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Gary Sprake

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Gary Sprake (23.9K)  Gary Sprake (18.4K)

Position Goalkeeper
Born 03 Apr 1945, Winchwen (Wales)
Height 182 cm
Weight 84 kg
International Caps Wales: 37 full

Club From To Apps Goals Sold for
Leeds United 01 May 1962 01 Oct 1973 506 0 £100000
Birmingham City 01 Oct 1973 01 May 1975 16 0 £0

Leeds Career League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other
Season Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1961 - 1962 1  0  0  0  0 
1962 - 1963 33  3  2  0  0 
1963 - 1964 41  3  3  0  0 
1964 - 1965 41  8  0  0  0 
1965 - 1966 40  1  1  11  0 
1966 - 1967 39  7  2  10  0 
1967 - 1968 36  5  7  8  0 
1968 - 1969 42  2  3  8  0 
1969 - 1970 37  7  1  8  0 
1970 - 1971 34  4  1  9(1)  0 
1971 - 1972 35  5  2  2(1)  0 
1972 - 1973 1  0  0  0  0 
1973 - 1974 0  0  0  1  0 
Total 380  45  22  57(2)  0 

Jabba's Comments

Gary Sprake is a name synonymous with goalkeeping cock-ups: mention his name to most non-Leeds fans and they'll start humming "Careless Hands". To take an objective look at his career, you'd realise that this is an unfair assessment of an excellent keeper. He was an instinctive shot stopper, became the youngest ever keeper to appear for Wales, and for nearly 10 years was Leeds' first choice, despite the presence of David Harvey in the wings. He was prone to the odd gaffe - and they just tended to happen when the TV cameras were there to broadcast them to the rest of the country.

His debut for Leeds came rather unexpectedly: Tommy Younger went down with a temperature just before Leeds' game with Southampton at the Dell, with Sprake back home in Leeds. The club chartered a two-seater plane to fly the young keeper down to Southampton airport, with the game's kick-off being postponed by 30 minutes to allow the slightly green stopper to get to the ground.

Some say Leeds would have won more with a different keeper: that's possible, but may be a bit coloured by the soured relationship between Don Revie and Sprake after the latter had some fairly uncomplimentary things to say about the man who had made it possible for him to win so many prizes at the very top level. Sprake moved to Birmingham but made only a handful of appearances before being forced to retire due to injury. His remarks about Revie estranged him from the rest of the squad, and he is just about the only member of the Glory Years side who hasn't maintained some sort of contact with the club or with his former colleagues in his retirement.

Maldwyn Lindley says: Yes i saw Gary Sprake play many times and I saw him pull off a lot more good saves than bad ones and as for cameras being there then I would refer to the 1970 Cup Final. But over the years many other keepers have made a lot more fumbles but they never seem to get mentioned probably the stick Sprake got was because it was Leeds he was playing for and not many of the opposition liked Leeds because at the end of the day there wasn't another team fit to lace their boots on the day. And yes i did meet Gary Sprake when I was 10 years old in the centre of Leeds in 1971. I wrote to him and he replied and as a young leeds fanatic in them days he was my hero. Trouble is don't get much chance to see them now as I live in Perth West Australia but for me there's only one team - LUFC.

Martin Goldman says: I was very good friends with Gary from 1972 until his transfer to Birmingham City. Unfortunately his time in Birmingham was not so successful. He was very ill at one stage and had a life threatening operation in a Birmingham hospital (I can exactly remember the year). I went to see him with another close friend called Peter Tebbs, who was Gary's insurance broker!! Peter, myself and another guy called Gordon McFarlane (Mac) were all very close and had some good times together.

Whatever is said about Gary,I must say he was a truly great goalkeeper. I know he did make some important blunders like at Liverpool when he threw the ball in his own net!! (I was there and travelled back with the team on the train after the game), but I can assure you and everybody out there he saved Leeds United many many times from defeat with some great displays, which were not shown on tv. Mac,Peter and myself saw probably every game when Gary was playing home and away;that is why Revie played him all those years.

We did lose contact and it was only about two weeks ago that I said to Peter Tebbs that we should make contact and go to see Gary who still lives in Birmingham,and I believe works for Birmingham council in some capacity.

Sonia Noble says: Please let Gary Sprake know I heard him being interviewed about his goal mistake on Radio 4 17.9.02 and thought the interviewer was excessively rubbing salt in the wound, bringing up further old mistakes. I emailed the BBC to say as much. Smile Gary, I am sure it was not just me that thought you had a raw deal on the interview.

