Despite their status as one of the finest club sides
in Europe, when Leeds United were drawn against Cardiff City in
the FA Cup fifth round draw in February 1972, they could have
been excused just a sigh of apprehension; the two clubs had already
met a number of times in the competition, with City earning a
reputation as something of a bogey side for United.
The Times: "Cardiff City, lying last but one in
the Second Division, will receive Leeds United, second in the
First Division, with the respect they deserve at Ninian Park in
their FA Cup fifth round match on Saturday. The respect, however,
could be mutual. Leeds remember too well how Cardiff beat them
2-1 each time in third round ties at Elland Road in three successive
seasons between 1956 and 1958. The tendency of history to repeat
itself sparks a hope in the Welsh capital that Cup magic will
make a mockery of League positions."
It was a remarkable set of coincidences, and a manager
as superstitious as Don Revie
was bound to feel some twinges of anxiety, even though a more
recent meeting in 1964 at Ninian Park had brought United victory.
The only goal that day came from Billy Bremner, though United
finished with ten men, their centre-half, Fred Goodwin, sustaining
a broken leg.
Cardiff City, winners of the Cup in 1927, and thus
the only club to take the trophy out of the country, were an average
Second Division outfit at the time, though their dominance of
the Welsh Cup meant that they were regular participants in the
European Cup Winners Cup. The highlight for them came in March
1971 when they beat mighty Real Madrid 1-0 at Ninian Park in the
first leg of the quarter finals before going out after a 2-0 defeat
in the return in the Bernabeu Stadium.
City had been managed by the former Newcastle United
half-back and Scottish international Jimmy Scoular since 1964.
He took them to the verge of promotion in 1971, though their challenge
was blunted by the sale of John Toshack to Liverpool in November
1970 for £110,000. Toshack's replacement was Sheffield Wednesday
striker Alan Warboys, but he had limited success, and the Bluebirds
ended the campaign third.
City had also signed Newcastle wide man Alan Foggon
for £25,000; Foggon had helped the Geordies win the Fairs Cup
in 1969 and was a former England youth cap, with pace and immense
natural talent. He also had an unfortunate reputation as one of
the scruffiest players in the game with his loosely flapping shirt,
half mast socks and wild hair. Though he was still only 21, he
his best when he signed for Cardiff, often being referred to as
Fatty Foggon for his girth.
City's other big name player was Scottish midfielder
Ian Gibson, a contemporary of Billy Bremner. He was signed for
a club record £35,000 from Coventry in 1970, but most of his team
mates were journeymen.
The Times: "Local supporters believe that the goalless
draw against Norwich City, the Second Division leaders, at Ninian
Park last Saturday confirms Cardiff City's potential even if they
have been erratic this season. They have blossomed in the FA Cup.
They beat Sheffield United 3-1 in the third round at Bramall Lane.
It was there that Sheffield last April boosted their own hopes
of promotion from the Second Division and stifled Cardiff s ambition
of going up by beating the Welsh club 5-1. In the fourth round
Cardiff beat Sunderland 3-1 at Maine Road in the second replay
after drawing the first two matches 1-1.
"Cardiff's manager Jimmy Scoular, a deep thinking
Scot, has understandably maintained that League points are more
important to him than Cup progress but he has been keeping a close
watch on Leeds through his northern scout Jack Foxton, who watched
Leeds against Liverpool in the fourth round replay and was asked
to report again on Leeds' match against
Manchester United. Mr Scoular said that though he already
knew much about Leeds he wanted Foxton to check the strategy employed
by Leeds at set pieces, corners and free kicks.
"Cardiff's stamina is indisputable. They made light
of the heavy going against Norwich and showed no ill effects of
their marathon tie with Sunderland.
"Mr Scoular has much faith in the skill of Murray,
the captain and centre-half, Gibson, who has tormented many a
defence, and the 18-year-old midfield player Kellock, who appeared
in his first home League match against Norwich. They are all Scots.
"Murray, who has had stomach trouble and calf muscle
injuries, has begun to regain form. He believes that Cardiff have
a good chance against Leeds, 'especially on our own pitch', which
is a significant remark. Gibson and the Leeds captain, Bremner,
played in the same forward line for Scotland schoolboys against
England at Wembley in 1958.
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"There has been speculation in Cardiff on whether
Leeds will omit Gray because of the inevitable heavy conditions,
and call on Madeley to curb Gibson. Kellock, a strong tackler,
fine distributor and powerful finisher, was in the Cardiff side
that finished runners up to Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup last year.
Mr Scoular saw him at a Scottish schoolboys match a few years
ago. He has admitted that he more or less forgot about him, but
Kellock's father, after his son had been released by Aston Villa
two years ago, wrote to the Cardiff manager who immediately made
him a member of the ground staff.
"Kellock made his first appearance in the League
at Charlton on February 12. He scored Cardiff's third goal against
Sunderland at Maine Road. The consistent Clark, one of a strong
English contingent in Cardiff's team, has scored 21 League and
Cup goals this season, following his 15 League goals in 33 matches
last season. He has made nearly 200 appearances for Cardiff.
