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Were They Fit To Wear The Shirt - Living the Dream Enduring the Nightmare - The B's Pt 2

Following the dismissal of Howard Wilkinson Leeds United went from the dour under George Graham to the sublime under David O'Leary before things got ridiculous under Venables, Reid, Gray, Blackwell and Wise with the Whites suffering two relegations. Stephen Clark looks at the B's who played for those seven managers and asks for your votes to enter the worst of them into the Hall of Shame.

May not have been the worst player for Leeds, but sports the worst moustache!
May not have been the worst player for Leeds, but sports the worst moustache!
Tony Feder

There was little surprise that Tomas Brolin was the "winner" in last weeks vote for the worst B to have played for Leeds United during the Howard WIlkinson era. Following the dismissal of Sgt Wilko as manager the Whites brought new meaning to the term roller coaster ride. Under seven managers Leeds reached the highs of the Champions League semi-final to it's lowest ever point with relegation to the third tier of English football.

In that 11 year period, I saw just nine players with a surname beginning with B represent the club and once again there are names that will bring back memories both happy and sad. From Nick Barmby to Paul Butler here's a run down on their contributions to the club which will hopefully hep you to decide if they were fit to wear the shirt.


There were plenty of people shocked when Terry Venables was appointed as Leeds United manager following the sacking of David O'Leary in July 2002. Despite his reputation as an excellent coach, Venables had spent more time on the pundits sofa than in the dugout prior to his appointment. He was probably unaware of the disaster he was walking into but with the fire sale underway, he was soon up to his neck as the club slowly began to sink.

He did however get a little bit of money to spend, mainly from the £29M received for Rio Ferdinand. He spent almost £4M on Nick Barmby, a deal that was of little surprise given the history between the two men, with Venables having been the first man to pick him for England.

Despite little enthusiasm for the deal from the supporters, Barmby did score the opening goal of the season in a 3-0 win over newly promoted Manchester City. However as Leeds began to struggle so did "Terry's Toy". He did score a vital away goal in a UEFA Cup tie against the Ukranian giants Metallurgs Zaporizhzhya to take Leeds into the second round, but in general he was a disappointment. Injuries saw him drop out of the side, but with Venables dismissed, he did find himself back in the side at the end of the season as the club successfully battled to avoid the drop, scoring in the final game of the season, a 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

Under Reid and then Eddie Gray Barmby became a peripheral figure, shipped out on loan firstly to Nottingham Forest and then to his home town club Hull City where he ended his playing career before taking over as manager.


Leeds United's final futile act of the desperate 2006/07 season came in the defeat away at Derby County. With the club already relegated and having just entered administration Dennis Wise decided to throw in some kids to prepare for the desperate summer to come. One of them was Robert Bayly and he had a league debut to remember.

The young Irishman known as Bocca had already made his debut as a substitute in a League Cup defeat at home to Southend United, a match presided over by David Geddis in between the end of John Carver's caretaker spell and the arrival of Dennis Wise.

Given the chance to shine in the last game of the season Bayly instead became a sinner, sent off for attempting to headbutt Craig Fagan, an act which would mean he would be suspended for the start of the League One campaign.

With the club in turmoil over the summer, Bayly was a part of the squad for the pre-season tour as the administration saga rumbled on. However with his ban looming, Wise was forced to look elsewhere and his last appearance was as a substitute in the pre-season defeat at home to Premier League Wigan Athletic.

He was soon released and has since spent his career moving around the Irish League. Still only 24 he must be regretting that moment of madness at Pride Park, wondering what might have been had he kept his head instead of throwing it.


Who would have known that a former windscreen repair man from Wealdstone would become a latter day legend at the club. Signed from out of left field by Kevin Blackwell in the spring of 2006, Beckford would spend a long apprenticeship which included loan spells at Carlisle United and Scunthorpe before blossoming in the League One years.

Beckford made his debut in the chase for the play-offs in 2006, coming off the bench in a 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace as Leeds bid for automatic promotion began to falter. He remained a bit part player whilst Leeds were in the Championship, firing Scunthorpe to promotion from League One alongside Billy Sharp while Leeds were heading in the opposite direction.

It's hard to believe that he was contemplating remaining at Glandford Park instead of returning to Leeds, but return he did. Scoring his first goal at Elland Road in that friendly against Wigan, Beckford started the season on fire in partnership with Tresor Kandol.

For the three seasons in League One Jermaine Beckford was a perennial goal scorer, yet divided opinion like no other player. Despite the goals, his workrate was constantly criticised and particularly where I sat in the North West corner at the time there were many heated debates about his worth to the club.

He showed that worth in the promtion season. The happiest memories of the last five years watching Leeds United for me are the promotion clinching win at Bristol Rovers and the FA Cup ties at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Beckford was a central figure in all three of them. The winning goal against Bristol Rovers is my greatest moment as a Leeds United supporter, trumping League championships and European glory. For that reason alone, Beckford certainly was fit to wear the shirt and I hope you all agree.


If ever a player frustrated me in a white shirt it was Robbie Blake. He was signed to help fire Leeds to the Premier League but in the end was part of the side that took them down to League One.

