2 An attack of nerves - Results
Leeds United had been left in complete disarray by the happenings
of May 1973: Cup final defeats against Sunderland
and AC Milan sandwiched
Don Revie's decision to pursue
his career away from Elland Road when Everton came calling
with a money-fuelled offer.
In the event, Revie rejected the overtures, telling Arthur Haddock
of the Yorkshire Evening Post, "When these offers come
along and you have the chance to secure the future of your own
family, you just have to give them a bit of thought. But I feel
my future is resolved and I am completely happy. I never wanted
to leave Leeds. They gave me my chance in the first place and
they let me manage. The players and the fans gave me their loyalty.
After 12 years as a manager with a club like ours it would be
terribly difficult to break away, and I'm certainly staying at
After meeting a number of the other directors, United chairman
Manny Cussins said he was delighted with the manager's change
of heart, adding: "Mr Revie wants to stay and we want him to stay,
but Sam Bolton, our other director, is with the England party
in Eastern Europe and we will have to wait for his return before
a final decision is made."
It was expected that Revie's position would be a key item of
business when the full board met on 18 June. But shortly after
the two and a half hour private session, Cussins said curtly:
"The board meeting is closed and there is nothing to report."
Revie claimed his future had not been under discussion, adding,
"Everything is as it was before. I am happy to stay with Leeds
"During all the talks I have had recently with Leeds, I have
not asked for a penny extra - and I don't want anything… I would
like to put it clearly on record that I am not getting anything
and I don't want anything."
Revie's future resolved, attention turned to other matters. At
the end of July, an FA Disciplinary Commission hauled the club
over the coals for the "above average misconduct" of its players
during 1971/72. The hearing, originally
arranged for a year earlier, had been delayed for a number of
reasons including the poor health of Cussins.
The club was found to have "persistently violated the laws of
the game and brought the game into disrepute," receiving a suspended
fine of £3,000 as punishment. The FA promised to waive the sanction
if United's record were to show "a substantial improvement".
Brian Clough bridled at the outcome, claiming the FA should have
demoted United to Division Two. One-eyed as the Derby manager
was, United's record was unquestionably poor; in December 1972
five United players were booked at Arsenal and by the following
March Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry had each amassed eight cautions.
Cherry would be suspended, alongside Joe Jordan and Terry Yorath,
for the opening two fixtures of 1973/74.
Revie accepted the need for action and launched a charm offensive.
He was supported by newly appointed Public Relations Officer Peter
Fay, according to Andrew Mourant, "a man in his twenties with
many good ideas about how to make visits to Elland Road more agreeable.
The practice of kicking plastic footballs into the crowd and giving
away the fancy little stocking tags
… would continue." There was also an iconic new look to the pristine
white kit, with the arrival of the legendary LU Smiley badge.
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At a press conference, Revie claimed, "We have been among the
top two or three of the leading scorers in the First Division
for the past few years. On occasions we have been credited as
an exciting football side but whenever possible people have tagged
us as a methodical, well-drilled, hard side.
"I only hope after all this publicity, referees, opposing supporters
… and the press and television will give us a fair crack of the
whip, and judge us on how we perform this season and not on what
they have read… I hope our players will not have to live under
a lot of provocation from other teams. We get all kinds of taunts
thrown at us from opposing crowds when we play away from home.
I hope that if our players go into a fair tackle and the crowd
puts up a tremendous roar referees will not be influenced.
"I have already told our players that it is up to myself and
them to help the referee from now on and in every way we can by
not talking to them or the linesmen and by not getting any unnecessary
Jack Charlton and Chris
Galvin departed Elland Road in the close season but Revie kept
his cheque book closed, content with the way that Gordon McQueen,
Trevor Cherry, Joe Jordan, Frank Gray and Terry Yorath had been
integrated into the team.
He set his sights high for the new season, taking even his experienced
players by surprise at their pre-season gathering. "Right lads,"
he told them, "We've been the best team for the last decade. I
know we haven't won as much as we should have, but that's in the
past. Now I've had a thought this close season - can we go through
the whole campaign unbeaten?'
Richard Sutcliffe in Revie: Revered and Reviled: "Trevor
Cherry, the defender Revie had planned on taking to Everton before
performing a U turn and rejecting the Merseysiders, recalls: 'After
Don had asked, "Can we get through the whole campaign unbeaten?"
we all just looked at each other as if to say, "Did he really
just say that?" But, soon, he had us believing it was possible
and we were determined to give it a good go.'
