Saturday 19th September 1970 probably doesn’t register in the conscious mind of most people as anything special.
Potentially, if you are a rock music aficionado, you may know it as the day of the first Glastonbury Festival held at Michael Eavis’s farm in Glastonbury. A keen rock fan may also register the date as one of mourning, following the loss of Jimi Hendrix, who’d passed away the day before in a Kensington hotel.
Additionally, that Saturday became a milestone in US TV history when The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ premiered on CBS.
So in a nutshell, unless you are a Glastonbury stat geek, a Hendrix fan or a lover of US newsroom comedy, Saturday 19th September 1970 won’t mean a great deal in the overall canvas of your life………. I suppose if it’s your birthday you’ll probably remember it as well!
For yours truly it is a date firmly etched in my mind, as it was the day, as a 7 year old boy, I first watched a Leeds United football game at their home ground of Elland Road.
The day as a whole is a bit of a blur. We’d moved from Leeds to Gateshead with my dad’s job by that time, so I assume we were back in the city of my birth that weekend to visit family.
Either that or my dad took a wrong turn on Durham Road when going for the weekly shop from Fine Fare on Low Fell, resulting in him journeying south on the A1; the road that led to his ‘real home’. It was the West Yorkshire metropolis where he was born and bred, a place that he was proud to belong.
Of course, being at Elland Road due to a wrong turn in Gateshead didn’t happen. However, if that had been the reason, I can picture my mum’s reaction being something like this on returning to our Low Fell home several hours later.
“Where the bleeding hell have you been Malcolm?!….. How’s it taken eight hours to do a weekly shop at Fine Fare?…… You’ve been in the ‘Dun Cow’ (pub) with our Gary, haven’t you?!”
She loved the occasional rant when she was younger did my mater. Although, she never dwelt on it once she’d got off her chest what she had to say, which meant 30 minutes later it was if it never happened…… Saying that, though, if this fictional scenario had taken place, when she found out we’d returned home with no weekly shop from Fine Fare, it may have took her longer to calm down!
Anyway, back to real events on Saturday 19th September 1970.
I’d got into football in early 1970. Before that I had a keen interest in cars (which I have no interest at all in now) and saying the words “Stop shouting, mum!”
The 1970 FA Cup final between Leeds and Chelsea changed all that…… Although I think I still said the stop shouting comment to my mum for a few more years!
After that, even though Leeds lost the final after the replay, I became hooked on the game. Like lots of kids at that age, I played, collected posters, stickers and stats about clubs, players and matches.
I accumulated a wealth of information about the game, and was particular proud that I was the only one amongst my friends who could spell Huddersfield Town’s Dick Krzywiki’s name.
It was an era of muddy pitches, hard footballers, comb-overs (and that was just my dad spectating), player loyalty, several clubs with a chance to win the top division and not many players with the surname Krzywiki.
Dick Krzywiki – That’s easy for you to say!
Of course, not everyone likes a know all. I sure my uncle Bernard once muttered “Clever little shite!” under his breath after I told him the name of my boyhood hero (Leeds striker) Allan Clarke’s wife.
With my new found love of the game, I was fit to burst with excitement on Saturday 19th September as I walked through the turnstiles of the Elland Road Kop end…….Although, the fit to burst might have been due to inadvertently wearing our Ian’s smaller waisted trousers.
Ian was deemed too young at the age of 5 to attend the game, so much to his chagrin he wasn’t with us. Never mind Ian, at least your trousers got to go to the game!
My biggest memory of that Saturday in early autumn 1970 was on walking on the terraced Kop and seeing the vast green pitch. My only previous experiences watching professional football were on black and white TV at home. The pitch unsurprisingly was greener that it looked on telly!
I’d seen amateur games, such as my uncle Bernard playing for the Woodcock pub in Farnley. I recall standing behind the goal with my cousins and our Ian as his team took an attacking corner. As the ball came over for Bernie to head goalwards, I shouted “Mick Jones’ wife is called Marjorie, uncle Bernard!”
Bernie missed his header, landed awkwardly and damaged his cartilage, meaning he had to come off the pitch. He was gutted so, in the ambulance on the way to St James’ Hospital, I cheered him up by telling him the spouse names of the Leeds reserve team players.
Anyway, as my dad and I took our place on the Kop, he lifted me onto a stantion, holding tight around my waist so I didn’t fall when the crowd surged forward during the game. As was terrace etiquette at the time.
This etiquette also included people, generally at the top of the stand, urinating where they stood. As a result the sight of urine running down the stand was common place.
The combined aroma of Tetley beer and urine aren’t something that Chanel or Yves St Laurent smell testers will deem worth marketing. However, to a football fan at Elland Road in the 1970’s it was a heady accompaniment to a Clarke goal, a Bremner tackle, Joe Jordan losing a tooth or Duncan McKenzie jumping a mini.
A view from the Elland Road Kop circa 1970
The game itself on that grey Saturday afternoon was unremarkable. Leeds won thanks to a first half Johnny Giles penalty, which he scored shortly after Gary Sprake had saved one from Southampton’s Ron Davies.
Unremarkable it may have been. However, on the day the world mourned Hendrix’s passing, fans swarmed to an inaugural Glastonbury and Mary Tyler Moore hit American TV screens, a 7 year old boy in Leeds had a day that, 46 years later, is indelibly inked onto the good times section on the tapestry of his life.