Part 2 - Champions - Results
and table - printer
1968 is best remembered for the atmosphere of social
upheaval and unrest that enveloped the globe. A student protest
in May led to a general strike of nearly ten million workers in
France. Major demonstrations of solidarity followed in Mexico
City, Berlin, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Belgrade. As John Lennon
sang, "You say you want a revolution", the 'Year of the Barricades'
brought the Tet offensive in Vietnam, the Prague Spring, the assassinations
of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and Black Power demonstrations
at the Olympics.
For English football the revolution was less seismic,
but undoubtedly significant in the history of Leeds United. 1968
finally brought silverware after four years of heartbreaking near
misses. The Football League
Cup was secured in March and within six months Leeds added
the Fairs Cup.
Their trophy duck well and truly broken, United
prepared for the 1968/69 season with some confidence. In 1967,
Don Revie had sent his men
out in scattergun pursuit of four trophies - this time the focus
was on the big one, the League title. Johnny Giles: "Revie called
us all together after a pre-season training session and proclaimed
: 'You are going to win the championship this time, lads, and
what's more you are going to do so without losing a single League
match !' We knew the Boss was serious, and honestly believed we
were quite capable of achieving such a feat."
A marathon 66 game season
had left the Whites "almost like automata," according to Eric
Todd of the Guardian. There was to be no repeat this time as the
domestic cup competitions provided only brief, if welcome, distractions
from the main business of securing a first championship.
Revie's resources had been stretched thinly, but
the manager stayed out of the transfer market during the summer,
despite an excellent financial year, with the club returning a
profit of £57,635. He was convinced of the strength of his squad,
though the lack of a really consistent goalscorer was a cause
of disquiet among supporters.
back to top
Revie hinted at a more attacking style this time
out, "a policy of free expression by the players," according to
the Yorkshire Post's Richard Ulyatt. Johnny Giles: "We switched
to a more attractive, open style of play in away matches. We took
this latter step, not only to try to shrug off our 'unattractive'
image, but to bring us more away victories. We felt we were well
equipped to win the championship the previous season, but threw
the title away through
being over-cautious away from home. We were too easily satisfied
with a draw in situations in which we should have aimed for victory.
Consequently, United won only five away matches. The lesson we
learned was simple enough. While defence must be the first priority
in soccer, success goes only to those sides willing and talented
enough to use it as a springboard for attacks."
A curtain-raising friendly against Celtic before
a 75,000 Hampden Park crowd in early August promised much. United
were impressive against the 1967 European Cup winners. Their formation
was an embryonic 4-5-1, with Gary Sprake in goal behind a rearguard
of Paul Reaney, Jack Charlton,
Norman Hunter and Terry Cooper, which was shielded by Paul Madeley
as a holding midfield anchor. Peter Lorimer, Billy Bremner, Johnny
Giles and Eddie Gray ranged across the pitch in support of lone
front runner Mick Jones. The approach was fluid, with overlapping
full-backs and goals likely to come from anywhere. Mike
O'Grady, when fully restored from early season incapacity,
was the one other player to feature with any regularity in a season
founded on stability and obdurate consistency.
played the first three League games, Terry
Hibbitt nine of the first ten, Rod
Belfitt 6 and Mick Bates 3, while Albert Johanneson managed
just one substitute appearance in the League to go with two starts
in the cups. Apart from Terry Yorath, with a brief appearance
off the bench in Europe, that was it, with the twelve main names
monopolising matters. Astonishing!
United beat the Scottish champions 2-1 with a polished
performance. Celtic took a first half lead but the Whites came
out fighting after the break. Giles smacked one goal home from
35 yards and then Lorimer got the winner with a sublime chip.
John Begg in the Yorkshire Post: "Leeds United could
well be in for their best season since they returned to top class
football. They were a superbly drilled side … When Celtic won
the League championship last season, they scored 100 goals in
34 games, but their attack only found a loophole in the Elland
Road iron curtain and it came with a penalty kick."
