Chris Evans opens up about his new book on Don Revie, which looks at the life of the former England international footballer

Don Revie was the inspiration for Jack Charlton’s glorious decade of success with Ireland.

And Leeds United’s eight years of deserted 80s in the second tier of English football would have been hindered had the club appointed John Giles as Revie’s successor in the summer of 1974.

So says Chris Evans, whose acclaimed book about the Leeds and England manager has just been published after years of methodical research and many hours of interviews with those who have known and played for Revie.

Don Revie: The Biography of Evans traces the Middlesbrough-born striker’s impressive playing career, but focuses on his 13 years at the helm of Elland Road and his three years at the helm of the Three Lions who have come to fruition. ended with his hasty departure for a job in the United Arab Emirates. .

This final segment of his time in management saw him heavily criticized as England’s bid to reach the 1978 World Cup final was canceled by Italy – two years after Czechoslovakia ended his team’s hopes of reaching the last eight of the 1976 European Championships.



Leeds manager Don Revie (right) and Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe lead their teams ahead of the match (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

Departure from the route d’Elland

Revie’s brutal decision to break his contract with the FA – motivated by his credible belief that his employers were going to fire him anyway – led to a ten-year punitive ban on the FA from getting involved in English football at n ‘any level and has seen a lot in the London-based media vilify a figure they never bought into and whom they saw as an outsider from the north of England.

Charlton and Giles were both prominent figures in Leeds’ success which began with their promotion to the Premier League in 1964 and led to success in all three domestic competitions, two Fairs Cup wins and a string of finalist spots ahead of leave to succeed Alf Ramsey in 1974.

It was following Revie’s departure from Elland Road that the club made the grave mistake of failing to comply with their manager’s wishes to appoint Giles as their successor, fearing that his midfielder partner and club captain Billy Bremner disagrees with the decision.

Instead, the board hired former Derby County boss Brian Clough, who had publicly harangued Revie and his team for years and only lasted 44 days in his post until the revolt of the players sees him sacked.

“If Bremner had not applied, Johnny would have had him,” said Evans, Labor MP for the Welsh constituency of Islwyn since 2010 and current shadow minister for defense procurement.

“Johnny would have had everyone behind him if he’d gotten the job.

“It would have been a replica of 1961 when Revie took over with one of the players promoted from the locker room.

“All the players said if Billy was the captain, Johnny was still the leader.

“I am biased but Johnny claims to be the best player of this era.

“Bobby Charlton won the World Cup but week after week in terms of consistency Johnny Giles was the best midfielder.

“That’s what Don admitted. When you look at Billy’s track record as a manager, it’s insufficient.

“Some of the players Billy sold when he was in charge of Leeds in the 80s – Denis Irwin, Terry Phelan, andy Ritchie, Ian Snodin – were a real mistake.

“He was made for a great team but he sold them all.

“I think Leeds would have been completely different if he had succeeded Revie,” adds Evans who started following Leeds as they spent eight years in 1990 in the former Second Division before Howard Wilkinson guided them to promotion, then, within two years. , to their most recent league title in 1992.



Don Revie, former Leeds United and England manager (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

Back to england

Giles was recruited for Manchester United in 1963 by Revie but Big Jack was already at Elland Road when Revie arrived from Sunderland five years earlier.

It was a relationship that started on rocky ground and possibly ended when Revie entered the principal’s office in 1961.

What Jack said the day Revie was appointed was ‘well it’s me out’ because Revie as a player had told Jack that if he became manager he would get rid of him. .

“According to Revie, Jack was sloppy in his demeanor and wasn’t interested.

“Yet when he became boss he turned around and told her that if he ‘screwed his nut right’ he would make him an English player, which he did.

“As Brian Clough said, without Revie, Jack would never have made the 1966 World Cup squad. It was Revie’s idea to put Jack on the goal line for corners. Leeds.

Remember, Jack, dedicated his autobiography to Revie.

“I think what Jack did with Ireland is what Don wanted to do with England with the Irish guys totally loyal to Jack almost like family.

“Jack and his players have supported the whole nation. So I firmly believe that Jack did this with Ireland because of what he witnessed with Leeds with Revie.

“Revie fathered this family unit in Leeds. He considered them all to be his ‘sons’.”

Revie’s lucrative three-year stint as manager of the UAE national team ended in 1980, when he went on to spend time with Al-Nasir in the same country and a shorter stint with Al-Ahly from Egypt before returning to England in 1984.

Leeds’ physical advantage had won them many critics during their first five years in the Premier League and their ability to produce stylish football as well, particularly between 1970 and 1974, was overlooked by many pundits, as it was is still the case today.



Derby County v Leeds United, Leeds United manager Don Revie (in winter coat) leans from the dugout as he watches the play (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Main mission

Evans’s primary mission in writing this volume was to seek to set the record straight – a dossier which includes unsubstantiated allegations of Revie’s match-fixing.

“The record has to be set. I think Don Revie was the greatest manager this country has ever seen.

“The reason I say this is simple. Where was Leeds United when they arrived?

“They had been stuck mainly in the second division since the 1930s and had no history.

“They weren’t even playing the biggest sport in town – it was rugby league and cricket.

“So you have a young manager with no pedigree who is battling two sports that are much more popular than the one in which he is playing.

“People talk about the Shanklys, Paisleys and Fergusons, but when you look at their record, Paisley won the championship with Liverpool in 1947, so Shankly took over a team that just over ten years earlier had been champions. .

“Alex Ferguson took over a club with the pedigree of victory, the Busby Babes and George Best’s side who won the European Cup in 1968.

“What Revie has done is build the club from the ground up.

“He also introduced concepts in the 1960s and 1970s that are now the norm, including the suggestion that teams be allowed to wear sponsors’ names on their jerseys.

“In today’s game there is the deep false nine he presented first. Liverpool and Manchester City are not playing with a recognized center-forward at the moment.

“No one before him has compiled the statistics that went into his opposition files.

“With 13 years of success and consistency at Leeds, it is truly unfair that his career is judged over three years with England when he did not have the players.”

The FA’s ten-year vindictive ban on Revie was imposed both ruthlessly and with extreme meanness.

“Revie arrived on a Saturday to watch Leeds against Middlesbrough which he was obviously going to do as he was from Middlesbrough and managed and played for Leeds.

“On Monday morning, a letter from the FA was sent to 92 clubs in the League, stating that they should not employ Don Revie due to the ten-year ban.

“He was a trade restriction and one of the first victims of the Culture Cancellation, wiping his name from the record books.

“There have been allegations that Revie got Leeds to ‘throw matches’.

“Like Johnny Giles said, so” we sucked! “.

“Elland Road is now a sanctuary for him and his team. It’s the club Don built and it still is today.”

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