Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

What became of… Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery

Enduring memories

For those of us who watched the 1973 Cup Final, two images were forever etched in our memories that day.

The first was the Sunderland keeper’s heroic double save – from Leeds duo Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer – which denied the Yorkshire side an equalizer and, ultimately, the Cup.

The second was Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe, arms aloft and trilby on head, running onto the hallowed turf to embrace one player in particular.

In both cases it was the same man, Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery. But what became of him..?

Wearside Lad

Local boy Monty made his first-team debut for Sunderland in 1962 at the tender age of 17, in a League Cup tie against Walsall. Four months later came his league debut against Derby County in the old Second Division.

He went on to make 627 appearances for the Black Cats between 1962 and 1977, a club record.

Post-Sunderland

After Stokoe left the club Monty found himself loaned out to Southampton and then Birmingham City who signed him on a permanent deal. He made over 70 appearances for the Blues before being snapped up by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, as understudy to Peter Shilton.

While at Forest he won another major honour when they beat Hamburg in the 1980 European Cup Final. But this time Monty was an unused substitute.

Hangs up his Gloves

With his playing days over, Monty became a goalkeeping coach at two of his former clubs: Birmingham City and Sunderland, following a spell as the Black Cats youth team manager. He was also active in the Players’ Association, a forerunner of the PFA.

Monty then moved from coaching players to working at Sunderland as a club host on match-days, entertaining guests with stories from his playing days.

Then in February 2012 he was appointed as the club’s first ever ambassador. He said at the time: “To be given the honour of being Sunderland AFC’s first ever ambassador is fantastic.”

Today

Jimmy (Monty) Montgomery continues to be an integral part of Sunderland’s off-the-field activities. And his over 50 years of service to football – and in particular Sunderland AFC – has earned him a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Jimmy Montgomery

Montgomery has an appointment at the Palace

On hearing the news 71 year-old Monty said: “I am absolutely delighted…it’s a great honour to receive this award.”

When he goes to the Palace to pick up his medal, I wonder if Prince William (an Aston Villa fan) will pull Monty aside to ask about his wonderful double-save, 42 years on. After all the Prince can’t ask his grandmother, she wasn’t there that day. It was the Duke of Kent who presented the trophy.

@RichardBowdery

Clough Appointed Boss of Leeds: Football World Stunned!

The 20th July is the 40th anniversary of the appointment of Brain Clough as manager of Leeds United.

The always controversial Clough was dismissed from the post on 12 September 1974, a contentious and now legendary 44 days later.

Norman Hunter, Joe Jordon and the Leeds squad make Brian Clough feel welcome.

Norman Hunter, Joe Jordon and the Leeds squad make Brian Clough feel welcome.

Clough took over at Derby County in May 1967 with The Rams then languishing in the Second Division. He had been one of the youngest managers in the league when Hartlepool gave him a shot at managing the team in 1965 when just 30 years old.

Clough, along with assistant manager Peter Taylor, turned Derby around and not only led them back to the top flight but incredibly to the First Division title in the 1971-72 season. Clough and Taylor had a falling out with Derby’s Board of Directors over a series of issues, not least Clough’s inability to keep out of the headlines, and the pair resigned in October 1973.

After a brief and unsuccessful dalliance at Brighton & Hove Albion Clough took over at Elland Road, with Taylor opting to remain at Brighton.

The appointment of Clough was more than a little surprising as during his time at Derby Clough had been especially critical of Leeds and their previous manager, Don Revie. Never shy to forward an opinion, he often claimed Leeds ‘played dirty’ and even ventured to suggest that the Yorkshire giants should be relegated and Revie fined.

Clough’s new role as manager of Leeds didn’t stop him from continuing his criticism of Revie and Leeds’ prior tactics, and before too long he had alienated himself from many of the team’s star players, including the influential midfield pair of Johnny Giles and Billy Bremner.

Clough’s Leeds side won only one and drew two from its first six games, after which he was promptly sacked.

thedamnedunited3dThe dismissal only seemed to spur Clough on to greater success. In 1975 he reunited with Taylor and moved to Nottingham Forest, and just as he had done with Derby, he led them from mid-table in the Second Division to promotion and then the Division One title in 1978.

