Part 2 - The Jack Charlton affair
- Part 3 - Colchester, Tinkler and Fairs
success - Results and
table - printer friendly
Leeds United had experienced many setbacks and disappointments
since returning to the First Division
in 1964; the hand that Fate dealt
them in 1970 was something else entirely.
Until the season's closing weeks, the Whites were
strong favourites for three major trophies. Their battle for the
championship was the first to run into the sand as manager Don
Revie decided that enough was enough. With fixture congestion
and player exhaustion threatening meltdown, Revie reasoned that
success in the cups would be less demanding; he threw in the towel
and began sending out teams drawn largely from his inexperienced
pool of reserves.
Indeed, when United lost 4-1 at Derby on March 30,
there was not a regular on show. The team sheet that evening contained
one of Revie's most infamous selections; Harvey, Davey,
Peterson, Lumsden, Kennedy,
Yorath, Galvin, Bates, Belfitt, Hibbitt, Johanneson.
The Football League punished the club harshly for
the misdemeanour, a breach of regulation 23, which specified that
"each club shall play its full strength in all League matches
unless some satisfactory reason is given". They levied a fine
of £5,000, the highest yet imposed for the offence. The previous
highest figure was £2,000 paid by Everton in 1967 for fielding
a reserve side against Leeds. In 1962, Burnley were fined £1,000
after selecting 10 reserves for a match with Chelsea.
Leeds also included six reserves against Southampton
on Easter Saturday, but the League based their verdict solely
on the Derby match. They claimed to have taken full account of
the shortened season and the evidence of United's medical officer,
but the inquiry committee decided that three or four players who
were omitted against Derby could have played.
The outcome was thought to have been influenced
by League secretary Alan Hardaker.
Andrew Mourant in Don Revie: Portrait of a Footballing Enigma:
"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. On another occasion, Hardaker
gave Revie short shrift when the Leeds manager asked for a postponement
because three of his key players were badly injured. Hardaker
noted drily that not only did all three make sufficiently miraculous
recoveries to play, but one scored twice and another was, by general
consent, the man of the match."
Their surrender in the League did not help United's
cause; they crashed out of the European
Cup at the semi final stage against Celtic and lost the FA
Cup final to Chelsea after a
replay at Old Trafford.
As if all this were not enough, there was a clutch
of newspaper stories in May declaring that Revie was about to
accept the manager's job at Birmingham City. Revie was apparently
sorely tempted by an attractive contract, but speculation was
quickly dispelled when the manager declared, "I had a meeting
with the chairman this afternoon. It only lasted about five minutes.
I told him I wanted to see through the work I have started at
Leeds and that I would be abiding by my contract." There were
five years remaining on a seven year deal.
Nevertheless, the rumours only intensified the feeling
of emptiness that haunted Elland Road that summer. To lose three
major trophies in the space of a month was almost too much to
bear. Indeed, many predicted United might tumble off their pedestal.
back to top
In fact, nothing
could have been further from the truth. Perhaps the disappointment
served as a sharp incentive to do better next time, perhaps it
was the glorious style with which Brazil regained the World Cup
that invigorated the watching players; whatever the reason, Leeds
were, if anything, even better than they had been before when
When the players reported back for training in July,
one man who was missing was South African winger Albert
Johanneson, now 30, who ended a nine year association with
Elland Road by moving to York City during the summer. Johanneson
had been one of Revie's earliest signings and was a star of the
United team that won promotion in 1964. He had faded from prominence
after a disappointing display in the 1965
FA Cup final.
Also absent, though only temporarily, were the four
England men (Jack Charlton,
Terry Cooper, Allan Clarke and Norman Hunter), Paul Reaney and
John Faulkner (both recovering from fractures), but the rest of
the party were in good spirits. Revie remarked, "So long as everybody
will go on learning and working, and forget all about past successes
or near successes, we should do well again, and go at least very
near to one trophy or another. We have a set of wonderful players
here ... We are eager to start."
United warmed up for the 1970/71 campaign with a
convincing 3-1 victory in Ireland against Shelbourne, before winning
2-1 against a spirited Doncaster side, captained on the night
by former Elland Road man Rod
The official action kicked off with a tasty visit
to Old Trafford. Manchester United were not the force that had
won the European Cup in 1968, but, in front of their own supporters
and spearheaded by George Best and Bobby Charlton, they were nobody's
On the day, "Leeds United looked cool and confident,"
according to Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post, as the 100th
League goal of Mick Jones' career was enough to split the sides.
