win at Widnes in the opening round, with Conway again outstanding, set up a second round clash with Saints - remarkably the first home tie for four years and eight cup draws.

Tragedy struck Gill during the game, who was in terrific form at the time with four tries in eight appearances, when he suffered a double fracture of his leg. Leeds never recovered their composure; Harry Pinner dominating the exchanges and so began the injury and form jinx. Saints repeated the dose in the league at Knowsley Road the following week, ending a club record of eight successive away wins across the Pennines in a season. Leeds won only once more match in the championship from eight games to drop to sixth, the only noteworthy landmark being Neil Hague passing 300 first team appearances, saving their worst performance until last with an ignominious 51-2 reverse at Leigh. With their chances written off in the Premiership, they produced a terrific display to win at Wigan with Conway the star before the campaign ended familiarly at Hull in the semi final. Youngsters Colin Cooper and Des Armitage made their debuts and Brendan Hill, Pat Mitchell, David Healey and Roy Powell were signed from amateur rugby league in the West Yorkshire area, while colts Heath Godfrey and Steve McGowan went to seek an opportunity at Bradford. Les Dyl, who felt the force of a young Mal Meninga, David Ward and David Heron on debut tried to halt the Kangaroo bandwagon in the First Test. John Holmes was recalled for his 20th and final cap alongside Heron for the second and there was no home representation in the third mis-match of the Dominion Insurance Series at Headingley.

1983-84

1983-84

1984-85

1984-85

This was a 'might have been' year for the Loiners, the club reaching three semi finals in the four cup competitions on offer but falling at every penultimate hurdle. It was also the season that antipodean voices overwhelmed around Headingley Carnegie, the trickle of signings that had begun following the lifting of the overseas ban the year before, becoming a flood.

In all the Loiners recruited ten players in their roster of 37 from the southern hemisphere - it should have been eleven - were linked with several more; and finished the campaign with an Aussie at the helm for an ill-feted short stay.

Of the deca-recruits, three were returnees, Mark Laurie was unable to take up his second year option after suffering a broken wrist, and of the seven newcomers, five were from Queensland; a part legacy of their sensational display at Headingley Carnegie the previous October.

Test back rower Wally Fullerton-Smith, injury-blighted Gavin Jones and explosive Trevor Paterson were on that tour and Tony Currie - a replacement for Dean Bell - had already worn the Maroon in State of Origin. Utility Steve Bleakley was from the same Redcliffe club as Fullerton-Smith and Terry Webb.

The New South Wales contingent continued the Parramatta connection forged with Laurie and Jack Gibson; the bulk of their hugely successful squad ultimately playing over here. Neil Hunt was vying for a Test spot but the name that got the city and the game in a state of fervour was green and gold winger Eric Grothe.

Although he did not debut until New Year's Day, the expectation of his arrival added ten per cent to the overall average home attendance and 'the guru' or 'rolling thunder' was among a host of top liners who graced the British game; Leeds also being heavily linked with Mal Meninga who went to Saints and Ray Price.

The season started on a desperately sad note for the club with the news that former Chairman Jack Myerscough had passed away aged 73. They were also to lose director and former General Manager Alfred Rutherford. It was hoped that the busiest summer in the club's recent history and a sizeable squad would mean a genuine tilt for honours. Although early league form was patchy, including a disappointing, try-less capitulation in the first home game against St Helens; the early rounds of the Yorkshire Cup illustrated that promise with victories away at two of their bogey grounds. Teenager Roy Powell made his debut in a terrific win at Castleford and John Holmes was at his mercurial best, sending Gary Moorby in for a crucial early try, as Bradford were downed at Odsal.

Home league form was still a worry, Currie making a storming two-try debut against Oldham but it not being enough to secure the spoils. Widnes became Headingley's first victims as their ill-discipline was summarily punished; Ian Wilkinson outstanding and Powell registering his first try but again the draw was unkind as Leeds were sent to the Boulevard in the county cup semi.

Despite a dogged hour's performance, which had them only 6-1 behind, and Fullerton-Smith and Bleakley on debut, Garry Schofield's second half hat trick saw Hull gain a third successive victory over the blue and amber in that competition.

In a parallel to this season with Tony Smith; Maurice Bamford was announced as the new Great Britain coach, operating in a part time capacity with his country until the season's end and he was given a standing ovation by the fans prior to the game with Barrow. That match saw Hunt on debut on the wing owing to Paul Gill's resurgence at full back which saw him grab a brace of tries.

Arguably, the best result of the season came at Hull Kingston Rovers, who were to finish as champions, Leeds heroically keeping their line in tact to secure a stunning victory with Fullerton-Smith scoring his first try and Neil Hague romping 60 metres for the clincher.

In the run up to defending the John Player Special Trophy, a third home loss, to Featherstone - with the Loiners unable to breach the whitewash - followed, as the first of two new clubs were welcomed to Headingley Carnegie. Gary Hetherington's Sheffield Eagles, in only their eleventh match, were given a ten try trouncing, all but Hague's two coming from Aussies. A comfortable win at Barrow found home debutants David Heselwood and Andy Sykes facing their former side and back at base, Loiners thrilled the BBC audience with a stunning 10-4 win over Wigan in the John Player; Currie scoring one of the tries of the season courtesy of a majestic pass from Holmes.

Currie followed that up with a magnificent two try display at Hull, where victory was the first in the league for eleven years, but St Helens brought any title pretensions crashing with a devastating late surge at Knowsley Road.

In the JPS quarter final, Leeds faced some familiar faces in neighbours Bramley's ranks; Paul Fletcher, Peter Lister and Steve Pitchford appearing alongside a young Karl Harrison, Leeds easing through to again face Hull.

Grothe made his spectacular bow with a hat trick against Leigh but the weather then looked set to dictate with two months of constant freezing temperatures and snow. Consternation was expressed about the state of the Boothferry Park pitch in John Player semi but Hull adapted the better and easily skated through, Leeds keeping their programme going thanks to the undersoil heating at Headingley Carnegie which brought wins against Workington and Halifax.

The big mid-season signing brought one of the country's best prospects when Loiners snapped up GB under 24's hooker Colin Maskill from Wakefield for £40,000, as understudy to David Ward. In the Challenge Cup, a second new side, Bridgend, were welcomed and thrashed on a memorable snow-laden afternoon in the Preliminary round - Grothe claiming a 15 minute hat trick - to set up a mouth watering tie hosting Widnes. Like the year before in the John Player, Leeds won at Naughton Park in the league a week ahead of the cup clash for which new coach Malcolm Clift was in place. The former Canterbury supremo, who had just won the Australian title, took the reigns with Bamford seeing out his tenure as Director of Rugby but the disruption seemed to unsettle the side, the Chemics gaining comfortable revenge and clinically punishing two Leeds errors. Two defeats in their last eleven games meant a brief lead of the table and eventually a top four finish; the best for ten years, Grothe's two magnificent long range try saving tackles at Oldham being the feature of a draw at the Watersheddings.

In the Premiership, the Roughyeds were easily accounted for and Leeds so nearly upset the Hull Kingston Rovers party at Craven Park in the semi final, producing a wonderful performance to go down by just a point as a number of the Southern Cross stars bade their farewell. During the season, several fringe players were released with Mark Gamson and Mark Campbell joining Sheffield, Wayne Heron going to Bradford, Russ Sowden (Batley), Andy Mackintosh (Featherstone) and Des Armitage and Pat Mitchell both having two loan spells each. Jeff Clare was taken on trial from Wigan when he moved to Carnegie to study and Paul Medley signed from the colts. Mark Conway, David Creasser and Roy Powell made their debuts for GB under 21's against France.

1985-86

1985-86

A campaign of extreme highs and devastating lows was encapsulated in the Loiners' Challenge Cup run. A mammoth journey, which included two replayed ties, eventually fizzled out in the second half of a semi final re-match, although the drama along the way was at times epic. There was much less activity in the closed season but three highly significant landmarks. Almost as surprisingly as Bradford Northern releasing their talismanic coach Peter Fox was Leeds' decision to appoint him.

His trophy record could not be faulted but many wondered whether the style they were achieved in would be antithetical to the fast flowing, attacking traditions at Headingley. He entered the season without a key general; John Holmes bringing the curtain down on a truly outstanding 17 year career that saw the creative genius top the all-time blue and amber appearance charts. Although near-irreplaceable, the Headingley management turned to charismatic Australian pivot Cliff Lyons, who had starred for North Sydney after emerging from country football and had agreed to join Manly, 'the Leeds of Sydney', after his stint here. Previous year's leading try scorer, Tony Currie, confirmed his return and the club was also heavily linked with fellow Queensland centre Gene Miles before he signed for Wigan; while also showing an interest in Leigh skipper John Woods as Holmes' possible replacement.

Although terms had been agreed, Canterbury's Steve O'Brien and Cronulla's Andrew Ettingshausen gave back word; Leeds recruiting winger Andy Staniland - whose father Arthur had played nearly 100 times for the club - from Roundhay Rugby Union, who had previously unearthed John Atkinson. The third key change saw David Ward hand on the captaincy to Dave Heron. Early season headlines centred on Welsh trialist Steve Ford - brother of Phil - who played two matches for Leeds as an amateur, scoring a try in a big Yorkshire Cup win over Keighley; Lyons grabbing an eight minute hat trick in that game on his debut. Although offered a contract, Ford headed back to Cardiff to resume his rugby union career and was consequently banned for life by the authorities there. The RFL took up his case and successfully fought the discrimination, commencing the 'free gangway' that subsequently existed between the codes. Six straight wins opened the season, including a post war record 30-14 victory at Oldham which saw Mark Wilson score his first try and a David Creasser led home success against previously unbeaten St Helens.

A biggest-ever win at Dewsbury in the county knock-out saw Castleford come to Headingley in the semi although just prior to it, club President Alfred Sharman, who had been a director for almost fifty years and former chairman of the RL Council, passed away. Cas' 14-10 win, with two late tries down the left, was the start of a horror run for the Loiners who won only once in the next eleven outings up until the Christmas programme. There were two particular low points; the first a league defeat to a Graham Steadman inspired York, the Wasps' first success at Headingley since 1965 and then a woeful John Player Trophy exit at Second Division Barrow where they failed to score a try. The Loiners also narrowly lost out on a first ever win against the New Zealand tourists but earned accolades for standing up well in a physically intimidating encounter which saw Paul Gill and Wilson carried off and Leeds finishing with only twelve fit men. Coach Fox turned to his old club to bring in a trusted lieutenant and signed experienced prop Jeff Grayshon. Having gone two months without a win and conceding six successive home defeats, the tables turned with ten consecutive victories as the calendar changed and Wembley came on the horizon.

A confident New Year's Day victory over high flying Oldham was the catalyst with Grayshon and Currie in superb form and the ranks were bolstered for the challenge cup tilt by a club record purchase of Batley three quarter Carl Gibson for £50,000, although hooker Trevor Clark was ruled out the remainder of the campaign with a badly broken arm. Swinton were comfortably accounted for on an icy night in the Preliminary Round but a trip to Thrum Hall in the midst of a winter freeze was arguably the toughest first round draw on offer. On a treacherous pitch, Leeds put together a magnificent 80 minute display with Gibson claiming a brace and Currie producing a wonder, long range try that included a tremendous side step to bamboozle Joe Kilroy. Second division Doncaster switched their home advantage to Headingley because of the weather - Bradford versus Wakefield and Dewsbury against St Helens also being played here - and they were seen off when Lyons came from the bench in the second half. History was then made as Leeds faced the same opposition for four consecutive weeks for the first time.

Having lost away at Widnes and then comprehensively turned the tables with Gibson claiming his first hat trick, all down the South Stand side; the sides met for the fifth straight year in the cup, initially at muddy Naughton Park. Paul Medley was brought into the side and vindicated his selection with two rip-roaring tries but it took a late, angled Creasser penalty -after he had missed five previous shots at goal - for Leeds to claim the draw their superb defence so richly deserved. Creasser's kicking was the difference in an absorbing, attritional midweek replay in front of nearly 16,000 fans where, again, defences dominated with Heron exceptional in that regard. Lyons landed a drop goal courtesy of a post and when he was pole-axed soon after, Creasser's second penalty secured the spoils. Ten days later and the excitement stakes were raised even higher, as Hull K.R. provided the opposition in the semi final at Elland Road.

Described by many as 'the greatest in living memory', the match had everything including ceaseless drama, no little controversy and some consummate skill that defied the cold and wet. Both sides pulled back ten point deficits, and seemingly lost causes, Leeds the first to dominate with a try from Creasser in the corner and drop goal by Terry Webb. Currie was then put over by Kevin Rayne; Paul Harkin sent off for trying to trip the Aussie in the act of scoring. Lyons dropped a goal but Rovers hauled themselves back into the contest with a hotly-debated score by David Laws who clearly dropped the ball as he dived over. The Robins produced a masterly third quarter with three converted tries to Laws and a brace for the brilliant Mike Smith, and it seemed that they had done enough. Currie forced the Loiners back into the match with his second try and then Medley again showed his searing pace to level; Creasser just missing the conversion and Ward a drop goal. Remarkably, it was Leeds' fourth draw of the season.

There was an anxious wait while Lyons and Currie were cleared to stay on for the replay the following Thursday and at half time, in front of almost 33,000 imploring fans, that was a stalemate with no points being posted and both packs pummeling each other for the crucial first points. They came just after the break thanks to a Harkin drop goal and from then on Rovers dominated, scoring three tries from close in. Despite the crushing disappointment, there was near glory in the Premiership, Phil Owen's stunning long range try the highlight of a surprise semi final victory at St Helens to end their record-equalling run of 13 successive wins; before narrow defeat at Halifax, conceding the winning try to Tony Anderson three minutes from time.

On the international front, Kevin Rayne celebrated his GB call up with a man of the match performance against France at Wigan; Jeff Grayshon played in the second and third Tests of the drawn series with New Zealand; Roy Powell and David Creasser faced the Kiwis for the under 21's, Brendan Hill joining them for the home Test with France. Creasser and Dave Heron represented Yorkshire against New Zealand and Hill played alongside Heron in the 'War of the Roses'. Highly sought-after youngsters Martyn Smithson and Paul Delaney were signed and Richard Pratt, Henry Sharp and Errol Johnson bloodied although Terry Webb was surprisingly released at the end of the season with a year of his contract still to run.

1986-87

1986-87

A difference in for and against of 108 points was all that separated Leeds from relegation for the first time in their history at the end of an 'annus horribilis'. A changing guard, poor recruitment, a horrendous run with injuries from the off which saw a total of 42 players used and a waning of confidence within the team and among the fans almost brought the club its greatest ignominy.

Although only two competition points separated the Loiners from the play offs and encompassed six sides; if Oldham had not lost their last six fixtures - two of them to champions Wigan - then Leeds would have joined Featherstone, Barrow and Wakefield in the Second Division.

A woeful start, winning only three games in ten and equally dispiriting end, with three victories coming from the last twelve fixtures, were the main reasons behind the fall from grace, which by the mid-way point had cost Peter Fox his job.

Before a competitive boot had been laced, Leeds were in dispute with neighbours Hunslet, who had appointed David Ward as their coach although the Headingley management still saw him as a key member of their roster. Eventually the RFL fined Hunslet £200 for an illegal approach but arguably the club's best modern-day skipper had played his last game in blue and amber. He was joined at Elland Road by Terry Webb, who was made their skipper, after Leeds decided to make him a free agent with a year left on his contract.

Likewise, stalwarts Neil Hague - for a fee of £12,000 - and Roy Dickinson left to join Halifax and within three weeks of the start of the season, Kevin Dick departed for Hull in a swap deal that brought in scrum half Andy Gascoigne and prop Trevor Skerrett.

Jeff Grayshon had been advised to retire with a chronic back problem although he came back later in the season after rest and the only bright spot was the return to the fold of John Holmes following a year out during which he greatly missed the game he loved and adorned.

Overseas recruitment was similarly feted, with Leeds desperate to recruit a top line centre. Tony Currie was approached by Canterbury which scuppered a return for the previous year's 'Player of the Season'; Dean Bell looked like he would be coming back but the lure of Kiwi Graham Lowe's appointment at Wigan put a stop to that and terms were agreed with Peter Jackson until he was tempted from Brisbane Souths to Canberra.

In the end, once the 1986 Kangaroo squad was announced, Leeds got their man; bringing over young, Cronulla superstar Andrew Ettingshausen - who was to prove a revelation - followed by his team mate Mark McGaw, who were both omitted from the Green and Gold's.

Similarly, in September, the Headingley management went after Wayne Pearce who had initially pulled out because of injury and Greg Alexander who was later called up as cover for the sidelined Eric Grothe.

There were question marks over the pedigree of other two quota recruits in the pack; hooker Bob Morris coming from country football at Taree and playing most of the year in the Alliance and Illawarra prop Peter Smith making little impact and eventually having his contract terminated. Their arrival had seen popular Kiwi Trevor Clark farmed out on loan to York because of quota restrictions. Straight away, the signs were ominous.

Big league defeats at home to St Helens and away at Widnes sandwiched a comprehensive Yorkshire Cup second round exit at Castleford; long term injuries to Roy Powell and Keith Rayne seeing Kurshid (Tony) Butt given his debut who, in his first three appearances, played prop, hooker and then second row.