But Clough went one better by achieving his crowning glory; back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1979 and 1980.

Ill health ravaged Clough and he retired as manager of Forest – and from football – in 1993 and passed way in 2004.

But despite his many trophies and incredible feats as a manager its his 44 day stint as boss of Leeds United that people never forget.

Author David Peace published a fictionalized account of Clough’s time at Leeds – The Damned Utd – in 2006. Although the book met with critical acclaim, Clough’s family and former players (including Giles) claimed Peace’s versions of events were inaccurate and painted Clough in too negative a light.

In 2009 a film version of the book was released with Michael Sheen as Clough. Despite some criticism from the football world over a number of ‘factual inaccuracies’ the film was very well received – with Sheen’s performance drawing particular praise.

 

 

Sunderland v Man City Preview
PLUS The Greatest Cup Final Upset: The Story of ’73

MANCHESTER CITY  3/10    DRAW  9/2    SUNDERLAND  9/1

The odds, unsurprisingly, heavily favour a City victory on Sunday. For some the question is not can they win but can Gus Poyet and his boys keep it respectable.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has his work cut out to stop a rampant Man City

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has his work cut out to stop a rampant Man City

That perhaps does The Black Cats a disservice. They’ve become a solid outfit under the Uruguayan and will make it tough in the early going. The key here could be an early goal. If City strike quickly it would be hard to see Sunderland getting back into it, and if they start to take risks as they chase the game the they could play into City’s hands and be picked off.

An upset would almost certainly have to mirror the performance of 41 years ago, namely; score first and be lucky!

A 1-0 scoreline in favour of the outsiders is a whopping 30/1.

If you think free-scoring City can match the record margin of victory (set last year by Swansea over Bradford) then you can get 25/1 on 5-0.

Good value can be found in a City comeback; with a HT/FT bet on Sunderland/Man City coming in at 20/1 whilst City to Come From Behind & Win is at 7/1.

Former City player Adam Johnson is 14/1 to open the scoring, while you can get 5/2 on Aguero, 3/1 on Negredo and 9/1 on Nasri.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: A man for the big game, we’ve gone for Yaya Toure to score first at 11/2.

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

SPORT Remember 2

The Greatest Shock of All: The Story of Sunderland in ’73

Leeds were an effective and efficient machine, battle-hardened and bold, under manager Don Revie they had won titles and cups domestically and competed with the best in European competition. A team with ten international players, they came to Wembley as the Cup holders, for their third Final in four years.

Sunderland were in the Second Division, and when their new manager Bob Stokoe took over during the season, they were languishing third from bottom.

No Second Division side had won the Cup for over 40 years and none of the experts – in fact hardly anyone outside of Sunderland – gave them anything but the faintest hope of winning. Yet, at Wembley, that all counted for nothing as Sunderland won by a single goal.

 Kick-Off

The game began in heavy rain and this seemed to have an affect on the favourites as it was the Leeds passes that went astray. Sunderland, with Horswill and Porterfield taking an early grip in midfield, were continually first to the ball. Even the great Billy Bremner, captain of Leeds, was hurried out of his stride.

As the game wore on though Leeds, prompted by the accurate passes of Giles, started to open up the Second Division side.

However Sunderland proved themselves to be no pushovers as the commanding figure of Watson at the heart of their defence thwarted the striking prowess of Jones, Clarke and Lorimer.

Leeds had to look elsewhere for inspiration. Despite pre-match predictions to the contrary, the skilful Gray would fail to cut Sunderland’s right flank to pieces. Kerr, the Sunderland skipper, was dropped back to snuff that threat out and Gray was eventually replaced by Yorath.

For all that, Leeds had their chances. Clarke had the best of them and Leeds might have been ahead before Sunderland scored but for another timely intervention from Watson.

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The underdogs celebrate their great victory

Sunderland looked for a pacey counter with ‘Triple H’. Hughes and Halom chased everything and behind them Horswill probed relentlessly, trying shots at every opportunity.

Sunderland were not behaving like underdogs, and on the half-hour they struck.

Leeds keeper David Harvey pushed a long shot from Kerr over the bar. From the resulting corner Hughes, with Halom and Watson in the box occupying the defenders, found Ian Porterfield.

