After the circumstances in which Leeds United lost
out on the League championship to Derby County in May 1972, Don
Revie and his men were desperate to gain some sort of payback,
and were given the perfect opportunity when the Rams visited Elland
Road five months later.
On 8 May 1972, two days
after beating Arsenal to win the FA Cup,
United required just a draw at Wolves to secure the championship.
They lost 2-1, allowing Derby, on holiday in the Scilly Isles,
to claim the title almost by default. The failure was all the
more galling for Revie because County's manager was the outspoken
Brian Clough. The Rams boss was a regular and vitriolic critic
of the approach espoused by Revie and his team.
Clough wrote in later years, "On one occasion I
was so incensed by their flouting of the rules that I went on
record saying Don Revie should be fined and his team kicked out
of the First Division and dumped in the Second. They didn't like
that at Elland Road. They gave the impression that they were prepared
to trample on anyone who attempted to criticise their flawed talents.
"Leeds had been the dirtiest and most cynical team
in the country in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and from
my soap box as manager of Derby and the best pundit on television
I had said so on numerous occasions. I prided myself on producing
teams who didn't argue with referees and linesmen, who didn't
blatantly waste time, and who could anticipate a bollocking and
a fine from me if they resorted to any form of dissent. Derby
County and, later, Nottingham Forest were the best friends English
referees ever had. So many of them told me my teams were the easiest
and most pleasurable of all to control. I can say, without fear
of contradiction, that no referee ever said that of Leeds in the
"I despised what they stood for - systematically
putting referees under intolerable pressure with their violent
behaviour, both physical and verbal, their overreactions, and
the unsavoury spectacle of skipper Billy Bremner running alongside
the harassed referee, constantly yelling in his ear. They angered
and offended me to such an extent that I took every opportunity
to condemn their cynicism which, for me, devalued so much of what
they achieved and the marvellous football of which they were capable
- a high level of skill and organised teamwork that I, like millions,
admired. Leeds, in those days, cheated - and I was more than happy
to draw people's attention to the fact."
Don Revie: "It must be abundantly clear to most
soccer followers that Derby County manager Brian Clough and myself
are not exactly the best of friends. As our relationship stands
at the moment, he is the last person with whom I would wish to
be stranded on a desert island, and no doubt he feels the same
way about me.
"Why? From my point of view it all boils down to
the fact that I dislike the way Clough repeatedly knocks other
personalities in the game - especially rival managers. I think
it is wrong to criticise your colleagues as Clough does, because
the job is difficult enough without any of us slitting each other's
throats. Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alf Ramsey, Malcolm Allison and Allan
Brown before he lost his job at
Sunderland have all had verbal lashings from him.
"Generally, there is a tremendous spirit of good
fellowship among the League's managers, but that wouldn't be the
case if we were all like Brian Clough.
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"I find it surprising that he should appear to be
so indignant about teams going in hard for the ball. No matter
what he might say to the contrary, you can take it from me that
Derby are as physically intimidating as anyone when the need arises."
Peter Lorimer: "I first came across (Clough) and
discovered his true feelings when, in the early 1970s, I won the
Sports Personality of the Year award at the Yorksport dinner under
the auspices of Yorkshire Television at the Queens Hotel in Leeds.
This was a prestigious award, voted for by Yorkshire Television
viewers, that had previously been won by the Formula One racing
driver Jackie Stewart.
"There was a lot of kudos attached to it and there
were always important figures invited to present the awards. On
this particular occasion, the man handing over the trophies was
no less than the prime minister of the day, Yorkshireman Harold
Wilson. The guest speaker was Brian Clough.
"I duly received my award from the Prime Minister
but missed out on the pleasure of listening to Old Big 'Ead on
this Sunday evening because we had a Cup replay against Manchester
United at Villa Park the following evening, and while Don kindly
allowed me to collect the award, he ensured that there was a car
waiting outside to whisk me straight to Villa Park to join up
with the rest of the squad.
"I was therefore in blissful ignorance about what
was such a diatribe that it quickly gathered notoriety for its
ridiculous content. These were the days when there were no mobile
telephones, of course, and thank goodness for that, because that
night the phone at our team hotel never stopped ringing with requests
from reporters wanting to speak to someone about Mr Clough's outburst
concerning Leeds United and me at the dinner in Leeds.