The victory was a confidence booster for the first
competitive outing, the first
leg of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup final. The manager retained
the eleven that bested Celtic.
United were not convincing against Ferencvaros,
one of the finest teams in Europe, but secured a 1-0 win thanks
to a scrappy goal by Jones. It was understandably tense and tight,
with some uncompromising challenges as the Hungarians denied Leeds
the clear lead they sought to take to Budapest.
back to top
Despite being flattened in the second half by keeper
Geczi, Jones was fit to lead the attack as United commenced their
League campaign, on 10 August against Southampton at the Dell.
The only change was Greenhoff partnering Jones up front with Madeley
at left-back in place of Cooper.
Leeds conceded a soft goal from Southampton's opening
attack after 90 seconds. Saints full-back Kirkup fired in a centre
that skidded off Charlton's head, leaving Sprake immobile as it
flew low into the far corner of the net.
The success prompted some ill-conceived confidence
in the Saints ranks and as they poured forward in search of a
second goal, United struck swiftly on the counter attack. Bremner
stepped over Jones' low cross from the left, leaving Lorimer to
hammer the equaliser from 20 yards. The Scot left the field soon
afterwards with a torn muscle to be replaced by Terry Hibbitt,
"spindly legged and more enthusiastic in his running than anyone
on the field" (Richard Dodd in the Yorkshire Post).
Jones gave United the lead five minutes before the
break, beating two defenders to a long clearance by Sprake, and
after 63 minutes Hibbitt made it 3-1 with a brilliantly executed
left-foot volley that dipped under the bar at the last minute.
David Lacey in the Guardian: "Many of the crowd
must have wondered how Leeds had earned their reputation for mean
mindedness and spoiling tactics; certainly Don Revie's promise
of a more positive approach this season held good as Leeds prised
open Southampton's shaky defence with neat approach work and incisive
A thumping 4-1 victory followed against
promoted Queens Park Rangers, though a spirited West London side
made United struggle for some time to make class tell.
Richard Ulyatt in the Yorkshire Post: "When Hibbitt
headed Leeds into the lead after eight minutes, it really seemed
all over bar the shouting ... That goal was a model of accuracy,
first by the hard working Jones with a pass to Lorimer, then a
studied pass lobbed over the heads of Watson and Hazell and wide
of Springett and finally Hibbitt's well controlled header into
goal. A 40-yard dipping dive by Hunter almost sealed the issue
... but Leeds by then seemed to be so sure of their superiority
that they became too casual."
Rangers settled into the game and after 37 minutes
Wilks steered the ball into the net when Sprake could not gather
a shot from Allen.
Leeds recovered the lead in the 57th minute just
as the game seemed to be drifting away from them. Hibbitt was
again at the centre of the action and his cross was perfectly
placed for Giles to head home.
Jones after 67 minutes and Reaney two minutes from
the end gave the scoreline a flattering touch.
Leeds ended the week against Stoke City at Elland
Road. Deprived of Giles, Madeley and Lorimer, United's 2-0 victory
left them the only side with a 100% record.
United's dependence on Johnny Giles was becoming
evident. When he was playing and on form, Giles brought something
special to their game. In his absence the Leeds attack lacked
conviction, cohesion and creativity. The Irishman was subdued
through injury against QPR and missing completely against Stoke.
United struggled on both occasions. He was to remain on the sidelines
until the beginning of October.
Next came another promoted side, Ipswich Town. The
Suffolk outfit had made a promising start, though they were without
regular keeper Ken Hancock, injured in the opening game. 19-year-old
Alec Bugg took over between the sticks and was found wanting as
Leeds won 3-2.
back to top
Rod Belfitt opened the scoring before Ipswich could
draw breath. Albert Barham in the Guardian: "I have seen teams
caught when they are cold and I have seen quick goals, but not
one combining both elements as cleverly as Leeds did last night
... Bremner intercepted the ball from the kick off and sent a
pass swiftly through to O'Grady. An even faster pass was slid
to the feet of the galloping Belfitt and Leeds were a goal up
certainly inside 20 seconds."
