Chris Hunter interviews Gary McAllister (interview transcribed by Rob Endeacott)
Following the recent completion and unveiling of the mural on Lowfields Road, our membership secretary Chris Hunter got in touch with one of the famous title-winning midfielders depicted on the mural, and spent a few minutes getting his thoughts on Leeds United past, present and future. Currently doing some coaching in Liverpool and some TV work in Scotland, but still living in the Yorkshire area near Leeds, Gary McAllister is still very much in touch with events at Elland Road and it was great to hear his comments and that he still retains an obvious enthusiasm for Leeds United:
Chris Hunter – Have you seen the mural?
Gary McAllister – I have seen it yeah. One of my mates spotted it on Facebook and sent me a picture of it. I had no idea it had been done or there had been any talks about a mural being done. It was a massive surprise and I’ve seen it. It looks fantastic. It’s brilliant and I’m very humbled to be on there. I have to say, it’s a stand out piece of work, I’ve got to admit. I think the four of them… it’s just class. I’m really proud to be on there.
CH – There’s a lot of tributes around the ground from the Revie era but nothing to show what your team achieved in that season.
G – Yes. In all honesty I don’t think Howard Wilkinson or the players really got the credit that they deserved. Just look at the teams that have won it since. It’s not that easy with all the money that is spent to go on and win it, and Howard being the last Englishman to win it as well. No mean feat.
CH – Yes it was before Sky came in and all the money was ploughed into the game.
G – I’ve got to say, it was the last old First Division as well, I quite like the fact that we achieved that.
CH – The mural was all funded by contributions from Leeds fans. Does it bring back great memories when you look at it?
GM – Absolutely. You know, being in the year of the 25th anniversary, there has been looking back at things, yeah loads of stuff.
CH – Did you enjoy the film premiere for ‘Do You Want To Win’?
GM – I thought that was very cleverly done as well. It wasn’t just a case of banging out the highlights of the season, I thought it was cut together really good, really clever, the producing and the editing, it was good. And I liked the fact that the story built, and as you know, it wasn’t just about that season of winning the League, there was a build-up with coming out the Second Division and the first season back up that laid the foundations. A lot of hard work put in.
CH – It’s a great film and a great insight, especially from the perspective of Leslie Silver too.
GM – A fantastic man and don’t underestimate the part that Bill Fotherby played as well. And Howard.
CH – Exactly. I presume it was good to see some old faces at that premiere.
GM – Like always yep… I still see the Grays around and it’s nice to see them and it was nice to see Vinnie up at the premiere… coming up from London and back from the States just to come up for the premiere as well, good to have a chat and to see Vinnie.
CH – Do you still see a few players from that squad?
GM – Yeah, I still speak to Gordon, I speak to Batts about once a year, just before Christmas normally. You know there’s been a few dinners this year, celebrating the anniversary around May time. So it was great to see Tony Dorigo, Rod Wallace, Lee Chapman, Mel Sterland, Steve Hodge, most of the guys were there, so it was really good to catch up and we had a couple of good nights. I’m hoping to get down to Elland Road and see them a bit more this season as there’s a few from my generation down there (doing corporate hospitality in the new Legends Lounge). I’ve only seen the team on TV.
CH – What was your favourite moment of that era?
GM – There’s a couple of favourite moments from that season. I think the performance at Aston Villa, which was on TV – there were two good TV performances – 6-1 versus Sheffield Wednesday and then the Villa one (Leeds won 4-1). I think the Villa one was the first time when we made people sit up and notice us and that we were no’ gonna go away. That was a big performance, because Villa were a good side and we battered them at Villa Park, it was an onslaught.
CH – Have you got any good tales from the title winning season?
GM – I think the tale of when we went to Chappie’s living room to watch the Man United game (at Liverpool) that was a good tale, the reactions coming from Anfield and managing to celebrate, that was good fun.
CH – What was your favourite goal, the Liverpool one? (in a 2-2 draw at Elland Road in 1992/93)
GM – Yeah absolutely, one of my favourites of my career, to be honest.
CH – Along with Tony Yeboah’s v Liverpool, obviously you played with Tony Yeboah as well.
GM – Yes, I played in that game. Season after season it was. David James always had a tough time coming to Elland Road. It was a wonder strike. And he scored another great goal (away at Wimbledon).
CH – Another question I was going to ask you was about Lucas Radebe’s testimonial.
GM – Oh yeah? Again, it was nice. To see Tony Yeboah… I was there when Lucas and Philemon Masinga came. Those two guys had no experience but grew in to being very good players for the club. Great servants, especially Lucas, he went on a little bit better than Masinga but the two lads were proper gentlemen and players and Lucas became a… I know the word legend is going around a lot but they endeared themselves to the city, they were great servants.
CH – You came back as manager, did you enjoy that?
GM – It was sad the way it ended. The game at Wembley was a big disappointment, we failed to turn up on the day in the Play Off final v Donny.
CH – What do you think of Fabian Delph? You brought him through to the first team…
GM – Fantastic player and I’m really pleased for him, and he’s got himself back in to the England squad which is nice, especially as a young lad. A fantastic young player, it’s a shame he’s been blighted by injury over the past three or four seasons but there’s still a player there and I think he can still come back and show people how good he is.
CH – I’d love to see him back at Leeds one day.
GM – Yes, there’s a few players who have left that it would have been nice… Jonny Howson’s another one, they both loved the club… Fabian had his moments discipline wise, he was a bit hot-headed, a bit rash but he’s managed himself well. Good lad.
CH – Unfortunately we lost Charlie Taylor, and Byram’s gone, obviously we lost Howson, Lewis Cook. Every time we seem to get someone who can sort of become like a childhood hero, they’re gone!
GM – With luck those days are gone now and the club can manage to keep the ones they’ve got through the system.
CH – So, this season, do you think we’re going up?
GM – Well it’s a fair old marathon is the Championship, it’s tough and it’s physical. The manager’s slowly but surely finding his feet in the division. A great start but after this little hiccup, after the international break he’ll be wanting his players to show a response you know after these disappointing results. I think it’s far more positive around the city, I think the mood’s a lot better.
CH – Well that just about sums it up, Gary… Thank you very much for your time, it’s been a real pleasure.
GM – Nay bother pal.
And with that he was gone. A genuine pleasure to hear Gary’s thoughts on his 45 goals in 295 appearances for Leeds, on the current Leeds United and, of course, on the Last Champions, depicted on the Lowfields Road mural.