"The initial omens, however, were not good, as Trevor
Cherry admits: 'We played a couple of friendlies in pre-season
against Bradford and Huddersfield and were awful. We drew one
and lost one, and I remember saying to my wife Sue, "Maybe they
aren't the players they used to be any more?"' Cherry needn't
have worried as, once the real action got under way, Leeds hit
the ground running."
With Gordon McQueen filling the void left by Charlton's retirement,
United opened with a flourish, beating
Everton 3-1 and winning at Arsenal and Spurs.
Without any victory in the capital for two and a half years, United
now won two on the bounce.
Gunners centre-half Jeff Blockley opened the scoring in the first
minute at Highbury but United equalised five minutes into the
second half, Peter Lorimer hammering home a free kick from 25
yards. Ten minutes later Paul Madeley added a second after good
combination work between Lorimer, Johnny Giles, Mick Jones and
Allan Clarke. United never looked in the remotest danger of relinquishing
the 2-1 lead.
They were even more impressive at White Hart Lane on 1 September,
three first half goals securing a comprehensive victory. The Yorkshire
Post gushed, "With Billy Bremner looking like a new man and the
new image of being the gentlemen of the League already accepted
in most quarters, Leeds United sit politely at the top of Division
One, not only having demolished Tottenham Hotspur but having won
over their most critical observers in recent times - the London
John Wray: "There was always an edge to the games in London,
not least because the press down there didn't like Leeds and Don
knew it. He was so focused for every trip, and even a traffic
jam would not be allowed to cause problems. On the rare occasions
when the team bus did not have any police out-riders, Don would
always be concerned about the heavy traffic. Because he was rarely
off the BBC in those days, he would lean out of the front door
and bellow, 'BBC coming through' at nonplussed drivers as the
team bus did a nifty piece of queue-jumping. The ploy always succeeded."
Richard Sutcliffe: "Crowds in the capital - and journalists,
for that matter - had a notoriously poor view of Leeds, leading
to a siege mentality being adopted by Revie and his men. Nothing
would be allowed to disrupt the players during their trips to
back to top
"Referee Roger Kirkpatrick sought out the United manager after
the Spurs game to congratulate him on how well behaved Bremner,
Hunter, Giles et al had been. Leeds, it seemed, had put long held
feuds with bitter rivals aside and, most unbelievably of all to
their arch-critics, stopped haranguing the officials throughout
the entire 90 minutes. In Its place, was a return to the free-flowing
football of two seasons earlier when United had won not only the
FA Cup but also many friends. Leeds … were in danger of eclipsing
the whole First Division."
Four days after beating Spurs, with Elland Road's new £125,000
floodlighting system being utilised for
the first time, a crowd of 39,946 watched United hammer Wolves
Unchanged for the fourth successive game, the Whites started
urgently. With two minutes gone Mick Jones burst past Derek Jefferson
and Frank Munro but he was felled by Phil Parkes as he sought
to round the goalkeeper. Peter Lorimer converted the penalty confidently
and Jones added a second goal in the twelfth minute, accepting
a pass from Allan Clarke.
Derek Dougan pulled one back for Wolves but five minutes into
the second half Bremner scored his fourth goal of the campaign
to make it 3-1.
Wanderers full-back Derek Parkin was booked for fouling Lorimer
in the 72nd minute and when he impeded Eddie Gray six minutes
later he received his marching orders. That ended any chance of
a fight back and within two minutes Lorimer added United's fourth.
The comprehensive nature of the victory hinted that Leeds might
equal Tottenham's famous eleven successive wins of 1960. A 3-0
trouncing of Birmingham City increased the hype, with Blues manager
Freddie Goodwin claiming, "They have been together so long and
have such a wonderful understanding I think they are a better
side than England in many ways."
Peter Lorimer was delighted with the new approach: "I don't honestly
think Don believed in us until that last year or so… Everything
was geared towards making sure we didn't lose. It was only when
he was thinking of moving on that he said, 'Get out there and
show everyone what a great team you are.' It must have been quite
a wrench to let us off the leash like that because, deep down,
he would have been worried it might all go wrong."
Lorimer scored all three goals against Birmingham, the first
a 35-yard thunderbolt after fifteen minutes, the second a penalty
on the stroke of half time; Lorimer had injured his knee moments
after his first goal and went for accuracy from the spot rather
than power. Two minutes after the restart he netted his third,
completing his third League hat trick in 18 months.
Lorimer limped off twenty minutes from time, the injury keeping
him out of the midweek trip to Wolves. Paul Reaney and Eddie Gray
were also unavailable with thigh injuries and Trevor Cherry, Joe
Jordan and Terry Yorath were brought in.
