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Dirty Leeds

To start with, it is a shame that this book is always going to get compared to David Peace's "Damned United". In some ways, its a natural comparison, Peace and Endeacott are contemporaries, and indeed very good friends and both have tackled the same football team (Leeds United) and blended fact and fiction.


But let's make this very clear: each writer is attempting something very different here. Peace attempts to step into the mind of a man (Brian Clough) while Endeacott's novel attempts to capture the aura of a team (Leeds) and the era of their greatest success, viewed through the eyes of a besotted young fan.


Probably one of the hardest things about writing about football, is your audience has usually made up its mind about your subject before they turn a page, and as a writer, your own bias is often hard to conceal. Whereas Peace's (a Huddersfield Town fan and writing as Brian Clough) novel paints unflattering pictures of Leeds United and its players, Endeacott (a life long Leeds supporter) goes the more complimentary path with his heroes. So I guess what I am trying to say is, if you love Leeds United, then you might have found "Damned United" as I did, a hard read at times, while "Dirty Leeds" is a very pleasant one.


If you are expecting another "Damned United", then you might be disappointed. That's not meant to sound critical, either. Its just that they are different books in almost every way. But if you would like to read a tender and affectionate look back at one of England's best ever teams, and follow the highs and lows through the eyes of character who is there through it all, then you will love this book.


And I don't think that Endeacott should be apologetic for this either. He has been writing fiction based on Leeds United long before it became vouge (read his excellent novella 'One Northern Soul' to see what I mean), and is unashamedly a Leeds supporter though and through. He lived and breathed the Revie era through his father (a member of the grounds staff at Elland Road for 26 years) through his fellow fans, and through the team itself. "Dirty Leeds" is very much a blend of all of these experiences, both personal and shared.


So this book isn't an attempt to be a "Damned United". And it isn't attempting to be a factual account of everything that happened during the Revie years either (although its pretty bloody accurate throughout). But it is a well written and thoroughly enjoyable walk through the Revie years, which is, after all, what Endeacott was attempting to write. In that, he has succeeded wholeheartedly. Robert loves Leeds United, and the Revie era, and wants you to share in that. If that sounds as good as it did to me, to you, then you will enjoy this book.


 -Review by S.J. Gibbard (Deebo)

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