was in a mood of burgeoning self-confidence that Don
Revie's Leeds United arrived at Tottenham's White Hart Lane
at the beginning of September 1973. The Whites had won their opening
two games, defeating Everton 3-1 at Elland
Road and following up with their first Division One victory
in London since January 1971 by beating Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury
After a disastrous end to the 1972/73
season with two Cup final defeats, Revie had been on the verge
of leaving the club for a big money contract at Everton. Following
his decision to stay at Leeds, Revie had urged his players to
go through the whole season unbeaten and they had made a tremendous
start to that challenge.
United had been pushed hard by Arsenal, having to recover from
the shock of falling behind to a first minute goal from Jeff Blockley.
The score by the £200,000 former Coventry City defender lifted
the Gunners to such an extent that they looked set to run away
with the game.
"That early goal gave them a lift and for a time they had us
going," Billy Bremner, admitted afterwards. "But we stuck at it,
strung our game together and played some fine stuff in the second
half. Arsenal played really well in those first 30 minutes or
so. They moved the ball well, but we never gave up and we attacked
up to the end. Naturally I was delighted to win - it's always
great to beat a side like Arsenal - but I was more pleased with
the way we won. Even some of the Arsenal players said we were
in a different class towards the end."
United had grown accustomed to hostile receptions in the capital
with the London press stoking up anti-Leeds feeling with snide
accusations of gamesmanship. Revie was understandably delighted
by his side's display, saying, "Hearing the London supporters
applauding us in the second half at Highbury was like music to
my ears. Anything we get on Saturday at Tottenham will be a bonus
now after this magnificent start. I have been saying for years
we have players in our side with world class footballing skills.
People have refused to believe me, but I think we proved at Arsenal
that we have some tremendous players of true skill in the team."
In addition to his aim of an unbeaten season, the United manager
had promised that his team would improve their onfield behaviour
after being handed out a suspended £3,000 fine by an FA Disciplinary
Commission which ruled they had "persistently violated the laws
of the game and brought the game into disrepute."
Revie responded by setting out his plans: "I am very personally
concerned, along with our directors, about our conduct record,
and as manager am going to do everything in my power to make sure
that this record is vastly improved by the end of the 1973/74
"We have a great record for being the most consistent side over
the last nine or ten years, and in my opinion we have tremendous
footballing talent which entertains crowds both at home and away,
and we have been among the top two or three of the leading scorers
in the First Division for the past few years.
"On occasions we have been credited as an exciting football side
but whenever possible people have tagged us as a methodical, well-drilled,
"In my opinion, our players have not had the full credit publicity-wise
that their tremendous talents deserve.
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"I only hope after all this publicity, referees, opposing supporters,
when we play away from home, and the press and television will
give us a fair crack of the whip, and judge us on how we perform
this season and not on what they have read over the past two months.
"I hope our players will not have to live under a lot of provocation
from other teams. We get all kinds of taunts thrown at us from
opposing crowds when we play away from home. I hope that if our
players go into a fair tackle and the crowd puts up a tremendous
roar referees will not be influenced by this in any way.
"I have already told our players that it is up to myself and
them to help the referee from now on and in every way we can by
not talking to them or the linesmen and by not getting any unnecessary
bookings. We are going to try to help the referee in his very
difficult job in every way possible. I think we have a responsibility
to the game in general and I hope all players, managers and coaches
will set this example of good behaviour and good conduct on the
"Football will become a lot more exciting to watch if we can
do this. If good conduct on the field spreads to the terraces
we will have done football a great service in two departments."
Thus far, United had lived up to Revie's words by avoiding any
disciplinary issues, even in pre-season games. While the Arsenal
game had been keenly competitive, there had been none of the bitterness
which had characterised the previous clash between the two sides
Bournemouth referee Derek Nippard had to speak to two players
- Billy Bremner and Arsenal's Peter Storey. Bremner explained
afterwards: "I asked the referee about a penalty. He gave me a
little lecture and I just stood there and listened to what he
had to say."
Tottenham were unchanged for the clash at White Hart Lane after
Scottish striker Alan Gilzean passed a fitness test. They retained
the eleven that had won 2-1 at Birmingham in midweek, with 20-year-old
Mike Dillon continuing to deputise for injured Welsh international
Mike England in the centre of defence. The victory at St Andrews
made up for an opening day reverse at Coventry.
