Part 1 - Off like a train - Part
2 - The Jack Charlton affair - Results
and table - printer
The 1969/70 season had not ended happily
for Leeds United, but the side had gone from strength to strength
in the new campaign, racing off to monopolise the League leadership
in the autumn.
With just one defeat from their 24 games played, they held a
three point lead over second placed Arsenal at the turn of the
year, with Chelsea a distant ten points behind in third spot.
United also had high hopes in the FA Cup and Europe.
Life could hardly have been sweeter at the start of 1971.
The Whites had been drawn to meet Rotherham United of Division
Three in the Cup third round on 2 January, but, along with nine
other ties, the match was postponed because of frost and snow.
It should have been replayed during the week, but the pitch was
still considered too dangerous and was put off for a second time.
The League fixture at home to Tottenham on 9 January, therefore,
was United's first action of the New Year.
Tom German in the Times: "Leeds United have human weaknesses
after all. One begins to think of them as invulnerable when, week
after week, someone always seems to be around to cement over a
colleague's error; when someone from their array of talent invariably
emerges to stamp his name on the match. Tottenham Hotspur, taking
their chances skillfully to win 2-1 at Elland Road on Saturday,
left the image a little blurred.
"In bare outline, two moments of wandering concentration in their
own half, coupled with neglect of their own scoring chances, led
to Leeds' first setback at home this season ... But there was
much more to it than that: Spurs scored while jerseys were still
free of mud stains, were a yard the faster for the first ten minutes
and thereafter, though often under pressure, had skill and determination
enough to prevent Leeds drawing themselves to full height.
"Spurs found openings, too, with the Leeds defence welding less
effectively than usual. Hunter, normally impregnable, made more
mistakes in the first few minutes than he has probably done all
season. His feet became confusedly entangled with the ball right
at the start. Gilzean pounced to send Mullery away down the right
and, with Charlton having to move from the middle to cover him,
Chivers had a clear path for the opening goal. It was an error
by Giles, a misdirected pass meant for Bremner, which provided
Tottenham's winner 18 minutes from the end; Gilzean was there
again to send Chivers through.
"Each time it was Chivers' immaculate control and accurate aim
which made the most of the opportunity. Leeds were more fallible
in similar situations. Jones, sent galloping clear of the field,
managed only to run the ball straight at Jennings. The Yorkshiremen
found several chances going astray as they heaped on the pressure
with Giles dropping a stream of lobs into the goalmouth, hoping
perhaps to exploit a difficult wind and the absence of England's
"They had equalised, deservedly, in the 18th minute after shots
from Lorimer and Madeley recoiled from the barricade of Tottenham
shirts. Bremner lifted the final rebound gently on to the bar
and Clarke, the most searching Leeds forward, darted in to head
over the line. The big assault was reserved for the closing minutes.
"Bremner, only a couple of strides out, might have scored but
Jennings advanced to block him; Hunter found the ball coming at
him awkwardly and it bounced just wide of a post off his thigh;
finally Bremner glanced in a fine header to which Jennings reacted
with a lightning leap to clutch it against a post."
Their unbeaten home record ended, two days later United finally
faced Rotherham in their restaged Cup-tie at Millmoor.
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It should have been no contest, but the Millers had as much of
the play as their illustrious opponents and were well worth the
goalless draw they earned. As Terry Brindle wrote in the Yorkshire
Post, "Leeds' reputation cut no ice with confident Rotherham,
who defended stoutly and attacked with verve and élan throughout
the match. Class will tell, we thought, but Rotherham flatly refused
to accept their supposed limitations. Willed on by a wall of frantic
support, Rotherham launched themselves headlong at the Leeds defence
and almost into the fourth round.
"Desperation or resilience lifted Leeds to a last magnificent
onslaught and Charlton had a header kicked off the line by the
hard working Houghton. But Rotherham were equally magnificent
in their refusal to accept the possibility of defeat. They held
on superbly to earn a replay tomorrow - and nobody would deny
them their right to it."
The match should have been replayed two nights later, but there
was yet another postponement, this time due to fog.
United returned to winning form at West Ham at the weekend, emerging
with a 3-2 win, though they required a late rally. After cruising
into a 2-0 lead with goals from Hunter and Giles and dominating
the game, United conceded goals in the 80th and 83rd minutes to
find themselves caught. Two minutes later, Belfitt, a substitute
for Jones, got the winner that Leeds fully deserved.
