Part 2 - Inches from glory - Results
and table - printer
Don Revie's Leeds United
spent the first half of the 1960s earning a reputation for their
pragmatic and aggressive approach.
Revie was one of the youngest bosses in the English game when
he took the helm in 1961, following the removal of Jack
Taylor and inherited a squad built on ageing has beens, cynical
never was-es and unproven youngsters. A year
later his lacklustre team teetered on the precipice of Division
Three. Revie knew a successful career in football management might
depend on escaping the drop and that he needed an experienced
onfield leader to provide some much needed direction.
He gambled £25,000 of United's meagre funds on Bobby
Collins, a former Scottish international who was coming to
the end of an illustrious career with Celtic and Everton.
Collins was exactly the leader that United needed, inspiring
a string of results that saw the club escape the drop. The Scot
introduced a ferocious will to win and an obsessive refusal to
take prisoners, bringing shape and fire to the team's play. Revie
was convinced Collins could be the fulcrum of a rebuilt side,
reinforced by the host of promising youngsters emerging through
the club's youth development scheme.
The Scot was not averse to the application of some fairly dubious
tactics. His gritty and often downright spiteful contributions
soon earned all the wrong sort of headlines and won United infamy
for their base approach. All the same, their style proved phenomenally
successful and the team marched to the Second
Division title in 1964, a triumph that was delineated by a
series of attritional, ill-tempered performances, most notably
against fierce promotion rivals, Sunderland.
Revie had built an army around Collins, enlisting a bunch of
nondescript young foot soldiers whom the grizzled Scottish warrior
could shape to his design.
Acerbic centre-half Jack Charlton
and fiery Scottish winger Billy Bremner were already at Elland
Road when Revie arrived, but it took his magic touch to get the
best out of them and they were mainstays of the Revie revolution;
the teenagers, Gary Sprake, Paul Reaney and Norman Hunter, became
automatic choices after Revie blooded them; the
tricky South African Albert Johanneson was the scourge of
Second Division defences with his speed and trickery; and the
bargain buys, Don Weston,
Jim Storrie and Willie
Bell, soon proved their true worth.
However, the icing on the cake came with the big money men, skilful
Irish winger Johnny Giles and former England World Cup front man
Alan Peacock. The two made
outstanding contributions to United's promotion push.
And yet it all revolved around the remarkable Collins, a one-man
hit squad, with his boundless energy, accurate long ball game,
dead ball armoury and dogged tackling ... it was the refusal to
accept defeat which had made the difference. United were soft
touches no longer and the top clubs would learn to fear their
high tempo approach and aggression.
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Manager Revie chose not to strengthen his squad in the summer,
despite the departure of two old stagers, Scottish international
half-back Eric Smith and full-back Grenville Hair, saying "I intend
to give the present team a run in the First Division and am very
confident about them."
Major Frank Buckley had
Hair for Leeds in November 1948, and he went on to play 443 League
games and win representative honours, though never a full cap.
He joined Wellington Town (later Telford United) as player manager
and later became boss at Bradford City. He died of a heart attack
at the untimely age of 36 after supervising a training session
at Valley Parade.
A broken leg in September 1962 effectively ended Smith's Elland
Road career after a period of some success with Celtic. He moved
back to Scotland with Morton, going on to become a coach and manager
and eventually working in the Middle East with Don Revie in the
Revie's decision to remain faithful to the players who won promotion
was seen as naïve by many critics, who suggested that United's
over physical approach would be found wanting in the higher echelons
of the League. But the manager reasoned that his hungry young
men could shake up the giants of the game. His team were certainly
excellent Second Division champions - their points total of 63
had only ever been bettered by the 70 of Tottenham Hotspur in
1920. Revie was heartened by the success in recent seasons of
Ipswich Town, Spurs and Liverpool - all three clubs had secured
the title in the wake of promotion. The national press, however,
predicted a season of struggle for the Yorkshire side.
United's pre-season preparations went well, with successful trips
to East Germany and Northern Ireland, although there were some
setbacks. Alan Peacock suffered a knee injury that put him out
of action for months. and Billy Bremner was arrested for being
drunk in charge of a car, though he was eventually cleared following
a 60-minute hearing in September.
