Leeds United Nostalgia: Whites put in ‘giant’ display to sink Juventus in 1971 Fairs Cup final

The rumour is that a football match was played this weekend. And you’d have had to have been hiding in a cave to miss it.

Billy Bremner lifts the Inter-City Fairs Cup in 1971 following Leeds United's victory over Juventus on away goals in the final.
Billy Bremner lifts the Inter-City Fairs Cup in 1971 following Leeds United's victory over Juventus on away goals in the final.
Juventus' Fabio Capello competes for a header during the 1971 Inter-City Fairs Cup final second leg at Elland Road.

With a meandering build-up and only the start of the cricket World Cup to serve as a distraction last week, every sports page, every bulletin, every bend of a radio wave ensured Jurgen Klopp and co were unable to bob out to do the weekly big-shop without a dose of yellow ticker-tape treatment.

The advent of social media has delivered a need for content even thirstier than that of the 24-hour sports news channels, and with features such as BT Sport’s ‘No Filter UCL’ showcasing every hamstring stretch and motivational war-cry, supporters of Liverpool and Tottenham Hostspur should consider themselves dangerously refreshed.

It’s a reality at odds with the experience of Leeds United supporters during the second leg of the 1971 Inter-City Fairs Cup final, who went parched as the FA refused permission to broadcast a second of the Whites’ triumph.

Allan Clarke celebrates scoring his goal in the second leg of the Inter-City Fairs Cup final in 1971.

It was 48 years ago today that Don Revie’s sweat-soaked troops became the last-ever winners of the competition after a battling 1-1 draw with Italian giants Juventus saw them lift the trophy via the away goal rule.

Having already televised the Wembley-based European Cup final between Ajax and Panathinaikos earlier that week, an FA spokesperson said: “As far as we are concerned there is no live showing of the Fairs Cup final.

“We have told Leeds of our decision and that is final. Also, there will be no highlights of the match televised on Thursday evening. One live football match on television a week is enough.”

Second-tier Leeds United played on television 24 times last season. How times have changed.

A mean Juventus side containing the likes of Helmut Haller and one Fabio Capello had been hooked in a 2-2 draw over in Turin, but the nature of Leeds’ sinewed 1-1 win rendered it even more impressive.

Allan Clarke’s 12th-minute strike put them into the ascendancy, but it was when pocket rocket Pietro Anastasi levelled up the match eight minutes later that the home side showed their undoubted class.

They were bigger, stronger and fitter than their trophy-laden counterparts. As the match went on and the heat took hold, it became clear that Leeds United wanted it more.

Chances fell to Haller and handful forward Roberto Battega, but in Jack Charlton Leeds had defender to build a wall around. The big centre-half produced one of the displays of his decorated career, along with Terry Cooper, and as time ticked on the Leeds back line grew taller still.

One newspaper report described them as ‘giants’ at the final whistle.

Thanks to the powers that be, only 42,000 supporters saw Billy Bremner lift that trophy, though grainy YouTube footage remains.

Don Revie said the run Leeds had to contend with put their triumph up there with the grandest European stage: “Although Juventus are a world class side I thought my lads showed their character to win through.

“I have always said that the Fairs Cup is almost as difficult to win as the European Cup, and I saw no reason to change my mind this season. When you play sides of the calibre of Dynamo Dresden, Liverpool and Juventus, how can it be easy?”