Two goals inside the first 26 minutes settled the contest, as
reported by Michael Carey in the Guardian: "Goals by Jones
and Clarke did the trick, the one as untidy as the other was majestic,
and throughout it all Leeds played in their new, cleansed and
relaxed style, like men fresh from the confessional.
"One of Leeds' secrets in recent years has been their ability
to carry a number of players below their best and still come through.
When, as last night, at least half the team produced superlative
performances, there appears to be no answer, at least not at the
moment. Suffice it to say that Madeley, Bremner, Hunter, Giles
and Clarke were outstanding.
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"Even so, it took that curious first goal by Jones to set things
moving. It happened in the twelfth minute and at that stage Leeds
had been content to stroke the ball about, gauging both the pace
of the pitch and the capabilities of their opponents. Then, when
Yorath crossed from the left, Jones headed goalwards and Jordan
and Jefferson challenged in mid-air for the ball. Neither touched
it, but Parkes, the goalkeeper, appeared to have committed himself
in one direction and when he tried to check his stride he lost
his balance and the
ball bobbled across him and into the net, an unsatisfactory bit
of defending from Wolverhampton's point of view.
"In the twenty-seventh minute, Clarke sealed Leeds' win with
a glorious goal. The ball broke to him after Bremner had been
tackled by Munro. He advanced to within some 25 yards, no doubt
weighing up all the options open to him as he did so, and then
he produced a fierce, dipping shot which gave Parkes no chance."
Two further goals from Clarke brought a seventh straight victory
on 15 September at Southampton, with the Saints netting an injury
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Clarke's 99th and
100th goals for Leeds made the difference in the scoreline, but
the difference in class between the two sides was far greater
than one goal… Giles was missed, but once Madeley settled into
a midfield role and snuffed out the threat from Southampton's
wily captain, Paine, Leeds never looked back. Their running off
the ball and their running for each other, beside individual skills,
put them in a different class to Southampton.
"The goal that broke the deadlock came in the 32nd minute as
Leeds gave the appearance of hypnotising the Southampton defence
with a long sequence of midfield passing. When they moved in for
the kill, the first cross was partially cleared but only to Gray,
on the edge of the penalty area, who headed into the path of Clarke.
Clarke had long since lost his marker to leave himself with, for
him, the easiest of scoring chances from 12 yards. He underlined
his superior finishing by putting the match out of Southampton's
reach in the 77th minute. Again, he had broken clear of markers,
and this time Bremner, with a pinpoint pass from the left, opened
the way for Clarke to run the ball in and score from his second
shot, his first effort hitting a defender."
Vernon Stokes, chairman of the FA Disciplinary Committee, told
the players: "You are setting a wonderful example to everyone
connected with English football." Don Revie said that the comment
"has given everyone at Leeds as much satisfaction as seven opening
United opened their UEFA Cup campaign against Norwegian amateurs
Stroemsgodset on 19 September. With a clutch of injuries and Hunter
and Jordan suspended, Don Revie rang the changes. Gary Sprake,
Terry Yorath, Frank Gray, Gary Liddell and Mick Bates started,
while John Shaw, Billy McGinley and Roy Ellam were on the bench.
Madeley captained the side in the absence of Bremner and Giles.
Accused of regarding the competition as an unnecessary distraction,
Revie promised, "We hope to have another good run in Europe. It
may be not the most ideal situation to be involved in too many
competitions, but it does give players valuable experience and
we need the money to go on improving our ground."
Stroemsgodset switched the fixture from the Marielyst Stadium
in Drammen to the larger Ullevaal Stadium, allowing a crowd twice
as large as normal to attend.
United failed to achieve the anticipated easy win, as reported
by Don Warters in the Evening Post: "Allan Clarke demonstrated
his lethal finishing in the 15th minute to give United the lead,
chesting down a left wing centre from Eddie Gray, teeing the ball
up with his right foot and firing a left foot shot past 5ft 7in
goalkeeper Inge Thun. But this setback did not deter the Norwegians
and Oddmar Amundsen scored a great equaliser ten minutes later.
"Gary Sprake … was given no chance of stopping Amundsen's angled
shot, which was struck hard into the far corner of the net through
a heavily-populated penalty area, after Eddie Gray had headed
out a free kick.