It was then back to their marathon with Rotherham, on a bitterly
cold evening with heavy rain making for an uncomfortable night
at Elland Road.
Eric Todd in the Guardian: "The absence of Jones with a thigh
injury and the departure of Cooper after seventeen minutes with
a similar complaint embarrassed Leeds, who in the first half already
had enough on their plate with the wind and a very determined
Rotherham side. Leeds made more mistakes than they are expected
to make in a whole month and if it had not been for the magnificent
work of Madeley, Hunter and Reaney they certainly would have been
in serious trouble. Their attacks were almost non existent and
although Leeds did take the lead, they were behind at half time
and looking thoroughly depressed and embarrassed.
United took the lead after 27 minutes through Lorimer. The chance
was manufactured by some smart play by Clarke and a neat pass
under pressure. Rotherham equalised five minutes later. Goalkeeper
Ray Tunks' long clearance was caught by the strong wind and carried
over Hunter's head. Trevor Womble got possession, evaded Hunter
and fired convincingly past Sprake. The United keeper surrendered
a second goal three minutes later when he spilled Fantham's cross
with Womble and Charlton crowding him, and Bentley scored easily.
United managed to exert a degree of control in the second half.
After 56 minutes, Clarke flicked on Reaney's cross for Lorimer
to make it 2-2. Six minutes later, Giles earned the lead with
a low shot that took a deflection off a defender.
It was a fractious affair with referee Jim Finney calling the
captains together in the second half to demand restraint after
Charlton had been tackled hard by Womble and got his revenge,
violently charging the forward to the ground.
Relieved to have escaped unscathed, United had little problem
overturning Swindon in the fourth round five days later. Mick
Jones snaffled a hat trick, his first goals since November, and
Clarke another as Town were trounced 4-0.
John Arlott in the Guardian: "A clearly planned and coolly executed
operation produced the
predictable result in a match of diverting skills but no surprises
... Leeds United simply confirmed their power; this is what it
is like to be the team the bookmakers expect to win the Cup. Swindon
went through all the motions of earning their money; they hurried
like mad, but Leeds, who did not, were always faster."
They followed up with an impressive 2-0 victory at Manchester
City, previously third in the table though ten points behind United.
The goals came from Clarke and Charlton, while Manchester City
manager Joe Mercer complained, "Gary Sprake dropped more balls
than Colin Cowdrey and got away with it."
During the week that followed, it was revealed that reserve goalkeeper
David Harvey had been placed on the transfer list at his own request.
Don Revie: "I have done everything
in my power to keep David here but he has obviously reached the
stage when he wants regular first team football." Harvey had been
at Elland Road since 1965 but had always been second choice to
Gary Sprake, making less than 50 first team appearances in that
time. Revie promised that Harvey would not leave until a replacement
had been signed.
Leeds hosted Liverpool on 6 February and gave young Chris Galvin
a first start of the season at No 11, with Paul Madeley deputising
at centre-half for Jack Charlton.
During the win at City, the defender had sustained further damage
to a nose broken during the Rotherham games. Bremner was still
missing with an injured ankle.
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Liverpool were in the midst of rebuilding with manager Bill Shankly
bringing through youth at the expense of the old stagers who had
served him so well in the Sixties. By their standards they were
having an average season, sitting in eighth position and already
beaten on five occasions. But they could usually be relied on
to raise their game for the big matches.
The Reds enjoyed early fortune when referee Clive Thomas missed
Phil Boersma handling the ball as he began the move which led
to Liverpool's second minute goal. Sprake fumbled Boersma's shot,
though he argued he was hindered by Paul Reaney. Liverpool's £110,000
signing from Cardiff, John Toshack, accepted the gift and shot
in off Hunter.
The visitors then set up the sort of defence in depth that had
always been United's
trademark and, coupled with some refereeing that had the home
fans complaining of favouritism, they denied Leeds all but the
faintest chinks of light.
Madeley did get the ball past goalkeeper Ray Clemence after 48
minutes, but the effort was disallowed for a petulant foul by
Clarke on Tommy Smith. Liverpool were always dangerous on the
break: Steve Heighway hit the woodwork with one shot and then
saw another beat Sprake only to be cleared off the line by Terry
Yorath, a second half substitute for Galvin.
Barry Foster of the Yorkshire Post blamed the defeat on the absence
of Madeley in midfield: "'You cannot expect to recover after a
quick goal against a side like that, especially without Big Jack
and Bremner,' said the disappointed Leeds United supporter as
the 48,000 crowd left Elland Road in Saturday. There may be something
in that. Leeds could have done with both their injured half-backs
... Without Charlton, Leeds had Madeley at centre-half and so
lost the strength and calmness of this versatile player in midfield.
