Idols to rivals – Mick McCarthy plots the downfall of boyhood club Leeds United
Leeds United v Ipswich: Blues boss Mick McCarthy may have grown up idolising Leeds United, but today the Yorkshireman wants nothing more than to win at Elland Road and get one over his good friend Neil Warnock.
Born in Barnsley, just 20 miles south of Leeds, McCarthy watched the great Don Revie side of the l960s and early 70s as a young boy and dreamt of playing for the club.
Instead the defender joined his hometown club as an apprentice, cleaning the boots of senior winger Warnock in the fourth tier of English football.
Fast-forward 35 years, and the now experienced managerial duo will today renew their rivalry on the touchline when Warnock’s wildly inconsistent Leeds side host a Town team that have been dramatically revived by McCarthy.
“I know Warny, he was a mate of mine when we played at Barnsley,” recalled the Blues boss. “I was aged 16 to 18 and he must have been around 29/30 because he’s considerably older than me!
“He was a hopeless player! He was alright actually – I’m doing him a disservice. He usually delights in telling everybody that I used to clean his boots though – which I did – so I’m just getting him back.
“He polarises opinion Warny; he’s much maligned at times, but he’s had great success. He’s had about seven promotions which is an incredible record.
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“He’s competitive and combative – just like his teams. He’s on the sideline chirping away and says things. I can be guilty of that myself in trying to get my team going though.”
Asked if he ever had aspirations of playing for Leeds, McCarthy said: “Oh yeah, blimin’ eck. I remember watching a programme on them training as a kid when Don Revie was manager. Leeds were the top team then – they were the best side.
“I was Leeds fan; Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney, Terry Cooper, Norman Hunter, Jack Charlton, (Peter) Lorimer, (Eddie) Gray, (Johnny) Giles, (Billy) Bremnar, (Alan) Clarke, (Mick) Jones, (Paul) Madeley – that was my team. I was always a Barnsley fan, but I loved that Leeds side of 67/68 being in Yorkshire.”
And then, in typical McCarthy fashion, he added: “I’m not a fan anymore though.”
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