1 Unbeatables - Results
Eight points clear… 19 matches to go… As 1974 opened, Leeds United
were set fair to regain the League championship after five years
of gallant failures.
The year opened in drab fashion at home to Spurs. Tom German
in the Times: "Tottenham Hotspur held them with the aid
of three goal line clearances; that is part of the basic role
of the modern defender, though, and there were tense moments in
the last quarter of an hour, after Spurs equalised, when it seemed
they might even blemish Leeds' remarkable record.
"Tottenham came prepared to play football, with Perryman, Pratt
and Beal all contributing splendidly. Moreover, they were too
well organised at the back for a Leeds attack which needed reinforcement
from behind to give it momentum and direction; Jones had a particularly
barren afternoon against England, though it was Jones who scored
Leeds' goal after 22 minutes. It was offered as a formality, as
Cherry's enterprising excursion up the left flank took him clear
for a shot which struck a post and bobbed out obligingly to Jones'
"It would be a novelty however, if Leeds found themselves without
commanding figures. Whatever harsh words are applied from time
to time to Hunter's forthrightness, he really is a sustaining
pillar; his skill in reaching out a toe to bring the dropping
ball under control, the accuracy of his forward chips, and the
way he moves into strategic positions are of immeasurable value
to Leeds. McQueen, too, seems to develop his technique with every
match. For a big man he shows a surprising control of the ball
and several forward spurts yesterday promised to open a gap in
a way his forwards might usefully have observed.
"It was especially unfortunate that it should be a blunder by
McQueen which led to Tottenham's goal; he had enough colleagues
in position to take a pass but lost the ball to McGrath's tackle;
the winger had the legs of a defence by now badly positioned and
ran on to steer beneath Harvey's dive."
Four days later, United's FA Cup campaign commenced with a third
round tie at Molineux against Wolves. The home side enjoyed lengthy
periods of pressure and opened the scoring ten minutes into the
second period with a freakish goal. When Alan Sunderland's mishit
effort deflected off John Richards' shoulder, David Harvey, covering
the path of the original effort, was left stranded as the ball
ballooned into the net.
Missing Johnny Giles and Allan Clarke, Leeds required the reprieve
of a penalty seven minutes from time, earned when Billy Bremner
made the most of a clumsy foul by Wolves teenager Barry Powell.
He did enough to persuade Leicester referee Roger Kirkpatrick
and Peter Lorimer converted to earn a replay.
It took another late goal to settle the tie with Mick Jones heading
home after 85 minutes at Elland Road. Reserve goalkeeper David
Stewart made his United debut in the game, deputising for the
Leeds had more reasons to be grateful to referee Kirkpatrick
for turning down handball appeals against Jones with two minutes
remaining. The official was adamant: "The ball popped up and hit
the hand. For a penalty to be awarded, the hand must strike the
ball, not the ball strike the hand… In any case, my linesman and
myself had already noticed a Wolves player committing a foul behind
Jones and I would have given a free kick against that player.
But as the ball was cleared, the advantage rule was applied."
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Gordon McQueen was stretchered off with strained ankle ligaments
and was missing when United hosted Southampton on 12 January.
Before the game Don Revie,
voted manager of the month for December, was presented with a
gallon bottle of whisky. Each United player received a bouquet
of flowers from their opponents in recognition of their long unbeaten
run. Billy Bremner reacted with a dainty curtsey when he received
his gift from Saints skipper Terry Paine.
Tom German in the Times: "One consequence of all the reshuffling
has been the extra load thrust on Bremner in the cockpit. Shorn
first of his intuitive partner, Giles, and then of Bates, he remains
a crucial influence. Southampton often found their defence turned
by his piercing passes, measured to the inch, and he was just
as likely to be awaiting a pass out on the touchline or challenging
near his own goal.
"Other factors to satisfy Leeds in a match which came to life
in patches were Reaney's speedy supporting bursts up the right,
the easy grace with which Frank Gray showed he could flit past
an opponent or flight his passes on an accurate length, and Jordan's
continuing development as an attacker, able both to beat his man
and score goals. It was Jordan who strode purposefully past both
full-back and goalkeeper to turn the ball into the goalmouth for
Jones to score for Leeds after 21 minutes, and Jordan himself
scored the second when Jones returned the compliment ten minutes
into the second half.