"United, with the Gray brothers, Eddie and Frank, forming a midfield
partnership with Mick Bates, and 19-year-old Scot Gary Liddell
joining the spearhead of Mick Jones and Allan Clarke, were never
able to claim complete command. They spent virtually all the second
half in Norwegian territory but had trouble in opening up a blanket
Revie hoped that United would be back on song against Manchester
United at Elland Road on 22 September. Before kick off the United
manager was presented with August's manager of the month award
by comedian and Luton Town chairman Eric Morecambe.
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Lorimer and Reaney were absent, but Harvey, Bremner, Giles, Hunter
and Jordan returned to the side, given a rapturous welcome by
a crowd of 47,058, their best thus far.
With manager Tommy Docherty looking to rebuild, Manchester United
came to Elland Road with a containing game. The display with which
they forced a drab goalless draw brought fierce criticism.
Don Warters wrote in the Evening Post: "Such boring, ungainly
and unimaginative tactics as those used to hold Leeds United to
a goalless draw at Elland Road suggest that their reign as soccer's
top attraction in this country is now at an end. Docherty also
pointed out that he had a relatively inexperienced side and that
he had a team to build gradually. But this is a lame attempt to
explain away ultra-defensive tactics which can only turn people
away from soccer. The Manchester team on view at Elland Road contained
eight internationals - including a £200,000 striker in former
Celtic favourite Lou Macari.
"Though some of Manchester's defensive methods were crude, Leeds
found it difficult against a blanket defence for the second time
in four days… Leeds had Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles back in
midfield, but they had to contend with close marking and some
rather dubious tackling, too.
"Bremner appeared to be the main target for Manchester's attempt
to provoke Leeds, but the Scottish international and the rest
of the Leeds players did enough under stress to emphasise their
efforts to improve their conduct. Joe Jordan became the first
Leeds man to be booked in a League match this season when he tackled
Kidd a few minutes after he himself had been the victim of a hard
Tommy Docherty made no apologies for his tactics, insisting,
"I am not really bothered about the match as a spectacle; we have
a young side who are not equipped to play an open sort of game,
so we have to adopt
tactics to suit. After all, I have a family to keep, a living
to earn. If we had come here and lost 6-2 everybody would have
said what a great game it was, sure… then we go into the Second
Division and I get the sack.
"Today's result is just a little slip as far as they are concerned,
I'm sure they will go on and win the League. If you come to Elland
Road thinking you are going to take this side on you are kidding
yourself. They are a world class side and they will take you apart."
United returned to winning ways the following week at Norwich,
Johnny Giles scoring the only goal of the game with a viciously
swerving shot from 20 yards after 14 minutes.
Two days later, Welsh international keeper Gary Sprake ended
a thirteen-year United career, moving to Birmingham City, the
£100,000 fee a world record for a goalkeeper.
Don Revie: "When a player has been with you since the age of
15 like Gary it is sad when he leaves… I can understand his position.
When you have played eight or nine years in internationals and
all over Europe with a top club it is not good to be out of the
With Sprake so frustrated with reserve team football (he had
played more times for Wales than the United first team since losing
his place to David Harvey in April 1972), a move had become inevitable.
Sprake claimed he would have accepted a pay cut if it had been
necessary to secure first team football.
Revie wasted no time in securing a replacement. He signed Ayr
United's Scottish Under-23 keeper David Stewart, 25, in a £30,000
deal, commenting, "I have seen David play once, but our chief
scout, Tony Collins, had watched him on several occasions this
season. He is a good goalkeeper and we are pleased he is joining
With Stewart signing too late to be available for the second
leg of United's UEFA Cup-tie against Stroemsgodset on 3 October,
John Shaw was on the bench.
back to top
The Norwegians started brightly but fell behind in the eleventh
minute after a poor back pass to goalkeeper Inge Thun presented
Allan Clarke with the sort of chance he thrived on.
Steiner Pettersen equalised for the Norwegians after eighteen
minutes but Mick Jones restored United's lead two minutes later
and they scored at regular intervals thereafter to secure a 6-1
Clarke added his second after 37 minutes and Frank Gray made
it 4-1 in the 57th minute. Six minutes later Mick Bates hammered
home the evening's finest goal with a powerful rising shot from
20 yards as he cut into the area. Bates might easily have had
a second goal after 78 minutes when another power drive beat the
keeper only to cannon against the bar.
Billy McGinley and Sean O'Neill came off the bench in the final
quarter of an hour before Jones completed the rout after more
good work from Lorimer on the right flank.
Three days later, Jones gave United a 41st-minute lead United
at home to Stoke City but they struggled to find any rhythm and
conceded a goal and a point with a minute of the game remaining.
