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A tribute to Paul Madeley, the patron saint of shirt numbers

A tribute to Paul Madeley, the patron saint of shirt numbers

On February 7, 1970, Leeds United beat Mansfield Town 2-0 at Elland Road in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

This was the team put out by Don Revie.

Leeds reached the final that year, losing to Chelsea after a replay. They played nine games, meaning a total of 99 starting spots were available. The 11 players above – the accepted first choice in each position – combined for 89 of them.

Between them, those players have 4,917 league appearances for the club, with Mick Jones’s 220 games the lowest of any of them. In the early 70s, this was ‘the’ Leeds starting 11, yet this match against Mansfield was the only time they were chosen together (incidentally, there was a similar phenomenon with the 1991-92 title-winning team).

As Steve Lawrence pointed out in the tweet that made us aware of the stat, the main reason for this was down to one man – Paul Madeley, whose death was announced on Monday night.

In January 1964, the man who Revie would describe as his Rolls Royce made his debut against Manchester City, wearing number 5 and his final appearance, against Arsenal in November 1981, saw him with 3 on his back. In between, he would wear every other outfield shirt as well as 12 and (once, against Hibernian in December 1967, the number 13).

That debut season saw him play six games, all in 5, but 1964-65 provided a preview of what was to come. He wore 3 against Stoke City in October, then 4 in the next game against Aston Villa and then after missing the next game against Totttenham Hotspur, he returned for the match after that, against Burnley, back in 5.

It was in 1965-66 that he began to appear more frequently – his versatility made him a natural choice in the new substitute’s number 12 when not in the first 11 – and though he was mainly in 3, 4 or 5, his final four starts were as centre-forward, wearing 9.

As the 66-67 season started, he still had ‘only’ four of the 2-11 numbers to his name, but he would almost complete the set by the following February, wearing 2 at home to Stoke to leave him just needing the number 11.

It was a year where he alternated between 5 and 9 early on and later wore 6, 8, 10 and 9 in a four-game spell – 8 was the first number he wore more than ten times in a season,

The number-hopping continued at the outset of 67-68 – another run of four games saw him go 9-2-8-3 – and he finally donned 11 in March against Chelsea. He had also won his first medal by this stage, wearing 9 as Arsenal were beaten in the league cup final.

Leeds also won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup that season, beating Ferencvaros in the final, with Madeley 8 in the first leg and 10 in the second. Across 57 appearances in all competitions, he wore 5 on 12 occasions, with 8 and 9 joint-second on 11; 6 and 7 were the only ones not worn.

The following year – in which Leeds won the title – he was more steady, by his standards. Numbers 2, 4, 6 or 11 weren’t worn, while he had 8 on 15 occasions, 3 for 11 games and 10 ten times, five for three games and 7 and 9 once each.

In 69-70, from which the image above comes from, for the first time Madeley wore all of the numbers in a single season, with the left flank housing him most often – 11 on 13 occasions and number 3 ten times. While he only played in number 2 for three games that term, they were the last three games of the season after Reaney got injured, including the drawn FA Cup final and replay defeat against Chelsea.

Reaney’s absence meant that 2 was the only number Madeley wore until October of 1970-71 and in total he had it for 23 games. It was only the second-most common, however, with the opposite position on the pitch – left wing, number 11 – his home for 30 games, including another Fairs Cup win, this time against Juventus.

They were again his most popular in 71-72, though an injury to left-back Terry Cooper at the end of that season meant Madeley was wearing 3 for the FA Cup final win over Arsenal.

Apart from left midfield, he looked to have settled largely in defensive positions, but that didn’t stop him from a unique achievement in the spring of 1973. In six straight games, he wore six different numbers:

Leeds ended that season losing two cup finals 1-0, the FA Cup against Sunderland and the Cup Winners’ Cup against AC Milan, with Madeley wearing 5 in both – though he played in 11 against Arsenal in the final league game between those two matches.

The league title was reclaimed in 1974, with Madeley wearing 11 in 29 games, though he had a five-game stretch wearing 10, 2, 3, 11 and 5 respectively.

That was Revie’s last season, with Jimmy Armfield guiding them to the European Cup final in 1975 after Brian Clough’s brief spell in charge. As he had in 13 other games, he wore 5 in the controversial defeat to Bayern Munich in the final – though the fact he wore 6 on 19 occasions showed that he was a centre-back for three-quarters of the campaign.

Nevertheless, there was room for him to play 18 games at number 11, and another five-match run of ever-changing digits – 5-2-6-11-8 during April.

In 75-76, he wore 5 for 31 games, with 11 (nine games) the only other one he wore more than once as it was clear that he was now a central defender who could play elsewhere if needed, rather than being a full-on Swiss Army knife.

His final seasons were to be dominated by the number 6, though 79-80 did see throwbacks to numbers 9 and 10. In 80-81, he only wore 6 and it was only his final three games before retirement in the autumn of 1981 that that he switched from that to 3.

In total, his games in each number were:

A man for all seasons, and all numbers. May he rest in peace.

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1 Comment

  1. Alex Howells
    July 26, 2018 at 00:48 — Reply

    Great post about Paul Madeley. Made me wonder if I had seen Madeley play live and if so what number was he wearing .
    After checking I saw him once at Southampton in March 1967 and he wore number 8 that day a 2-0 win for Leeds.

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A tribute to Paul Madeley, the patron saint of shirt numbers