Signed as a 16 year-old amateur following the Second World War, Harry Leyland was one of several contenders for the aging Ted Sagar’s green jersey in the early-1950s.
He made his Everton debut in September 1951, shortly after the club’s relegation to the Second Division, and was able to supplant the veteran. However, Jimmy O’Neill was also a capable candidate to be Everton’s number one and for the next five years the two men vied for the chance to keep goal for Everton. It was a battle in which the Irishman always seemed to have the edge over Leyland, and having made just five appearances in the 1955/56 season, he left to join Blackburn Rovers that summer.
At Ewood Park chances were easier to come by and Leyland blossomed. In 1957/58 he won promotion with Blackburn and two years later was part of the team that reached the FA Cup Final. In 1961 he joined Tranmere Rovers and ended his competitive career with a stint as player-manager of Wigan Athletic, then a non-league team.
In common with Gordon West and England’s Gordon Banks, Leyland was a late convert to the goalkeeping position, but his outstanding bravery made him a natural to the position.