On 8 October Norman Hunter made his 600th first team appearance
in the League Cup at Ipswich. Revie paid tribute to one of his
favourite sons, saying: "I do not think he has been given anything
like sufficient credit for the ability he possesses and his great
dedication and will to win. No manager could wish to have a better
player on his books… I think he has missed only about 13 or 14
matches because of injury in the 11 years he has been playing."
A weakened team, shorn of Jordan, McQueen, Lorimer, Clarke, Giles
and Eddie Gray, lost
2-0, but Revie shed few tears, his aim focused exclusively on
United recovered from falling two behind within nineteen minutes
to draw at Leicester on 13 October, but their lead in the table
was down to two points. A home match against champions Liverpool
on 20 October promised to be a stern test of their title credentials.
The game was as closely fought as customary between the two sides,
the only goal coming from Mick Jones, who earned this tribute
from Don Warters in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "No-one,
not even zestful Leeds United skipper Billy Bremner, is enjoying
his football as much as striker Mick Jones… Jones is much more
penetrative and eager than he was towards the end of last season.
He is quicker to the ball, more direct when in possession, and
is prepared to take on defenders.
back to top
"Jones, perhaps more than most because of the very nature of
his play, is the type of player who draws heavily on energy and
takes a regular buffeting from defenders yet still pounds away
in uncomplaining fashion. This season, however, he is gaining
the kind of reward his endeavours deserve. At Leicester just over
a week ago, he scored his 100th goal for United since joining
them from Sheffield United.
"Few of those goals can have given him greater delight than the
one he scored to bring United victory … over Shankly's men. It
was a brilliant goal, skilfully engineered and very crisply executed.
Allan Clarke began the move near the halfway line on the left,
found Bremner, who stroked a pass into the path of Peter Lorimer.
The United winger made ground quickly and, as the Liverpool defence
closed in, sent over a swerving centre to the near post for Jones
to run on and head firmly into the net, despite challenges from
goalkeeper Ray Clemence and defender Tommy Smith.
"I always look forward to games between these two highly competitive
sides, but the most refreshing thing about this latest clash was
that 44,911 spectators saw two sides playing the game as it should
be played - to win."
Don Revie rested McQueen, Hunter, Giles and Eddie Gray for the
UEFA Cup-tie with Hibernian four days later. United were below
par, outplayed by attack-minded opponents, but snatched a goalless
draw, a relieved Revie admitting, "We have no excuses tonight."
A similar outcome seemed likely in the following game, away to
Manchester City on 27 October, until Mick Bates scored after 76
minutes. Tommy Booth's headed clearance fell nicely for the midfielder
on the edge of the area and, though his first time shot was scuffed,
City keeper Keith MacRae was distracted by McQueen jumping over
the ball and it bobbled on, almost apologetically, into the net.
City argued bitterly that they were denied a clear penalty for
handball against Paul Madeley just before half time. Paul Fitzpatrick
in the Guardian: "Some City players also felt that Mr Jones
missed another handling offence in the second half when Hunter
stopped Booth's shot on the goal line. But as television later
showed, Hunter almost certainly did not handle the ball - Mr Jones,
in any case, could not possibly have seen the incident from his
position at the back of the goal - and the action replays did
not prove beyond question that Madeley's handling was deliberate.
"Here was the English game not far from its best. The atmosphere,
considerably helped by Maine Road's biggest attendance of the
season, was one of vibrant anticipation… It is a pity that those
managers who believe in the false gospel of defence were not at
back to top
"For Leeds, Hunter, Madeley and McQueen defended majestically;
Harvey was an assured goalkeeper; and Bremner was as irrepressible
as ever… Giles left the contest after 28 minutes suffering from
a recurrence of calf strains. In his brief stay he gave a marvellous
exhibition of controlled passing and was instrumental in giving
Leeds firm control of the early part of the match. Leeds' disappointment
at his departure was probably not as great as City's relief."
Fitzpatrick added: "If you get the opportunity to watch (Leeds)
do not waste it. They really are something special."
Trevor Cherry recalls: "We had gone 12 games unbeaten and nine
of those had been won, including a 1-0 victory at Liverpool a
week earlier. But because we had drawn two of the last three,
Don was not happy. He sat us all down at Manchester City and launched
into us. He said, 'I want to go unbeaten this season and win the
League but if you lads are not going to do it for me then I'll
go out and get someone who will.' We were unbeaten and just looked
at each other stunned. But we did step it up, went out and beat
Manchester City, and remained unbeaten right through until February."
A disappointing run was brought emphatically to an end by the
4-1 defeat of West Ham on 3 November, secured by goals from Bates,
Jones (2) and Clarke.