"Southampton were resolute - making effective use of offside
tactics - but rarely enlightened. An exception was Channon, who
always looked for a chance to take the ball to the opposition;
he clipped a post in the first half and gave Harvey his one important
test with a sizzling shot in the second before giving Southampton
some return by heading in Paine's cross from the left after three
Leeds defenders had dallied."
Over at Anfield Liverpool struggled to secure a 3-2 defeat of
Birmingham and remained eight points behind United. A week later
both teams figured in draws, United being goalless at Everton
and Liverpool 1-1 away to Stoke City.
The Yorkshire Post's Terry Brindle wrote of the air of
anxiety surrounding United: "They would not admit it, of course,
but one suspects that Leeds United will not be too distraught
when somebody takes their unbeaten League record and puts it out
of its growing misery. Because misery is fast becoming the name
of the game away from Elland Road.
"Leeds have been one of the team others love to beat for several
seasons, their path in the championship is overgrown with the
thorns and thickets of a reputation which rouses special ambition
in opponents. It has long been so and Leeds have learned to live
"The demands on Leeds this season have suddenly become even more
intense, accentuated by an unbeaten record which offers unexpected
glory and glamour to teams who otherwise have few prospects. Teams
with little chance of winning anything in the wash
of United's surge to the title can still earn a special place
in history simply by being the team which finally beat Leeds in
"Old men with watery eyes will recount the victory in tedious
detail, studiously omitting the fact that Leeds then went on to
win the championship. 'It's true,' said Don Revie after Saturday's
26th instalment of the unbeaten saga, 'our matches are getting
more and more like Cup-ties away from home. The pressure seems
to be building up on other teams, who are making a special effort
to beat us.'
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"Special effort - the kind which draws 55,000 spectators and
then involved them in every kick - almost broke United's resistance
at Goodison. Everton ran hard, struck swiftly and boldly from
midfield, maintained attacking pressure which seemed bound to
pay off in the end. Yet although they outmatched Leeds on scoring
chances, outran them and sometimes threatened to overrun them,
Everton never outclassed them. Leeds have an extraordinary aura
of class which is never stronger than when the tide is running
"It is fashionable to talk about Leeds nowadays in terms of work
rate, of endeavour, or honest toil as though this was somehow
a denial of their skill and finesse. But Leeds were built on guts
and graft and when they revert to basics they radiate a feeling
of sheer impregnability.
"Their best player on Saturday - and not by chance but because
Leeds needed a player of unswerving combativeness - was Norman
Hunter. He covered, chased and tackled with the intimidating sureness
that makes strong men quail and in doing so typified real professionalism,
the aggressive spirit which meets adversity with bared teeth.
"Leeds - still the best defensive team in the land when they
have to be - absorbed Everton's pressure and repulsed their almost
frantic attacks. Harvey was in great form, saving superbly from
Gary Jones, Bernard and Buckley, and frustration mounted to the
extent that Leeds were reviled when the referee penalised Everton
and Harper was booked for a shoulder charge on the referee after
he refused a penalty.
"Leeds rode into town as a team demanding respect if not exactly
affection and left with a police escort - and simply because they
had refused to be beaten. They must sometimes wonder if a record
- an already magnificent one at that - is worth all the aggro."
Revie echoed the theme: "There isn't a team in the world who
could produce their best football under the type of pressure to
which Leeds United have been subjected recently. It is disappointing
that Leeds haven't been playing as well as we did earlier in the
season… but understandable in my view. Leeds have long been looked
upon as the team everyone most wants to beat. Yet it seems that
almost every side we face nowadays, especially away from home,
have allowed their natural determination to beat us to become
"For this reason, I cannot visualise Leeds remaining unbeaten
in the League for the rest of the season.
"When Leeds won the championship in 1968/69, I went on record
as saying that our record of only two League defeats throughout
the season would never be broken… and still hold this view. Certainly,
I think it will be a miracle if Leeds reach the
end of the current League campaign without losing any games.
"In matches against Leeds, opposing sides are now running and
chasing like men possessed. By allowing us no scope to settle
on the ball and express our creative ability, they are to a large
extent sacrificing their own chances of doing so. Over the last
few months, only three teams have been prepared to try and match
us for skill on their own ground… Chelsea, Ipswich and Newcastle
Bill Bridge, former sports editor of the Yorkshire Post,
recalls: "It was my first season at the paper and Don would always
phone up at 11.15pm if there had been any midweek Division One
games to find out the results. I could sense his nerves every
time as he worried over how even teams in mid-table such as Spurs
and Newcastle had got on. To me, it smacked of insecurity. Leeds
were comfortably clear at the top and unbeaten but Revie was still
afraid it would all go wrong."
