Part 1 - From ironclad defence to fluent
attack - Results and
table - printer friendly
Leeds United began the new decade in the way they had spent the
majority of the Sixties: among the leaders in the title race.
Their eleventh win in fifteen games, against pace setters Everton
on 27 December, left them a single point shy of the Goodison club.
There was also personal recognition for manager
Don Revie, named in the New Year's Honours List. Accompanied
by his family, he travelled to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen,
who presented him with an OBE for services to football.
Revie was as self effacing as usual, saying, "My award should
be recognised as a club rather than personal achievement."
The first action of the year came with the third round of the
FA Cup. Revie was determined that Leeds should mount a successful
campaign for the trophy and refused to take lightly the challenge
of Fourth Division Swansea Town.
He was right to be cautious: United nearly came a cropper at
the first hurdle. Revie said later, "I'd told the team all week
that Swansea were not going to be easy meat ... They have a number
of more than useful players. Then we went out like a team which
had been thrown together. Eight of the side seemed determined
to show off their skills, and consequently played like strangers."
United were lackadaisical and complacent and the Swans took a
shock lead after 24 minutes. With United's defence in tatters,
David Gwyther scored from almost point blank range after Gary
Sprake could only parry a shot from Brian Evans.
There was little sign of an equaliser and it began to look like
a major upset was on the cards. United were unusually profligate
in front of goal; they were still trailing on the hour, when Fate
took a hand.
Town captain Mel Nurse had played a commanding role in the Welsh
rearguard, but after tangling under a high ball with Allan Clarke,
he lost his cool and laid Clarke out. Referee Danny Corbett consulted
a linesman before dismissing the Welshman. Nurse claimed that
Clarke had trodden on his chest as they came down; he showed the
press the stud marks after the game.
From that moment United swamped Swansea with wave after wave
of attacks. After one assault, the referee ruled that right-back
David Lawrence had handled in the area. Lawrence protested his
innocence in vain, and Giles slid home the equaliser from the
back to top
Swansea continued to show resilience but Leeds got the winner
minutes remaining. From a corner Cooper swung a ball across the
area and Jones was unmarked as he nodded past keeper Millington.
Even then, United had to rely on a save from Sprake in the final
minute to deny Evans.
Swansea manager Roy Bentley was adamant that "with Nurse on the
field, Leeds would not have scored in a month of Welsh Sundays."
United were relieved to be through and they celebrated in style,
turning in one of the performances
of the season to thrash third-placed Chelsea 5-2 at Stamford Bridge.
A week later a routine 3-1 defeat of Coventry saw United resume
leadership of the title race as Everton capitulated by two goals
to one at relegation-threatened Southampton.
Richard Ulyatt in the Yorkshire Post: "Saturday's match illustrated
how efficient and versatile Leeds are and it also showed how good
a player Clarke, the modern David Jack, is, particularly with
an unselfish worker of the calibre of Jones to shield him from
the weight of opposing defenders. Clarke scored the first and
the last goals on Saturday and each time he was so well positioned
that he had only to divert a centre from the right into goal."
While Leeds were thrashing
Sutton 6-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on 24 January, Everton
played their game in hand, dropping a point at home to Newcastle.
The result left United top by virtue of a superior goal average.
Sutton were disposed of with clinical efficiency, though amateur
centre-half John Faulkner was feted for his performance under
fire. He said later: "I got plenty of praise for the way I played
against Mick Jones, but I could scarcely have endeared myself
to Leeds fans when I went on telly after the game and ... ventured
the opinion that I had played against better centre-forwards ...
I can see that the viewers must have thought I was a real big
headed so and so."
It was reported soon afterwards that Second Division Hull City
wanted Jack Charlton as
their new manager. Charlton: "They apparently had the idea that
I was over the hill as a first teamer and got in touch with the
Boss to see what the chances were ... As ever, the Boss was quite
open about it. He called me into his office and told me all about
the opportunities and even pointed out that they were great chances
to secure the future for the wife and family. To be quite honest,
I thought at the time that he was trying to get rid of me and
let me down lightly. And it was not without a certain amount of
apprehension that I popped the question, 'What's the alternative
if I turn them down?'
"And when he answered, 'You can have another couple of years
contract on the same terms as you are getting now and then we
will see about giving you every help to get a good grounding on
the managerial side,' I could have jumped for joy."