Just how important he has been in the three pronged partnership
with Giles and Bates in the past few weeks was laid bare for all
to see when he was no longer there."
For the fans, the focus lay on Sprake's error, as reported by
Don Warters for the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Don Revie - although
disappointed as anyone at the latest setback in the League title
race - is more concerned with the actions of some of United's
so-called fans for the treatment they gave Gary Sprake during
Saturday's match. Sprake, blamed over the weekend for United's
1-0 defeat by Liverpool after losing the ball when Reaney ran
into him ... is still tops for Mr Revie."
Whatever the level of support he offered publicly, Revie had
private doubts about his goalkeeper, who had cost United a point
when spilling an easy catch at Crystal Palace in November. However,
the manager opted for a very public show of faith, naming him
again for what looked to be a straightforward FA Cup fifth round
tie at Fourth Division Colchester.
It turned out to be one of
the blackest days in United's history, as they tumbled out
in one of the tournament's greatest ever upsets.
Veteran former England striker Ray Crawford scored twice and
Dave Simmons added a third before United got their game together
sufficiently to threaten a comeback with goals from Hunter and
Giles, but they could not conjure up an equaliser.
Revie said after the game, "Our job, starting with normal training
to pick ourselves up and win the League and the Fairs Cup. I am
not holding an inquest today. That will come later in the week,
when we are analysing Wolves before we play them here on Saturday
... I am trying to restore normality and I am quite sure my players
are able to achieve it."
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Inside, Revie was absolutely fuming. His team still had a three
point lead over Arsenal in the League, but they had thrown away
a great chance in the Cup and the home defeats to Tottenham and
Liverpool rankled sorely. The manager was insistent that the players
should put matters right a week later when they hosted Wolves.
Gary Sprake was a notable absentee, with rumours that he had been
dropped, though it was later revealed that he had badly gashed
his hand during some competitive training sessions during the
The injury allowed Revie to give David Harvey an opportunity,
hoping that the move might lead to the keeper changing his mind
about leaving Elland Road.
Geoffrey Green reported the Wolves match for the Times: "In the
end it was easy enough; a 3-0 victory in the bag. But for over
an hour on Saturday there was an edgy, uncomfortable look about
Leeds United as they strained to rehabilitate themselves in their
own eyes and in those of a 37,000 crowd at Elland Road, which
braved grey squalls of rain hurrying over the Pennines. At that
point on the clock there was only the slender difference of a
neatly headed early goal by Clarke between themselves and Wolverhampton
Wanderers, who had pushed themselves up the League into fourth
position. News from afar, too, had it that Arsenal, breathing
down their necks in the race for the championship, were already
three up at Highbury.
"Perhaps it was just imagination. But what with this and other
things, Leeds, for a long time, seemed to be cocking an apprehensive
ear as if still catching the painful echoes of some distant drumbeat
from Colchester's garrison.
"But, as I say, finally it was all right. With 25 minutes to
go Cooper at last put Madeley through for a fine second goal and
almost at once Giles wrapped it up from the penalty spot with
a third, after Shaw had hooked up the aggressive Cooper and got
his name taken into the bargain. Leeds took a comforting deep
breath and in the dying moments almost doubled their score with
an obvious relish. Remarkable to say these were Leeds' first points
at home since the New Year.
"Yet I doubt if they will recover their eminent peak until the
return of the injured Bremner in midfield and Gray to the left
flank of attack. This is no disparagement of their understudies
and of Bates in particular, who with Madeley, that efficient all
rounder, was now always at little Giles' shoulder helping to carry
the battle to an uncompromising foe. Bremner, however, possesses
the special quality necessary to Leeds in general and to Giles
in particular - a certain empathy that has grown with the seasons.
Without him Giles - for all his astute switching of the point
of approach and the long crossfield pass to Cooper, which now
brought width to attack - at present resembles a man who has lost
"Gray, too, his broken ankle just out of plaster and crutches
at last put aside, is needed once more for his ability to penetrate
the opposition with close dribbling.