A number of first teamers were rested for the UEFA
Cup return with Hibs but Billy Bremner had an outstanding
game in the unaccustomed role of sweeper. The game reached the
end of extra time without a goal, sending the tie to penalties.
Bremner scored the decisive spot kick to send United through to
a third round clash with Portugal's Vitoria Setubal.
The Whites had to be resilient to hold Burnley to a goalless
draw at Turf Moor on 10 November. According to Tom German in the
Times: "Leeds United had to summon more determination and
hard toil to sustain their unbeaten sequence than probably on
any other occasion this season, while seldom seeming in danger
of forfeiting their distinction. Burnley, among the more persistent
pursuers, pounded them with scarcely a pause for breath throughout
the second half of a goalless match, but the Yorkshiremen applied
the now instinctive disciplines and drills, developed over successive
seasons of shot and shell, so that Burnley were denied the chance
to take telling aim.
"It was by no means
all calm and orderly… It needed a good deal of shrewd positioning
by Hunter and a lot of running by Bremner to weld Leeds together
and there were moments when their self-adjusted halo tilted to
a rakish angle. Bookings for Clarke and Bates of Leeds and Collins
of Burnley reflected the directness which sometimes crept in.
But for all the hubbub around the fringe of Leeds' penalty area
in the second half, Harvey was rarely directly taxed."
After goals by Clarke, Jordan and Bremner saw Coventry defeated
3-0, Don Revie commented, "The last fifteen minutes of the game
were sheer poetry, and the third goal was one of the finest I
have seen. It began with David Harvey and ten men touched the
ball before it went in." Revie singled out Mick Bates for praise:
"I don't think there are many better midfield players in the country…
he is playing well enough for Sir Alf Ramsey to have a look at
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Tom German echoed the words in the Times, saying, "Bates
has perhaps not yet developed the breadth of vision of Giles but
here, filling the role the jogging little Irishman normally occupies,
he had a major part in shaping events. Bremner was his ally, but
he took it upon himself to pop up propitiously on both flanks
and expressed himself admirably with some close control on the
ball, deft feints which created gaps for him to go through, and
accurate passing which was crucial to all three goals."
United played out a 0-0 draw on 24 November at Derby, now under
the management of Dave Mackay following the controversial dismissal
of Brian Clough. Don Revie insisted: "It was a tremendous point
for us. We caught the backlash of all the troubles at Derby. I
don't think I have seen a team run and chase as Derby did for
the final twenty minutes."
Four days later, Revie watched the UEFA Cup-tie against Vitoria
Setubal from the directors' box after UEFA's Control and Disciplinary
Committee banned him from the touchline and dressing room, upholding
Hibernian's protest that he and Les Cocker had entered the field
of play at Easter Road without the referee's permission.
Setubal flourished in the unfamiliar conditions of a pitch blanketed
in snow, their ball control keeping them in contention despite
the dismissal of their centre-forward six minutes before half
time for striking Terry Yorath. It was thought
that the player was the Brazilian, Vincente, though Vitoria maintained
that it was a Paraguayan reserve, Henrique Campora.
Despite besieging the Portuguese goal, United had to be satisfied
with a 71st minute goal from Cherry. Five minutes later, Mendes
pulled Lorimer down in the penalty area, but the Scot fired the
spot kick against the legs of the goalkeeper and then put the
The Elland Road pitch was again treacherous with snow and frost
the following Saturday when Queens Park Rangers were the visitors.
Both managers wanted the match called off, but the referee declared
the pitch playable after it had been worked on by ground staff.
Rangers, London's highest placed side, came as close as anyone
thus far to ending United's unbeaten run, adapting more quickly
to the difficult conditions and taking the lead after 35 minutes.
After a free kick by Terry Venables, Don Givens and Stan Bowles
made an opening for winger Dave Thomas to beat Harvey with a shot
from 18 yards.
Gerry Francis had the ball in the Leeds net seconds before the
break only for the effort to be ruled out for offside. The decision
clearly upset Rangers and Venables and Frank McLintock protested
furiously to the referee as the teams went off.
Rangers were even more annoyed two minutes after the resumption
when Leeds equalised, Bremner scoring his seventh goal of the
campaign from 18 yards. Confidence restored, United went ahead
after 52 minutes via a beautifully judged looping header from
The Londoners made it 2-2 with eight minutes remaining, United
defenders undone by the treacherous surface as Bowles ran in to
tap home past an unsighted Harvey.
Tom Freeman in the Times: "On a pitch slippery enough
to make the mere act of walking a dangerous exercise, Rangers
came nearer than any team to destroying Leeds' unbeaten record.
