Derby County's capture of the League title in May
1972 came almost by default; they had completed their campaign
and were on holiday in Majorca as Leeds
United were failing to secure the point they required from their
final game of the season at Wolves. The memory of that disappointment
left the Elland Road camp with some scores to settle and the 1972/73
campaign provided ample opportunity in that regard.
Leeds completed a League double over the Rams, winning
5-0 at home on 7 October and then earning a 3-2 victory at
the Baseball Ground on 3 March, and those results went a long
way to healing the scars.
The FA Cup quarter final pairing of the two clubs
a couple of weeks later offered Brian Clough's charges the opportunity
for immediate revenge. Ending United's quest to retain the FA
Cup would be a rich prize indeed, compensating Derby for their
less than consistent defence of the championship crown. Leeds'
League victory at the Baseball Ground virtually ended County's
fading hopes; that was hard enough for Clough's men to take, but
the nature of the win rubbed salt into their wounds.
The game had been ruined by the waterlogged state
of the pitch, ill temper and a succession of fouls; two Peter
Lorimer penalties proved decisive on the day but the Rams were
the architects of their own destruction with two of Leeds' goals
the result of ill-considered passes aimed in the general direction
of goalkeeper Colin Boulton.
Eric Todd in the Guardian: "Solely for those people
who looked upon Saturday's match at the Baseball Ground as a dress
rehearsal for the FA Challenge Cup-tie there, it may be said that
Derby County fluffed their lines three times, and Leeds ignored
the prompter twice. And, for various reasons - a fussy director,
arguments among the cast, and outbursts of theatrical temperament,
the play overran by ten minutes. Of course, it could be all right
on the night…
"Conditions were deplorable above and below, and
tempers never at their best in mud and rain. On a dry day, I cannot
believe that these two basically fine teams would concede 55 free
kicks, 29 of them against Leeds. Provided the Baseball Ground
looks less like a harbour at low tide and both sides are at full
strength, it could be a magnificent Cup-tie. To be on the safe
side, however, a knowledge of probationary work or guerrilla warfare
would be an advantage to the referee appointed.
"The first point of interest was the appearance
of Leeds in an all yellow strip and anything less appropriate
would be difficult to imagine for this strong, fearless combination.
Come to think of it, their usual virgin white takes some believing
too. The second was the first senior appearance of young McQueen,
a centre-half from St Mirren, who wore the No 11 shirt and appeared
at right-back. Thus may we see how the football world wags.
"For his first party trick, McQueen carted McGovern
over the touchline and into the low wall, mercifully without doing
any serious damage. Fears of a fractured skull were allayed in
the second half. McQueen battled on bravely with damaged
ribs and cramp and did enough to convince Don
Revie that the money has been well spent. But Leeds must hope
that Gray will be available on March 17. Clarke, in stupendous
form this season, is entitled to better support.
"Leeds, nevertheless, showed that they can play
good football when the mood is upon them, but on Saturday it was
the turn of their defenders to take the major honours. Madeley
and Hunter were quite magnificent, although only a qualified psychiatrist
perhaps could explain why Hunter does such daft things. He exudes
more talent and determination than most and he is an inspiration
to Leeds and England. But he went and tripped Gemmill and collected
his eighth booking of the season. Oh, Norman, you silly lad!
back to top
"Derby were much the better side early on, although
they did not relish United's softening up tactics in the first
five minutes. Cherry, Hunter, Clarke, Giles and Lorimer were spoken
to by the referee, and while retaliation cannot be condoned, Derby
deserved some sympathy after the interval when they appeared to
be preoccupied with physical survival and their impending visit
"Derby, as they had been at Newcastle, were uninspired
in the Leeds penalty area and Davies, who also had his name taken,
again found that glory is a transitory thing. Gemmill and McGovern
worked hard enough, but before the end Derby realised that they
did not carry enough heavy guns to break United's defences, McFarland
offered stout resistance when all around him, if not exactly fleeing,
were in such a state of uneasiness that Clarke and Lorimer might
have added to United's haul.
"When finally the curtain fell on the rehearsal,
the multitude departed to conjure up thoughts of the real thing.
It would be just too bad, however, if personal vendettas were
to subvert common sense and stifle talent.
"Durban gave Derby the lead in the twenty-fifth
minute when he bent a free kick past Harvey from 25 yards. Three
minutes before half time, Boulton dived bravely on to the ball
after a dreadful pass back by Davies, but he collected Lorimer's
legs as well, and Lorimer scored with the penalty, the award of
which was contested vehemently by Derby.
