Tag Archives: Peter Lorimer

Can Leeds United be the First Club Promoted Without Being Awarded a Single Penalty? – by Rob Atkinson

Lash Lorimer

Peter Lorimer demonstrates his penalty technique – from the days when we used to get them

Assuming Leeds United are not awarded a penalty at the DW Stadium during their televised meeting with Wigan Athletic on Sunday (and it’s a fair assumption, as we have seen this season, when some pretty good claims have been ignored) then the Whites will have clocked up 54 league matches without getting a single spot kick. In that time, many an obvious penalty has been refused United and, of the nine awarded against them, there have been some right stinkers, such as the ones given to Stoke and Brentford since the start of the current campaign.

This has now become quite a story in various media, and it makes you wonder what effect it might have on the referees and other officials in charge of United’s games going forward. My guess is that it will simply steel their resolve; no self-respecting, God-fearing, righteously Leeds-hating referee wants to be seen as bowing to external pressure, after all. So it could be a while yet before Leeds get a penalty, and when they do, Pablo Hernandez will probably miss it (as he did our last one, sometime around the Napoleonic Wars).

So – assuming that the record continues – could we actually go a whole league season without one single penalty kick? That’s not unknown, actually, at least in the Premier League, which is the only division for which I’ve seen these statistics. It’s still quite rare, though, and I honestly do wonder whether, in the Championship, with its higher incidence of what we may term “agricultural defending”, it’s really feasible that a club can actually draw a blank for the whole campaign. But I stand to be corrected and, as ever, I welcome any informed input.

Even if any team has previously played a second tier campaign without even one penalty, I’d have serious doubts over whether that team would have managed to be promoted. Any club looked on so unfavourably by match officials must surely feel as though its card is well and truly marked, especially if they keep on getting dodgy penalties awarded against them. That’s been the Leeds United experience so far this term – and yet, despite the additional problem of injuries to key personnel, the Whites ride high in the table, and will look forward to kicking on when (if) the treatment room gets a little less busy.

Leeds have shown every sign so far that, at their best, they don’t need refereeing generosity (or even common sense) in order to win Championship matches. They’ve managed to stay right up there, even in spite of some appalling decisions against them. So – assuming I’m correct to say that no team has ever been promoted without at least one penalty being given to them – could Leeds United be the first to achieve such a difficult challenge?

I actually think that United really could see their penalty drought extend to cover the whole season, despite the fact that we have tricky players who can only be stopped by chopping them down – and yet I remain optimistic of success, hopefully via the automatic route. Because, as well as the “no penalties for you, Leeds” rule, there’s also the well-established law that United just don’t do play-offs. So it’s top two or bust for us, penalties notwithstanding.

I’d really like to know if this would be a first, and I might even check the odds and have a moderate punt on it. But, if any friendly Statto out there knows better, and can prove that I’m barking up the wrong tree, and that it’s all been done before – then, please, let me know. Ideally before I part with any of my brass to Big Bad Bert the Bent Bookie. Thank you.

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41 Years Ago Today: Leeds Mugged by Ref & Kaiser in European Cup Final – by Rob Atkinson

Yorath avoids a red card - but nothing else went right for Leeds United

Yorath avoids a red card – but nothing else went right for Leeds United

The Great European Cup Final Robbery occurred exactly forty=one years ago today – half a lifetime’s distance in the past – and yet this, more than just about any other of the many injustices suffered by that legendary team, still sticks in the collective craw of Leeds United fans, many of whom weren’t even born on that balmy May night so long ago. It still rankles with us, to the extent that it defines how we feel about our much sinned-against club to this day. So, 41 years on, we still sing “We are the Champions, Champions of Europe” in ritual protest – but in our hearts, believing, knowing it to be true.

The story of this match may be summed up in a series of snapshots; incidents that told us, ever more clearly as the game progressed, which way the wind was blowing. There was a pair of blatant penalty shouts in the first half, the guilty man on both occasions being Franz “der Kaiser” BeckenbauerFirst he handled obviously and unmissably in the area, and then followed that up by perpetrating an illegal “scissors” tackle on Allan Clarke, inside the box on the left – you wondered how anyone could possibly fail to give either decision, unless they were irretrievably, foully bent. But the corkscrew-straight Michel Kitabdjian unblushingly neglected his duty on both occasions, earning himself a permanent place in every Leeds fan’s Little Black Book.

