IF YOU handed a rookie visiting goalkeeper a list of venues where you could elect to make your first-team debut, chances are that Elland Road would not figure very highly on that list.
Back in the seventies, it was an imposing and raucous citadel. Just ask young Scottish goalkeeper Drew Brand who strode out into the arena with Everton 40 years ago.
The date was November 29, 1975 with the youth international unwittingly propelled into the limelight for the Merseysiders after Dave Lawson failed a late fitness test on a problematic thigh injury.
With Welsh international Dai Davies also on the sidelines with a finger injury, Brand was handed a baptism of fire and it proved to be a fateful afternoon that the youngster wouldn’t forget with United exposing his uncertainties and the callowness of youth. Leeds were the beneficiaries with a handsome 5-2 win representing their fourth league win on the spin at Elland Road, a venue where only Liverpool and Manchester United had triumphed thus far in the league in 1975-76.
Edinburgh-born Brand had signed professional forms for Everton only two weeks earlier and he was the second player to make his debut for Billy Bingham’s Toffees, with the other being Northern Ireland international midfielder Bryan Hamilton, who had signed in a £40,000 transfer from Ipswich Town in the midweek.
While the injury to Lawson in the Everton ranks caused a bit of consternation, the sense of ease in the home dressing room was far more considerable.
Billy Bremner, Paul Madeley and Terry Yorath all passed late fitness tests and started, while it was a milestone afternoon for Joe Jordan, who was also passed fit to make his seasonal bow – with the Scot replacing young Welshman Carl Harris on the bench.
It did not take long for Leeds to ensure that Brand’s nerves were fraying that little bit more after drawing first blood just past the quarter-of-an-hour mark.
Some cute work in the defensive wall from Eddie Gray and Duncan McKenzie created a gap that was exploited to the full by Peter Lorimer, who fired low and hard past Brand, with the ball taking a deflection off Blues defender Steve Seargeant.
United then put themselves comfortably en route to their seventh home league success of the campaign with a second on 32 minutes. Paul Reaney and Yorath did the spadework to set up Allan Clarke, who fired home past Brand from the edge of the box to leave the Merseysiders, who headed into the game reeling after a League Cup exit at Notts County, with it all to do.
That said, Bingham’s men did manage to secure a toehold back into proceedings in bizarre fashion two minutes before the break.
It came via the penalty spot, courtesy of a twice-taken spot-kick from Dave Clements after Paul Madeley was penalised for a foul on George Telfer.
But Northern Irishman Clements, who joined Everton from Sheffield Wednesday, almost immediately turned villain to help Leeds restore their two-goal cushion moments before the interval.
The Larne-born player incurred the wrath of referee Ken Burns by felling Lorimer and the Scottish marksmen duly fired past compatriot Brand to make it 3-1 - to reach double figures for the campaign.
On the restart, United made the points safe when Brand, having an undistinguished afternoon, could not negotiate Yorath’s cross and following a goalmouth scramble, Eddie Gray was on hand to net his first goal of the season from close in.
Leeds’ account was sealed by Clarke with 20 minutes to go in front of a crowd of 30,879 – the overwhelming majority of whom were certainly enjoying proceedings.
It was Clarke’s eighth goal of the season, seven of which had arrived on home soil.
Bob Latchford struck an 85th-minute consolation for the visitors, but the afternoon belonged to Leeds, while Brand promptly faded into lower-division obscurity with the likes of Crewe, Hereford, Wrexham and Blackpool.
The win saw Jimmy Armfield’s side set fair in fifth spot in the table, three points behind leaders Derby County, but with a game in hand.
Leeds United: Harvey; Reaney, F Gray; Bremner, Madeley, Cherry; Lorimer, Clarke, McKenzie, Yorath (Jordan), E Gray.