Revie was phlegmatic about these events, but was pushed to anger
by other concerns.
The Football Association published a report in its official journal,
the FA News, at the beginning of August, criticising the trend
for poor discipline on the field. United were named as the club
with the poorest record in 1963-64 for players cautioned, censured,
fined or suspended.
Rank paranoia was a feature of Revie's career and it never required
much to pierce his surface aura of calmness. His hackles rose
sharply at what he dismissed as an unfair attack on his club.
He pointed out that the report referred to all teams, including
reserve and youth sections, telling the Yorkshire Evening Post's
Phil Brown: "We did not have a single first team player sent off
last season and we had only one suspended, Billy Bremner, after
a series of cautions, which is a lot more than many clubs can
say. The majority of our offences were committed by junior second
team players or boys."
Revie went on to insist that his players were "hard but fair,
and I would not have it otherwise. Any player of mine must play
hard. But … we must get rid of this tag of dirty which I do not
think the FA should have put upon us in their official magazine
last week, and I shall be relieved if we get through the early
season without trouble."
The club complained formally to the FA, as follows:
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"We would point out that we have only had two players sent off
at Leeds in the last 44 years. We maintain that the dirty team
tag which was blown up by the press could prejudice not only the
general public but
the officials controlling the game, and, to put it mildly, could
have an effect on the subconscious approach of both referee and
linesmen, to say nothing of the minds of spectators, especially
some types who are watching football today. It could lead to some
very unsavoury incidents."
The FA dismissed United's request out of hand, claiming, "the
reference to Leeds United, to which exception had been taken,
was factual and the article itself was fair comment on a matter
about which the council was particularly concerned."
There was plenty of evidence that Leeds pushed things too far,
and the club's strident defence smacked of hypocrisy. Certainly,
it brought United's reputation firmly into the public eye and
hinted at trouble to come. The combination of United's paranoid
tendencies, hostile Press coverage and opponents who sought to
get their retaliation in first made for a volatile mix. All it
would take was an officious referee for there to be potentially
explosive results. The coming months promised to be interesting.
Away from such controversy, Don Revie was confident about his
players' chances. Jim Storrie: "After winning promotion, most
managers would talk in terms of consolidation. He spoke in terms
of finishing in the top four. He said, 'We will come up against
some world class players but we will be the best team in the League.'
So he had the optimists among the lads thinking we would win the
League and even the pessimists thought we might finish halfway
The manager and his back room team were nothing if not well prepared
and this was the year in which the infamous Leeds United dossiers
came to prominence.
Don Revie: "Towards the end of the 1963-64 season, I heard some
good reports about a young player, so I sent Syd Owen along to
run the rule over him. Well, the report that landed on my desk
the following Monday was a masterpiece! I had never before seen
such a detailed breakdown of a footballer. Syd had left nothing
to chance. He outlined how good the player was on his right and
left side; the angles or lines along which he tended to run with
the ball; the shooting positions he favoured, and so on. It struck
us that a report like this would be invaluable if applied to the
teams we met each week, and it all started from there.
"Each week, either Syd, Maurice Lindley or myself would watch
our opponents for the following Saturday. The report was typed
on the Monday morning and we would spend the rest of the week
working on it with the players. On many occasions, we held practice
matches in which the reserve players adopted the same style of
play as the team in question, and the first team lads had to try
and break it down. For example, if the opposition did not read
the game well at the back, we would practice decoy runs designed
to pull their defenders forward so that balls could be played
over their heads for Leeds players to run on to. That type of
A typical example, featuring Blackburn's 4-1 win against Blackpool
in September 1964, ran thus:
"The score wasn't a true reflection of the game as two of the
Blackburn goals came in the last ten minutes when Blackpool were
going all out to equalise. They played very well mid-field but
had no penetration due to the inability of Charnley and Oates
to get away from their respective defenders. Ball at I-R was the
outstanding player on the field, all the forward play that was
dangerous was a result of this player's work. He is a very difficult
player to mark as he wanders all over the field with a particular
liking for picking up balls on the left wing.