Martin McGloin says: prior to last season the last time Leeds played a league game at Fulham was back in the late 60s .Gary Sprake was in goal and he was so bored during the 5-0 win he was throwing chewing gum to the fans behind the goal...happy days

Denise Lavis says: I'm Gary's niece - saw him play quite a few times - great goalie - great guy - thanks for the tickets Gary - all his family are very proud of him - youngest goalie to play for Wales - I rember the chewing gum wrappers - a few mistakes OK - but look at some of todays goalies - no names mentioned!

Jo Walker (Wood) says: Gary Sprake is my uncle,the last time I saw him was at my father's funeral 12 years ago. I am trying to get in touch with my family and would be grateful if you know of his whereabouts if you could let me know, or pass on this email address. thanks.

David Edge says: What made Gary Sprake such a hated goalie? He had the confidence of Revie, but not the hard style of the other players for Leeds. He should have played for Chelsea, where his gum-throwing, and goalpost-leaning antics would have been seen as style, not weakness and boredom.

Maybe its sad to see people put Gary down so much, but... if you watch "The Glory Years" video you will see that it was probably a lack of goalkeeping practice (Leeds being so great) that made him a bit, if not a lot, lazy in his attitude to getting his knees dirty when going for a ball. I must be honest and say David Harvey didnt impress me that much, either. What if Leeds had had a Banks or Bonetti? I still love the old side, and STILL get excited when I watch games from 30 years ago! Oh, dear. Quick nurse, the screens...

Stu Sprake says: If Jo would like to get in touch with me I will gladly pass on relevant info to Gary. There are statistics, more statistics and damn lies! However, 507 appearances, 37 caps for Wales, at least as many missed through injury (Revie paying to stay in Leeds?)and mistakes that could be counted on one hand. Truly a great!!!

Johnny Meynell says: Without doubt, Gary Sprake was a footballing icon. I'd love to have chat with him some day, just to talk about the old days. As a youngster, I followed Leeds, and remember crying BEFORE Sunderland beat them in the FA Cup 1973. All the old Leeds players kept in touch, but Sprake was always conspicuous by his absence. What really happened when Leeds met Wolves two days after lifting the FA Cup in 1972. Sprake didn't play at Molineux, how could he say Revie tried to bribe the Wolves players. Did he have an axe to grind? Is there no smoke without fire? Though I'm now an engrained Halifax Town fan (for 24 years) I still get a buzz out of watching those old Seventies videos, and of Leeds at their best 1971-72. Sprake was very much part of that tream until late on, and missed out on the Cup win over Arsenal (when Harvey was excellant).

Andy Conner says: Her'e onr for the anoraks! Can anyone tell me how many clean sheets Sprake kept? Jabba says: 216 at Leeds.

Stu Sprake says: the research for Gary's book is going really well - some ex team mates have been of great help - others have told me where to shove my pen - can you ask the good folk out there to share their memories - they can be as libellous as they like - the responsibility is mine - can contact me on my email (stusprake _at_ lineone.net).

steve says: i am a great fan of gary and all keepers can any please pass on a contact address to me so i can ask for autograph many thanks

Ian Johnson says: I was at Liverpool for "that" game -and missed what happened because I saw he had the ball in his hands and I bent down to tie my shoelaces. gary was as tough, to say the least, as the rest of them. The Chelsea semi we lost at Villa I was behind the goal when they scored. Gary had a habit of catching the ball with one of his legs quite high as he jumped- he scrunched his studs into the face of Hutchinson ( I think ) right in front of me after the refs back was turned. Lucky we didn't have a penalty against us for that one. An enigmatic player I am sorry he hasn't had the support of all his colleagues of the era and hope he is doing well in his life. The errors he made are nothing compared to some of the goalkeeping horrors we see on TV every week these days.

Julie says: I think Gary Sprake was not only a wonderful keeper for Leeds, but also a really exceptionally nice man too. As a young girl i wrote to him just before the 1972 FA Cup Final against Arsenal to ask for his autograph. Although he was not chosen for the match (shame!) he very kindly sent me a signed photograph with a lovely message on the back, from the hotel where the Leeds team were staying. I will never forget the excitement of opening that envelope! Even though he must have been going through all kinds of emotions, he put himself out especially - thanks Gary. My own son, Gareth, became a goalkeeper too strangely enough. I would love to know when Gary is going to have his book published, because i want to be first in line!!!

Chris Mason says: I an a Leeds ex-pat (I live in Worle, North Somerset) but I used to follow Leeds everywhere during their "Glory Years" under Don Revie - I still have the programs from the cup final win over Arsenal and the loss against Chelsea in the replay! Can anyone tell me where I can get "The Glory Years" video mentioned above - or any other videos of this period covering this most fantastic team ? To the team : - guys, you made my childhood complete - you were the best team this country has everproduced, thank you !

