Home > Football, Previous clubs > My time at Leeds United…Part 1. Back home at last

My time at Leeds United…Part 1. Back home at last


I signed for Leeds United in the September 1992 .It was the season which followed Leeds United’s First Division championship success. It was the first season of the newly formed Premier League. Sky Sports had just paid massive money for the TV rights and it seemed like the game was due to be taken to the next level. Leeds at that time were a club who were spending a lot of money and were assembling a squad full of big names with big reputations. Not that the fee paid for myself and Kevin Sharp from AJ Auxerre was going to break the bank.£120 k was the amount. I remember feeling more relieved than anything that my French nightmare had ended. When signing I thought that it was highly unlikely that I will get a chance in the first team but it was just great to be back in England again, back to normality. Another plus for me was the fact that a couple of old team-mates were already there. Mark Tinkler who I played with for England schoolboy’s U 15’s and Scott Cousins, who I was with at the National School at Lilleshall helped me settle in. Luckily we all ended up in the same digs together. Our digs were in Beeston, just at the top of the hill from Elland Road. The four of us stayed in the house of a family. They cooked,washed and cleaned up after us.Well I was nearly 18 years old!! To be fair to our landlady it wasn’t her responsibility to tell us when we had to be in and the places we should and shouldn’t go. The first weekend there all I could think about was getting a night out. There was a lot of lads there around my age so that weekend there was a good turn out, probably 8 or 9 of us. Early on in the evening I remember walking from one bar to another. We must have had a few, well on our way! I was a new boy so I kept myself to myself. The next thing I knew someone suggested that we turn a parked car over. S**t ! I mean I wanted a good night out and all that but I’d never done anything like that before. So within seconds there is a mob of lads rocking a random car from all angles trying to turn it upside down. So what should I do, I thought? Well I’ve just signed for one of the biggest clubs in the country about 4 days ago but I really did want to be accepted by my peers and as they say ‘many hands makes light work’ so all hands to the pump. So within a minute or two the car was on it’s roof greeted with a loud cheer from everybody involved and already I was one of the boys. At the time it seemed a bit of a laugh but what was I thinking?

Although I was 17 when I signed I immediately signed as a professional. This was a little unorthodox because I was training and playing in the youth team which was full of apprentices. As a result I didn’t have to clean boots or do all of the regular ‘jobs’ which was expected. What a result! When training had finished I was straight off to the bookies or the snooker hall while the other lads got on with sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. Looking back it wouldn’t have been a bad idea for me to have done those jobs. It was possibly the first signs of me thinking more of myself than I should have. That is one thing that has been eradicated from the game today. These days the scholars, as they are now called, are given less to do. I’m still not sure what is right or wrong. I do think they should be given some responsibilities though.

One player who had signed at a similar time to myself was a goalkeeper called Paul Pettinger. He was a nice enough lad to be fair to him. He hadn’t quite managed to settle in as well as Kev and I and had got some of the young lads backs up somehow so one day they decided to put him in his place. Off went his clothes, well most of them, . He was then tied up outside against the changing rooms and on went boot polish all over his face. The lads took it upon themselves to grab a load of balls and pelt him at point-blank range. Wow.  Well this must have gone on for a good couple of minutes and I felt for him.I can honestly say that I wasn’t one of the ones who fired a ball at him. That was a step too far for me. And a step too far for his mum who caused all sorts of havoc for Paul Hart and his staff.I think he was off for about a week after that incident. Poor lad. If that had happened in more recent times I am pretty sure that somebody would have lost their job but it seemed to be quickly forgotten at the time.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.





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