O'Grady, in his first appearance of the season,
made it 2-0 after 23 minutes, though Town clawed back two goals
to draw level by the first minute of the second half. It looked
like United might surrender their first point, but Hibbitt scored
the winner in the 78th minute with his third goal of the campaign.
His long-range effort deceived the luckless Bugg, bouncing into
the net off his body following a mistimed dive.
The win maintained United's leadership of the division
but their seemingly imperious march was frustrated on 24 August.
The match at Nottingham Forest was abandoned at half time with
the score 1-1 after a fire in the main stand.
The blaze started in the dressing rooms, possibly
from an electrical fault, and it spread rapidly, the whole stand
going up in flames. Some of the Forest players said that after
reaching their dressing room they had to batter a door down to
get out. There was no panic, despite a crowd of 31,126, and neither
were there any casualties.
Although most of the steelwork was left standing,
the stand was clearly unsafe and Forest had to play their next
six matches at Notts County's nearby Meadow Lane.
The wags had a field day - wry Forest followers
joked that when the stand was rebuilt, it was constructed the
wrong way round, fans being forced to watch the action; it was
reported that Jack Charlton lost his wallet in the fire, amazing
team mates who didn't know he had one!
Johnny Giles: "Billy Bremner told me afterwards
that the Leeds players were listening so intently to Revie's tactical
instructions for the second half that for a time they were completely
oblivious to the fact that smoke was billowing through the dressing
room door. Gary Sprake tried to tell Billy he smelt burning, only
to be told in no uncertain terms: 'Wrap up, the Boss is talking!'
"Another amusing incident to emerge from this unusual
episode concerns young reserve forward Terry Hibbitt, who went
back into the dressing room when everyone had left to get the
money out of his trouser pockets-and clean forgot to take his
trousers as well! Terry was ribbed unmercifully about this for
The goals were coming readily for Leeds, but Don
Revie was not complacent. Knowing that everything was riding on
the over worked Mick Jones, Revie tabled an £80,000 bid for Burnley's
Scottish winger, Willie Morgan.
Morgan had been negotiating a new contract but the
Turf Moor club's autocratic chairman, Bob Lord, refused his wages
demand. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Morgan was
on his way to Elland Road, but Lord blocked the sale and the winger
moved to Manchester United in a £117,000 deal.
Revie also had to cope with the loss of one of his
bright young stars when 22-year-old Jimmy Greenhoff departed for
Birmingham City in a £70,000 transfer. Greenhoff had played in
most of United's games in 1967/68, but was not guaranteed a start
when everyone was fit. He was desperate for first team football,
accepting a move into the Second Division as a price worth paying.
back to top
Leeds dropped their first point of the season on
28 August in a disappointing home draw with Sunderland while the
last day of the month brought a vital battle against title rivals
Liverpool, also at Elland Road. United were still dogged by injury,
with Giles, Madeley and Gray all sidelined and Belfitt and Hibbitt
continuing to deputise.
The contest was dominated by defences, and there
were few serious chances. United took one that came their way
after 27 minutes to register the only goal of the night. Billy
Bremner sent a speculative ball down the middle and Liverpool
skipper Ron Yeats slipped as he tried to clear. Mick Jones outpaced
Yeats to pick up the loose ball, rounded onrushing keeper Tommy
Lawrence and slid the ball home.
Leeds built on the result with a 2-1 victory against
Wolves the following Saturday. They were in great heart as they
travelled for the second leg
of their Fairs Cup final against Ferencvaros in the Nep Stadium.
With goalkeeper Gary Sprake in heroic form, United held out for
the goalless draw they required. It was one of the most glorious
nights in the club's chequered history.