Nevertheless, Charlton, almost 35, was in the latter days of
lengthy career and at the beginning of March, John Faulkner signed
for United despite rival interest from Arsenal and Spurs. Revie
had been chasing him ever since the Cup game.
After victory at Sutton, Leeds drew 2-2 at Old Trafford on the
Monday night, and then 1-1 at Stoke, while Everton were beating
Wolves 1-0 at home; the two clubs were once again divided only
by goal average.
On 7 February, Leeds cruised into the sixth round of the Cup
by beating Mansfield 2-0. With Paul Madeley out injured, this
game was the first occasion on which the most famous United line
up of all was on duty: Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton,
Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray. Contrary to popular
opinion, that eleven very rarely played together, thanks mainly
to the consistency over the years of Madeley.
back to top
Leeds followed on by crushing West Bromwich Albion 5-1 and moved
two points clear of Everton. Both clubs drew on 14 February, though
United's was the better result, 1-1 at Tottenham, while Everton
were at home to Arsenal. The Goodison men dropped another home
point in a scoreless match with Coventry while Leeds were progressing
into the last four of the Cup with a 2-0 victory at Swindon on
The Wiltshire club, who beat Arsenal to win the League Cup in
1969, were expected to be tricky opponents, but they never got
going. Leeds took a grip in midfield and Clarke applied the killer
blows, scoring twice in as many minutes around the half hour.
||Top of Division One - February 28, 1970
February ended with United beating Crystal Palace 2-0 and Everton
playing out a third successive draw to leave the Whites in pole
position. However, Leeds were soon to become the victims of fearsome
United were paired with Standard Liege in the European Cup quarter
finals; Liege had pushed them hard in the Fairs Cup in 1968, when
it had taken second half goals
by Charlton, Lorimer and Bremner to overturn a 2-0 deficit at
Albert Barham reported on the first leg in Belgium for the Guardian:
"As they had fully expected, this tie at Sclessin Stadium was
the hardest physical battle they have had in the European Cup.
But Leeds rode the rough tackling without complaint - they too
can play as physically hard as any side ... It looked for so long
as though they were going to rue the three great chances they
had in the first half.
"It was by no means all attack from Leeds. This Standard side,
littered with internationals, are expert at counter attacking
and Semmeling and Takac on the wings swept forward dangerously
to get behind the Leeds defence. But no one could say that any
member of the magnificent Leeds side was wanting in ability. Every
man played to the limit of his ability on a heavy pitch that cut
up badly. So concerned were the Standard officials regarding the
pitch that earlier today they had used a helicopter hovering over
the ground, fanning it with the blades, trying to dry it out.
"The goal that beat Standard - first time they have lost here
since early last season - came after 71 minutes. It was begun
by Madeley and Clarke; Cooper took on Clarke's little nodded pass
and swung the ball high to the goalmouth. It sailed over Thissen
and there was Lorimer to hammer it in.
"Leeds cleverly slowed down the pace when Standard tried hard
to come forward, but after this crucial goal, Leeds went back
on defence, partly to conserve their advantage and partly because
of the venom of the Standard attack. It was in those last few
minutes that Cooper stopped the ball on the line and allowed Sprake
to gather it in a scramble."
Back on English soil, Saturday, 7 March, brought a stern
test at Liverpool, while Everton visited Burnley. The Goodison
men won 2-1, but Leeds had to be content with a goalless draw.
The game turned on two controversial incidents. United were relieved
when referee Leo Callaghan rejected penalty appeals after Cooper
appeared to handle, but were unhappy when the official blew for
full time seconds before Madeley got the ball in the net. The
referee allowed no injury time despite at least two lengthy stoppages.
The draw kept United a point clear of Everton, but the positions
were soon reversed. The Merseysiders won a rearranged match at
Tottenham during the week by a single goal and then moved further
ahead by beating the same Spurs team 3-2 at Goodison. Over at
Hillsborough Leeds were facing Manchester United in a titanic
FA Cup semi final.
Neither side could manage a goal, resulting in an unwelcome replay
for United. Geoffrey Green in the Times: "The Leeds approach ...
was bleak, certainly circumspect, like some cautious boxer guarding
against a quick knock out and relying rather on stamina and mounting
strength to win over the last stages. Manchester called the tune
for that opening three quarters of an hour and could twice have
taken the lead.
