One of the younger members of the Revie Glory Boys legends celebrates today – still three years away from his seventies, Lorimer was the tenderfoot of the team, making a League debut while still 15 years of age in September 1962. Apparently, his parents had been offered £5,000 as a hefty cash inducement (almost £75,000 in today’s money) to have the young Peter sign for an unscrupulous club based just outside Manchester, but Lorimer preferred Leeds and went on to enjoy a long and successful career at Elland Road, encompassing two spells with the club.
Despite his early start, Lorimer had to wait until 1966 to become a regular in Revie’s fine team. By the time he had become established, the young Scot had made a name for himself with his ferociously powerful shooting, the supposed velocity of his shot leading to the adoption of a terrace anthem especially for Lorimer “Ninety Miles an Hour”. It was said that one penalty kick actually registered a startling 107 mph, giving the goalkeeper dangerously little time to get out of the way.
In the 1967 FA Cup semi final against Chelsea, Lorimer had the misfortune to have a late equaliser chalked off by the referee, when it was decided that the Chelsea wall was not back the full distance before the United winger struck a cannonball free-kick into the Blues’ net. This was one of several bizarre refereeing decisions over the years which would conspire to label Leeds a “nearly club” – always the bridesmaids, never the bride. In fact, Lorimer and Leeds won every honour in the domestic game in a decade of dominance that saw them generally acknowledged as the finest English club side of all time. They picked up two Fairs Cups as well, and were never far out of the running for all competitions during that ten years at the top.
Lorimer won 21 caps for Scotland, appearing in the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany where he scored in a group game against Zaire. In 1975, he played in the pinnacle game of World club football, the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes in Paris. He scored a tremendous volley which appeared to put Leeds ahead, but the goal was dubiously disallowed after the referee consulted Bayern captain Franz Beckenbauer as well as his linesman. United went on to lose, controversially, 2-0.
Lorimer left Leeds to join Vancouver Whitecaps after a spell at York City in 1979, but returned to Elland Road to be the on-field leader for a young United side in the early eighties second division. During this second spell, Lorimer scored enough goals to surpass the record of John Charles, becoming the all-time record goal-scorer for Leeds United ending up with 238 goals from 676 appearances.
After retiring as a player, Lorimer suffered some comparatively hard times, but has bounced back to forge a career as a speaker, and also an ambassador for the club. His role in the Ken Bates administration led to him receiving some criticism from a section of support who felt that his views as expressed made him a mouthpiece for the then-owner – but Lorimer remains involved at Leeds after the Bates era has ended, frequently contributing to local media with his views on the club’s direction and the make-up and performance of the squad.
Lorimer is a man who has filled many positions in and around Leeds United, but it will be for his superb performances in the the great Leeds United team of the sixties and seventies that he will be remembered – especially that lethal shot. Happy birthday to Peter Lorimer – still a Leeds legend.