Before these vital non-decisions, Terry Yorath – the first Welshman to play in Europe’s biggest match, before Gareth Bale was even a twinkle in his dad’s eye – had sailed into Bayern’s Björn Andersson in what team-mate Uli Hoeness described as “the most brutal foul I think I have ever seen”. The only question arising out of that first period of play was whether Leeds United’s card was marked by the ref from the time of that 4th minute assault by Yorath – or whether, indeed, the matter was decided long before kick off. 

Lorimer's greatest goal that never was

Lorimer’s greatest goal that never was

Leeds were completely outplaying Bayern, drawing sympathy even from the English TV commentator who was bemoaning the lack of a more even contest. Then, in the second half, the ball fell perfectly for Peter Lorimer just outside the Bayern penalty area. Lorimer timed his volley superbly, and it flew into the net, beating Sepp Maier all ends up. Immediately, all was confusion as the goal seemed to be given, until Beckenbauer urgently directed the ref to speak to his linesman. More confusion – and, scandalously, the goal was disallowed. Bayern scored twice against a demoralised Leeds near the end, and the European Cup was snatched from the hands of Revie’s old guard; the triumph that was to crown their magnificent careers torn away in the most dubious fashion imaginable.

It was the second of a hat-trick of sketchy triumphs for Bayern from 1974-76, at a time when the German influence in UEFA was as strong as that of the Italians (whose Milan side had taken the Cup Winners Cup from Leeds in an even more bent match two years earlier) – and far, far stronger than that of the unpopular English. This defeat of a gallant and far superior on the night United side was probably the luckiest Munich victory of the three – but a year before, they’d been on the point of losing to Atlético Madrid before a last-gasp equaliser enabled them to win in a one-sided replay. And, in 1976, Bayern were outplayed by St Etienne, but managed somehow to prevail for a third year on the trot.

Bremner in disbelief after Leeds' "goal" chalked off

Bremner disbelieving after Leeds’ “goal” chalked off

Leeds fans will always look at the collection of stars emblazoned arrogantly over the Bayern badge – and we will always say: one of those should have been ours. May 28 1975 was one of those pivotal nights in United’s history and, as happened frankly far too often, things turned against us – setting us on the low road when we should have been triumphantly plotting a course onwards and upwards. Things were never the same for Leeds United afterwards; Johnny Giles played his last game in a white shirt that night, which signalled the start of the break-up process, under the continuing stewardship of Jimmy Armfield, for Don Revie’s peerless Super Leeds team. How different things might have been – but that’s the story of our great club’s history; fortune has rarely smiled upon us and justice has usually gone AWOL at the crucial moments.

So it was then, so it has been ever since and so, doubtless, it will continue to be for Leeds – who always seem to cop for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to a pitilessly unfair degree. Still, that’s why we love ’em, and that’s why we so relish the hate of others. But if there could have been one night when things went right – when we actually managed once to get our just deserts – then really it should have been that evening in the Parc des Princes in May 1975. Not for me, not for you – but chiefly for those white-shirted heroes who had waited so long to be acknowledged as the best in Europe, and who had proved it by outplaying the favourites – before being gruesomely cheated yet again.

Leeds United – Champions of Europe. We all know we have a right to sing that song, loud and proud. Long may it continue to serve as a reminder of the night that the “Der Kaiser & Kitabdjian” double-act robbed The Greatest of their rightful crown.

Lorimer Plea Shows Cellino May Be Bluffing Over Leeds United Sale   –   by Rob Atkinson

Cellino: thanks for the endorsement, Lash

Cellino: thanks for the endorsement, Lash

It’s been another up and down week on the crazy roller-coaster ride that is modern-day Leeds United. Down in the dumps last Thurday with an abject defeat live on Sky to a Blackburn Rovers side that had it all too humiliatingly easy. Then an upswing, with embarrassing owner Cellino indicating he’d had enough (you’ve had enough, Massimo? How do you think we feel?) and was prepared to sell. 