"The O-R, Lea, is fast but didn't see a lot of the ball. He often
moved over to an I-L position with Oates (I-L) going to the right
wing. Herne on the left wing was ineffective. He carries a strong
shot in both feet and from the one free kick Blackpool had outside
the Blackburn penalty area the ball was pushed to the side of
the line up for Herne to run on to and shoot.
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"Charnley who was getting up well in the air was the man
they were trying to 'find' with the other free kicks and in fact
scored a good goal from one such free kick. Taken by Armfield
about ten yards inside the Blackburn half and out near the touchline,
he lofted the ball into the penalty area, and Charnley timed
his run perfectly to beat England in the air. From a cross Blackpool
stationed a player about the six-yard line nearest to where the
corner is being taken; the ball is sometimes played along the
ground and sometimes about head high to be helped into the goalmouth.
"Defensively, Blackpool were suspect down the middle; both the
F-Bs play tight on the winger and don't give much cover down the
middle. Gratrix at C-H was allowing the C-F to come off him five
yards and turn with it, the L-H, Green, who was playing defensively,
didn't give enough 'depth'.
"The R-H, Turner, who was deputising for Rowe, played more of
an attacking game. He is strong and kicks a good ball, you feel
that the wanderings of Ball (I-R) are part of the tactics of trying
to draw his opposing W-H out of position so that Turner can go
have a crack at goal.
"Both the backs are fast and good tacklers. As a result of their
tight marking, Waiters in goal didn't have any crosses to deal
with. He had no chance with any of the goals. Three of the goals
were a result of attacks down the middle and Blackburn could have
had another three from similar attacks. The other goal was a penalty
when Gratrix handled a long throw into the penalty area. He was
pushed when going up to head the ball and grabbed it. The referee,
however, didn't give the foul. Turner was unable to subdue Douglas
and gave him too much room. It was when Douglas was on the ball,
particularly around the halfway line and he had slowed the game
down, that Blackpool looked most suspect. McEvoy would make one
of his strikes, which was nearly always dangerous."
As ever, the full report went on for page after page, clinically
dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of each player for the
edification of the manager, but one gets the picture from this
brief extract. Revie adored the depth and detail, which appealed
to his analytical mind, but many of the players were less positive.
Norman Hunter: "I think we did pay the opposition too much respect.
But whatever Don did at that time, you had respect for. Though
looking back, I would never have a dossier to play against a team,
I would have certain points. We analysed teams far too much.
"One thing Don never did was to change his routine. It went on
up until the time he left. That was his way... and sometimes,
even though you were thirty-odd, you were sitting there through
half an hour, three quarters of an hour, talking about players
you already knew. But that was his way."
Billy Bremner: "I'd look at the dossier though I wasn't taking
a lot in. But I thought I'd better pay attention because if he
said to me, 'What was I saying there?' and I wasn't paying attention,
he wouldn't be too pleased. Yet if we played Arsenal on the Saturday
and then again on a Tuesday, three days later, we'd have the same
dossier. The only time I would 1isten was when he was talking
about continental players I didn't know."
United kicked off the season with a game at Aston Villa, and
had to do without Peacock, who had further strained his knee in
a training session. Villa had just survived a relegation battle
and manager Joe Mercer resigned in July after suffering a stroke.
He had taken the Birmingham club back into the First Division
in 1960 and won the inaugural League Cup competition in 1961.
There was little room for sentiment in the game any more, though,
and the Villa board had been alarmed by their club's struggle
to survive in the big league.
The Leeds team included only five players with First Division
experience: Bremner, Charlton, Weston, Giles and Collins. For
Sprake, Reaney, Bell, Hunter, Storrie and Johanneson it was the
first taste of football in England's premier competition, while
Bremner's experience amounted to just 11 appearances in Division
One, gained in 1959-60 when United were relegated.
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The Scot was naturally excited by having another shot at the
"To me it meant that we were going to be playing against clubs
like Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and other
teams who were household names and had been part of my soccer
education as I was
growing up. If I had not heard of Leeds before I joined the club,
I had certainly heard of Matt Busby and his great club. When the
fixtures were announced we all gathered round to look at them
like a bunch of schoolkids who were looking for their exam results.
