Leeds United nostalgia: Skilful Hird had tough act to follow

Kevin Hird.
Kevin Hird.
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In retrospect, Kevin Hird is better known for his resemblance to comedian Jasper Carrott than anything else, but when he signed for Leeds United, he was one of the most reputable attacking full-backs in the English game.

A Burnley fan, he played first professionally at Blackburn in February 1973, where he developed his impressive reputation.

He was eventually transferred to Leeds in 1979 for £357,000, which made him the most expensive full-back in the British game at the time.

Hird was hindered though, playing the majority of his games at Elland Road as a midfielder, famed for his forays down the right and skilful dribbling.

The issue was his consistency, and the majority of Leeds fans who watched him will label him an absolute enigma.

He was capable of scoring absolutely wonderful goals and the aforementioned dribbles, but also the most basic of errors at the same time.

Discussing him with fellow fans brings up memory after memory of him collecting the ball and simply running until he ran out of turf or into somebody, no matter what direction he was facing.

This was the dilemma with Hird. He flattered to deceive most of the time, but ask around and people will happily recount those times he did impress.

It was only ever in unique moments. For example, there was the game at Elland Road where he skinned Kevin Keegan three times. No-one actually remembers whether anything came of it.

He was, however, partly responsible for a moment Leeds fans remember to this day.

It was his good ball into Carl Harris that found its way to Brian Flynn, and ultimately into the back of the Manchester United net, giving Leeds one of their only two wins at Old Trafford in the last 33 years.

It can’t be said that Hird’s time at the club was one of great success.

Hird was a member of the team that truly suffered from the hangover of the Revie era party.

After Hird was signed by Jimmy Adamson, the club continued to tumble down the First Division.

Adamson was summarily dismissed, before former Leeds player Allan Clarke took over. The man who fired Leeds to the FA Cup couldn’t stop the rot, and by the end of 1981-82, Leeds had been relegated to the second tier, Hird alongside them.

Hird was ultimately a victim of a transitional period at Leeds, consigned to history as a pub quiz question rather than as part of a success like his predecessors.

He’s probably remembered unfairly, as any man tasked with filling the boots of Paul Reaney would have suffered, and the golden years were already well and truly over by the time he arrived.

One things fans could never criticise him for was his workrate, and his commitment to Leeds was never in doubt, always giving 100 percent.

Eventually though, he moved on to the club he supported as a child, Burnley, after 165 appearances for Leeds. It was here that he played out the rest of his professional career.

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