The passing of Lord Harewood this week is the end of an era for Leeds United.
Half a century of service as our president will earn him a rightful place in the club’s rich and proud history.
Where football is concerned, the title of legend tends to be reserved for players and managers of great distinction, but Lord Harewood’s contribution over many years at Elland Road should not be under-estimated.
The club were privileged to have a president with such dignity and eminence.
It’s unusual to meet a member of the royal family with as strong a passion for football as Lord Harewood displayed. In general, their interest lies in other sports. But he loved the game and he loved Leeds United as much as any other fan.
Like so many of us, he caught the football bug.
You hear a name like Lord Harewood and you immediately imagine an aloof, possibly high-and-mighty individual – but I can honestly say that I never met a more down-to-earth man in my life.
Back in the 1960s, when he first became president, he would travel to our European games on the same planes as the players and stay in the same hotels. His two young sons always came with him and their personalities were infectious, a real joy to be around.
Lord Harewood seemed fascinated by professional football, perhaps because it was such a different existence to his own. He loved his opera music and had a very different life to a lad like me, but I got the feeling that he really enjoyed the change of scene and the pleasure of something new.
Similarly it was always very interesting to learn about him and find out about a lifestyle with which I was totally unfamiliar.
The point is that his presidency was not a token appointment. He represented the club because he treasured the club. Over the years, he defended our reputation keenly and he was always ready to speak out in support of Don Revie and the squad of that time. No-one seemed to object to the slandering of Don more readily than Lord Harewood.
For him, that era must have been a treat.
He was old enough to remember the time when Leeds were a yo-yo club – occasionally blessed with great players, but never able to build a great team who won trophies on a regular basis. Don broke the mould and made us into a leading force.
If you were a fan, you appreciated the success enormously. What you didn’t appreciate was people sniping from every corner and attempting to drag the club’s reputation through the mud.
Where Don was concerned, the only word he knew was ‘win’. People say football is only a game but, when all’s said and done, the name of the game is winning. Any supporter who’d followed Leeds through the 1950s must have loved the sight of a manager with such blatant desire and ambition.
His squad made dreams a reality.
Lord Harewood stood up for us showed himself to be a true fan. I’m immensely saddened by his death and he’ll be greatly missed at Elland Road.
The royal family get a bit of a hard time, but he was a fabulous ambassador for them and a fabulous ambassador for Leeds United. I’d like to offer my condolences to his family.