"After only 15 minutes of swift, one-two touch moves between
Sartori, Charlton and Kidd, Sartori glided clear to the six yard
line, opposed only by Sprake, and stabbed his shot past an inviting
target. Just short of the interval a long throw in by Edwards
was headed on by the loping Crerand - dictating the midfield rhythm
- for Kidd to nod down and Best, on a quicksilver pirouette, flashed
his close-range half volley inches wide. Each time Sprake was
helpless and Leeds, like a bridge player, vulnerable."
United were in action again on Wednesday, 18 March, completing
the job against Standard Liege at Elland Road. They struggled
all night for the goal that would see off their opponents and
had to wait for a Giles penalty 13 minutes from time to settle
The United defence struggled to cope with the visitors' attack,
prompted expertly by Van Moer, and there was nearly a goal at
the start of the second half. Depireux collected the ball and
turned to fire in a great shot, which Galic deflected; it required
Sprake and Reaney in combination to turn it aside for a corner.
But Leeds were now playing with the wind and they seized control.
Jones had a header well saved and then he was brought down as
he ran in on goal. Referee Concetto Lo Bello awarded the penalty
and Giles calmly put the ball away to settle the contest.
back to top
Don Revie was relieved to win but perturbed by the knee injury
which saw Norman Hunter sidelined for more than three weeks.
Honours were even between Everton and Leeds at the weekend, the
former winning 2-0 at Anfield while United beat Wolves 2-1. Everton
could then rest, but Leeds were back in FA Cup action against
Manchester United on the Monday night at Villa Park.
It was an evening of high excitement, but no goals, meaning a
Geoffrey Green reported for the Times: "Though the night at the
finish denied us a goal, what a tremendous battle of wills, temperament,
stamina and skill was this in punishing conditions. After hours
of rain and a steady downpour up till half time, the pitch began
like a glistening sheet and soon became a quagmire. Even Sir Walter
Raleigh would have thought twice about laying down his cloak for
anyone. To add to it all too there now came a cold swirling wind
to add another hazard to this truly titanic struggle. From first
to last it was tight, tense and terrific with Manchester beginning
with a majestic flourish and winning the night on points, but
Leeds absorbing all the pressure hurled at them like a steel suspension
"There was no quarter anywhere and by the time the extra half
hour had arrived exhaustion and cramp were clearly making themselves
felt. Law taking the dark battlefield as substitute for Sartori
who had run himself into the ground - this six minutes into the
extra period. Leeds followed suit with Bates for Cooper who was
carried away on a stretcher with 10 minutes still left. Cooper
may well be missing tomorrow night just as Ure of Manchester,
and Hunter of Leeds, were absent through injury on this occasion.
"Every moment seemed to bring something. There was scarcely time
to light a cigarette in the wind for fear of missing something
dramatic. Yet it was Manchester United who truly squandered the
night. They had enough chances both before and after half time
and then in the extended period to have settled more than one
"To list all these events may be tedious but Kidd, for all his
tireless driving play, sadly missed the boat with three openings,
the first in the opening minute. Then came two of the biggest
sitters of all wasted by Law, first with his head at point blank
range to Charlton's cross and only a moment after he had come
on as substitute in the extra half hour and later, with only three
minutes left, when he stabbed the ball from five yards range straight
at Sprake with all glory awaiting him. He could have been king
at either of those moments.
"Best, also, closely covered all night by Reaney, once broke
free brilliantly in the second half of extra time, swerving both
ways with close footwork in a thick slime - a marvellous piece
of magic - he certainly was in the open with some 45 yards ahead
of him and only Sprake left. He was going like the wind but the
mud beat him as he lost control in this helter skelter, trod on
the ball and flew through the glue flat on his face.
back to top
"It was all highly dramatic, intensified as Leeds, piling on
the pressure in a counter offensive, brought three magnificent
saves from Stepney in the last quarter hour of normal time - the
first of these a flying leap to Gray's thunderbolt; then a dive
to Lorimer and finally a point blank parry from Jones. With only
three minutes left the sparks flew higher as Jones headed a corner
kick against the crossbar and, as the ball floated down in a gentle
parabola, there was Madeley in a wild swing of bodies to force
the ball over the line only to find it was no goal. The thrust
was denied because of a physical infringement. With only two minutes
of the long night left Stepney in his last brave duty made another
superb save on his line as Jones headed down a cross from Lorimer."
