THE LEEDS United family came together today to pay its last respects to one of the pivotal figures in the club’s proud history.
Former United chairman Leslie Silver’s funeral in his adopted home city was, fittingly, attended by two generations of Leeds title-winners.
They heard praise for the “tremendous contribution” made to life in Leeds and beyond by Mr Silver, who died on Monday at the age of 89.
He began his final journey at midday, when the funeral party set out from Alwoodley’s United Hebrew Congregation Shadwell Lane Synagogue.
It made its way across Leeds to the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue cemetery on Gelderd Road – only a short walk from Elland Road, the football ground where businessman and philanthropist Mr Silver spent some of his happiest times.
Among those waiting in the crisp winter sunshine was Howard Wilkinson, the manager who guided Leeds back to the top of the English game during Mr Silver’s chairmanship.
He was joined by Gordon Strachan and Gary McAllister, members of the famed midfield that powered Wilkinson’s side to the 1991-92 league title.
Also present were Eddie Gray and Terry Yorath, stars from Leeds’s all-conquering years of the 1960s and 1970s under manager Don Revie.
Another Revie era great, Peter Lorimer, brought a wreath from the club. Made up of flowers in United’s colours, it was topped with a card that simply read: “RIP Mr Silver Leeds United FC.”
Others who packed into the cemetery’s prayer hall included ex-Leeds managing director Bill Fotherby and Ray Fell, chairman of the Leeds United Supporters’ Club.
Rabbi Mendel Sufrin told the mourners that Mr Silver had made a huge difference “to the Jewish community and to the Leeds community at large and beyond”.
He also reminded them of the great many people who had benefited from the good work of a man who was the first chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University, now Leeds Beckett University.
Mr Silver was chairman at Leeds between 1983 and 1996, a period which saw the Whites transformed from fallen giants into the last champions of English football before the formation of the Premier League.
He retained close links with United after stepping down as chairman and had recently pledged £15,000 to the cost of the statue of Don Revie that sits opposite Elland Road’s East Stand.
A veteran of the RAF’s Bomber Command campaigns in the Second World War, London-born Mr Silver built up a multi-million pound paint business after returning to civvy street in 1947.
* The leader of Leeds City Council has paid tribute to Mr Silver’s contribution to United and the city of Leeds as a whole.
Coun Keith Wakefield said: “He was a great man firmly committed to Leeds as a city and Leeds United Football Club, in which he invested a significant amount of his own money to put them back on top of English football.
“He was also a very progressive thinker, committed to a more equal society which led to him becoming the first chancellor of what is now Leeds Beckett University.
“I will remember his warmth and friendly personality and for being someone who made a significant contribution to Leeds.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”