“They say one man doesn’t make a team, but Bobby Collins came nearer to doing it than anyone else I have ever seen” Billy Bremner

Bobby Collins, Don RevieHearing about the death of Bobby Collins on Monday was a shock to my system. As a young lad growing up in the Revie era I still remember becoming aware of what was happening at Leeds United, my father was in the RAF so we lived all over the UK and also abroad, but my parents moved the family back to Yorkshire in the spring/summer of 1965.

Access to football was very different at that time – no Sky Sports, no dedicated TV channels, no internet – the only way to get get access to football and Leeds United was the national & local press, Match of the Day and attending games. 1965 was when I became fully aware of LUFC & Bobby Collins. That year we were runners up for the title and got to the FA cup final where I remember watching Bobby Collins valiantly captain underdogs LUFC. Unfortunately The Whites stumbled in extra time and it’d be a few more years until we got to run around Wembley with the cup, but Collins made an immediate impression on me,

Skipping on a couple of seasons to where I started attending Elland Road regularly with my Dad and our next door neighbor, Bobby had suffered a severe injury during Leeds’ first of many forays in Europe and was trying to return to regular first team action. As such, I only saw him play 4 or 5 times but his passion and fire were still in evidence even if his fitness wasn’t.

Collins attitude in adversity sums up the LUFC “keep fighting” spirit for me; he didn’t sulk while he was out injured, instead he mentored the team and the players, especially another wee man in Billy Bremner who anyone could tell from watching was a protege of Bobby’s. The Don let Bobby leave Elland Road that season in search of regular first team football but I don’t believe his heart ever left, I have never met or talked to an LUFC fan or anyone associated with LUFC from that era who had a bad word for Collins. In the late 70’s, early 80’s I saw Bobby play for Leeds United ex-players association and even then, he always seemed to be a different class and still had that fire in his eyes. I also remember being at Elland Road in 1988 for the testimonial game granted to John Charles and Bobby against one of Bobby’s former clubs, Everton.

For me Bobby was a leader of leaders. Any one of the players who he captained in that Leeds team could have been captain, they were all leaders themselves, yet they all looked up to the smallest man on the pitch. Leeds have had three iconic captains in my lifetime, namely Billy Bremner, Bobby Collins and Gordon Strachan, all three diminutive in size but massive in heart.

Finally, and after Bobby had left Leeds, I was luckily enough to watch Leeds play those special nights of European football at Elland Road in the late 60’s through the mid 70’s, maybe my memory is deceiving me but I always remember Leeds fans singing on those nights “Bring back bring back bring back my Bobby to Leeds to Leeds bring back bring back oh bring back our Bobby to Leeds to Leeds” a more fitting tribute from fans I cannot think of for any ex player, and it always chocked me up then, just as I’m choking up now as I write this (and I’m a Leeds fan who refused to cry after the 1970 FA cup final defeat).

I really hope Leeds United fans remember Bobby on Saturday and I really hope the current squad show an ounce of his leadership for the rest of this season.

RIP Bobby Collins. Celtic, Everton, Scotland and most definitely a Leeds United legend.

Postscript:

LUFC fans of my generation have to prepare for more of these events and I do hope the club have plans for something like a memorial wall at Elland Road where LUFC legends can be properly honored and we don’t get into the situation where it falls solely on the fans to recognise as what happened with The Don.  

Doug Gisby (@ChicagoWhite)

  • markman

    Bobby,thanks for the memories and RIP

    I wonder what Bobby and Billy would be worth in today’s money?

  • David N.

    Well said.
    Together wih Harry Reynolds, Don Revie and Billy Bremner, Bobby Collins helped drag our club onto the world stage.
    A true great:.
    God Bless.

  • Tare

    I am missing Leadership from the present bunch to take responsibility, carry that and executing the skills needed to win the games. I have never seen Bobby Collins playing except video footage but aftermath of DRs Band of Brothers. Legends with white heart are deeply seated in our history so how to reach PL echelons today? It is not just about money but will to put all passion on as a badge carrier.

    But next Saturday is foxes and a best possible starting point because no excuses anymore.

    Tare

    A passionate view of live games thanks for the views Doug.

  • oldschooltie

    I too remember wee Bobby Collins, a great competitior, Captain and Leeds legend famed for his ‘banana’ shot a dead ball situations. A player Revie stole from Everton, who thought his best days were behind him. Leeds were struggling in the 1961/62 season when Revie had retired after being Player manager. Collins arrived in March 1962, to shore up the team, and duly scored on his debut in a 2-0 win over Swansea. Results improved sufficiently to enable Leeds to narrowly avoided relegation that season and the rest as they say is history……

    Collins played in 41 games in 1962/63 and again in 1963/64 when Leeds won promotion. 1964/65 saw Bobby play in 39 league games and win Footballer o the Year and recalled to the Scotland team.

    Unfortunately, a broken thigh suffered in Turin in United’d 1st foray into Europe effectively finisghed Bobby’s career bu allowed another Leeds legend to flourish as a nidfield General – Johnny Giles.

    History repeated itself in 1988 when Wilko signed another ‘has been’ in Gordon Strachan. Oh for a Collins,Giles or Strachan now!

    RIP Bobby!

    • Grumpy

      Given that three of our best ever captains in Bobby, Billy and Gordon, were Scottish, short in stature but enormous in heart, courage and desire, perhaps Brian should be dispatching his scouts north of the border. Oh for another one of those.

  • leeds crew of the shed

    from memory the song came from the 60s when Bobby Broke his leg in turin and he was left in turins hospital and we in the shed sang “Bring back bring back bring back my Bobby to Leeds to Leeds bring back bring back . rest in peace bobby . maybe we should have him standing next to his mate billy at ER . MOT
    Read more: http://www.thescratchingshed.com/2014/01/bring-back-my-bobby-to-leeds/#ixzz2qUqb7US1

  • john palmer

    I am same generation our 1st. live games watching theRevie team makes it harder to watch present bunch Austin and co.

  • Matthew

    R.I.P Bobby Collins.

    Also I think we’re all on the same page when I say this but let’s all wish Blackpool luck in their quest to sign our MVP Luke Varney lol

  • PMH

    Thanks for sharing that. I have a similar story being an RAF brat until settling down in Leeds around 1970. Can’t help but think that Bobby Collins is exactly what the present outfit needs, but you’re not likely to find another like him.

  • Mick

    I emigrated to OZ in December 1970 to play football. I was 20 years of age. I signed for Ringwood City and in mid season 1971 our Dutch was sacked. In walked Bobby Collins – all 5 ft 3 inches – smoking a cigar and carrying his Leeds United training bag (bless him). As a Leeds United fanatic I can still feel the incredible exhilaration going through my veins as he introduced himself to the players. He stayed for 12 weeks as player coach and we only lost one match during his stay. He was. 40 years old and fitter than all of us. His fanaticism to win was still very loud and clear and was one of the most exciting times of my life. To say he is a Leeds legend is only half the story – his will to win was frightening and it is no surprise to me his great players at Leeds followed in the great man’s footsteps. RIP wee man.

  • spellz

    I am too young to really appreciate what Bobby meant to the club but nether the less I have enjoyed reading Doug’s Article and the quote from legend Bremner shows just how much of an influence Bobby must of had on the pitch, also I really enjoyed reading Micks post and how he played under him for a short time he sounded like a real character R.I.P Bobby Collins.

    M.O.T AA.