The first clash between Manchester United
and Leeds United in the FA Cup semi final of 1965 had ended
in a bitter and rancorous goalless draw, with both sides more
intent on kicking opponents than seizing the chance of a Wembley
As Eric Stanger reported in the Yorkshire Post: "Perhaps it is
as well there is a replay at Nottingham on Wednesday. At least
it will give both sides opportunity to show that they can play
good football and redeem themselves for a shabby, bitter FA Cup
semi final at Hillsborough on Saturday. There were no goals but
there were 24 free kicks for fouls given against Manchester United
and 10 against Leeds. Two Manchester players, Stiles and Law,
had their names taken and altogether too many players on both
sides behaved like a pack of dogs snapping and snarling at each
other over a bone."
Leeds manager Don Revie
chose to paper over the controversy, saying: "We shall do better
on Wednesday now we know what it is all about. Remember this is
our first semi final. I was a bit worried at half time but we
played much better against the wind and I am sure we can win the
replay and get to Wembley."
Despite many fitness doubts on both sides following the bruising
encounter, the only change to either team was Terry Cooper replacing
the injured South African Albert
Johanneson on the Leeds left wing. Cooper had been unlucky
to miss the first match through injury having featured regularly
over recent weeks as either left-back or left winger, and the
bloody minded assaults on Johanneson at the weekend made Cooper's
recall a formality.
Referee Dick Windle had been heavily criticised for losing control
of the first game, but was officiating again. This time he seemed
determined to take a much firmer approach to matters and clamped
down on any misdemeanours from the start. His change in approach
quickly reaped rewards and the players showed much more discipline.
There were again far too many fouls, 20 against the Mancunians
and five against the Whites, but most were for petty offences,
rather than aggressive play.
As The Times reported, "This may sound like Dante's Inferno but
by comparison with last Saturday both sides trod a primrose path.
We were no longer truly at a ringside and the ball was now a ball
and not a time bomb; yet it was still a hard battle, razor keen,
a true passage of arms with all the deep qualities of a taut Cup-tie.
Both sides regained some stature and though there was a free flow
of free kicks, most of them were of a technical nature. The gloss
of the game had now returned and with it both sides had apparently
learnt a little wisdom, a little patience and tolerance. Both
still took as well as gave, but what was now given was cleaner,
even if it was still no tea party where people are treated with
an elaborate manner."
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Matters were helped by the marked improvement in playing conditions.
At Hillsborough the players had to contend with a churned up bog
of a pitch, sticky and holding and mitigating against expansive
play. Nottingham's City Ground offered a fast, dry surface that
the players were thankful for, taking the opportunity to rise
above barbarism and opting instead for skill.
Once again, Leeds seemed content to rely on their defensive excellence
to see them through, with Bobby
Collins dominant. The Yorkshire Evening Post's Phil Brown
noted that Collins "was again invaluable, pulling United out of
trouble at one end of the field, and touching off their attacking
at the other", while Eric Stanger of the Yorkshire
Post called the Scot "the cool, masterful general, who extricated
Leeds from many a tight corner".
Leeds saw to it that the skillful Pat Crerand never got the chance
to control the game. Jim Storrie:
"Terry Cooper played at number 11, but had to mark Crerand. Crerand
was a great passer … could land the ball on a beer mat from 40
yards. So we cut off his supply. It was like starving a deep-sea
diver of oxygen and meant that Stiles and Foulkes, who were less
gifted, had to put balls through. And instead of the goalkeeper
being able to find Crerand, he had to kick it upfield where Jack
Charlton would win it in the air. Best, Law and Charlton were
locked in their own half of the field.
"In the previous match, Pat Crerand had been at the hub of almost
every United attack. When Leeds were on the attack, he would fall
back, not playing any part in his side's defensive play, but staying
spare so that United could find him with a clearance. Terry's
job was to move infield and pick up Pat, and in the first half
this had the desired effect of choking the supply of passes to
"Pat was fouled by Terry on one occasion, and made the mistake
of chasing after him to get his own back. He forgot about his
duties, with the result that Charlton and Law were forced to come
deep in an effort to get the ball themselves."
The Peacocks had little option but to go for a rearguard action,
for the Red Devils seemed determined to make up for missing out
first time around and took control of the game early on. Stanger:
"It was rich, rousing Cup football. Manchester United began as
if they would make a meal of Leeds, switching play forward or
across the field with fine dexterity. Early on Leeds owed much
to Sprake, who made fine saves from Herd and Bobby Charlton. Leeds
might well have been a goal down before they found their feet.
But even thus early it was obvious that their defence would take
a terrific amount of punishment without breaking."
After that opening burst, however, with Johnny Giles taking a
controlling interest, Leeds came more into the picture, going
close on several occasions. Most of their chances, though, were
achieved by pumping high balls into the heart of the Manchester
penalty area for Alan Peacock
to contest. By half time there was little to choose between the
two teams, although there was a yawning gulf between the quality
of football being played this time against that which had masqueraded
deceitfully under that term in Sheffield.
Again, Matt Busby's men started the better after the break, but
this time their dominance was total and for the first twenty minutes
there was only one side in it.
The Times: "Soon after the change of ends a superb long through
pass by Charlton found Best's head, from the centre-forward position,
but the ball was grabbed with masterful ease under the angle of
crossbar and post by Sprake. Then a quick triangular move, three
pass rat-tat-tat between the quicksilver Law and Herd saw Law
cut through the middle and close in, like a flash. It was any
odds on a goal but the Manchester roar of 'goal' was choked as
Sprake made a remarkable point blank save from the Manchester
captain. Almost at once Law broke clear once more down the right,
pulled the defence apart, momentarily only, for Herd to blast
wide into the side netting with Best standing unmarked on the
goal line. A quiet look then by the centre-forward and Manchester
must have been ahead.