Frank Gray denied any feeling of tension, saying, "Funnily enough,
the team wasn't feeling the pressure in terms of remaining unbeaten
because it wasn't something that was being talked about by the
players. We left that to others outside the club. Our only incentive
was to get the points that would keep us clear at the top. All
the rest didn't matter and was only something the lads thought
we might look back on at the end of the season."
A 4-1 FA Cup victory against Fourth Division pacesetters Peterborough
on 26 January was notable only for the first team return of Terry
Cooper and two headed goals from the rapidly maturing Joe Jordan.
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Before the game Posh manager Noel Cantwell had described Jordan
as just "an ordinary player". It provoked a match winning display
from the striker, who said: "I read what Cantwell had to say about
me before the match and it gave me immense satisfaction to score
those two goals… It made me very determined to prove him wrong."
While Jordan produced the cutting edge, Peter Lorimer made a
telling contribution, his pace and control posing problems from
the start. He opened the scoring in the 16th minute when his deflected
free kick from outside the penalty area
beat stranded keeper Mick Drewery.
Jordan's two headers both came from Lorimer crosses and when
Terry Yorath drove the fourth goal low past Drewery in the 34th
minute it was Lorimer who got the ball to him.
Terry Cooper, playing on the left wing, showed much of his old
skill and finesse while understandably lacking a little sharpness.
The former England defender wore the No 10 shirt and was given
a fine reception by the Elland Road fans when United were back
in First Division action on 2 February. They played out their
fourth draw in five League games, 1-1 against Chelsea, their lead
in the table reduced to seven points with 27 games played.
Chelsea's Bill Garner opened the scoring after forty minutes
and United nerves were fraying by the time Trevor Cherry scored
his first League goal of the season after 67 minutes.
A midweek clash with Arsenal at Elland Road brought United a
valuable victory, the success owing much to their tenacity. The
Gunners looked set to spring an upset, fiercely protecting a 25th
minute lead given them by Alan Ball.
Jordan led the fight back almost singlehandedly, first, sending
in a header from 14 yards after 65 minutes, which Peter Simpson
diverted into his own net. Then the Scot headed in off an upright
and finally made it three in the 69th minute, charging almost
half the length of the pitch with the ball before hammering low
past Bob Wilson from 15 yards.
The 3-1 victory was a massive relief to Don Revie, who said:
"If we go a goal down everyone thinks it's the end of the world,
but we were patient and kept on making chances. I think it was
a test of temperament. Sometimes you don't get a reward, today
United followed up with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford against Manchester
United and Jordan was once again among the goals, adding the second
after Mick Jones' 57th minute opener. Jordan started on the bench,
coming on with five minutes remaining. Two minutes later he took
a pass from Hunter to beat Stewart Houston and goalkeeper Alex
Stepney with a clipped shot that slipped just inside the post.
The goal, Jordan's sixth in as many games, won him a start in
the FA Cup fifth round tie at Bristol City on 16 February, with
Allan Clarke dropping to substitute. Also back for his first appearance
since the end of October was Johnny Giles.
United caught the Second Division outfit in determined mood and
were fortunate to
escape Ashton Gate with a 1-1 draw. Strongly fancied to beat them
in the Elland Road replay three days later, they
lost to a second half effort from Donny Gillies.
Though the championship had always been the priority, the shock
chipped away at United's fault line; four days later Stoke
City blew it wide open.
When United took a two goals lead after 18 minutes, a 30th game
without defeat beckoned. But then Stoke fought back with some
passion to score three times.
"Perhaps in the long run this will prove to be a good result
for us," said Billy Bremner after the 3-2 defeat, but not a bit
of it as United drew their next two games, both 1-1 at Elland
Road, against Leicester and Newcastle.
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Reserve goalkeeper David Stewart made his League debut against
Leicester but was unable to keep out a second half equaliser from
Len Glover after Peter Lorimer's first half penalty had given
United the lead. Bremner: "I don't know whether tension has anything
to do with it. The lads told me before the game they were not
tense. But we are not stroking it about as we did."
Don Warters captured the mood in the Evening Post, declaring,
"These are anxious days for Leeds United. This was apparent in
their display against Newcastle United at Elland Road when the
Yorkshiremen dropped their fourth point out of the last six.
