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When Leeds United drew Sunderland in the fifth round of the FA
Cup in March 1967, it represented just the latest chapter in a
rivalry that was intense if not quite amounting to loathing. The
relationship had degenerated from the moment the two raced head
to head for promotion in
The clubs met in a double header over that Christmas period as
first and second in the Division Two. The Black Cats took three
of the four points on offer to bring the gap down to a point,
ending United's 20 match unbeaten run in the process. The two
games were hotly disputed, with the Roker clash being particularly
animated, as reported by Eric Stanger in the Yorkshire Post: "I
hope there are no more games like that at Roker Park on Saturday.
It was so full of spite and malice that it did no credit to the
22 players, the referee or the huge crowd of 56,046 … Thirty-nine
free kicks for fouls were given … 11 against Sunderland in the
first half, 10 against Leeds; five against Sunderland in the second
half, 13 against Leeds. Two Sunderland players threw punches and
got off scot free: so did a Leeds player who deliberately kicked
at an opponent. As for the crowd it sickened me to hear them cheer
when a stretcher was called for Storrie
… cheers which increased in volume as he was carried off 20 minutes
from the end with damaged knee ligaments."
Relations grew even more fraught in the autumn of 1964 when Sunderland
Don Revie and almost seduced
him into filling the vacant manager's chair at Roker.
In the opening game of the 1965/66
season, Sunderland winger George Mulhall was contentiously
dismissed in another bad tempered match.
The FA Cup pairing in 1967 augured ill. Trouble was delivered
in spades, but the fans also got a gripping battle between two
well-matched teams with quarter neither asked for nor given.
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The game at Roker Park on 11 March was a nip and tuck affair,
ending 1-1 with Jack Charlton
taking just eight minutes to equalise Neil Martin's 22nd minute
opener. The focal point was the performance of two in form goalkeepers,
Gary Sprake and Jim Montgomery performing heroics, though a number
of personal vendettas pervaded the contest.
The replay four days later at Elland Road brought another 1-1
draw, though most of the headlines were dominated by reports of
a near disaster in the crowd. A record attendance of 57,892, coupled
with a lack of time to make appropriate ticketing arrangements,
contributed to pressure on the terraces and a collapsed crush
barrier. The game was stopped for 17 minutes and 32 people were
taken away in ambulances. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries.
Leeds had the best of the action after the restart but could
not secure a result, and a second replay was required, with Hull's
Boothferry Park ultimately determined as the venue after a dispute
between the clubs. After the near disaster at Elland Road, the
match was declared all ticket. The record attendance for the ground
stood at 55,000 but the capacity had been reduced by seating improvements
over recent times and eventually the crowd numbered just over
The drawn out failure to settle the tie brought complications
for the Peacocks as they faced fixture congestion. David Lacey
reported in the Guardian: "Leeds United are faced with the prospect
of having to play five games in nine days as a result of Bologna's
refusal to put back their Inter Cities Fairs Cup quarter final
first leg match
in Bologna on Wednesday. Leeds, who play Sunderland in the second
replay of their FA Cup fifth round tie at Hull on Monday, had
asked the Italians to agree to a postponement until April 5."
Eric Stanger reported Don Revie's contingency plans in the Yorkshire
Post: "The worst that could happen would be another draw, since
it could entail their playing two Cup-ties on Wednesday, one in
England and the other in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in Italy against
Bologna. 'So,' said Mr Don Revie, the Leeds team manager, last
night, 'I am taking with me to Hull 22 or 24 players just in case,
and as yet I have not made up my mind on the exact composition
of the party.'
"But if the worst should happen Mr Revie will retain his senior
players at home and send off his reserves to Bologna. 'We certainly
would not scratch,' said Mr Revie. 'Not after going all that way
in the Fairs Cup, and you never know with our reserves. We might
still have a chance in the second leg at Elland Road.'
"Even if tonight's replay at Boothferry Park is settled one way
or the other, Leeds have a wearying time ahead. Unable to get
hotel accommodation in Hull, they leave after the game for Bridlington
and have to be up at 5am to catch an aircraft
from Brough to Luton, where they will go on to Italy by chartered
flight. They are due to arrive at Forli, some 40 miles from Bologna,
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"The journey back will be just as taxing for it means getting
up at 4am for the return flight to England from Forli. One night's
rest and then off to Blackpool on Good Friday for Saturday's League
game, then home again for the other two Easter matches against
Sheffield United away and at home. There will not be much time
or opportunity to treat bumps and bruises." Travel for matches
in this fashion is unlike today's travel to Cancun
Mexico or to a Dominican
Republic vacation. The players had to deal with long hours
on the road with little rest, and then take to the field to give
all they had for their supporters.
For once, United were able to field a team approaching something
like full strength, though Mike
O'Grady and Albert Johanneson
were missing and Alan Peacock
was still working his way back to full fitness. Leeds fielded
the young twin spearhead of Rod
Belfitt and Jimmy Greenhoff.
