'Manifesto' explains why last sleeping giant Leeds United are such an exceptional club

EVERY football fan should have within them a book about why their club is special, says a man who has now written two.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 11:45 am

Rob Bagchi, co-author of 2002’s The Unforgiven: The Story of Don Revie’s Leeds United, has now had The Biography of Leeds United: The Story of the Whites published.

It is his attempt to convey, with help from the likes of Gary Kelly, Johnny Giles and David O’Leary, just how exceptional a club he began supporting as a child in the early 70s really is.

Born in Wakefield in 1967 to an Indian father and English mother, Bagchi caught, in his words, the ‘arse end’ of the Revie era.

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STORY: Told by Rob Bagchi, pictured with his ten-year-old son Casper at Elland Road back in February of this year.

His dad, not fully comfortable taking his two sons to Elland Road, found someone who could accompany them and from 1976 they had season tickets in the West Stand.

Bagchi was an Elland Road regular until leaving school but even after a move to London he had a 15-year spell as a Lowfields season ticket holder before family life and then a career in sports journalism took over weekends.

He co-wrote The Unforgiven while working in a London bookshop called Sports Pages and penned occasional Leeds United features after swapping weekend sub editing shifts for a staff position at The Guardian.

As the Whites threatened to emerge from the wilderness under Garry Monk, Bagchi – by now at The Telegraph – was required to write about his club with greater frequency.

And then Leeds were back.

“People talked about us being the last true sleeping giant and in fact it’s true. All it really needed was a man with some resources and a man with a plan and then you’ve got the miracle of Bielsa too,” he said.

As good as life is now as a supporter of a Premier League club, the Whites obsession never went away, even through 16 lean years, so Bagchi felt compelled to write a second book, one that would explain exactly why Leeds are special.

“I really wanted to write a manifesto about why we’re still relevant, still exceptional, why the club is as it is,” he said.

“In some ways it was easy, the 60s stuff onwards I sort of knew and had lived through most of it or had written in-depth about it before, it was just a matter of finding different angles.

“I got to speak to Scott Sellars, who was my favourite player as a teenager and he was great about the whole nightmare of playing when the crowd is so volatile and things are happening all the time.

“I’d always loved Gary Kelly and went over to Drogheda to see him at the cancer support centre he set up in his sister’s memory. He was fantastic.

“I got to speak to O’Leary, only about Istanbul and what it was like for him. He gets a bad press I think but he was fascinating and charming. That was the most enjoyable part of it, getting insights from them."

Writing the book and taking a forensic look at the history didn’t change Bagchi’s relationship with the club but he was imbued with a greater appreciation of where it lies in the city, the recent rebirth of community roots, and how difficult the early years were.

Speaking to some famous characters helped him to write a biography, but this book is his story, about his club.

“The idea of filling the book with interviews wasn’t something I wanted to do, I wanted to write the book to try and explain why Leeds, to me, are exceptional,” he said.

“Every fan of every club should have the same book in them, to explain why their club matters.

"This is my view of why we are special to me and the people who love them.”

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Thank you Laura Collins