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At the turn of the century, Leeds was the largest city in the country without representation in the Football League.  In October 1904, the newly formed Leeds City FC took over the lease of the Elland Road ground from Holbeck Rugby Club, and played friendly games against Football League clubs during the 1904—5 season.

In the summer of 1905, the Football League extended its membership by four clubs. The League had made no secret of its desire to make inroads into the Rugby League-dominated West Riding, and just as Bradford City (born out of Manningham Rugby Club) had been welcomed with open arms in 1903, so too were Leeds City for season 1905-06.

Unfortunately, the new Club did not make the impact which they had hoped for, and after a promising 6th place finish in their first season, settled into generally mid-table finishes for the next five seasons.

The 1911-12 season was a severe disappointment, and it was necessary to seek re-election. Whilst that was achieved without difficulty, financial problems beset the Club and a receiver was appointed, but in the summer of 1912 a new Manager arrived – Herbert Chapman.

Chapman was to become one of the legendary Managers of English football – leading both Huddersfield Town and Arsenal to League Championship successes a few years later.



For the 1912-13 season Chapman set about rebuilding the team, using proven players – one of whom was Jimmy Speirs, signed from Bradford City.

The season saw the Club finish 6th – a significant improvement on recent years – just 10 points off promotion. The financial problems abated, the Club moved into profit and attendances increased from an average of under 8,000 in 1911-12 to over 13,000.

In the FA Cup, an early exit was made in Round One – beaten at home by Burnley, who were to gain promotion from the Second Division at the end of the season, and would win the F A Cup in the following year.

Despite joining mid-way through the season, Jimmy Speirs ended as second top scorer with 10 goals, behind the prolific Billy McLeod.


Played  Won  Drawn  Lost  Goals
   For
  Goals
 Against
  Points  Position
   38   15    10   13    70    64    40     6th


          Competition   Appearances   Goals
Football League Division Two          19     10
FA Cup           1      -


Date  Opponents  Competition  Venue  Result  Score  Attend-
    ance
  Goals
 Scored
   By
 Jimmy
1912
28 Dec
Fulham        FL    H    L   2-3  10,000    -
1913
1 Jan
Blackpool        FL    A    W   3-0   5,000    -
4 JanBarnsley        FL    A    L   0-2   5,000    -
15 JanBurnley   FAC Rd 1    H    L   2-3  13,109    -
18 JanBradford PA        FL    H    W   2-0  10,000    1
25 JanWolves        FL    A    D   2-2   8,000    -
8 FebLeicester F        FL    H    W   5-1  10,000    1
15 FebStockport Co        FL    A    L   0-6   7,000    -
22 FebPreston NE        FL    H    W   5-1  18,000    -
1 MarBurnley        FL    A    D   2-2  12,000    1
8 MarHull City        FL    H    W   1-0  20,000    -
15 MarGlossop NE        FL    A    L   1-2   2,000    -
21 MarGrimsby Town        FL    A    L   2-3   8,000    -
22 MarClapton Orient        FL    H    W   3-1   6,000    2
24 MarBury        FL    A    D   1-1  10,000    -
25 MarBury        FL    H    W   4-2  17,000    1
29 MarLincoln City        FL    A    D   3-3   9,000    1
12 AprBristol City        FL    A    D   1-1  15,000    1
19 AprBirmingham C        FL    H    W   4-0   8,000    2
26 AprHuddersfield T        FL    A    L   0-1   8,000    -

FL  -  Football League Division Two         FAC  -  FA Cup



What would become the Club’s best-ever season started with four wins and four defeats in the first eight games.

However, only one of the next thirteen was lost, and the Club’s promotion bid was underway.

This spell included City’s highest-ever victory – 8-0 versus Nottingham Forest at Elland Road on 29 November 1913.

Average crowds topped 15,000, with a League high of 25,000 for the promotion tussle with Woolwich Arsenal on 11 April 1914.

Ultimately, however, it all ended in disappointment. "The Peacocks" finished fourth on 47 points, behind Arsenal (49) and the promoted pair of Bradford Park Avenue (49) and Champions, Notts County (53).

As ever, there was no consolation in the FA Cup. The Club had never advanced beyond the Second Round, and it was a similar story this time.

