The Leeds United cup triumph that proved big catalyst under Don Revie

LEEDS United began and ultimately ended what was their 61st League Cup assault this week.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 20th September 2020, 4:45 pm

The cup tournament began in the 1960-61 season when the Whites reached the fourth round, the furthest United got in the competition’s first seven years.

But in the League Cup’s eighth year Leeds went further than ever before in the ultimate style as Terry Cooper’s hotly-disputed volley sealed a 1-0 victory against Arsenal at Wembley on March 1, 1968 and the club’s first honour as a top-flight side.

Only the second honour of any kind in United’s history had arrived four seasons earlier when Don Revie’s rapidly emerging outfit were crowned Division Two champions.

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BREAKTHROUGH TRIUMPH: Leeds United captain Billy Bremner wears the League Cup trophy on his head as the Whites celebrate a ground-breaking success at a civic reception and bus parade in March 1968. Picture by Varleys.

The club’s only other honour since its formation in 1919 arrived when United were crowned Division Two winners for the first time under Arthur Fairclough in 1923-24.

Back then, and indeed for the next 37 years, the FA Cup was the only knockout competition on offer in the English game.

Having reached a best yet quarter finals of the FA Cup in 1950, Leeds were then runners-up to Liverpool in the competition in the club’s first ever cup final in 1965.

But three years later a second domestic cup final presented itself in the recently added League Cup and Revie’s Whites finally bucked the trend of finishing second be it in cup competitions or the league.

As a newly-promoted side, Revie’s outfit had also been runners-up in the First Division title race behind Manchester United in the 1964-65 season in which they had finished second to Liverpool in the FA Cup.

The Whites again had to settle for second place in the following season’s title race – this time behind Liverpool – and another two years later another silver medal beckoned as United were beaten by Dinamo Zagreb in the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

The following season, Arsenal were looking to deny Leeds their first big major honour.

But Cooper’s strike ensured that this time the Whites went all the way as part of a season in which United were also crowned Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winners and the triumph effectively opened the floodgates to the Revie glory years.

The League Cup run began with a 3-1 win at home to Luton Town in which Peter Lorimer bagged a hat-trick including a penalty.

Bury were then third round visitors to Elland Road the following month and shaken off 3-0 as Jack Charlton, Jimmy Greenhoff and Albert Johanneson bagged a goal apiece.

A double from Greenhoff then sealed a 2-0 win at Sunderland in round four and United’s place in the quarter-finals from which Leeds progressed with a 2-0 triumph at home to Stoke City with Billy Bremner and Lorimer bagging the goals.

A two-legged semi final against Derby County was next in the first month of the following year.

A Johnny Giles penalty gave Revie’s side a 1-0 victory in the first leg at Derby and a brace from Rod Belfitt, plus an Eddie Gray strike, then sealed a 3-2 triumph in the second leg at Elland Road and 4-2 win on aggregate.

It meant Leeds lined up for the final having netted 13 goals and conceded just three on the way to Wembley.

And United then enhanced their record even further in front of 97,887 fans at Wembley.

The Gunners were always going to be in trouble if United struck first and Leeds did exactly that when Cooper smashed home a 20th-minute volley from inside the box after Arsenal looked to clear a corner with the Gunners furious that referee Les Hamer failed to award a foul on keeper Jim Furnell.

An unspectacular yet fiery contest then featured a big melee in the Leeds area as the Whites dealt with a Gunners corner.

But United held firm with ‘keeper Gary Sprake denying Jon Sammells in the closing stages and Bertie Mee’s Gunners side skippered by Frank McLintock and featuring George Graham unable to break down Revie’s rock solid Whites.

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Thank you Laura Collins