The Day the Leeds United Glory Trail Began – by Rob Atkinson

The first trophy for Revie's Boys

The first trophy for Revie’s Boys

Today was the day, 47 years ago, when the Leeds United glory trail started with victory over Arsenal in the League Cup Final at Wembley on March 2nd, 1968. It was a scrappy game between two sides not overly keen on each other – but it was settled by what was, literally, a dream of a goal.

The triumph of the Whites in the shadow of the twin towers that day marked the start of what was to be an honour-laden six years or so for Revie’s troops. In that time, they completed the domestic honours set with two League Titles, the FA Cup in 1972, and a Charity Shield. On foreign fields, they won two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups – as well as being robbed in the finals of the two other European competitions, as is copiously documented elsewhere. By the time Don Revie left for an ill-fated spell in charge of the England team, Leeds were indisputably the number one team in England; but their time at the top was done – the all-conquering squad, having matured together, was on the point of breaking up.

My tribute to the accepted first eleven of Revie’s genius squad is reproduced below. It’s one of three poems I’ve had published on and it makes specific reference to Terry Cooper‘s Wembley premonition. The Castleford lad, destined to be hailed as the best left-back on the planet at the World Cup of 1970, had dreamed for three successive nights of scoring the winner on that day so long ago.

When the dream came true, in the 18th minute of a dour encounter, there was a slight tinge of controversy. Arsenal ‘keeper Jim Furnell, backed by most of his team-mates, claimed that he had been impeded at a corner by Leeds’ Paul Madeley and Jack Charlton. But when the ball dropped twenty yards out, Cooper made a clean connection and cracked the ball into the back of the net for as good a Wembley winner as you could wish to see. After that, Leeds shut up shop (it’s known as “parking the bus” these days) and saw the match out to collect the first major silverware of the club’s history.

Thanks for the memories, Top Cat Cooper, Billy Bremner – and the rest of the boys, not forgetting The Don himself, of course. Happy days – Glory Days.

The Revie Boys

Sprake, the Viking, error-prone
Costly gaffes are too well-known
But brilliance too, in Budapest
Gritty show, Fairs Cup conquest
Outside the fold now, Judas jibes
Allegations, fixes, bribes

Reaney, swarthy, lithe and fine
Clears a rocket off the line
Always there to beat the best
Georgie, Greavsie and the rest
Speedy Reaney, right full back
Repelling every new attack

Top Cat Cooper, number three
Once a winger, then set free
From wide attacking, made his name
The best left back of World Cup fame
Scored at Wembley, League Cup dream
Got the winner for his team

Billy Bremner, black and blue
Red of hair, Leeds through and through
A tiny giant for the Whites
Semi-final appetites
Beat Man U, not once but twice
Billy’s goals, pearls of great price

Big Jack next, our own giraffe
World Cup winner, photograph
With brother Bobby, Wembley day
The lesser Charlton many say
Was Jack; but for the super Whites
He gave his all and hit the heights

Norman Hunter, hard but fair
Tackles ending in mid-air
Studs on shinpads, bone on bone
Take no prisoners, stand alone
With enemies strewn at his feet
Angelic Norm, that smile so sweet

Lorimer, the rocket shot
Lethal from the penalty spot
Lashed the ball from distance great
Fearsome pace he’d generate
90 miles an hour clocked
Keeper left confused and shocked

Clarkey next at number eight
A predator to emulate
The  greatest strikers anywhere
On the ground, or in the air
One chance at Wembley, snapped it up
Leeds United won the Cup

Mick Jones, the workhorse, brave and strong
Graft away the whole match long
But frequently a scorer brave
Defying all attempts to save –
A hat-trick blitzing poor Man U
Five-one, in nineteen seventy-two

The Irishman at number ten
Giles, a leader among men
Skill and strategy, world class
Struck a devastating pass
John and Billy, midfield twins
Hard as nails – for who dares, wins

Eddie “Last Waltz” Gray out wide
Beats three men in one sweet stride
Jinks and shimmies, deft of touch
Didn’t seem to matter much
Who might face him, come what may
Eddie beat him anyway

“Rolls Royce” Madeley, class and style
Dependable and versatile
Would walk into most other teams
But stayed to chase his glory dreams
For Leeds and England, servant true
Recognition overdue

Twelve great players, clad in white
Internationals, as of right
Ready to play, and battle too
Many the victories, losses few
Leeds United, Revie’s Boys
Strength and power, skill and poise

Left with just sweet memories now
But even critics must allow
A squad of many talents great
Where every man would pull his weight
Cut one and find the whole team bleeds
A club United; Super Leeds

19 responses to “The Day the Leeds United Glory Trail Began – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Great team, but you can´t leave out Paul Madeley. The heroes was 12.


  2. Question for you Rob in todays transfer market how much would the great Paul Madeley be worth. In my opinion the most complete footballer that,s played the game (priceless)



    • I always thought his own versatility counted against him. He’d be such an asset in today’s game, at the top, with all the demands of three or four competitions. If he could have made himself first choice in the Revie era, he’s have been worth any price you’d care to name. Today? Who would you compare him with?


  3. jim lister

    your description of the lads is brilliant, I specially like eddie last waltzgray I was team coach driver in the mid sixties to 19 74 I left after cloughie- got sacked.

    I loved all the lads but eddie was and still is my favourite.


  4. I have vivid memories of that day. One is of leaping around on the tightly packed terraces when TC scored, only to get this warm feeling on my leg. I looked down and this extremely drunk Leeds fan was sat there, pissing randomly. Another, stranger one – and I’ve no idea what I was doing – is of dragging my brother and a mate to see the Post Office Tower after arriving in London by train. It seemed a symbol of 60s modernity and I felt I should see it. It was closed when we got there. Great day, though – and interesting to see Jimmy Greenhoff in the pic. Terrific player who came back to haunt us with Stoke. I still don’t understand why Don sold him to Birmingham.


    • Smaller squads in those days. I think some were allowed to move on because too many were ahead of them – but Greenhoff was certainly one who got away.


  5. What a terrific poem that sums up so many beloved memories.
    Nearly cried!


  6. Mark benson

    Good piece rob them were the days! not got round to bobby collins poem yet? And isn’t that rod belfitt back row far right?


  7. I’m like you Jim , Eddie was and is my favourite too ,,,
    I was listening to Sniffer on made in leeds the other night and he said , and I quote , “if that little fat lad for man u is worth 300 grand a week then god knows what us lot would have been worth today”


  8. Mark benson

    Bobby collins a scotsman through and through
    taught young billy exactly what to do
    never give an inch
    always take a mile
    when the ref blows
    greet him with a smile.
    a lump of Scottish granite our leeds foundation was built on


  9. Enjoyed that a lot Rob, you captured it! But can you put a verse in for Rod Belfitt, as he’s in the photo…or am I being a bit of a pedant?


    • I’m not going to call you a pedant – but it’s the first XI with one sub for this particular effort. Messrs Belfitt, Bates et al will have to wait for another time 😉


  10. Another ex player who is asked to play many rolls for Man C James Millner.He never has a bad game .Just read the blog on millwall can,t get over the sewer rats having a go at your sad loss,treat them with the contempt they deserve FUCK EM ALL.


  11. Exile in Holland

    Sorry madman but calling millwall fans ” sewer rats” is in the words of Warnock ” an insult to the real sewer rats”.
    Great poem Rob, I was lucky enough to be standing behind the goal when sniffer scored the winning goal at Wembly,greatest emotional football moment of my life


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