"In the fifty-fourth minute, Hector restored Derby's
lead with a fine header from Durban's free kick, but in the sixty-ninth
Todd pushed Hunter to the ground and this time there could be
no argument. Lorimer chalked up his second penalty. Three minutes
later, Todd misjudged a pass back, and Clarke, as usual, accepted
the gift with relish."
There was a war of words between the two camps in
the days leading up to the Cup clash, but heads started to cool
as kick off time approached and on the Thursday before the game,
Albert Barham reported as follows in the Guardian: "The quarter
final tie between the FA Cup holders, Leeds United, and Derby
County, the League champions, at the Baseball Ground on Saturday
will not be a hate match, a vendetta or even a showdown. The message
from both clubs is that it will be as good a Cup-tie as the match
of the day should be.
"Too many people said too much after the First Division
match at the beginning of the month. Brian Clough since has said
that he wants his players to be given the chance to play football
and that Leeds are a physical team. Gradually
the picture has been built up that the capacity crowd will see
a game with exceptional needle between the competitors.
"Don Revie this week has promised otherwise. Referring
to the crucial League match which Leeds won at Derby, he said
that it was 'unusual for anyone to answer Clough back. He usually
has all his own say. I just said that I felt his team are physical
and strong and are not the pure footballing side he's trying to
influence the country they are.'
"There was no animosity between him and Clough.
Indeed, they had spent considerable time together at interviews
and travelling. 'We get on well together. There is nothing either
between the players and nothing will be carried forward to Saturday's
match.' Yet the League match had, apart from half a dozen fouls,
he said, been a good, honest, hard League game with Derby trying
to win to give them confidence for the Cup game, and Leeds trying
to keep in the championship challenge.
"Peter Taylor, the assistant to Clough at Derby,
put the matter in perspective. All the talk of the League match
was water under the bridge. All the talk of vendettas were just
not right. But it was a different type of game on Saturday, for
the Cup matches had an effect on the temperament of players and
in his opinion the most important man on the field was the referee.
He is Harry New of Bristol, who yesterday was appointed to control
the FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley on April 14."
Revie: "Both teams are packed with skilful players
and I think if we go out and play as well as we are capable of
playing, then football must benefit. This is the main thing. Two
teams who can play as entertainingly as Derby and Leeds must go
out and give entertaining football." The Leeds boss acknowledged
the benefits of home advantage to Derby, "But I still fancy us
strong. Both sides are evenly matched and we have just as good
players on our side capable of scoring as have Derby."
back to top
However, Revie simply could not resist a cautionary
note to Clough for his sniping at United defender Norman Hunter:
"I feel that all this criticism of Norman - and not only by Clough
- affects the judgement of referees. When they read or hear other
managers accusing the player of unfair tactics - and worse - they
are bound to be influenced to some extent when they see him go
hard into a tackle. We know he's a tough player, but he isn't
dirty. Clough has called Norman some disgraceful things recently.
Before he condemns him he ought to count the number of bookings
one of his own top defenders has had this season. Roy McFarland
has been cautioned five times and served a two-match suspension.
Clough ought to put his own house in order before he starts criticising
There was some speculation in the days leading up
to the game regarding Revie's team selection; the young Scots,
Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen, had performed admirably in the
two preceding games, against
Rapid Bucharest in the Cup Winners Cup and Everton in the League,
both comfortable victories.
However, the manager opted for experience, recalling
Paul Reaney and Mick Jones, and switching Paul Madeley to centre-half.
Eddie Gray continued his recuperation in the No 11 shirt and Mick
Bates was named sub in preference to a number of other strong
claimants, including McQueen, Jordan and Terry Yorath.
For Derby, 17-year-old midfielder Steve Powell replaced
the injured Alan Hinton, but otherwise the Rams lined up as expected.
In contrast to the previous encounter, the game
was played in warm sunshine on a pitch that was in reasonable
condition, if a little unpredictable in its bounce. Both sides
were forced to forego their normal kit, Derby sporting all-blue
and United donning an unfamiliar red, much to the displeasure
of many of their supporters.
It was some time before any meaningful pattern emerged
to the action, with the opening exchanges punctuated by tit for
tat exchanges as the two teams sought some form of toehold in
the tie. The home side were the first to show, with defender Colin
Todd sending young striker Roger Davies away on the right before
his progress was blocked by Norman Hunter. United snapped back
when Todd's wayward crossfield pass fell to Billy Bremner. The
Leeds skipper surged forward only to give away the game's first
foul when he impeded David Nish in a challenge. Jones' shot from
an angle was gathered by Derby keeper Colin Boulton. Then Rams
striker Kevin Hector, born in Leeds, rounded Madeley only to run
the ball over the touchline.