The marathon semi final continued on Thursday 26 March at Burnden
Park, Bolton; just as in 1965 when the two clubs met at the same
stage, the difference between them was Billy Bremner, announced
the previous day as a hugely worthy Footballer of the Year.
Phil Brown reported the game for the Evening Post: "Leeds ...
put Manchester out by substantially more than the 1-0 score suggests,
indeed they won like great champions - with something in hand.
They took the often
excellent best that Manchester could offer in their stride. Bremner
sent Manchester reeling with an eighth-minute goal and followed
it with the game of his life and he had had many a star game.
His team responded to a man. I have never seen a fine side, as
Manchester have been this season in five games against the champions,
so taken apart by an even better team. To watch a team with as
many star players as Manchester have - five of them are in the
World Cup squad - so held in attack and sent so helter skelter
back in desperate defence was an experience.
"Billy Bremner was in a class by himself. He steadied Leeds through
Manchester's opening burst, played at a great pace in the best
conditions that at least Leeds have had for months, inspired the
counter attacks and scored his thunderbolt goal. Flying up among
his forwards, he met a header by Clarke off a centre by Lorimer
and shot first time at top speed from 17 yards. Some yawing in
the Manchester defence had left a shooting gap, but there was
still Stepney, a fine keeper as he has played against Leeds, to
beat. I doubt if Stepney saw the shot. He certainly had no time
to move as it whizzed across.
"When Manchester tried to force or scheme a way into United's
box (Bremner) took on Bobby Charlton, Kidd, Best, Sartori, Morgan
and Crerand as they came his way ... Then in the last 10 minutes,
when he should have run out of the last particle of steam, he
raced half the length of the field twice, cracking Manchester's
defence like cheap glass. He finally just missed scoring again
with a tremendous straight shot which Stepney only just pushed
over the bar.
"Manchester's stars were snuffed out by the perfectly positioning,
anticipating and moving of the Leeds defence, which reduced Best
to futility, blocked off Bobby Charlton and never let talented
and burly Kidd make the breakthrough his side needed. Cooper tamed
all Morgan's tricks and the wing running of the match ... was
done by Cooper and Lorimer. Madeley replaced Hunter perfectly,
better than at Villa Park, and was a main reason for the bottling
of the Manchester attack. Revie is the envy of every manager in
"The referee, Mr Jack Taylor, did well again. He has been in
his solid way just the man for these three memorable matches.
We who saw all three will always remember them - the effort and
tension in the mud at Hillsborough, the sheer brilliance in the
rain at Villa Park and the perfect demonstration of how to win
a semi final we saw at Bolton."
Billy Bremner: "The main reason behind that win was that the
decided to get Reaney and Madeley to play their normal games.
In the previous ties, they had the specific job of shadowing George
Best and Bobby Charlton, and this tended to unsettle our defence.
The fact that Reaney followed Best wherever he went meant that
he was leaving behind gaps which the other United forwards exploited.
The Boss said: 'I've never seen a team create so many chances
against Leeds as Manchester United have done. Let's revert back
to our normal style of play, and let them worry about us for a
"Johnny Giles sent the ball winging out of defence, and a chip
from Peter Lorimer helped it on its way, right into Manchester
United territory. Allan Clarke leaped high to connect with his
head, as Nobby Stiles moved across to try to cover. The ball came
down and cannoned off the legs of Mick Jones straight through
to me. I didn't need a formal invitation - I swung at the ball
and blasted it through space with my left foot."
Despite the joy of victory, the semi final marathon had stretched
United to breaking point: Bremner (groin), Giles (calf), Reaney
(thigh), Jones (ankle) and Cooper (shin and leg) were all out
of the weekend's game against Southampton. Revie summoned Bates,
Yorath and Davey from his reserve
strength with Lumsden named as sub.
