“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.


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)