"Cardiff can also point to the experience of King,
a forward with a powerful shot, and Carver, a full-back. King
and Murray have each played more than 400 games for Cardiff and
Carver has passed the 200 mark. Cardiff's cosmopolitan side -
Irwin, the goalkeeper, is from Northern Ireland - have one Welshman
regularly in their ranks, Leighton Phillips."
Don Revie could comfort himself with the knowledge
that he finally had a fully fit squad at his disposal after considerable
injury problems earlier in the season. Revie opted for the same
starting line up that had thrashed Manchester United 5-1 the
week before, with Paul Reaney coming into the twelve as substitute
after recovering from an ankle injury.
Jimmy Scoular turned to Alan Foggon to solve his
troublesome left wing spot, and thus opted for the same eleven
who beat Sunderland in the previous round.
Much was made in the days leading up to the game
about the state of the playing surface at the Welsh club's stadium.
The Times: "The pitch on Saturday may hold the key.
Cardiff have noted the comments of the Leeds assistant manager,
Maurice Lindley, that one of the Yorkshire club's greatest hazards
will be the Ninian Park pitch, a muddy eyesore for much of the
season. A waterlogged ground caused the postponement of Cardiff's
first match with Sunderland. Mr Lindley says it will just not
be possible for the fluent Leeds side to play as well on the Cardiff
pitch as they did in beating Manchester United 5-1 last Saturday."
United had recent experience of playing at Ninian
Park; on 8 December they had met an All Star XI in a testimonial
game for former Leeds great John
Charles, who had also played for Cardiff City when he returned
The All Stars included Rod Thomas, David Nish, Dave
Mackay, Johnny Haynes, John Toshack, Ted MacDougall, Ian Gibson
and Jimmy Greaves. Leeds fielded a full strength team though the
match was taken less than seriously.
Toshack scored twice in the first 14 minutes, and
MacDougall added a third nine minutes later. Clarke and Jones
pulled two back within four minutes, and though Haynes hammered
home a glorious drive from 25 yards, Lorimer scored again for
United to make it 4-3 at the break.
Gil Reece came on as substitute for the All Stars
in the second half and scored twice, but Leeds fought back again
with Gary Sprake scoring from the penalty spot and Joe Jordan
adding a fifth.
MacDougall (79 minutes) and Greaves (89) finished
off a light hearted romp with further goals, resulting in a final
score of 8-5. It was highly unlikely there would be a repetition
of that score, but one could always hope!
The day before the Cup clash, the pitch had "resembled
a river" according to the Yorkshire Evening Post; it "had made
a remarkable recovery but it was still soft and looked likely
to cut up badly". Hundreds of tons of sand were laid on the turf
to ensure the game could go ahead, and the central section of
the pitch was boggy and holding. A morning inspection was required
before referee Keith Walker of Maidstone was able to confirm that
it was fit to play, much to the relief of a 50,000-strong capacity
United, playing in white shorts and shorts but with
yellow stockings, set out to take control from the start, understandably
intent on making the best of things before the surface was churned
into a quagmire. Eddie Gray took advantage of right-back David
Carver's poor pass to drive his way to goal but his tame shot
was gathered by goalkeeper Billy Irwin near the foot of an upright.
The keeper continued to be kept busy, having to come out at pace
to take the ball at the feet of Mick Jones before diving to save
Lorimer's shot from 15 yards in the ninth minute.
As forecast, rain fell steadily throughout the first
half but the pitch did not churn up as badly as feared (or hoped,
in the Bluebirds' case). To Cardiff's credit, Leeds were denied
the breakthrough they sought for more than half an hour.
City midfielders Ian Gibson and Peter King did their
utmost to get the Welshmen into the game and after 12 minutes
Norman Hunter needed all the resolution of his fierce tackling
to bring a halt to a run by Foggon, who was starting to cause
United some concerns. Shortly afterwards Foggon put King clean
through only for offside to be given as his shot was saved by
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Leeds, however, refused to give Cardiff the sniff
of an opportunity and continually had them on the back foot; Carver
had to make a goal line clearance after Jones' shot following
a Lorimer cross beat the keeper.
Hunter blocked a shot from Brian Clark and then
Jack Charlton got in the
way of Foggon's effort, before United came close once more. Lorimer
hammered in a powerful drive from the edge of the box and centre-half
Don Murray again had to make a clearance off his own goal line.
While Gibson was living up to his star billing for
Cardiff with some smart play in the middle of the park, he could
not hold a candle to Johnny Giles, who had dropped into his customary
Don Warters in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "United's
trump card was undoubtedly their Irish schemer, Johnny Giles...
for his brilliant midfield play which made United tick over almost
as normal, despite the soft and sandy surface. In fact, United's
overall display made one wonder just what all the fuss over the
pitch had been about. It was certainly a bad surface, but the
nimble Giles set United a great example, and the fearsome pitch
It was fitting that the play maker was the man to
open the scoring in the 35th minute, following United's sixth
corner of the game. Lorimer lofted the flag kick high to the far
post and Jones rose in a crowded area to head down powerfully.