United were coping well with the home side's forays
and found enough time and space to show they were a threat themselves,
with the number of elementary mistakes committed by the Derby
defence giving cause for optimism.
Hector looked the greatest threat among the Midlanders'
ranks; when he ran at Cherry, the Leeds man was forced to impede
him on the edge of the area. The striker got on the end of McGovern's
lobbed free kick but shot wide of goal.
There had as yet been none of the nastiness shown
in the League game but around the 20-minute mark, Todd was lectured
by the referee after a scything tackle on Bremner. Minutes later,
Allan Clarke was spoken to, apparently for showing dissent.
These were exceptions and the game was a well-contested,
but fairly fought, Cup-tie, if devoid of too many goalmouth incidents.
After 29 minutes, though, United took the lead.
Peter Lorimer was obstructed by Roy McFarland just
outside the Derby area. The Scot took
responsibility at the dead ball situation but his shot cannoned
off the County wall and fell to Johnny Giles on the right flank.
His high cross to the far post was met admirably by a superbly
climbing Mick Jones, and a perfect downward header allowed Lorimer
to strike cleanly home from 13 yards. United celebrations were
momentarily stayed as referee Harry New checked with a linesman
before allowing the goal to stand. The officials decided that
Clarke, though standing in an offside position, was not interfering
with play, and duly awarded the goal.
back to top
Lorimer: "It was a great ball from Mick. He picked
me out and laid it in front of me. I knew it was in as soon as
I struck it."
United came close to adding a second shortly afterwards
as Jones sought to reach a centre, but McFarland ended the danger
at the expense of a corner.
Cherry and Hunter were towering figures in the United
defence as they resisted Derby's attempts to recover, but when
John O'Hare got in a powerful volley, it was the back of his colleague,
Davies, which diverted the effort.
United keeper David Harvey was in confident mood
and rose above a crowded area to cleanly claim a high free kick
Giles and Bremner had taken a grip in midfield,
providing United with the platform to control the rhythm of the
game and United went in at the break with their deserved lead
Leeds were first to show at the restart, Lorimer
firing over the bar after a good pass from Hunter had put Jones
away on the left. United followed this up with another raid which
ended with Gray hitting a low, angled shot just past the far post.
O'Hare had moved to centre-forward for the Rams,
with Davies and Hector flanking him and Gemmill and McGovern pressing
up from midfield. The change brought urgency to Derby's thrusts
and one surge was only denied by Reaney's timely headed clearance
as Hector and O'Hare lurked ominously. United survived an appeal
for hands when McGovern's shot struck Hunter as the home side
stoked up the pressure. Harvey couldn't hold a low angled shot
from Davies, but as the ball trickled out of his hands, Madeley
was there to clear.
After 57 minutes United lost the services of Bremner.
The United skipper
limped off with a strained calf and was replaced by Mick Bates.
There was a close thing for United after one of
their raids was thwarted. A long Derby clearance brought some
anxiety and Madeley, harassed by Davies, almost struck a suicidal
blow as he sought to turn the ball back to Harvey. The goalkeeper
had come running out and the ball rolled slowly past him towards
goal. Thankfully, Harvey managed to recover and dropped on the
ball, little more than a foot from his line.
Cherry, in his final outing prior to a two-match
suspension, was in fine form and he twice cleared threats as Derby
pressure grew. But the home side's all-out commitment to attack
almost proved their undoing in the 65th minute as United threatened.
Eddie Gray cut out two defenders with a superb through
ball to set Clarke away. The England striker took the ball on
and when Boulton raced out of his goal Clarke flicked it wide
of him only to see it slip past the far post. Then Derby survived
a penalty appeal when Clarke was sent sprawling by Todd.
As the game reached its final quarter, Derby brought
on experienced Welsh international midfielder, Alan Durban, for
young Powell, though the Baseball Ground crowd made it clear that
they felt Gemmill should have been the man withdrawn. The Scot
was not enjoying one of his better days, but Powell had been equally
unable to get into the game.
Fourteen minutes from the end Cherry was booked
for a foul on Durban. The free kick was just outside the United
box and Durban's low shot sped past the defensive wall, but Harvey
went down to gather confidently.
Hector was only inches away from heading the equaliser
ten minutes from the end and then in the closing minutes he was
in the picture again, but Harvey produced a fine parry, palming
the ball across goal and to safety. The referee also turned down
Derby claims that Lorimer had used his arm to control the ball
in his own area.
