It’s twenty years since football lost a football genius who bled white, yellow and blue during his incredible career at Leeds United FC.
He was my hero, the man I admired the most in that crisp white shirt with the smiley badge on it. He was already a hero when I first saw him on the field. The number four on his back and he was here, there and everywhere as Leeds won their second title in the 1973/74 season.
I’d obviously seen him previously, but on the television. A true captain that led by example and the ‘Keep Fighting’ on the dressing room wall was there for all to see in the little Scotsman. I’ll not list his enormous list of honours, he was a proud man that led by example and his and Don’s Leeds were feared by every team in football.
In his early years he could have returned home to Scotland, he had failed to settle in Yorkshire but Don Revie was a persuasive man and although early years must have been hard for the youngster he stayed and became a Leeds United legend. He became the greatest ever player to wear the club’s shirt.
He made his debut at Chelsea and the rest is history, himself and Johnny Giles snarled their way through every midfield in England and in Europe. In my years of being a Leeds fan I’ve only seen a midfield that came close to Revie’s boys, the midfield of the 1991/92 Championship team came mighty close to being as good but they weren’t around for as long as Billy, Peter, Eddie and Johnny were.
He made 772 appearances for Leeds before moving to Hull City, he returned to become Leeds’ manager in 1985, after a successful spell as manager of Doncaster Rovers. In his spell as manager he took the club to the semi final with Coventry City (losing 3-2) and the never to be forgotten Playoff Final defeat to Charlton Athletic in 1987.
His passing in 1997 was mourned by football as a whole, not just in Leeds and his native Scotland where he proudly was the nations captain. He was only 54 years young, gone far too soon.
He was special, he was LEEDS and every game, I seek him out to ask him to look over his former team and give them some luck during the game I’m about to see.
God Bless you Billy, you’ll never, ever be forgotten by the people of Leeds and football as a whole.
By Keith Ingham