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As 1969's League champions, Leeds United had an early opportunity
to acquire more silverware the following season with an appearance
in the traditional curtain raiser, the contest for the FA Charity
Shield against FA Cup holders Manchester City.
True enough, the Charity Shield was not the most highly regarded
trophy in the world, but, after almost 50 years of footballing
mediocrity, during which United could boast only a solitary Second
Division championship, the club would not turn its nose up at
The match was staged at Elland Road, giving United's fans an
early opportunity to assess the worth of their summer acquisition,
Allan Clarke. The striker had arrived in a British record transfer
deal after manager Don Revie
agreed to pay Leicester City £165,000. It was the second time
that Clarke had been involved in a record breaking move; the previous
summer Leicester had paid Fulham £150,000 for his signature.
He carried a glowing reputation as a goalscorer and had enhanced
his status on England's summer tour of South America. Revie saw
him as the man to provide a cutting edge in front of goal. United
were renowned for being hard to beat, but they needed someone
to put the icing on the cake with a regular flow of goals.
Clarke was overjoyed at the move, saying, "I've always been a
bad loser and I've craved to be part of a successful set up ...
I'm looking forward to being with Leeds, and I know there's a
lot of hard work ahead. What I admire about them is that they
help one another and graft hard all the time. If I can't make
it with them, I can't do it with anybody."
Don Revie was typically reserved about the deal, claiming only
that Clarke would strengthen his squad: "There's always the danger
of injuries and then players could go off form, which means changes
would be necessary."
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With England winger Mike O'Grady
unavailable through injury, Clarke lined up in a twin spearhead
with the hard working Mick Jones. Revie selected a 4-4-2 formation
with Bremner, Madeley, Giles and Gray operating across midfield.
regular defence of Sprake, Reaney, Charlton, Hunter and Cooper
were all on duty; Peter Lorimer was named as substitute.
United's opponents, Manchester City, were an attractive and well
regarded team under manager Joe Mercer and his assistant, Malcolm
Allison. After winning promotion in 1966, they had won the championship
in 1968 and secured the FA Cup at the end of April by beating
a Leicester side in which Clarke had been man of the match. Rated
as one of the best sides in the country, their outstanding forward
line included England internationals Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee
and Francis Lee.
There was huge interest in seeing how Clarke would fit into United's
system and a crowd touching 40,000 was on hand to get some early
Before the kick off, a presentation was held in the centre circle,
with Don Revie receiving the Manager of the Year trophy from representatives
of Bell's Scotch Whisky. The Leeds fans roared their appreciation
for the man who had transformed their club's fortunes.
Clarke quickly made it clear how much of a new dimension he would
bring to United's game. Phil Brown wrote in the Yorkshire Evening
Post: "He had given better finish, the one quality United lacked
last season and he had also sharpened the approach play. This
against the especial marking that he must expect and against a
defence which yielded only one goal in winning its six rounds
of the FA Cup last season.
"He had been near goals with a
blazing shot and a header by half time, and he hit the bar in
the second half, but for me the most important work he did was
first in taking the weight off Jones and secondly in the smooth
and intelligent way he slotted into the side's style. He is not,
and I doubt whether he ever will be, a flamboyant type of player,
but in his cool and laconic way he should markedly increase the
cutting edge of United's attack."
Tom German wrote prophetically in the Times of the way that Clarke
and Jones gelled and complemented each other's talents, noting
theirs as "a partnership to watch for."
He added, "Leeds, having spent lavishly to enrich their attacking
strength with Allan Clarke, now seem to have entrenched themselves
even more firmly among the princes of English and European football.
"Not unnaturally, the principal focus lingered on Clarke in this
pre-season aperitif between League champions and FA Cup winners.
There were no complaints, even though it was not quite the fairy
tale first appearance in the best manner of a boys' periodical.
Clarke did not score, but he came close to it on three occasions
and deployed himself in a way which satisfied the Leeds manager,
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"Clarke struck the bar and stretched Corrigan to two fine saves
with lightning recognition of the half chance. But there was more
to Clarke than that to justify Leeds's expenditure. So often one
has seen Jones carrying the weight of their thrusts: now there
was someone ranged alongside, diverting attention, lightening
his load. Jones responded like a bird freed from captivity. He
left young Booth a yard behind in almost every chase, and with
steadier aim could have scored twice before withdrawing with a
strained back at half time."
United roared straight onto the attack at the start of the game;
Bremner dispossessed City after they kicked off and "volleyed
upfield for Jones to hare into City's box in the right corner
and link with Clarke. He dummied beautifully and made space for
Giles to dip into the move and crack in a shot. It hit the post
with Corrigan well beaten" (Yorkshire Evening Post).
The Manchester men got a foothold in the action thereafter, but
United were the team who consistently caught the eye. They allied
an eagerness to break forward with the customary solidity at the
back and Jack Charlton
was a tower of strength after something of an edgy opening.
The game reached the break without a score, but Leeds had been
the more dangerous with Clarke threatening a goal on a couple
Their greater numbers earned them control of midfield and they
exploited their possession adroitly, manufacturing a number of
opportunities. They should have been ahead but were confident
they would wear City down in the second half.
Mick Jones had felt a twinge in his back and Don Revie sent Peter
Lorimer out in his stead after the interval, unwilling to take
any risk with more important challenges ahead.
On resumption, City enjoyed an early opportunity; Lee beat both
Charlton and Reaney before the big centre-half recovered to dispossess
him. It was the newly capped England striker who was presenting
United with the greatest danger, while the Guardian noted that
"Summerbee might as well have stayed at home".
United broke swiftly back only to be denied a second time by
the frame of the goal - Clarke picked up the ball to shoot first
time, but against the crossbar.
They were not to be denied for long, however, and in the 54th
minute took a deserved lead. Clarke fed Giles on the left and
his long ball into City's box was perfect for Bremner. The Scot
nodded it across the six-yard box for the unmarked Eddie Gray
to flick past goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.
United moved further ahead within three minutes after being awarded
a free kick on the left flank after Lorimer was fouled by Tommy
Booth. Giles floated the ball across City's box and Charlton was
perfectly placed to nod home from nine yards. It was a trademark
goal for the centre-half, and City should really have been more
aware of a standard Leeds ploy; they could have done more to deny
him the time to pick his spot.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Joe Mercer's men and it
seemed that they had accepted the inevitability of a United victory.
But the mercurial Lee never stopped trying
and almost got the ball into the net during a goalmouth melee
before flattening Sprake in an aerial challenge.
City did manage some consolation. In the final minute Sprake
misjudged a corner kick and Bell shot home, but it was far too
late to spark a revival and seconds later the game ended with
United 2-1 victors.
It had been an efficient, if somewhat dull, victory, as Eric
Todd reported in the Guardian: "Sufficient evidence was forthcoming
in support of the belief that City again will be one of the most
attractive and entertaining sides in the business, and Leeds again
one of the most professional and most difficult to overcome ...
Bremner once more stood revealed as an outstanding captain and
an irrepressible player. He still is naughty on occasions, although
when he perpetrates a foul, he now accepts reprisals as an automatic
consequence, and does not retaliate any more. Which might appear
to be a roundabout way of proving one's reformation. No matter.
None of us is perfect. Madeley is well on the way to being very
close to it. If he can be assured of more regular selection, this
most versatile and accomplished performer will help raise Leeds
to new heights."
United president, the Earl of Harewood, presented Billy Bremner
and his men with the shield and winners' trophies before they
embarked on a customary lap of honour. It was a more than satisfactory
start to one of the most
memorable seasons in the club's extraordinary history.
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