"After their recent slump in fortune, Don Revie's men really
needed a victory, and with Liverpool clipping another point off
the once impressive lead of nine points anxiety will not have
diminished any by the result at Anfield. Liverpool might well
have left it late again - about 60 seconds from the end to get
their victory over Burnley - but the fact remains that they managed
"As a result, the race for the League championship has become
little bit more open - with Leeds still leading by six points.
"Leeds began in a spirited fashion which suggested they would
bounce back to winning ways. Frank Gray, in for his first full
League game since mid-January, figured prominently in much of
Leeds' first half work, and full-back Paul Reaney was to be seen
frequently overlapping on the right.
"Dave Stewart … showed up well and brought off a brilliant save
to a Macdonald header of tremendous power - a save which amazed
the Newcastle goal ace… Stewart's save, as he dived almost backwards
to clutch the ball inches from the line, was undoubtedly brilliant,
but the worrying feature was how Macdonald came to be in such
an advantageous position seven yards out without anyone marking
him closely. Perhaps the fact that McQueen may have been slightly
hampered by his thigh, and the usually reliable Norman Hunter
was not having one of his most rewarding games might have had
something to do with it.
"It was the unfortunate Hunter who gave away the ball which led
to Barrowclough hitting a 51st-minute equaliser five minutes after
Allan Clarke had sent Leeds' victory hopes soaring with a tremendous
piece of individual brilliance. Hunter's mistimed pass to Terry
Yorath gave Jimmy Smith possession. A short pass into the Leeds
penalty area and a fortunate bounce of the ball enabled Barrowclough
to hit a low shot into the far corner of the net.
"Clarke's goal came in the first minute of the second half when
he won possession then lost it to Smith and won it back to turn
through the Newcastle defence before hitting a low shot past goalkeeper
The following evening brought cause for celebration with Norman
Hunter elected by fellow professionals as inaugural winner of
the PFA's Player of the Year award, vindication for a man frequently
slated for his uncompromising style. Many sporting functions had
been regaled with the tale of how Hunter's wife told her neighbour:
"Our Norman came home with a terrible leg last night
- all bruised and bleeding. The trouble is he doesn't know who
it belongs to."
A Lorimer penalty brought a much-needed 1-0 victory over Manchester
City at Elland Road on 9 March, though there was controversy over
the award of the spot kick.
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Terry Brindle in the Yorkshire Post: "The charge facing
Billy Bremner, Leeds United's collapsible captain, in the whitewashed
witness box outside Manchester City's dressing room ranged from
simple dishonesty to downright duplicity. Nobody taxed him with
infringement of copyright.
"And that, considering the nature of his accusers, was rather
surprising. Manchester City, violent in their condemnation of
his supposed dive and the referee's implied gullibility, showed
all the outrage of biters suddenly bitten. Having done as much
as any team to legitimise this now prevalent form of deviousness,
City seem to resent its use against them.
"A dive is a disgrace, no matter who makes it, but City really
have no room for complaint. Perhaps men like Francis Lee and Mike
Summerbee simply could not believe that somebody else could have
their luck. If they try to make their own rules as professional
footballers, they should at least be prepared to live by them.
"Leeds were clearly superior - aggressive and fast-moving in
the first half, committed and hard-working in the second when
the pace if not the passion slackened. 'Our best performance this
year,' smiled Don Revie afterwards.
"Above all, Leeds seemed to have the will to win, a superbly
competitive approach that overrides supposed deficiencies of flair
and freedom… Terry Yorath, who spent three days out of training
with a poisoned thigh, gave himself a fitness test on Saturday
morning and insisted on playing. If this is how Yorath plays under
disadvantage, Revie will probably give him a shot of curare before
every match. He was superb."
After the game, Bremner tipped Manchester City winger Mike Summerbee
the wink that United were about to sign him. With the City captain
all set to complete the move, it broke down when City's own attempt
to sign Hull striker Stuart Pearson collapsed.
Next up for United, on 16 March, was the big one, against Liverpool
at Anfield, the date a special one for Don Revie, marking the
13th anniversary of his appointment as manager.