Then it was a gradual upswing of wonder and optimism, with talk of fan ownership and Gladiatorial involvement from a Leeds fan of Maximus commitment and credibility. The feel-good factor peaked with the end of an eight month winless run at Elland Road and, for the first time in 32 years, a home ground slaying of the Welsh Drags. It was only one little 1-0 win over nobody much, but young Alex Mowatt‘s goal was a snorter and, all of a sudden, we were all feeling unaccountably pleased with life in the Leeds United universe. 

And then – the inevitable plummet back towards confusion and disappointment as Cellino proved once again that he’s more towards the compulsive Billy Liar end of the scale than the heroic Billy Bremner end. Having confirmed last week that he would sell to the fans group – “Who else would I sell to?” – il Duce now feels that mere supporters are like kids in a sweetshop, not serous buyers. That’s a step up from “morons”, I suppose, but still not exactly the epitome of respect. Still, most of us know what Cellino is all about by now, and would doubt his word if he confided to us that night follows day. Which brings into question the integrity of his assurance that Leeds is now up for sale. On that front, there may be trouble – and deep, frustrating disappointment – ahead. 

Why else would long-standing Leeds United top-brass mouthpiece Peter Lorimer be ruminating in the press that Cellino can still succeed “if given time”? Lorimer is presumably closer to the inner workings of that Machiavellian mind than most of us mere fans – so why would he be talking up the prospects should Cellino retain control, when the owner publicly maintains he’s selling up for reasons of demoralisation and shrunken balls?

Could it be, fellow Leeds sufferers, that we are having our heads messed with once again? Is Cellino yet again saying x whilst plotting y – and is Lorimer the poor sap being used as a one man Ministry of Disinformation? It wouldn’t be a massive surprise – but after half a dozen abortive attempts to find a football man who can work with a mad Italian fraudster, a promised “beautiful season” turning hideously ugly before our horrified eyes – and the general, sickening, lurch up and more often down of that Damned United roller-coaster – the United support can be expected to be very, very cross if they find they’ve been casually manked about with yet again. 

And yet what can we do? The vision of fan ownership turns out to be the mirage some of us foresaw, the relentless hiring and firing has become a sickening pattern, our club is held as a laughing stock by fans of clubs who should be knuckling their foreheads and addressing us as “Sir”. If an end is in sight to all of that, then it would be a worthy outcome in itself. But I have this sneaking feeling that the Cellino ego-trip has a while to run yet. Sadly, he might not be finished with us any time soon. 

That all sounds distressingly cynical and I hope I’m wrong. But, when the pirate captain of the not-so-good ship Nélie is saying one thing, while on his shoulder, Peter the Parrot is squawking quite another, then I feel that there is good cause to be both alarmed and disbelieving. That long-overdue win over Cardiff might just have been interpreted by the owner as a green light to carry on – with Lorimer smoothing the path. 

Please, please – let me be back in a short while holding my hands up and admitting I read it all wrong. Let this nightmare be over soon – so that we can lurch wearily on to the next one.

Cover Your Goolies, Lads! Lash Lorimer is Back on the Ball – by Rob Atkinson

90 miles an hour

90 miles an hour

One of the most distressing things about being a Leeds United fan over the past decade or so has been to witness former heroes not exactly covering themselves in glory as, one after another, they’ve been wheeled out by local and national media to give their opinions or reactions to the ups and downs of the roller-coaster Elland Road soap opera. Even erstwhile midfield maestro Johnny Giles was at it recently, venturing into print to savage the man many see as Leeds United’s saviour, Massimo Cellino.

But perhaps the biggest let-down was the apparent disintegration of the legend that was Peter Lorimer as he seemed to be reduced from his godlike status as Mr Ninety Miles per Hour into a yes man for the then chairman and despot Ken Bates. However angry the fans got over Bates and his loathsome little tricks, Lorimer always seemed to be there, trying to pour oil on troubled waters, seeking to portray Bates as a positive factor around LS11. We weren’t fooled, and Lorimer’s pedestal crumbled into dust as he was perceived more and more as Papa Smurf’s creature.