It came from a thundering header in the 22nd minute off a lofted
Peter Lorimer cross to the far corner of the area. Jones came
running in to stoop into a header which soared past the keeper.
Foster described it as "a header of such power that Stepney could
have been forgiven for thinking he had booted the ball in."
Paul Wilcox reported on the game for the Guardian:
"The effectiveness of Leeds United stems from an ingrained knowledge
of each other's skills, plus an almost total insistence on collective
effort ... Leeds were ahead on points throughout ... The paradox
was that, but for the exceptional form of Sprake, Leeds might
have gone home without so much as a draw. In a late assault on
the Leeds goal, Sprake twice thwarted Kidd by saving shots seemingly
destined for reward.
"Leeds won all the laurels in midfield, where Giles
and Bremner sprayed passes with a precise nimbleness
that epitomised most of their play. Giles stole the show ... He
flicked, stabbed, sent the ball searchingly into the defence,
and still found time to test Stepney occasionally."
The Yorkshiremen followed up with a 2-0 victory
at White Hart Lane against Spurs, giving clear evidence there
was no hangover or self pity.
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "Leeds have raised
their pennant to give notice to the rest of the field of what
may lie ahead ... The past is dead and their eyes are on the far
horizon for more success.
"At half time Spurs, having had most of the play,
must have felt that they needed only a small gesture or a small
chink in the Yorkshire armour to let them in. Yet a moment after
Sprake had made a good save from Gilzean under his crossbar at
one end, there were Leeds off like hares to the other in counter
attack. Bremner slipped the ball square to Gray and from some
20 yards Gray hit the bullseye through a crowd with a low left
foot shot which went in off the far post beyond Jennings' late
back to top
"In many ways it was perhaps right that if anybody
was to settle this stern, unrelenting contest of speed and all
out challenge it should have been Gray. From the first he had
been the one to bring frowns to the Tottenham defence with his
speed and sinuous footwork. Yet Gray, as always, remained no more
than one cog in this tightly knit, marvellously balanced Leeds
team. And once in the lead we knew in our heart of hearts what
the answer was likely to be. They do not easily concede such a
"Held together in midfield by little Bremner and
Giles once more, the whole side seemed to be connected by these
two like some secret power. And at the back there was always the
looming presence of either Hunter, Madeley or Cooper - all of
them strong and insistent to plug any developing gap.
"To rub it in, Leeds finally punished a Tottenham
defensive error. Near the end, as England tried to find one of
his colleagues with a diagonal crossfield pass around the edges
of his own penalty area, Giles read the signs as clearly as any
farmer Giles might do in terms of impending weather. With a sharp
acceleration he covered 10 yards to intercept that pass, glide
into the open and settle the affair once and for all with a left
In their first home game, United beat reigning champions
Everton 3-2 in a see saw contest. Twice they came from behind,
before scoring a late winner. It was a narrow squeak, with Leeds
not at their best against outstanding opponents, but they displayed
great resolution. They were so assured of their own capabilities
that they dispensed with their customary tactic of man marking
Alan Ball. They nearly paid the price as the midfielder had an
outstanding game. However, United no longer felt a need to give
individual opponents special treatment.
Phil Brown in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Truth
to tell, Everton were so formidable as to make one thankful that
United won at all, never mind how. For a United defeat which had
looked impossible was not all that far away, and the loss of one
point was even nearer. Bremner scored the winner only 10 minutes
from time, and the frenzied mass whistling of the crowd in the
last five minutes - to urge that admirable and imperturbable referee,
Jim Finney, to blow time - showed how they feared Everton.
"The tension over, the crowd cheered both teams
off after a grand game full of drama, and with more football than
you often get when top sides meet. Altogether it was a splendid
initiation for United's new pitch, which stood up splendidly,
not only to the soaking of the week but the rapid fire of the
"Everton were out of luck in that their only two
serious errors in defence cost them goals. Giles got one when
Jones nipped on to a bad back pass by Labone, and Bremner got
the first of his invaluable brace off a poor header by Newton.
