Celebrating Dewsbury’s Mr Leeds United

Celebrating Dewsbury’s Mr Leeds United

Jack Wilson – LUFC Accountant to Don Revie.

Dewsbury’s-Mr-Leeds-United

Jack Wilson was one of West Yorkshire’s unknown football heroes. From amateur referee to ‘number-crunching’ accountant for the legendary 1970s Leeds United manager Don Revie. People knew Jack as Dewsbury’s Mr Leeds United – he was also my Grandad.

Loud, outspoken, sometimes funny and often highly opinionated, Jack was also a very good crown green bowler, amateur and semi-professional referee, a great organ player and also ran as an independent candidate in the 1960 and 1970 General Elections. This is Paul Kerfoot’s family tribute to Jack Wilson, something for LUFC fans everywhere and a celebration of Dewsbury’s ‘Mr Leeds United’.

Leeds-United-smiley-face-logo-70s

• Retro 70s: Leeds United’s famous ‘smiley face’ logo – LU and also a Yorkshire Rose. Very clever and possibly the best football logo ever created?

Jack’s time with Leeds United legend Don Revie follows shortly, but first…

Vote for Jack

Vote-for-Jack-Wilson

• Jack Wilson ran as the independent candidate for the ward of Earlsheaton (Dewsbury) in 1960 (age 40) – his 14 year old daughter Kathleen (my Mum) helped him post the flyers – and later, Jack ran again (age 50) but this time for St. John’s West ward in the 1970 General Election. He didn’t win either campaign.

Funeral v FUNeral

October 2005: After speaking in public for the first-time in 2003, Grandma Joyce Wilson’s eulogy, my Grandad Jack asked me to do the same for him when he passed away. Two years later Jack died of a heart attack and I found myself facing quite the task to see him off in style, so to speak. With a wealth of family stories to share I was determined that Jack’s was going to be a memorable FUNeral for friends and family.

Twins-Aunty-Jenny-and-Nana-Joyce-Wilson

• Jack married Joyce Richardson who later became my Nana Wilson. Joyce is picture here (on the right) with twin Aunty Jenny (on the left)

“Tears of joy, tears of sadness, they spring form the same well.” – Unknown

After delivering Jack’s eulogy my uncle Ken came up to me and said, “That was great Paul, you made me laugh and cry.” He looked happy, sad and relived all at the same time. Swallowing the lump in my throat I felt happy and content, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. But that was not the end of the story. Just over a fortnight later and our largest, local newspaper also had a story to tell.

After my Grandad passed away I wanted to do something memorable. Create a family legacy. The local newspapers were one obvious angle to consider and I spoke to two PR companies about some of Jack’s amazing stories from his years at LUFC and was told I had no story worth covering. Undeterred I sought advice from a third communication specialist, also a former client, Ron Miller (PR) from Bradford Vision. Ron said I should speak directly to Phil Hay at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP), Leeds. I spoke twice to Phil, who later verified my story with Leeds legend and No.7 Peter Lorimer, he said to keep an eye out for a ‘small’ article the following week.

I was at an event at the Royal Armouries a week later and luckily picked up an armful of free copies from The Yorkshire Post stand. Expecting to see a small tribute column, I fanned eagerly through the paper back to front three times and nothing caught my searching eye. I went outside and looked again and punching the air in delight, looked up at the heavens and shouted, “Get in Grandad!”

The feature was that BIG I missed it! Below is the amazing full-page coverage by YEP and Phil Hay, also capturing the funeral and a great tribute to Grandad Jack. Cheers Phil!

Phil-Hay-Files-Leeds-United

• Full page article: Phil Hay, Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) – 3rd November 2005. Click here to download the full article shown above (PDF file).

The feature remarks that, ‘Wilson’s prudent bean counting assisted the final three years of Don Revie’s tenure, which brought the Division One championship to Elland Road in 1974 and built the finest squad ever assembled in Leeds shirts.

“In those days you didn’t have a hundred people working behind the scenes,” says Peter Lorimer, one of the outstanding products of the Revie era. “Jack was probably one of half-a-dozen people who kept Leeds United ticking over.” ’

‘Wilson and Revie saw eye-to-eye over the difference between successful investment and unnecessary risk.