"The Arsenal chairman, Mr Denis Hill-Wood, has recently said
that Leeds 'are creaking like a rusty gate', but for seven years
now the Yorkshire club have been in at the finish of one competition
or another and they will be so again this spring. Leeds have now
started their run in over the last third of the League fixtures
and at a pinch could surpass their own
record total of 67 points achieved in 1969. It will take some
doing, but with Arsenal yet to visit Elland Road ... Leeds, as
front runners, should still be able to dictate the pace over the
Bremner was back for Tuesday evening's match at struggling Ipswich,
but only lasted 25 minutes of his first game in six. He suffered
a calf injury in a second minute tangle with Allan Clarke's older
brother Frank. By the time the Scot had been withdrawn to be replaced
by Rod Belfitt, Ipswich were
already 2-0 ahead and troubling Leeds. According to David Lacey
in the Guardian, United "appeared to have no answer to the forward
dashes of Woods, the purpose of Viljoen, and the continuous probing
of their flanks by Mills and
Robertson, whose corners led to each of Ipswich's goals."
The first came in the fourth minute when Jack Charlton couldn't
control a bouncing ball and mistimed his clearance. Mick Hill
rose above Charlton to nod home the corner. After 25 minutes,
Harvey failed to gather Robertson's flag kick and Viljoen fired
it low through a forest of legs and into the net. Clarke pulled
back a goal just before the half hour, slipping the ball past
keeper Sivell. Even this early, it seemed mere consolation and
Leeds went in at the break still behind.
After the resumption they were a changed team: with just two
minutes gone Lorimer equalised after a Jones ball across the face
of goal; another four minutes and Clarke ghosted past the defence
down the left to beat Sivell's despairing attempt at a save; and
then in the 64th minute Leeds were two goals clear when Giles
converted a penalty awarded when Hammond pulled back Belfitt.
It was a breathtaking revival.
Again, there was speculation that the early problems had been
down to Madeley's absence from midfield, this time covering for
Reaney, missing with a bruised toe, but United proved in the second
period they could cope without him at their heart.
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A Lorimer goal was enough to secure victory at Coventry on Friday,
26 February, and take United seven points clear of Arsenal, though
the Gunners now had three games in hand. They squandered one of
those opportunities the next day, losing 2-0 at Derby. Don Revie
would only say, tight lipped, "No forecasts. I'll believe we've
won the championship only when I see Billy Bremner get his hands
on the trophy ... We shall continue to take each game as it comes
and try to forget all about Arsenal."
United's squad was struck by a flu outbreak during the following
week with seven players (Madeley, Lorimer, Bates, Hunter, Hibbitt,
Davey and Galvin) suffering
and three others, Bremner, Gray and Cooper, injured. The club
attempted to get their match with Derby County postponed. The
League rejected the application and United were forced to play,
with Davey, Bates, Madeley, Lorimer and Hunter in the side, though
Clarke was missing.
It was a tight game, with no score until the final 15 minutes,
when Jones set Lorimer up in the box. The Scot evaded a crashing
tackle from Dave Mackay to beat goalkeeper Colin Boulton and settle
European action resumed on 10 March with Portugal's Vitoria Setubal
Road. David Harvey kept the goalkeeper's jersey, despite the availability
of Gary Sprake, who was named among the substitutes, along with
young Scottish striker Joe Jordan. Cooper, Bremner, Clarke and
Gray were all unavailable.
The game started with a shock, as Baptista scored for Setubal
within 90 seconds, diving horizontally to head home powerfully
from a low cross by Guerriro.
United recovered to take control of the game, though it was a
tight and competitive affair with 19 free kicks awarded in the
first half hour. Leeds did most of the attacking but found the
agile and spectacular Torres in Setubal's goal a formidable barrier
to their intentions.
They did manage two goals, both coming from dead balls. After
19 minutes, they were awarded a free kick for a foul on Jones.
Lorimer equalised with his fourth goal in as many games, firing
in a power drive from 20 yards that Torres had no chance of stopping.
The free kick had been hotly disputed, but the protests were
as nothing to those which followed the award of a penalty with
15 minutes remaining.
East German referee Gunter Mannig decided that Cardono had handled
the ball, but he was swiftly set upon by a mob of furious Setubal
players, berating him and waving their arms about excitedly. He
raced away with the horde at his heels and the Portuguese management
fiercely protesting from the sidelines. Mannig disappeared from
view under the masses for about three minutes. Phil Brown in the
Evening Post: "The referee was so surrounded and so badgered he
forcibly broke to the edge of the box. He was besieged there,
too, so he broke for the penalty spot, again hunted in what resembled
a conga-style chase, and took his stance there till Giles got
ready for the kick, all amid uproar round the ground."
