Leeds United's 1980-1986 matches (partially found Telvista coverage of Football League club; 1980-1986)
Telvista Television footage of the Leeds United-Oldham Athletic match on 24th April 1984.
Status: Partially Found
Leeds United is a professional Football League club which, from 1975 to 1988, experienced its "Wilderness Years". This saw a sharp decline in fortunes for the West Yorkshire side following a successful 1960s-to-mid-1970s campaign under Don Revie, culminating in the team's relegation to the Football League Second Division at the 1981-82 season's conclusion. Despite the dark period the club was experiencing, it still enjoyed surprisingly rich television coverage as obscure Leeds-based cable television company Telvista Television filmed every game held at Elland Road, as well as numerous away fixtures, from September 1980 to the end of the 1985-86 season.
Under the management of former Leeds player Don Revie, Leeds United experienced a strong surge in form starting from 1961. With an emphasis on youth development and at times controversial hard-hitting gameplay that led to club being nicknamed "Dirty Leeds", the-then Second Division club would go on to ascend to the First Division at the 1963-64 season's conclusion. The team then won the 1968-69 and 1973-74 First Division titles, the 1972 FA Cup, the 1968 Football League Cup, the 1969 Charity Shield, and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, while also narrowly missing out on five First Division titles, three FA Cups including in 1970, one Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and one European Cup Winners' Cup. Naturally, the club's strong domestic and international form did not go unrecognised. Following Sir Alf Ramsey's departure in 1974, Revie was offered the England job, which he accepted.
This move began a decline in performance for Leeds, having been briefly managed by Brian Clough and later Jimmy Armfield. Armfield did guide the club to the 1975 European Cup Final, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich. However, he alongside later appointees Jimmy Adamson and Allan Clarke could not stabilise the Whites' performance, culminating in the team being relegated from the First Division at the end of the 1981-82 season. Leeds achieved little glory throughout the 1980s, outside of a 1987 play-off final defeat to Charlton Athletic and reaching the semi-finals of the 1986-87 FA Cup. However, the appointments of manager Howard Wilkinson and new captain Gordon Strachen dramatically changed the club's fortunes once more, becoming champions of the 1989-90 Second Division, and ultimately topping the 1991-92 First Division. The period following the club's 1975 European Cup Final defeat to 1988 is nicknamed its "Wilderness Years" considering the sharp contrast in fortunes the team experienced during the post-Revie era.
Not long after Clarke's appointment on 16th September 1980, independent cable television company Telvista had begun recording its home matches. Based in Leeds, Telvista operated during the early-to-mid-1980s, and was a sponsor of the club. In addition to recording Elland Road encounters, it also produced documentaries on the club, such as Inside the Football Game, described by The Square Ball as "The weirdest club video ever made". Some footage was later aired on national television by the BBC and ITV. It also filmed the second leg of the 1984 European Competition for Women's Football Final between Sweden and England. Alas, financial problems led to the company being dissolved, with some sources claiming this arose in 1984, while others insist Telvista filmed Leeds matches until the end of the 1985-86 season.
Telvista's coverage is highly obscure, even among Leeds United fans. Little footage has since publicly resurfaced, among which includes a report on Peter Lorimer breaking Leeds' all-time goalscoring record during a 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic on 24th April 1984. Considering that the company is now long-defunct, there was concern Telvista's master tapes may well be lost forever. However, in May 2022, former Telvista vison engineer Ian Riley elaborated further on the company's practices. He claims that during his tenure from 1981 to 1984, Telvista had recorded every match that transpired at Elland Road. Filmed on U-Matic 3/4" master tapes, VHS copies would then be produced and transferred to the company's manager. When considering Leeds 21 league games per season from the 1981-82 to 1985-86, it indicates that Telvista recorded over 120 league matches alone, the total ignoring filmed FA and League Cup games during its existence. In addition, Telvista's Head of Sport Bob Jones stated in Inside the Football Game that by 1981, Telvista had also begun to record many away fixtures too. Its growing partnership with the club allowed the company to progress beyond player and match analysis, recording its own match commentaries. Further programming on and off the pitch was also planned.
Unlike the BBC, Telvista never wiped its productions, instead archiving them within a tape store. Some match broadcasts were also transferred to Australia's Channel 9 and therefore likely aired in the Oceania country. However, when the company ended up in receivership, administrators seeking quick financial capital - and not foreseeing the true value of the recordings - opted to sell the master tapes to various individuals. Thus, the U-Matic recordings may still exist, though their whereabouts are completely unknown. Now declared as the "Holy Grail" among Leeds United broadcasts, an appeal for surviving copies has been launched. Among those seeking to obtain the lost footage is lufcfilms, who is currently producing a comprehensive documentary series titled Leeds United: The Wilderness Years 1975-1988 which harnesses available photos and videos from various sources such as Telvista.
- YouTube playlist of lufcfilms' documentary series Inside the Football Game.
- YouTube playlist containing Leeds United footage during the 1980s.
- Mighty Leeds detailing Revie's player and managerial career at Leeds. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Mighty Leeds detailing the surge in performance for the club in the 1960s. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- National Football Museum summarising the playing and managerial career of Revie. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Mighty Leeds documenting the team's record during the 1970s. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- English Football Stats detailing the 1963-64 Second Division table. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Transfer Markt detailing the club's trophy cabinet. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Mighty Leeds detailing the main period of the Wilderness years between 1979 to 1989. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- OZ White LUFC noting Clarke was appointed as manager on 16th September 1980 and summarising his time at the club. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- English Football Stats detailing the 1981-82 First Division table. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Mighty Leeds detailing the club's record during the 1990s. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- English Football Stats detailing the 1989-90 Second Division table. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- English Football Stats detailing the 1991-92 First Division table. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- lufcfilms summarising Leeds United: The Wilderness Years 1975-1988 and appealing for any copies of Telvista recordings. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Twitter discussion where Riley detailed Telvista's filming and storing of Leeds' games, and stating the master tapes were later sold following the company's bankruptcy. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Programme for the 10th April 1984 exhibition between Leeds and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, crediting Telvista as a club sponsor. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Inside the Football Game with Telvista's Head of Sport Bob Jones summarising his company's programming. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- The Square Ball summarising "The weirdest club video ever made". Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Women's Football Archive stating Telvista filmed the second leg of the 1984 European Competition for Women's Football Final and claiming Telvista was dissolved in 1984. Retrieved 2nd May '23
- Twitter post from Mark Ledgard declaring the Telvista tapes as the "Holy Grail" of Leeds United footage but expressing concern the tapes may be lost forever. Retrieved 2nd May '23