"Even before he was due to make his scheduled speech,
he got up and told a packed auditorium that he had sat there and
listened to a load of codswallop about the greatness of Leeds
United and the brilliance of Peter Lorimer. It was time now, he
asserted, that he had his say. He had had enough of being made
to sit through all this bulls**t. But before he embarked on his
speech, he said, the audience could sit there and wait patiently,
just as he had done, until he had paid a visit to the lavatory.
"Well, of course, with the Prime Minister and all
the local dignitaries of the city of Leeds being there, this sudden
announcement of an unscheduled break in the proceedings did not
go down too well. When he returned, he launched full throttle
into an undisguised attack on Leeds United.
"Calling us cheats, he said that we had never won
anything fairly. As for me, he held that the Sports Personality
of the Year award had gone to the wrong man. I wasn't a sportsman,
he said. I was a cheat. I was always diving. Always trying to
get the opposition into trouble with the referee.
"It amounted to a full frontal assault on both the
club and me, in front of a largely partisan audience in our home
city. Of course, he got shouted down. People were on their feet
and telling him to sit down. The boos started and he never got
to finish his speech.
"It must have been quite funny on the night. I wish
I'd been there. I quite enjoy a bit of banter and, of course,
people are entitled to their opinions. There is no way I would
have responded, however. I would merely have enjoyed the surrealness
of it all."
A few weeks before the Elland Road clash between
Leeds and Derby at the beginning of October 1972, Clough was publicly
berated by the Football League, with Derby being warned that,
unless he refrained from some of his more controversial comments,
disciplinary action would be taken against the club.
Derby had not started well in their defence of the
title: they were fourteenth in the table with just two goals and
two points gained away from the Baseball Ground.
United themselves had been below their own customary
standards. They had lost two games on the bounce in the League,
the second the previous weekend a 2-1 defeat to League leaders
Liverpool. That ended an 18-month unbeaten record at Elland Road.
In the days before they hosted Derby, Leeds had
struggled to snatch a draw from a testing League Cup-tie at Villa
Scottish international winger Eddie Gray, who had
made only seven first team appearances all season because of a
thigh injury, returned to the side against Derby, as did midfield
general Johnny Giles, recovered from the back injury which kept
him out of the Villa game.
Derby were at strength, although their team showed
one change from the side held to a 0-0 draw by Chelsea in the
League Cup. Steve Powell, their highly rated youngster, was rested,
and John Robson came back into a defence which included England
internationals Roy McFarland and Colin Todd. David Nish, an expensive
recruit from Leicester, completed the rearguard, and Leeds-born
Kevin Hector was on duty up front.
Derby's position in the lower half of the First
Division was acknowledged by Revie as misleading: "Over the last
two or three seasons Derby have proved themselves to be a great
side, and they have too many good players to remain down the table.
There is no doubt that they will soon begin to climb, though we
shall be out, of course, to see that their progress does not begin
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Great teams do not become bad teams overnight and
Revie was well advised to be cautious, though some of his anxieties
were dispelled by a United goal in the third minute.
Leeds had started on the front foot with Mick Jones
climbing to meet Eddie Gray's centre, but
his header cleared the bar. It was but a temporary reprieve for
the visitors, who had more defending to do after Bristol referee
Harry New penalised Derby skipper McFarland for bringing down
Allan Clarke out on the right, 35 yards from goal.
When Peter Lorimer threw the free kick high into
the heart of the Derby area, McFarland rose unchallenged to head
it away. He should have done better and his clearance had more
height than distance as it looped towards Johnny Giles, lurking
25 yards from goal. The Irish schemer steadied himself and sent
an instant volley soaring high over the onrushing Derby defenders
before it dipped viciously under goalkeeper Colin Boulton's crossbar.
There might have been a hint of speculation about
the effort but it was certainly precise, alighting sweetly between
Boulton and the woodwork.
Despite being in arrears, Derby had as much of the
play in these early stages as United, who seemed a little unsure
of themselves. The visitors responded to the early concession
by winning a corner after Durban made a good run forward.