It was a mark of Wilson’s standing that, 12 days after his appointment as England manager, Revie wrote to his former accountant to express an extreme debt of gratitude.

The letter, dated July 16 1974, was treasured by Wilson, as was his enduring friendship with Revie.’ ’ – YEP article (2005).

Don-Revie-letter-Leeds-United-LUFC-1974

• Jack Wilson’s legacy. Letter to Jack from Don Revie, Leeds United and England manager – 16th July 1974

Thought: A lesson to be learned (from 1974) in how to write a good letter? Each personalised letter, one to each member of staff, will have been done by the secretary on one of those old fashioned typewriters, hence is short and sweet and very to the point.

Mr Leeds United

Phil continues; ‘At his funeral last week Wilson’s grandson, Paul Kerfoot, paid his respects by wearing a 1970s United shirt emblazoned with ‘Jack 86’. “I made a promise to him at my grandmother’s funeral two years ago that I’d send him off in style,” says Kerfoot. “People in Dewsbury knew him as Mr Leeds United, and he’d have loved the shirt.” ’ – YEP article (2005).

Leeds-United-shirt-Jack-86

• Paul delivered Jack’s eulogy wearing this football shirt that was hidden under his black shirt and suit. The reveal… and how to turn a funeral into a memorable FUNeral

Grandad Jack passed away aged 86 on October 19th 2005. RIP yet not a bad innings? I’d always promised myself to find the time to share this with you all. Sorry it took so long Jack! 

All kitted out… “90 miles an hour!”

Jack Wilson also saw the perks of working at Leeds United. He once got me the latest pair of Mitre boots like all the Leeds players had, brought home loads of football pennants (I still have these) plus a pair of these sock tag things at school, yet I was neither a ‘Hot Shot’ Lorimer nor a Billy Bremner!

Leeds-United-football-sock-tags-1974

• Leeds United memorabilia – football sock tags from the 70s

Remember Lierse

LUFC-football-pennants-Paul-Kerfoot

• Footballing tradition. Very rare original pennants – unique ‘one-off’ memorabilia

Grandad Jack saved and brought me these original pennants home from Leeds United F.C. home games, pennants swapped by the captains of each team before the match. Billy Bremner touched these!

There is some real history behind all these football pennants and I have only recently scratched the surface of some of the stories behind them. The pennant on the far right of the photo for example, is hand stitched and dated 15.9.71, Belgian team Lierse S.K., who won the second leg of a UEFA cup tie 4-0 at Elland Road, after loosing the first leg 2-0 at home. Yes, the ‘minnows’ Lierse S.K. knocked out the mighty Leeds United 4-2 on aggregate! (Apparently there is still a sign in the players’ tunnel that leads onto the pitch that say’s ‘Remember Lierse.’) Clearly this pennant was not wanted in the trophy cabinet at Elland Road and there was no room for all the others either.

Note: These pennants are still sat in a box in the loft and one day they need to be moved on and go to a good home. Fans, clubs and collectors may be interested in these one-off match pennants, so please get in touch by emailing Paul Kerfoot and offer your suggestion of where they should go and why?

But ‘KERF’ is a Liverpool fan!?

Paul Kerfoot needs to apologise to all you Leeds United fans here. Sorry! The truth was ‘Kerf’ was a Kevin Keegan and Liverpool fan in the 1970s and early 80s. (Grandad Jack got me the tickets to watch LUFC v LFC at Elland Road.) Kenny Dalglish later became another favourite yet Kevin Keegan was my hero. I later went with friends to watch Huddersfield Town as a teenager whilst still at school in the early 80s. Years later though I did manage to sneak in to the last few homes games of both Leeds United’s famous winning seasons in 1992/93. (Remember Gordon Strachan, Vinnie Jones and Ooh ah Cantona?) Sadly, yes it appears I am one very mixed up football fan, a bit of a ‘part-time supporter’, also known as a ‘plastic fan’. And on that note I am definitely a BIG fan of Subbuteo table football.

Little Plastic Men

Keegan-Bremner-Subbuteo

• Keegan and Bremner tore their shirts off as they left the field in 1974. Semi-naked Subbuteo table football figures, eBay purchase (2014)


• FA Charity Shield 1974: For those of you young enough to remember, a famous ‘incident’ with the sending off of Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan. Also watched by Leeds United’s new manager Brian Clough… Dirty Leeds… Damned Utd!