The Scot was calmness personified as he killed the ball on his left thigh and swung to hit it powerfully home with his right foot.

Fightback

As you’d expect, Revie’s men fought back with a determined assault just before half-time and with continued to turn the screws through the second half.

In the 70th minute it seemed Leeds would at last get their reward.

A Paul Reaney cross was met by Trevor Cherry with a diving header across goal. The Sunderland keeper Jimmy Montgomery flew to reach it with his left hand and manged to palm it away – straight into the path of Peter Lorimer, who possessed one of the most powerful and accurate shots in the game.

Lorimer hit it fiercely towards what appeared to be the empty goalmouth – but, miraculously, Montgomery twisted, changed direction and diverted the ball on to the underside of the bar. It bounced to safety.

It was, more so than Porterfield’s goal, the moment of the match.

There were anxious moments for Sunderland as Montgomery made further saves from Bremner, Yorath and Cherry.  A penalty appeal was also waved away before Clarke was again denied when he might have scored.

But Sunderland held firm. In fact in the last minute they could have doubled their lead. Only a supreme effort from Harvey in the Leeds goal tipped away a Halom shot bound for the angle of bar and post.

1973 FA Cup: Sunderland Homecoming

Days after lifting the cup Sunderland fans pronounced Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United side “dead” with a mock coffin placed on the pitch during the Wearside club’s celebratory ‘homecoming’ at Roker Park.

The FA Cup Final
May 5th 1973, Wembley Stadium

Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United

Sunderland: Montgomery; Malone, Guthrie; Horswill, Watson, Pitt; Kerr (c), Hughes, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart
Sub not used: Young
Goal: Porterfield (31)

Leeds United: Harvey; Reaney, Cherry; Bremner, Madeley, Hunter; Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray (Yorath, 75)

Referee: Mr K Burns

Attendance: 100,000

Would Victory For Sunderland Over City Be A Bigger Upset Than ’73 Triumph Over Leeds?

Sunderland pulled off the greatest ever FA Cup Final shock when they beat Leeds United 1-0 in 1973. They have a chance to do the same in the League Cup Final at the weekend if they overcome Manchester City.

But would a triumph over the riches of Manchester City be a greater achievement for Sunderland than victory over Leeds in ’73…? Below BOBBY writers Rob Shepherd and Karl Hofer give the case for and against.

NO – says Rob Shepherd

It will take the spirit of ’73 for Sunderland to beat Manchester City in the Capital One Cup at Wembley on Sunday – but if Gus Poyet’s team do overcome City it won’t quite compare to Sunderland’s seismic success over Leeds back in 1973.

Even if the financial gap between Sunderland and City is bigger now than it was between The Rokerites (as the Blacks Cats were then) and Leeds 41 years ago – despite the fact the Wearsiders were in the second tier – it should not be underestimated how the chasm of class was perceived to be back then.

Don Revie’s side were at their swaggering peak even if on reflection they never accumulated as much silverware as they ought to have done.

City are evolving into a phenomenal force but as yet don’t have the all round strength and yes sometimes cynicism that Leeds had back then with players such as Norman Hunter, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer and Allan Clarke.

Despite a swashbuckling run to the final, including victory over Arsenal in the semis, second division Sunderland were given absolutely no chance.

But Bob Stokoes’s team produced a wonderfully defiant display characterised by an astonishing double save from Sunderland keeper Jim Mongomery to keep Leeds out.

And then the late Ian Porterfield, who went on to manage Chelsea, popped up to snatch a winner.

Memorably at the final whistle Manager Stokoe, clad in trench coat and donning a trilby hat, evaded a steward before dancing across the Wembley turf to embrace his heroes.

Bob Stokoe hugs goalkeeper Jim Montgomery after winning FA Cup Final 1973

Bob Stokoe hugs goalkeeper Jim Montgomery after winning FA Cup Final 1973

In context the win remains the greatest giant killing in an English cup final.

Of course last season Wigan, who would get relegated from the premier League days later, pulled off an unlikely win to hoist the FA Cup by beating City 1-0.

In that sense it shows City for all their financial power and pool of talent don’t have the aura that Leeds had back then.

That said, City’s attacking power may mean they overhaul the record score line for a league cup final (since becoming a one-off rather than two legged affair) which was achieved last season by Swansea when they beat Bradford 5-0.