"Our first game was against Aston Villa at Villa Park and it
was a typical opening day of the season, with the hot sun beating
down on the pitch and the stadium packed with fans who were either
wearing sunglasses or using one hand to shield their eyes from
the sun. We were very keyed up before the game and we could hardly
wait to get out there and get the game and the season started.
"When the whistle blew we were like greyhounds let out of the
traps. The more experienced Villa players must have wondered what
was going on. We launched attack after attack in the first quarter
of an hour and ran Villa ragged. You can imagine how we felt when
they opened the scoring. It was Phil Woosnam, the Welsh international,
who calmly put Villa ahead while we were still chasing about the
park. I couldn't believe it. I don't often panic but I distinctly
remember a dark cloud of self-doubt passing over. 'We're not going
to be good enough,' I thought.
"The boss couldn't wait to get us back in the dressing room.
He didn't shout at us, but he told us quite firmly that we were
to stop running about like a set of madmen and get down to playing
calm football. That moment was another big step in our growing
up process. We went back out and played exactly as he had told
us and Albert Johanneson equalised. We found that we were now
matching Aston Villa pass for pass and gradually taking control
of the game. Jack Charlton put us ahead and that is how it stayed
until the end of the game. We had won 2-1, taken maximum points
and had grown up a little, all in the space of one game."
Some United players required time to acclimatise, but Johanneson
took to the game like a duck to water and tormented Villa from
the first whistle, taking his goal coolly when keeper Sidebottom
couldn't hold Weston's vicious drive.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, "once they were level
United rarely looked like losing, and they probed away at Villa's
weakness in middle defence starting from centre-half Sleeuwenhoek
with a lot of success. Once they were ahead, with Charlton nimbly
exploiting that same weakness with a peach of an attacking centre-half's
goal, they never looked like being held."
Bobby Collins was delighted with the win: "A great result, and
a great start for the boys." Manager Revie, however, preferred
to keep his feet on the ground: "It was a very good result at
Villa Park, but don't let us get carried away. I'm just taking
each match as it comes, like we did last season. The next is with
Liverpool and Liverpool are a very hard side indeed to beat."
He was right to be cautious, for the Anfield side were the reigning
League champions, having won the title in the second season after
their own return to the big time.
Leeds, no respecter of reputations, took the game to the Reds
and thoroughly merited a memorable
4-2 victory. Only 36,005 spectators were present to witness
the historic triumph - the ground was more than a third empty
as chairman Harry Reynolds opted for a return to his premium pricing
policy of earlier seasons.
Frank McGhee of the Daily Mirror: "Leeds lost what they were
most anxious to get rid of, a reputation for too much vigour,
too much defence and not enough attacking ideas. They certainly
had far too much swift striking power for the Liverpool defence,
which last season boasted the best record in the First Division.
I have never seen them so often rattled, so easily riddled as
they were last night by a Leeds team that still plays this game
furiously, but on this evidence, has temperament on a tight rein."
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Wolves made United fight hard for victory in the next match,
twice leading before two goals from Jim Storrie and another from
Jack Charlton secured a third straight win, this time by 3-2,
to announce that Leeds were, indeed, here to do much more than
make up the numbers.
However, it soon looked like the breakneck start was down merely
to a promoted side having the advantage of surprise. United lapsed
into a disappointing spell of just two victories from eight games,
leaving them in tenth spot. Among four defeats was a dismal 4-0
reverse at Blackpool, when young Alan Ball terrorised the visitors.
The dossiers had hinted Ball was a star in the making and the
memory of his performance remained long with Don Revie, who would
later spend months chasing his signature.
One reason for United's loss of form was a crippling injury list.
