For many who may have ever considered the Newcastle United legends of the past, names such as Beardsley, Gascoigne and Shearer would have always usually come to the fore. Many modern-day football fans may not know much of their own footballing legends from yesteryear, and this does seem the case with Len White.
Though chat to a seasoned and well-aged Newcastle Utd fan, and mention Len White and we are sure you’ll get a positive and wide-eyed response. Known by many at the time, and some since, for being the clubs best-ever signing. White cost Newcastle United £12,500 for his services, a reasonable amount for the time.
So, who was Len White? There will be many at St James’s who probably may be able to remember him.
Born in Skellow, which is a small village just outside Doncaster, his career began at Upton Colliery before he was moved on to Rotherham United. It was during this period he garnered his wing playing skills, initially an all-out forward, his skills earned him a regular spot out on Rotherham’s wing.
Len’s debut came against Wrexham in 1950, where he managed to net one goal in a 5 – 0 rout. He then managed to score six goals in his first six matches, not a bad start to a footballer’s career.
Appearances were limited for White due to his fellow teammate, Grainger. Grainger had cemented Len’s favoured position at Wrexham, but in 1952 an injury to then striker Jack Shaw, gave White his opportunity to showcase himself on the wing whilst Grainger filled in at centre.
Len’s performances were outstanding, and he was called up to the FA national team. These appearances earned him rave reviews and Newcastle were first in for the upcoming winger, though the fee at the time was considered exceptionally high.
In 1953 White signed for Newcastle who were on somewhat of a roll, that said they had just suffered a crushing FA Cup defeat to White’s previous team, Rotherham Utd.
At Newcastle Len immediately slotted in upfront alongside Jackie Milburn. White established himself within the side but often played second fiddle to the headlines, despite chalking up an impressive tally of goals. His work in the FA Cup Final of 1955 earned him plaudits, and he didn’t stop playing for Newcastle until 1963.
In late 1957 White had established himself as number 1 striker at Newcastle, Milburn had just retired from Newcastle, and White had no problem filling his shoes. From a skilled winger to number 1 striker saw White become hailed as somewhat of a legend for many at that time, due to the shear class of his scoring finesse.
Milburn leaving Newcastle only seemed to inspire White, who managed to bag a minimum of 25 goals in the 1957 season, a tally he continued to hit for the next three seasons.
Known to be an expert dribbler, White would often carve defences up with a mazy run before slotting the ball home. Len White’s solo goal against Man City has gone down in Newcastle folklore; having beaten five or six players, a simple feint before slotting home passed the keeper.
Len spent 10 years with Newcastle United, in that time he racked up 269 appearances and managed 153 goals in his tenure.
Len white’s demised was somewhat sad. Len suffered a terribly injury during a match at Spurs. It was, unfortunately, a career ending tackle which coincided with not only his loss from the team, but also relegation for Newcastle.
Before the match at Spurs, Len had already notched up 28 league goals and looked to be heading for more. Only Milburn and Alan Shearer have managed to total more goals than Len.
Len was never the same after the injury, which was in fact a nasty leg break. Upon returning to the Newcastle Utd team, Ken never acquired back his exceptional footballing talents. So, it was in the 1963 season that Len moved on to Huddersfield Town, then Stockport County, before finally hanging up his boots in 1966.
Even though Len only spent two seasons with Huddersfield, he still managed a total tally of 37 goals. Just before hitting the ripe age of 35, Len moved to Stockport County, where he won round the fans before retiring from professional football in the 1965-66 season.
As a mark of respect, in 1989 dedicated Newcastle United fans arranged a testimonial for Len. And some 2,000+ fans turned out to give him the credit he deserved. Why he never received a testimonial is unknown to us. But what a great send off, for any player, even though it was 27 years late.
Truly a unspoken hero in the eyes of many a Newcastle United fan, check out the Len White print we've put together.