Bremner's second (I doubt if another player could have taken such
a sharp chance) was off a hard but sliced shot by Lorimer which
found him 10 straight yards out. Brown scored for Everton after
30 minutes and Husband, a nimble winger, answered Giles' goal
by outjumping all United's tall defensive timber to head in to
give them the half time score which must have startled the country."
The ground improvements referred to by Brown had
been significant - a few weeks later the Yorkshire Post revealed
the extent of the financial investment. Almost £500,000 had been
spent since 1968, including the following:
- New floodlights and pylons in the Gelderd Road stand £250,000
- Extending the West Stand £140,000
- New generator system to allow the introduction of undersoil
- Playing area improvements including new drainage and turf
- Additional staircases in the Kop stand £17,000
- Modernisation of offices and facilities for players £15,000
As if recharged by beating the champions, United
won their next two games 3-0, against West Ham and Burnley, and
looked superb in doing so.
back to top
Tom German in the Times: "All that old, confident
Leeds mastery was on parade at Elland Road last night, demonstrably
untarnished by the disappointments of last season. Even without
the dextrous promptings of Bremner, there was more than enough
skill and power in reserve to dispose of West Ham, unbeaten themselves
until now. Three goals could well have been half a dozen and more,
but there was no slackening off. Like a man who has once suffered
the discomfort of seeing the soap squirt from his grasp, out of
the bath and beyond reach, Leeds are clearly intent on allowing
nothing to escape them this season."
After the Burnley game, manager Jimmy Adamson described
United as "without a doubt the best outfit in the country," a
view echoed nationwide as Leeds enjoyed their best ever start
to a campaign. The unblemished opening burst left them two points
clear of the pack.
The winning run was ended two days later, at Highbury
against Arsenal, with a niggling goalless draw in which the Gunners'
Eddie Kelly was dismissed after 20 minutes for kicking Billy Bremner
violently under the very nose of the referee.
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "There were no goals
and no broken legs at Highbury last night and there might well
have been one or two of both ... Mr Jones, the referee, needed
the escort of seven sturdy London policemen as he left the field.
Behind him lay the debris of the Kelly affair; the constant booing
of Bremner - whose violent tackle had spawned Kelly's retaliatory
the ribs as both players fell; the booking of Cooper; and the
unedifying sight of Mr Jones once being chased angrily by a bevy
of Leeds players for one of his many strange decisions. Far from
taking tight control of this taut, physical battle, at times he
resembled a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. There were
moments when football itself sadly became secondary to the stern
business of winning."
A 67th minute goal by Allan Clarke was enough to
ensure maximum points at home to Chelsea on 5 September, but a
few days later Leeds went out of the League Cup. Second Division
Sheffield United beat them at Bramall Lane with Blades midfielder
Tony Currie capping a great display with a fine goal. Jack Charlton
went off with an ankle injury and was missing for the weekend's
League game at Stoke City, along with Johnny Giles, who had been
out since suffering a similar problem in the victory against West
Ham on 26 August.
The versatile Terry Yorath took Charlton's place
at No 5 for his first game of the campaign, while Mick Bates continued
to deputise for Giles. Yorath actually played at right-back, with
Madeley in the centre, but had a poor game. He fluffed a back
pass to Sprake after twenty minutes, allowing John Ritchie to
put Stoke ahead. Yorath hurt a knee shortly before half time and
spent most of the game lamely chasing Harry Burrows on City's
left wing. Burrows had a wonderful game and added the second goal
at the start of the second half. Sprake had to go off for eight
minutes following a clash with former Leeds man Jimmy
Greenhoff. Lorimer covered in goal while he was getting treatment,
but it was after the Welshman's return that Stoke snatched a third
goal near the end.
It was a stunning display by the Midlanders. United
were strangely off colour, never troubling Gordon Banks. Don Revie:
"What team wouldn't miss Charlton, Reaney and Giles? I am not
worried about the two defeats - you can't win every game and we
have won plenty for a few seasons now. There is nothing basically
wrong with the team."