In addition to Peacock, who now faced a cartilage operation, five
first teamers missed part of the initial six weeks: Johnny Giles
was out for a month and three games with knee ligament damage;
Bobby Collins (one game with a strained thigh); Don Weston (five
games with stomach muscle injuries); Willie Bell (three games,
ankle); and Ian Lawson
(cartilage). Gary Sprake, Albert Johanneson, Billy Bremner, Jack
Charlton, Jim Storrie and Jimmy
Greenhoff also suffered various sprains and strains, but soldiered
on despite the agony.
More worrying for Leeds United, however, was the September news
that Don Revie had applied for the vacant manager's job at Sunderland.
Former Wearsiders boss Alan Brown resigned during the summer
to take over at Sheffield Wednesday, who had also pursued Revie
for a time. The news of the vacancy piqued the United manager's
interest. He had been a little disgruntled when Leeds had offered
him only a three-year contract following promotion; he had coveted
the security of a five-year deal and the contract had lain unsigned
on his desk throughout the summer.
The Roker Park club was undoubtedly bigger than United, enjoying
a long and rich footballing tradition and hosting significantly
larger crowds. Revie had played for them towards the tail end
of his playing career and the job would have provided a move back
to his native North East.
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It may have been down to some Machiavellian ruse on the part
of Revie that on 16 September newspapers carried a story that
the manager had placed his hat in the ring for the Sunderland
The day before, United's board of directors had met to consider
Revie's request for a five-year contract. Chairman Harry Reynolds
had argued Revie's cause long and hard in a fractious meeting.
Some of the directors were reluctant to extend the manager's contract
and two of them threatened to resign.
The meeting finished in stalemate. Revie had been due to travel
with Reynolds and Don Weston to watch the Rotherham v Portsmouth
game, but took himself off instead to the Bradford derby while
he considered his future. He had a lucky escape, for on the way
back Reynolds' car was involved in a road accident - he collided
with a motorcyclist, hitting a wooden electricity pole and ending
up in a ditch.
Weston escaped with shock and played the following day in a 3-0
victory against Blackpool, but Reynolds was not so lucky. He was
detained overnight in a Barnsley hospital with face and head wounds.
Milking the sympathy vote for all it was worth, Reynolds continued
to press the case for Revie: "I myself have fought to get Don's
contract amended to five years. Other directors on the board are
behind me, but we are not strong enough to carry it through."
The board met again the next day and relented, granting Revie
his five-year contract. Vice-chairman Percy Woodward presided
over affairs in the absence of Reynolds and said: "Everybody is
wonderfully happy, and I personally am overjoyed that the question
of Don's future has been amicably settled. Naturally we were all
upset and rather surprised at the unexpected turn of events, but
now everything has turned out all right, and I am quite thrilled
about it. Don has got what he wanted - a five-year contract and
the salary increase for which he asked, and I am sure he is just
as pleased as we are. He didn't really want to leave. We know
It was thought that the Sunderland job had offered £5,000 a year,
and that the board now upped Revie's wages to £4,500.
Ever mindful of his public image, Revie sought to stress other
reasons for deciding to stay: "I had landed
the Sunderland job, and was walking into the locker room at Leeds
to collect my kit when I came face to face with a group of newly
signed apprentices. Believe it or not, they had tears in their
eyes when I told them I was leaving, and that touched me. It might
seem trite to say that I looked upon my players as sons, but this
is true. Most of them had been with the club since they left school,
and I promised their mothers and fathers I would look after them.
I had repeatedly stressed the importance of loyalty to these lads
and thought: 'They've been loyal to you, so it's up to you to
show the same loyalty in return'."
Storm in a tea cup over, Revie and his charges returned to the
job in hand of making their mark in the First Division and within
weeks were embroiled in controversy.
They had imported their barnstorming, roughhouse tactics wholesale
into Division One, and their approach brought out the worst in
their opponents, as noted by the Yorkshire Evening Post's Phil
Brown after the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on September 19: "It was
all hurry and scurry at breakneck speed, with little time for
finesses, invention or the unexpected: the ball was passed incessantly
crossfield or backwards in an effort to unhinge packed defensive
covering. Both sides resembled a terrier scurrying the length
of a hedge in search of a gap. 'Never mind the ball' seemed to
be the order of the day as scything, irresponsible tackles ruffled
tempers. The midget Collins once retaliated on Harris viciously
and had his name taken when he might well have been despatched
to the dressing room to ponder his action; McCreadie hooked up
Giles painfully and, with half an hour gone, left Leeds permanently
reduced to 10 men as the wounded winger was carried away from
the scene on a stretcher."
