BILL FOTHERBY has paid tribute to former Leeds United chairman Leslie Silver OBE, who has died at the age of 89.
Fotherby and Silver enjoyed some heady days at Leeds in the late eighties and early nineties, taking the club back to the top table of English football – culminating in United lifting the old Division One title in 1991-92.
Fotherby, managing director and then Silver’s successor as chairman when he left the role in 1996, helped rebuild Leeds in tandem with Silver after some dark days in the early to mid-eighties, with the appointment of Howard Wilkinson as manager in the autumn of 1988 representing the catalyst to the club’s rise to prominence, for the right reasons, again.
A £3m spending spree ahead of the 1989-90 season, which saw the likes of Vinnie Jones, John Hendrie and Chris Fairclough join – allied to the earlier signing of talisman Gordon Strachan in March 1989 – helped take Leeds to the Second Division championship in 1989-90.
On the passing of Silver, who served as chairman from 1983 to 1996, Fotherby said: “The news is a shock to everybody. It is only a few weeks ago that I was out to dinner with him and he was fine.
“He was an absolute gentleman and a nice man. He was a Leeds United supporter, absolutely.
“We had eight years with Howard Wilkinson and nobody seems to talk about that era. They talk about (Peter) Ridsdale era, but we won the championship and got into Europe.
“Howard did a magnificent job with the chairman and we left the club with money in the bank and did well. It was a great time and I am only sorry Leeds United aren’t doing well (now).
“Like a football team, you get a good manager and need a good team behind you. And we had a good team, right from the chairman and me downwards. That is why we were successful.
“Leslie was a great chairman. He let me have the chequebook and that was it!”
On his personal relationship with Silver, he added: “We had a great relationship and worked together and talked. I used to report everything that happened with Howard and the players.
“We were very close and we went on holiday together with his first wife Anita and then Sheila (Silver’s second wife). We couldn’t have been closer.
“We started in the 100 Club and joined the board on the same day.”