They were also able to include Charlton, Hunter and Reaney in
their defence after Don Revie withdrew them from the Football
League squad to play the Scottish League.
Sunderland had their own walking wounded, but Jim Baxter, George
Kinnell, George Mulhall, John O'Hare and George Herd all recovered
sufficiently to take their places.
Within a minute of the second replay kicking off, Sunderland
came close to taking the lead when
Martin headed narrowly wide. United rapidly assumed control though
Belfitt missed two clear chances. Their pressure brought an early
goal, taking them into the lead for the first time in the 221
minutes played so far in the tie.
The Times: "Leeds needed a fortunate free kick to gain the lead.
It came after 11 minutes when Irwin fouled Cooper. Giles' free
kick was punched out by Montgomery but the ball quickly bounced
back. Martin's foot saved the situation, but his clearance only
went to Lorimer, whose shot rebounded off the inside of the far
post, and Belfitt was on hand to slide the ball home."
The goal gave United the platform from which to take a stranglehold
and for much of the game it seemed that the lead would be decisive,
given Leeds' capacity for protecting even the slimmest of advantages.
They continued to threaten with swift counter attacks, nearly
nicking a second goal on the half hour, but Lorimer's header from
a Cooper cross went narrowly wide.
The Wearsiders retaliated strongly in the second half and forced
United back onto the defensive with some high tempo football,
but couldn't forge a decent opening.
With twelve minutes remaining, a rare mistake by Billy Bremner
allowed Sunderland back into the game. He badly misjudged his
header, which landed at the feet of right winger Allan Gauden,
who half volleyed home on his left foot. Gary Sprake had the original
shot covered but was deceived by a deflection and couldn't stop
it despite getting his hands to the ball.
The equaliser came as a bolt from the blue, but Leeds bounced
With three minutes left, and the prospect of extra time looming,
Leeds were awarded a questionable penalty by referee Ken Stokes
when he ruled that Jimmy Greenhoff was brought down by Sunderland
defender Cec Irwin, already booked for fouling Terry Cooper. Johnny
Giles, who had been enjoying his habitual dominance in midfield,
ignored all the mayhem around him and calmly stroked the ball
past Montgomery into the corner of the net, with Gary Sprake at
the other end of the pitch not daring to watch.
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The Sunderland players were incensed and lost their cool badly
as the game drifted away from them, with the final minutes bringing
more controversy. A furious George Herd was dismissed for remonstrating
about a foul on Terry Cooper. Seconds later, George Mulhall followed
him, though only after prolonged argument. Ken Stokes, who had
refereed the infamous 1964 clash between Leeds and Everton at
Goodison, was forced to add more than five minutes of injury time
as the police struggled to maintain order and keep people off
the pitch. He was given an escort to the dressing room at the
Billy Bremner: "As the ball went into the Sunderland net, some
of their supporters went wild. They surged on to the pitch to
vent their displeasure in no uncertain terms and one fellow, twirling
a haversack round and round in the air, made straight for Willie
Bell … Behind him came three or four other gents, equally
intent on forcing their attentions on Willie. Things were looking
a bit grim, because I knew that Willie wouldn't be likely to take
such treatment with a light jest and a smile. He'd be more likely
to hammer back, if someone tried to stick a fist on his jaw.
"Then, in the nick of time … a copper materialised, as if from
nowhere, and, for my money, he could have won his way into the
Leeds Rugby League team, the way he brought down that fan with
a flying tackle. It was perfectly timed … The other fans who had
invaded the pitch took quick stock of what had overtaken one of
their number, and they were deterred. That copper, I feel certain,
prevented a real free for all punch up, maybe involving players
of both teams."
The penalty decision was hotly disputed both at the time and
afterwards, as Peter Lorimer recalled in his autobiography. "Don
said out of the blue: 'If anybody gets anywhere near the box,
get down.' Jimmy Greenhoff, who was quick when he was in full
flight, set off on one of his jinking runs and was fully five
yards outside the penalty area when he was brought down. By the
time he had stumbled, fallen and rolled over a couple of times
he was inside the box, and the referee, Ken Stokes, pointed to
the spot so quickly that
it was almost embarrassing … This was at a time when there was
a lot of talk about referees being got at. I am not saying that
Stokes was, but the issue begged close examination. Firstly, why
did Revie issue that 'dive' instruction and, secondly, why did
Stokes award a penalty that so clearly was not? Lots of things
were happening in football that simply did not add up, and this
was just another of those … Mulhall is to this day quite irate
about the situation. The Sunderland old boys are 100 per cent
sure that this was not a straight game. As players, you never
know … I remember thinking in the dressing room after that game,
'That was a funny statement of Don's.' Maybe he thought that Ken
had not so far given a penalty and might do so at the next debatable
incident, maybe there were other factors."
It was an astonishing and adrenaline charged evening of football,
sending the United party off in good heart for their Fairs Cup
clash a couple of days later in Italy. They were no strangers
to controversy and all the rancour was like water off a duck's
back as they flew out for some days in the sun. This was a team
whose steadfastness under pressure was assuming legendary proportions.
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