United had the chance to put the result behind them
as they flew out to Norway to commence their Fairs Cup campaign
against Sarpsborg. Don Revie took the opportunity to rest several
players: Hunter and Clarke got minor knocks at Stoke, while Giles,
Charlton and Reaney were still unavailable. Rod
Belfitt, Jack Kennedy
and Terry Hibbitt were given
starts, while youngsters John Shaw, Keith
Edwards and Bob Rutherford travelled with the party. Revie:
"Had Yorath been fit, I would probably have left Terry Cooper
at home, too."
Even with those changes, United should have had
little problem with the part timers. A
year earlier they had put sixteen goals past their compatriots
Lyn Oslo. On this occasion, however, they struggled, frustrated
by a nine-man defence. 75 minutes had elapsed before Lorimer settled
the match with a powerful 25-yard drive.
Barry Foster described the display as "wretched"
in the Yorkshire Post, complaining that "too many players tried
to do too much with the ball and too many final passes went astray."
They found matters just as tough at home to Southampton
on 19 September, needing a 38th minute penalty from Johnny Giles
to secure the points. Had Ron Davies been successful with a spot
kick for the Saints minutes earlier, it might have been a different
The game ended controversially after Allan Clarke
clashed ferociously with Jimmy Gabriel, both men ending sprawled
out on the turf. Gabriel was stretchered off and when referee
Ray Tinkler refused to allow the Southampton substitution,
it was clear that the half-back had been sent off. It was later
reported that he had deliberately butted Clarke in the face.
Gabriel claimed, "Leeds exaggerate incidents. I
have no respect for them except Bremner. It's my first sending
off and, of course, it had to be against Leeds. I had been hit
in the jaw and kicked in the back just before the sending off."
back to top
United came out of the clash with a lengthy list
of injuries: Gray, foot gash; Clarke, shin injury and loose teeth;
Hunter, Achilles injury; Cooper, calf muscle; and Giles, a recurrence
of the ankle problem which had kept him out of the previous six
matches. "He did well to play with it," said Don Revie, who went
on to express some forthright opinions on events. "I know we are
top of the League and that everybody wants to beat us ... but
that is no reason why we should have to put up with the spoiling
and pressurising tactics we are having to face this season. And
this suggestion that because we have had 12 men sent off against
us in our last six years in the First Division we conned them
into offences is just too comic to stand scrutiny. We have played
it hard in our time ... but now, when we are trying hard to play
good attacking football, we are stopped at all costs, by fair
means or foul."
Barry Foster, in his report for the Yorkshire Post,
acknowledged that United had struggled, but indicated that he
felt they were coming back to form: "The signs became increasingly
clearer that they were regaining the fluency which helped them
make such a flying start to the season. Leeds did not allow Southampton
... a clear chance in the second spell and once they had got back
into the habit of accepting the promptings of Giles again from
midfield they looked much better."
They remained off the pace a week later when they
drew 0-0 at Nottingham Forest. United lost Giles with a fractured
cheekbone in the first half, an injury which would keep him out
for a further six games.
Happily, as one international bowed out, Don Revie
was able to recall another. Paul Reaney came on as substitute
at half time in the second leg of the Fairs Cup-tie against Sarpsborg.
Reaney had been out since breaking a leg against West Ham in April.
United won 5-0 with two goals apiece from Charlton and Bremner
and a fifth from Lorimer.
Leeds continued with a 2-0 victory against promoted
Huddersfield on 3 October, thanks to a Lorimer brace. They lost
another forward when Gray limped off after 15 minutes with a pulled
thigh. Revie revealed that captain Billy Bremner had been playing
through the injury barrier to help compensate for United's problems:
"He missed the West Ham game with a knee injury, had a fitness
test the following Saturday morning at Burnley and played. With
Giles out he has carried on for me and I am very grateful for
what he has done. He has had treatment every day before training
and has played although only 50 per cent fit. The trouble is strained
ligaments in the knee. He would battle on and play with a broken
leg if he could."
There were other non-playing concerns for Revie
with calls for disciplinary action against Jack Charlton. Comments
made by the centre-half in a Tyne Tees television interview led
to fierce criticism of what was rather portentously christened
The Jack Charlton Affair. The storm
in a teacup lasted for a few weeks, effectively ending whatever
remained of Charlton's international career. He was admonished
for making what were found to be ill considered remarks.
On the field, United played out 2-2 draws at West
Bromwich and then at home to Manchester United. They continued
to lead the table, with Manchester City and four London clubs,
Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and surprise package Crystal Palace
on their heels.