Ettingshausen's arrival brought temporary respite, the immediately popular pin up scoring on his debut in a comfortable success over Salford - York's county back rower Gary Price also making his bow - and registering six touchdowns in his opening four championship appearances. The standards gap was cruelly exposed by the touring 'unbeatables' who, inspired by Peter Sterling and two-try Wally Lewis, put on a Headingley master class to win 40-0. League inconsistency continued to keep Leeds haunted by the relegation spectre.

A magnificent win at their traditional Boulevard graveyard, with Mark Conway outstanding and £60,000 recruit from Bramley, centre Andy Mason, scoring on his debut; was followed by another home mauling this time by Warrington for whom Mark Roberts blazed a hat trick and Andy Gregory was at his cocksure best. When he went on the transfer list for a world record £130,000 fee, Leeds were reported to be interested but Gregory went to Wigan, who dumped the Loiners out of the John Player Special Trophy in the first round at Central Park.

The slide was becoming so concerning that a public meeting was held with the coach adamant that things would come right. With Ettingshausen revelling in his new full back role, Hull K.R. were inflicted with their worst defeat for 12 years in mid-December and although Barrow were then beaten, with former Leigh winger Phil Fox scoring two tries; namesake Peter was sacked on Christmas Eve.

Maurice Bamford, who had announced after the Test whitewash that he would not be seeking a contract renewal with Great Britain, was re-appointed and on Boxing Day Wakefield were thrashed with Ettingshausen scoring a hat trick.

Ray Ashton was captured from Oldham for £40,000 to become the eleventh debutant of the season while an approach from Rochdale for John Holmes was turned down and Brendan Hill moved to Bradford for £30,000, the club his father had played for. Two defeats and two victories followed - the last a comprehensive taming of Widnes - in the run up to the Challenge Cup; Carl Gibson's 100th career try being the only score in a first round win at the Willows over Salford.

Barrow were beaten in the second round with Mark McGaw signing off with a brace but Wembley dreams were ended by Widnes, the sixth successive year the sides had met in the competition, in front of a Headingley crowd of nearly 15,000. Despite leading 7-0 at the break in the best forty minutes of the season Leeds could not hang on, 'E.T' having a try disallowed and then trying to chip over Rick Thackray in the desperate closing stages only to see the Chemics' winger pick off the ball and register the decisive score.

Versatile Trevor Clark, who had been re-called from York and looked to have made the loose forward berth his own, bravely filled in at full back when Ettingshausen returned home with a record of 17 tries in 20 appearances. The only bright spot in a disastrous six week run-in was the completion of a rare double over Hull, ending a six match home losing streak against the Airlie Birds, with Paul Medley back to his best rampaging form.

The poor results prompted the formation of a new football division under the chairmanship of banker Bernard Coulby as Leeds just held on to their top flight status. Among the youngsters signed, were prop David Amman who came from Sandal rugby union and Paul Worthy, son of former Keighley player Dave; while Australian Mark Wilkes was taken on trial from Workington, landing two goals against Barrow in his only appearance. Headingley was also the backdrop for an ITV drama series 'Flying Lady' with footage shot during the home clash with Hull K.R.

1988-89

1988-89

A near five year wait was over as silverware returned to Headingley within three months of Malcolm Reilly and assistant coach Alan Agar taking over the reigns - but it was an encouraging start that was not capitalised upon.

Off the field, Leeds underwent an important management re-structure with Bolton Wanderers' Alf Davies coming in as chief executive while in the governance of the game, a new six man board of directors took over the day to day running of the sport which included Harry Jepson.

In an effort to obtain some consistency in refereeing standards, recently retired whistler Fred Lindop was appointed the first Controller of Referees. Three Loiners returned early from the Lions tour after suffering injuries; Garry Schofield, Lee Crooks and Paul Medley but there was genuine optimism throughout the code after Great Britain's backs to the wall third Test win in Sydney in which Roy Powell was outstanding. That was reflected on the terraces; overall gates were up by a quarter, Leeds doubling their average to just over 12,000 in two seasons.

Negotiations were held with Jonathan Davies but he was to spurn overtures from both Leeds and St Helens to join Widnes. Andrew Ettingshausen and Cliff Lyons were on their way back along with Canberra, Queensland and new Australian prop 'Slammin' Sam Backo.

Trevor Clark was transferred to Featherstone as a result. After the previous campaign being undermined by poor away form, Leeds started with two comfortable victories on their travels albeit against promoted clubs.

Teenage winger Vince Fawcett was the star, benefiting from superb service from Lions centre David Stephenson, registering a try on his debut against Featherstone. He posted two more in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup - which was the preliminary one re-named - as Bramley were beaten in the first competitive clash between the neighbours since 1966. The kick off was delayed as more than 4,000 fans crammed in to McLaren Field, not least to see Loiners legend Les Dyl play for the Villagers after returning from running a bar in Benidorm.

Sadly, Fawcett was to suffer burns in an accident at home and missed virtually the rest of the campaign.

In the first real test of the season, Widnes were comfortable winners at Headingley, scoring four tries in eight minutes late on. Test prop Hugh Waddell made his Leeds debut after signing from Oldham - with John Fairbank moving to the Watersheddings in part exchange - and he had the consolation of gaining the man of the match award.

Cliff Lyons donned the blue and amber again for the Yorkshire Cup second round tie at home to Bradford, which again saw a Paul Medley-inspired epic comeback. Leeds trailed 21-8 on the hour before the young substitutes' introduction along with Mark Broke-Cowden and he immediately changed the game; scoring a try and inspiring an irresistible 16 point blast. Garry Schofield with his fourth interception try of the season, Carl Gibson and Roy Powell were part of the Yorkshire side that beat Lancashire 24-14 in the War of the Roses encounter at Headingley that marked the switching on of the new floodlights and mirroring that, Leeds thrashed St Helens at home in a consummate display that saw Backo make his bow. Gary Lord had been signed for £20,000 from Castleford - to replace Errol Johnson who had gone to Bradford - by the time Wakefield were faced in the next round of the Yorkshire Cup. The visitors were without major signing Mark Graham and their other big import Steve Ella missed two easy shots at goal as Leeds hung on for victory, Medley again proving to be the difference off the bench.

Hull, under their new coach Brian Smith, gained their first league points of the season at the Boulevard four days before the sides faced each other in the county cup semi. Again it was a late show after Paul Eastwood's long range try had looked to have put the Humbersiders in control; Backo coming off the bench with barely eight minutes left to power his way over between the posts for his most memorable score. It was Leeds' fifth semi final in six seasons but qualification for their first White Rose final since 1980.

Wigan, without their four Kiwi internationals who were on World Cup final duty, fell prey to the majesty of Garry Schofield as he tormented the cherry and whites with four sparkling touchdowns. It was the perfect lead in to facing Reilly's former club Castleford, who were unbeaten league leaders, at Elland Road before a superb crowd of 23,000. Magnificent interception tries from Schofield and then as the game hung in the balance Carl Gibson turned the tide Leeds' way, both of them finishing with a brace.

Lee Crooks and Colin Maskill put in towering performances; Medley claimed his customary spectacular touchdown and Cliff Lyons was awarded the White Rose trophy for his midfield generalship. David Stephenson set a new record for goals in the final with six, allowing him to complete the set of having won every possible winners medal in the game.

Unusually, Leeds created history by winning the trophy without having to leave the city. Cas gained almost immediate revenge with a thoroughly deserved win at Headingley in the first round of the John Player; a spell of three defeats in four - all of them at home. The enormous Warrington front row of Steve Roach, Kevin Tamati and Les Davidson laid the platform for an easy win and Hull gained revenge for their Yorkshire Cup exit, Schofield suffering a dislocated collar bone. In between those setbacks, Salford had been defeated to end their unbeaten home record at the Willows that season with England rugby union international winger John Bentley on debut; a record 31st signing by Leeds from the England ranks but their first since Pat Quinn in 1956. He came on a three year deal for a reputed £80,000 although by then, Doncaster had paid a club record £11,000 for Kevin Rayne.

With Andrew Ettingshausen switched to full back, Leeds regained their potency and were particularly impressive over the Christmas and New Year period. They went into the festivities maintaining their excellent away from with a sensational success at champions Widnes to end their 13 match unbeaten run. Bentley scored his first try opposite Martin Offiah and Roy Powell produced a typical wonder tackle to claim Alan Tait in the shadow of the posts after he seemed a certain scorer.

A record first division home crowd of nearly 17,000 saw Halifax accounted for on Boxing Day with Carl Gibson scoring a try on his 100th appearance. Chris Vasey had been snapped up from Dewsbury and on the eve of the New Year, another of Malcolm Reilly's Lions arrived in the shape of Phil Ford in a £95,000 deal which saw Mark Wilson go to Bradford. Ford joined elite company in the shape of Alan Smith and Eric Grothe with a hat trick on his debut, against Oldham, but the next piece of business before the challenge cup deadline raised a howl of protest.

In a transfer valued at £140,000, Test back rower Paul Dixon arrived from Halifax with immensely popular Paul Medley and John Lyons shipping out to Thrum Hall. Narrow defeat at St Helens effectively ended any title aspirations before the run of Leeds-based cup ties continued as Hunslet came to Headingley in the preliminary round on the road to Wembley; their first meeting in the competition since 1965 - the year the myrtle and flame had graced the Twin Towers. The clash also marked the returns of David Ward and Neil Hague and in a nervy first half; a shock looked on the cards until Leeds pulled clear thanks to a Paul Dixon try. The first round match at York provoked such interest that it was switched to Bootham Crescent where over 11,000 - guaranteeing club record receipts - saw Leeds again have to work for victory, clinched by an Ettingshausen special. Roy Powell missed his only match of the season and second in 85. More fortune in the draw saw a third second division side come to Headingley as Carlisle were comfortably accounted for. The season hinged on consecutive games, a spirited display at Central Park gave Wigan a real run for their money, Loiners creating more chances before an Ellery Hanley try proved decisive.

Youngster Paul Delaney retained his spot for his cup debut to face Widnes in front of a massive Headingley attendance of 26,300 - the biggest for 25 years. In their 14th quarter final in 15 years, the Chemics were awesome, racing to a 14-0 half time lead. Lee Crooks scored on the resumption and Cliff Lyons had a try disallowed and the home challenge ebbed, the only highlight an astonishing cover tackle by Ford on Offiah. Victory, with ET posting a try on his final appearance, and then defeat followed in consecutive weeks against Wakefield - Mark Conway and Andy Mason undoing their old club - but a five match winning run saw the Loiners finish in an improved third spot. Their success at Hull K.R. was their final visit to the old Craven Park and condemned Rovers to relegation and victory over Castleford in which David Creasser scored his 1,000th point, briefly saw Leeds head the table but having played more games than their rivals.

In the Premiership, Peter Fox's Featherstone produced a massive Headingley upset, winning 15-12 with half backs Graham Steadman and Deryck Fox outstanding. During the season, Leeds had taken part in the televised British Coal Nines, beating the President's IX before going out to the Rest of the World and young wingers Richard Pratt and Mark Massa had left to join Hull K.R. and Huddersfield respectively. Norman Smith's Alliance side, superbly led by loose forward by John Holmes and skipper Paul Gill at prop, claimed the Yorkshire Senior and Slalom Lager Challenge Cups in front of record home crowds. Legendary, revered coach Roy Francis died in April 1989 aged 70 a week after being included in the Wall of Fame in the Social Club.

1980-81

1989-90

The eighties ended with a campaign that summed up the decade; fervent expectation mixed with high drama, coupled with some tremendous individual performances and no silverware. Arch-rivals Bradford were faced five times and Wigan four in matches that decided the Loiners' trophy ambitions as the blue and amber faithful continued to flock to the Headingley temple. They had new heroes to worship in barnstorming Craig Izzard who became a cult figure in a three month cameo stint and cultured compatriot Craig Coleman who was a superb midfield general. There was a renaissance for Dave Heron who proved to be a revelation at stand off and Colin Maskill won the 'Player of the Year' award for a string of never-say-die performances.

The relatively low key initial return of the legend whose shirt Maskill wore, David Ward proved to be pivotal. Taken back from Hunslet as assistant to Malcolm Reilly, the man who epitomised the word pride found himself in the hot seat within three weeks of the start of the season when Reilly surprisingly resigned after 14 months in charge; claiming that he was no longer enjoying the job and to concentrate on his Great Britain duties. He was also frustrated that the two players he coveted most failed to materialize; Peter Sterling - who had signed a two year deal - not recovering from ankle ligament damage suffered at Parramatta and Hugh McGahan - virtually the only Kiwi tourist of that year who did not sign for a British club - who could not be prized away from Eastern Suburbs. Transfer activity had been relatively light during the summer, Gary Price eventually going to Featherstone for £50,000, Mark Brooke-Cowden joining Salford and David Stephenson moving to nearer his Blackpool home when he went to Leigh for £55,000.

Full back Warren Wilson came in from neighbours Hunslet and scored a brace on his debut at Barrow, Leeds having disappointingly lost their opening home league fixture to Wakefield the week before. Outmuscled by Bradford in the opening round of the Yorkshire Cup at home saw Reilly become the third successive national coach to vacate the Leeds hot seat. In the opening half of the next match against struggling Salford, things seemed to have gone from bad to worse as Leeds found themselves 14 points down - increased to 20 soon after the break despite parading costly new signing Gary Divorty who had been signed from Hull, a tribunal valuing him at £120,000. But with Ward's words ringing in their ears, Izzard taking a tremendous lead despite only landing the day before and Roy Powell skippering by example, they hit back to sensationally win 34-28; in full back Rex Terp's only appearance for the club. Izzard again showed his dynamism and courage in a narrow loss at Hull and the following week Coleman arrived to mastermind an equally close victory at Featherstone with Gary Spencer outstanding.

With two bids tuned down for Salford's former Keighley centre Ian Bragger - who eventually went to Castleford - unsettled Leeds were hammered by the Kiwi tourists 34-4 who included in their ranks four players who were to wear the blue and amber; Gary Mercer, Tony Kemp, Mike Kuiti and Esene Faimalo. By then, a disgruntled Lee Crooks had been transfer listed at a world record £250,000, Bramley's offer to take him on loan and a derisory one from his former club Hull having been summarily rejected. Mark Laurie's return for a second stint, five years after he had graced the shirt, immediately lifted the side in the first game played at Chesterfield's Saltergate ground against the nomadic but high-flying Sheffield Eagles. Coleman and Divorty quickly re-established the partnership they had at Hull and Heron's move to number six immediately paid dividends. He was again outstanding as league leaders Warrington were swept away 30-6, the Headingley crowd greeting their Thursday night heroes with a standing ovation. Garry Schofield returned after seven weeks out to mesmerise Ryedale-York with four tries in a Regal Trophy Preliminary Round tie. Next up at home, over 14,000 thrilled to a 26-12 victory over recently crowned World Club Champions Widnes in a match that had everything. Izzard defied a fractured cheekbone, Paul Moriarty was marched for a high challenge on Hugh Waddell that broke his jaw, Roy Powell was worryingly carried off after collapsing and Phil Ford made his now customary superb tracking tackle to halt Martin Offiah. Heron outplayed Jonathan Davies to notch two tries to cement his awards of 'Wallace Arnold/Sunday Mirror Entertainer of the Month' and 'British Fuels/Daily Express Personality of the Month'. Narrowest of defeats at Bradford followed, Maskill just missing a last gasp conversion and luckless David Creasser breaking his hand on his comeback from a knee injury.

Regal Trophy action dominated December, Maskill and the returning Crooks doing enough to see Leigh off at Headingley, thanks also to a fine try saver on David Ruane by Vince Fawcett. Bradford were kept tryless in front of 15,500 in the Second Round, Craig Coleman starting and finishing the move that brought Leeds level at the break. Schofield dropped a goal, David Hobbs missed a fifth shot at goal and Maskill's touchdown secured the win. A third successive home draw brought Wigan to town and saw the Parramatta match up between their former coach John Monie and his protégés, Izzard and Laurie. Wigan's rearguard was superb to withstand the second minute dismissal of Steve Hampson for a high shot on Maskill, the Wigan full back having suffered a similar fate in the Second Test.

The sides slugged out a terrific 10-all draw in the mud with only a desperate chase denying Joe Lydon a last gasp chance at a drop goal. In the hastily arranged midweek replay, Leeds overcame the loss of Izzard and had the best chance in the first half when Coleman intercepted but could not quite go the length of the field. It took 67minutes for the deadlock to be broken, teenage back up hooker Bobby Goulding kicking a penalty. Maskill missed one in response and then Goulding's brilliant chip set up Shaun Edwards, Heron being sent off in frustration. A Boxing Day crowd of 18,000 saw the last of Izzard's 13 appearances as he went off after suffering damage from knees while having a try disallowed. Shaun Irwin was sent off for a high challenge on Coleman and it took a late Gary Divorty drop goal and David Creasser try for the Loiners to end the eighties with a win. Some squad re-shaping saw Queensland tourist Cavill Heugh drafted in from Barrow to replace Izzard; Mike Kuiti arrive, David Cruickshank lined up to take over from his South Sydney team mate Coleman and former Welsh union international Rob Ackermann signed from Whitehaven. The first try of the new decade against Hull was a classic; Lee Crooks set up new skipper Garry Schofield, he found Mark Laurie and Coleman finished the 70 metre charge while Heugh hacked on three times to score on his debut.

