Hello all, hope you had a good Christmas, despite what has gone on at ER as the season has unfolded. Anyways, given the mag seems to have vanished off the face of the earth, I thought it was a shame that this interview I was lucky enough to do with Fish went to waste, so I hope you enjoy the below. What we would give for the like of him at the back for us this season...
Cheers & thanks once again to Krumpli...
"The Case for the Defence"
An exclusive interview with Peter Haddock
At every football club you will find underrated or under appreciated players and between 1986 & 1991, one such player played his part in the revival of Leeds United AFC. The fans' choice of the 100 greatest players to wear the shirt has him in at 96 and fans who were privileged to witness him play always speak highly of him. He even managed to upstage both a young David Batty and new boy Bobby Davison on their home debuts. Peter Haddock, or “Fish” as he was predictably tabbed was entering the best years of his career when it was sadly cut short. As the new season dawned I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with the man himself in a bid to try to dig a little bit deeper into the memories of that unassuming Geordie lad with a moustache who simply played himself into Leeds United AFC folklore...
Peter, did you ever play against Leeds for Newcastle? “I played twice at Elland Road for Newcastle. One of the games was abandoned due to coins thrown onto the pitch at Kevin Keegan and crowd trouble. The other time was in the Cup at St James’ Park, Leeds won that day.”
Opposition players seem to raise their games when coming to Elland Road nowadays, what was it like as an opposing player back then? “ Elland Road was very intimidating, especially in those days when Leeds fans had a bit of a bad reputation. You always knew when you went to Leeds it’s not only the 11 players on the pitch but they certainly have a 12th man at Elland Road”
So, Newcastle were in the First Division, Leeds were in the Second Division and struggling so how did the move to Leeds come about? “I was planning to join Leeds on loan mid season, however I picked up a back injury and the move collapsed. The end of the season came and I was nearly out of contract with Newcastle, that’s when Leeds came in again for a permanent move.”
How did then manager Billy Bremner convince you to drop a Division? “I met up with Billy Bremner and my decision was made within two minutes of meeting him. He was a fantastic man and manager. He didn’t need to sell the club to me, I was being asked to play for one of the biggest clubs in English football, it just felt right.”
Can you recall much of your debut? “It was away at Blackburn Rovers, however it ended up in a disappointing 1-2 defeat.”
You then only went on to play a handful of games in 1986-1987 - was that due to injury or the fact that Billy simply preferred the Ashurst / Ormsby centre back pairing? “I picked up a Achilles tendon injury that season and missed 3 to 4 months which again was very disappointing.”
Midway through the season, the club sold Ian Snodin, a real fans favourite, how did that effect the dressing room? “I think the offer from Everton for Ian Snodin was too good for the club to turn down. People come and go in football teams you just have to get on with your job.”
Against Coventry in the FA cup Semi final, you came on as sub - what was that like? “Both Keith Edwards and myself came on together in the FA Cup semi at Hillsbourgh. It was very disappointing to lose the game as you can imagine, but I have to say the Leeds fans were absolutely brilliant. It is probably the best atmosphere I had witnessed as a Leeds player.”
My memories from the day are mixed, I was in the seats and went mad when Edwards scored to level at 2-2 but clearly it ended in tears! What did Billy say and do to try pick up the team? “The dressing room was left devastated after the game, players were in tears but Billy just said he was proud of us and we should not feel down after our performance.”
As were we fans! Moving on, you played no part in the Play Offs teams that season - how gutted were you to miss out? “I was in the squad for the Play Off games but due to my injury earlier that season, Billy kept faith with players who had been playing, which is fair enough.”
After the disappointment at Hillsborough, I was heartbroken to miss out on promotion, how did the boys react to defeat against Charlton at Birmingham after getting so near? “We were so close to getting to the FA Cup Final and Division One that season so we were left feeling rather gutted at coming away empty handed.”