United had the better of the first hour, taking the lead after
63 minutes through Lorimer. But the final twenty minutes brought
In the 71st minute Charlton miskicked a Southampton corner through
his own goal. Six minutes later Hibbitt handled and Ron Davies
put the Saints ahead from the spot. With three minutes left, Mike
Channon chipped Sprake from almost on the goal line and Yorath,
trying to turn the ball away, conceded the third goal.
back to top
With Everton hammering Chelsea 5-2, Don Revie had some hard thinking
to do. United had secured a place at Wembley and a European Cup
showdown with Celtic; in the League, they were five points behind
Everton with five games to play, one more than the Merseysiders.
Even if Leeds won the lot they would still have to rely on Everton
dropping three points.
Revie reasoned that to continue going flat out for three trophies
was folly. Prompted by urgent warnings from the club doctor that
some of his men were near exhaustion, he decided to throw in the
challenge for the title.
When United came out at the Baseball Ground to face Derby County
on 30 March, not a single first team regular was in the selection,
which read: Harvey, Davey, Peterson,
Lumsden, Kennedy, Yorath,
Galvin, Bates, Belfitt, Hibbitt, Johanneson.
There was little surprise when a decent Derby side ran out 4-1
Revie said afterwards, "What is the point of employing the services
of a fully qualified medical officer if you don't take his advice?
Our doctor declared that the players concerned were thoroughly
tired, mentally and physically, and that if they carried on there
was no knowing what damage might be caused. So we had no alternative
but to take the steps we did. After all, the health of the players
must be the first consideration of any club.
"By the end of the second replay at Bolton, the strain was obvious,
and the doctor expressed his views, which we accepted. But it
is quite wrong to say that we took a dive and wittingly sent out
a weakened side ... If similar circumstances arose again I should
do exactly the same thing. I think most people understand our
predicament, and I imagine that quite a few clubs would have done
the same thing in our position."
Bert Head, manager of struggling Crystal Palace, was furious
that relegation rivals had been advantaged: "I was angry to see
they had pulled six out of the team for a match equally important
to the relegation battle, and I think Leeds should remember that
others are involved in different League battles, and those two
points considerably help Southampton."
Football League regulations stated, "each club shall play its
full strength in all League matches, unless some satisfactory
reason is given". The League imposed a fine of £5,000. President
Len Shipman: "We took into consideration all their problems, and
felt sorry for them, and it took us more than an hour to reach
our decision because we were conscious that they were
struggling especially hard as the season had been shortened. But
it must always be borne in mind that the League can, after all,
forbid clubs to take part in European competitions if they cannot
fulfil commitments at home."
back to top
Andrew Mourant: "Revie incurred, not for the first time, the
displeasure of Football League
secretary Alan Hardaker. Over the previous two years, Hardaker
had tired of Revie's requests for fixture rearrangements and postponements
that might put Leeds at an advantage. In football matters Revie
was, in Hardaker's opinion, devious, selfish and ruthless, and
would cut corners to get his own way. Revie had offended Hardaker
the previous season by an oblique approach to the League secretary's
subordinates, with the aim of bringing forward by 24 hours a League
Cup-tie against Bristol City. It was the impropriety of Revie
seeking to involve his juniors that had made Hardaker especially
indignant ... According to Hardaker, part of Revie's fixture pile
up was of his own making; earlier in the season, he had had fixtures
The mood at Elland Road was scarcely up beat when, two days after
the Derby game, Celtic arrived
for the first leg of the European Cup semi final.
Don Revie hoped to earn a two-goal lead, but those hopes were
dashed within ninety seconds of kick off. A long ball downfield
was misjudged by Madeley and in the scramble that followed George
Connelly's shot was deflected in by Cooper.
United never got the shock out of their system. They played poorly
and lost 1-0; according to Phil Brown of the Evening Post, "the
elastic had gone."
That same evening, Everton formalised their championship with
a routine 2-0 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The next day Leeds played out a meaningless match at West Ham.
Revie's reward for naming a number of first teamers was a broken
leg for Paul Reaney. The injury ruled one of United's most consistent
performers out not only for their own run in but also England's
defence of the World Cup.
Leeds were 2-1 down when Reaney was injured at the start of the
second half and had already used substitute Terry Hibbitt, so
had to play out the game with ten men. It was enough to make grown
men weep, but United fought back to earn a draw when Clarke netted
his second goal of the game with 14 minutes remaining.