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"Hardly was that over than Law beat three men in a sizzling run,
passed square across the goalmouth, and once more Herd, with time
and space on his side, shot wide, left footed. In those moments
did Manchester live and die, on firm, perfect conditions that
should have suited their style of play. Law, supported by R Charlton
and Crerand, had the genius to win this match, but it escaped
him and his side."
But the Leeds team of 1965 was nothing if not resolute, and Jack
Charlton, Paul Reaney and Willie
Bell were playing like Colossuses in front of Gary Sprake.
Bobby Collins, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Terry Cooper did
what they could to provide some respite when the opportunity arose,
but were little more than additional conscripts in defence.
Jim Storrie and Alan Peacock defended manfully from the front,
while Johnny Giles played wonderfully well to maintain a grip
in midfield, popping up all over the place to keep Leeds hopes
Gradually, the storm abated, and the Yorkshiremen sensed that
the Mancunians were beginning to doubt they could pierce the resilient
defence. Stanger: "Leeds turned the game. Manchester were surprised
in one raid when Jack Charlton headed a free kick from Collins
inches wide of a post. It proved the flashpoint for Leeds' match
winning rally, though they had one uneasy moment when Sprake dropped
Connelly's corner but recovered to turn the ball over the bar
as Law went in for the kill."
Manager Don Revie was never one to let an opportunity pass him
by and noted with relish
the change in fortunes. He could see that Matt Busby's men were
fading and issued his orders to capitalise on the moment. He pulled
Giles back to a deeper, more central role, moved Storrie out wide
on the right and thrust Bremner forward as an auxiliary attacker.
Bell and Reaney were encouraged to push forward on the overlap
at every opportunity, giving the Whites valuable attacking options.
The tide had definitely turned. At first, Leeds merely held their
own and assumed equality in terms of possession, but as the game
moved into its fateful last quarter, they came to dominate matters,
attacking with passion, pace and fire and throwing the Red Devils
back on their heels.
Stanger: "Back went Leeds again, and in the last ten minutes
they attacked continuously. Three times Pat Dunne had to turn
the ball over his bar and then did the same with a tremendous
volley from Cooper off the fifth successive corner Manchester
had been compelled to yield."
The seconds ticked by with still no goals to show for all the
effort, and the uncertainty of extra time beckoned. The match
moved into its final two minutes of normal time, and Nobby Stiles
floored Bremner with a late tackle in the centre circle, seemingly
happy to trade a long-range free kick for the certainty of stopping
a quick break. Giles floated the ball unerringly into the heart
of a crowded goal area.
Bremner, mind working overtime, weighed up matters more speedily
and precisely than his opposite numbers. He flashed past three
or four defenders and moved in on the steepling place kick. With
his back to goal he twisted artfully under the ball and nudged
it miraculously with his head past Pat Dunne, through a tiny chink
in the defensive wall and into the top corner of the net.
For what seemed an eternity but was in reality milliseconds,
things seemed to move in slow motion with an eerie silence before
an explosion of noise and sound. Then, without quite understanding
how he got there, Bremner found himself out on the touchline,
being mobbed by excited team mates, in joyous celebration of what
was certain to be the winning goal. Leeds had done it! They had
broken the deadlock with a stunning goal owing much to sharp thinking
and speedy reactions, but most of all to their never-say-die resilience
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The Red Devils tried a last-ditch, all out assault to regain
equality, but Leeds were in no mood to surrender their hard won
advantage and repelled the feverish attacks.
When referee Windle blew his whistle to signal the end, the crowd
swarmed onto the pitch, Leeds followers jubilant at the result
and Manchester fans angry because of what they saw as one-eyed
refereeing. Windle was struck by a Reds supporter and fell to
the ground, requiring attention from ambulance men and protection
from the police as the culprit was apprehended.
The Leeds party was just beginning, oblivious to what was going
on around them, and they celebrated furiously. As commentator
Kenneth Wolstenholme remarked memorably, "Don Revie's gone mad!"
For Jack Charlton, finally out of the shadow of his famous younger
brother, it was a memorable day. He had withstood everything that
Manchester United could throw at him for 270 long minutes, counting
the win in the League at Old Trafford in
December, and had proven himself possibly the best defender
in the country, contributing manfully to three clean sheets secured
against the finest forward line in Europe.
He had other good news to share, as he explained in his autobiography:
"Right after the game Don (Revie) told me that I had been selected
to play for
the national squad. I was so delighted that I didn't think, I
just had to tell our kid. I went straight round to the Man United
dressing room and said, 'Hey, I've been selected to play for England!'
"I'm smiling all over me face, and there's all the Manchester
United team sitting round looking miserable. There was a bit of
a pause, and then Bobby went, 'Ah, yeah, well, congratulations,
great.' 'Now, f*** off out of here,' said someone else.
"And I suddenly realise what I'm doing, so I said, 'Excuse me,'
and left. That's the tact I'm famous for."
Big Jack could be excused for forgetting himself on an evening
that went down in history as the moment that Leeds United finally
made it into the big time, entering football's elite by securing
a first ever appearance at Wembley, the
Mecca of English football.
Don Revie: "My proudest moment in my career was when the whistle
went … and Leeds United were in the final. Manchester played some
absolutely scintillating football. I thought we were going to
crack and we were certainly lucky not to go two down but we came
through it, and according to my instructions, if there was still
no score, Jim Storrie switched to the right wing and Bremner moved
into the attack. It might not have come off, but it did. What
pleased me most was that Leeds kept their heads."
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