It came back off a defender and Giles struck the loose ball low
into the net, despite a Cardiff player vainly attempting to clear
off the line.
As the game moved towards the break, Terry Cooper
was given a stern lecture from
the referee for a crunching challenge on Gibson, who, as the key
man for the Welsh club, had evidently been singled out for some
Cardiff opened well on the resumption with Murray
bringing the ball out of defence, but when he fed Bobby Kellock,
the young midfielder misplaced a pass, finding only Giles. The
schemer brought Lorimer smartly into action on the right and the
Scot's powerful drive was only inches over the bar.
Gibson was troubling Leeds as much as anyone and
he was laid low by another hard tackle from a United defender.
This time it was Hunter who received a reprimand from the official
for a stiff challenge.
The Bluebirds managed something of a rally as the
game entered its final quarter. Clark's cross from the right was
deflected for a corner with Sprake all at sea and then Hunter
had to concede another corner to stop the driving Bobby Woodruff.
Leeds brought everyone back for Gibson's flag kick and Jones headed
In the 75th minute, Cardiff brought substitute Alan
Warboys on for Foggon, who was clearly not best pleased to be
taken off. His replacement was immediately into the action, winning
a free kick out of Hunter. It was Warboys who took charge at the
dead ball situation, but he fired wide of Sprake's goal.
In the 84th minute, after a move involving seven
passes, Leeds got the second goal they needed to wrap the game
up: after United had broke smoothly out of defence, Cooper, on
one of his many runs down the left flank, passed to Giles in the
middle. In turn he fed an unmarked Lorimer on the right. The Scot's
lofted cross dropped towards Allan Clarke, who had the time to
steady himself perfectly before heading down carefully to Giles
ten yards from goal. The Irish schemer took the pass, slipped
wide of a defender and coolly finished things off, flashing the
ball past keeper Irwin into the roof of the net. There were some
Cardiff claims for offside against Jones, but referee Walker waved
them dismissively away.
Satisfied with their afternoon's work, United saw
out the game with composed, almost arrogant, possession football.
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The 2-0 scoreline
was no more than they deserved, as Tom Freeman observed in the
Times: "There is such an air of infallibility about Leeds United
these days that one can sympathise with Tottenham
Hotspur, their next FA Cup opponents, and indeed any other
team who are unfortunate enough to come across them in the next
"Of course, everyone expected Leeds to win at Cardiff
on Saturday... Yet it was the manner of victory rather than the
result that was most significant. Leeds played throughout as though
they had been given three or four goals' start and it was only
necessary to put on an exhibition to qualify for the next round.
Bremner and Giles having quickly established midfield superiority,
they were able to keep the tempo down and play the game at their
own gentle pace, keeping possession and waiting for the goals
"Leeds seemed in no hurry to settle the issue, while
making sure that Cardiff were in no position to strike back. The
outcome was a second half watched almost in silence by the 50,000
crowd, with no passionate Welsh voices raised in rallying cry.
"Leeds did reveal that they are human - once when
Charlton shook an angry fist after Cooper and Sprake had been
involved in a mix up, and again when they found it necessary to
foul Gibson, Cardiff's best player, a couple of times. Generally,
however, they proved that they are as near faultless as any team
"Cardiff came into the game briefly, particularly
in the first half, when Foggon got away once or twice. Like his
opposite number, Giles, Gibson revelled in the mud and was still
trying to inspire the rest of the team when all hope had gone."
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "It would be
too easy to write Leeds United's comfortable win at Cardiff off
as a case of the favourites outclassing their Second Division
opponents. Leeds did outclass Cardiff, of course, but there was
more to their victory than the difference in skill. Perhaps an
incident in the players' hotel a few minutes before they set off
to the ground illustrates the point.
"I was talking to Jack Charlton about his forthcoming
600th Football League appearance while he was solving one of those
little puzzles that need the steadiest of hands. The ball bearings
were directed swiftly in position without a trace of
nerves and there was no tension in the centre-half's manner -
and this was just before appearing before a 50,000 crowd in a
"It was typical of the whole team. Leeds are reflecting
this kind of calm confidence in their play now and though they
did not tuck away as many goals as they might have done against
Cardiff, it was soon clear that the goals would come.
"All the assurance that comes with years of European
experience shared by the same players was there from the start
as they made light work of the heavy, beach-like Ninian Park pitch.
"When the goals did come it was fitting, too, that
Johnny Giles, the game's best player, should score them. Few can
have been surprised after seeing his performance to hear his manager,
Don Revie, describe him as 'one of the greatest inside-forwards
that has ever lived'.
"Cardiff had their moments, particularly a spell
towards the interval and around the hour mark, when Ian Gibson,
their clever midfield player, was approaching Giles' class. But
Cardiff were never fast enough to match the top strength Leeds
outfit and they managed only two reasonable scoring chances against
Charlton - in top form again - and his colleagues."
After the game, Jimmy Scoular acknowledged United's
supremacy: "Leeds showed what a great side they are and they showed,
too, that they can play on any kind of pitch. I would back them
against any side to win the Cup now."
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