Reaney: "I never saw the boy ... but you can't blame him. He
has no reason to feel bad about it, for it is one of the things
one has to accept in football ... I never saw the player concerned,
but I knew instinctively I'd done it. I just lay there still,
unmoving. Gary Sprake rushed from his goal and other players surrounded
me. Everything was there, but now it has gone."
Sir Alf Ramsey chose Paul Madeley as Reaney's World Cup replacement,
but the utility man
decided not to accept. He later said, "I reckoned that if I were
not among the original 40, I was extremely unlikely to get a game
if I did go to Mexico, and that's a long, long way to go for nothing.
There was another reason for my deciding not to go ... By the
time the League season was over I could well have played in more
than 60 games for Leeds ... I had just completed a spell of eight
games in 18 days. Mentally and physically, I was feeling whacked."
Two days later Leeds played their 58th game of the season, at
home to Burnley. Only Madeley, Gray and Lorimer of the recognised
first team were on duty with John Faulkner on debut and Albert
Johanneson at centre-forward. The game has become legendary for
the two extraordinary goals scored by Eddie Gray.
The first, in the tenth minute, was an opportunist effort after
a Burnley defender nodded away a centre from Galvin. Gray secured
the ball 35 yards out and saw goalkeeper Peter Mellor on his six
yard line. He set his sights and chipped goalwards. The ball cleared
Mellor and dropped precisely under the crossbar, a masterly piece
of accuracy and skill.
Burnley equalised after 26 minutes when Faulkner misjudged a
shot from Probert and sent it into his own net - not the way he
would have chosen to mark his first appearance.
back to top
After 71 minutes, Gray wrapped up the win with an even more remarkable
effort, one that ranks amongst the finest goals ever scored by
a United man.
With Johanneson lying injured a yard inside the penalty area,
Gray got possession 20 yards from goal and flicked the ball down
the left hand edge of the box. He caught it on the byline and
turned to face two Burnley defenders. Dragging it away from both
of them he made his way back into the box. Johanneson was still
prone, and his presence left Gray with little scope. There was
no other man available for the pass and Gray continued his tricks
inside the box, back and forth, dragging the ball back and then
slipping it wide as he left defender after defender looking foolish.
Just as it seemed he would try one trick too many, he struck a
low shot inside Mellor at the near post to register a quite extraordinary
It was a spectacular and memorable effort by a man at the peak
of his game.
Don Revie: "The goal was one of the best I've seen since Eddie
scored in an international youth tournament in 1966. He beat eight
men then. Today he only
Gray displayed the same form in the following week's FA
Cup final against Chelsea, torturing David Webb with a masterclass
in wing play. Leeds were absolutely dominant, hitting the woodwork
on three occasions. Twice they took the lead, but Chelsea twice
came back to equalise.
Andrew Mourant: "The club seemed to summon from nowhere its old
vim. Revie's side achieved everything but victory. On a heavily
sanded pitch that caused some strange bounces of the ball, Leeds
produced their stylish, muscular football once again. Told by
Revie to go out and play, they responded with one of the best
post-war exhibitions of football Wembley had seen. Eddie Gray
unfurled a performance of tormenting skill on the left wing, reducing
Chelsea right-back David Webb to impotence. Other Chelsea defenders
floundered in spaces where Leeds men had been."
It was an absolute travesty that United did not win at a canter
- they had played as well as they had done for weeks, but it was
just not their day.
Don Revie: "In 1965 and 1968 we did not do ourselves justice
at Wembley. I asked our players to go out there and give a really
special display, to go out and prove to everybody in Britain what
a great side they are, and they did me proud. I have never seen
them play better."
The United party had little time to brood on what might have
been, for, as the newspaper headlines were proclaiming the need
for a first Cup final replay since 1912, Don Revie was leading
his men up to Scotland for the second
leg of their European Cup semi final.
They were very much up against it, burdened by Celtic's 1-0 victory
in the home leg, but took a first half lead when Billy Bremner
sent in a long range screamer.
United managed to retain the advantage for the rest of the half,
but were rocked after the break when Hughes nodded Celtic level
from a corner. Shortly afterwards Gary Sprake was stretchered
off after a clash with Hughes and then Murdoch put a second goal
past substitute keeper David Harvey.
