Leeds United's Paul Madeley: The Portrait

Football illustrator and animator Tim Bradford has painted a tribute to Don Revie's Utility Man.
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Football illustrator and animator Tim Bradford has painted a tribute to Don Revie's Utility Man.

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Artist Tim Bradford is Bradford by name but Leeds United by nature. A Leeds fan for over 40 years, we decided to ask him a few questions after coming across this portrait of Revie era legend, Paul Madeley, in a current exhibition. Tim also does very funny Lo-Fi Match reports on You Tube and cartoons and animations for football mag When Saturday Comes.

How come you chose to paint Paul Madeley?

With Madeley I was interested in the idea of the Zentral Defender - someone who is so talented but are happy to be egoless and give themselves to the team - somehow transcending our obsession with roles, formations and positions, unconsciously mirroring what was going on in Dutch Total Football at the time. He could play virtually anywhere on the pitch and did so with humility and without regard for his own career (he would probably have played many more times for England had he stuck to one position).

I have always felt an affinity with Madeley. I am a utility man - a writer, artist, animator, illustrator, cartoonist and cack-handed mandolin player/guitarist. Likely Madeley I have always had a desire to prove wrong the old cliché “jack of all trades, master of none”. Madeley turned versatility into an art form, something to be enjoyed in itself. Likewise my own ‘career’ (ha ha) has followed a meandering Madley-esque experiment in several different fields.  And, of course, my mum fancied him.

Which other players have you painted?

My first was Rivelino - since then I've done George Best, Eric Cantona, Klaus Fischer, Gerry Francis, Sepp Maier, Barry Kitchener, Tony Currie, Olof Mellberg, Dominique Rocheteau, Bob Latchford, Cyrille Regis, Dick Krzywicki, The Brazil 82 team and Pope John Paull II. Most are players I loved as a kid. Some are commissions. They're all up at the Finsbury Park Institute of Football Art, part of my painting website (www.fpifa.org.uk -  hoping to get some of Sepp Blatter's internet traffic, you see…).

Beautiful football programme illustrations

Leeds United Cult Heroes from Currie to Rudy  

Do they sell well?

Over time I've sold nearly half of my football stuff (other things, like paintings of landscapes tend to sell quicker) - though that includes commissions, which are pricier but take ages because I'm trying to please someone else other than myself. The football art is quite personal so I don't mind hanging on to it - for instance, I could have done a straight portrait of Madeley with no text, but that wouldn't interest me very much. The only painting with no text at all is the 'Bob Latchford - Goal Machine!' one. The text - about him looking like my old science teacher - is in the blurb which accompanies each painting.

How long have you been a Leeds fan?

I always said it was 1970 and the FA Cup Final replay when they lost to Chelsea. However, when I was researching my memoir Small Town England I worked out that it was actually the 70-71 season when I started supporting them and was a mix of primary-school-kid stats-based theory (they never finished below 4th), the kit and the fact that my mum's family were from West Yorkshire. Though they were mostly Huddersfield Town fans who didn't like Leeds.

Highlights and low lights?

Highlights :1972 FA Cup Final. 1992 1st Div win... when I lived in Venezuela and followed the title winning team via the local English language newspaper The Daily Journal (got a WSC article out of that, of course). The Champions League run under O'Leary. Peter Lorimer scoring in the 1975 European Cup Final.

Lowlights: So many - but that is the beauty of football. Lorimer's goal in 1975 being disallowed. The rest of that game. The 73 FA Cup Final. First game in Div 2 in 1982 v Grimsby Town (when me and my Town mates got attacked by Leeds fans). The Ridsdale years craziness. 2006 play-off v Watford. I could go on and on and on... oh and Bates, of course.

Name us an Unexpected Leeds X1 - players you liked that wouldn't make a legends X1.

David Stewart, Paul Madeley (capt), Brendan Ormbsy, Trevor Cherry, Ian Harte, Mick Bates, David Batty, Carl Harris, Duncan McKenzie, Arthur Graham, Tony Yeboah. This is a mix of late 60s/early 70s West German style and England 1990 World Cup semi-final formation. Five defenders, with Mick Bates playing as a sweeper. McKenzie basically is playing in a Cruyff all-over-the-pitch attacking midfielder. On paper it looks very cautious and defensive, but it's just a framework for McKenzie to set up Yeboah.

How did your Lo-Fi Match reports come about?

My first animation was for the 2010 World Cup for WSC and was called Cap and Psycho - bad accents and crap theme tunes. It wasn't until 2012 and the European Championships that the Lo-fi Match Report (with no sound) came to me - in a pub in N19 while I was watching Germany v Greece.

I had learned Flash back in the early days of the internet and like drawing with it (with a Wacom pen and pad). Then I worked out how to do very simple jerky stop frame animations. The strip cartoon was a product of 20th C newspaper style and format and these animations are just a web version of that really. They're very Gonzo match reports, in other words. For over a decade I've done spoof tactical diagrams for WSC so the animations are a way of tying that in with more personal freeform domestic stuff. On a very shallow level it's sort of Tim Dowling meets Hugh McIlvanney.

What work do you do for When Saturday Comes?

I started out doing cartoons, articles and illustrations in 1990. Then became a staffer and did web stuff too - created a chaotic website and wrote crap football poetry, messed about with message boards. Over the years I've done lots of different graphic stuff for the mag and website and at the moment do a daily doodle on the wsc.co.uk front page and regular cartoons and illustrations (ie. Graphic Details) in the printed magazine. There are also posters and wall charts that come along during tournaments. My favourite used to be the stickers.

Finally if you could have one player sit for you who would it be?

Probably Didier Drogba, Eusebio or Wilf Copping But if they were busy I'd choose Mark Smalley, who is only a few days younger than me and played for Nottingham Forest (briefly) then Leyton Orient - as well as a few other clubs. He's from the same part of the world as me, East Midlands. As a kid I was a hacking right back and once had to mark him in some kind of U14 youth cup final. Think they took him off at half time so as not to give me permanent psychological damage. Of course, it was too late by then.

Where’s your exhibition on?

Exhibition is called The Reflecting Eye. There are six artists in total. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Reflecting-Eye-Arts-Exhibition/311044542368299

I've got some of my best football paintings up along with some of my other icons like EP Thompson, Julie Christie, Jack Kerouac, Babs Lord and Emmylou Harris. Exhibition is on until 23rd January. Open this Saturday 10am to 4pm. Open weekdays 9.30 to 5. Address is: The Conference Centre, St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way, London NW1 0PE. Irrational Portrait Gallery pictures by Tim Bradford that look as if the paint has been applied using the artist's tongue

My art website is http://www.timbradfordart.co.uk  or my Paul Madeley-style utility page at http://www.timbradford.com