Skipper Billy Bremner pronounced confidently, "We are very confident
and Liverpool will have to pull out everything to have a chance
of beating us. There is no doubt it will be a hard game, but we
are not going there with the intention of looking for just one
The Anfielders won a closely fought game, as reported by Geoffrey
Green in the Times: "Only a few crowded weeks ago Leeds
wallowed in the comfort of a nine points lead at the top. Now
that gap has been eroded to six and Liverpool, in addition, hold
two games in hand with the chance to cut it even finer. Leeds,
their goalscoring thrust recently misplaced, are now looking anxiously
over their shoulders, remembering no doubt how they conceded a
seven points advantage to Arsenal for the title of 1971.
"Liverpool, the reigning champions, are not yet disposed to surrender
their throne. Unbeaten since Boxing Day in a run of 16 games,
once more they are proving themselves the strongest finishers
in the business at a time when their main rivals have won only
three of their last eight matches. And further to underline Liverpool's
patient hunt, it may be added that this was the thirteenth occasion
this season they had won a match inside the last ten minutes.
Here lies the character of a side who have conceded only one goal
in the last nine games.
"Here was a stirring battle of wills and wits that helped to
keep the race still open. All too often these summit meetings
provide anti-climax. Not so on this occasion. With courage and
sportsmanship uppermost, this was British football at its best.
"With queues already forming soon after breakfast - the gates
shut on a 56,000 crowd an hour and a half before the kick off
- the expectation inside Anfield was sweet and giddy. The flags
of the stadium stood starched in the wind as Liverpool thundered
into attack with a gusty energy for most of the afternoon. But
Leeds, quick as a serpent, time and again slid out of danger with
subtle defensive covering.
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"The battle flashed and winked like a prism and just as Leeds,
at last able to slow the withering pace with possession play,
began to suggest they might weather the rattling storm, the decisive
blow was struck. We were already clockwatching when Lindsay hoisted
a tall lob into the Leeds goalmouth; first Keegan and then Toshack
nodded on the ball instantly as if baton changing and there was
Heighway, quickest of a forest of feet, to slot in the winner.
So a match of electric energy and narrow escapes ended with the
heaving Kop awash with red banners and scarves, like some Technicolor
"They had much to look back on - the probing Callaghan, Cormack
and Hughes of Liverpool, and Hunter, the warhorse of Leeds, as
the outstanding medal winners of 22 heroes; a couple of breathtaking
goal line saves, first by Hunter from Toshack and then Hughes
from Lorimer, when all seemed lost."
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "It was a cat and
mouse type of game with Liverpool doing the chasing and Leeds
the waiting. Despite a monumental display by Hunter, the pounding
they took was just too much for Leeds in the end.
"Leeds missed a man like Giles who could slow and frustrate the
non-stop action of Liverpool - led by their magnificent midfield
trio of Callaghan, Hall and Cormack. Leeds usually looked more
skilful when they got the ball, but Liverpool worked so fast and
hard that they managed to keep the ball almost all afternoon…
But Leeds stood firm and even managed a good breakaway through
"Hunter managed to boot a header from Toshack off the goal line
and Hughes must have broken the world speed record over six yards
when he managed to hook Lorimer's lob out of Liverpool's net after
Clemence had been beaten soon afterwards. Then, just when it was
beginning to look as though Leeds' back to the wall effort was
winning the day, Liverpool produced yet another late winner.
"It was a scrappy goal, started by a long downfield pass from
Lindsay. Keegan and Toshack managed to move the ball down the
centre of the penalty area and Heighway, getting the best of the
bounce, was quick enough and brave enough to billiard cue the
"I think they deserved to win," said Revie. "They kept up the
pressure for 75 minutes and while we are disappointed it is no
disgrace to lose to Liverpool.
"I'm still confident of winning the title… Anyone who looks at
it sensibly will see that Liverpool
have got to take maximum points from their games in hand and they
will still be two points behind - and our goal average is so much
better. Look at the two positions and decide which you would sooner
"I have said all along that you have got to be consistent over
42 matches - now we have to be consistent over the last eight."
Revie's pleas fell on deaf ears; United
crashed 4-1 at home to Burnley on 23 March, ending the game
in fractious style, their discipline in shreds. Norman Hunter
handed his head on a platter to critics after an ugly foul on
Frank Casper which ended the striker's career.
United seemed to have recovered their composure when they took
the lead at West Ham a week later but they then conceded three
goals and crashed to a third successive defeat.
John Samuel in the Guardian: "If some of the Leeds players
cannot master their temperament better than they did in the last
20 minutes then they lack the requisite qualities of champions
and their supporters must prepare themselves for the worst… It
should be possible, in strict terms of ability, for Leeds to gather
themselves in their remaining six games and fight off Liverpool's
challenge. The rose has developed black spot and a touch of mildew
but it is still capable of splendid late blooms.