Leeds were also unchanged, after Bremner (gashed shin), Paul
Reaney (ankle) and Allan Clarke (knee) recovered from injuries
sustained at Highbury. Trevor Cherry, Terry Yorath and Joe Jordan
were available for selection after missing the first two games
through suspension and Revie named Cherry as substitute.
Following the retirement of Jack
Charlton and the deployment of Paul Madeley at left-back in
Cherry's absence, Revie had given young Scottish giant Gordon
McQueen the opportunity to reinforce his claims to be Charlton's
long term replacement in the No 5 shirt.
The Scot had impressed greatly in the Everton and Arsenal victories,
as reported by Don Warters for the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"Gordon McQueen's determined bid to establish himself as automatic
choice as Leeds United's centre-half has already - in the short
space of a week - brought him up against three of the most lethal
attackers in the First Division. On the opening day of the season
it was the well-built, bustling Everton striker Joe Royle. On
Tuesday he faced the menacing aerial threat of Arsenal's twin
strike force - John Radford and Ray Kennedy.
"On each occasion, the eager to learn McQueen came through the
exacting tests satisfactorily, and tomorrow England centre-forward
Martin Chivers, who, on his day, has few equals, provides the
opposition. Chivers, Spurs' leading marksman last season with
25 League and Cup goals, was one of the few strikers to regularly
trouble Jack Charlton. Their duels were always a feature of Spurs-United
"McQueen, bought from Scottish club St Mirren eleven months ago
for around £30,000, is under no illusion about his present standing
at Elland Road. 'I don't even know whether I shall be playing
at Tottenham tomorrow,' the 20-year-old Scot said. 'But if I do,
then I shall be looking forward to playing against Chivers. I
know he can be brilliant but Norman Hunter has already given
me plenty of information about Chivers,' he added."
United, playing in a yellow strip because of the colour clash,
were quickly into their stride and opened the scoring in the fourth
minute. A week earlier United skipper Billy Bremner had netted
in the same fourth minute against Everton and now repeated the
feat, striking at the heart of the Spurs defence.
It was a central thrust of the plan for an increased attacking
threat that the Scot should feature further upfield than normal
and he quickly demonstrated the value he could offer in and around
the opposition box.
United had worked an attacking position round the right hand
corner of the Tottenham penalty area and when Allan Clarke sought
to control the ball with his back to goal, defender Phil Beal
bundled into him to concede a cheap free kick out on the right
touchline. Peter Lorimer drove the dead ball, head high, to the
edge of the six-yard box. Spurs full-back Ray Evans and his skipper
Martin Peters, each thinking the other was marking Bremner, left
a yawning chasm between them.
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Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "He might have been
invisible as he moved in to firmly head Lorimer's fourth-minute
free kick into the net, so much room did he find as his team mates
made dummy runs taking all the defenders with them."
Evans misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing it to clear
his leap, and there was no danger that Bremner would fail to take
full advantage. He powered home the inviting cross, giving Pat
Jennings no chance as it flew over his upturned hands and into
the net at the near post.
"It was a great cross, Peter hit it just right and I was able
to meet it perfectly," said the Scot.
The visitors threatened again a few moments later, Eddie Gray
firing a dangerous shot high over the bar, but United went close
to conceding a goal shortly afterwards following a corner kick.
The flag kick was cut back and when the cross flew into the area,
Dillon dived to get in a good effort. Leeds keeper David Harvey
dived to his right and managed to get a hand to the ball and Reaney
completed the clearance from the line.
As if to reprimand Spurs for their impertinence in assailing
Harvey's area, United quickly snapped back to double their advantage
after 14 minutes.
There was a spell of untidy head tennis deep in the Leeds half
after a long kick forward from Jennings before Mick Jones tenaciously
outfought three Spurs defenders to win the ball and slipped a
pass short to Clarke at half way. He fed on to Johnny Giles who
swept an instant lobbed ball out to Lorimer on the right flank.
Tottenham sensed no danger as Lorimer carried forward, anticipating
that he would build slowly with a pass to the overlapping Paul
Reaney. Instead, the wide man drove a low ball through the Spurs
defence towards Bremner running through to the edge of their area.
It was a perfectly weighted through ball and the Scot did not
have to check his stride as he caught it first time to stroke
a curling effort wide of the vain dive of Jennings and into the
corner of the net.
That two-goal salvo visibly shook the home ranks but they retained
at least a modicum of fight and managed to exert some pressure
of their own as Peters fired narrowly wide of Harvey's
But the result seemed a foregone conclusion when Clarke opened
his account for the season in the 28th minute.