The team were soon defending their title, returning
to action a week later against Standard Liege, formidable opponents
indeed in the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
Perhaps Standard's reputation prompted the cautious
approach, or maybe the lack of a cutting edge to the Leeds attack,
but it was clear from the start that United would settle for a
Phil Brown in the Evening Post: "United fell back
on their old recipe of stone walling and few sides can use that
recipe better." Don Revie said of his defenders, "They were magnificent
in the second half."
The goalless draw made United favourites to progress
and gave them a boost before the visit of table topping Arsenal
on 21 September. The
Gunners were in fine form, having dropped just two points from
their nine games, and intent on revenge for the League Cup final,
a battle that had left a sour taste in the mouth.
Almost as if to rub the memory in, Don Revie sent
two junior players out before the game to parade the League Cup
and Fairs trophies before the United fans. "We want the crowd
to see what we have been working for these past few years," he
United opened the scoring in the 42nd minute. O'Grady
got on the end of a long centre from Cooper, heading home off
the underside of the bar. They were two up soon after the break
when Jack Charlton headed home a corner from his customary goal
line position. From then on there was only one side in it.
James Holland in the Guardian; "I have never been
an admirer of United's stubborn adherence to the policy of 'what
we have, we hold,' ... Against Arsenal they cast aside all thoughts
of negative play and a more imaginative, progressive approach
to the game forced Arsenal on defence for practically the whole
of the 90 minutes."
Geoffrey Green offered this in the Times: "Leeds
may lack attacking refinement in the absence of Giles. But their
capacity for honest work, and the basic essentials of selfless
teamwork, remain prodigious. They have almost made a cult of collective
"The Yorkshiremen could have doubled their score,
but doubtless they were content. And why not, with their royal
umbrella of a defence that has conceded only two goals in their
last seven matches? They may suffer no hallucinations of poetic
grandeur but, 'ee bah gum', as they say up North, they're going
to be hard to shift from the top."
The 2-0 win left United ahead of the Gunners on
goal average and Don Revie beside himself with glee, though his
quote was a typically cautious, "There's a long way to go yet."
He offered more positive thoughts in his weekly column in the
"After our 2-0 victory ... a number of critics described
us as England's No 1 team ... It would be foolish for us to treat
this compliment seriously at this stage ... Our Inter Cities Fairs
Cup triumph over Ferencvaros shows that we are just beginning
to reap the benefits of the experience which has been built up
in the side over the last four years.
"In our Ferencvaros match in Budapest and more recently
our tie with Standard Liege in Brussels, there were times when
there was so much pressure on us that we should have concentrated
on retaining possession of the ball rather than trying to launch
attacking movements. You can afford to do this when the pressure
is off, but not when the opposing team is in a position to make
you pay for any gaps in defence.
"Another aspect of our play which could be criticised
is the fact that when we have taken the lead we don't keep up
the pressure ... Only a ruthless approach succeeds in football.
Once a team get on top, they must go out and put victory beyond
back to top
"I was very pleased with the way we did this against
Arsenal. After that goal by Mike O'Grady just before the interval
we kept hammering non stop at the Arsenal defence. Although we
only scored one more goal our attacks kept the opposition tied
down in their own half."
Johnny Giles returned to the side for the midweek
League Cup-tie against Bristol City and Leeds won more convincingly
than the 2-1 scoreline suggested. The Irishman made an immediate
difference, casually imposing authority in midfield, but Revie
chose to omit him for the away game to champions Manchester City,
saying, "I don't want to risk Johnny in this game, which is certain
to be a tough one, so I'm giving him a run in the reserves to
give his knee lighter match practice."
City were struggling badly in the League, though
a 4-0 win at Sunderland
improved morale. As the saying goes, form is temporary, class
is permanent, and United caught City oozing both.
Leeds were on an unbeaten 16 match run, but had
not won at Maine Road for 32 years. They would go on waiting for
they were convincingly beaten by three goals to one, with Colin
Bell's two goals crowning a marvellous personal display.