"Clarke, who scored a fine goal and played with high skill in
the first half, now starts a two-match suspension, but from his
silly reaction to disappointment and frustration in the second
half a cooling off spell may do him and Leeds no harm. His goading
of Day, McGiven and Bonds seemed only counter-productive. McQueen,
tackled by Lampard, turned and chased back towards the West Ham
player so aggressively that Bremner had to charge his own man
off his feet to stop him doing anything irrevocable.
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"Other Leeds players, Madeley, Reaney, Hunter and Bremner himself,
in spite of the tensions, kept control of themselves, though Bremner's
protests are sometimes too expressive, a match to a highly explosive
trail. Leeds' emotions live close to the surface, their character
constantly under stress from their own creativity, despond the
aftermath to their highest peaks… Their persistent injury problems
are symptomatic, not of damaged muscles, but over stressed minds.
Madeley and Hunter are out of the England squad apparently because
of physical injury from this match, though there was little sign
of it. Just as easily they might report rude psyches. If ever
a team needs to experiment with a psychiatrist it is Leeds.
"The good signs, even in this defeat, were the return of Giles
and the soothing effect of his cool and balanced presence. He
can be caught in possession, overtaken from behind and robbed
on occasion, as West Ham did. But his anticipation is a marvellous
instinctive mechanism, beyond price in the last desperate stage.
Jones, too, coming on for Jordan in the 75th minute, did some
quick, resourceful things; Lorimer, dropped for the first time
this season, might well rediscover his confidence in the renewal
of this old understanding and relationship.
"Leeds were the first to draw blood, Clarke in the 32nd minute
leaving Day on the seat of his pants with a header, deft and deadly,
from Giles' chipped centre. The rejoinder, different in style,
alike in skill and enterprise, came in the 55th minute… Best got
inside Reaney, round McQueen and squeezed in his shot before Hunter
could quite reach him, and a crowd of 37,360 - the gates were
shut well before the kick off - exploded.
"Clarke had a goal first given, then disallowed by Mr Yates,
whose linesman had flagged unhesitatingly for offside. It was
a tight decision, for Clarke moves so quickly to this type of
lob from Bremner, and Mr Yates could have saved some heartburn
if he had checked at once with his linesman. It was just the sort
of incident to rattle Leeds, and West Ham ground in their advantage
with a superbly-timed leap and header into the far corner by Robson
after Brooking had duped McQueen out on the left.
"Yorath missed a good chance of an equaliser, Jones came on for
Jordan, then in the 84th minute Best
broke away again and forced a corner. The same player was in possession
on the far side of his goal when West Ham got the ball over, and
Brooking scooped his header into goal.
"A great game faded into a desultory and, on the part of one
or two Leeds players, ill-tempered finish. Clarke secured himself
a quite gratuitous booking, apparently for words offered within
the hearing of the referee. Leeds' greatest need now is to summon
The defeat gave Liverpool, though still four points adrift, the
driving seat. United had six matches to play but the Reds had
nine, their fate in their own hands for the first time.
United steadied their nerves by beating Derby
2-0 at Elland Road on 6 April. Liverpool were fortunate to
take both points from QPR at Anfield, having to come back from
a goal down, but were less fortunate two days later, going down
by a single goal at Sheffield United. That ended a run of 9 wins
and 3 draws from 12 League games played since Boxing Day. Liverpool
hotly disputed the Blades' fiftieth minute goal, claiming offside
against Terry Nicholl, but had been fortunate when Keith Eddy
was unable to convert a first half penalty and the Times'
Gerry Harrison described their performance as "surprisingly undistinguished…
full of power and threat but ponderous and unimaginative."
On Good Friday, 12 April, the Merseysiders dropped another point,
in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City, leaving them three points behind
United with one game in hand.
In between those two setbacks for Liverpool, Allan Clarke's successful
appeal against his booking
at West Ham left him available for Leeds' 15 April clash with
Sheffield United at Elland Road.
Clarke was already in the middle of a two-match suspension, completing
his punishment on 13 April when Leeds visited Coventry, hanging
on in the closing stages to earn a goalless draw after dominating
most of the game. Liverpool came back from a goal down at Ipswich
after 24 minutes to keep pace with a 1-1 draw.