So what then changed for you at Elland Road, as in season 1987/1988 you played around 38 games? “The next season was much better personally for me. I pushed my way into the team and held a regular place, playing in various positions. It was a injury free season for me and I picked up Player Of The Year which I was delighted with.”
What do you remember about that goal you hammered in against Swindon? A lot of players say moments like this are like a blur, but are you able to re:live it? “I will always remember that goal. Running from the halfway line into the box, beating two players and then Tim Flowers in goal with a left foot shot. It was a fantastic feeling scoring at Elland Road, unfortunately it did not happen again, but it wasn’t my job to score the goals!”
My boyhood heroes that time were John Sheridan and Ian Baird. Who were your heroes in the game and did you ever get to line up with or play against them? “My hero as a youngster was Malcolm McDonald. I used to go see him play at Newcastle and was fortunate enough to play against him in a testimonial match.”
Leeds finished 7th and missed out on the Play Offs that season, then the 1988 - 1989 season again seemed to be a tough one for you personally after doing so well only 8 games or so? “1988-1989 was another season I fell victim of injury. I had a knee problem and never got a run in the team.”
You still ended up with the Player of the Year award in 1988, it must have given you immense satisfaction? “Winning Player of the Year for Leeds was the proudest moment in my career, especially as the fans voted for it. It gives you great satisfaction to see people notice you for being good at your profession.”
So the team were not pulling up any trees including a 0-4 hammering at Portsmouth then Billy was sacked in the September of 1988. What was it like inside the camp at that time? “When Billy was sacked all the players were disappointed. I personally feel he was never given enough money to strengthen the squad, but he was undoubtedly the best manager I played for in my career.”
Next up was Sgt Wilko. Did you know much of Howard before he arrived and how was his style different to Billy’s? “I didn’t know much about Howard Wilkinson before he came to Leeds. His style was much more direct to Billy’s, but it worked. The results we got proved that.”
Were the players as scared of mad Mick Hennigan as we fans were? “Mick Hennigan was ‘mad’ I have to say I agree, but he was straight to the point and never minced his words, hard but fair.”
The preseason of 1989-1990 always stands out for many fans as that really was the start of “A Happening” at the club. Over the summer, in came a host of players that really upped the ante, the likes of Sterland, Hendrie, and of course, Vinnie Jones. You went on to play 40 games or so that season, would you agree that this was your best season for Leeds ? “In 1989-1990 it all seemed to click into place. There was like you say a buzz around Elland Road and the players felt this as well. Howard bought a lot of quality players including Vinnie Jones. We were well organised and hard to beat and it was probably the most rewarding season of my career.”
So with the incomings and the buzz, we had this massive build up and then first game, away to your old club Newcastle, we are 2-1 up at half time and you boys go let that Big lump Quinn notch 4 goals - erm, what happened? “It got off to a bad start at Newcastle unfortunately due to a couple of bad goals one of which was offside and the other a dodgy penalty! Wasn’t a nice feeling going back to your old club and being beat in that way.”
That was just a blip though and whilst it was the midfielders and strikers taking all the plaudits, we only conceded 52 goals all season! What How would you describe yur partnership with Chris Fairclough? “We had a solid defence that season, Chris Fairclough and myself formed a great partnership. We were good mates both on and off the pitch, which I think helped as well. He was fantastic in the air and solid tackler, while I read the game, was quick I must say and a good tackler. Anything he missed I mopped up.”
As the season hurtled to a frantic finale, what are your memories of Bournemouth and all the things that surrounded that weekend? “The final game at Bournemouth was a blur! We went down early on Thursday and the players were feeling relaxed and confident we could get the job done. The night before the game we all went for a meal and a couple of glasses of wine, Howard made us feel relaxed. The game itself was over so quick, the conditions were very hot, but we knew what we had to do and were prepared to give every last bit of energy for the club. I was chosen as Man of the Match that day, so it could not have gone any better! In the dressing room after the match it was unbelievable and the celebrations went on back in Leeds. Everyone was delighted, we had got the club back up to its rightful place.”