Eric Stanger in the Yorkshire Post: "A goal down
in three minutes, they might have been three down in 10 instead
of 50 as was the case. They had, in short, a thoroughly bad day
... The Leeds defence was unaccountably jittery ... The whole
side was short of decision and authority in what it did.
"Sprake could be faulted when Bell scored the first
two goals, failing to cut out a corner in the first instance and
dropping a long free kick from Oakes in the second. Hunter, who
is going through a bad patch for the first time in his career,
might have cleared the first and Charlton bore some responsibility
in the case of the second for he and Sprake left it to each other
to clear before Bell, who missed at least two other chances, popped
the ball over the line.
"It was typical of the confusion of thought and
of execution throughout the Leeds side. The harder they tried
the less successful they were. That was certainly true of Bremner,
who was shaking his head in sad self reproach long before the
Don Revie said it all as he sadly muttered, "Too
many players off form."
Any disappointment that Revie felt was tempered
to some extent when United directors offered him a new contract.
His existing seven-year deal, said to be worth £7,000 a year,
had four years to run, but the board were desperate to keep him
and offered a contract that would last until 1975. Chairman Percy
Woodward said, "We have the best manager in the Football League
and we want to keep him."
The contract went unsigned for two months, indicating
the manager's desire to get a decent financial settlement, though
he claimed in the Yorkshire Evening Post, "No amount of money
or prestige would take me away from Leeds United. I have had some
generous offers from other clubs in the last seven years. Two
months ago, I was approached by another First Division club to
become their manager at double my current salary. They also included
fringe benefits like a house and car. As long as I am reasonably
secure, wealth is immaterial to me."
Single goal victories at Newcastle and Sunderland
at the beginning of October took United back to the top of the
table as Liverpool dropped a point in the Merseyside derby and
Arsenal drew at Manchester City. Goals from Lorimer and Giles
secured a 2-0 win against West Ham in a bad tempered clash on
back to top
Richard Ulyatt in the Yorkshire Post: "This was
not good enough. Here at Elland Road, the club's largest crowd
of the season - 40,786 - went to watch the Football League leaders
challenged by the fastest and most attractive side
in the division ... Spectators had a right to expect something
to remember in the way of continuous, intelligent entertainment
... Instead, it was just another match and probably did more harm
than good to the cause. One player (Redknapp) was sent off for
a retaliatory foul, one goal was scored as a direct result of
a free kick and the other from a penalty kick. Fouls, imagined
and actual, were so frequent that I stopped counting them."
Much worse was to come: four days later United surprisingly
lost 2-1 at Crystal Palace in the League Cup, meekly surrendering
the trophy they had been so proud to win the previous March. That
was as nothing, though, to the hiding that they took on 19 October
at Burnley. A young Turf Moor
outfit won 5-1, United's worst defeat since they lost 5-0
at Anfield two years previously. Leeds weren't actually that bad,
it was just that Harry Potts' side had an inspired afternoon.
They had to rely on a Billy Bremner goal two minutes
from time to see off Standard
Liege in the second leg of the Fairs Cup first round after
the Belgians had taken a two-goal lead at Elland Road.
Such shaky performances led many critics to question
whether the rot had set in, but United stabilised matters with
a return to defensive basics, resulting in three successive goalless
Eric Stanger wrote after the third of those, a frustrating
home game against Tottenham on 9 November, "Once upon a time -
337 minutes of playing time ago to be exact - Leeds United scored
a goal in a First Division game. Sooner or later there will be
a happy ending to this lean spell ... but the signs say not yet
... This present Leeds attack is overloaded with players who are
happier in midfield.
"It is this lack of marksmen up front that makes
Leeds United so dependent on their ploys from free kicks and corners
and on the ability of Reaney and Cooper making the overlap by
their strong running from full-back. Only a few weeks back, Mr
Joe Mercer of Manchester City, was saying to me: 'Stop Leeds from
making the overlap and I reckon you have got a chance.'
"Spurs came for a point and, by devoting all their
resources to defence, went away with one. Leeds could not complain.