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The tide had started to run the way of Leeds, but they missed
a real opportunity when they played out a goalless draw with Sheffield
United at Elland Road on Easter Monday.
Tom German in the Times: "Thrusting a disruptive spoke
into the fluctuating tussle for the League championship is becoming
a habit for modestly placed Sheffield United. It was Liverpool
who were pegged back a stride last week; yesterday … it was Leeds
United's turn to learn how disciplined Sheffield can be.
"Sheffield showed that they could organise their defence shrewdly
and underlined the extent to which a once sleek and efficient
team had lost their sureness of touch since they swept all aside
in that undefeated run of 29 matches. Sheffield made no bones
about their intentions. They moved back collectively whenever
Leeds hinted at initiative. Flynn attached himself to Clarke and
contained him superbly, Colquhoun was a match for Jones, and Salmons
a discerning element in midfield. The rest of the Leeds front
line could make little imprint. Nor did it help that Bremner and
Giles, though seeing plenty of the ball, could not find a way
to pierce the screen.
"All too often Leeds channelled the ball high, but it was more
in hope and frustration than in a considered attempt to exploit
a weakness. Yet they did get the ball in the net twice. Jones
was flagged offside just after the half hour, and then Leeds disputed
a judgement which cancelled Lorimer's strike shortly after the
hour… The referee's explanation after the match was that Clarke
was standing in an offside position.
||Top of Division One - April 15, 1974
"Leeds pushed forward, confident that Hunter and McQueen would
safely pull up the drawbridge behind them if ever the need arose
… Strangely, for all their pounding at Sheffield's door, Leeds
could point to few moments of ripe opportunities. One gloriously
flighted lob by Clarke in the opening minutes seemed to be descending
under the bar when Brown chased back to fist away at the last
second; and a breach was almost forced in the final seconds as
Bremner's corner allowed McQueen to use his long reach for a header
which Brown pushed aside to Clarke, whose shot flew into the side
Three bookings for United men - Lorimer (for disputing the decision
his goal), Cherry and Hunter (for fouls) - emphasised that the
improved discipline of autumn had evaporated under the pressure
Easter Tuesday, April 16, brought crucial fixtures. Liverpool
seemed to have the easier task, at Anfield against Manchester
City, while United faced Sheffield United at Bramall Lane and
the early signs were ominous: while a dour Yorkshire derby remained
goalless at the break, Liverpool were three ahead by the sixteenth
minute, and added a fourth after 35 minutes.
In contrast United began anxiously, "tight with fear" according
to Geoffrey Green in the Times, and nerves showed when
Yorath missed a sitter after three minutes. However, they had
control with the Blades offering only a token threat. They kept
at their task, convinced that the goals would come, and got their
reward in the final half hour.
The opener fell to Peter Lorimer, coming storming in to fire
home from a narrow angle after Flynn hooked Mick Jones' goalbound
effort off the line. After 69 minutes they were awarded a penalty
for Speight's foul on Jones. Again it was Lorimer, hammering home
United had two games left to Liverpool's four, but maintained
a critical four-point advantage and a superior goal average. Both
sides had home games on Saturday, 20 April, United against third-placed
Ipswich Town and Liverpool facing Merseyside rivals Everton.
back to top
United won a breathtaking context
by three goals to two, content to waste time over the final
minutes. Few outside Merseyside would blame them, for victory
was crucial, all the more so as Liverpool played out a goalless
draw with Everton. The results left United five points clear.
Liverpool had three games to play, but a superior goal average
meant that a single point at Queens Park Rangers on 27 April would
be enough for Leeds.
Don Revie refused to count his chickens, protesting, "It's a
bit premature to call us champions yet. I'll not really breathe
easily until I see the trophy is in Billy Bremner's hands."
Bill Shankly: "There is still a mathematical chance and while
that is so we will not give up hope. That's the trouble with the
world today, people give up too easily. A squirt of Gaelic blood,
that's what you all need. Then you might not make remarks about
Nevertheless, the balance of power had clearly shifted to Yorkshire.
United faced the terrors of the final day, but surely even the
perennial bridesmaids could not fail this time.
In the event, they were spared the challenge. On Wednesday, 24
April, Liverpool faced Arsenal at Anfield. The same evening ITV
was broadcasting a This Is Your Life tribute to Revie. Eamon Andrews
had sprung the surprise on Revie four days earlier when he had
been attending a Variety Club dinner at the Queens Hotel in Leeds
city centre. While Revie enjoyed the moment, Arsenal paid their
own respects, pulling off a victory.