That tussle was as nothing, however, to a remarkably ill-tempered
affair at Everton on 7 November. Four straight wins during
October saw Leeds climb to fourth and they were in no mood to
return from Liverpool empty handed. Bobby Collins' former club
had a proud tradition and were League champions in 1963 - they
refused to simply roll over for the uncouth Yorkshire upstarts.
It was a case of unstoppable force against immovable object: something
had to give, and it was very nearly the good name of football.
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From the opening seconds, the match brimmed over with bitter
aggression. Everton full-back Sandy Brown was dismissed after
five minutes for punching Johnny Giles.
Willie Bell headed home the only goal of the game in the first-half
before the referee ordered both sides off the field for ten minutes
to calm down as the crowd threw missiles onto the pitch.
Bell was laid out after a collision and had to be carried off.
He said: "I was dazed by the collision and when I came to, Les
Cocker, Giles and Storrie were the only other men left on the
pitch. I thought
I was dreaming! During the break, which lasted nearly ten minutes,
Revie told us to keep our heads, and naturally all the lads started
talking about Everton's tactics. Albert Johanneson claimed someone
was calling him a black bastard and Revie joked: 'Call him a white
bastard then!' That relieved the tension a bit, but the game itself
got out of hand again.
"It was absolutely frightening. From the kick-off, Jack Charlton
booted the ball upfield and one of Everton's players came right
through and kicked him. It got so bad that one of our players
spent most of the match watching the clock, hoping for the game
to end! The crowd baited us from the start while Everton appeared
to have an obsession about gaining the edge over us, physically.
We couldn't help but get involved."
The popular feeling was that Leeds had got what they were asking
for, but it was Everton who committed most of the fouls. For Leeds,
the end justified the means and their 1-0 victory cemented fourth
place spot, but their reputation for trouble was becoming all-consuming.
Billy Bremner: "I've never known the Gaffer say to us to go out
and kick them, or waste time. But I would say critics of that
early side were justified. We were young, we were cocky, and we
weren't the most attractive team to watch. When we were away from
home and we scored a goal, I can remember thinking that the 25,000
people or so watching would be as well going home there and then.
When we came out of the Second Division, we were always winning
1-0 but we could see we weren't contributing a lot to the general
entertainment. I could understand people thinking it wasn't nice
to watch. And the managers thought we were bloody winning too
"We thought a lot about our game and picked up traits from the
Continentals. What we called cynical in this country was called
professional when the Italians played it. We picked it up from
them … how they would just walk out to take a corner, or if the
game was getting a bit heated, someone would feign an injury.
Things like that."
Leeds had played a series of games against Italian clubs in the
wake of the John Charles
transfer deals and had seen first hand how successful those tactics
could be in unsettling opponents. Some of that approach had been
incorporated into their repertoire as long ago as 1961.
Four days after the battle at Goodison, a blistering performance
by Bobby Collins and goals by Jack Charlton, young
reserve forward Rod Belfitt and Jim Storrie earned another
excellent victory, 3-1 at home to Arsenal. It was Belfitt's third
goal in six games as he partnered Storrie.
United continued to impress, beating Birmingham 4-1 at Elland
Road to chalk up a seventh consecutive win - Leeds were now third,
a point behind Chelsea and two behind leaders Manchester United.
A 3-1 reverse at West Ham rudely interrupted the winning streak,
with United managing only a consolation goal from Belfitt after
being three down at the interval.
Another youthful striker, Rod
Johnson took over from Belfitt for the next match, at home
to West Bromwich Albion, and he scored the only goal as United
began a run of four straight 1-0 wins, the second
of which saw Manchester United beaten on their own pitch.