Order was restored
when police moved in to restrain the anger in the trainers' box,
but that didn't prevent the home supporters bombarding the Portuguese
When play was restarted, Giles shot home calmly from the spot,
though Torres got his hand to the ball.
Phil Brown in the Evening Post: "United were up against one of
Europe's best goalkeepers in Torres, who was in simply superb
form behind his well-drilled defence. He was a one man wall in
himself - with the hallmark of a class player he made difficult
saves look easy. As Don Revie said: 'He was as good as Sprake
in Budapest and at Liege.' I think only Giles of all the penalty
kings in Europe could have beaten him from the spot, and even
he only just got the ball home for Torres had read his run up
and just missed saving with an electrically fast dive for a six
footer to the foot of his right hand post."
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As if exhausted by the excitement, United dropped a point on
13 March after allowing relegation-haunted Blackpool to take a
first half lead at Bloomfield Road. Lorimer equalised in the first
minute of the second period though the Seasiders protested that
he had been offside. Referee Jim Finney decided a defender had
played the Scot onside. The decision went the other way when Clarke's
goal in injury time was chalked off for offside against him.
Arsenal had narrowed the gap at the top to six points by winning
2-0 at Crystal Palace and on the journey back to Leeds, Don Revie
sought to lift spirits by giving the players a glass of champagne
each to celebrate his ten years in charge at Elland Road. There
was more bad news, however, with the revelation that Billy Bremner's
injury, which had been thought to be a calf muscle, was actually
a hairline fracture of the left leg.
Revie: "It will mean Billy being out of action a little longer
than we originally thought, but I'm certain he will be back to
lead the side in the final run in. I admit it has been worrying
having to do without a player of his class for so long this year.
I want to emphasise that it is a very, very slight hairline fracture.
It is not a broken leg and all being well Billy will be able to
play again a week on Saturday."
That was over optimistic and Bremner and Eddie Gray would both
be missing for another four weeks.
The top two's fixtures were reversed the following weekend, with
Leeds hosting Palace and Arsenal at home to Blackpool. United
once more had to come from behind to win 2-1 with efforts from
Giles and Lorimer (his sixth straight scoring game), while the
Gunners beat Blackpool by a single goal.
Midweek brought a trip to the sun with the decisive second leg
against Setubal. United gave a satisfactory performance in what
was expected to be a difficult match after the passion of the
They weathered an early storm when Paul Reaney headed a cross
against his own woodwork, but came back impressively. Jones shot
against an upright in the sixth minute and Leeds settled into
some composed football before deservedly taking the lead after
17 minutes when Lorimer was on the mark again, putting the ball
between the keeper's legs with a soft effort. It was the seventh
successive match in which he had scored. Clarke struck the crossbar
and Charlton had a shot cleared off the line before Jones had
a goal disallowed for offside as United played a classic counter
The second half began with pressure on the United goal. Harvey
was bundled over his line with the ball by two opponents. The
referee rightly disallowed the goal and took the name of Baptista.
In the closing minutes Hunter cleared off the line and then Harvey
was carried off with damaged knee ligaments. Sprake's first task
after coming on to replace the keeper was to pick the ball out
of the net from Baptista's header. Later
he was to make an excellent save from the same player to secure
the draw Leeds needed to progress into the last four.
Their return to the UK brought only a disappointing 3-1 defeat
at Chelsea on 27 March. The Whites remained six points clear of
Arsenal, who drew with Stoke City in the FA Cup semi final, but
the Gunners had three matches in hand.
United came back with a strong performance in the next game and
Allan Clarke grabbed all four goals in a 4-0 defeat of Burnley.
Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0 the same day and the following Tuesday
saw off Coventry by a single goal.
A week later Leeds came back from a goal down at Newcastle to
earn a 1-1 draw with a Lorimer goal direct from a corner. Arsenal's
2-1 victory at Southampton brought the lead down to a mere three
points and the Gunners still had two games in hand.
Two days later, on Easter Monday, Leeds dropped another point
when drawing 0-0 at Huddersfield. The Times: "Leeds United failed
to find their best football touches in their own back yard last
night ... Only fitfully did the maestro Giles weave his patterns.
To United's credit, however, they did not panic when they lost
their incisive right winger Lorimer within eight minutes of the
start. The Scot went down after a strong challenge from Hutt,
the Huddersfield left-back, with a finality that ensured the early
committal of Belfitt, the Leeds substitute, to the fray. Lorimer
may miss the remainder of his club's games this season. He was
withdrawn early in the first half with a pulled hamstring. The
injury is considered serious."