After being fed by McQueen, Giles toyed with Cyril Knowles on
the right flank, feinting a couple of times before artfully curling
a pass down the touchline for Bremner in an advanced role. The
United captain combined in splendid style with Lorimer to create
an opportunity, setting things up by cushioning the ball back
for the wide man. There was a smart give and go and Bremner's
accurate reverse pass sent Lorimer away down the line and he exploited
the space to fire a cross through the heart of the Spurs box.
Jones dived and missed but the ball ran on to the back post where
Clarke gathered and coolly swivelled to hammer into the roof of
the unguarded net, an imperious finish with the Tottenham defence
United's finishing had been cool and merciless and the quality
of their football left the home support open-mouthed in admiration.
They threatened again when Giles found a way through on the left
and, with Jennings racing out to meet him, the Irish schemer lobbed
the ball goalwards but saw his effort finish in the side netting.
Tottenham had shown little as an attacking force but they had
a couple of opportunities shortly before half time. Dillon saw
his effort scooped off the line by the ever watchful Reaney and
then supplied the cross for Alan Gilzean, in the right place close
in. The Scottish veteran rarely figured on a disappointing afternoon
and provided more evidence that this was not to be his day when
he fluffed the opportunity, heading wide.
United might have been excused for sitting on their lead after
the break, but they restarted in urgent fashion. Giles forced
a corner in the opening minute and then Lorimer tried his luck
with a 30-yard drive which was comfortably pulled down by Jennings
despite its power.
Spurs replied by forcing Reaney into conceding a corner at the
other end and Dillon's subsequent header flew narrowly wide of
the Leeds goal.
Tottenham appeared a little more dangerous than they had been
in the first period and when Chivers took a long throw in from
the right, Peters shot just wide.
United came again, however, and when Hunter crossed a high ball
from the left, Clarke headed straight into the hands of Jennings.
The game lacked much of its first half sparkle with United now
playing within themselves, but they had to survive a tense moment.
When Harvey was penalised for carrying the ball too far, Spurs
were awarded a free kick a yard inside United's penalty area.
The Londoners' effort rebounded harmlessly off the Leeds wall.
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A corner for Spurs followed but the ball floated aimlessly across
the goalmouth to Gray who turned it back to Harvey.
As the game entered its closing stages, United were content to
absorb what pressure Spurs could muster and relied on intermittent
breakaways to keep Jennings occupied.
For the Spurs forwards, it was a frustrating afternoon. When
they pushed forward they found United's defence in resolute mood
and difficult to find a way through.
Twelve minutes from the end, Clarke was injured in a challenge
with Ralph Coates and the game was held up for several minutes
while the England striker was attended to before being carried
off on a stretcher. His injury was later reported to be strained
ligaments of the left knee.
Paul Madeley and Norman Hunter did sterling work in United's
defence, but when Spurs made their late bid for consolation goals
no one was more to be praised than Paul Reaney and David Harvey.
Reaney, an expert in goal line clearances, demonstrated his attributes
several occasions and Harvey showed his class with some brilliant
saves. One in particular to a Martin Peters header was brilliant.
There were no further goals at either end and United secured
an impressive 3-0 triumph. With Burnley, Derby, Coventry and Wolves
all dropping their first points of the campaign, the victory left
the Whites a point clear at the top of the First Division table.
After the game, Don Revie was called for an audience in the dressing
rooms with Leicester referee Roger Kirkpatrick. It was not, however,
a negative experience, as recalled by Revie: "The referee was
there with his linesmen and he told me it had been a pleasure
to be on the same field as Leeds United. Mr Kirkpatrick also said
that he had never had any trouble from us but wanted to point
out that he thought my players had been the model of good behaviour
and were a credit to the game.
"It was big of him to take the trouble to tell me, and I was
so impressed that I asked him if he would mind coming into the
dressing room to repeat what he had said to the players and he
did so willingly."
Kirkpatrick, the bewhiskered official who resembled the title
character from Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, commented,
"I had to say something. If this is what Leeds intend to do in
every game, on behalf of my fellow referees I just had to say
thank you in advance. I wish all matches were played in the same
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "With Billy Bremner
looking like a new man and the new image of being the gentlemen
of the League already accepted in most quarters, Leeds United
sit politely at the top of Division One this morning, not only
having demolished Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday but having won
over their most critical observers in recent times - the London
"In fact everything is going well just now for Leeds. They aimed
to let their middle men give even more support to the strikers
and Bremner, showing the zest and speed of their title year five
seasons ago, has responded with three goals in as many games.
