History of Chiltern Whites

                                      Author: Hector McFarlane -  Last Updated July 2015

 

'Chiltern Whites' has been in existence since the late 1980's, the founder members were Terry Campbell and John McCormack, who were both based in Luton. In June 1993, the Chiltern group became accepted as an official Branch of the Supporters' Club. At the time, the main reason for moving in this direction was to allow the Chiltern Whites to evolve, by providing an official organised Supporters' Club presence for Leeds United fans mainly from Luton and Bedford.

During the formative years, as well as providing organised transport and tickets which allowed our members to follow Leeds United FC to home and away matches, myself, Gary Cairns and Stephen Ricketts were also actively involved in the running of the Branch. With a committee of five people, the Branch was able to offer a wide range of activities over and above just travelling to and from the matches.

I came across one of our old Membership packs from the 1995/96 season, which listed the membership benefits at that time:

 

                                                        Monthly Newsletter

These were distributed to all paid up members and consisted of; a personalised Booking Form for the following months' matches, important points raised at the monthly Branch meeting, news of forthcoming events and occasionally special reports/features.

 

                                                 Annual Dinner and Dance Function

The Supporters' Club Annual Dinner and Dance used to be held in the Banqueting Suite at Elland Road. It was usually held during September or October after a weekend Home game. The main aim of the event was to make the presentation of the Player of the previous Season Trophy as voted by the SC Branches. On occasions other awards were made to show appreciation to individuals or Leeds United staff who may have gone that extra mile to help the organisation. Supporters' club members had the opportunity to don our glad rags, spend an evening amongst the players and officials of the club but become tongue-tied when we actually met our heroes. Our branch regularly had 25 to 30 people attending this function, and was lucky enough to have Gordon Strachan and Tony Yeboah sitting at our designated tables. After the formalities and presentations, everybody had a chance to meet the players, get their autographs and photo opportunities.

 

                                           Discounted Leeds United merchandise

For several years, during the mid 1990's, our branch negotiated 10% discounts on Leeds United items at several sport stores in Bedford, Bletchley, Hemel Hempstead and Leighton Buzzard. To qualify for this discount our members had to produce their current www.chilternwhites.co.uk membership cards and Supporters' Club id card.

 

                                                  Inter-Branch Penalty Competition

The Supporters' Club organised an inter-branch knockout competition with the FINAL being contested at half time during a first team match at Elland Road. Our Branch won the competition in 1995, and a picture of the victorious team was published in the March '95 edition of the Leeds United Monthly magazine. From memory, I believe that our branch also won the competition in 1996.

 

                                                     Friendly Football Matches

Gary Cairns was our main contact for the regular friendly matches. These were organised between other Leeds United fan groups, mainly the Oxford Whites, and also supporters groups of other clubs: West Ham, QPR and Arsenal were our main opponents at the time. The matches were usually arranged for the free weekends' just before the England international matches. Following each match, as well as the obvious banter and post match drinks, an un-biased match report was written and published in the next copy of the Branch newsletter.

 

                                                        Branch Competitions

Members were invited to compete amongst each other in season long competitions based around Football related topics. For several seasons, we ran Premiership Placings and set up mini-leagues within the Daily Telegraph's popular 'Fantasy' game.

Also on the coach journeys regular raffles and various innovative competitions were devised and run to 'pass the time' during the longer coach trips.

 

                                                               Programmes

The monthly newsletter regularly featured lists of Leeds United programmes, including friendlies, which Terry was able to supply, either on match days, at meetings or by post.

In future years, Terry expanded this service to Leeds United and England Badges and more recently has embraced ebay as a means for promoting Leeds United memorabilia.

 

                                                            Back to the present

Throughout our evolution, the 'Chiltern Whites', membership has always been in excess of the 130 mark. Over the past few years, despite the downturn in the football club's fortunes, the branch has continued to maintain membership numbers. However, understandably, the number of regular and casual coach travellers, the lifeblood of the Branch, has slowly dwindled from the high points of the O'Leary/Risdale era. Once the club became embroiled in non-football related issues and on the field performances started to fall away, less people were willing to commit time to watch a losing team.

Relegation to the Championship in 2004 has brought its' own 'challenges not only to Leeds United FC, but also the Chiltern Whites.

In 2006, the decision was taken to end our thirteen-year relationship with the Supporters' Club and become a Regional Members Club. It is hoped that this association will allow the 'Chiltern Whites' to continue to run as in previous years, but give us increased contact with potential members within our catchment area, but more importantly support from Leeds United for initiatives and events such as 'Leeds on the Road', player appearances etc.

From 2010, we severed our ties with the Club, and have been running independently since.

In closing, on a personal note, I will always strive to make sure that the 'Chiltern Whites' regardless of it's affiliation continues to provide the best service for our paid up members.

©chilternwhites 2019

Leeds United, Supporters, Travel, Luton, Milton Keynes, Chiltern