Laurie's only try of his second spell came in his last appearance in a tremendous win at Naughton Park against Widnes, Divorty playing at stand off and Schofield scoring the vital try just before half time. Crooks was injured in his final match before his much anticipated move away, to Castleford for £150,000. Before the cup deadline, Leeds made a bid to buy Welsh, having a £145,000 bid for Swansea stand off Tony Clement rejected but snapping up 14 cap Lions prop David Young.

They also added local England B union international Simon Irving to their ranks. There was much debate about seeding the Challenge Cup Preliminary Round when Leeds were drawn against Bradford and St Helens faced Cas, the meek Loiners going out of the competition in mid-January for the first time. Paul Harkin was the Northern mastermind behind a dominant pack for whom Kelvin Skerrett was outstanding. Leeds never recovered from being ten points down at the break, Graham Mackay kicking a late touchline conversion for the visitors. Defeat left concentration solely on the league and Colin Maskill's 26 points - the highest ever against Leigh - and David Creassser's 1,000th for the club ensured a scrappy win in Craig Coleman's last game of 16. Some consolation came with a win over Bradford in the second meeting in a week, Kuiti claiming two tries and popular Norman Francis one but title hopes were dealt a blow in a narrow defeat at St Helens where Leeds were 20 points down in 15 minutes before levelling with four tries either side of half time, two of them to Carl Gibson. They even had a last chance to draw but Heugh could not find Schofield with a scoring pass. Barrow took the brunt of the Loiners' frustrations with a stunning 90-0 win that was a post war club and division one record. Rob Ackermann scored two of the 17 tries on debut, Young also making his bow. Hugh Waddell scored tries against Sheffield in another big win and at Leigh before joining the Eagles as the Championship boiled down to home and away games with Wigan which attracted a combined total of nearly 50,000 fans.

At Headingley, Leeds froze after going behind to an Andy Goodway try in the first minute and trailed 21-2 after being completely outplayed before salvaging some late Schofield-inspired pride. All hopes seemed to have gone when a howling John Bentley error saw victory given away at Warrington but he responded with a hat trick at Wakefield, before the most astonishing result of the season. Cruickshank was sent off after two minutes against Saints but the 12 men ran in a glorious 34 points without reply in the second period including a hat trick for Phil Ford. Wigan's losses to Widnes and Castleford set up a Tuesday night title showdown at Central Park.

The Loiners matched the cherry and whites throughout but luck just deserted them. Mark Preston's two first half tries were both goaled from the touchline by Bobby Goulding but Leeds responded with three Maskill penalties and a Heugh try in a brave effort while Gibson set a new club consecutive appearance record. A win over Featherstone took the Championship to the last week and although Leeds were well beaten by Castleford, their second placed finish was their best in the two division era. A measure of revenge was gained over Cas in the Premiership the following week, Maskill's late interception of a Crooks pass sending Vince Fawcett in for the clincher but a tired side crashed out to Widnes.

John Holmes wore the colours for the final time, in the 'A' team on 21st April, and history was made in early May when the Alliance side beat Moscow Magicians 34-16 as the code was established in Russia. Neil James was signed from Halifax for £20,000 and Francis Maloney snared on a record contract for an amateur. Paul Delaney and Fawcett gained GB under 21's selection and Garry Schofield, Carl Gibson and Roy Powell were chosen to tour Papua and New Zealand. Interest was shown in out of contract 'Man of Steel' Shaun Edwards but one of the biggest transfer coups in the club's history was on the horizon.

1990-91

1990-91

On the 21st May 1990, Leeds stunned the entire rugby world and created a media frenzy around Headingley when they announced the previously unheralded signing of London-born All Black John Gallagher. The classy full back had been over to his home city to collect the rugby union 'International Player of the Year' award at a glittering ceremony, when he had been approached by the Loiners' management about a possible switch of codes. Aged 26, he was deemed to be at the peak of his powers and although his contract was reputed to be worth £350,000 over five years, few regarded it as anything other than money well speculated. Having finished second in the previous season, such a huge capture sent a wave of optimism through the city - with season ticket sales soaring as a result - and re-established the club's pre-eminent reputation even overshadowing Wigan and their continued, voracious trophy-gathering. His arrival saw the departure of Warren Wilson to Halifax for £20,000 while the other major area of recruitment was at scrum half.

Ray Ashton moved to Workington as player/coach and after a bid for Balmain's Kiwi Test pivot Gary Freeman failed, Bradford's Paul Harkin, so often the scourge of Leeds, was captured; a tribunal eventually valuing the 32-year old at £65,000. Ikram Butt went to Featherstone and youngsters Paul Anderson from Redhill and St John Fisher's Francis Maloney were offered contracts, the latter a club record for an amateur. There was also an unexpected addition when Kenyan rugby union winger Eddie Rombo - a fervent admirer of Gallagher - asked for a trial. His four tries and starring role in the Wigan 7's, where Leeds just lost out to the hosts in the final, ensured him a deal. His arrival saw Friday night Alliance cult figure Norman Francis move on to Oldham. The initial impact of Gallagher's arrival was seen in testimonial friendlies at Bramley - for former old boys Peter Lister and Paul Fletcher - and Ryedale-York. Over 4,000 fans at each saw the newcomer grab tries in both matches as Leeds rattled up 96 points, conceding only 12.

That hugely encouraging, appetite whetting form was not carried into the season, however, where Leeds made a patchy and inconsistent start; their opening twelve matches reading lost three, won three, lost three, won three. As so often, it was a case of the past coming back to haunt them when they faced the holders, Bradford, in the opening round of the Yorkshire Cup, at home. Although the Loiners led 16-8 after 50 minutes, two tries from Paul Medley and one by Mark Wilson saw Northern home, the loss compounded by an injury to Garry Schofield which kept him sidelined for a month.

Desperately disappointing defeat at newly promoted Oldham - where Harkin was sent off after half an hour for a trip - and home to Hull, when Simon Irving scored his first tries for the club, also saw leads squandered. There was a desperate need to strengthen the go forward and, first, Great Britain prop Shaun Wane was signed from Wigan for £60,000 - inspiring an encouraging win at Warrington on his debut, in a match which saw Gallagher claim his first senior touchdown. The following week Warrington's Steve Molloy, a £110,000 capture, made his bow in a home match against St Helens that was switched to 6.30 on the Sunday evening for the new BSkyB channel, attracting 13,000 fans. The championship season seemed back on track a week later with a convincing win at Odsal, where Leeds led 17-0 at the break, which took them to third spot. With Schofield and Harkin running the show, Test second rowers Paul Dixon, with two tries, and Roy Powell were outstanding. An injury time touchline conversion to an Alan Banks try by Martin Pearson saw Featherstone again raise fallibility doubts; Carl Gibson missing his first match after a run of 91 consecutive appearances thanks to a dose of food poisoning. Pride was regained in defeat a week later against the Kangaroo tourists who were coming off victory against Wigan and a week before the first Test at Wembley.

The blue and amber, with Gary Divorty making his first appearance of the season after coming back injured from a summer stint at the Gold Coast, built an astonishing 10-0 lead against a side that contained former players Andrew Ettingshausen and Mark McGaw, on the back of a brilliant kicking game. Gallagher grabbed the first in a storming display that led to calls for him to be included in the GB squad but two Paul Sironen efforts either side of half time and late tries to Mal Meninga and Bob Lindner saw the tourist's edge home, although Laurie Daley suffered a broken hand. Gallagher had to settle for a role as part of the BBC commentary team at the Twin Towers as Dixon, Powell, Gibson and Schofield performed heroically in a memorable British win. A comprehensive, fourth championship defeat, at Widnes, after a poor start to the game effectively ended realistic title hopes although three big wins followed. The first saw the Test four back up the day after heartbreaking defeat at Old Trafford as bottom club Rochdale were thrashed, Irving claiming 24 points including ten out of eleven goals and Dixon a hat trick. Irving was on target again with nine conversions as the Regal Trophy started; Schofield scoring a brace of tries for the second successive week as Halifax were crushed in the preliminary round.

Eight players with a combined value of £170,000 were put on the transfer list in November, among them Rob Ackerman who eventually went to Carlisle, Gary Spencer and Chris Vasey who returned to former clubs Wakefield and Dewsbury respectively and Neil James who joined Ryedale-York. The best display of the campaign saw Castleford easily beaten at Headingley, Schofield outplaying their big money signing Graham Steadman; Mike Kuiti posting a hat trick, Molloy his debut try and Irving one from a 90 metre interception. A Schofield try from a scrum move seven minutes from time just overcame Hull Kingston Rovers in a classic Regal tie, Irving's faultless goal kicking proving to be the difference; Mike Fletcher hitting the post twice in reply. Hopes of a decent run in the competition were dashed, though, in Arctic conditions at Naughton Park under controversial circumstances. Leeds were ahead 6-0 at the break but were incensed by the refereeing of Brian Galtress who sin binned John Bentley and sent Paul Dixon off.

A first visit to the Don Valley Stadium saw Sheffield defeated but only after a 15 minute floodlight failure in the second half; Irving receiving his marching orders after a trip on veteran Keith Mumby. Two Gallagher tries unsettled Wigan at Central Park but scores from Ellery Hanley and Dean Bell gave the cherry and whites narrow victory. Bradford were beaten on Boxing Day in Schofield's 100th appearance for the club in a howling gale and heavy rain; Harkin scoring a try with a trademark dummy and Bentley crossing from half way before Karl Fairbank was dismissed for flattening Richard Gunn. Gallagher, who had been man of the match against Oldham, came in for some fierce treatment in away clashes at Hull - the home side saying an emotional farewell to coach Brian Smith with a big win - and St Helens where there was outrage over a spear tackle.

The confidence-shattering incident went unpunished and from the resulting scrum, Sean Devine scored to put Saints on the way to victory. Tony Butt made a rare appearance at Knowsley Road along with Dave Heron who was back after five months out injured. Eddie Rombo bagged his first try in his third outing away at Castleford, a stunning effort with a step and dash from 60 metres; Leeds going down 16-14 despite scoring three tries to two. Undersoil heating ensured the Challenge Cup first round tie with Dewsbury went ahead despite snow; Rombo claiming a double and Francis Maloney making his debut against his home town club. The season's nadir came a week later, Widnes inflicting a humiliating 38-0 Headingley defeat to near silence from the dumbfounded home crowd. Martin Offiah and Joe Grima posted embarrassingly easy tries, Andy Currier ending with a hat trick and five goals in a match that left a deep scar.

Some pride was regained at Odsal in the Challenge Cup but for the second successive week Leeds failed to post a point, going down to a Darrell Shelford try and John Pendlebury drop goal in heavy conditions; all the points coming in the opening 25 minutes. A six match unbeaten run ended the campaign which included a double over Hull K.R. and three out of four points against Wakefield; the draw coming at Belle Vue when Tracy Lazenby scored a last minute try although Mark Conway missed the touchline conversion for Trinity. An audacious attempt to bring Bobby Goulding in for £150,000 broke down but Maloney scored his first and only points for the club with a goal on a narrowed pitch at Rochdale and, although on the transfer list, Phil Ford claimed a hat trick in a big win at Featherstone. In the meantime, David Young moved to Salford and in the final league match of the season there was more anguish as a jaded and injury hit Wigan won at canter to lift the championship trophy; their Headingley lap of honour further galling the home fans. The main drama, on and off the field, came in the end of season Premiership Trophy. A sensational last minute try between the posts, having been denied an earlier 70 metre interception effort, by 'Man of Steel' Garry Schofield brought an unlikely win at Wheldon Road; Vince Fawcett scoring his first try of the season.

Even greater heroics defensively had seemingly put the side to within a minute of reaching Old Trafford for the first time when Gary Nolan, with his first touch, beat Gallagher to a Greg Mackey bomb for the clinching score. Hull went on to win the final against Widnes but it was announced in the aftermath that Chemics coach Doug Laughton had agreed to join Leeds as team manager. The board felt that his experience in winning the big games was the missing ingredient but David Ward resigned in protest at being asked to be his number two. During the season, Harry Jepson had been elected President of the RFL and Garry Schofield also won the 'Ernest Ward Memorial Trophy' as international player of the year after performing superbly in all ten Tests, principally at stand off. Fatigue caused him to turn down the chance of a summer stint at Gold Coast, which Paul Dixon accepted. At the start of another new dawn Dewsbury took Paul Delaney and Paul Worthy for a combined fee of £45,000 but the club vehemently denied that they had made a £1million offer to Will Carling.

1991-92

1991-92

To coin a sporting truism, the start of the much heralded Doug Laughton era at Headingley was a season of two halves. The former Widnes supremo, whose sides always seemed to over perform rather than under achieve, was viewed as the man most likely to harness the undoubted talent within the Loiners' squad into a trophy winning force.

By Christmas, the prophesy seemed to be coming true with his side top of the league and in the Regal Trophy final but by the end of the campaign, the cupboard was bare and the club had suffered two of the worst defeats in its long and distinguished history.

Gary Stephens was appointed assistant coach, joining from Ryedale-York with David Ward going to Batley as the indomitable Laughton embarked on one of his renowned, spectacular recruitment drives.

Bobby Goulding, itching for first team football rather than play understudy to Shaun Edwards, came in from Wigan for £90,000, Paul Harkin moving on to Halifax for a third of that fee as a result. Mike Kuiti went to Rochdale in a swap for one of Douggie's respected lieutenants, veteran Mike O'Neill and negotiators to bring Kiwi full back Morvin Edwards in effectively saw fellow New Zealander John Gallagher consigned to Alliance rugby. If Gallagher's signing had created near-hysteria the season before, even that was about to be topped.

First though, with a sense of inevitability, Laughton was sent to his old club to open the campaign. Only an Andy Currier goal separated the sides who scored two tries each; John Devereux just getting back with a last ditch tackle on Garry Schofield to secure the points for the Chemics.

Just before the 5pm deadline on the Friday before the first home league fixture, against Hull, Leeds smashed the transfer world record to 'bring home' arguably the most charismatic and influential player of his generation. Discussions with Ellery Hanley had begun in August when he rejected a new contract with Wigan and he eventually - and scarcely believably for the Headingley faithful - agreed to don the blue and amber as player/coach to become the sport's first quarter of a million pound player.

A crowd of 15,000 and a shining sun greeted his debut as Leeds won narrowly thanks to two tries from John Bentley after being level at the break. Defeat back at the Boulevard ended Yorkshire Cup hopes with Hanley skipper for the first time, much to the chagrin of Schofield; Greg Mackey scoring a try and making one for Russ Walker. A first loss of the season was inflicted on Castleford at Wheldon Road, with David Creasser lodging a try double and Gareth Stephens making his first start before Hanley opened his astonishing try account with a treble at home to Swinton. Paul Dixon, who began the campaign in sizzling form after a spell in the ARL, topped that with four touchdowns as Bradford were thrashed at Odsal, a result that saw Leeds go top. That was short lived as Warrington took the spoils at Headingley and a last minute Michael Jackson try from a scrum win against the feed saw Wakefield sneak home 22-20 after Leeds had led at Belle Vue 20-4 with 20 minutes to go, much to the ire of their coach.

Hull showed an interest in Test men Roy Powell, who was not on the transfer list and Gary Divorty who was, while Tony Butt joined his brother Ikram at Featherstone, Gary Lord moved to Halifax for £27,500 and Richard Gunn rejected a move to newly formed Scarborough Pirates. Rangy second rower Matt Shaw made his debut on loan from York in an 8-all home draw with St Helens, Leeds coming back from eight points down and scoring two tries to one including a first from Morvin Edwards.

What came next was as remarkable as it was unexpected; Leeds going to Wigan in a televised Sunday night clash with a virtual reserve pack and running out convincing 19-0 victors; a first success at Central Park in eleven attempts.

Without Test stars Hanley, Carl Gibson and Dixon among a host of others, Phil Ford registered two tries against his former club and John Bentley sealed an astonishing display with a wonderful length of the field effort. It was the start of a ten match winning run although eleven-man Featherstone were only just held off at Headingley after Ian Smales had been dismissed and Brendan Tuuta sin binned, the visitors unsuccessfully complaining that Doug Laughton had had words with referee Ian Ollerton which influenced the outcome.

The Regal Trophy draw could not have been tougher, sending the Loiners to holders Warrington where Goulding was superb and a Hanley try from close in secured an impressive televised success. Leeds were again in front of the cameras and on their travels to another least-favoured, intimidating venue when they were paired with Hull in the second round, in a match that sparked huge controversy. Garry Schofield's sensational 90 metre try ensured a first win for him at his old club on the back of magnificent defensive efforts from Powell, Dixon and O'Neill but all the debate centred on an off the ball, late challenge on Hanley by Andy Dannatt that saw the Leeds talisman's jaw smashed in three places. Despite the referee not seeing the incident, Dannatt was found guilty in the first case of trial by video, Hull losing their appeal at the High Court to prevent the admission of the footage as evidence, and he received an eight match ban. Hanley, who was ruled out for 12 weeks in all, pursued a long-running personal claim against his assailant.