Gainsborough Trinity (who had lost their Football League status two years earlier) were overcome by 4-2 on 10 January 1914, setting up a tie with West Bromwich Albion from Division One. In front of a season-high attendance of 29,733 at Elland Road, Albion went through with a 2-0 success.

Jimmy Speirs captained the Leeds City side, and 12 goals in 29 games again left him as second top scorer – once again behind Billy McLeod, who netted 27 times for the second season running.

A pen picture of Jimmy in his Leeds City days is still in his family's possession. 

Taken from an unknown publication, it talks glowingly of "Jimmie" as a "popular Peacock.... a much esteemed and admired skipper" and of his "invaluable leadership".

On the reverse there is what appears to be part of a preview of a forthcoming FA Cup tie against Gainsborough Trinity, which would presumably date the article to around December 1913.

Jimmy, as featured in "Our Portrait Gallery" (click to enlarge)
 

Jimmy's Leeds City FC Player's Ticket & Rules Book 1913-14 is still in his family's possession.  To enlarge, click on the links below:

Front cover    Pages 1-2    Pages 3-4    Pages 5-6    Pages  7-8     First Team Fixtures       Second Team Fixtures


Played  Won  Drawn  Lost  Goals
   For
  Goals
 Against
  Points  Position
  38   20     7   11   76    46    47     4th


         Competition  Appearances  Goals
Football League Division Two          29    12
FA Cup           2     -


DateOpponentsCompetition  Venue  Result  Score  Attend-
   ance
 Goals
Scored
  By
Jimmy
1913
6 Sep
Glossop NE     FL    H    W   3-0   8,000   1
13 SepStockport Co     FL    A    L   1-2  10,000   -
20 SepBradford PA     FL    H    W   5-1  23,000   1
27 SepNotts County     FL    A    L   0-4  12,000   -
4 OctLeicester F     FL    H    W   2-1  18,000   -
11 OctWolves     FL    A    W   3-1  10,000   2
18 OctHull City     FL    H    L   1-2  20,000   1
25 OctBarnsley     FL    A    W   4-1  12,000   2
1 NovBury     FL    H    W   2-1  20,000   1
8 NovHuddersfield T     FL    A    D   1-1   9,000   -
15 NovLincoln City     FL    H    W   1-0  12,000   -
22 NovBlackpool     FL    A    D   2-2   5,000   -
29 NovNottingham F     FL    H    W   8-0  14,000   1
6 DecW Arsenal     FL    A    L   0-1  18,000   -
13 DecGrimsby Town     FL    H    W   4-1  10,000   -
20 DecBirmingham C     FL    A    W   2-0  15,000   -
25 DecFulham     FL    H    W   2-1  30,000   -
26 DecFulham     FL    A    W   1-0  25,000   -
27 DecGlossop NE     FL    A    D   1-1   2,000   -
1914
3 Jan
Stockport Co     FL    H    W   5-1  10,000   1
10 JanGainsborough T FAC Rd 1    A    W   4-2  14,000   -
17 JanBradford PA     FL    A    L   1-3  32,184   -
24 JanNotts County     FL    H    L   2-4  25,000   -
31 JanWest Brom Alb FAC Rd 2    H    L   0-2  29,733   -
7 FebLeicester F     FL    A    L   1-5   4,000   1
14 FebWolves     FL    H    W   5-0  10,000   1
21 FebHull City     FL    A    L   0-1  18,000   -
28 FebBarnsley     FL    H    W   3-0  20,000   -
2 MarClapton Orient     FL    A    L   1-3   7,000   -
10 AprBristol City     FL    A    D   1-1  20,000   -
25 AprBirmingham C     FL    H    W   3-2  10,000   -

FL  -  Football League Division Two         FAC  -  FA Cup




After the near miss the previous season, hopes were high that City could achieve promotion to the First Division. However, four successive defeats to start the season set the tone, from which they never fully recovered and they ended the season 15th (of 20) in the league table.

Just a month before the season kicked-off, Britain had entered World War One and continuation of organised league football became increasingly difficult. Mounting casualties and the fact that the War was not "all over by Christmas" meant that, at the end of the 1914-15 season,  official Football League competition was abandoned until 1919.