That took the wind out of United and they never really hinted
at turning the game round, losing 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on
Don Revie: "That was a bitter pill to swallow - but I like to
think, and I do believe, that we at Leeds took our knock out in
the right spirit. We congratulated Celtic, and we meant it, when
we said we hoped they would bring the trophy back to Britain.
"I wasn't really feeling like receiving visitors, though, just
before we left Glasgow for home ... It was a surprise to me when
a local minister called in to wish us all the best for the replay
against Chelsea. But when he told me that he intended to point
to my example in his Sunday sermon, I just had to smile.
"The minister, it seemed, had been impressed by my attitude in
defeat; by the way I had taken the disappointment of the past
few weeks seemingly in my stride. He was basing his sermon on
my attitude, 'as a model of how to accept life's disappointments'.
He was sincere when he said this ... and yet, I had to smile.
No one had seen me, tossing and turning during the night, as I
went through the game, and the despair of that defeat. And I told
him, 'Don't let it fool you. It's all on the surface. Inside,
I'm sick.' And I was.
"But if I was sick, I was also proud - proud of the Leeds United
players who had given all ... and were prepared to go on giving
all, so long as there was something left to fight for.
"Celtic were much too good for us over
those two matches, but I'll never stop wondering what the result
might have been had we been fresher."
back to top
Over the next couple of weeks the League campaign ended with
shadow selections losing to Manchester City and Ipswich. Against
City, John Faulkner fractured a knee cap, another forlorn moment
in a season that was threatening to blow up in the club's face.
Still they had the FA Cup to aim for and were favourites when
they faced Chelsea in the Old
Trafford replay on the evening of 29 April.
Chelsea manager Dave Sexton laid out plans to prevent Eddie Gray
repeating his Wembley wonder show, detailing Chopper Harris to
kick the Scot out of the contest.
United again dominated the game and secured a first half lead
with a Mick Jones strike from the edge of the box. But lack of
concentration allowed Peter Osgood to ghost through the defence
and nod home a second half equaliser. United continued to press
but could not snatch a second goal, and the match went to extra
David Webb, Wembley's hapless victim, turned match winner when
he bundled home a goal from a long throw by Ian Hutchinson.
It was heart breaking for Leeds, but they threw men forward in
reckless pursuit of an equaliser. Try as they might they could
not get back on terms.
It had been the most valiant pursuit of the treble, but in the
end it was too much. In setting his sights on the most ambitious
of outcomes, Don Revie had spread his strength too thinly.
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "It has been a strenuous slog, greatly
pressurised by the loss of a month because of the demands of Mexican
acclimatisation for England's players in the World Cup. None have
suffered more than Leeds United's players ... At the beginning
of March, Leeds looked capable of winning everything and anything,
including the General Election. At that time they seemed unbeatable,
but in the end a condensed programme of highly competitive fixtures
"Should it be any consolation to them, Leeds have now probably
won something more in defeat as good losers than they would have
done in many hours of victorious celebrating - universal public
Liverpool manager Bill Shankly: "Few people realise how big a
blow Leeds suffered when they lost Reaney. His absence upset the
whole rhythm and balance of the side ... Madeley should have been
kept where he was, because Bremner and Giles rely heavily on his
ability to win the ball for them. His presence in that area of
the field enables them to concentrate on playing a positive game."
Norman Hunter: "Not one of us wanted to take any credit from
Chelsea - but we knew that we had not only done enough to win
the trophy ... we had done enough to earn it. Morally, we had
been the victors each time.
"These, then were our thoughts as we sat and stared into space,
almost weeping at the injustice of it all. Then the Boss - as
sick and as sad as any man among us - started to talk. At first,
it didn't sink in; we were still too sick with disappointment
to want to listen to what he was saying. Words were a poor substitute
for the gleaming silver Cup; and they were of little comfort to
us. But, gradually, we began to take in what Don Revie was saying.
We had heard such words from him before; but never, ever, had
we been so low in spirits.
"And then heads began to lift, eyes began to focus, and brains
began to register. The Boss was saying, simply: 'We've got to
start all over again. We've done it before ... and we can do it
now.' There was no fancy stuff, just the down-to-earth commonsense
of a man who knows when he's got to accept the worst - and to
plan for the future. And this was what our manager, Don Revie,
was doing, even as we wallowed in self-pity and despair.