It was announced that Leeds had signed young Morton
forward Joe Jordan in a £15,000 deal. Revie had been tipped off
to Jordan's promise by former skipper Bobby
Collins, now plying his trade at the Scottish club. Revie:
"We have watched Jordan several times and were impressed with
his performances. He is a tall, striking inside-left and we consider
that he can be developed into a very useful addition to our playing
The signing came just before United faced the East
German side, Dynamo Dresden, in the second round of the Fairs
Cup, with the first leg at Elland Road on 21 October.
The club was hit by a stomach bug; Revie was ill,
along with Mick Jones and Paul Reaney and several reserve players.
Johnny Giles and Eddie Gray were still injured, while Mick Bates
had hurt a groin and Gary Sprake had a bruised hand. David Harvey
took over in goal, with Rod Belfitt leading the attack and 22-year-old
full-back Nigel Davey playing his first European game.
The Germans cast a nine-man blanket across their
half of the pitch to smother United's attacks. It was a frustrating
evening for the home side, who only had a 50th-minute penalty
from Peter Lorimer to show for their work. Belfitt's header had
beaten the keeper but defender Dorner punched the ball over the
The Germans twice came close to an equaliser in
the final five minutes when they showed some attacking flair,
hinting that United might be hard pressed in the second leg.
United were back to form at the weekend, winning
2-0 at Derby with goals from Lorimer and Clarke. Barry Foster
in the Yorkshire Post: "Leeds United have seldom produced a better
team effort ... Their play did not have the sweet, easy on the
eye, flowing football of their initial unbeaten run but there
was unmistakable quality in the planning and precision of their
gaining two more points towards winning the First Division title.
The display had its outstanding performers but the overriding
was the way the side as a whole rode out Derby's early attacking
storm, countered to let them know they could not press without
risk and then landed two vital blows in the form of goals as typical
of the two scorers as it is possible to imagine. Hunter, playing
at the heart of a defence which for the 10th time in 14 League
games was unbroken, had an inspired game and Sprake, always in
command of his area, strengthened my view that both of them are
playing better than ever."
back to top
Charlton and Giles were the scorers when United
won by the same score against Coventry on 31 October. The return
of the Irishman, in his first game for a month, improved Leeds'
creative thrust. His goal was a splendid effort, flying past Bill
Glazier from 25 yards.
After the game the players set off for East Germany
for the return with Dresden. It was a lengthy journey and there
was a scare in its final stages when the coach came to a halt
on the way to the stadium after two of its tyres burst.
Undeterred, Don Revie promised, "We shall go at
them. We hope to get one goal at least and then they have got
to get three." He warned the players that it could be a rough
game, saying, "I have told them to keep out of trouble in a match
where there could be a brawl." The game was played out in what
was described as "an electrifying atmosphere".
Hemp brought the Germans level on aggregate after
14 minutes before Mick Jones scored in the 31st minute. Lorimer
half hit a cross from the edge of the area and Charlton chested
the ball on. Jones was on it in an instant to sweep the ball home.
It was a soft shot but the German defenders were frozen and the
ball found the net.
Dynamo were denied a penalty in the 55th minute
when Charlton and Richter tangled in the area and fell to the
turf. Bottles were thrown by the crowd at the Leeds end.
After 63 minutes, Dynamo captain Kreische, a midfield
schemer, nodded home Dresden's second
after a pinpoint cross from Riedel.
The Germans pushed Leeds all the way, but they stood
firm with Hunter having an outstanding game at the heart of the
With tempers fraying, there was a brawl on the edge
of the Leeds area when Clarke brought down Heidler with eight
minutes to go. Any number of players could have been given their
marching orders, but it was Mick Bates and Dynamo's Geyer who
took the long walk to the dressing rooms.
The aggregate score was level at 2-2, but United
were through on the away goals ruling.
Don Warters in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Leeds
United have encountered some tough assignments on their European
travels, but none has been more ferocious, more bitter or distasteful
... Taking the two legs as a whole, United deserved their victory,
for once again they had shown that they possessed the ability
and temperament to triumph in the most difficult circumstances."
