Leeds United: Clarke crowns Revie’s Whites champions

CHAMPIONSHIP FINISH: Allan Clarke's goal sealed the win over Ipswich Town.
CHAMPIONSHIP FINISH: Allan Clarke's goal sealed the win over Ipswich Town.
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Leeds United collected seven trophies during Don Revie’s 13-years as manager at Elland Road. Lee Sobot looks back through the YEP archives at one of the most poignant Whites fixtures.

UNITED’S victory over Ipswich Town on April 20, 1974 was ultimately the one that handed Don Revie his second first division championship as Leeds boss.

Not that Revie or the Whites knew that come that Saturday tea-time – the title was only clinched three days later when rivals Liverpool lost 1-0 at home to Arsenal.

With Liverpool drawing 0-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers the same day, the victory over Ipswich left United five points clear of the Reds – on 60 points compared to the Anfield outfit’s 55. Liverpool had three games left and, in the days of two points for a win, it meant the Merseysiders’ maximum haul was 61 points.

The Redmen therefore needed at least a draw from their midweek clash with the Gunners, but defeat meant it was mathematically impossible for them to catch Leeds.

In the event United also won their final game of the season – 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers courtesy of Allan Clarke’s goal in front of a jubilant Leeds away support at Loftus Road.

But it was the game before which offered the last Elland Road occasion of the season and United did not disappoint producing an exciting triumph over their East Anglian opponents in front of 44,015 fans.

Eddie Gray, whose last appearance in the first team was in September the previous year, made a surprise return to the team at the expense of Paul Madeley.

United went for the jugular from the off, attacking the ageing Scratching Shed, in use for the last time before demolition.

However, it was the visitors who nearly opened the scoring, Roger Osborne fluffing an easy header, but United thought they had taken an eighth-minute lead when Gordon McQueen headed home Peter Lorimer’s corner, only for referee Clive Baker to rule that the Scottish centre-back had fouled David Johnson.

The home despair was short-lived, though, as Leeds hit the front with a peach of a goal from Lorimer on 16 minutes.

Gray set United on the attack down the left and though his cross was cleared it fell only to Lorimer who had the options of Allan Clarke and Mick Jones in the middle.

Instead, the Scot unleashed a rising shot that gave 20-year-old loanee keeper Paul Cooper no chance as it flew into the top corner.

The strike had the Scratching Shed end in raptures and those fans were celebrating again six minutes later when United extended their lead.

Town’s Brian Talbot was adjudged to have handled outside the area and up stepped Lorimer for a free-kick which he rattled with venom. Cooper managed to stop the initial strike but the ball fell to Billy Bremner who showed his predatory instincts to dive forward and head into the net.

It looked like game over, but the visitors quickly pulled a goal back through Talbot and the sides exchanged chances before half-time brought the teams in with United 2-1 to the good.

Revie’s men were just 45 minutes away from glory but there were plenty more twists in the tale as the visitors netted a dramatic equaliser, through Bryan Hamilton, on 54 minutes to set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Ipswich then probed for an unlikely winner, Norman Hunter having to clear a goal-bound Osborne effort, but the hosts were back with 20 minutes left when a Paul Reaney cross was flicked on by Lorimer to Clarke who smashed home from close range.

And this time there was no pegging United back again, Clarke, Bremner and Trevor Cherry all booked for time-wasting but happy to gain a yellow in return for three priceless points.

Paul Heckingbottom.

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