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John Giles recalls the extent of his magpie superstition


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Football is full of superstitions. Within the dressing room, there can be small things that each player feels they need to pre-match.

For example, some always put their left sock on first or vice versa before stepping onto the field among a litany of other habits and routines.

But did John Giles have any pre-match superstitions from his days at Leeds United, Manchester United and with Ireland?

John didn't have many superstitions but his former Leeds United manager Don Revie certainly had a few. 

"Don was a very superstitious man. Leeds was supposed to have a curse on the ground. We finished runners up a couple of times," he said, adding that Revie got people in to lift the curse on the club and some trophies did follow!

"Well, we won a few things anyway. He was superstitious all the time. The [matchday] suit he had when he finished at Leeds was the suit he had from 12 years before. Because I think we played at Liverpool one day and got a good win and it was a new suit on and that was it!

 

Leeds United players celebrate with champagne and cigars in the dressing room after drawing 0-0 with Liverpool, a result which wrapped up Leeds' first Division One Championship title: (back row, l-r) Mick Jones, Jack Charlton, Paul Reaney, Gary Sprake, Johnny Giles, Paul Madeley; (front row, l-r) manager Don Revie, Peter Lorimer, Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray. Picture by: PA Photos/PA Archive/PA Images

"He was unbelievably superstitious. When I first went from Leeds to Manchester United, in those days it wasn't like it is today. I had my boots in a brown paper bag and I had to go into the offices to see him and I put the boots on the desk and we were talking for about 10 minutes and he said, 'What's that?'

"'They're my boots'. [Revie said], 'Get them off the table quick!' Because it was bad luck apparently. I didn't know. It was bad luck apparently to have boots on the table. He was unbelievable with superstitions." 

John also revealed his own superstition: "My superstition was two magpies. One of sorrow, two for joy. Like if I saw one, I used to stop the car and have a look around and try and find another one on the way to the ground. It's amazing when you're in high pressure situations, stupid things like that get to you." 

And he also spoke about what Revie used to do to try and make sure games weren't postponed because of the type of wintry weather we're getting this week - a pretty simple solution as it were.

"When it was doubtful, he used to go to the labour exchange and get lads on the dole to come up to the ground. They used to cover it with straw particularly the night before and then they'd come in Saturday morning and try and get as much of the straw off the pitch as they possibly could," said John.

He also chatted about the fallout for Arsenal from their Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City as well as the Manchester United vs Chelsea match. 


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