United faced a trip to London to meet Crystal Palace
when they returned to England. They did enough to win the game,
taking the lead after 52 minutes with a header from Peter Lorimer
and controlling matters thereafter, but they had to be content
with a point.
With three minutes remaining and the game fading
to a predictable conclusion, Palace pushed forward. The ball reached
their captain, full-back John Sewell, on the edge of the box and
he sent a harmless looking lob high towards goal. As it dropped
towards him, Gary Sprake was guilty of a misjudgement. He took
his eyes off the ball and fluffed his lines, allowing it to drop
over the line for the equaliser.
The Welshman was distraught. Up until that fateful
moment he had given a faultless display, and afterwards Don Revie
offered public support, claiming, "Gary Sprake is still the best
goalkeeper in Europe for me." He went on, "I think he was thinking
who he was going to pass the ball to when it went through his
hands and into the net."
During the week, Billy
Bremner heard that an FA Disciplinary Committee had given him
a four weeks suspended sentence and a £150 fine for receiving
three booking in the previous 12 months. He was relieved that
he would not miss any games; his improving disciplinary record
had stood him in good stead. He had injured his knee against Dynamo
Dresden and was unable to play, missing Scotland's European Championship
game with Denmark at Hampden, but the outcome of the hearing was
a happy one for the Scot.
back to top
In his absence, Mick Bates continued to show what
a fine player he was, performing well in the 3-1 defeat of Blackpool,
the goals coming from Madeley, Charlton and Giles. Madeley and
Giles were on the mark again, with others from Clarke and Lorimer
as United earned revenge for their earlier defeat at Stoke. They
beat the Potters 4-1 on 18 November after the visitors had taken
a shock lead.
There was a tremendous struggle with Wolves at Molineux
on 21 November before the points were secured. Paul Madeley was
on the mark for the third successive game, nodding home the third
goal just before half time to make it 3-1. Mick Jones was replaced
by Rod Belfitt at half time after the striker had suffered a broken
nose and Hugh Curran pulled one back just after the restart. The
loss of Jones stifled United's impetus but they had enough in
the locker to maintain their narrow lead to the end.
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "As winter draws
in, Leeds United are really turning the heat on. Ten goals in
their last three games and 11 out of the last 12 League points
played for leaves them well clear of the field this morning. On
Saturday, they stayed cool on the pitch while their supporters
on the terraces in Molineux's biggest crowd of the season bit
their fingernails as Wolverhampton Wanderers mounted tremendous
second half pressure in search of a point that looked out of sight
at the end of the first half. It was Leeds' knack of taking command
when the situation presented itself in the first period and their
composed play under pressure in the second ... which won them
two more valuable points against the side that had led the rest
of the pack behind Leeds and the London challenge."
The chasing teams were now trailing in the wake
of Leeds and Arsenal and on 28 November, United had the chance
to increase their gap over fifth placed Manchester City when the
two sides met at Elland Road.
Don Revie gave Jones the afternoon off to allow
his broken nose to heal, giving the No 9 shirt to Bates, though
Clarke played lone striker. The change of personnel blunted United's
scoring touch, but they should have taken the lead on the half
hour when Tony Book's foul on Terry Cooper resulted in a penalty.
Unfortunately, Giles drove his spot kick wide.
Nine minutes after the restart Lorimer caught the
ball as it was running out
of play and found the unmarked Clarke, who beat Corrigan with
some assurance. It was the only goal of the contest and Sprake's
late saves from Lee and Bell secured the points for Leeds, though
shots from Madeley and Charlton were blocked on the line with
Corrigan on the ground and helpless. Lorimer had earlier struck
Tom German: "Leeds United seem to grow more formidable
each time they step out. If they are conscious of Arsenal's breath
on their collar as they joust at the head of the First Division,
Leeds, in the best tradition of Yorkshiremen, do not betray it
by any obvious quickening of their stride, any nervous glance
over their shoulder. This often leads only to error and, as Manchester
City rediscovered at Elland Road on Saturday, Leeds make few of
those ... It was their total composure and thoroughness which
was impressive. Even in their collective balance there is much
to admire in recurring individual themes which splash colour on
the whole. Madeley's powerful yet graceful running, Cooper's smooth
acceleration, swooping to tackle or darting up the left flank;
Clarke's somehow brittle stride on those stalk like legs, which
take him with deceptive speed to threatening spots ... The constant,
indestructible rib of this sound Leeds side, however, ... has
been Hunter. Those headlong dashes into the tackle seem rarer.