They would have succeeded, I am sure, had the referee not disallowed
for offside a goal by Francis just on half time. Rangers were
already one up, Thomas having scored ten minutes earlier, and
a second goal would have given them such a great psychological
advantage that even Leeds would have succumbed.
back to top
"As it happened, Leeds were utterly transformed by a wonderful
Bremner goal immediately after half time. Bremner, having done
little in the first half, suddenly emerged from a ruck of players,
left a couple of opponents standing and let fly a carefully aimed
shot that left Parkes helpless. For 20 minutes afterwards, Leeds,
with Bremner urging them on, played unreasonably good football
on the hopeless surface.
"Leeds, who had to substitute Jordan for the injured Bates in
the first half, certainly had a fright but there was nothing remotely
to suggest that they had lost their touch. Bremner is as good
as ever, so is Clarke, who
produced two marvellous shots, and Jones made a successful return
after his recent absence."
The game left Bates with a knee injury serious enough to sideline
him until August, adding to a midfield casualty list that included
Giles, Madeley and Gray. Revie said the injury "just happened.
There was no-one near him but he knew instantly something was
Madeley returned the following weekend at Ipswich, a game which
ended with United impressive 3-0 victors.
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Leeds United not
only won well at Ipswich, they seldom allowed the home side, one
of the best in the League, a constructive kick of the ball.
"Leeds' finest performance so far this season came in the game
expected to be their toughest, but they took Ipswich in their
stride to equal Liverpool's post-war record start of 19 League
games without defeat… Their victory was so full of good things
by Leeds that on reflection it is a great credit to the Ipswich
defence that they hung on so long. But once Terry Yorath made
the vital breakthrough in the 51st minute, the result was set
to make the perfect birthday present for the Leeds captain, Billy
Bremner, who was 31 yesterday.
"Although they did not score in the first half, it was then that
the Leeds victory was fashioned. They marshalled the game almost
from the first kick, using Allan Clarke and Mick Jones in attacking
positions. Bremner, Yorath, Paul Madeley and Peter Lorimer were
in charge in midfield, making the most of a strong wind at their
"Having made it clear they had come for two points, Leeds then
went out and took them after the interval, first with Yorath's
first goal since September 1971, then with Jones' 12th goal of
the season and finally with Clarke's 100th goal in first class
matches for Leeds.
"The only sour note for Leeds came 90 seconds after Clarke's
87th minute goal when the striker badly twisted his right ankle
and knee in a tackle.
"The 27,110 spectators had just seen him score a typical Clarke
goal - weaving past three defenders from the right to hit a great
left footed drive into the net from the edge of the penalty area.
It was a fine goal to round off a majestic display, but Yorath's
goal was the most important. He clipped a shot towards goal, also
from the edge of the penalty area, after an indirect free kick
on the left. The shot hit a defender, cannoning into the top corner
of the net.
"Seven minutes later, Yorath made space for himself on the left
and floated over a perfect centre for Jones to find the opposite
corner of the net with a firm header."
The Times' Norman Fox commented: "In ten years, perhaps
more, I cannot recall seeing a team maintain such skilful pressure
for so long in any match in Britain or Europe. There have been
days when Leeds have needed to spend 20 minutes in complete domination
in order to overcome passing crises; here they rode a crest that
rolled on and on, and to watch them made 90 minutes seem like
nine and eleven men move like one. Understanding, perception,
support, hard tackling, delicate touch and a goal by Clarke that
was superb even by his standards, all of this stirred an intoxicating
brew that at the end inspired not the ovation one would have expected
but a standing silence."
When the players departed for their UEFA Cup-tie with Vitoria
Setubal, many took advantage of the warm weather, enjoying the
hospitality of the nearby Estoril Golf Club in the days before
Peter Lorimer: "Don told us we could take our golf clubs to Portugal
and that definitely wasn't him. We were even out on the course
the day before the game. Don had realised by then that because
we were getting involved in every competition, we were constantly
coming up short. Don's one
aim was to win the League that season and nothing else mattered.
Personally, I wish he had done it sooner as I am sure we would
have won more trophies."
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Madeley, Bremner, Hunter, Clarke, Giles, Jones and Eddie Gray
sat the game out and Revie deployed 19-year-old full-back Peter
Hampton in midfield and Frank Gray at sweeper.
The match was goalless at the break, but Setubal were in a different
class thereafter, taking the lead via Duda's diving header after
52 minutes. Ten minutes later Portuguese international Jose Torres
gave his side an aggregate lead and in the 74th minute Duda beat
Ellam on the edge of the penalty area to score from ten yards.
