Home > Football, Previous clubs > My time at…Leeds United. Part 2. Suspended..and 1st team debut.

My time at…Leeds United. Part 2. Suspended..and 1st team debut.

 

Paul Hart was my Youth Team coach. What a brilliant coach he was, still is. Apart from my parents I would say that he has been one of the biggest influences on my career. My time in France had made me question if I wanted to be a footballer and he really got a hold of me and sorted me out. For a while anyway. He had previously done a similar job at Notts Forrest with success and it was to my fortune that he was at Leeds Utd. He was not the sort of man who you wanted to get on the wrong side of. That happened to me once though. There was a bit of a contractual wrangle which got a bit out of hand. My contract stated that I was to pay £70 per week landlady. It was after about 6 months that the club discovered that they were paying it for me. I knew it at the time but obviously didn’t tell them. I was called in by Paul Hart. He suggested that the money I owed should be paid back although they would allow me to pay in over the remainder of the contract. It was a good whack as I was not on a large amount as a young pro at Leeds. How times have changed. I really didn’t want to take a hit like that so I said ‘No’. I don’t think Paul Hart expected to hear me disagree with him but I figured that it was their mistake and I wasn’t going to pay it. There was a bit of a stand-off for a few minutes along with some threats and eventually he told me to f*** o** out of his office and that I was suspended. I didn’t bother arguing. When Paul Hart said something he always looked as though he meant it. So as I walked out of his office to my car it felt like an eternity. All I could think about was how I’ve just kissed goodbye to any chance of becoming a footballer. What was I doing?

Anyway, before I reached my car I was recalled into his office and told to ‘sit there’ while he tried to sort it out with the club secretary. He came back, angrier than ever, and told me to f*** o** once again but this time until the following day but from then I had to pay the £70 myself. I couldn’t argue.

I was pretty pleased with myself that I stood up to him that day. Not that I ‘won’ or anything like that. Whether I was in the right or not wasn’t really the point. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and not be bullied, especially when you are a young lad finding your way in the world. I had total respect for Paul Hart all the way through my time at Leeds and didn’t want to fall out with him again

From when I signed the goals were flowing very regularly. We played in the Intermediate u19’s league against other youth teams from the region. Confidence was high and we managed to begin a bit of a cup run in The FA Youth Cup. At the same time the first team were having a shocking season. It got to March or April  time and they hadn’t managed to win away from home. The reigning league champions. Relegation was being spoken about and things were not how they were supposed to. Some big names had come in with big transfer fees on big money. Steve Hodge, David Rocastle, Scott Sellers. And they didn’t manage to hold down a place in the team. I had played a few reserve team matches. I was scoring most weeks for the u19’s that they wanted to have a look at me. My first reserve game was away at Barnsley where they stuck me left-midfield. I was disgusting. Didn’t have a clue how to play left midfield. There were that many players it was the only way I could get a game. Mick Hennigan, Reserve Manager and First Team coach commented on how I wasn’t ready to play ‘messters’ football. He was an ‘old school’ South Yorkshireman. Not the greatest coach in the world but loved football to it’s core. Anyway, the goals didn’t dry up and the First Team kept on losing so I eventually found myself making my debut. I was on the bench in the days when only 2 subs were selected. It was at Notts Forrest and was live on Sky Sports. Myself and Mark Tinkler were the 2 selected subs. I ended up getting about 6 minutes. Jelly legs or what. While I was on the pitch I could see Brian Clough wearing his famous green jumper. So surreal. I only touched the ball a couple of times and gave it away every time because I was so nervous. So there it was. I was now a Premier League player. Unfortunately, for me this was the start of what I now look back on as me turning into bit of a Big Time Charlie for a little while and must confess to being a little too big for my boots. Just imagine it. I had just fulfilled a childhood dream. Stupidly, niavly, though my young 18 year old mind took this as having ‘made it’. To this day I look back and hate myself for the attitude that developed.

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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