Tim Johnson says: For all of you who have expressed an interest in the Gary Sprake book it is about a third of the way through. It is amazing that after researching the archives how many games Gary saved leeds far more than the half dozen mistakes he made. Robbo made this many mistakes in the games I have seen live this year plus the Liverpool/Bolton mistakes though these never are emphasised. The book will hit the shelves within the next twelve months

Josh Sprake says: Gary is my great uncle, I am too young to have seen him play but I've seen lots of videos of Leeds and Wales. I support Swansea City, Leeds and Real Madrid. I'm fed up with my father, every time we go to a game or watch tv the keeper makes a great save , tipping the ball over the bar, or diving full length to turn the ball around the post. What does my father say, "Sprakey would have caught that". Was he that good or does my father's memory play tricks?

alan watts says: i am related to gary sprake he is my uncle in the watts family althgough my children have not met him.

Ian Henderson says: I know that Gary made a few mistakes - don't we all? His saves in Hungary won us the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1968. He was also a smashing bloke. He spent a lot of time talking to me and my young nephew after we beat Spurs in the 6th round of the FA Cup in 1972. If anyone reading this knows him please pass on my best regards to a great.

neil sims says: I remember him as a great keeper in a great team. All the lads in our office remember his great performances but where is he now?

Michael Marsden says: As my father came from Dewsbury, Leeds became my team. Each year during the October half-term my father would take me to watch Leeds play and also watch them train. I loved the excitement of waiting for the players to come out and sign autographs. Coming from Wales meant that Gary Sprake was one of my hero's. Imagine what a disappointment it was, when aged 10, on being asked for his autograph, Gary just walked past me and said, "I don't sign those things". I discovered later that day that he had been put on the transfer list. I know this story seems contrary to some of the other experiences written, but that is mine.

Julia Sprake says: just logged on for the first time and it's lovely to read the nice comments about my dad! if anyone wants to get in touch with me pls do.

Stu Sprake says: Just wondering if Michael Marsden's memory has become hazy through the mists of time. During the research for Gary's biography I have received numerous messages, each praising his down to earth nature.Perhaps Michael has confused Gary with Paul Reaney, they both had curly hair, although Gary's was a lot fairer. Gary was never placed on the transfer list,he asked for a transfer. Unlike some of his ex-team mates Gary still signs autographs upon request, usually returning them after paying the postage himself, which becomes expensive given the high number of requests. As a passionate and patriotic Welshman I am sure Gary would right this perceived wrong if Michael would get in touch.

Len Mullins says: As a Leeds fan for 40 years, Gary Sprake was my hero (and still is). People forget he was automatic first choice goalkeeper for Leeds when they were the No 1 team in England - which was for the best part of ten years. Born and brought up in Pembrokeshire, I was always intrigued that Gary was first spotted when he played for a Swansea schoolboys side against a Pembroke XI. He single-handedly defied Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup Final defeat by Liverpool - a display he was to repeat at Wembley for Wales against England a few years later when he again ended up losing 2-1. I first saw him in the flesh when Leeds brought down their first team, to play Swansea in Ivor Allchurch's testimonial in 1967. Gary was the hardest man in a team of hard men. Didn't he once dump a fully suited Jack Charlton in the team bath? And he was handy with his fists. Just ask the then Arsenal striker Bobby Gould whom Gary laid out at Highbury. And how many packets of Wrigleys would he get through in a match? He performed heroics not only for Leeds - especially in Europe - but also for Wales whom he never let down. I didn't know this site existed but am delighted to discover it. Fifty-yr-old men aren't supposed to have heroes, but Gary's mine. I hope he sees this site and realises how highly people rated him. Gary, I hope you're well. You gave me and a lot of others a great deal of pleasure. Cheers mate.

Carig Hartgen says: Ive got the 'Glory Years' video and although it pinpoints a few of Gary Sprake's mistakes, he was no doubt a wonderful keeper,one of the best Leeds ever had! If he hadnt been that good then Revie would have replaced him long before. I look forward to Gary's book being released. I would like to get in touch with any reletives of the legend Sprake!

Carl Sprake says: I've no idea if I am related to Gary, but I have sent Stu an email. If any member of the Sprake family would like to get in touch then please send me an email - c.sprake AT ntlworld.com

janet deighton says: me and a friend used toi watch gary in the old scratching shed at elland and we always threw chewing gum at him he used to live in adel nr leeds then and we used to go up there to see if we could see him anywhere thats fan worship


Have your say

Did you see Gary Sprake play? Did you meet him in a pub, go to school with him, decorate his house or buy a motor from him? If you've got any comments or stories about Gary Sprake on or off the pitch, just fill in the form below and (provided they're not blatantly libellous) I'll add them to this page. And just a quick note to the spammers who try to add their links to this page by attempting to get round the client-side validation: don't bother - the server side does similar checks and throws your garbage straight into the bit bucket.

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