Peter Lorimer pivotal in creating Leeds United's global appeal to Scandinavia and far beyond
ONE of the most memorable years in Leeds United’s history has been cruel as well as kind.
Kind in the sense of providing sheer ecstasy and elation at returning to the Premier League after a yearning 16-year wait.
But cruel in the sense of promotion being sealed without some of the club’s legends being able to experience it.
First the club lost Norman Hunter last April after the former hard-man defender ultimately lost his last battle against coronavirus.
Just another two weeks later, another star of the Don Revie era passed away in Trevor Cherry.
As part of the cruellest of spells off the pitch, United then had to wave farewell to their record appearance holder later as Jack Charlton passed away less than three months in July.
Now, another of their former team mates has joined them in the sky after United’s all-time record goalscorer, Peter Lorimer, lost his long-term battle with illness this weekend.
Lorimer, Charlton, Cherry, Hunter, all gone within the space of a year.
As was the case with his fellow United legends, beautiful tributes flooded in from all over the globe for the man with one of the hardest shots in football.
Former Whites boss Simon Grayson put it perfectly: “Terrible news that Leeds United have lost another legend of the club,” he said.
“That will be some team looking down on us that we’ve lost this last year or so.”
If there’s a league in heaven, Leeds will be top, just like Don Revie’s Whites were when it mattered most in 1969 and 1974 and throughout most of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Nearly five decades later, Marcelo Bielsa’s modern day bunch aren’t bad either.
They even showed they can even win in London, with the capital curse finally banished following Friday night’s 2-1 victory at Fulham - a victory that almost certainly seals United’s place in the top division.
It is a division in which Lorimer excelled and, just hours after fans were celebrating victory at Craven Cottage, the desperate news that Lorimer had passed away broke the following morning.
This weekend’s events typify United’s last year; joy followed by pain.
It is both cruel and kind and yet also a reminder of what Leeds United has become and of the sheer size of the club and its fan base, something Lorimer was instrumental in creating.
It didn’t take Dundee-born Lorimer long to build up his own army of admirers for his talents as a footballer.
When it comes to records, Lorimer holds two of the best of them as the club’s youngest ever player having made his Whites debut against Southampton in 1962 at the age of 15.
By the time he had eventually retired, Lorimer had also become the club’s all time record goalscorer with an amazing 238 goals from 705 appearances.
Most of them were absolutely leathered home by a player whose strikes were said to fly in at around 90 miles an hour, hence the nicknames Lash, Hotshot and Thunderboots.
Revie said that Lorimer hit the ball so hard that he stopped the inside forward shooting at full power in training so as not to risk injury.
Alongside the likes of Hunter, Charlton and Cherry, it led to Leeds winning just about everything the game had to offer - two league titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Charity Shield. Lorimer helped them win the lot.
There ought to have been a European Cup too thanks to Lorimer’s goal in Paris in the 1975 final against Bayern Munich which was controversially ruled out for offside but fans know who the real champions of Europe were.
When Lorimer’s playing days were finished, the former Scotland international was giving something back as a club ambassador.
“You look at the length of his career, he played for a long, long time and he will be sorely missed and by all the Leeds United fans,” said Eddie Gray.
“In later years he was an ambassador for the football club and he got on well with everybody.
"He had a pub and every Saturday on a home game it was full with people from Scandinavia.
"He was president of the Leeds United Supporters Club of Scandinavia and they used to drink in the pub.”
Those fans will have been raising a glass to Peter this weekend and not just in Scandinavia, all around the world.
He, after all, was one of the main men in spreading the Leeds United message that far.
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Thank you Laura Collins