Kerfootball-Bremner-v-Keegan-2015

• Alternatively, welcome to Bulletpoint’s preview of; KerFootball! Revie’s Boys v Spirit of Shankly. Illustration by Chris Roberts, copyright Paul Kerfoot, Bulletpoint Design 2015

No6-Norman-bites-yer-legs-Hunter

• Remember the Leeds No6? Norman ‘bites yer legs’ Hunter!

So Jack’s grandson Paul Kerfoot, AKA The Bulletman from Batley, should have been a Leeds United fan, went to watch the Terriers (Huddersfield Town) as a teenager, supported Liverpool (and Kevin Keegan) most of his life and many years later played Subbuteo as ‘BulletMan Utd’ (Manchester United in disguise) for Yorkshire Phoenix table football club (Heckmondwike). Confused? Poor old Grandad Jack would be turning in his grave at this point. Good job he got cremated.

Half-time break – a family united

“Everything I’ve done I’ve done with enthusiasm and passion.” – Kevin Keegan.

Let’s take a break and reflect on where we are right now. I say this looking at a huge pile of football memorabilia and a framed photo of Jack alongside the LUFC letter from Don Revie on our hallway landing. Part of Jack’s legacy.

Thought: It occurred to me that perhaps we do sometimes get life back to front, the wrong way round if you like? Why do we celebrate someone’s life (in many strange ways) when they have passed away? Why not (instead) celebrate their life whilst they are still alive?

I’d have loved to have seen the look on Grandad’s face had he seen the article in YEP! Though I often imagine him smiling down from above.

Years later these ideas must have inspired me to celebrate a life well lived as I put pen to paper to create a blog and music DVD for my Great Aunt Doreen Kerfoot, AKA Batley’s Singing Mill Girl (2011). Doreen was a famous opera singer, movie star and beauty queen. In fact I am due to write again about Doreen in May 2017, part of celebrating her 90th birthday, so watch this space.

Suggestion: Perhaps you too can celebrate someone’s life in a memorable way? A framed photograph and memorabilia perhaps, or how about an article in the local paper? The good tip (and life lesson) being… It’s much better to do it now whilst they are still alive, not after they have passed away.

The second half – winning the game

The eulogy and the 86 LUFC shirt, the article in YEP, so what next for a hat trick!? How about…

Albert The Lion

Jack Wilson was just one of those larger than life characters – always chirpy and very ‘chipper’ he was also one of the most organised people I have ever met. True, he was far too opinionated but could do no wrong in my eyes. He also had beautiful handwriting, was obviously good with numbers and was very much the entertainer in the family. Jack loved being centre stage and was always telling us his latest jokes – although many were ‘rubbish’ and Nana Joyce would cringe at hearing the same joke for the umpteenth time.

Every birthday, Christmas or family get together Grandad Jack would play the organ or recite ‘Albert the Lion’ to the grandchildren (my cousins.) They and I, naturally, thought the world of him.

And now it looks like I’m following in the family footsteps – DIY entertainment – through motivational comedy and speaking, with the work I am doing in schools and on the stage for business. Sadly though my handwriting is appalling and I am rubbish at music!

On that note I will leave you with this… Jack and Albert.


• Click here to listen to Jack’s version of ‘Albert The Lion’, copied from an old cassette tape recording.

And finally! Click below to listen to two famous Leeds United tunes, still sung on the football terraces at Elland Road, and copied from Jack’s old cassette tape.

 

Mr-Leeds-United-Jack-Wilson-Dewsbury

• RIP Jack Wilson (86) – AKA Dewsbury’s Mr Leeds United. Born October 1st 1919, died October 19th 2005

The End?

Thank you Grandad for all the memories, a great family, the laughs, the gifts, the memorabilia, the stories, the free tickets to see Leeds United v Liverpool (at Elland Road) and for some ‘rubbish’ funny jokes.

PS ‘Marching On Together’

Update: May 2017. I think Grandad Jack would have liked one half of the painted shutters at Emag Toys and Games, Mirfield. Click here to read more.

Marching On Together Leeds Utd Emag