He is still a hard man, but, again, on Saturday, he was superbly
disciplined at the back, positioning intelligently to gobble up
everything loose and using the ball with immaculate measure and
discretion. If he put a foot wrong, it went unnoticed."
The same day Arsenal beat Liverpool, who were sixth,
by a couple of goals and with Tottenham (third) and Chelsea (fourth)
both drawing, the top two inched further clear.
United were in European action during the week,
facing Sparta Prague at Elland Road, and Don Revie brought in
Rod Belfitt to cover the still absent Jones. Mick Bates was serving
a suspension for being dismissed in Dresden.
The United boss was concerned, saying, "I am afraid
of this side's tremendous skill ... They remind me very much of
the Ujpest Dozsa side which gave us such a hard game in Hungary
four years ago." Despite his apprehension, United breezed to a
sparkling 6-0 victory.
They started steadily, but never looked back after
Clarke opened the scoring in the 19th minute. It was Leeds' 50th
goal of the season and the striker hammered home from close range
after Migas and Urban failed to clear. Belfitt was injured after
heading on to Clarke. He had to go off to be replaced by Reaney
and required three stitches in a cut eyebrow.
The substitution allowed Madeley to push forward
into midfield with Bremner moving into attack. United reaped instant
rewards, snatching four goals in the next 17 minutes.
back to top
Reaney's first touch was a low cross from the right,
and Czech defender Chovanec, in attempting to clear, headed through
his own goal. Within two minutes United were three up after Bremner
shot home smartly from an accurate pass by Giles. Madeley, Lorimer,
Bremner and Gray were all involved in good work in the visitors'
penalty area before Gray's sidefoot rolled over the line to make
it four, with the goalkeeper unable to reach the soft shot. Nine
minutes before the interval it was 5-0 when Gray headed in a Lorimer
cross. In the 54th minute Charlton headed home from another Lorimer
centre to complete a 6-0 rout.
Sparta keeper Kramerius was in constant action,
making a number of splendid saves. Opposite
number Sprake had little to do; his evening's work comprised only
a close range save from Vesely on the stroke of half time and
then saving a fierce drive from Vrana in the closing minutes.
Charlton was denied by the upright, Lorimer found the angle of
post and bar and Bremner had a goal disallowed for offside in
a one sided romp.
Don Revie: "It was my privilege to watch Leeds in
this match. Our last performance to compare with this was last
season when we beat West Brom at Elland Road 5-1. I can't really
recall a night when we showed such understanding and such team
work. Some of the football was sheer poetry."
It was a wonderful display and put United in great
heart for the 5 December League match against Liverpool. It promised
to be a stern test: the Reds were undefeated at home all season
and United had not managed a goal at Anfield since Christmas 1965.
With Mick Jones still unavailable, Allan Clarke
wore the No 9 shirt with Paul Madeley at 8 and Paul Reaney getting
his first start since 17 October.
Without Jones, Leeds were reticent about throwing
themselves wholly into attack, content to play for the draw. According
to Eric Todd in the Guardian, "Without touching mediocrity, they
will not be brilliant every week ... They were content to deny
possession to Liverpool, who made only formal attempts to wrest
it from them. A draw thus was predictable.
"In an interesting rather than captivating first
half, Lawler's right leg denied Giles a goal, Clemence saved from
Gray, Lorimer and Madeley and in rapid succession Hall, Heighway
and Toshack all had good shots blocked. After 58 minutes, Madeley
headed a splendid goal from Cooper's centre, but within two minutes
Smith took a free kick and Toshack equalised with a header of
comparable quality. Leeds appeared to be fortunate not to concede
a penalty when Reaney brought down Hughes, who shortly afterwards
failed narrowly to connect with a fine pass from Heighway. Thereafter
Leeds decided that they had done enough for one day."
Don Revie declared it "a great point to win," adding,
"The pitch was so gluey it was impossible to keep going forward
all the time. To keep possession of the ball like that proved
to me the maturity of the side once and for all."
In midweek Leeds completed the job they had started
against Sparta, edging home 3-2 on the night, easing off after
establishing a 3-0 advantage in 34 minutes.