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Arsenal duly narrowed the gap to two points the following day
by winning 3-0 at Nottingham Forest.
The momentum was clearly with the Gunners. Geoffrey Green in
the Times: "Easter, invariably, has a sting in its tail. So it
proved again as Arsenal, completing their second successive away
victory of the holiday, moved remorselessly close the heels of
Leeds United in their bid for the League and Cup double. Two goals
in the opening half by the 19-year-old Kennedy and another later
by George clinched another efficient performance with a 3-0 win
on the Nottingham Forest ground. Arsenal are only two points behind
Leeds with two games in hand and a superior goal average. Everything,
it might seem, hangs on the meeting of these two sides at Elland
Road on April 26. Arsenal, perhaps rightly, can say that they
are in a position to lose that and take the title providing they
keep pace with Leeds in all the remaining matches."
When United visited Anfield
to meet Liverpool in the first leg of their Fairs Cup semi final
pairing on 14 April, Don Revie was able to recall his talisman,
skipper Billy Bremner. The Scot did the trick with a second half
header to settle a tense affair and give Leeds a massive advantage.
The Yorkshiremen's game with
West Bromwich Albion at Elland Road on 17 April seemed a formality,
but a perverse refereeing decision by Ray Tinkler contributed
to Albion's controversial 2-1 victory. He waved play on with Colin
Suggett miles offside and Tony Brown took the ball on to set up
a goal for Jeff Astle. With Arsenal beating Newcastle at Highbury
by a single goal
from Charlie George, the Gunners now topped the table on goal
average and had played two games less than Leeds.
Don Revie was furious with Tinkler's performance, saying, "I
have never felt so sick in all my life in football," but promised
that, "We shall keep fighting to the last gasp."
Arsenal continued to prosper with a single goal victory at home
to Burnley on 20 April, but they could only draw 2-2 at Albion
the following Saturday, giving United the chance to close the
gap to a single point by winning 3-0 at Southampton.
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "Here was a rounded, thoroughly
polished performance by Leeds, more impressive and inventive than
when Arsenal beat Southampton 2-1 on the same tight little ground
a fortnight ago. With Bremner and Gray back in the Yorkshire ranks
the feeling grew that Leeds ... may still find a final freshening
breeze to get them to port while Arsenal, sensing the various
thorny pressures, may begin to lose some of their powerful impetus.
"The final arbiter may be those damned dots of goal average.
Which made it all the more puzzling that Leeds did not press more
hungrily for goals over the last stages on Saturday. With Southampton
dangling from a rope Bremner, Giles and company seemed content
to play possession football in their own waltz time while what
they needed was to put the ball firmly in the net. Only a couple
of minutes remained when Jones completed the scoring with his
own second and his side's third goal - a shot that may prove of
"Those were the first League goals scored by Jones since October
and they could scarcely have come at a better moment; on his 26th
birthday. Had Clarke's finishing been sharper before he retired
with a strain ten minutes from the end Leeds would have smiled
even more broadly than when luck opened the gates for them on
the stroke of half time.
"As Clarke mishit a soft shot past Martin, after a move between
Cooper and Gray down the left, there was Hollywood, with instinctive
covering, to save inside the far post. But in trying to flick
the ball to his surprised goalkeeper he turned it gently and tragically
over his own line. He resembled the guardsman who dropped his
rifle on parade.
"Until then a fine fluid battle had stood delicately poised.
In a trice it was over. Within three minutes the elusive Gray
destroyed Kirkup with footwork and body swerve, pushed the ball
into the left byline, and Jones hit the target from close range.
Within seconds came the interval and the news that Arsenal were
"Here for a blessed change was a game of wingers : 4-2-4 matching
4-2-4 as the flanks
were used freely. Gray left his indelible mark by opening up the
wing again like a corkscrew to present Jones with a final goal
and make it clear how much Leeds have been missing him since December."
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Now, United had the perfect opportunity to halt the Gunners'
seemingly irresistible charge to the title. They
hosted their rivals the following Monday in a vital clash:
if Leeds lost, Arsenal would be home and dry, three points clear
and uncatchable. A draw would take them almost there so victory
was essential for United.
It was every bit as tight and tense an occasion as the circumstances
suggested and the two gallant sides were locked in stalemate for
almost the entire evening.
In the closing minutes, though, Charlton forced home the ball.
