Terry Cooper and Leeds United


In recent weeks a couple of great players from the golden years of Leeds United have sadly passed away, Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry.

Nobody interested in football in the 1970s could have not heard or been aware of either of them and likewise their fearsome teammate, full-back Terry Cooper.

In fact they all were in a team of, I believe, 11 international players at one stage. Apparently Gareth Sprake was the alleged weak link but he was a fair keeper and a Welsh International to boot who was crucified for one high-profile, televised mistake when the ball spun out of his hands with no apparent danger.

But back to Terry Cooper. We have all read about what a great player Terry Cooper was and I agree. But my honest opinion is that he was a cynical player whose over-the-top fouls tarnished his reputation as a great player. Ask Sunderland's George Mulhall and Bobby Kerr what they thought of playing against Terry Cooper and Leeds United in general. We Pools fans would chant "you dirty Yorkshire b******s!" And I feel in Leeds United's case it was justified.
" Leeds United were undoubtedly a great team but would have been even greater if they had stuck to football."

A certain Don Revie encouraged this cynicism and Leeds had a policy of going in hard and nailing the opposition's most dangerous player early on and if any got a booking he laid off and the bookings got spread around the team. Leeds United were undoubtedly a great team but would have been even greater if they had stuck to football.

Other players in that Leeds United team were cynical foulers as well and wind-up merchants who went beyond gamesmanship like Paul Reaney and Jack Charlton (who favoured climbing on a centre forward's back or standing on a goalie's foot on a corner kick. There were others: Paul Madeley, Billy Bremner and later Terry Yorath. Johnny Giles was a midfield genius second only to Pools' Eric McMordie but he too good put the boot in when he felt like it.

Leeds United had a reputation of being a dirty team which sticks even to this day. It's justified in my opinion. I suspect that if all clubs' fans were to vote on the dirtiest team Leeds United would come somewhere near the top.

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