Leeds rejected loan moves from London and Leigh for John Gallagher but allowed Eddie Rombo to join Dewsbury for whom he scored 22 tries in 20 appearances. In the Regal quarter final, in front of another big crowd, two Paul Dixon tries against Cas proved to be crucial after a tight first half. Gary Divorty also crossed, as he had at Hull, after coming off the transfer list and regaining his place in Hanley's absence. The semi final was staged at Valley Parade in Bradford, against in form Salford who boasted the game's best run of six consecutive wins including one over Wigan in the earlier rounds. The Red Devils led 11-2 at the break but Leeds won through to their fifth final in the 21st year of the competition thanks to some faultless kicking from Simon Irving with five goals and a tremendous try from Mike O'Neill who took on and stood up Salford full back Steve Gibson.

In the run up to Christmas, Leeds joined the race for Martin Offiah - the Hanley money eventually seeing him go to Wigan - while on the field there were three more wins, over Bradford, Swinton and Hull KR, following a backlog for the cup run and despite late postponements due to bad weather, saw Leeds again reach the championship summit.

Goulding returned against Northern to direct operations and Roy Powell scored his last try in Leeds colours at Station Road. In the run up to the Regal Final, Leeds signed their third All Black when they announced the capture of 17-cap centre Craig Innes and went to Central Park as clear favourites against an injury-ravaged Widnes side. The big Leeds contingent, who had fought terrible traffic delays on the M62 were reduced to stunned silence as Jonathan Davies led his men to an embarrassingly easy 24-0 success. The Chemics were denied three times early on, Mike O'Neill producing a stunning tackle to haul in Darren Wright, before man of the match Les Holliday set up Davies who converted and then dropped a goal. On a heavily sanded pitch, the Widnes six took total charge, Holliday collecting his own bomb, Alan Tait scooping up the ball for a spectacular score and Joe Grima breaking from half way to send Kurt Sorensen across. Leeds' only chance came when David Creasser lost the ball over the line as they conceded the widest winning margin in a Regal final.

Phil Ford crossed for his 200th career try in a win at Salford and the Challenge Cup trail started with Leeds winning a Preliminary Round tie at Bramley, Creasser claiming a hat trick opposite younger brother Dean. In a televised tie, the Loiners eased past Ryedale-York on Innes' debut and with John Gallagher back in the side. He claimed a try and eight goals and John Bentley a hat trick but Garry Schofield left the field early with a broken cheekbone.

Coach Laughton had said that March would be the crucial month but February turned out to be a horror one, not least because stalwart and the hugely popular Powell was sold to Bradford for £80,000 after nine glorious seasons, supposedly to stimulate the transfer market. Castleford were convincing winners at Headingley with Graham Steadman scoring two tries, one of them spectacular, and Leeds none. In the Challenge Cup second round, Shane Cooper, Gary Connolly and Anthony Sullivan all registered try doubles as Leeds conceded their most points ever in the competition at home.

Warrington won a re-arranged league fixture with Dave Heron back in the side after injury and Francis Maloney making his last senior appearance from the bench. Ellery Hanley came back for a defeat at Saints that ended any title pretensions, Innes scoring his first try and Schofield returned a week later when Widnes were defeated at home.

Any euphoria at that evaporated with Wigan's 24-0 revenge win and clinical demolition at Headingley, Frano Botica proving deadly with the boot. Gary Divorty turned down a move to Featherstone with Richard Gunn which would have seen 1990 Lions tourist Ian Smales come in exchange while youngsters Leigh Deakin from Heworth and York pair Matt Shaw and Nicky Render were finally signed on permanent deals but then never played in the first team. Stuart Arundel made his bow off the bench in defeat at Hull, Paul Eastwood's goal kicking the difference after each side scored three tries and for the second home game running Leeds failed to register a point when Wakefield won easily. Hanley posted tries at Hull KR in victory and Featherstone where a last minute drop goal by tour omission Deryck Fox claimed the spoils. Defeat at home to Halifax meant Leeds missed out on a top four spot although victory at Thrum Hall three days later against eleven men saw Deakin score his first try and Innes added two more from stand off.

Loiners finished fifth, seven points off relegation and 15 behind the champions Wigan and were given little hope in the Premiership. Despite a battling performance at Wilderspool, where Des Drummond was sent off, Kevin Ellis' 78th minute try seemed to have won it for Warrington only for Schofield to equalise with a drop goal, Colin Maskill just missing another one to win the tie.

In the replay, Bobby Goulding with a touchdown, goal and drop goal and two try Schofield, playing at loose forward for hamstring victim Hanley meant a trip to Wigan and ignominy. The cherry and whites had just won their fifth straight Wembley and ripped the Loiners apart, Martin Offiah - who had yet to taste defeat in their colours - running in ten tries, five in each half to become only the third player in the game to claim double figures in a game; the first three against a dazed and hapless Deakin. Not only was it a record score for the competition but Leeds' worst defeat in their history. Its magnitude convinced the Leeds Board of the need to look at the players going full time.

Bobby Goulding became the first Lancastrian to win the Harry Falkingham Trophy as the 'Player of the Year' but his sending off against his old club earned him a four match ban and ruled him out of the Ashes tour.

1992-93

1992-93

Just like the season before; there was frustration, elation and cup humiliation for the Loiners in the second year of the Doug Laughton regime. Sky re-christened the top flight the 'Big League' for their televised games but a desperately poor start to the campaign, and defeat in two knock out semi finals after Leeds had found their feet, meant that the Headingley men remained supporting rather than lead actors - despite attracting more box office names to the ranks. Part of the reason for the shocking run up to Christmas was that the newcomers arrived late because of the Lions being on tour and a stagnant market, which meant that there was little time for combinations to gel. Laughton's recruitment followed a familiar path to his trailblazing days at Widnes, comprising of speculative raids on rugby union, going after experienced practitioners who were proven winners and snapping up some of the best juniors in waiting.

There was a huge blow before anyone put pen to paper when David Creasser announced his retirement because of persistent shoulder injuries at the age of 27 after eight seasons in the blue and amber. Eyebrows were raised when Bath and England B winger Jim Fallon signed a five year deal reputed to be worth £200,000, not because he was an unknown quantity but due to him coming to the sport at the relatively late age of 27. However, his powerful finishing from close in brought style comparisons with Alan Smith. Even more surprisingly, an incident at a pre-season training camp saw reigning 'Player of the Year' Bobbie Goulding initially suspended and then having his contract annulled. He subsequently figured in a £230,000 rated swap deal with Laughton's old club when, along with some cash, the Chemics were persuaded to part with international full back Alan Tait. Kiwi Test star Gary Mercer was signed from Warrington, which saw Dave Heron end his long and distinguished association with a move to Bradford and former coach Peter Fox; Northern now being able to field an entire ex-Leeds back row.

A proposed deal for Karl Fairbank to make the opposite move failed as did a £100,000 bid for Featherstone's international scrum half Deryck Fox. That, though, was the amount Halifax paid for Gary Divorty and John Bentley, Seamus McCallion coming in part exchange although he never made a first team appearance. In need of a midfield orchestrator, when Andy Gregory rejected terms with Wigan, Laughton swooped for the man he had signed as a junior paying an initial £30,000 with half as much again set aside for the following season. Cavill Heugh moved to Rochdale, Neil James south to Sheffield and Phil Ford was swapped for fellow tourist Mick Worrall as Leeds looked to beef up their pack. That saw Andy Goodway also captured for £25,000 from Central Park but there was frustration in Australia when Mark Geyer was injured in a car crash as he was about to come over and negotiations were increasingly protracted for Kangaroo Bob Lindner. As it turned out, that suited Leeds because experienced centre Kevin Iro became available at Manly and he was captured instead but again there was frustration as his recovery from ankle ligament damage, that was far more serious than initially advised, delayed his debut by six weeks. Injuries were to play another key factor in the early season inconsistency.

Mercer, one of six debutants for the opening day defeat at home to St Helens, sustaining a broken jaw. At Thrum Hall the following week, Gregory suffered knee damage, Leeds had four tries disallowed and again spurned a hatful of chances before a Divorty-inspired Halifax came strong in the closing stages. In the Yorkshire Cup, in the competition's final season, Fallon scored his first try for the club and Ellery Hanley two but there were worrying moments before Hunslet were finally dispatched, their scrum half James Lowes playing so well that he was snapped up and earmarked as back-up hooker. That saw Featherstone, coached by former Loiner Steve Martin, swoop for cultured Richard Gunn and he returned not long after to sign another youngster who never quite lived up to the initial expectations, Francis Maloney, whose final appearance had been in the pre-season Wigan 7's.

A first league win of the campaign came at home to Hull Kingston Rovers with Paul Dixon, operating at prop, crossing for a brace of tries. The county cup challenge ended in the second round at the Boulevard with Hull victorious as they had been the year before. Without Hanley and Tait; Morvin Edwards was recalled, Garry Schofield leading a tremendous fight back from 18-4 down at the start of the second half to bring Leeds to within two points before a Paul Eastwood penalty and late Dean Busby try saw the Airlie Birds home. Humiliating defeat at Odsal in what Laughton called a 'non-performance' set the alarm bells ringing; victory over Warrington - in which Schofield scored his 100th try in blue and amber - proving to be only temporary respite. Lowes made his debut off the bench in defeat at Wigan where Hanley was sin binned at his old stamping ground after a scuffle with Shaun Edwards.

While that loss was hardly unexpected, capitulation from a winning position at Wakefield was a disaster. Although they had just beaten Sheffield in the last Yorkshire Cup final; Trinity had not yet registered a league win. Leeds were reluctant to play, with the game scheduled three days before the World Cup Final at Wembley and missing national skipper Schofield, Hanley and Tait as a consequence. Nevertheless, with Andy Gregory back, the Loiners raced into a 16 point lead, which included Goodway's first try in the colours, only for Morvin Edwards to be sent off and teenage sensation Nigel Wright to grab victory for the jubilant hosts with a late drop goal that mirrored what had happened at Belle Vue the previous season. Real relegation fears surfaced as a result but Iro's long and eagerly awaited debut seemed to herald a change in fortune as he scored two tries in an emphatic Headingley win over Widnes. Leeds' 30 point haul in the opening forty minutes was arguably their best half of the season.

French sides were admitted into the Regal Trophy for the first time but Leeds got the toughest draw in the opening round, away at league leaders St Helens. A hamstring injury late in the final training session crucially ruled out Schofield and despite a valiant effort, a late long range drop goal from Tea Ropati again condemned Leeds to a one point heartbreaker. Unforced errors and defensive lapses characterised the next three matches, all of which were away. Ellery Hanley was magnificent at Hull with two tries but his men should have been more than seven points ahead, and lost as the better side. Atrocious conditions at Leigh with Leeds-born Aussie Carl Grigg on debut contributed to a stalemate but there was more consternation after a hammering at Sheffield - in what was their first ever win over the Loiners - which saw Andy Goodway hospitalised with another broken arm. Having denied Schofield permission for a summer stint with Manly, Wakefield then broke the story that he had been offered in part exchange for Michael Jackson and Nigel Wright. Just when it seemed the gloom was never-ending, Leeds hit form when coming back to Headingley after six weeks on the road, going on to win nine consecutive matches - many by high scores. Hanley was the key, scoring 12 tries in seven matches.

He began with a hat trick against Halifax but hope returned with a Boxing Day thrashing of in-form Castleford in front of over 20,000 fans. Simon Irving returned and in a superb second half of expansive rugby, Alan Tait's kick return to set up Lowes for his first try in the colours was mesmerising. The only down side was a broken leg and ankle dislocation suffered by Carl Gibson. Salford were beaten home and away, young second rower Graham Middleton making his bow at the Willows, where John Gallagher posted two tries and Leeds moved up to fourth, although 16 Marcus Vassilakopoulos was denied his debut by the RFL in the Headingley fixture because he was still at school. By the time the Challenge Cup came around, confidence was gaining, aided by a favourable draw. Third Division Barrow were easily accounted for despite Chris Honey opening the scoring for the visitors with an interception. Andy Gregory scored his only tries for the club with a double and Craig Innes got his fifth in six games. Gareth Stephens' touchdown in the corner rescued league points at Hull K.R. after Vince Fawcett had given the Robins a gift score to take the lead late on before Rochdale were dispatched in the Cup. Hanley claimed four touchdowns and Garry Schofield three as Paul Cook became the game's first apprentice to play for a first team, marking his auspicious debut with two touchdowns. A third consecutive home draw brought Castleford, the previous year's beaten finalists, to Headingley where two Jim Fallon tries from close in and a Simon Irving touchline conversion just edged out the Tawera Nikau driven visitors.

The winning sequence came to an end at home to Wigan with 20,000 again in attendance despite it being midweek. The match was even for 50 minutes but the cherry and whites kept their line intact throughout the second half. Two more youngsters were unveiled at home to Sheffield, where victory was achieved without Schofield - who scored a hat trick - the re-called Hanley and Steve Molloy, who were on GB duty in France. Siddal junior Graham Holroyd marked his entrance with two tries, Lee Harland also coming off the bench while Graham Middleton posted his first try for the club.

There was confidence going into the Challenge Cup semi final with crisis club Widnes who were half a million pounds in debt and desperate to make Wembley. In the event, Phil Larder's side - with Bobby Goulding man of the match - cantered to an embarrassingly easy win in a second half that had the Leeds fans shaking their heads in despair and disbelief as their team, crucially minus the injured Kevin Iro, was routed with ease. Alan Tait's miss-fielding of a bomb at the start of the second half opened the floodgates, John Devereux scoring a long distance effort and Jonathan Davies ending with two tries and five goals as the Chemics inflicted Leeds' worst ever Challenge Cup loss.

It was Andy Gregory's first defeat in the competition since 1986, the last year the Loiners had been in a semi final. The sides met again in the midweek following which saw the latest episode in the long running saga of Steve Pilgrim. The Wasps full back had been banned for a year by the RFU for trialling with Leeds and had his case taken up by both Houses of Parliament. He made his debut at Naughton Park in a side that showed numerous positional changes which included Hanley at stand off for Schofield who had an ear infection and was then banned for two weeks for missing training, Lowes started at loose forward and Harland began at prop. John Devereux's late try sealed a home win and Pilgrim was subsequently released and joined Halifax. A Simon Irving try in the corner salvaged a draw at home to Wakefield, although he missed the conversion and Hanley was superb as Hull were just edged out. Top four hopes seemed to have been extinguished, though, following a big defeat at St Helens.

A re-arranged game with Leigh after Headingley had been unusually waterlogged saw Hanley post two tries and superb defensive performances at Castleford and home to Bradford, where Fallon was again strong, saw three teams finish the season on 30 points. With an inferior point's difference, Leeds took fifth spot and a trip to Widnes in the first round of the Premiership. An experienced side, with Iro back, dominated the second half a week before the Chemics went to Wembley; Irving claiming two touchdowns. In the semi final, St Helens proved to be the masters for the fourth time although it took a scoreless hour for the deadlock to be broken by a Gus O'Donnell drop goal and a disallowed Fallon score for the Saints to progress. Before that season ender, Mick Worrall had moved on to Rochdale and young winger Jonathan Scales come in from Gosforth RU. In Alliance rugby, Leeds lost in the final of the Challenge Cup to Wigan on front of a crowd of 3,770 at Headingley while a three man committee looked at the viability of moving the sport to summer.

1993-94

1993-94

After nearly a generation, Leeds were finally back on the big stage when a glorious Challenge Cup run saw blue and amber again bedeck Wembley, ending a sixteen year drought.

Initially, there was a pre-season exodus, with one set of youngsters ostensibly replaced by a new intake. Graham Middleton went to Batley in exchange for Steve Parrish and a cash adjustment, Darren Hughes transferred to Featerstone in a deal that brought local grafter Gary Rose a dream move, Leigh Deakin went to his home city York and Lee Child decamped to Wakefield. A quartet moved to Thrum Hall to double Halifax's ex-Leeds contingent headed by Paul Anderson, who was just starting to make his name; along with Nicky Render, Martyn Smithson and Stuart Arundel.

In their place came Wigan-based BARLA youth tourist Phil Hassan, Lee Maher, Jim Leatham, Paddy Handley, Jamie Field, Ricky Wright, Adam Hughes, Paul Gleadhill, Marvin Golden, Adrian Morley and, significantly St John Fisher's Francis Cummins. Eight senior players were put on the transfer list headed by Colin Maskill who was offered at £30,000, Shaun Wane moving to Workington in part exchange for Ian Scott and London Crusaders signed John Gallagher

Under the new freedom of contract regulations, Paul Dixon and Steve Molloy rejected the new terms offered and signed for Bradford and Featherstone respectively, a tribunal valuing them at £70,000 and £90,000.

Replacing them, Neil Harmon came from Warrington and the tribunal was again called to adjudicate when Leeds finally captured their main pre-season target. Widnes had asked £350,000 for second rower Richie Eyres, the panel deeming £135,000 to be more realistic for a three year deal, although his debut was delayed as he had received a six match ban after becoming the second player to be sent off at Wembley following an illegal challenge on Martin Offiah. A planned summer stint at Canberra failed to wipe it off after they refused to register him.

In dual £15,000 deals, Andy Goodway returned to Oldham and long serving Carl Gibson moved to Post Office Road with Molloy. There was also change behind the scenes; Paul Fletcher returning as assistant coach, respected Aussie Bob Lannigan looking after conditioning and the new £350,000 pavilion opening.

