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Worthington Cup - Hero Ken's priceless memories.

BLUES stalwart Ken Leek today reveals just how much beating Villa in the 1963 League Cup was worth to him... pounds 4!

That's the princely sum Leek took home for scoring twice in a 3-1 win that secured the club's only major trophy success in 126 years.

Back then Leek and his team-mates were playing for the glory - certainly not the money.

They were on pounds 35 a week, in contrast to the pounds 10,000 a man reward lying in wait for the current Blues players should they spring a shock on Liverpool.


Leek will have long spent his pounds 4, but he's still left with many happy memories of his days at Blues, and also playing for his country in Cardiff.

He was born just up the road from the Welsh capital in a tongue-twisting village called Ynysybwl, and has been back in Wales for the first time in years to help promote the Cup.

He's also been promoting Blues' chances of causing a massive upset with stirring tales of how they did back in the days when bonuses were in single figures instead of four.

'It may be almost 40 years ago, but many of the Birmingham side that won the then Football League Cup are still big mates and get together quite often,' said Leek, now 65 and living in Northampton.

'I still keep in touch with Bertie Auld, who went on to play for Celtic and was in their side that won the European Cup in 1967, and I'm on the phone to Jimmy Harris almost every week.

'Birmingham was a big club in those days and the Midlands was a real hot-bed of soccer.

'We used to get more than 10,000 for reserve team games. I don't know if fans nowadays can imagine that.

'I am not the sort of player who remembers all my goals, but I do recall that there was a huge crowd at St Andrew's for the first leg of the final with Villa, when we won 3-1.

'I scored two and Jimmy Bloomfield netted the other, and we held out for a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Villa Park. It was a very proud moment for me when we lifted the cup, and sadly it's been the case that the fans have had to wait until now to get back to this stage again.

'It's going to be great coming home to see one of my old clubs in a cup final - I just hope they can upset the odds and win the game.'

Leek is no stranger to today's stunning venue, the Millennium Stadium, having been invited to watch Wales play Brazil last May by the FA of Wales, along with other members of the 1958 Welsh World Cup squad.

'It is a magnificent stadium and I only wish I had been given the chance of playing there,' added Leek, who won 13 caps for Wales and played 396 league matches in all. 'But I have to admit that my favourite memory of Cardiff is scoring two goals in the last three minutes for Wales when we beat Scotland 3-2 in October 1964.'

Leek's road to League Cup glory began when he was spotted playing for the Boys' Club of Wales - even though he was signed up as a second choice.

'A scout was in Wales from Northampton Town to watch another player but when he found out that the lad had already signed for Fulham he suggested that Northampton take me on trial instead,' he explained.

'So at 17 years of age I went there for a week and then signed professional forms in August 1952. I went back for a second spell when Dave Bowen was manager and I went up with them from the second to the first division.'

And now for the other side of cup football. Having moved on to Leicester City from Northampton, Leek scored in every round leading up to the 1961 FA Cup final at Wembley against Spurs. But a night on the booze after reaching the final put paid to his hopes of a Wembley appearance.


'We celebrated very hard after the semi-final win and I got into a bit of bother,' he said. 'The manager, Matt Gillies, took a dim view of it and I was left out of the final side.

'I didn't even get get a ride to Wembley on the team bus. I regret it even to this day.'

Leek was dropped in favour of the untried Hughie McIlmoyle and missed out on joining the likes of Gordon Banks and Frank McLintock in a Leicester side that went down 2-0 to the legendary double-winning Spurs team.

After Filbert Street, Leek spent a short time on Tyneside with Newcastle United before switching to St Andrew's in November 1961. He finished his career with Bradford City where he netted 25 goals in 99 league appearances.

But Leek was not the only Welshman in that Birmingham City side of 1963. Playing in both legs against Villa were full-back Colin Green, who won 15 caps and now lives in Wrexham, and wing-half Terry Hennessey, who played 39 times for Wales before emigrating to Australia.
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Title Annotation:Football
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2001
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