Leeds United 100: Daily visits to Don Revie's office, staying in the team hotel and arguments on the team coach - reporting on the glory years

Don Warters, flanked by Don Revie and Billy Bremner in 1985Don Warters, flanked by Don Revie and Billy Bremner in 1985
Don Warters, flanked by Don Revie and Billy Bremner in 1985 | jpimedia
“On Monday I want you to get over to Elland Road, introduce yourself to Don Revie and tell him you’re going to be covering Leeds United.”

The new Bradford Telegraph and Argus editor called me into his office one Friday afternoon to tell me I was to cover Leeds – his reasoning was that the Bradford branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club had more members than Bradford City’s attendance at matches.

On the Monday I was thinking all the way over, well Revie won’t want to bother with me, coming from a Bradford paper.

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I knew Revie got there about a quarter-to-eight so I was there for a quarter-past-seven. When he arrived I got out, told him who I was and what I intended to do. “Oh great, come in with me.” We went into the boot room and chatted as he got changed, then went back into his office for a cup of tea and then out to watch training before going back into his office for a sandwich – he was very welcoming.

That was the start of everything for me.

The first time I ever went in the Leeds press box, one of the reporters who had been there for many years came up and said: “You’ve got to remember one thing, you’ve got to remain impartial, no standing up and cheering or thumping the desk.” I always found that a bit difficult. I was in awe of everything, thrown in at the deep end.

I went everywhere on the team coach, stayed at their hotel and had a pre-match meal with them. It was like being on holiday in a way, but it was a hard graft.

Revie always said you’re quite welcome on the team coach but it is an extension of the dressing room. I remember a League Cup tie at Chester on a nasty night. I think Chester were in the Fourth Division and Leeds lost 2-0. I did a very critical report and on the team coach I spent about two hours arguing with players. “We play like we play and we have one bad game and we get this.” I was only describing it as I thought. But that was it, after that they had made their point and I had made mine.

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Revie was the same. We would have arguments but afterwards he’d always say “right that’s it, we’ll carry on”.

I became very friendly with Revie. I made lots of friends, people at the club and players in particular. We had some great times, banquets after cup finals in London.

On the morning of a League Cup final, I was walking in the grounds of the hotel with Terry Cooper and he told me that he had a dream, three nights running, that he would score the winning goal in the League Cup final. And he did.

It was a good time for me and vastly different to now. I always felt responsibility – I was telling people what was happening far away because they couldn’t get there.

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At one time, when Leeds were going well in Europe, so many people rang the office to find out the score that they were jamming the lines, so we had to put a bit in the paper saying please don’t ring. That’s how influential newspapers were then.

The club has such a vast fan base and I give Revie all the credit for that because he brought the club to prominence throughout Europe. There’s lots of countries you can go to and you’ll find someone who knows about Leeds United.

But it definitely is Leeds against the world. In London, they weren’t the favourite team, but I put that down to the fact that under Revie Leeds came up, they were aggressive and they were successful straight away. They finished runners-up the first season back. I think the Revie team used that as a spur, the fact that they were disliked and didn’t get much support from the Football League whenever they tried to postpone a match for Europe. They had an ‘us against them’ attitude. I’m sure Revie used that to his advantage. I know it’s probably strange to say, but I quite enjoyed it. It’s always newsworthy stuff isn’t it?

When they signed Peter Lorimer, he was wanted by goodness knows how many First Division clubs, including Manchester United who were favourites to sign him. Leeds went up a couple of days before he was expected to sign for Manchester United, drove through the night to get there and he signed for Leeds. Can you imagine that? For a Second Division club that was a bit of a coup. It wasn’t easy to buy players, the club hadn’t got a lot of money. If they were making a bit of profit they would usually buy a player every close season.

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They bought Mick Jones for just short of £100,000 and then followed that up by signing Allan Clarke, £165,000, the highest fee paid for a British player at the time and it was a tremendous partnership. Jones got his fair share, even though people say he was the provider for Clarke. Clarke was really good to watch; a nice player, a lovely player, but arrogant on the pitch, which you need strikers to be. You used to think if ever he got clear, you’d no need to think twice, it was a goal. Maybe they could do with somebody like that now.

I have quite a lot of affection for Leeds United, it’s an interesting club. I still go to matches. It was very refreshing when Marcelo Bielsa came in and some of the football was a joy to watch. It was just unfortunate that they fell away last season, it would have been dream timing for everybody. I’d like to see Bielsa get the club back into the top flight because he’s obviously lost in football, he’s steeped in the game, such a deep thinker and Revie was the same.

When I moved to the Evening Post in 1970, I had a meeting with Revie and he said how pleased he was that I’d got the job. He wanted a story in the Evening Post every night, he valued the publicity and that suited me. I used to call at Elland Road on the way into the office, I’d sit down and he’d always give me a story. I was told when I first went to the Evening Post that I’d never be short of a story at Leeds, because everything that happened happened to Leeds. And that was right.

I regard myself as being fortunate that I could do the job I really loved doing and get paid for it. It took me away from the family a lot, my very supportive wife and two children, because we were in Europe 10 years running, never finishing lower than fourth in the top division when Revie was there.

What would you give for that today?