It was straight into championship action with Leeds desperate to make a good start after their horror opening to the year before. A new pack, which included 18 year old Matt Schultz in the unaccustomed position of prop spoiled John Joyner's first match in charge of Castleford with a terrific win at Wheldon Road to start the whole campaign in front of the Sky cameras. Ellery Hanley opened his seasonal try account with a brace and landed his sole drop goal for the club as Leeds took a commanding 15-2 early lead that proved to be a match winning margin.

Usual weight of expectation at home produced the reverse, a poor start but sensational finish as the Loiners registered fifteen points in the closing thirteen minutes to see off Warrington. Teenager Graham Holroyd came off the bench to spark the revival, Garry Schofield doing the scoring damage to see his side get out of jail.

A trip to Central Park proved an initial acid test but Wigan served up an ominous, awesome display; Jason Robinson's two tries in the rain proving decisive. Simon Irving's penalty gave Leeds a brief lead for the only time, Hanley again coming up with a try double at his former club.

He went one better in a heavy Headingley defeat of Hull K.R. just after announcing his international retirement but star of the show was Francis Cummins who grabbed two tries after coming off the bench a month before his 17th birthday.

In an almost exact replica of the season before, a terrible run amid a glut of away matches in the run up to Christmas scuppered any title hopes and with one win in ten games, for a while, raised thoughts of a relegation battle. Steve Pickles made his bow off the bench in a surprise loss at Salford.

Eyres scored a try on his debut in a home draw with Hull and Matt Schultz's sin binning at Oldham ultimately proved costly in a poor performance. Six ex-Leeds players were in the Featherstone side at Post Office Road, Ikram Butt scoring a try and Steve Molloy taking the man of the match award as a late touchdown from Neil Roebuck and a Martin Pearson goal snatched a dramatic victory for the Colliers. Leeds' record of not having beaten the Kiwis was never under threat when the tourists dominated the second half and finished with six tries in a match that was also a testimonial for David Creasser.

Kevin Iro played against his compatriots despite lining up for them in the opening Test, Jim Leatham made his debut off the bench and Gary Mercer so impressed New Zealand coach Howie Tamati in defeat that he was drafted in for the Second and Third clashes with Great Britain.

A rib injury in the final Test encounter at Headingley ruled Garry Schofield out for six weeks, Leeds returning after a fortnight off to Regal Trophy action where a trip to the Willows again proved too much in the second round. Marcus Vassilakopoulos made his debut, James Lowes was sent off and Mark Lee's 68th minute penalty try proved crucial.

In the week following, Andy Gregory moved to Salford to end his injury ravaged spell in blue and amber, Leeds taking Leigh's Jason Donohue on loan as cover. A side lacking Hanley and Schofield but with Craig Innes back was beaten by St Helens.

An important home win over Leigh temporarily stopped the rot, Alan Tait posting two tries and Jim Fallon making his first start in the second row where his defence was a feature.

Three tough away games in a week followed, Kevin Iro scoring two tries and Donohue making his first start in a valiant defeat against Bradford at Valley Parade. Another Iro wonder try was not quite enough to topple Widnes in a low scoring game but there was a return to form at Sheffield. Phil Hassan became the ninth teenager of the season to wear the first team colours, with Jim Fallon scoring a 70 metre special. A three week gap to Boxing Day saw Leeds come back with three straight wins. Four first half tries looked to have seen off Wakefield, for whom teenager Henry Paul impressed, Schofield returning with a touchdown but with Hanley twice sin binned; Leeds just held on in a scoreless last quarter. They were more convincing wins at Halifax; Cummins showing his growing maturity with two great tries as Schofield suffered ankle ligament damage.

Harvey Howard was captured from Widnes in a £110,000 pre Cup deadline signing and he made his debut in a cold midweek thriller against Castleford. Four Graham Holroyd goals proved to be the difference although Richie Eyres and Francis Cummins had tries ruled out for forward passes.

Those efforts told at Warrington the following weekend on a heavy pitch, Wire winger Mark Forster running in a hat trick as part of four tries in twelve blistering first half minutes. Champions-elect Wigan were given a severe test at Headingley, Lowes outstanding and the Loiners creating enough chances to win before a comfortable victory at Hull K.R. in preparation for the Challenge Cup. Cummins notched his sixth try in as many games as Second Division Rochdale were easily accounted for in round four.

Harvey Howard was sent off as Salford were beaten in the league before league leaders Warrington came to Headingley in a televised cup tie. Alan Tait was immaculate and an early Iro burst set the tone for a performance beyond expectations. A late Rob Nolan interception at a frozen Boulevard gave Hull a league win but now all focus was on the Cup for the Loiners with new table toppers Bradford Northern in town for the quarter final, on a long unbeaten run and containing five ex-Leeds players in their forwards along with Peter Fox as coach.

Over 22,000 set up a terrific atmosphere and youngsters Cummins and Holroyd came of age to raise an initial siege by the visitors. The young winger's sensational 80 metre dash ranked as one of the finest tries seen at the ground while the mercurial pivot's interception on the stroke of half time was a game breaker. Lowes finished off a wondrous length of the field move involving Leeds' three Kiwis to seal a memorable win, Hanley claiming two touchdowns. Two more four-pointers from the skipper and a brace from Cook saw off Oldham although with five tries apiece, Holroyd's kicking was the difference but in the week before the semi final a young side crashed at home to Featherstone.

The game against Saints to decide who would face Wigan at Wembley was a victory for indestructible will and determination; a far cry from the humiliations of the previous two seasons in knock out rugby. Forced to make 310 tackles as Saints dominated possession and territory, Hanley was an imperious and inspiring leader in all facets. Alan Tait was again magnificent, his and Kevin Iro's late breaks setting up tries for the incredible skipper and joyous scenes as Wembley beckoned again.

Two more Easter points when Holroyd's goals saw off Halifax as fans queued for Wembley tickets with the game in progress. An astonishing encounter at home to Sheffield set a new world record for a drawn fixture with each side scoring eight tries and 60 points being registered in the second half. Playing in new kit after securing a £2.3 million, ten year deal with Tetley's, Harvey Howard's first try looked to have settled things but touchdowns from Paul Carr and Mark Aston in injury time levelled matters.

With fixture congestion before the cup final, Leeds sent a weakened team to St Helens for a midweek fixture and were fined a record £8,000.

Three Hanley tries in a big win at Leigh and a similar demolition of Widnes, when Leeds ran in 40 second half points, ensured a play off spot although Hanley worryingly injured a hamstring.

Doug Laughton again incurred the wrath of the authorities by playing only four of his Wembley starting line up in the final league match of the campaign which handed Bradford two points in their quest for the title, which Wigan duly won on point's difference for the fifth successive time. T

he Riversiders completed the double the following week but not before Leeds had given them a fright with a second half come back in a terrific occasion. Wigan's bench strength proved to be critical, Kiwi international Sam Panapa coming on to score the crucial try. Offiah crossed twice again but the blue and amber had the final shriek when Francis Cummins crowned a memorable day, which saw him become the youngest ever to play at Wembley, with a length of the field touchdown. After such a gargantuan effort, defeat in the Premiership at Bradford a week later was no surprise.

1994-95

1994-95

Leeds' Challenge Cup Final appearances seemed just like the proverbial joke about the buses - you don't get one for sixteen years and then two come along at once. In a season that changed the rugby league landscape forever, the Loiners made it back to Wembley and for the first time to Old Trafford; those visits bringing crushing disappointment and humiliation to undermine what otherwise had been an impressive campaign. The season began with the publication of the groundbreaking 'Framing the Future' document and consequent talks of a breakaway, coupled with the stark news that only four clubs were in profit, which led to the introduction of a salary cap in December 1994. By the following April the proposed shift to summer and Super League overshadowed all other events, including those on the field where, somewhat ironically, the only two full time clubs - Wigan and Leeds - dominated; although the cherry and whites proved to be in a different league.

In the close season, Garry Schofield was awarded the OBE for services to the sport and Ellery Hanley gave the club a massive boost by announcing he would play for another - what turned out to be personally historic - season. By the end of August, following Malcolm Reilly's shock resignation to join Newcastle Knights, he had also been appointed Great Britain coach for the incoming Kangaroo tour, with Gary Hetherington as his assistant. On the transfer front, Loiners coach Doug Laughton took the Kiwi contingent at Headingley up to five with the acquisitions of Esene Faimalo from his former club Widnes for £80,000 - to where Mike O'Neill returned - and George Mann from St Helens.

The foreign legion was further enhanced with the arrival of French skipper Patrick Entat, which saw the release of Gareth Stephens to Castleford. Simon Irving also moved on, to Keighley while among the junior captures were Gavin Brown and Adam Hughes, both from Milford. Leeds again opened the whole campaign with a televised trip to newly promoted Workington who included Vince Fawcett on debut. Eight points down with as many to go in what was to be the first of four meetings between the clubs, Kevin Iro inspired a late winning rally. Featherstone were easily accounted for in the opening home championship match before a first meeting in 21 years with another newly promoted side, Doncaster at a hurriedly refurbished Tattersfield. Graham Holroyd started at full back and Entat claimed his first try in the colours in another hard fought success.

Travelling to Central Park was the first real test of pretensions and Leeds came up well short, Martin Offiah dancing Wigan to a big half time lead and Barrie McDermott - recently signed from Oldham - scoring a try off the bench for Wigan. Young Salford centre Nathan McAvoy, who had turned down Leeds, scored two tries at the Willows as Leeds got back on track, the highlight being a spectacular eleven-man corner to corner move which saw Holroyd cross. Tony Myler's desperately poor Widnes side were crushed at Naughton Park with Craig Innes back from injury, Holroyd reverting to stand off and Garry Schofield coming off the bench for a try. Three former Chemics crossed the whitewash; Faimalo twice, Alan Tait and jubilantly Richie Eyres while Iro produced a wonder pass to send in Francis Cummins. Castleford took a point from Headingley with former player Lee Crooks going from villain to hero.

He conceded an eight point try, fouling Hanley after he had gone over, and was sin binned but returned to land a last minute penalty after Leeds were somewhat controversially given offside. Attention then switched to the green and gold's and their first full strength tour match, at Headingley. Over 18,000 witnessed an awesome demolition by the tourists in the 17th and, so far, last clash with Leeds; Dave Furner and Brett Mullins playing alongside returning hat trick hero, winger Andrew Ettingshausen, who did all his damage in the first half. Allan Langer also crossed three times; Alan Tait scoring Leeds' only try although he and Garry Schofield were omitted from the First Test squad, as a result. Schofield did, however, return on the bench for the following two that ended in defeat. League defeat at St Helens followed although each side scored four touchdowns, Jim Fallon and Anthony Sullivan both getting doubles in a terrific cameo duel with Bobby Goulding claiming the vital drop goal.

Gary Rose moved to Hull and Alliance skipper Colin Maskill followed to Doncaster soon after to bolster a squad that was finding elite life tough on and off the field for the first time. Victory at home to Sheffield, with Fallon scoring a hat trick and Phil Hassan his first try in the colours, began a ten match winning run - with seven of them at home - into the New Year. Ellery Hanley posted a treble against Wakefield, with Fallon scoring his seventh, almost identical try in three matches. Schofield was back to his poaching best against Workington and Leeds emerged victorious from a feisty clash at Featherstone under their newly appointed coach David Ward. Mark Aston was sent off for Rovers, four players were sin binned and again Hanley was awarded an eight point try; Carl Gibson and Ikram Butt among the home scorers. Freddie Banquet's long range, late penalty miss ensured Leeds the points.

Hanley was again the destroyer, with another hat trick, this time against Doncaster, his 400th career touchdown coming the following week against Swinton in the Regal Trophy where Graham Holroyd was back and claimed 26 points; Mick Shaw making his debut off the bench. Defensive lapses in that game were a worry going into the home clash with Wigan, who had equalled Widnes' 13 match unbeaten run at the start of a season and threatened to undermine the credibility of the Championship. Over 20,000 saw one of the most memorable clashes seen at the ground, witnessed by the opening broadcast of 'Radio Headingley'. In a wonderful, fast-flowing encounter, benefiting from new referee's controller Greg McCallum's edicts to speed up the play the ball - which saw four men sin binned - Francis Cummins and Jim Fallon both grabbed two tries on the end of some wonderful handling. Martin Offiah's 68th minute score looked to have given Wigan, who posted six tries to five, the spoils but Hanley was on the shoulder of Alan Tait to claim the match winner amidst wild celebrations. Tries by Cummins and Schofield rescued a tricky Regal tie at Workington and, unusually, Leeds were away on Boxing Day at a bleak Boulevard; Schofield putting in his best performance at his former club as Hull were swept away in the first half.

A Hanley wonder try from a heel against the head and a Cummins hat trick accounted for Halifax in a second versus third clash to start 1995 but the winning run was comprehensively ended at home in the Regal Trophy by holders Castleford. That sparked another eight game unbeaten run with Marvin Golden making his debut in a midweek win at Oldham. Leeds briefly went top of the table when they won another top three match up, this time with Bradford. Hanley was the star again with another hat trick and a goal - the 100th of his career - against his first club, James Lowes making 49 tackles. The game was effectively won with three touchdowns in five minutes either side of the break including a 50 metre effort by Innes. He crossed for four more against Warrington as Leeds responded to late defensive lapses against Bradford by keeping a clean sheet. On his 100th appearance for the club, Hanley matched Innes feat with a quadruple against ailing Widnes despite having been involved in the midweek England versus Wales European Championship fixture which also featured Harvey Howard, Richie Eyres - who had switched his allegiance to the Dragons under the new grandparent rule - and Schofield while Cummins was away playing for Great Britain in the World Sevens in Sydney. Bradford were again the visitors as Leeds launched their bid to return to Wembley; Gary Mercer's try before half time and Graham Holroyd's grubber and gather just after securing victory in a match where five players were yellow carded. Leeds again went temporarily top of the league at Castleford with a 13th consecutive divisional win; Cummins scoring one of the tries of the season. Schofield started it, five pairs of hands continued the move and Innes produced a wonderful reverse pass. George Mann, who had covered every pack role and stand off by then, crossed for his first try for the club soon after and Jim Leatham made his championship debut off the bench. Patrick Entat was recalled for the Challenge Cup win over second division York, Jim Fallon scoring four tries including a 90 metre interception. An injury crisis - which saw Innes and Marcus Vassilakopoulos start at half back - and international calls saw six teenagers play in a re-arranged midweek win at Salford after three pitch inspections; Lowes grabbing a vital, deserved score.

Hanley gave a masterclass in support play as Workington, backed by 55 coach loads of fans, were overrun in the Cup quarter final; his hat trick, which included his 100th try for Leeds, rewarding Schofield's artistry. Consecutive defeats in four days ruined any chance of a title bid, Graham Holroyd's 100th goal of the season the only satisfaction in a sluggish display at Sheffield where Gary Mercer became one of the first to be pinged by the new 'on report' system. Ryan Sheridan and Lee Jackson ruled the roost for the Eagles. Bobby Goulding was the architect of Saints doing the double but a better defensive performance brought victory at Odsal, including the repelling of four consecutive sets of six on the line; Cummins grabbing his fifth try in four games.

Massive favourites in the Cup semi final against Featherstone at Elland Road; Leeds duly cruised through aided by an early Schofield length of the field interception and Holroyd solo special. Hanley equalled the world record number of tries for a forward in a season with his 40th which covered the length of the field; Jim Fallon scoring a brace and being sin binned for an uncharacteristic punch. Runners up spot, the equal best placing under two divisions, was ensured after wins over Oldham and Warrington where Hanley established his new landmark, beating former Loiner Bob Haigh's tally and ending the campaign with 41 touchdowns from 34 matches. Fallon scored a hat trick against Hull but Cup Final concern mounted when Hanley injured a shoulder over Easter. That and debates about who should be receiving 'loyalty payments' as the Super League war broke out overshadowed the Challenge Cup Final as Leeds attempted to become the first side in 42 matches to beat Wigan in the competition.

Expectations after running them close the previous year were high but despite an encouraging early start when Richie Eyres' break petered out for lack of support and Schofield was denied an interception try; the cherry and white's were in total control. Jason Robinson cut Leeds apart from dummy half and all the Loiners could muster was a consolation score from Lowes. Kevin Iro's hat trick and Graham Holroyd's 300th point of the season - only the fifth blue and amber player to achieve the feat - accounted for Bradford in the Premiership and revenge was gained over St Helens for their league double in the semi final at Headingley. Leeds had to come from 20-6 down and the loss of Schofield who was sent off for dissent and Alan Tait who was sin binned; George Mann proving to be the star against his old club. The final match of the season summed up the chasm between Wigan and the rest as they completed the first modern Grand Slam. Their victory was the highest score in any final, 19 year old Kris Radlinski becoming the youngest player to win the Harry Sunderland trophy with a 43 minute hat trick. In all the Riversiders thrilled the capacity 30,000 crowd at the 'Theatre of Dreams' with a 12 try romp, Gary Connolly also claiming a treble. Such an ignominious end overshadowed the achievement of the Headingley Alliance and Academy sides winning their respective leagues but all focus anyway was on summer rugby - which Leeds initially resisted - and mergers. In the end, Ellery Hanley signed a reputed £650,000 contract with the Australian Rugby League and before the Centenary season started - unusually in Dublin - the Doug Laughton era at Leeds was over.