Out of all the squad in that promotion season, Wilko singled you out and claimed you were his player of the season, but promptly went out and bought Chris Whyte! How did that feel? “I felt really proud when Howard picked me as his Player Of The Year, however I was left feeling quite gutted when he went on to buy Chris Whyte the season after and I didn’t start the game at Everton.”
Yeah, you were on the bench, but played in the first home game back in the Big League in the 0-0 draw against the Man Utd. You were drafted in to replace Glynn Snodin for the game? “We played three at the back, I played well but again was left feeling very disappointed at being left out for the following game at Norwich City.”
You were making a few starts and the club was really doing well, then it sadly all went wrong for you. Do you recall the moment during the game with the Man Utd in which you got injured? “As the season went on I was in and out really, then the injury came. I went to challenge a ball in the air with Paul Ince, as I came down my leg landed in a hole in the pitch and my body twisted with the leg locked in the hole. I knew straight away I had done something serious. I was stretchered off and taken to hospital. My knee was totally rebuilt and obviously technology wasn’t as advanced as it is these days.”
Injuries are part and parcel of the game and you have had plenty, so when did it hit you that you may never play again? “It took 18 months to get fit, but after one reserve game I knew the knee still wasn’t right. I went to see a specialist in London and that was when he advised me to retire.”
You must have been gutted? “It was so disappointing how my career had ended, I was playing, I felt, the best football of my career. It was a decision I had to make for my future and family.”
Looking back over your time with Leeds, what would you say was your fondest memory? “My fondest memory has to be winning Player of The Year and winning promotion in 1990 is up there too.”
Who would you pinpoint as the best player you have lined up with in a Leeds shirt? “The best player I played with at Leeds was Gordon Strachan. He did so much as skipper for the club and is also a good friend.”
As fans, we like to assume that after playing for a club it gives you players some sort of bond with the club and ourselves. We know that there is an element of you doing a “job”, but how do you look back on your time with Leeds? “I feel very proud to have represented Leeds United around the country. It is such a great club, everyone knows it is, even people who have no connection with Leeds can see that. The fans are the best in the country by a mile!”
The club and fans have been though the mill over the last few years in the aftermath of Champions League, the melt down, the debt, the relegations and the now infamous 15 points! Have you any thoughts on current matters? “The way things are at Leeds at the moment is obviously not good, you have to feel for the fans as they have seen the club slowly fall, and could not do anything about it. My two sons are both massive Leeds fans and I can see how much it hurts. They have come home many a time disappointed, most noticeably at both the recent Play Off Finals in Cardiff and Wembley. However I feel Leeds have turned the corner now and that part is part of history. Without the 15 points last season they would have been promoted, which shows they have the strength in the squad to get out of League 1. I’m sure it wont be too long before we see Leeds United back there challenging in the Premier League.”
As Peter mentions in the interview, both his sons Peter Jnr and Carl are massive Leeds fans and it would have been easy in many respects to join the Black and White army, Peter jnr picked up the story “We moved back up to Newcastle and I suppose I could of chosen to support them as all of my schoolmates do. However, Leeds just always stuck. Dad still took us to matches a few times a season and from then on we were set on this club. We do still get so much stick from mates and even family, especially in recent times. Our uncle, John Carver, was at Leeds not so long ago and he used to have his little niggles and say come support a proper team as he was the coach at Newcastle at the time. He has however changed his opinion since being at the club!”
The final words then to Peter Haddock Snr. Is there anything you would like to say directly to the Leeds fans reading this regarding the time you spent at the club? “I’d just like to say my time at Leeds was fantastic. I met some great people and the fans made me feel very welcome there. We are even thinking about moving back down to Leeds in the future as we enjoyed it so much. Keep supporting the club like I know you will, you are very loyal. Lets hope next season is the season we see Leeds bounce back!”
Leeds United AFC..."A Good Catch"… Keep Fighting...