Gerry Harrison in the Times: "Arsenal, the last team to
achieve the double, the last team to beat Liverpool at home in
the League, did it again in Liverpool's last home game… Arsenal
certainly defended well, but no side with an eye on the double,
and not even a side which had dropped only two points at home
previously, could afford the luxury of throwing their riches far
and wide so indiscriminately.
"Traffic was understandably mostly in one direction, but it came
to a halt 18 yards from Rimmer, the former Manchester United goalkeeper,
brought in to replace Wilson, who retires at the end of the season.
Rimmer did save well from Keegan, and also from Toshack, and Keegan
was unlucky when his shot was deflected wide by Rice. Clemence,
however, made the save of the first half in the thirty-third minute
when he arched backwards to palm away a looping Radford header.
back to top
"Keegan missed a simply-worked chance from a Heighway throw five
minutes into the second half. Then Simpson came on as substitute
for the injured Blockley, immediately found Toshack and Smith
clobbered the crossbar with a powerful free kick. Away came Arsenal,
with Ball floating a pass out to the right which Lindsay failed
to intercept. Kelly, from the goal line, pulled his centre back
into Kennedy's path and Clemence was left helpless.
"Brady almost scored another six minutes later and even at this
stage, despite regular injections of corners to boost the blood
flow. Liverpool's chances of scoring the two goals they now needed
to remain in the race seemed highly unlikely, particularly as
Rimmer was thoroughly enjoying himself and Simpson and Storey
had come to grips with the thrashing action in the middle.
"Toshack made it even easier for Arsenal - and Leeds - by missing
a 75th minute chance from close in. Heighway was equally guilty
eight minutes from the end, by which time Keegan, Hughes and Hall
were still soldiering on but clearly showing that this was neither
their night, nor, it seems, their season."
An overjoyed Revie beamed: "I feel as though someone had come
along and lifted six tons of coal off my back. It's a great feeling.
I feel as though I am walking on air… Tonight I am going to go
out and have a good time at last."
He was true to his words as the new champions threw an all-night
There was still business to do with one final game, away
to Queens Park Rangers on 27 April. The pressure off, United
were determined to go out in style with a victory.
They were sorely pressed by Rangers, but won the game by an Allan
Clarke goal after 57 minutes.
The championship trophy and medals were presented to the players
before Billy Bremner's testimonial game at Elland Road against
Sunderland on 6 May.
Barry Foster in the Yorkshire Post: "Over 37,700 spectators,
who had bought 38,300 tickets for the game, turned up for an eventful
night. It started when Bremner was presented with the League championship
trophy by Mr Len Shipman, the president of the Football League.
Mr Shipman said: 'This year has been wonderful for you. I know
a month ago we were all worried after the club's wonderful start,
but it came out right for you.'
"Bremner thanked the Leeds supporters and particularly the Kop.
'We feel you have helped us tremendously, not only here but away
from home… You have conducted yourselves with dignity and you
are a credit to yourselves.'
"Mr Shipman also presented the League title winners' medals to
members of the first team squad and Don Revie, the Leeds manager,
gave the club's backroom
staff a gift to mark their work.
"The goalless game was always competitive and Sunderland went
near to snatching a dramatic victory … in the last minute, when
Tueart cracked an unstoppable shot against an upright. The Second
Division side did more than hold the champions, they gave them
a hard fight.
"Though the fans had been denied a goal, they still produced
the cheer of the night for Bremner when the Leeds captain went
on a lone lap of honour with the championship trophy after the
It was a fitting finale to a wonderful season for the Elland
Road club, and a fitting farewell to manager Don Revie, who would
depart for the England manager's job a few weeks later. Revie
had revolutionised the club in his thirteen years at the helm
and now finally received the adulation that he craved, though
he remained studiously modest.
Daily Express football reporter Mike Morgan recalls: "I
interviewed Don after the 1974 title win and all he wanted to
do was talk about the players and his staff. He said, 'Those lads
are the ones who won the championship, not me. Them and people
like Syd Owen, Maurice Lindley and Les Cocker - I am just the
figurehead.' It was typical Don, who was such a modest man."
At that stage, few could have anticipated the upheaval that would
follow Revie's departure from Elland Road and how much the club
would come to regret his decision.
Part 1 Unbeatables - Results
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