1995-96

1995-96

Consternation was felt throughout the game as it celebrated its centenary in the midst of a maelstrom. A hundred years after the formation of the Northern Union there was impending upheaval of near-equivalent proportion. On the field that necessitated a short, interim transitional season that signalled the move from winter to a summer sport. The Stones Bitter Centenary Championship, made up of 11 of the 12 sides to form the forthcoming Super League - Paris the other - carried a winner takes all £75,000 prize and, despite reservations, promised the eventual champions the opportunity to retain the historic trophy in perpetuity. Naturally, there was no promotion or relegation, the regular season comprising of 20 rounds from mid August to mid January as well as the Regal Trophy and a break during October for the Centenary World Cup.

As if to mirror the upheaval, the RFL moved from its historic offices on less than salubrious Chapeltown Road to Red Hall in leafy North Leeds. As League looked to its new dawn, so did Rugby Union which announced that it was to go professional, both codes left to weigh up the likely ramifications. By the end of the campaign, Leeds made history by becoming the first dual-code club when Leeds RU signed a five year joint venture deal to play at Headingley in the soon to be vacant winter slot and looked to share common resources. During the summer, the Loiners were consistently linked with Union's highest profile player, All Blacks' giant winger Jonah Lomu with his price tag apparently reaching £2.5 million but the various approaches were ultimately spurned. The two major acquisitions were both internationals a Kiwi, Castleford's Tony Kemp who was voted the best stand off in the British game among a poll of coaches and former Wigan back rower Mike Forshaw, captured from Wakefield.

That, though, was almost a sideshow to the coaching furore caused by Doug Laughton's unexpected relinquishing of the reins after the 1995 Premiership Final debacle. Former player and New Zealand legend Dean Bell, who thought he was coming as Assistant after his final playing season skippering Auckland Warriors in their debut in the ARL, was named as team manger. Great friend and similar, classy Kiwi great Hugh McGahan took on the role of football co-ordinator then manager and was in the charge of the side initially, prior to Bell's arrival. They were later joined by Texan strength conditioner Edgar Curtis. All focus as the campaign kicked off was the World Cup which, despite reservations, turned out to be a highly successful showcase along with a concurrent Emerging Nations Tournament. England named an initial 40 man squad that left out Leeds factotum Garry Schofield, who subsequently faced a disrepute charge for publically blaming RFL Chief Executive Maurice Lindsay for his omission. Esene Faimalo was unavailable for Western Samoa because of injury. Loiners' season began a week early in unfamiliar surroundings when they faced perennial final foes Wigan in the Charity Shield at the Royal Showground in Dublin, the blue and amber's sole appearance in the pipe-opener. Both Kemp and Forshaw scored on their debuts, Leeds' bench showing the new management's pledge to give youth its chance by comprising of David Gibbons, Adrian Morley, Marvin Golden and Nick Fozzard.

Unfortunately, especially for the 5,000 crowd, Marcus Vassilakopoulos' needless sending off in the ninth minute by Russell Smith when he tripped Nigel Wright effectively ended the contest which Wigan won by a record 45-20 score. Winger Jon Scales left for Bradford but the Championship started in promising fashion, Francis Cummins the stand out with a second hat trick of his career and three goals at Sheffield in the opener. David Gibbons scored his first professional touchdown in his second start, at scrum half hile Craig Innes, fresh from an off season stint with Perth Western Reds was imperious, Paddy Handley making his debut off the bench. By the time Dean Bell arrived to take up his post in early September, Castleford had triumphed at Wheldon Road where two-try hooker Colin Maskill haunted his former side. Warrington were swept aside in the opening home game, Garry Schofield's first start of the season after a hernia operation, at scrum half, bringing him a try double as Paul Cook continued to impress on the wing with 20 points, half the team total. Nick Fozzard's first senior try saw St Helens downed in front of over 12,000 fans in Bell's first match in physical charge, re-appointed skipper Schofield having a hand in six of the seven Leeds touchdowns.

The Loiners played in a quartered commemorative centenary kit for the first time and sealed a pulsating 36-24 victory with Francis Cummins' late score fashioned by Faimalo, Forshaw and Gary Mercer. In a third successive Headingley encounter, Haifax were soundly beaten, Innes scoring a hat trick as Leeds ran in 50 second half points without reply, but the winning run disappointingly came to an end at Brentford against London Broncos where Jamie Field made his debut. Next new cab off the rank, who made his debut against Bradford five days later, was Wigan prop Barrie McDermott, snared from Wigan for £100,000. A knee injury restricted him to 17 minutes on debut in a clash that saw try scorer James Lowes - who spent part of the game in the second row with Mick Shaw continuing to make an impact off the bench - make a staggering 53 tackles. Marvin Golden posted a try on his first start in a 32-30 success.

Big wins over Workington at home, with full back Alan Tait crossing for his 100th career try and at Oldham, which saw Craig Innes go over in his first start at loose forward set up a massive home clash with Wigan at the half way stage of the season, the first week back after the month long World extravaganza. That was won by Brad Fittler's Kangaroos at Wembley in front of 66,500 fans while Headingley hosted one game, 14,000 watching England's 46-0 win over the South African Rhinos; Paul Cook - Leeds' sole England representative - performing well at full back. Richie Eyres appeared for Wales, Kevin Iro and Tony Kemp wore the black and white of New Zealand while George Mann strengthened the Tonga pack. Physiotherapist Seamus McCallion was in the Ireland side that lost to the Cook Islands in the Emerging National Final at Bury's Gigg Lane, Alan Tait captaining Scotland in that tournament. Back to domestic action, more than 17,000 fans witnessed a magnificent encounter with the cherry and whites which included Garry Schofield claiming the 300th try of his illustrious career in a pulsating 23-11 success. It saw Leeds move to within two points of the Riversiders at the top and reinvigorate the truncated season.

The home pack, with Mann to the fore, was outstanding in a wonderful team effort. Countering Jason Robinson's first half 90 metre interception try, Mann sent in Tait before crashing through Radlinski and Robinson to set up a breathtaking finale. Jim Fallon spun out of tackles, Tait and Kemp freed Innes and his majestic pass with three defenders round him allowed Cook to sail over for the clinching try and goal. It was a fitting tribute to Edgar Curtis who returned to Auckland after the game but had worked tirelessly with the squad during their month off. Salford were comfortably beaten in the second round of the Regal Trophy, Fallon crossing for four blistering tries in 28 minutes and Workington were just seen off in torrential rain at Derwent Park. Then, as so often, the Championship wheels began to come off as leeds failed to maintain their momentum.

The heart warming display against Wigan counted for little when Sheffield grabbed their first win at Headingley thanks to Anthony Farrell's astonishing late 70 metre try. Leeds led 22-19 with ten minutes to go but Mark Aston returned from the sin bin and sent Andy Hay over for his second try and Farrell sealed it for Gary Hetherington's men. Brian Smith's Bradford were downed at Headingley in the next round of the John Player but, despite coasting at 40-12 after 55 minutes - Cook landing an impeccable 9 goals - lacklustre Leeds were left hanging on in the end after the sides scored six tries each. Any lingering title hopes disappeared with comprehensive away defeats at Warrington and Halifax inside five days.

The 47-14 mauling at Widerspool, which saw Barrie McDermott sent off, was the Loiners' biggest defeat there since the re-introduction of two divisions just over 20 years before with youngsters Iestyn Harris and Paul Sculthorpe superb. At inhospitable Thrum Hall, Anthony Gibbons scored on his full debut but there was little else to cheer for the visiting fans. In the Regal Quarter Final, a third consecutive home tie saw second division Carlisle put up some stern resistance before succumbing 44-22, thanks to two late tries from speedy hooker Mick Shaw. The talking point before the away game at Bradford was the unexpected swap deal between the clubs that saw young winger Paul Cook, who had kicked 74 goals, move to Odsal in exchange for Kiwi international centre Carl Hall and cash of around £50,000, as Dean Bell looked to reshape the squad.

Leeds also had a bid for Salford's Nathan McAvoy, involving ex-Widnes trio Alan Tait, transfer listed Richie Eyres and Harvey Howard in exchange, rejected and an offer for Batley's record breaking scrum half Glen Tomlinson turned down. The Bulls were downed 16-12 in a dour clash and then revenge gained over London, James Lowes totalling 103 tackles in the two clashes and skippering the side against the Broncos. Neil Harmon scored his first try double against the Bulls and Graham Holroyd a superb solo effort but he was one of three players to leave the battle, Leeds hanging on with just 12 men in the final quarter. Nine teenagers - including a debut for winger Jon Riley - were in the side that beat London 30-12, Adrian Morley outstanding while George Mann filled in at stand off and Francis Cummins scored a wonder try. Castleford were beaten at home 28-16 on Boxing Day, 18,000 present to see Marvin Golden score two tries in one of only two games to survive severe frost and Leeds entered the New Year on a high, ending a long losing streak at Knowsley Road 20-14 on January 1st to virtually ensure second spot.

The sides went in level at the break but just after it a flowing 70 metre move saw the returning Innes capitalise on great work from Fallon, Hall and Holroyd; Hall then scoring a terrific solo effort. The season came to a stuttering end thanks to the Wigan nemesis. In the Regal Trophy semi final at Central Park, the cherry and whites raced to a 32-0 lead, Gary Connolly grabbing a superb long range touchdown but Leeds refused to throw in the towel, scoring three tries in last 12 minutes gain some respectability. A Graham Holroyd goal proved to be the difference in the final home match of the shortened season against Oldham, the last competitive winter fixture being back at Central Park on 21st January when Wigan again triumphed 34-20, Craig Innes scoring a hat trick. Jim Fallon was the club's top try scorer with 13 from 20 games and among the juniors signed were Kris Smith, Leroy Rivett, Broughton Red Rose's Ryan McDonald, David Wrench and highly rated Chris Windas.

1996

1996

Throughout this season, we will be looking back at the previous 16 summer seasons as we look at the lows and many highs that the club has been part of in that period. In issue one, undoubtedly 1996 was one of the lowest points.

It is fair to say that, as a club, Leeds were less than committed to the concept of Super League by the time the inaugural summer campaign came around. A sceptical voice about the change of seasons, the Loiners' management had more pressing issues at hand as the spending of the Doug Laughton era, in a vain effort to overhaul Wigan, began to cut deeply. With the financial reserves exhausted, a battle began behind the scenes to secure survival with increasing concerns that Headingley would have to be sold and a move to Elland Road the only salvation, as the Caspian Group expressed an interest. On the field, the start of the ill-feted 1996 season found Leeds desperately unprepared and Gary Mercer on the transfer list at £45,000. That disarray was illustrated when, encompassing the first three matches of the campaign, a top line player left each week while the Challenge Cup was in progress, prior to the start of the regular season. Before travelling to second division - effectively third tier - Swinton in the opening round, a failure to present James Lowes with a new contract saw the hooker join local rivals Bradford without Leeds receiving a fee for one of the code's brightest prospects. Another of the Hunslet area's finest ever products, Garry Schofield, made his final appearance of 251 in blue in amber in that scrappy and fortunate 27-22 win at Gigg Lane. He tore a pectoral muscle and, by the time it had recovered, he had agreed to move to First Division Huddersfield for a £135,000 fee that was a record for them.

Craig Innes controversially left to join Manly before Kiwi international Tony Kemp - effectively Schofield's replacement - broke his arm in the Cup quarter final. With such a run of ill luck and bad judgement, it was hardly surprising that the club spent most of the rest of the season fighting against relegation.

Rule changes that were introduced for Super League included the advent of the zero tackle, the allowing of one-on-one ball stealing and the increase from two to four substitutes with six interchanges. With Leeds' squad depleting and reliant on youth, that was another factor behind their lack of competitiveness.

Leeds went down to a home defeat to Iestyn Harris inspired Warrington on the opening weekend. At Castleford, on Good Friday, a first victory looked to be on course when Anthony Gibbons dropped a 75th minute goal but Frano Botica created a last gasp try for linking Jason Flowers for the Tigers to claim a 26-23 success. There was little respite as emerging force St Helens finished the stronger to gain a 46-24 win at Headingley on Easter Monday, Danny Arnold scoring two tries including a 70 metre effort from dummy half. The following Saturday the Loiners slipped to a devastating reverse at the Watersheddings; Oldham racing to an early 17-0 lead. Barrie McDermott's introduction from the bench sparked a revival and brought the visitors back to within a point only for Anthony Gibbons to be unfortunately sinbinned for a supposed ball steal, Martin Crompton landing the two points together with a further try and goal.

A first win of the season finally came at home to Sheffield 36-22, Graham Holroyd the hero with two tries but the match turned out to be the only one for lively loose forward Nathan Picchi, the Kiwi being the first summer recruit for Leeds, who dislocated his shoulder seven minutes from time. Optimism faded a fortnight later in the next round when former star Tony Currie's London Broncos triumphed 27-20 at Headingley. Bell desperately needed to add fresh blood to the squad and the capture of former Kiwi Test stand off Dean Clark from Enzed Heroes paid immediate dividends as Leeds became the first side to win in Paris on his debut. Adrian Morley was the star with a rip-roaring two try display in front of over 15,000 admiring fans.

Again Leeds failed to build and capitulated to Paul Rowley inspired Halifax - who registered their first win of the campaign 32-18 on a cold, wet afternoon - in a Headingley performance that clearly embarrassed Bell. It got no better when Bradford were rampant at Odsal, strolling to a 54-8 win that saw Morley dismissed, Jimmy Lowes cross twice and left the Leeds coach pleading for money for more players.

At home to Wigan, Leeds were 14-4 up approaching half time and looking in control but again their staying power was questioned as the champions won 40-20. Jim Fallon departed to Richmond RU but in early June a form of salvation did arrive with the capture of dogged, utility David Hulme from Widnes, where he had spent 16 seasons, on a part time match by match basis. For the remainder of the campaign, his effort and work rate was to prove both crucial and inspirational. He debuted off the bench as replacement hooker for the vital clash with Workington at Derwent Park. Defeat would have seen Leeds bottom of the table but, thanks to a Graham Holroyd interception that set up Tony Kemp to make it 18-8, they eventually cruised to a 48-18 triumph.

Four defeats in July set up an incredibly nervy finish to the season, two of them heart breakers. St Helens were comfortable winners at Knowsley Road before defeats to Oldham and Sheffield before Leeds travelled to London on the hottest day of season and, as a cost cutting measure, the team travelled down on the morning of the match and, not surprisingly, lost.

A desperate time called for a desperate measure and it paid off as beleaguered coach Dean Bell was forced to come out of retirement, 13 years after his Leeds debut, as his side faced Paris in a crucial Headingley encounter. He scored a late try to secure a vital 34-12 success. Despite relegation being avoided, Bell's planned closed season recruiting mission to Australia was called off and George Mann, Alan Tait and Dean Clark transfer listed and later joined by Esene Faimalo.

August hammerings followed including a record home defeat against a club side to Bradford 56-18, and followed by 68-14 shellacking at Wigan. In the last home game of the season, Graham Holroyd kicked 10 goals in victory over hapless Workington in front of a crowd of less than 5,000. In the final match of their annus horibilis, Leeds were stuffed 64-24 at Halifax.

The year ended with 14,000 fans signing a petition against the possible move to Elland Road and, in late October, Paul Caddick secured the future of Headingley for both Leeds rugby league and union and was joined by rival bidder for the club Gary Hetherington, who left Sheffield Eagles to become the new Chief Executive, effectively heralding the birth of the Rhinos.

1997

1997

Having emerged from the annus horribilis of 1996, things could only get better for Leeds in the second summer campaign of 1997. The arrival of new owners in Paul Caddick and Gary Hetherington saw a host of changes to the club as they looked to bring the famous old club back from the brink of extinction. Off the field, Caddick had a battle on his hands to keep Yorkshire County Cricket and Test cricket at the stadium after they unveiled plans to move to Durkar near Wakefield and a new state of the art stadium. On the field, Hetherington used his years as a shrewd judge of playing talent to build up a squad that had been decimated by departures during the previous 18 months.

A raft of new signings arrived at Headingley and a new name was born. The club went to the local press for supporters to vote on their choice for the new nickname. The public overwhelming choose Loiners, however that was dismissed as it had little marketability, then followed Lions, Knights and Cowboys, all of which were even taken by other teams or were not deemed appropriate. Some way down the list was Rhinos however work began on a new identity for the club and the Leeds Rhinos were launched with the signing of New Zealand international Richard Blackmore and Paul Sterling.

With Australia at the height of the ARL and Super League war, a ready made pool of players was available from Down Under to help rebuild the club. However, under the new leadership Leeds now took a new approach in terms of recruitment. Gone were the glamour signings and big names, instead Hetherington looked to recruit grafters who would train hard and give 100% on the field. Players like Wayne Collins, a two times Grand Finalist with St George, Martin Masella from South Sydney, Jamie Mathiou and Damian Gibson from North Queensland Cowboys all came across to Headingley without much fanfare but who played a key part in changing the culture of the club.

Once again the season started with three rounds of Challenge Cup action, all against lower league opponents, with the first ever time a Leeds Rhinos team took to the field was against Whitehaven in Round Four before a hat trick from Barrie McDermott against Dewsbury in a 48-22 win in the subsequent round.

