A fringe member of Don Revie’s ‘Leeds Machine’, Rod Belfitt had garnered a reputation through the 1960s as a hard-working, dependable centre forward – the sort of resolute Yorkshireman for which Revie’s teams had become famed and feared.
He started out as an amateur with Arsenal, but joined Leeds without having made an appearance. Admired by the Leeds faithful for his work ethic, which allowed more glamorous players to prosper, he never made the breakthrough as a first-team regular. In November 1971 he joined Bobby Robson’s Ipswich and became a popular and important part of a rapidly improving team. When Harry Catterick exchanged David Johnson plus £50,000 a year later, Ipswich fans were left scratching their heads as to why Robson had allowed him to leave.
They were not as mystified as Everton fans, however. Belfitt was an honest trier, but lacked the finesse to meet the lofty expectations of the Goodison faithful. Johnson, on the other hand, was viewed as an outstanding prospect, and his subsequent successes with Liverpool and England hammered home how badly Catterick had misjudged this piece of transfer business.
Following Billy Bingham’s appointment as Catterick’s successor in summer 1973, Belfitt disappeared from first-team view. In October 1973 he moved on to Sunderland, later playing out his career with Huddersfield.