Signed for £800K from Birmingham City, Blake was part of what looked like an exciting attacking line up, with Rob Hulse, David Healey and Richard Cresswell all vying for spots in the side.

That ultimately proved to be a huge problem as in an effort to fit these players into the side, Kevin Blackwell opted for a 4-3-3 formation, forcing Blake into wide areas. It was in these areas that Blake would be at his most frustrating, constantly trying to beat players two and three times rather than getting past a player and delivering the ball.

He was in and out of the side throughout his two years at the club, never really winning the fans over and never really performing well enough to nail a place down in the side.

He appeared to be happier as a big fish in a small pond, his greatest spells at Bradford City and Burnley rather than at bigger clubs like Birmingham and Leeds.


During my 20 odd years watching the Whites there have been plenty of one hit wonders, seen for just a few fleeting minutes and never to be seen again. Wesley Boyle is one of those.

I'm going to be honest and admit I remember nothing of his only appearance for the club, as a substitute in 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in 1996. He came on as a substitute for Ian Rush in George Graham's first home league game.

Since that fleeting moment of glory, Boyle has returned to his native Northern Ireland where he has drifted around, although he has had three spells at Portadown where he remains now.

Any one with any memories of Wesley Boyle, feel free to comment and enlighten us all!


With Terry Venables struggling to contend with a club falling apart, Leeds were sliding down the table in February 2003. The supporters were therefore excited when Venables managed to sign Real Madrid left back Raul Bravo. A Spanish international, Bravo was finding first team football difficult to come by at the Bernebau as he was being kept out of the side by Roberto Carlos.

It was easy to see why as Bravo joined the long line of failed left backs to try to fill in the footsteps of Tony Dorigo. Bravo looked completely out of his depth in the Premiership, struggling through five games before returning to Spain with his confidence in tatters. Amazingly he managed not only to break into the Real Madrid first team, he bacame Spain's first choice left back the following season playing every minute of their Euro 2004 campaign.


Michael Bridges was the spearhead of the exciting young Leeds United team which took English football by storm at the turn of the new millenium. His first season saw him score 19 goals as he helped fire the Whites into the Champions League. However it would be a career tragically ruined by an injury suffered in Istanbul against Besiktas which saw him play just 10 more games for the club over the next four years.

A teenage prodigy at Sunderland, Bridges signed fro the Whites for £5M in the summer of 1999, to form a partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. However when the Dutchman moved on to Atletico Madrid before the season started, the burden fell firmly on Bridges shoulders.

He was strong enough to carry the team in the early part of the season, notching a hat-trick at Southampton in his first away game. Bridges regular goals were a mainstay of the young team's surge up the table, scoring at Watford in the win which saw the side go top of the Premier League, then notching a stunning late winner against Southampton to keep the Whites at the top of the table.

With an experienced partner to back him up, I have little doubt that Leeds would have gone very close to winning the title that season, as it was they faded away in the closing stages although qualification for the Champions League in 3rd place was an amazing achievement.

Unfortunately Bridges could not find his scoring boots at the start of the following season, and was falling down the pecking order behind Alan Smith and Mark Viduka before his injury. He was out for the best part of three years, making a handful of appearances for the Whites before loan spells at Newcastle, Bolton and Sunderland where he returned on a permanent basis in 2004.

Bridges was last seen at Elland Road in a Carlisle shirt, scoring for the Cumbrians in a 2-0 win over Simon Grayson's side in January 2009.


As Leeds United entered the Champions League, moves were made to enlarge the squad and there were several players signed to boost the numbers for the difficult campaign ahead. One of them was Australian midfielder JacoB Burns who came from the superbly named Parramata Power.

Burns was just a bog standard defensive midfielder, who did nothing of any significance in his few apperances. His apperances came as the United squad was being stretched by the hectic schedule of League game on a weekend and Champions League game in midweek. He made just two starts, one of them in the famous 4-3 win over Liverpool, the match that out his fellow Aussie Mark Viduka firmly on the map.

Burns saw out his contract playing just 11 matches before moving onto the short lived Peter Ridsdale revolution at Barnsley where he was a regular for three seasons. Since then he has played in Poland and Romania before returning to Australia with Perth Glory


As Leeds faced up to life in the Championship following relegation in 2004, the squad was ripped apart as the rats left the sinking ship leaving Kevin Blackwell with a entire squad to build. He needed a new leader on the field and brought in a player accustomed to life in the Championship to fulfill that role.

Paul Butler had been with Sunderland and Wolves in the Championship winning promotion with both sides and joined Leeds on a free transfer after failing to agree a contract at Molineux.

Butler was first choice centre-back for Blackwell in his two seasons in charge and was a steady figure at the back. He was pretty much an ever present for the club until the arrival of Dennis Wise with whom he fell out immediately and was shipped out on loan to MK Dons, moving on to Chester the following year.

A pretty unspectacular bunch it has to be said, with no one standing out as a genuinely dreadful player. So we will leave the choice up to you. Please take the time to vote and add your comments below. Next week we look at the B's who have represented the club since relegation to League One.