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Promised Land: The Reinvention of Leeds United

There used to be a sign hanging outside Leeds Station which bore the legend: 'Leeds, the Promised Land delivered'. Anthony Clavane explains why that sign was put up - and how it came to be taken down. Leeds United, one of the most famous names in British football, disappeared in the noughties. In the last 50 years the club has had a chequered history. First, under Don Revie's obsessive control, they were labelled Dirty Leeds, and then, during Peter Risdale's ambitious tenure they became known as Greedy Leeds. 'Doing a Leeds' is now shorthand for chasing 'the dream' and suffering a spectacular fall from grace.


Why have Leeds punched below their weight? Why have they always tried, and failed, to get into the promised land? Why, at the most crucial moments, with glory in their sights, have they choked? Critics argue they have got their just deserts but Clavane tells a different story. He links the club's highs and lows to those of the 'beautiful game' itself and the parallel journey of the city. As he considers the modern pressures on the game, the writers who have escaped Leeds, and the Jewish community that climbed out of the ghetto, a bigger picture emerges. This is the story of a marginalised northern tribe's brave - if doomed - attempt to enter the promised land, to barge into the ranks of the elite. Today Leeds United are back. But only to where they started 50 years ago: in the second tier of English football. Clavane asks the question: what went wrong?


Was initially going to be titled: Promised Land: Leeds United, the Team That Disappeared. Paperback edition is subtitled: A northern love story.

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