They have done it so many times themselves."
United had a tasty looking Fairs Cup pairing with
Napoli, a club that had figured in some tempestuous ties over
the years. In 1967 they met Burnley, and the local press warned
the Lancastrians they would be in a city "where visiting players
are put through a mincing machine at the end of a game and their
remains roasted on a spit." The Burnley party had to be escorted
out of the ground by armed troops and mounted police at the end
of the game.
United played magnificently to win the home leg
2-0. As Eric Todd reported, "Leeds ought to have won by a much
more convincing margin. They did as they pleased in midfield ...
but once again their forwards were reluctant to press home the
considerable advantage won for them by their half-backs."
The goals were headed by Jack Charlton from dead
ball situations within three minutes of each other midway through
the first half. United had three goals disallowed and a penalty
appeal turned down. The presence of Rod Belfitt alongside Mick
Jones pepped up the attack, but Italian international Dino Zoff
inspired match in goal, denying Leeds a much more convincing victory.
Don Revie said afterwards, "While Naples played
a lot of good, clean football, some of their men also resorted
to moves which upset me. Certain of our players ... had fingers
poked in their eyes ... then there was the punch Mick Jones got
while on the grass."
Revie feared what might happen in the second leg:
"We have asked for special observers to be at the game in view
of the fact that Naples have been fined twice for crowd disturbances
in the last two seasons and the trouble when Burnley played in
Naples." He wrote in warning to M Peter Joiris, the Fairs Cup
secretary. His fears proved well founded.
back to top
Joiris was one of two neutral observers at the
game and there were troops and armed police guarding the gates.
Most of the locals had decided to stay at home and only 15,000
were in the 100,000 capacity Stadium San Paolo, but the night
air was rent by the sounds of firecrackers as the teams kicked
Napoli had five regulars out, including strikers
Altafini and Nielsen, but they played much more impressively than
at Elland Road. Both sides had chances in the opening ten minutes,
with Mick Jones missing from close in and Charlton blocking an
effort by Barison at the other end.
After 14 minutes, Napoli took the lead through Sala,
sparking off another bout of fireworks both on and off the pitch.
United were forced onto the defensive and Bremner once had to
clear while on his knees.
Leeds gradually settled down and took control. Charlton
ignored the attentions of three defenders to go close from 10
yards and then Gray's drive just cleared the bar. Madeley went
on one decent run, beating three men, only to see Nardin cut out
his cross. But Napoli were just as dangerous and Barison was a
constant thorn in the flesh, testing Sprake time and again. Half
way through the second period the keeper cleared a dangerous cross
from the forward and then blocked a Sala header from point blank
range. Seconds later Bianchi missed narrowly.
Napoli achieved aggregate equality after 84 minutes
when Juliano converted the penalty awarded for Charlton's foul
on Sala. United spent the final five minutes pushing hard for
a decisive goal but could not find a way through. Extra time made
The 2-0 defeat left the teams level on aggregate
and the decision came down to the flip of a disc. Billy Bremner
called correctly to put United through, repeating his success
of two years earlier when the toss was all that separated Leeds
Don Revie refused to say anything afterwards to
the Italian press "because I just did not trust myself to speak
... You just cannot have matches like that. The three away legs
we have played in the Fairs Cup this season have been the toughest
we have experienced so far in Europe. There were times on Wednesday
night when I was thinking of bringing them off. We have a young
side and it's not fair to them. If that is the way they treat
their guests, I hope we never have to play Naples here again."
Chairman Percy Woodward echoed those views: "We
cannot go on, we dare not go on, risking games like that against
Naples. The danger to our valuable players is too great. Football
is a man's game, and may it stay that way, but the Naples game
was beyond anything that can be tolerated. We have had a very
great deal of money from our Fairs Cup games ... but with players
costing £100,000 nowadays the risk of having one or more crippled
has to be considered."