And yet today, we have had the clearest sign to date that maybe Lash is back to something like his old form, blasting howitzer-like missiles at our enemies rather than attempting to persuade folk of Ken’s essential cuddliness. Lorimer’s article in Thursday’s Yorkshire Evening Post showed an appreciation of the fears so many Leeds fans feel at this latest crass decision by the Football League buffoons against il Presidente Cellino. The piece is full of good sense and, in a very welcome return to the old-style Leeds United siege complex, Lorimer also reflects on the historical fact that the League have taken every opportunity over the past half-century to berate, impede and generally get in the way of the Elland Road club. Peter certainly doesn’t pull his punches whatever the target, and more than one rocket shot is directed at the very vitals of those bastions of the Press who seem to have it in for the Whites.

Lorimer makes it clear that he has no time for any part of the Fourth Estate with its knife into Leeds. “For many years now,” says Lash, “I’ve refused to buy certain newspapers because in my opinion, they push an anti-Leeds agenda. They seem to take great joy for having a go at us. I’m not naming names but I think they know who they are.” I think we all do, Lash.

The former Leeds hero is clear in his own mind that Big Mass will not be taking the League’s machinations lying down. “Knowing what I do about the man, I expect Massimo to fight this move. I don’t see him walking away – not least because whatever happens, he’s allowed to regain control of the club in March. I think it’s safe to say that he’s finding out that Leeds aren’t the most popular club in the world (away from their own supporters, of course) and he must be pretty bemused by the negative attention we get.” This is classic stuff, the sort of opinionated stance you might expect from any committed Leeds fan, but all the more punchy and effective coming as it does from one of Revie’s Super Leeds Supermen. It’s the sort of thing, this blog would venture to suggest, that might well see an old hero’s reputation and status restored to him, and not before time. Lorimer is speaking for many, many United fans in this latest article; at long last he appears to be on the right side of the argument.

The Evening Post piece ends with our former Number 7 striking an ominous note for United. Reflecting on the decades-long struggle and war of attrition between Leeds and the game’s authorities, he concludes: “It was like this when I was a player and it never seems to change – when the opportunity to stick the boot in comes, there’s always someone waiting to take it. This time it’s the Football League’s turn.”

That’s a forbidding final phrase. But Lorimer may just have struck the first blow on behalf of our old heroes towards fighting back against those in the corridors of power who so devoutly wish to “stick the boot in”. The importance of a legend saying what the fanbase is thinking can hardly be over-stated. People listen; the fans feel vindicated; resistance and protest could thus be galvanised. A protest is planned for January 6th between 10 am and 12 noon outside the Football League offices in Preston. Several hundred Leeds fans are already promising to attend, Lancashire police are aware and media interest is growing. Who’s to say there won’t be a banner advertising the metaphorical shooting prowess of Peter “Lash” Lorimer at such an event?

After all, if the Cannonball Man himself really is back onside, then his could be a powerful voice raised against the pallid mandarins of the League who seem so arrogantly convinced of their own case, in defiance of all evidence to the contrary. Maybe it really is the Football League’s turn now; to suffer as Leeds United have suffered for a half a century. Cellino can be counted upon to put up firm resistance in his own style, the fans can be counted upon to stand behind him in numbers. Maybe now, at last, we can also rely upon the old guard, the old Leeds United heroes – and Peter Lorimer might just have lit the blue touchpaper on that particular rocket. It could with undeniable justice be aimed right up the self-satisfied backsides of those clueless gentlemen of the League.

Are you listening, Johnny Giles?

NB: Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything would like to make it clear to female readers and lady supporters of Leeds United everywhere that this article does not imply either disrespect or disregard for the proportion of the Leeds fanbase who lack the physical attribute of goolies. Goolies in this context should be taken in an entirely symbolic sense; please be assured that this blogger is 100% respectful of the women in the Leeds United family – and he certainly does not wish to get on your tits.

Two Days On, Lorimer Backs This Blog in Leeds’ Need for Cellino – by Rob Atkinson

Justice, or a gun to the head?

Justice, or a gun to the head?

On Monday, the Football League took a decisive step towards killing its biggest, most celebrated and famous member club by refusing to ratify the takeover of Leeds United by Massimo Cellino.  That day I posted a rant, explaining lucidly exactly what I thought of the League – 125 years old last year and exactly as senile as that might lead you to expect.