An all ticket crowd of 38,350 had paid £23,750 to
see a well-fought game. Derby pressed United hard in the latter
stages, but the reality of the piece was that Don Revie's men
always looked to have the temperament, class and presence of mind
to secure the victory that their authoritative play merited.
back to top
As the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph acknowledged,
"There could be no complaints this time. Derby County were just
not good enough to beat Leeds United… Although the Rams had possession
enough to have won… they could not pass the magnificent central
Madeley and Norman Hunter. At least, though, the match was won
and lost on skill. The good sense of British professional footballers
saw to that.
"There were no fouls of any consequence until the
22nd minute, when Todd dumped Bremner to the ground like a sack
of potatoes, and nothing of any note after that. If anything,
Harry New refereed too fussily but, after the publicity and mud-slinging
that followed the recent League match between these two sides,
nobody could blame him for that. Trevor Cherry had his name taken
for tripping Hector and could consider himself unfortunate. It
was a foul, certainly, but by no stretch of the imagination vicious
or dangerous. The players proved that they can meet in a civilised
way, however high the stakes. One hopes they have done enough
to end the silly feud that has blown up between Brian Clough and
Don Revie in the past few weeks.
"Derby rallied with tremendous spirit. They came
at Leeds time and time again, forcing them back almost under their
own crossbar. At times, the Leeds clearances were wild, but the
defence did not buckle. They have soaked up this kind of pressure
all over Europe. Norman Hunter, especially, was magnificent. He
tackled firmly and fairly, read the game intelligently and confirmed
that he is a player of great quality. By his side, Madeley was
equally immovable. These two did not put a foot wrong between
them. Nothing can take away the credit from the Leeds defence.
They were too solid and too composed for the Rams."
The game was not the classic that had been hoped
for, but that suited Don Revie, who could be satisfied with a
thoroughly professional performance and smooth progress to another
FA Cup semi-final. He said later, "The pitch was tricky. We tried
not to take any risks and play it very, very safe. We are just
pleased to be in the last four and I was pleased it was a clean
To hope for a victory against an in form United
side, for whom this was a ninth victory in eleven games, Derby
needed to be at their very best and never attained that level.
They sorely missed the guile and goal threat of Alan Hinton, and
their approach lacked breadth and variety.
The dry pitch rendered control something of a lottery
and the Rams gambled on a hurried, long ball game, which did not
play to their strengths. It gave them territorial advantage but
few clear chances on a day when cool heads were needed. United's
shorter game was always the more effective.
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Once Peter
Lorimer had supplied the killer punch after almost half an hour
on Saturday afternoon, Derby County might as well have put their
clocks on there and then for British summer time and gone home.
Leeds were in that kind of invincible mood, complete in every
department of the game to such a degree that in the end the game
they admitted was going to be their toughest hurdle of the season
so far was taken in comfort.
"It was the second time in a fortnight that they
had whipped Derby at the Baseball Ground and the third time they
had beaten them this season in three goes so now the noises from
Derby about how there is no way Leeds can beat them should stop.
Leeds controlled the game from midfield throughout the first half,
providing almost all the worthwhile football, dictating the pace,
and in the second half soaking up Derby's pressure without problems,
counter punching at their goal in lethal style whenever Derby
stopped to catch breath.
"Leeds looked the complete Cup side, giving notice
that it is going to take a mighty performance to stop them retaining
the trophy. They used
their most experienced players to see them through, as I suggested
on Saturday morning, and with Cherry, Hunter and Gray in complete
command of the left and the rest of the side making no slips there
was little an off colour Derby could do to stop Leeds.
"It will be interesting now to see if the champions
Derby can raise their game for their attempt to reach the European
Cup semi-finals this week. They managed only one clear chance
against Leeds but Hector, their most persistent attacker, headed
wide. They lacked an ideas man in midfield, although they used
four men there at times. Durban might have supplied some of the
answers but when he was eventually sent on the die was cast. Giles
had shown the way it should be done in the first half, dictating
the speed and much of the pattern of Leeds on the move."
For Leeds United, it was on to a sixth FA Cup semi-final
in nine seasons and hopes of a treble; for Derby County there
was success in the European Cup quarter finals against Spartak
Trnava before losing out to Juventus in a controversial match
in Turin which was plagued with allegations that the Italian club
had bribed the match officials. Clough emerged from the dressing
room and told the expectant Italian reporters, "No cheating bastards
do I talk to. I will not talk to any cheating bastards."
back to top