The Super League season started on 16th March with a home game against Oldham Bears which was a Red Letter Day for all Rhinos fans as it marked the first ever appearance of Ronnie the Rhino. That win was followed by victory in Paris before a semi final date with Bradford. Twelve months earlier Leeds had been humiliated by their local rivals as favourites to reach Wembley again. However, in 1997 they were rank outsiders against a team for whom summer rugby seemed to be invented. Leeds gave as good as they got including an almighty punch up in the closing stages but they lost out 24-10.

Defeat followed the following week at Thrum Hall against Halifax however immediate action was taken to change the club's fortunes. On 3rd April Leeds announced the capture of Iestyn Harris from Warrington on a five year contract after agreeing an undisclosed record club transfer fee with the Wolves. Harris was immediately drafted into the side that face Wigan the following Friday and narrowly fell short of inspiring his new side to victory as they lost out to a Andy Farrell drop goal in a 17-16 loss.

The perfect antidote came a week later when Harris showed why the club had broke the bank to secure their man as he led the Rhinos to victory over Champions St Helens at Headingley. Bobbie Goulding famously missed a kicked at goal to win it in the final seconds but Leeds were good value for the win.

Harris was soon joined by Andy Hay from Castleford, Hetherington attracting another former Eagle to his new crusade. Leeds lost one of their next eight games after Saints including a win and a draw against Castleford, completing a double over Paris and Oldham as well winning at Salford. The one defeat came at London in a heavy 40-16 loss against former Leeds man Tony Currie.

The run of victories not only coincided with Harris weaving his magic in blue and amber but also saw Paul Sterling set a Super League record that still stands of tries in nine consecutive games.

The run of victories ended as Leeds headed to Australia for the first leg of the ill fated World Club Championship. Leeds put up a brave fight against North Queensland Cowboys the stifling heat of Townsville before running out of steam and were never at the races in Adelaide as Luke Williamson inspired the Rams to victory.

The return home was met with a derby clash against Bradford which presented a moral victory to the home side given the pummelling they had received from the Bulls the previous year at home. Leeds lost 32-16 but by this stage Bradford were proving an unstoppable force as they headed for the title.

The Rhinos got back on the horse and won their next three games in Super League including a dramatic win over Halifax. Terry Newton impressed on his debut with a try but it was Graham Holroyd, against his home town club, who sealed the win. Trailing 18-12 with five minutes to go Holroyd was on hand to take Harris' wide pass to score. Harris converted to level the score before Gary Mercer chipped over the defence, regathered and then looked to have sent Sterling over for a winning score. Halifax managed to get back but could not help but concede the penalty which Holroyd kicked to win the game 20-18. Harris enjoyed a successful return to Wilderspool the following week as he left with the last laugh after torrents of abuse from the home fans for their former hero with a 23-16 win.

In July, Hetherington once again showed his shrewdness in the transfer market by striking a deal with the ailing Keighley Cougars. The Rhinos signed five players from the Cougars and immediately loaned them back to the club however of the five only former Leeds RL player Simon Irving and Adrian Flynn would not feature for the Rhinos, with Phil Cantillon, Darren Fleary and most notably Daryl Powell going on to further their careers at Headingley.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the 1997 season came the following week as Leeds defeated Adelaide Rams at Headingley Carnegie including a never-to-be-forgotten try by Sterling that cover 110m from a restart.

Defeat to North Queensland the following week ended Leeds' slim hopes of progressing to the knock out stages of the World Club Championship but it had been a valuable bench marking exercise for the team.

Unfortunately the season petered out for Leeds after that. Defeat at Odsal by 22-8 was followed by a home win over London Broncos, who were second in the table in their best ever season in Super League, however a surprise home loss to Sheffield made runners up spot unlikely for Leeds and they dropped further down the table following away losses at St Helens and Wigan to end the season.

The season ended with all the teams entered into the new look Premiership however an easy home win over Oldham was followed by inevitable defeat at Central Park to Wigan, however the signs of things to come were there in the battling performance in a 38-22 loss.

It had been a satisfactory first season for the Rhinos, given what had happened the previous year and with crowds up by 28%, the public seemed to be warming to the new look club. On 10th October, the club announced that Dean Bell would step down as Head Coach to take up a new role as Head of Youth Development and Australian Graham Murray was announced as the new Head Coach for 1998.

Leeds had two players in the Great Britain squad that took on Australia in the Autumn with Iestyn Harris being joined by young star Adrian Morley.

1998

1998

After two difficult seasons to begin the new summer era, Leeds Rhinos emerged as a major force in the game in the 1998 season as new Head Coach Graham Murray transformed the club from perennial underachievers to title contenders.

Murray arrived from the disbanded Hunter Mariners side following the merger of the ARL and Super League competitions to create the new NRL competition in Australia. Damian McGrath, who had been assistant to Dean Bell the previous year, retained his position under Murray and the pair formed a formidable team.

However, Murray's reign got off the worst possible start as Leeds were eliminated from the Challenge Cup on the opening day of the season when a last second try from Castleford's Andrew Schick snatched victory for Stuart Raper's side.

Whilst that loss was devastating blow at the time, it actually laid the foundation for Murray's revolution. The Australian had eight weeks to prepare his side for the start of the new Super League season as Leeds welcomed Warrington at the start of April. Murray had a similar squad to Dean Bell the previous season but he made four key additions to the team. He brought centre Brad Godden with him from the Mariners whilst back row Marc Glanville made a similar journey from reigning ARL Champions Newcastle Knights. The other two players were already at Leeds but little was expected of them at the start of the season. Great Britain international Daryl Powell had arrived from Keighley Cougars the previous summer but had not featured due to injury whilst Darren Fleary was seen as little more than a make weight by supporters in the same deal. However both would go on to be cornerstones of Murray's new era.

However dispatched Warrington thanks to two tries from Ryan Sheridan, Leeds sent out a message to the rest of Super League with an incredible victory at Odsal over the Bulls. Two moments highlighted the changing of the guard, the first was Darren Fleary smashing Graham Bradley to show that Leeds were no longer a soft touch and the inspirational form of Iestyn Harris as he and Graham Holroyd combined to beat Shaun Edwards for Harris to score the crucial try.

Leeds avenged their Cup loss to Castleford with a 20-10 win at Headingley before a comfortable win over Salford. The Rhinos then had three games when they showed their title credentials with a trio of remarkable wins. The first came down at London when Australian prop Mark Carroll was left to rue his words after he called his new opponents Northern softies, Adrian Morley exacting his own form of justice. Leeds won 14-13 in a fixture they had struggled with in the previous two years. The following week an unforgettable night at Headingley saw Leeds finally beat Wigan 16-8 thanks to tries from Godden and Andy Hay. The following week, Iestyn Harris kicked Leeds to victory in an almost unbelievable comeback that preserved their perfect record.

When Morley was sent off for a high tackle in the 54th minute, Leeds went 19 points behind and their marvellous start to the season was surely over. But three tries, all converted by Harris, two of them from the touchline, and a 50-yard penalty, saw them get away with it in the most dramatic manner possible.

Wins over St Helens and Hull followed in consecutive weeks and stretched the Rhinos unbeaten start to the season out to nine games before a trip to newly promoted Hull Sharks at the Boulevard. Despite tries from Barrie McDermott and Paul Sterling, Leeds lost out 22-10.

That defeat led to a flutter in the Rhinos steady progress as they lost three of their six games in mid-season including defeats to Bradford and Castleford in derby clashes.

However, as the season built to the inaugural Grand Final play off series, Leeds found their feet again. Wins over Salford and London were just the warm up to an unforgettable night at Central Park as Brad Godden inspired the Rhinos to a 15-8 win. The match was memorable for the horrendous elbow to the face of Morley by Mick Cassidy that landed the Wigan forward a six game ban after the incident was put on report.

Leeds won back to back games at home over Sheffield and St Helens before the biggest win of the season at Huddersfield at 72-16 which was notable for including a first ever try for the club by Kevin Sinfield.

With Wigan having secured top spot, Murray was already looking to the play offs and a comfortable home win over Hull was followed by a 42-0 defeat at Halifax which remains the last time that the Rhinos were nilled.

The two sides met a week later in the first ever weekend of Super League play offs and Leeds avenged that defeat with a narrow 13-6 win thanks to a try from Marcus St Hilaire in the second half.

That meant Leeds went back to Central Park but they could not make it a repeat of their effort earlier in the season as Francis Cummins try was cancelled out by a long range effort from Lee Gilmour and further tries from Henry Paul and Mark Bell.

That meant a sudden death clash with St Helens at Headingley however, despite early nerves, looks book their place at Old Trafford thanks to a hat trick from Cummins and two scores from St Hilaire.

The final itself was a nip and tuck affair in the Manchester rain. Leeds struck early on through Richie Blackmore however Jason Robinson's score just before half time edged his side in front thanks to Andy Farrell's conversion. He added two more penalties to secure a 10-4 win in front of a crowd of 43,533 at Old Trafford. Whilst it was a disappointing end to the season, the building blocks had been put in place for future success and this final defeat felt more like a road bump on the route to glory rather than the usual dead end for Leeds.

1999

1999

1999 was to prove a memorable year for Leeds Rhinos with Iestyn Harris at the height of his powers leading the way for a team that were unstoppable at times.

Having reached the inaugural Grand Final the previous year, Leeds went into the 1999 with high hopes to end the club's 21 year wait for major silverware with only Lee Jackson added to the squad from the previous year and Graham Holroyd having moved on to his home town club, Halifax. However, the club was rocked on the eve of the new season when Graham Murray announced he would be returning home to Australia at the end of the season to take up a contract with North Sydney Bears.

The resolve within the club was to make sure that Murray was sent off in style and they were presented with the toughest possible draw in the Fourth Round of the Cup as Champions Wigan arrived at Headingley for a Grand Final rematch. The Rhinos task was made even harder when Barrie McDermott was sent off for a high shot on Simon Haughton. However, Ryan Sheridan was inspirational for Leeds and his try and drop goal were key in the 28-18 win.

Things got no easier for Leeds in the next round as St Helens were plucked out of the bag to come next to Headingley. Saints, under new Head Coach Ellery Hanley presented a sizeable challenge however Adrian Morley led the way for Leeds with some incredible defence and Sheridan once again pulled the strings on attack, with a try alongside one for Terry Newton and eight goals from Harris capped a hard earned 24-16 win.

After two tough Cup rounds, Leeds then kicked off the new Super League season with a trip to the North East to face new boys Gateshead Thunder. Super League had expanded for 1999 with 14 teams and the inclusion of the Thunder and Wakefield. Heavy rain had put the game in jeopardy before it eventually got the go ahead and Leeds slogged their way to a 24-14 win.

The Rhinos dispatched lower league Widnes in the Quarter Final of the Cup the following week with Andy Hay in sensational form and Kevin Sinfield making his first Cup appearance before Wigan turned the tables on Leeds at Headingley with a 26-12 loss.

Leeds could have been guilty of having one eye on an even bigger clash the following week when 23,438 were packed into the McAlpine Stadium in Huddersfield for an epic battle with Bradford Bulls. With London having beaten Castleford the previous day in the other semi final, the winner of the derby would go to Wembley as red hot favourites which led to a classic encounter. Leeds trailed 10-0 in the first half but a sensational ball steal by Sheridan on Danny Peacock just before half time saw the former Sheffield Eagle race clear to bring his side back into the game. However, it was not until a late try from Marcus St Hilaire that the Rhinos knew they were heading back to Wembley.

Leeds lost two of their next five games in between the semi and the final as Wembley-itis set in. However, they did beat Final rivals London 38-12 to increase the expectations ahead of the showpiece occasion along with back to back victories over Hull and Huddersfield in the immediate build up to the Final.

The Final itself was a remarkable occasion as London gave Leeds the fright of their lives for the first 50 minutes. However, a try from Barrie McDermott broke their spirit and Leroy Rivett wrote his name in the history books as the first player to ever score four tries in a Wembley Final.

Having ended the 21-year-drout Leeds found themselves at the top of the tree but with two thirds of the season to go. They looked unstoppable during the summer months as they dispatched all before them with a thirteen game unbeaten run that began with a heavy defeat to Saints at Headingley the week after Wembley, when Jamie Jones-Buchanan made his debut, and ended at Knowsley Road at the end of July.

The most notable wins in the run of games came half way through when a rare Jamie Mathiou try helped Leeds to a second consecutive league win at Central Park over Wigan, followed by a massive 45-16 win over Bradford at Headingley on a balmy night when Andy Hay was incredible scoring a hat trick and capped off with a 50-22 demolition of Castleford which included a hat trick from Marvin Golden.

Against Huddersfield Iestyn Harris re-wrote the club's record books as he collected a personal haul of 42 points with four tries and 13 goals on an unhappy return to his former club for Mal Reilly.

Back to back wins over Wakefield and Warrington were followed by a narrow one point defeat at Halifax when Morley was sent off for a head butt. Notably Chev Walker made his debut as a 16 year old at The New Shay. That was to prove a costly defeat at Leeds aimed to make the all important top two and allowed St Helens to leapfrog the Rhinos.

Leeds bounced back with three consecutive wins including a 28-22 win over Wigan that meant Leeds had completed consecutive league doubles over the old Championship rival. The Rhinos the season with another one point loss at league leaders Bradford, with Walker scoring for the visitors, before a narrow home win over London with Keith Senior making his debut on the same day he had signed for the club from Sheffield Eagles. That meant Leeds went into the play offs in third and faced a tricky trip to Knowsley Road in the first week of the play offs. Iestyn Harris and Lee Jackson scored for the Rhinos in a below par performance but there was no time to recover as they faced a Castleford side buoyed by a dramatic win at Wigan's new JJB Stadium the previous week. It was to prove a hurdle too far for Graham Murray's men as his era ended as it had begun with defeat to the Tigers at Headingley with a 23-16 loss.

Brad Godden, Marc Glanville and Martin Masella all moved on at the end of the season having given great service to the club and helped re-establish Leeds as a major force in the game.

2000

2000

The new Millennium did not usher in a new dawn for Leeds Rhinos fans in the year 2000, instead they kicked off the new Dean Lance era with their worst start to a season in living memory with five straight defeats before a mid-season rally offered hope that was ultimately unfounded.

Former Adelaide and Perth coach Dean Lance succeeded Graham Murray into the Rhinos hotseat after being recommended for the job by the former boss along with then Leigh boss Ian Millward. The season got off to a steady start with victory at Post Office Road against Featherstone as the Cup defence began and that was followed by a sterner test as the Rhinos defeated Champions St Helens at Headingley for the second consecutive year in the Fifth Round of the Cup.

The following week Super League V kicked off with a shock as Karl Pratt gifted Wakefield a late try to win 22-18 at Headingley. Leeds bounced back from that defeat with a comfortable win over Dewsbury in the Cup Quarter Final but former Melbourne centre Paul Bell dislocated his shoulder in that game and it was to prove to be his fourth and final game for the club.

Whilst progress in the Cup was proving plain sailing, Leeds were way off the pace the following week when they went to JJB Stadium for the first ever time and only had a Iestyn Harris try to show for their efforts.

Hull FC were defeated in the infamous semi final at Huddersfield a week later when the game was overshadowed by the actions of the Hull fans at the Final whistle. Unfortunately that took the gloss off one of the Rhinos better performances of the season with Lee Jackson in fine form against his old club.

The Rhinos were on their way back to the Challenge Cup Final, this time at Murrayfield due to the demolition of Wembley, but they could not buck the trend in the league. A humiliating 42-14 home defeat to St Helens was sandwiched between losses at Halifax and Warrington that saw Leeds slump to the foot of the Super League table.

They managed to open their account the following week at home against Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants but few gave them a prayer for the Final the following week in the Scottish capital.

What a difference a year makes! Leroy Rivett had been the hero for Leeds at Wembley but Bradford cruelly exposed him at Murrayfield with an aerial bombardment that played direct into the hands of Michael Withers crossing for two tries. Leeds battled hard and were on the ascendency in the final quarter only to be beaten by the clock. A year on from his greatest hour, Rivett was never to pull on a Leeds shirt again.

The Rhinos appeared galvanised by their efforts in the Final and responded with back to back wins in the league including a debut for giant Australian centre Graham MacKay against Salford however a narrow defeat at the Boulevard was followed by a thumping at home to Bradford on a dark day for the Rhinos with the Bulls running out 44-2 winners.

However, that seemed to be the bottom of the barrel and the Rhinos began the climb back from there. Richie Blackmore inspired Leeds to victory over Wigan the following week which kick started a record equalling 13 game unbeaten run in which they beat every opponent in Super League during June and July.

Keith Senior scored four tries in a 36-22 home win over Halifax that the centre would later acknowledge as the turning point in his Leeds career whilst remarkably the Rhinos put St Helens to the sword on their own patch the following week.

The wins kept coming for Leeds and built to a crescendo when Dean Lance's men exacted revenge on their old rivals with an incredible 28-26 win at Odsal on a balmy summers night as Senior scored twice along with Adrian Morley and Francis Cummins. Morley had announced the previous week that he would join forces with Graham Murray at Sydney Roosters and showed what Leeds would miss.