The Arsenal players protested long and hard that he had been offside,
but to no avail. For once, United had the luck and referee Burtenshaw
was every bit as unequivocal as Tinkler had been the week before.
United had beaten their fierce rivals to move a point clear.
They would still need to rely on Arsenal dropping points, as they
had a game in hand, but they had at least given themselves a decent
shout of success when all seemed lost.
But that would have to wait a few days, for first Leeds had the
challenge of finishing off the job they had started against Liverpool
in the Fairs Cup.
The second leg of the semi final came at Elland Road just two
days after the Arsenal match, but Don Revie nominated the same
starting eleven, confident they could protect the single goal
advantage given them by Bremner.
There were to be no heroics this time as the Whites opted for
safety first tactics. Don Warters in the Yorkshire Evening Post:
"A crowd of 40,462 gave United a tremendous reception when they
took the field only 48 hours after that outstanding effort against
Arsenal ... and the players responded with another of their great
team efforts, every man playing his part to the full. Against
Liverpool's freshness ... it was understandable that United wanted
to avoid a hammer and tongs battle and they paced the game, particularly
in the first 45 minutes, to their liking.
"United's vast experience ... again served them well, although
I found Liverpool's first half tactics surprising. They operated
basically a 4-4-2 formation, with Heighway and Toshack their trump
cards up front, when they might have been expected to concentrate
on attack. But to be fair to Liverpool, United played exceptionally
well, and their defence was as solid looking as it has been all
season. Gary Sprake illustrated once again that the difficult
days of not so long ago are behind him, performing admirably
in United's goal. He dealt competently with Liverpool's three
efforts of note in the first half. Two were from Heighway, and
one of them Sprake fingertipped behind to make the best save of
the night, although Glasgow referee Tiny Tom Wharton robbed him
of some of the glory by giving a goal kick.
"At the other end, Mick Jones almost increased United's lead
in the 26th minute with a powerful and well-placed header. Clemence
pushed the ball up on to the crossbar and was thankful to see
it hooked away by Hughes.
"With Allan Clarke and Mick Jones, who both got leg injuries,
absent in the second half, Clarke for the whole of it and Jones
for all but eight minutes of it, Paul Reaney and Joe Jordan came
on as Liverpool began to pile on the pressure. But Leeds fell
back and soaked up what Liverpool threw at them. With Charlton
a commanding figure and Hunter, Cooper, Madeley and Bates supporting
him to the full, Leeds were on their way to the final long before
Leeds closed their League campaign with a 2-0 victory at home
to Nottingham Forest thanks to goals from Bremner and Lorimer.
They should have had a bagful and that would have considerably
helped their goal average, but as it was their fourth game in
eight working days, few could wonder that they did not push on
Arsenal matched them point for point with a single goal victory
at home to Stoke City and the die was now cast - the Gunners were
a point behind, but had one game remaining, two days later away
to North London rivals Tottenham. A win or a goalless draw would
be enough for them to secure the title. A Spurs victory or a draw
by any other scoreline would see the championship in Yorkshire
It was a tense affair at White Hart Lane with Tottenham keen
to block their neighbours' progress. For most of the night, despite
all of Arsenal's fierce attacking passion, it seemed that the
match would end in a barren stalemate, but with two minutes left
Ray Kennedy rose to head the ball past goalkeeper Pat Jennings
and settle the affair - Arsenal were champions.
United received the news in Hull where they were playing a testimonial
match for the Tigers' Chris Chilton and could only bemoan what
might have been. Don Revie graciously despatched telegrams of
congratulation, saying with sad resignation, "We are naturally
disappointed having scored 64 points. We have not lost the title,
they have won it. They are true champions and that is what I have
said in the telegram. It would be all too easy to sit down and
weep, but that would not alter anything at all. We have simply
got to start again. We still have the European Fairs Cup final
and after that it won't be long before we are preparing for another
season. Any team that wins nine out of its last eleven matches
at a time when the FA Cup final was on their minds are true champions."
It was to be almost a month before United were back in action,
in their attempt to beat Juventus and win the Fairs Cup; a number
of players kept their hands in with duty for their countries in
the Home Internationals. Madeley (making a long-awaited England
debut), Cooper, Clarke, Bremner, Gray, Lorimer, Sprake and Yorath
were the men in question.
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The United party flew out to Turin for the
first leg of the Fairs final in the last week of May knowing
that whoever won the trophy in its final staging before it was
replaced by the UEFA Cup, would get the opportunity to play the
first winners, Barcelona, in a match to decide permanent ownership.