"As he talked, and said those simple words with such a wealth
of meaning, the old Leeds United spirit began to be rekindled.
'We've done it before ... and we can do it now. Forget this season
- the League, the European Cup, the FA Cup. It's all history,
it's past, it cannot be revived. It's all gone - and that's the
end of it. What we've got to do now is think about next season
... the League title again, and then the European Cup. It took
Manchester United ten years of striving, to succeed in Europe
- and we've only tried to land the European Cup once. But to get
there again, we've got to win the League. Next time out. So that
must be our goal.'
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"Well, the Boss had said his piece; and we finally got the message.
I won't say that we went home laughing and singing ... that just
wouldn't be true. But deep down, in the heart of every Leeds player,
there was a burning determination that never again would we suffer,
as we had suffered in this season. And more: there was a determination
that the next time, we were going to be back on top."
Don Revie: "If I were given the chance to have last season all
over again, I would not reverse the decisions which were taken
at Elland Road. We had our moments of bitterness, of sorrow, of
extreme disappointment, and drama, and
sheer, heart-stirring emotion ... We could not have done other
than go for that magical treble. Even if we did know that we were
asking for a miracle. You cannot be a winner every time out, but
you have got to try to win 'em all. And Leeds United's players
made their manager a proud man, even in the midst of disappointment."
It had been the most extraordinary of seasons, one that has since
assumed legendary status for its glorious failures. They were,
indeed, glorious: this most magnificent of all football teams
suffered cruel and undeserved setbacks at the worst possible moments,
but nevertheless they had tilted at windmills in a manner that
few footballers ever get the chance to do and only went down,
as all Revie's teams did, after giving it one hell of a shot.
Part 1 - From ironclad defence to fluent
attack - Results and
table - printer friendly
Other Football Highlights from 1969/70
- Arsenal produced a remarkable comeback on April 28 to end
a long barren spell that had not seen a trophy come to Highbury
since the League championship in 1953. The Gunners pulled a
goal back five minutes from the end of the first leg away to
Anderlecht but still finished 3-1 losers. They pulled off an
astonishing 3-0 win in the second leg at Highbury to take the
trophy on a 4-3 aggregate score
- Manchester City enjoyed a third successive season of success,
winning both the League Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. They beat
West Brom 2-1 after extra time in the League Cup final and Poland's
Gornik Zabre by the same score in the European final in Vienna
- Pele scored his 1,000th goal on November 20 when he converted
a penalty in Santos' 2-1 win over Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro
- Tottenham and West Ham completed the first £200,000 transfer
in Britain when Martin Peters moved to Spurs in March and Jimmy
Greaves joined the Hammers in part exchange
- After beating Leeds in the European Cup semi finals, Celtic
unexpectedly lost 2-1 to Dutch side Feyenoord in the final.
They also lost in the Scottish Cup final, 3-1 to Aberdeen, but
had the consolation of winning the Scottish League and the League
Cup for a fifth successive season
- Bobby Charlton captained England and scored a goal in his
100th international match, against Northern Ireland at Wembley
on April 21
- UEFA decided to use penalty kicks, rather than the toss of
a coin, to decide tied matches in their three Cup competitions
- Some of the biggest names in English club football ended the
season with a brutal reminder that their glory days were long
past. Preston and Aston Villa, both previous Double winners,
occupied the bottom two places in the Second Division and were
relegated - the first time that both clubs had ever sunk so
low. Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday were also in decline,
slipping out of the First Division
- England's defence of the World Cup ended in disappointing
fashion, when they lost 3-2 to West Germany in the quarter finals
in Mexico after taking a two goal lead. They faced problems
before the tournament when captain Bobby Moore was arrested
for theft in Colombia. Charges were later dropped. They ran
eventual winners Brazil closer than anyone and were unlucky
to lose 1-0. Gordon Banks' miracle save from a Pele header was
- Brazil, inspired by Pele and featuring a remarkable forward
line of Jairzinho, Gerson, Tostao, Pele and Rivelino, proved
themselves the best team in the world with some outstanding
performances and remarkable goals in the rarefied atmosphere
of Mexico. They thrashed Italy 4-1 in the final of a tournament,
which was universally rated the best ever
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