Just as Leeds appeared to be in a position to strike for the play offs and a return to the Grand Final the wheels came off. The winning run ended with defeat at Castleford and Leeds would lose four of their last five games including a shock 18-6 home loss to London on the final day of the regular season. A fourth place finish brought Castleford to Headingley but Leeds managed to avoid a repeat of the previous year's disastrous start to the play offs with a 22-14 win including a Paul Sterling try. Sterling had been at the centre of a controversial discrimination case for the latter part of the season that inevitably impacted on the squad.

The following week Bradford put Leeds out of their misery with a 46-12 win at Odsal with Morley cutting a forlorn figure as he left the field for the last time as a Rhino. At the end of the season, Leeds had 18 players involved in the World Cup in England whilst Daryl Powell retired and David Barnhill and Richie Blackmore decided to head back to the NRL. Graham MacKay had a spell in Rugby Union before switching to Bradford whilst Lee Jackson rejoined Hull FC.

2001

2001

If 2000 has been a turbulent year for Leeds Rhinos, the following year was a one of unfulfilled hope and bitter disappointment as Leeds lost eleven league games, missed out in the Cup semi final and were humiliated in the opening round of the play offs at Knowsley Road.

It all started so differently for the Rhinos in Dean Lance's second season at the club. Having recruited three superstars from the NRL in Tonie Carroll from Brisbane, Brett Mullins from Canberra Raiders and Bradley Clyde from Canterbury Bulldogs along with exciting hooker Robbie Mears, Leeds looked to be in good shape for the new campaign. A pre-season trip to Jacksonville seemed to have the desired effect when Leeds re-wrote the record books with an incredible 106-10 win at Gigg Lane against Swinton Lions in the Fourth Round of the cup. Leeds scored 18 tries, all bar one converted by Iestyn Harris however a cloud was cast on the game when Mears suffered a broken collar bone on his debut.

Leeds comprehensively beat Castleford at The Jungle in the next round live on the BBC with Matt Diskin drafted in for his debut. That was followed by a remarkable game at The Valley against London Broncos which saw the home side run out to an 18-0 lead before Leeds score 50 unanswered points to kick of the season in fine style in Round One of Super League VI.

Bradley Clyde produced what would turn out to be his finest performance for Leeds in the Quarter Final of the Cup as Leeds won at the Boulevard 20-18 and the Rhinos went top of the fledgling league table with four tries from Carroll in a 42-14 win over Wakefield in round two. However, the Rhinos came back down to Earth with a bump when a 42-6 hammering at Wigan where they returned a week later for a 22-27 defeat to St Helens in the semi final of the Cup when the gulf between the sides were wider than the final scoreline suggested.

Hull gained revenge on Leeds at Headingley on a horrible night which was only illuminated by a debut from Rob Burrow but it was to prove a defeat too far for Dean Lance, who left the club by mutual agreement 48 hours later. Daryl Powell, who had retired as a player less than six months earlier was immediately installed as Head Coach and gave Burrow his full debut in a much improved performance at Warrington the following week, despite another defeat.

Powell lifted his side to produce a run of four straight victories including a fantastic win over the World Champions St Helens 74-16 the week after Saints had lifted the Challenge Cup at Twickenham with Carroll scoring four once again.

In front of over 18,000 fans, the Rhinos lost to Bradford, who would become a thorn in the side of Powell during his reign before winning their next three games including home wins over lowly Huddersfield and London, the latter taking Leeds up to mid-season high of fourth, sandwiched either side of victory at Belle Vue.

The win over the Broncos at the start of June was one of few highlights at start of summer. Leeds were off the pace against Wigan as Brian Carney scored a spectacular 90-metre try for the Andy Farrell-inspired Warriors.

The following week, prop Danny Ward marked his 21st birthday with a drop goal in a 15-6 win at the Boulevard. Back at Headingley seven days later, the Rhinos and Warrington battled out a dramatic 24-24 draw with Robbie Mears scoring a late try to equalise for the home side however the luck ran out a week later when Castleford secured a two point win at The Jungle.

July was not much better for the Rhinos as they beat Salford and Huddersfield but suffered heavy back to back defeats away from home at Bradford and St Helens.

The mood was not lifted the following month as the news broke that Iestyn Harris was set to leave the club to join Wales Rugby Union in a record breaking deal. In the same week, the Rhinos once again lost to Bradford at home and the team were cemented in fifth place in the table.

Three wins from the final five games of the regular season summed up the season for the Rhinos with victory over Saints at Knowsley Road, including two tries from Rob Burrow, was a rare highlights. The game ended on a bitter note with a vicious shot by Sonny Nickle on Robbie Mears that signalled the end of the hooker's time at Leeds.

The omens were not good for the play offs when the Rhinos were humiliated at Odsal on the final day of the regular season 62-18 in front of just 12,863 fans.

The following week Leeds gave their all but found themselves short on their return to Knowsley Road as they faced Saints for the fifth and final time. Saints won 38-30 and a reconstruction of the side began under Powell in his first off season at the club whilst debuts for the likes of Rob Burrow, who was named Super League Young Player of the Year, Danny McGuire and Matt Diskin were important pieces in the final puzzle for the Rhinos.

2002

2002

Daryl Powell's second season, and his first full season in charge of the club, began with much change to the playing personnel and ended with even more as the club took immediate action to change the course of the side.

The arrival of Wayne McDonald from St Helens, Adrian Vowles from Castleford and Willie Poching from Wakefield, the latter for a fee of £35,000, added to the overseas recruitment of Matt Adamson from Penrith and Ben Walker from Northern Eagles. Walker had been signed to fill the considerable boots of the departed Iestyn Harris as stand off and goal kicker whilst the long serving Francis Cummins took over the captain's armband.

A pre-season training camp in South Africa resulted in a friendly defeat to Neil Kelly's Widnes Vikings with an incredible thunder and lightning storm as the backdrop. The newly-promoted Vikings would prove to a constant thorn in the side in 2002.

Leeds were handed the toughest possible draw in the Fourth round of the Cup as they travelled to Valley Parade to take on the newly crowned World Champions, Bradford Bulls. The new signings quickly settled into their stride with Walker leading the way with a try and four goals whilst Ryan Sheridan completed the win with his usual Cup heroics. Victory over lower division Hull KR at home followed before a comfortable 46-10 win over Wakefield booked a semi final berth. In between the latter Cup wins the Rhinos had mixed fortunes in their opening league games.

Andy Hay scored four tries in a 48-6 demolition of London at home followed by a disappointing 38-6 loss at the Boulevard against Hull FC, with Matt Diskin sent off for the visitors.

The Rhinos put together a run of four wins, starting with the Cup victory over the Wildcats, and followed by wins at Warrington, at home against Halifax, with Tonie Carroll scoring a hat trick, and finally at Castleford with a 36-16 win. That run took the Rhinos up to second behind Bradford and one place ahead of St Helens ahead of back to back league and Cup clashes against Ian Millward's side.

A narrow 30-26 defeat at Knowsley Road seemed to set up the Cup semi final the following week nicely at JJB Stadium only for the Rhinos to freeze on the big stage and get blown away by a Saints team in their pomp, losing 42-16.

Leeds regained second spot in the league the following week with a 52-22 win over Wakefield, Chev Walker scoring a hat trick, but the inconsistency that would dog them all season returned the following week with a shock home defeat to Widnes.

The Rhinos went unbeaten in May with five wins in the month including a memorable 28-22 win at JJB Stadium against Wigan which had followed a home win over Bradford a week earlier.

If May was good to Daryl Powell's side then June was a disaster with St Helens and Widnes completing a double in the league before yet another win over Wakefield, this time at Belle Vue with Willie Poching scoring against his former club. July did not appear to be getting much better for the Rhinos as the opened up with narrow home defeats to Warrington and Castleford as Leeds found themselves stranded in fourth place. Wins over lowly Halifax and Salford only papered over the cracks, the latter only coming thanks to a Ryan Sheridan drop goal.

In the remaining ten games in the season, the Rhinos only managed to secure victories in half and their morale appeared to be critically dented by a 46-18 hammering at Valley Parade against Bradford with Barrie McDermott sent off for a fight with Stuart Fielden leaving a young Rhinos side little chance against a fired up Bulls outfit.

The Rhinos lost at home to Wigan the following week but a silver lining came 48 hours later when the club confirmed that they had signed Wigan's talismanic forward Dave Furner for the 2003 season.

The team were under increasing pressure but they responded in fine style with an impressive 52-10 win over Hull FC before a fourth win of the season over Wakefield. The Rhinos slumped to fifth with a 38-18 loss at St Helens followed by a narrow 18-20 defeat to the Bulls at Headingley Carnegie, with a last gasp try from Leon Pryce denying Leeds a famous win.

That seemed to rally the Rhinos troops and they finished the season in good form. A 28-26 home win over London was followed by a surprise 32-26 win at Wigan on the final day of the season when a young side that included Nick Scruton on his debut overcame the odds. A home win over Hull FC in the opening weekend of the play offs increased hope of better only for humiliation at Wigan a fortnight after that famous win as the season fizzled out with a 41-18 loss.

The club management took immediate steps to turn the situation around and gave Powell there full backing. Instead, senior players Andy Hay, Karl Pratt and Ryan Sheridan were released whilst Ben Walker headed back home to Australia. However, perhaps the most significant decision in those dark winter months came with the decision to make a young loose forward called Kevin Sinfield, aged only 21, captain of the Rhinos.

2003

2003

After the disappointment of the previous campaign, there was little pressure on the Rhinos at the start of Super League VIII however it was the start of a new era, a golden one that began with heartache in what was ultimately to be Daryl Powell's last in charge of the club.

Leeds had recruited shrewdly but not spectacularly in the close season with the departing experience of Sheridan, Hay, Fleary and Pratt replaced by Chris Feather from Wakefield, Andrew Dunemann from Halifax and Dave Furner and Gary Connolly from Wigan, who were both in the Autumn of their careers.

However, a statement of intent came with the promotion of the young stars from the clubs academy to senior position. At the top was new skipper Kevin Sinfield with Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Richard Mathers, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Bailey, Danny Ward, Matt Diskin and Chev Walker all becoming mainstays of the first team.

The season kicked off with a big home win over Whitehaven in the Cup before Mark Calderwood inspired Leeds to victory over Widnes with a hat trick in the 32-12 win. On paper, March looked a tough month with five games including two rounds of the Cup. Keith Senior inspired Leeds to victory over London in the Fifth Round of the Cup before a big win at home against Hull in the Cup Quarter Final. Those wins were book ended by victories over Warrington at home and Huddersfield at home. Calderwood scored his second hat trick of the season in the win over the Giants which was also significant as it signalled the day that Kevin Sinfield took over from Dave Furner as first choice kicker. The perfect month was capped by a hard earned win at Halifax.

Leeds then faced back to back games against St Helens in the league and then the Cup semi final. The eagerly anticipated clash between the sides at Knowsley Road saw top v second go head to head in a classic clash. The result was decided by two spectacular tries from contrasting sources. Keith Senior was quickest to react to a ball that bounced off a Saints attacker's head onto the crossbar and into his arms before racing 90 metres to score, then Wayne McDonald scored the greatest try of his career as he broke clear inside his own half, threw a dummy and just kept on going. That set up the following week's semi final perfectly. Saints were the Cup Kings who had knocked Leeds out of the Cup at the final hurdle in the previous two years whilst the Rhinos were the nearly men. It made for one of the greatest games ever as Danny McGuire scored in the final second to put his side two points behind and gave Kevin Sinfield a touchline conversion to take the game into extra time. There was still drama to come but when Sinfield broke clear on half way to feed McGuire, history was written.

Leeds beat Castleford the following week to maintain their unbeaten start to the season, via a drop goal from Dunemann described by his Head Coach as the 'ugliest' he had ever seen. The unbeaten Rhinos headed to Cardiff in confident mood to take on Bradford but it was not to be.

2004

2004

No Leeds Rhinos fan will ever forget the 2004 season when dreams became reality and grown men wept as the Championship finally came home after a 32 year absence.

In terms of the squad, little changed between 2003 and 2004 with only Papua New Guinean Marcus Bai added to the squad that Tony Smith inherited from Daryl Powell. However, that seemingly seamless change of guard belied a fundamental shift in attitude off the pitch. Smith left no stone unturned as he transformed a group of talented but raw players into Champions. He stripped pre-season back to basics as the players learnt how to catch, pass and hold the ball, new philosophies were introduced and learnt and sacrifice and dedication became a way of life for the young Leeds squad.

The season started well with a big home win over London Broncos in the league before Workington were comfortably dispatched at home in the Challenge Cup. Danny McGuire then announced his arrival on the 2004 season with a hat trick in a big win at Castleford with Gary Connolly scoring his final try for the club in the 34-8 victory.

The following week the only disappointment in a season of joy came at Knowsley Road as Leeds were easily beaten 24-14 by Saints in the Fourth Round of the cup. However, that set back only seemed to convince the Rhinos that they needed to redouble their efforts to achieve their dreams.

They bounced back immediately the following week with a well earned win over Wigan at Headingley and then thrashed Widnes away 46-0. The satisfaction that coach Smith and the team took from nilling an opposition said much about their new found determination and it was to become a hallmark of the side.

The previous season, Bradford had proved the Rhinos nemesis on so many occasions and so the significance of their victory over the Bulls in front of a sell out crowd of 21,225 at Headingley Carnegie could not be underestimated. Leeds carried on in brutal fashion in April as they nilled their opponents for a second successive away game when Salford were put to the sword, 44-0, at the Willows before Huddersfield and Wakefield were swept aside. Once again, it took a defeat to St Helens to keep the young Rhinos feet on the ground and whilst the the 56-10 thumping at Knowsley Road was a painful experience ultimately the wounds did not prove fatal.

The Rhinos responded in typical fashion to that defeat by going on a five game unbeaten run that saw them not only cement top spot but pull clear from the chasing pack. The major news in May was the arrival of Ali Lauitiiti from the New Zealand Warriors. The man dubbed the Michael Jordan of Rugby League made an immediate impact scoring a debut in a win at Odsal in only his second game, stretching out one handed to touch down in a style that was to become a regular piece of Leeds action.

Leeds lost out to Wigan at JJB Stadium in what was a shock result at the time with the home side languishing in fifth after a tough season on and off the field having lost Head Coach Mike Gregory to illness at the start the season that would ultimately tragically cost him his life.

Two tries from Lauitiiti helped the Rhinos to a 28-24 win over Hull FC at Headingley the following week but the week after that game it was matters off the field that would get everyone's attention. Chris Caisley's Bradford Bulls had announced the signing of former Leeds skipper Iestyn Harris from the Welsh Rugby Union despite claims from his former club that he was contractually committed to coming back to Headingley. A long lengthy legal battle ensued that ultimately the Rhinos were proved to be correct however back in the summer of 2004, a version of the Cold War had broken out in West Yorkshire and there was plenty of rhetoric from both sides to fill the local newspaper columns.

On the field, Leeds beat Warrington away and Castleford at home before a dramatic 36-36 draw with London in the capital saw Carl Ablett make his Leeds debut and Liam Botham, on loan from Leeds, kick the equalising goal late on.

There was no danger of a late draw in the next game as Leeds produced one of their most famous wins in the summer era. Having lost to Saints twice at Knowsley Road, Tony Smith's side were in no mood to make it three in a row. Leeds had beaten Saints previously by big scores but usually that was put down to Cup Final hangovers but St Helens had no answer to a 70-0 blitz on a balmy night at Headingley. Keith Senior was at the heart of it for Leeds with an untouchable performance as he pulverised the Saints defence before unleashing the twin strike forces of Bai and McGuire at will, both grabbing a hat trick whilst Wayne McDonald scored twice against his old club.

By now, Leeds were red hot favourites to finish top of the league and they galloped home to the finish line with seven wins from their remaining eight games plus a 12-12 draw at Wigan. Having finished nine points clear of second place Bradford, Leeds were remarkably still written off in some quarters as no hopers for the title. 'They would choke under the pressure, the kids would fall short, it was experienced that counted at this time of year' and so it went on. Those cat calls only increased in volume when Harris inspired Bradford to a comfortable 26-12 win at Headingley.

That set up a repeat of the previous season's Grand Final Eliminator with Wigan returning. Smith crucially shuffled his side with Mark Calderwood back on the wing, Chev Walker moving to centre and Chris McKenna going into the back row. Crucially, Kevin Sinfield moved to stand off with Danny McGuire at scrum half and Leeds found their rhythm again. There was to be no repeat as Marcus Bai grabbed a hat trick and with it the momentum for the Grand Final.

And so to Old Trafford and the ultimate prize. Once again, Leeds were written off against the more experienced Bulls side who had made Old Trafford a second home under Brian Noble. Predictably Lesley Vainikolo struck first for Bradford but that was as good as it got for the giant winger. A combination of Smith's tactics, Sinfield's astute kicking and Calderwood's willingness to chase and harass Vainikolo all night long negated his threat. Leeds hit back through Man of the Match Diskin soon after only for Hape to put Bradford back in command with a try just after half time.

However, cometh the hour, cometh the man and McGuire was on hand to score one of the sweetest tries in the Leeds club's proud history as he crossed with five minutes to go in the corner. Sinfield kicked his fourth goal from four attempts and the Rhinos led 16-8 with time running out. Robbie Paul signalled the start of the party moments later when he knocked on and the Leeds players and their fans partied long into the night. 32 years is a long time between drinks and you can build up quite a thirst!

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