1974 Charity Shield match was a turning point in English football,
pitching together two of the biggest rivals in the game, Leeds
United and Liverpool, as the Football Association tried to revive
the status of the season's traditional curtain raiser by moving
it to Wembley. It was the first time for years that Champions
had actually faced Cup winners in the game and the rivalry between
England's two biggest clubs made it a particularly high profile
Liverpool and Leeds had vied for supremacy of English football
ever since Leeds returned to the First Division in 1964. In the
previous season, the Anfield club had given the runaway First
Division leaders the fright of their lives in the Spring when
the title had seemed all but wrapped up by Christmas.
The Charity Shield confrontation marked the last game in charge
of Liverpool for Bill Shankly and the debut at the helm of the
Elland Road club for the brash Brian Clough. Long
time manager Don Revie had departed to take over the England
team and the Leeds Board had shocked the footballing world by
appointing one of the fiercest critics of both the team and the
manager to succeed him.
Clough, in fact, had intended to kick off his reign in a bizarre
way, as he explained: "The television pictures from Wembley, for
the traditional curtain-raiser of the Charity Shield, should have
been different. They showed dear old Bill Shankly leading out
his magnificent Liverpool side and alongside him, followed by
the Leeds team with the glummest faces ever seen at such an occasion,
there was me. Much as I admired Shanks, and I loved the man, I
didn't want to march from the tunnel at the head of the Leeds
United side that day - I asked Don Revie to lead them out, instead.
"Yes, I was prepared and eager to relinquish the honour of that
managerial march onto the Wembley turf which was, and still is,
the dream and ambition of everyone who enters the profession.
I had not won the title with Leeds - Revie had. I phoned Revie
on the day of the match. 'This is your team,' I told him, 'you
lead them out at Wembley.' Apart from anything else, I thought
it was a decent thing to do, a nice gesture towards a man who
had just won the League title - the toughest test of management
anywhere in the world. But he was not to be tempted.
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"'Pardon?' he said, obviously taken aback by my offer. 'You've
got the job now, Brian. I'm not coming down to lead them out.
It is your privilege.'
"There should be a feeling of pride and immense satisfaction
when you make that walk from the tunnel to the touchline at what
is still the most famous old stadium in the world. There always
was on the umpteen occasions I did it with my Nottingham Forest
team. I wonder how many managers have taken their teams to Wembley
as often as I did? Not many.
"I was proud - and, to use Revie's word, privileged - to walk
out alongside Shankly. In fact, I remember turning towards him
and clapping him as we walked. But there was no sense of togetherness
with those who walked
Ever the showman, Shankly led out Liverpool for the last time
- he'd announced his resignation that summer - alongside Clough.
One of the funnier sights of a nasty afternoon was Clough, the
young pretender, trying to engage the old master in friendly banter
as the teams entered the arena. Shankly completely blanked him.
Leeds and Liverpool had had some bitter battles down the years,
but it is doubtful whether there had ever been an angrier encounter
than there was that day.
The trouble started early in the game. There were niggling fouls
from the off with Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles nipping at the
heels of a Liverpool team that Shankly had rebuilt from its eminence
in the Sixties. They were about to take a vice like grip on the
English game while Leeds were on the wane. The United side, which
was for some reason very intense and irritable, had obviously
set out to win the game at all costs. The arrival of the abrasive
Clough had disturbed the Leeds camp and they were in no mood to
contribute to a frivolous showpiece event.
Early in the game, a Liverpool player had pressed Giles from
behind and clipped his ankle - the Irishman was never one to take
such treatment lying down and turned round and lashed out at the
offender. He got a booking and a stiff lecture for his trouble.
That was only the precursor to the main event of the afternoon,
however, as the play became ever more fraught and fractious. It
was probably six of one and half a dozen of the other, but Clough,
with his customary black and white vision, was clear about who
he felt was the guilty party in the clash just after the hour
which will remain the lasting memory of the game: "Billy Bremner's
behaviour was scandalous, producing one of the most notorious
incidents in Wembley history. It was as if the players were offering
grounds for all my criticism that they had resented so much.
"Bremner seemed intent on making Kevin Keegan's afternoon an
absolute misery. He kicked him just about everywhere - up the
arse, in the balls - until it became only a matter of time before
a confrontation exploded. There is only so much any man can take.
