Northside - Andrew Martin remembers his football woes

Hard faces under ridiculous bouffants: Leeds United dominated my youth

I was born in a street with a name that always fascinated me - Albermarle Road, York. The house overlooked the Knavesmire, on which my grandfather, a freeman of the city, had the right to graze cattle, though since he was employed as a fitter at Rowntree's, I don't think he ever availed himself of this opportunity.

Albermarle Road is part of an area of York - South Bank - which is now sought after, but in my day it was quite rough. When I was about 11, I was walking down a South Bank street with my friend Paul when we were approached by two big lads in their teens. "Who do you support?" they asked. Now everyone in York supported Leeds, except for intellectuals like me and Paul, who would experiment with supporting other teams, even going so far as to support our home side, York City.

"We support York," said Paul to the two thugs.

Thanks very much for that we, I thought, because I could tell immediately - just by their general appearance of having no imagination - that this pair had taken the standard option for a young Yorkie of supporting Leeds. To cut a long story short, Paul was stabbed in the thigh with the point of a compass, and I got off with a warning that I would be killed if spotted in the vicinity of my own birthplace again.

A just-published book from Aurum Press, The Unforgiven: Don Revie's Leeds United by Rob Bagchi and Paul Rogerson, tells the story of this club that tyrannised my Seventies youth. The players had brilliantly dour names: Gray, Sprake, Madeley, Reaney, Cooper. And the team itself was an odd mixture of toughness and whimsy. Revie, the superstitious manager, always walked to the same traffic light in Leeds before home games, and the players - kitted out in all white to ape Real Madrid - wore tabs on their socks bearing their autographs, and congregated in the centre circle to do "the Leeds wave" before every game.

The team was considered aggressive and negative, and Revie had something of a persecution complex. He believed that in the 1970 FA Cup Final, which Leeds drew with Chelsea, he was prevented "by seven London policemen" from telling his captain, Billy Bremner, to close down the game.

The authors contend that Leeds, with its decaying Victoriana and its aspirations to be a "motorway city", was the quintessential Seventies town, and certainly photographs of the team - usually taken in such appropriately twilit locations as motels in Wolverhampton - have always epitomised that contradictory decade for me: hard faces under ridiculous bouffants. As I say, Leeds United dominated my youth, and Bagchi and Rogerson bring it all most uncomfortably back.

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