John Helm’s history with Leeds United is synonymous with some of the clubs greatest moments.
An embodiment of journalism that follows a club, Helm laid the groundwork for people like Adam Pope and Phil Hay. Today he speaks about his memories of the club he followed for over 60 years.
There is little doubt in my mind that whatever success I might have achieved in my career is due in no small measure to the coincidental rise of Leeds United to being one of the most powerful football clubs in Europe.
It is no secret that MY club is Bradford (Park Avenue) and has been since 1953, but they never played in a European Cup Final - sadly - and probably never will!
Having witnessed at first hand Leeds's major triumphs in the Football League Championship, FA Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs cup, I have been privileged to be linked with the club.
My first trip to Elland Road was with the specific purpose of seeing John Charles who I had been told was something special. He didn't disappoint.
King John scored two goals that day against Portsmouth and I swear one of them was a header from 30 yards and the ball was still going up when it rocketed past Norman Uprichard the Pompey 'keeper into the roof of the net..
I never saw Pele in the flesh but I have seen a lot of Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi and I still believe John was the greatest player I have ever seen.
During my days at the Yorkshire Evening Post I was sent to Anfield to see Leeds win their first Division One title, and did so standing with the Liverpool fans on the Kop. When Billy Bremner followed Don Revie's instruction to take the players to that end of the stadium, the reception Liverpool fans gave Leeds made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
Perhaps I became most synonymous with Leeds United during my time at BBC Radio Leeds. I was at Elland Road three or four times a week interviewing players who became friends for life. I can honestly say there are no nicer people in life than Eddie Gray and Norman Hunter - nor madder than Paul Reaney!
I was at Wembley for the good and the bad - Arsenal and Sunderland. I was in Thessaloniki when the referee robbed Leeds of a European title, and in Paris when another referee made sure Leeds never claimed the greatest European prize of all.
Certainly the AC Milan match should have been replayed.
On the plus side there have been many memorable nights at Elland Road - Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus - who would have believed then that a few years later the visitors would include Yeovil, Gillingham and Tranmere?
That's what happens with football clubs though and there has never been a dull moment throughout all the different ownerships and managers.
I am often reminded of my commentary line when Gordon Strachan virtually guaranteed promotion to the First Division with a cracker against Leicester City: "Have you ever seen a better goal ? Have you ever seen one better timed ?"
It was a spontaneous reaction - but a defining moment of a 60-year relationship with the club. I hope there are many more to come.
By John Helm
We’d like to thank John for his time and wonderful words both spoken with commentary and written in the article.
A snippet of John’s work is here when Gordon Strachan finished in an unmissable moment against Leicester City.
Thank you for some wonderful moments John.