In between the games with Napoli, United got their
League campaign back on track with victories against Coventry
and Everton. Geoffrey Green described their 1-0 victory at Coventry
as "technically faultless". He went on, "Leeds United need only
half an inch and half a chance for a sight at goal. Sometimes
upon it, sometimes not. But when they do it is usually all up
with their opponents.
"Having plucked a fine goal from virtually nothing
after 20 minutes at Highfield Road on Saturday, they proceeded
to absorb everything that Coventry City could throw at them. And
the more Coventry stormed at them over the closing stages, the
more dangerous did the Yorkshiremen become in their quick counter
"The Leeds goal was typical of their economical
method. Bremner and Giles, their two miniature midfield emperors,
worked a dextrous move down the right flank; over came a chipped
cross from Bremner; O'Grady in the middle plucked the ball out
of the air with the side of his foot and before a Coventry man
could move Madeley had hit a fine swerving shot, first time, from
the edge of the penalty area to the roof of the net. That was
the winner, as precise and clinical as the surgeon's knife."
After a draw at Chelsea on 30 November Leeds beat
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at Elland Road, with Peter Lorimer scoring
back to top
The Scot had been left out of the side for several
weeks with Don Revie preferring to employ Paul Madeley in a deep
lying midfield role. He was now reinstated with Madeley moving
to left-back for the injured Cooper. Lorimer had been unsettled
by Revie's decision to omit him, and asked to go on the transfer
list. There were hints that he would be used as a makeweight in
a transfer deal, with Joe Baker (Nottingham Forest), Peter Cormack
(Hibernian) and Colin Suggett (Sunderland) all mentioned as transfer
targets. He remained on the list for most of the season but no
deals were done.
Lorimer was quickly on the scoresheet again, netting
another brace in the Fairs Cup against Hanover the week before
Christmas. United had been profligate in front of goal for longer
than they cared to remember. All that changed when they faced
the lacklustre West Germans.
Eric Todd wrote of their "admirable all round work"
in the Guardian: "They moved the ball surprisingly well and took
their strategic positions with a speed and intelligence which
Hanover simply could not counter."
United opened the scoring after four minutes when
Hunter combined with Giles and Gray before centring to O'Grady,
who hammered the ball home at the far post. The Germans didn't
panic, and it seemed that they would regard a 1-0 defeat as satisfactory
enough. After 34 minutes, though, they fell further behind when
Hunter fired home spectacularly from 25 yards with his supposedly
weaker right foot.
Hanover were untried against opposition of such
class, and Leeds revelled in the space they were given. Lorimer
made it 3-0 from close range after 52 minutes, Charlton headed
home a Bremner free kick on the hour to make it 4-0 and a couple
of minutes later Lorimer added his second goal. The Germans managed
a late consolation effort.
Jacob Ecclestone in the Times: "Hanover cannot be
regarded as the most difficult opposition they will meet, but
the manner of Leeds' victory last night bodes well for the future.
For once the Leeds attack really moved fluently. This was no case
of scrambling a goal lead and hanging
on, but concerted and sustained attack from start to finish."
Three days later, United
did even better, hammering Burnley 6-1.
A 2-1 Boxing Day win over Newcastle was witnessed
by an Elland Road crowd of 42,000, who saw United perform strongly.
The Guardian: "O'Grady strove hard and successfully to make up
for the loss of Giles, who left the field after only five minutes
with a pulled muscle ... The departure of Giles, who is Leeds'
most creative forward, was a blow to Leeds and they did well to
have so much of the game without the inspiration he normally provides."
United should have been playing at West Bromwich
two days later, but the game was off due to the weather. Indeed,
most of Saturday's football programme fell foul of the frost and
snow with only two games surviving in the First Division. Nevertheless,
the victory over Newcastle, coupled with Liverpool dropping a
point at home to Burnley the same day, took United within two
points of Bill Shankly's men with two games in hand, set fair
for a real championship push in the New Year.
Part 2 - Champions - Results
and table - printer
back to top