Although conscription was not introduced until a couple of years into the War, attendances suffered and gates at Elland Road fell to an average of around 7,000.

Once again, the FA Cup campaign was short-lived. The First Round produced an excellent win by 2-1 at Derby County, who would become Second Division Champions at the end of the season. However, City’s interest in the competition ended in the Second Round, with a 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers from the Southern League.

The only silverware achieved came in the West Riding County Cup, where Jimmy Speirs’ goal beat fellow Second Division side Hull City in the Final on 11 November 1914 at Elland Road. This was to be the only honour in what was to prove to be Leeds City’s relatively short history.

                   Jimmy's West Riding County Cup winners medal, 1914 - click front or reverse to enlarge


Played  Won  Drawn  Lost  Goals
   For
  Goals
Against
  Points  Position
  38   14     4   20   65   64    32    15th


         Competition  Appearances   Goals
Football League Division Two         25     10
FA Cup          2      -
West Riding Cup          1      1


Date  Opponents  Competition  Venue  Result  Score  Attend-
   ance
 Goals
Scored
  By
Jimmy
1914
2 Sep
Fulham       FL    H    L   0-1   8,000   -
5 SepStockport Co       FL    A    L   1-3   5,000   -
9 SepFulham       FL    A    L   0-1   5,000   -
12 SepHull City       FL    H    L   2-3   8,000   1
19 SepBlackpool       FL    H    W   2-0   8,000   -
26 SepClapton Orient       FL    A    L   0-2   9,000   -
3 OctArsenal       FL    H    D   2-2  10,000   1
10 OctDerby County       FL    A    W   2-1   5,000   1
17 OctLincoln City       FL    H    W   3-1  10,000   2
24 OctBirmingham C       FL    A    L   3-6   8,000   1
31 OctGrimsby Town       FL    H    W   5-0   5,000   1
7 NovHuddersfield T       FL    A    L   0-1  14,000   -
11 NovHull City WRC Final    H    W   1-0   1,000   1
14 NovBristol City       FL    H    D   1-1   8,000   -
21 NovBury       FL    A    D   0-0   6,000   -
28 NovPreston NE       FL    H    D   0-0   7,000   -
5 DecNottingham F       FL    A    L   1-3   3,000   1
25 DecGlossop NE       FL    A    W   3-0   1,000   -
1915
2 Jan
Stockport Co       FL    H    L   1-3   7,000   1
9 JanDerby County  FAC Rd 1    A    W   2-1   9,417   -
16 JanHull City       FL    A    W   6-2   5,000   -
23 JanBlackpool       FL    A    L   0-1   6,000   -
30 JanQPR  FAC Rd 2    A    L   0-1  10,000   -
3 FebClapton Orient       FL    H    L   0-1   4,000   -
6 FebArsenal       FL    A    L   0-2  10,000   -
13 FebDerby County       FL    H    L   3-5   5,000   1
5 AprWolves       FL    A    L   1-5  15,000   -
24 AprBarnsley       FL    H    L   0-2   5,000   -

FL  -  Football League Division Two         FAC  -  FA Cup        WRC  -  West Riding County Cup

Jimmy Speirs played his last game as a professional player on 24 April 1915, in Leeds City’s final game of the season, at home to Barnsley. He then returned to Glasgow and offered his services for "King and country", being immediately posted to the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders.


Season   Football
   League
   Games
   Football
   League
    Goals
   FA Cup
   Games
   FA Cup
   Goals
   Total
  Games
   Total
   Goals
1912-13     19     10     1     -    20     10
1913-14     29     12     2     -    31     12
1914-15     25     10     2     -    27     10
 Totals     73     32     5     -    78     32

                           For a full record of Jimmy's football career, see Football Summary.

Leeds City played in localised wartime competitions and re-entered Division Two upon resumption of the Football League in September 1919. However, financial irregularities during the War came to light and – many would say harshly – Leeds City were expelled from the League in October 1919. The Club was wound up, and its 22 players sold off at an auction which raised £10,150.

Out of the ashes of Leeds City – within a month – came Leeds United, who took over City’s lease of Elland Road, and they gained election to the Football League at the start of the following season, 1919-20.


 
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