They wanted to show they can still be the most attractive of teams
and not get involved in trouble and twice in London last week,
where previously they had found little success and a great deal
of abuse, they produced faultless displays.
"'We are getting on with the game and not getting involved in
incidents,' said Bremner, who a week earlier had started the downfall
of Everton with a quick goal. On Saturday he was at it again…
Two goals in ten minutes on a ground on which they had not found
the net for over three years, and both from Bremner, who nearly
lost his vital right boot just before the kick off.
"'It split wide open during the pre-kick off kick about so I
was going to wear Mick Bates' boots because he was not playing.
But we decided to strap the boot - and it worked well,' said Bremner,
who must have been thinking he might get his first ever hat trick
when that right boot struck that second goal so cleanly. But instead
he was to play a major part in the third goal from out on the
"It was the goal of the game with Giles and Lorimer and Bremner
plotting it and Jones just failing to finish it off cleanly. Yet
with Leeds having so many men spare, Clarke had all the time in
the world to mop up at the far side of the goal for his first
success of the season.
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"So, in a little over 25 minutes, Spurs were a beaten side and
Leeds had their second successive win in London games in the bag,
a feat they last managed in their championship year.
"So well did Leeds find their men it was just as though they
had radar in their boots. Every player hit
his game, though there were interesting little duels within the
match itself that made the game even more attractive to watch
for the 42,801 spectators. The battle for supremacy on the wing
between Gray and Coates ebbed and flowed all the match, one of
the major successes for Leeds was once more their promising young
centre-half McQueen, who, without showing any concern at all,
kept the England leader Chivers quiet all afternoon while Giles
came within inches of crowning a great display with a Pele-like
shot from 50 yards which dropped over Jennings to hit the side
"Tottenham, despite the scoreline, did the majority of the attacking
but for the most part they were not decisive enough. They had
their moments though with Reaney (twice), McQueen and Bremner
all stopping the ball on the line and with Harvey making at least
three fine saves, the crucial one coming soon after Leeds' first
goal when Dillon's header looked a goal all over."
David Lacey in the Guardian: "Leeds United continue to
wear their white hats at a jaunty angle and their second success
in North London within five days confirmed the impressions left
by the first. The side are playing their best football since a
series of emphatic victories in February and March 1972 led to
their being compared favourably, albeit prematurely, with the
Real Madrid of Di Stefano and Puskas. Leeds still have some way
to go before they reach that level, but if this form continues
there will be a few neutrals who will wish that Don Revie's team
were representing England in the European Cup this season.
"Throughout the game Tottenham blustered away in attack, lacking
blend and rhythm but, oddly enough, bringing Harvey into more
consistent and urgent action than their own goalkeeper, Jennings,
whose role in the proceedings was largely that of innocent bystander.
To continue the paradox, Harvey's best save was from a diving
header by Dillon, though late in the game he came close to emulating
this by blocking a close shot from Coates and stopping a couple
of headers from Peters."
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "Bremner and Giles as usual
were the Leeds puppet masters. They designed the schemes and put
them into effect, backed by a team who were complete in their
instinctive understanding. Just when they ought to be growing
a little rusty - in terms of time and heavy commitments over recent
seasons - they are playing better than ever.
"Up till half time, Leeds provided a flawless exhibition. Bremner,
quickly spotting the holes left by Dillon, constantly made advanced
forays; Giles put his subtle stamp on the overall pattern, a little
man with apparent endless time and space in which to work; while
Lorimer recalled the great Wolverhampton days of the 1950s with
his wide, sweeping passes that caught unguarded
Tottenham on the wrong foot.
"If Bremner and Clarke proved the executioners it was Lorimer
who helped to sharpen the blade. It was his free kick which Bremner
headed in after only four minutes; it was his swift, long through
pass which Bremner next swept in off a post near the quarter hour;
and it was his centre after a dazzling move with Giles and Bremner
which Clarke flashed home."
Under the headline, "Polished Leeds shine the halo," the Daily
Mail said of United's win: "Spurs manager Bill Nicholson applauded
Don Revie's Leeds United as the best team in the country and admitted
that his own once great Spurs have now declined to the point where
they are three star players away from challenging this supremacy."
The Sun's Peter Batt reported: "I have been saying for
years that Leeds are the greatest and the two goals from Billy
Bremner and one from Allan Clarke merely underlines the fact."
Even with just three games gone of the 42-match season, it was
abundantly clear that the team to beat in the battle for the League
championship in 1973/74 would be this slick and authoritative
Leeds United eleven.
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