Richard (Dick) Leafe was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1891. He joined Boston Town but showed enough promise to be signed by Grimsby Town in the Second Division of the Football League. However, after only one appearance he returned to Boston.
In November 1910 Leafe signed for Sheffield United in the First Division. Although only 20 years old he managed to score 15 goals in 28 games in the 1911-12 season.
Syd King, the manager of West Ham United, was impressed by Leafe's performances and bought him as a replacement for the prolific Danny Shea who he had just sold to Blackburn Rovers for a British record transfer fee of £2,000.
Richard Leafe was an immediate success and scored in his first four matches. At the end of the the 1913-14 season he was the club's top scorer with 20 goals in 33 league games. He developed a fine a great partnership with West Ham's young centre-forward, Syd Puddefoot. The following season West Ham finished in 4th place in the Southern League. Puddefoot was top scorer with 18 goals and Leafe managed 13 in 30 games.
Leafe's career was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. By the time competitive football returned Leafe was past his best. West Ham had been elected to the Second Division and in the 1919-20 season finished in 15th place. However, Leafe had been unable to score in his 15 games for the club. The following season Leafe scored 7 in 13 games but it was Syd Puddefoot who was now the star of the team with 29 goals.
With the arrival of Vic Watson Leafe only played in 3 games in the 1921-22 season. He decided to retire from playing but was given the job as assistant secretary of the club. He held the post until the management was forced to reduce the staff at the outbreak of the Second World War.
Richard Leafe died in 1964.