With eight minutes remaining, substitute Gary Liddell scored
his first senior goal from the edge of the area and Hampton almost
secured an unlikely away goals win with a volley two minutes from
United had to withstand some early pressure at Chelsea on 15
December before securing a 2-1 victory. Geoffrey Green in the
Times: "As the light went out of the freezing day a 40,000
crowd … streamed home knowing that in Leeds they had seen the
best team in the land. Winning a handsome match by 2-1, Leeds
have now set a new high water mark in the championship for the
period since the First Division was enlarged to 22 clubs in 1919.
Surpassing Liverpool's run of 19 games from the opening day of
the 1949/50 season, Leeds have now gone undefeated in 20 matches
and done it in style.
"Leeds, experts at riding punches, also play percentage football.
When they make their own chances they take them. So it was that
they came back from the ropes to dominate the last hour of a very
fine match that was the best possible advertisement for the English
"Having already softened up Bonetti in the air two or three times
as Jones challenged for high crosses - conceding free kicks in
the process - Leeds duly made this tactic pay off. On the very
stroke of the interval Bonetti lost Bremner's swirling corner
kick under pressure (again from Jones) and there was the hungry,
powerful Jordan - Clarke's understudy - to bang home the loose
ball. It was a vital lead snatched at the psychological moment.
"However, when the talented Osgood headed in Houseman's corner
finely for the equaliser early in the second half, Chelsea for
a spell threatened to take control. It was now that Leeds unveiled
their power. Full of accurate passing angles and imaginative running,
they proceeded to move the ball eloquently to every corner of
the field. Suddenly Chelsea were chasing yellow shadows and with
25 minutes left, the blow fell. Jordan cleverly headed Lorimer's
precise centre at the far post square to Jones and the centre-forward's
shot from some 12 yards went past Bonetti like a dream."
On 22 December Billy Bremner made his 500th League appearance
as United beat Norwich 1-0, the players carrying placards pre-match
to wish the Elland Road crowd Merry Christmas.
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Leeds United signed
off for the year at Elland Road on Saturday,
unbeaten this season and establishing two other important points
besides the ones they took at Norwich City's expense.
"First, the importance to the side of men like Terry Yorath,
who has had to make do with the sidelines so long while others
have taken the limelight; second, the underlining of their breakthrough
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"Where would Leeds have been without Yorath on Saturday? With
Billy Bremner only 50 per cent fit and Leeds lacking three other
midfield men because of injury there was a call to be answered
- and Yorath had the answer. It was not that he looked a world
beater… but he was able to do more than an adequate job and the
goal was his reward.
"Saturday saw the side return home after three difficult away
games and with an unbeaten League record in the bag. To welcome
them was a crowd of 34,747… It represented what could be the big
breakthrough for Leeds in supporter drawing power, for although
they have done well at the gate all season, Saturday was, perhaps,
the truest test of their appeal."
A single goal from Madeley at Newcastle on Boxing Day extended
United's unbeaten run to 22 games while Liverpool's 2-1 defeat
at Burnley cut them nine points adrift.
United almost came a cropper at relegation-threatened Birmingham
on 29 December as Gary Sprake faced his former Elland Road colleagues
for the first time.
Leeds struggled all afternoon to deal with Bob Latchford, the
striker opening the scoring after 22 minutes, unmarked in the
centre of the area. A minute later he had the ball in the net
again, though the goal was disallowed for a foul on David Harvey.
United were staring anxiously down the barrel of their first
League defeat until four minutes from the end when Joe Jordan
shot firmly past Sprake from six yards after being found by Lorimer's
The result left United eight points clear with 39 points from
23 games as the year closed, in a strong position to regain the
The Times' Geoffrey Green penned this tribute "Within
the past decade, Leeds, by their achievements, have grown to be
the aristocrats of the English game. But more importantly this
season … they have made a conscious effort to change their former
image of being a hard, greedy, ruthless side up to every act of
gamesmanship in the professional book where the Corinthian ethos
of old has scarcely survived. They have succeeded so far in taking
a duster to the slate with the happy result that they are now
not only a better side, but have also achieved a new stature that
is attracting the attention of a selective public.
"Already this season they have been watched by more than a million
spectators; their average home League gate stands at 39,404; away
from home their figure is 39,692 - the best in the land. Suddenly,
they have become fashionable, and the reason, I suspect, is their
new code of ethics and entertainment value."
Part 2 An attack of nerves - Results
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