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Synopsis

In 1961, when Don Revie became manager of Leeds United, they were a struggling Second Division club. By 1974 they had won two League Championships, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (twice), the FA Cup and the League Cup; players like Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner were household names.

Yet this was a team that inspired neither admiration nor grudging respect, but rather a deep and visceral loathing – matched only by the bellicose devotion of their own supporters. The undeniable artistry of players like striker Allan Clarke was overshadowed by a ruthless professionalism, epitomised in the scything tackles of Norman Hunter.

Still, when Revie’s Leeds United side were let off the leash – the 7-0 humiliation of Southampton is enshrined in Match of the Day mythology – their brilliance was compelling.

At the heart of their outlaw status was the eccentric personality of Don Revie himself. Clad in his lucky blue suit, a man for whom team-building meant rounds of carpet bowls, here reigned less a football manager than, in his own estimation, the ‘head of the family’. The aftermath of the Revie era is explored, including Brian Clough’s infamous 44 days at the helm of the ‘Damned United’.

The Unforgiven is the definitive history of the most defiantly unconventional team in British football.

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