County then inexplicably allowed Leeds to settle
into their game. John O'Hare started very well and Kevin Hector
was a constant thorn in the United flesh, but the Rams had few
other major contributors. It was almost as if they went into the
game expecting to be second best.
There was a lull before the next goal, coming after
27 minutes had elapsed. Trevor Cherry brought the ball out to
play a one-two with Gray at half way before making his way at
pace towards the area. He tried to feed a killer through pass
to Allan Clarke on the left, but the ball was blocked by Alan
Durban, and ran inside to Giles, 25 yards from goal. Confidently,
the Irishman took possession and got the ball out of his feet
to fire a screamer past the diving Boulton, just inside the left
hand post, a stunning strike.
The goal brought strong Derby protests for offside
against Clarke, but the referee would have none of it and booked
McFarland for too vigorous a protest.
United were firmly in control of the game now and
increased their advantage eight minutes before the interval.
Giles fired a long ball from deep inside the Leeds
half forward to Jones, five yards
outside the Derby area. He took the ball with his back to goal
and held play up long enough to allow Paul Madeley to come storming
up on the overlap down the right. The elegant utility man sent
over a first time cross which soared to the back post. Clarke
climbed above his marker to loop a header inside the angle of
post and crossbar from eight yards out.
Just before half time, Durban went into referee
New's notebook for bringing down Bremner who needed treatment
for a leg injury. McFarland and Lorimer also received cautionary
words when the United man was felled and retaliated.
After the restart, Gray probed hard at the Derby
rearguard as United sought to rub in their superiority, but his
efforts came to naught.
After 51 minutes Giles had to go off after sustaining
a leg injury when challenging a Derby man. The playmaker went
off to loud applause as Mick Bates came on to replace him.
If Derby saw the loss of their two-goal tormentor
as a reason for fresh hope, their ambitions were soon destroyed
as their arrears grew on the hour.
Madeley fed Bremner five yards into the Derby half.
The space opened up as County players retreated before him and
the United skipper took the ball on twenty yards leaving opponents
in his wake. As Bremner reached the 25-yard point, he noticed
Boulton advancing off his line. The Scot promptly lashed in a
shot, again just inside the top angle; this time Boulton was transfixed
on the six yard line and could only watch helplessly as the shot
billowed the net.
Despite the yawning gulf of the 4-0 scoreline, there
was still enough feeling in the contest for some nasty transgressions
to hint at the rancour between the sides; Hunter was booked for
fouling O'Hare and Colin Todd followed him when he felled Jones.
Two minutes from time, United crowned a memorable
afternoon for their gleeful supporters with a fifth goal.
Clarke got possession ten yards into Derby's half
and pushed the ball forward down the
left flank for Cherry to chase. The left-back easily rounded Durban
and fired a low cross back towards the penalty spot where Lorimer
came sliding in to drive it inside the far post.
That was the last meaningful action of the afternoon
and United went off to thunderous applause.
Asked afterwards what had gone wrong, a morose Brian
Clough would only shake his head sadly as he muttered, "Five brilliant
Richard Ulyatt in the Yorkshire Post: "No visiting
team ought these days to be caught napping, for all of them pack
the defence monotonously with all sorts of players who seldom
get a chance on their own grounds. For example, Derby had Daniel,
never a winger normally, at outside-right, just as Leeds recently
played Yorath, a centre-half, at outside-left.
"Leeds United's outside-left this time was the adroit
Eddie Gray who has been nagged by a deep seated injury which made
him a doubtful starter. He showed no sign of it. He completed
the team's balance so that the attack was not all down the right
wing, and after the match reported himself fit to play again,
though I understand his troublesome thigh was sore yesterday.
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"Gray, Bremner and Giles at times toyed with the
Derby defence in which their star players, McFarland, England's
centre-half, Nish and Todd were less factual value than their
billing, but one of the main reasons why Derby did not really
get into the game was the ineffectiveness of Archie Gemmill, without
whom they are poor as Arsenal used to be in their championship
years when Alex James was missing or Huddersfield Town were when
Clem Stephenson had an off day.
