Prompted by yesterday’s parody narrative about the great Don Revie Leeds United side, I’ve just had an engaging trip down memory lane with an old friend.
The amiable interaction commenced following his musings about the uncompromising nature of the 1970 FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford, Manchester. A match that involving the gladiators of the Leeds who I wrote fondly about yesterday, who stood against a Chelsea team who were ‘ready to rumble’ after being outplayed in the first game..
As a young boy, around that time I’d been taught at Sunday school that “Blessed are the peacemakers”…. Well there was little sign of peacemaker anywhere that spring evening in Lancashire, or indeed blessings.
At times of melancholy, I’m often told “You should count your blessings.” Well one thing is for certain, I couldn’t count the number of player misdemeanours that late April evening.
This the result of only being seven and being unable to count past 103 at that time………. If 103 seems an arbitrary number, you need to understand back then I bizarrely developed a stammer from number 104 onwards.
At that time, Chelsea may not have been as successful as Revie’s side from a footballing perspective, but undoubtedly usurped the men in white when in came to sideburn growth.
For some punters, the flamboyance of the geezers from the Kings Road compared to the more staid warriors from LS11, was as much a talking point as the teams respective footballing abilities.
Chelsea striker Peter Osgood’s facial hair adornments were so vast they housed a ball boy on match days. The lad’s presence required to retrieve errant footballs lodged in hair follicles. It was mooted back then that the Osgood goal in the replay deflecting off the ball boy in his sideburns, wrong footing Leeds goalkeeper David Harvey.
The team in blue’s goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti, had side burns of such magnitude they required their own passport to leave the country. Something that would backfire on the England national team later that year when, as part of the squad, he was allowed to board the plane to Mexico.
1970 was the year I really started to pay attention to football. As a 7 year old, my introduction to the game was the FA Cup Final, the flamboyant World Cup winning Brazil side led by Carlos Alberto and my first ever visit to Elland Road.
Chelsea went on to win the replay 2-1 in extra time with possibly the worst ever FA Cup winning goal. This an inglorious glancing header by defender David Webb’s, which went in via his coiffured cows lick two yards from goal. The assist a 30 yard throw from the blues midfielder Ian Hutchinson.
Despite defeat, this was the start of my love for the club from the city of my birth. A fickle bedfellow whose capriciousness has brought me unbridled joy, as well as taken me to the depths of despair.
It was a relationship that has contributed to a 40+ years identity crisis and a burgeoning swear box. Despite this, I’ll never regret nailing the colour white to the football followers mast and feel blessed to have experienced this rollercoaster ride.
If memory serves me correct, there was far less physicality in drawn initial 1970 FA Cup Final at Wembley. Like the replay, I witnessed the match through a monochrome TV picture in the corner of our modest three bedroomed semi in Gateshead. Sitting with my parents and brother Ian, the atmosphere was tense.
Our Ian was particularly apprehensive; not about the football, moreover because he’d earlier broke an ornament on the fireplace when playing with a mini patchwork ball.
His nervousness born from the uncertainty of how much time he could buy himself with his flawed damage concealment strategy. He didn’t say it, but deep down he knew turning the ornament to hide the damage wasn’t a robust approach.
That afternoon, he’d hoped for at least 24 hours grace from a smacked arse, although I unhelpfully commented mum would spot it well before then.
She had an uncanny way of knowing about our misdemeanours; her bloodhound like senses ordinarily sniffing out broken china or cracked pottery from a 100 yards. Luckily for my bro, as the cup final kicked off her nose had not yet picked up the scent of the missing piece from the china flowers on the fireplace.
The first match was played on an uneven pitch, which was covered with more sand than a Blackpool donkey’s backside. This the result of the organiser (the FA?) deeming it a good idea to play the countries showcase final on a surface which had recently hosted the Horse of the Year show.
The 1970 FA Cup Final was my first experience of a pattern I’d become familiar with for the next five or six years. Leeds United, despite being the better team, ending undeservedly vanquished in domestic and European finals.
It wasn’t all negativity in those nostalgic times in the early 70s. The Fairs Cup (1971), FA Cup (1972) trophy wins, along with a victorious League Championship campaign (1974) contributing to me knowing this thing is for life……..
It was a case of till death us do part; through good times, bad times, David Harvey’s haircut and Peter Ridsdale’s goldfish.
As with all Leeds fans (as the song says) we’ve had our ups and downs.
That being said, though, through the bad times I don’t think I ever got as annoyed about a Whites result as my mum did late afternoon on Saturday 11th April 1970……. She went absolutely ballistic when she spotted the damage to her china fireplace ornament.
2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org