The first attempt to play the match, on Wednesday 26 May, was
ruined by heavy rain rendering the
pitch unplayable, though they got to half time before the match
It looked as if the terrible weather might lead to both legs
being played in Leeds, but eventually the skies cleared and the
match was restaged at the Stadio Communale on the Friday evening.
Juventus twice took the lead before being pegged back, first
by a goal from Paul Madeley and then by one from the unsung Mick
Bates, who had enjoyed a memorable campaign, his best yet in the
colours of United.
The 2-2 draw gave Leeds a clear advantage for the
second leg at Elland Road a week later, though the Italians
had shown themselves to be an outstanding team.
Allan Clarke gave Leeds an early lead with a sharp piece of finishing,
but Pietro Anastasi soon brought Juve level.
United were cagey thereafter, comfortable in the knowledge that
if the score remained as it was they would secure the trophy on
the away goals rule. The Italians were also cautious and there
were no more goals.
One could feel sympathy for Juventus, who went through the entire
competition undefeated, but few people would begrudge United their
moment of glory after years of near misses and two seasons without
a major trophy. They fully deserved their success, sustaining
their remarkable record of consistency in the competition.
They had played 54 Fairs Cup matches over six years and five
attempts on the trophy; they had won it twice, been beaten finalists
once and lost in the semi final on another occasion.
Rob Bagchi and Paul Rogerson in the Unforgiven: "This second
Fairs Cup was Leeds' fourth trophy in four seasons. They became
the first and only British team to win the trophy twice. It was
a commendable record, but still the air of disappointment lingered.
While the victory was celebrated, expectations had grown considerably
and it seemed scant reward for everyone's efforts over the last
two seasons. Now almost all the players agree that they should
have won more. They always worked diligently to ensure that the
club was unfailingly in pole position each spring, but more often
than not they fell short of the target Revie set them at the start
of each campaign. The
European Cup was Revie's ultimate goal, and to win it they had
first to qualify, which meant securing a second League title.
Anything else would be gratefully received but it would still
be second best. Of course, after two unsuccessful final appearances,
the FA Cup still tantalised the whole club, but coming second
again in the championship race remained the bigger blow to Revie's
ambitions. He knew his team's appetite had not diminished and
was convinced that their dreadful luck with Tinkler's perverse
performance was the main reason why his dream had imploded. Next
season, he resolved, would be different. Next season they would
not allow themselves to become hostages to the arbitrary rulings
of a willful referee. If Arsenal could win the double, he calculated,
then so could Leeds."
Part 1 - Off like a train - Part
2 - The Jack Charlton affair - Results
and table - printer
Other Football Highlights from 1970/71
- The times were a-changing for many of the players who had
graced football for the last decade. Sir Alf Ramsey left out
the Charlton brothers and Gordon Banks from his England squad
when beating East Germany 3-1 in November. Banks returned later,
but it was the end for the Charltons. Two other England stars
decided to retire, the former captain, Blackpool full back Jimmy
Armfield and Jimmy Greaves, who became only the fourth person
to score more than 350 goals in the League
- Ted Macdougall scored 49 goals in the season for Bournemouth,
with six coming in an FA Cup first round replay against Oxford
- Trevor Francis was a new star. The 16 year old was in his
first season at Birmingham and hit 12 goals in 8 League matches
- Arsenal became the second club this century to win the League
and Cup Double
- Bobby Moore's thunderous clearance for West Ham on November
14 scored a direct hit on the referee and knocked him out. Moore
promptly took the referee's' whistle and blew it to stop the
- Chelsea became the third London side and England's fourth
to win the Cup Winners Cup when they beat Real Madrid 2-1 in
Athens on May 19
- The worst sporting disaster in Britain cast a pall over the
New Year's celebrations in Scotland. 80,000 were at Ibrox to
witness the traditional Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers.
Celtic were winning 1-0 with a few minutes remaining and spectators
were starting to leave. Colin Stein scored a late equaliser
and the departing fans rushed back to watch, leading to a barrier
collapse and 66 deaths
- Goalkeeper Peter Bonetti made his 500th appearance for Chelsea
on January 23
- Derek Dougan, the Wolves striker, was elected chairman of
- For a sixth successive season Celtic won the Scottish League.
They also won the Scottish Cup, but lost 1-0 against Rangers
in the League Cup final
- Johnny Haynes joined the South African club Durban City after
spending almost 20 years with Fulham
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