The Don, The Beaver, and The Square Ball

“What I’m telling you now is dynamite. What I’m telling you now is gold dust. What I’m telling you now is the best thing that’s ever gone in your magazine. Listen to this, this is massive.” ~ Paul Trevillion

LIKE most Leeds fans in their thirties, I was brought up on tales of that great side of the 60s and 70s. A can of Long Life or three was usually all it took for my dad to share his enthralling accounts of the time Leeds routed Southampton, or beat Barcelona, or defeated the double-winning Arsenal at Wembley.

That year was notable not only for Leeds winning their first and only FA Cup, and the rotten way they had to play in vain for a double of their own at Wolves just two days later, but also because it was when Leeds became “Super Leeds”.

Those players forged the legend of Super Leeds, but the name was pure Paul Trevillion. Hired by Don Revie to raise the club’s profile, Trevillion introduced such instant cool as Leeds’ numbered sock tags, inspired the timeless ethos of Marching on Together, and suggested they take to the field before their opponents to greet the crowd and air their skills.

It was the epitome of what The Glory Years – the BBC video which also did much to crystallise in my young mind how that team went about doing what it did – dubbed Leeds United’s “footballing ABC: arrogance, belligerence, confidence.” But it was also brilliant art.

When I first went to Elland Road at the age of 10, Leeds weren’t so Super and the sock tags were gone, but the players still did the wave and choruses of Marching on Together echoed around terraces. At the same time, I discovered in Match magazine a sequence of incredible drawings – of footballers past and present, perfectly poised, seemingly exploding into action – bearing the distinctive signature: TREVILLION.

His is the pen which brought Roy of the Rovers to life and is still drawing You Are The Ref over 50 years after it began. But it turns out that The Beaver, as he’s known, has more in his locker than sock tags and ink bottles. He’s performed on stage with Norman Wisdom, been crowned world speed-kissing champion (twice), toured America with his patented putter, and England as football’s Panda of Peace.

So how did the extroverted Trevillion strike up a collaboration with the guarded, superstitious Revie? Did he really doorstep Les Reed until he agreed to write Marching On Together? How did he win over the hardest players in football, and what on earth has all this got to do with Salvador Dalí?

Find out in The Art of Super Leeds, parts one and two!

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