On Tuesday I wrote a more measured piece, arguing that, even if the League might have been technically, legally within their rights on the evidence before them, any workable set of regulations should incorporate an element of discretion – so that foolish and damaging outcomes would not necessarily be reached in the blinkered cause of absolute rectitude.

Lash

Lorimer – hero?

Today, Peter Lorimer, one-time United hero and man of many faces, has written in the Evening Post, making precisely that last point.  Lorimer is a Leeds Legend and, as such, it’s to be hoped that people will listen to him.  I’m just relieved that I’m not the only one arguing for common-sense over slavish adherence to regulations.

Of course there is now an appeal pending, led by Cellino’s lawyers and – one presumes – arguing that the League’s decision was not even technically correct.  The grounds for such an argument will be couched in legal terms and will deal with esoteric points of law; that’s the way these cookies crumble.  But I would hope that, on the appeal panel, there might be one person of such wisdom as to look above and beyond what is legally right and proper – and examine the pragmatic face of this sorry saga.  In other words, maybe they’ll look at the real-life import of whatever technical irregularity Cellino or his people have permitted to happen.

Maybe they’ll ask themselves why somebody, with over a billion Euros of capital and over two hundred million in annual income, would seek to avoid an amount of duty that represents the merest of small change to a man of such fabulous wealth. Perhaps they will look at the state of Leeds United, with odious creatures from dank and forgotten swamps now slithering around it, helpless without an injection of lifeblood to avoid being consumed by the mire.  Could they even consider the interests of thousands upon thousands of lifetime supporters, for whom Leeds United means almost literally everything outside of family, home and hearth?

You would hope so, you would very much hope so – after all, any appeal panel would be more independently constituted than the League’s own set of self-important, self-interested buffoons, and would even include a legally-qualified member, maybe a QC.

Any pragmatic common-sense approach to this issue could have only one outcome.  Cellino – about whom it has never been shown he has any malign intent towards football clubs he owns – should be welcomed with open arms and just the merest whisper of caution: “We’ll be keeping our eye on you, old son. Don’t screw up.”  This would at least have the effect of dragging Leeds United away from the precipice edge at which they now perilously teeter. It would shine a light into the lives of thousands who are, right now, in actual, genuine despair at the state of the club they love.  It would protect the income streams of many of Leeds’ fellow clubs, who rely to a large degree upon the annual invasion of the best support in the country and the money those fabulous fans spend in following their team.

The alternative route – the League’s own solution of identifying a technical, legal sticking-point, and going blindly with that – would only result in the farcical, self-defeating situation that applies right now.  A suitable parable might be that of a priest, walking beside a lake in which a man is floundering, unable to swim.  There is a lifebelt just out of reach – but instead of throwing it to the doomed man, the priest examines it, and finds it to be of manufacture in a country of a different religion.  “Throw me the lifebelt, Father!” yells the struggling man.  The priest considers him sadly. “I’m sorry, my son,” he says, “this lifebelt has not been blessed and is therefore sinful.  I would be endangering your immortal soul – I’m sorry, but I have to throw it away.” “But Father, I’ll die!” cries the sinking man, not waving but drowning.  “I regret, my son, I regret – but this is how it has to be,” says the priest, throwing the lifebelt away behind him and moving on.  The poor man duly drowns, but the priest is able to reassure himself he did the right thing, by his own lights – and he is sure the dead man’s family will understand.

Will common-sense eventually prevail?  It must rest on a knife-edge.  But, now that a louder voice has taken up the call, perhaps the message will spread more widely and perhaps it will find a sympathetic ear or two, connected to a brain that can actually reason and think for itself – instead of simply seeing things in bald, legally-based black and white.  On this faint hope will depend the question of whether Leeds United might be thrown a lifebelt, or instead be left to drown.

Get ’em told, Lash.  You have a chance to redeem yourself after a few less-than-glorious episodes during the Bates years.  Get out there and spread the message, make us proud of you once again as we were in those ninety miles an hour days of yore.  The way things are now, we need you even more now than we did back in that glory, glory time.

Happy Birthday “Lash” Lorimer, Leeds United Legend 67 Today – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Lorimer in action for Leeds United

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.