Leeds United: The Elland Road Curse

Under manager Don Revie, Elland Road became a veritable footballing fortress - feared by visiting fans and teams alike. But Revie also believed that his team's ground was haunted by a gypsy curse.

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Leeds United: The Elland Road Curse

Leeds United: The Elland Road CurseImage courtesy: Wikipedia [creative commons]

Elland Road pictured the 1970s "Elland-Road-Floodlights-night" by Picture @ wafll.com's Elland Road History.

Don Revie's achievements at Leeds have often been overshadowed by the team he built's reputation for hard play. That the team was gilded with skill, stamina and glorious passages of play has been forgotten in the chants of 'Dirty Leeds' that even to this day haunt the current crop of has-beens and journeymen as they toil ineffectually away in the middle reaches of the Championship table.

But Revie was also a supremely superstitious man. Before every match he took the exact same route to the dugout. He feared ornamental elephants and - more famously - birds. He removed the club's famous old peacock from the badge and forbid any bird motifs or images from Elland Road. Before matches, the team would undergo a number of rituals - including innocuous but strange games of carpet bowls - and wore a blue suit to every game.

In 1971, his team enduring a mild slump in form and seemingly suffering from happenstance, he became convinced that the ground itself had been cursed by a gypsy. Where this belief came from is uncertain, but that year he sought the assistance of a 'witch' from Scarborough to rid the ground of its evil blessing. Tales abound that the ground was situated on a gypsy cemetery, or had been cursed when gypsies were refused entry to the city.

Whether there was ever actually a curse and whether the supposed witch helped to remove its spell, Revie's Leeds failed to win the league that year, having headed it for almost all of the season.

While you're here though (and as a closet Leeds man myself) take a couple of minutes to appreciate the majesty of Revie's side in full pomp - seen here destroying Southampton 7-0 in 1972, with some humiliating passages of passing.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 19th February 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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