A smothering, blanket defence blunted the Red Devils' all-star
forward line of John Connelly, Bobby Charlton, David Herd, Denis
Law and George Best. The home crowd groaned its disappointment
as Gary Sprake denied their heroes time and time again in one
of his greatest ever performances. Bobby Collins netted the only
goal of the game after a deft move by Johnny Giles and Terry Cooper.
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Further single goal victories against Aston Villa and Wolves
had Leeds second by December 19, with only Manchester United's
superior goal difference keeping them on top. This Leeds United
side was enjoying a degree of success that had never been experienced
by its predecessors. That they had done so without first choice
spearhead Alan Peacock, still two months from fitness, was astonishing.
On Boxing Day, though, Blackburn Rovers came to Elland Road and
"did a Leeds" on the architects of the defensive blanket, grinding
out a 1-1 draw after snatching a shock opener. The Lancastrians,
inspired by Welsh centre-half Mike England, battled like men possessed,
but two days later goals from Storrie and Johanneson earned United
revenge with a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park. Derek Hodgson wrote:
"On a night raw enough to keep Wenceslas at home, Leeds finished
their merriest Christmas with a victory that makes them joint
kings of the First Division. Live, lean Leeds were twice as nimble
as Rovers on a heavily sanded, frost bound pitch. They won for
the reason that has become so familiar to First Division clubs.
Leeds will do twice as much work in half as much time as almost
any other team."
The two points drew Leeds level at the top with Manchester United,
who could only draw at home to Sheffield United.
On 2 January, Leeds had the chance to go clear as they hosted
Sunderland, with Manchester's game against Fulham postponed.
The Black Cats had come up from the Second Division as runners
up to Leeds after a furious and dogged battle, which had seen
a couple of irritable matches between the two sides. The Roker
club's courting of Don Revie in the autumn had done nothing to
endear them to the Elland Road faithful, but they were by now
under the management of former Middlesbrough and England captain
Leeds held the upper hand throughout the ninety minutes, but
Sunderland defended stoutly and their keeper, Sandy McLaughlan
(at 5ft 8in, their shortest ever last line of defence), gave a
breathtaking performance. Bought as a stopgap at the start of
the season from Kilmarnock while regular goalkeeper Jim Montgomery
recovered from a broken arm, McLaughlan made save after brilliant
save and looked likely to deny Leeds the win they deserved.
The game was drifting towards a goalless draw as United let their
frustration show. But then came the breakthrough. In the 72nd
minute, Jack Charlton broke
the deadlock when he nodded a Bobby Collins free kick into the
net. Nine minutes later, Norman Hunter planted another header
past McLaughlan, to make it 2-0. Leeds looked home and dry, but
Hood pulled one back a minute later, shooting out of a ruck at
That was merely a consolation, though, and Sunderland had little
more to offer.
The 2-1 win ensured Leeds United led the table, two points clear
of Chelsea and Manchester United. The chasing pair both had a
game in hand, but no one at Elland Road cared as they celebrated
a remarkable achievement, less than three years since the side
had almost slid into Division Three.
Writing in his weekly column in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Don
Revie expressed his joy: "That 2-1 victory … has made me just
about the proudest manager in soccer. How does it feel to be there?
In one word - great! The road to the top has been hard and gruelling,
and I am not overlooking the fact that we are now probably going
to find it twice as tough to remain there.
"I did not really expect Leeds to do so well. Many of our first
teamers had never before played in the First Division, and I felt
that it would be a good effort on their part if they could mature
to keep in the top half. That we find ourselves challenging for
the championship is a pleasant surprise. Personally, without detracting
from the lads' achievement, it will be an even greater surprise
to me if they win the title this season.
"The hard work of every player is now beginning to pay dividends,
but we've got a long way to go before we are a really class team.
Providing the players continue to put as much thought and dedication
into the game as they have been doing, that target will be reached
in two years' time."
Revie played down the achievement to keep his players' feet on
the ground, but he was beside himself with glee at how well his
men had done. He knew that it would take a supreme effort to retain
their lofty perch, but as the New Year opened, the hungry upstarts
of Leeds United had every reason to sport huge grins as they looked
down on the rest of the League.
Part 2 - Inches from glory - Results
and table - printer
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