Maybe as the result of all the travelling, Leeds
struggled three days later against struggling
Ipswich when finishing goalless at Elland Road. To add to the
gloom they lost Eddie Gray with a broken ankle. Leeds were frustrated
by the visitors' defensive tactics and might have lost when Jimmy
Robertson hit the bar in the final minute with Sprake beaten.
back to top
Leeds snapped back to form the following week when
a 10th minute header from Charlton was enough to secure victory
at Goodison Park against Everton.
It was not a poetic performance, as acknowledged
by Geoffrey Green in the Times: "Goodison Park has always been
a handsome, fashionable stage for football, a living thing full
of atmospherics - like a theatre ... A cathedral of a place indeed,
fit for the gods of the game. Yet when Leeds United ... beat Everton
there on Saturday ... we had anything but the spectacle we deserved
and rather too many shadows of another sort for comfort. In that
opening - after a mere 10 minutes - Leeds snatched the goal they
needed and then, slowly but surely, throttled the life out of
the game, with one of their typical ruthlessly efficient defensive
displays. These allow the opposition ... not a loophole anywhere.
"Within the context Leeds cannot be blamed. This
is the modern idiom ... Certainly Bremner and his men have no
superiors in this specialist art of defensive disengagement. They
were after the points and they got them. Shoot first and ask questions
later is the way they see things and it pays them dividends.
"By the end of that half hour the frustration had
begun to rise visibly. Brawn took over from brain and the final
tally gave us the figure of 43 infringements of one sort or another.
Twenty-two of these were against Everton as they beat their heads
frantically against the wall of Hunter, Cooper, Bremner, Reaney
and company with Giles, Lorimer and Madeley also withdrawn tactically
to reinforce the concrete.
"Hunter and Giles, were masterly for Leeds. Neither
put a foot wrong, apart from Hunter's stupid tackle of Whittle
near the close which brought down the law on him. Giles indeed
directed the flow of the battle like a little Napoleon and quite
outmatched Ball for all the latter's frenzied efforts to effect
a breach over the second half. It was then that Leeds stood back
and allowed Everton to knock the breath out of themselves. It
was shadow boxing of a high order which not even the nimble Harvey,
after a brilliant start, could fathom."
Gary Sprake was found to have broken a bone in his
right hand in the game and David Harvey deputised in the Boxing
Day fixture with Newcastle. Aside from that United were unchanged
with Paul Reaney at right-back and Paul Madeley wearing No 11.
The game started slowly, but after 40 minutes Frank
Clark brought Terry Cooper down in the Newcastle area to concede
a penalty. Johnny Giles made no mistake from the spot.
It was the 70th minute before there was another
score. Allan Clarke made no mistake, finding space in the area
before pulling down a ball from Lorimer and slotting it home as
defenders moved in. Newcastle appealed vainly for offside, but
the linesman kept his flag down.
With five minutes remaining, Frank Clark conceded
a second penalty, blocking Madeley's
wonderful header with his hands. Again Giles was calmness personified
as he scored his ninth goal of the campaign.
With Arsenal held to a goalless draw at Highbury
by Southampton, United ended the year three points clear, in the
best of health and looking set fair for the title.
Not everything in the garden was perfect, however,
and Don Revie was forced to strenuously deny reports that he would
be joining Manchester United. The Old Trafford club had sacked
Wilf McGuinness on 29 December, with Sir Matt Busby taking temporary
charge, but speculation was rife that Revie would be the long
Revie used his column in the Evening Post to confirm
his commitment to Leeds, writing: "I expect loyalty from the Leeds
United playing and administrative staff - and they expect loyalty
from me in return. That is why I am not interested in becoming
manager of Manchester United, or any other club for that matter.
"My name was linked with Manchester United when
Sir Matt Busby relinquished the team managership last year, and
again following the recent sacking of Wilf McGuinness. I find
it flattering that some people rate me good enough to take over
at the helm of such a famous and successful club, but it is my
ambition to remain at Elland Road for the rest of my career in
Calm restored, everyone at Elland Road could look
forward with anticipation to great things to come in 1971.
Part 2 - The Jack Charlton affair
- Part 3 - Colchester, Tinkler and Fairs
success - Results and
table - printer friendly
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