Eventually, inevitably, Keegan snapped - and they were both sent
off, Keegan whipping off his shirt and flinging it to the ground
as he went. It was a stupid gesture, but I could understand the
man's anger and frustration. It was the action of a player who
felt he had been wronged, not only by an opponent
but by a referee who had failed to stamp out intimidation before
it reached the stage of retaliation. Keegan will have regretted
his touchline tantrum immediately. A Liverpool shirt was not something
to be thrown away.
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"Keegan was a victim, not a culprit, that day at Wembley. The
double dismissal was all down to Bremner. Keegan was an innocent
party who had been pushed beyond the limit by an opponent who
appeared determined to eliminate him from the match, one way or
another. I told Bremner afterwards that he had been responsible
for the confrontation. He should have been made to pay compensation
for the lengthy period Keegan was suspended."
The two of them had clashed in the Leeds area and they started
brawling. They had to be pulled apart and separated by players
and officials and were then sent from the field. The Times was
typical in its condemnation: 'That, in itself, would have been
enough to disgust. But both men compounded the felony as they
began the long walk to the dressing rooms by shamelessly stripping
off the shirts they should have been proud to wear, Bremner, indeed,
throwing his petulantly to the ground, where it lay crumpled like
a shot seagull until cleared away by a linesman. It was a disgusting
scene, the volcanic climax of three earlier affrays which had
seen Smith and Giles booked.
'Sadly, Keegan could have been the man of the match. Leeds patently
realised this by half time and seemed intent on eliminating him
by fair means or foul. They chose the unfair method, finally goading
the little Liverpool man into hot headed retaliation with all
the dire consequences for those who consider themselves above
'Never before had Wembley witnessed such a disgrace as two British
players for the first time were dismissed from the stadium. It
made child's play of the Rattin affair in the World Cup of 1966.'
The offence resulted in a lengthy ban for the two players and
it was October before Bremner played again, by which time Clough's
ill fated period at Leeds had ended. Clough's one eyed version
of events was coloured by his nightmare experience at the club
and if truth be known, the clash was the culmination of a fierce
and long running midfield battle for control, but the repercussions
for Leeds were immense.
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The game itself was a thoroughly ill tempered affair and good
football was in very short supply. With the players too busy kicking
each other to notice, the match petered out to a 1-1 stalemate.
Leeds had been chasing the game since Phil Boersma opened the
scoring in the 20th minute, but Trevor Cherry headed home an equaliser
minutes. The goals were just a distracting sideshow to the violence.
The game went to penalties and, with the scores balanced precariously
at 5-5 in sudden death, Leeds bizarrely chose their keeper David
Harvey to go next. Harvey duly obliged by thumping the ball over
the bar. Ian Callaghan smashed home the winner for Liverpool,
but the match will be remembered only for the ridiculous sight
of Keegan and Bremner's bare-chested outrage.
There were some very hysterical newspaper articles in the days
that followed the game and some of the holier than thou members
of the media were all for kicking both clubs out of the First
Division. As it was, Keegan and Bremner were banned for 11 matches
in all and fined £500 apiece, but no further action was taken.
It was the first Charity Shield match ever to be shown on television,
and the chairman of the disciplinary committee, Vernon Stokes,
admitted that the punishment might not have been quite so severe
if the match had not been played at Wembley and shown to the viewing
The Times was fairly typical of the mood of the day in its pointed
conclusion: 'If clubs are held responsible for the behaviour of
their supporters, so should they be for their players. The final
responsibility and remedy rest with all directors and managers
and they also should share the penalty. The harder they are hit
where it hurts most, the better - either through their pockets,
with heavy fines, or by deducting points from a club's League
total. That might make everybody think twice.
'One way or another, a solution has to be found if the game is
to survive as a respectable spectacle. The final sanction may
be for all reasonable people simply to stay away and let ritual
violence destroy itself.'
It was a sorry day in the history of football. The shock of the
incident and the appalling relationship with the new manager reverberated
around Elland Road and Leeds made an awful start to their defence
of the League. They won just four points from their first seven
games, form which cost Clough his job and Leeds the title in a
season when Derby County won through with one of the lowest points
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