Peter Lorimer obituary: Leeds United's record scorer with one of hardest shots in football who won it all

PETER Lorimer - the little boy from Broughty Ferry who scored 176 goals in a single season of junior football - grew up to score 238 for Leeds United as an attacking midfielder.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 10:22 am
Updated Saturday, 20th March 2021, 10:22 am

Lorimer's nicknames said it all about his reputation and ability as a goalscorer.

Whites fans called him 'Lash' and 'Hotshot' because he could, to put it mildly, strike a ball very well indeed.

Legend has it he broke a goalkeeper's fingers with a 20-yard free-kick as a schoolboy, playing for Stobswell against Linlathen at Caird Park.

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CLASS ACT: Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer during training in July 1969. Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

As the 1972/73 Barratt football card noted: "Peter had one of the hardest shots in football and scores 'impossible' goals."

"The purest striker of a ball I’ve ever seen," said Eddie Gray of his fellow Scottish Revie Boy.

And the thunderous shots that left Lorimer's boot brought he and Leeds United glory.

He won First Division titles in 1969 and 1974, the FA Cup in '72 and a pair of Inter-cities Fairs Cups, along with a League Cup and Charity Shield.

There were runners-up medals for almost every trophy, too. Lorimer, who had scored a vital away goal against Barcelona in the semi-final of the European Cup in 1975, had a trademark goal controversially disallowed in the final against Bayern Munich as Leeds lost 2-0.

Lorimer became a man at Elland Road but made his debut against Southampton in December 1962 as a 15-year-old boy.

The last game of his first spell as a White came in October 1978, by which time he had earned legendary status.

He re-signed for a further two years in 1983 and scored 19 goals to cement his position as the club's all-time leading goalscorer, with a record that may never be broken.

It was Don Revie who signed Lorimer after travelling in person to Dundee to meet the player and his family and convince them that LS11 and not Old Trafford was the right place for him to learn his trade.

The signing took place there and then in the family front room.

"Manchester United offered my parents £5,000 but with Revie my parents could see he had a plan and was genuinely trying to build something," said Lorimer.

"Eddie Gray didn’t even know where Leeds was when Don Revie went to his door but he had a great skill of being able to sit with people, talk to them and convince them that something big was going to happen with Leeds United – and it did.”

Nineteen goals from 45 appearances in his first season of regular football announced his arrival in English football as an attacker to be feared.

It was the first of 11 straight campaigns in which Leeds' number seven hit double figures.

He scored four international goals in 21 appearances for his native Scotland and played in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, where he shone in a goalless first round draw with Brazil.

The shot he was known for very nearly gave the Scots a shock lead, Emerson Leao just about tipping a 40-yard free-kick over the Brazilian crossbar.

He cherished his international involvement.

"I never missed a Scotland game through choice and I’m pleased that I didn’t," he said.

"I wanted every cap that was offered to me. You never get that time back and it’s always dangerous to assume that you’ll be asked twice if you say no once."

Lorimer was one of several Scots who formed a huge part of Leeds' success.

Elland Road's contingent from north of the border, known as the Scottish Mafia, included Gordon McQueen, Billy Bremner, Gray, Joe Jordan and Lorimer, all of whom have since been inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

They shared a fierce collective national pride and famously expressed it in a short sided training game against their English counterparts at Leeds, that quickly became a pitched battle.

"Within a few minutes, Don realised he was making a big mistake as the tackles were flying in and he had to cancel straightaway or else he knew there would be trouble," said Lorimer.

"Although we were great team-mates and friends, the rivalry came to the fore and Don had to call time after a couple of minutes of the match – otherwise he would have ended up with injured players.

"Our team alone had six or seven and all the big clubs such as Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United had at least two or three Scottish players. So the day-to-day rivalry was there."

When he first left Elland Road, during Jimmy Adamson's reign as manager, Lorimer - with every major English honour achieved - took his shooting boots on tour, spending time with Toronto Blizzard, Vancouver Whitecaps, Cape Town City, University College Dublin and York City.

But he returned home in 1983 to play for former team-mate Gray, now manager at Elland Road.

In October 1985 another Revie Boy was in charge of the Whites and it was Bremner who effectively retired 38-year-old Lorimer.

His 676th and final appearance for Leeds was on October 27 in a 3-0 defeat at Barnsley.

Like many of the characters who put Leeds at the pinnacle of club football in their most glorious era, Lorimer never strayed too far from Elland Road when his playing days were done.

He ran the Commercial Inn at Holbeck, wrote a column for the YEP and acted as a BBC Radio Leeds pundit.

There was boardroom involvement too, during one of the club's turbulent spells.

He, along with regular golfing partner Gray, always retained a belief Leeds could once again exist at the very top of the domestic game.

“Eddie Gray is another who goes to every game. We want to see Leeds United back in the Premier League and a return to the good days. We have the capability. We have a great big city, we’re a one-club city," he said.

“We’ve got a lot of things going for us. We’ve still got a massive fanbase worldwide."

Lorimer lived to see his wish come true. Leeds are back in the top flight this season and his goals, lashings of them, helped build the fanbase that is relishing every moment.

Another giant has departed but Leeds United continue to stand on his shoulders.

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Thank you Laura Collins