"Derby's success has been built largely round the
consistent ability of Gemmill to do the unexpected which usually
proves the right thing to have done. This time Bremner did not
let him get away with anything and Kevin Hector strove without
help to get the line moving. The effect was rather like Leeds
United, as has happened recently, finding both Giles and Bremner
"This time both those two smart midgets dovetailed
smoothly and the combination of their success, plus the failure
of the Gemmill-Hector blend brought about this devastating result,
which on the basis of possession of the ball and endeavour was
not otherwise justified.
"With Gemmill's plots misfiring, the ball was pumped
back and back into the Derby defence so that in the end McFarland,
who was not notably happy at the start, was in some distress by
the end. Derby on another occasion might have saved Giles'
two goals and the one that Bremner scored by driving through the
"They might, on another occasion, have stopped Cherry's
caper down the left wing at breakneck speed which enabled Lorimer
to score the fifth goal, but I doubt whether any defence would
have stopped the third goal, just before half time, headed by
Clarke. It was one which ought to be drawn or set to music; it
was an outstanding effort of timing, accuracy and speed which
Jones, Madeley and Clarke shared with equal merit."
Paul Fitzpatrick in the Guardian: "Don Revie, the
Leeds United manager, scarcely could conceal his delight after
his side had given their most impressive performance of the season
and humiliated Derby County on Saturday at Elland Road.
"After all, what more could a manager ask of his
team? Life is good when you have just gathered two good points,
scored five first class goals and given a display as convincing
as this. Mr Revie clearly was going to enjoy his Sunday golf in
the Leeds and District knockout - and his enthusiasm and happiness
were justifiable and understandable. Somehow, for the uncommitted
observer at least, it was not possible to share them.
"For a start, Derby were so ineffectual as to cast
doubts on their authenticity as champions of the First Division;
more importantly, there was a sinister side to the game which
overshadowed all. The forces of evil were greater than those for
good so that at the end one was left not savouring the quality
of so much fine Leeds football but rather contemplating sadly
the deplorable cynicism with which one footballer can treat another.
"Four names taken, even if a booking is devalued
currency these days, represents an afternoon of anxious activity
for the referee. Yet justice should have been harsher. McFarland,
who almost sliced Lorimer in half; Todd, for a squalid foul on
Jones; and Hunter, who, while lying on his back, did a sort of
bicycle exercise into O'Hare's stomach, were lucky indeed to remain
on the field. Durban also had his name taken, although to categorise
him with the other three would be as unfair as putting a petty
thief in a cell on Death Row.
"Brian Clough, the Derby manager, repeatedly has
said that a manager should be held responsible for the onfield
actions of his players and no doubt Durban, Todd and McFarland
will be made to pay for their sins. The outlook could be particularly
bleak for McFarland, this being his fifth booking this season,
although the greater pity, as one Derby journalist said, would
be for him to lose his reputation as a footballing centre-half.
"The first half was distinguished by much excellent
penetrative football by United and two remarkable goals by Giles
who is noted for his masterful activities in midfield and his
prowess from the penalty spot but not for scoring goals of these
dimensions. His departure in the fiftieth minute with tendon trouble
deprived the game of its most accomplished player. Derby's misery
in the first half was completed
by a beautiful header by Clarke from Madeley's precise centre.
"After half time, Derby moved Nish from the back
into midfield, a move which achieved nothing, and rendered the
player even more anonymous than before. And while Derby fretted,
Leeds went on their destructive way, scoring two more fine goals
through Bremner and Lorimer, the last goal being made by Cherry,
who for the most part was the one Leeds misfit."
It was a blinding performance by Don Revie's men,
far and away their outstanding display of the season. It was not
that they had that many chances in the game, with one Derbyshire
paper claiming they only had eight genuine attempts on goal, but
their accuracy from distance was astonishing, with three of the
goals coming from well outside the penalty area.
The result represented some restitution for having
the League title snatched from within their grasp the previous
May and presented clear evidence that United were still a force
in the championship race. As a consequence of the result they
were restored to fifth place in the table, three points behind
pacesetters Liverpool with almost a third of the season gone.
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