A six-nil for City would not be a surprise but a win for relegation haunted Sunderland would not be a shock quite as high on the Richter scale as it was when the club beat the Mighty Leeds back in 1973.

 

YES – says Karl Hofer

The romance of Sunderland’s shock victory over Leeds in ’73 is the reason why we love cup football in this country. Don Revie’s Leeds side had matured in the conflicts of the First Division and European competition. They were no flamboyant Fancy-Dans who ‘didn’t like it up them’ and therefore could be rattled into submission. No, Leeds had the players for a battle all right, so a win would have to come through football and a fair bit of luck – which famously it did.

But times have changed. Back in ’73 Leeds may have had a side with ten internationals, but they were ten internationals from the British Isles. The side Sunderland face on Sunday is one where every player, including the ones sitting on the bench, are internationals, recruited as they were from around the globe at great expense.

That fact alone puts the task facing Sunderland into context.

OK, unlike the final of ’73 both teams are in the top flight, but the gap between City and Sunderland – or City and mostly anyone for that matter – is just gigantic.

Football, now more than ever, is dominated by money. City’s squad has an estimated value of £400m compared to the £90m value given to the Black Cats. An unusually busy season for arrivals at Sunderland (due in no small part to previous manager Paulo Di Canio) saw 21 new faces arrive at The Stadium of Light for nearly £30m – which is £4m less than City paid for Fernandinho alone.

So in economic terms the Sunderland squad is £310m worse than Manchester City’s squad. Even allowing for inflation you can’t say the same is true of the ’73 finalists.

Nasri, Alvaro Negredo, Sergio Aguero,

Alvaro Negredo, left, celebrates scoring with Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri. The three of them cost as much as the entire Sunderland squad.

It is that financial advantage which has boosted City’s firepower to the point that Pellegrini’s men are set to beat all goal scoring records for a single season.

Manchester City are also most people’s tip to go on and win the league, although Chelsea and Arsenal will have something to say about that of course. Back in the 72-73 season Leeds finished third in the table behind Liverpool and Arsenal but were beaten ten times in the league, something that will not happen to Manuel Pellegrini’s team this year, regardless of where they finish.

I expect a real battle on Sunday. The recent Arsenal game apart, when the players were no doubt concerned about missing the final through injury or suspension, Gus Poyet has added real steel to this Sunderland side. But lifting the trophy against this talent-laden tide of Sky Blue is surely beyond them, and few people outside Wearside will be bothering the bookies to say otherwise no matter how big a price Poyet’s men are given.

If the Black Cats do pull off the unthinkable on Sunday then rest assured their lineup will be nostalgically recalled in 40 years time by Sunderland fans with even greater reverence than Ian Porterfield’s teammates are nowadays – and that is despite the fact this is the League Cup and not the more heralded FA Cup.

 

League Cup Final – Sunderland v Manchester City, Sunday March 2nd, 2pm

 

Bobby Collins Remembered
Horrendous Broken Thigh Injury Cut Short Career at Leeds

collinsfarewell

Everyone at BOBBY was saddened to hear that former Scotland midfielder Bobby Collins had died at the age of 82.

Collins started his career with Celtic, where he broke into the team as a 17 year old and played 320 matches scoring 116 goals before Everton paid a club-record £23,500 fee for his services in 1958.

Four years later he moved to Leeds for a similar fee and helped the Yorkshire side win promotion to the top flight in 1964 under Don Revie.

Collins, who was only 5ft 3in tall, played 31 times for Scotland finding the net on 10 occasions.

In our Great Shot the Leeds and Morton players applaud Bobby Collins onto the pitch before a pre-season Friendly at Greenock Morton in 1971, in tribute to his outstanding service to Leeds United FC.

Collins was awarded ‘Footballer of the Year’ in 1965 for his role in a season that nearly saw Leeds win the double but miss out on both trophies by the slimmest of margins.

But his time at Leeds was cut short when in 1966 he suffered a terrible injury playing against Torino in a Fairs Cup tie.  In the 50th minute Torino defender Fabrizio Poletti ‘tackled’ United’s inspirational captain resulting in him suffering the almost unheard of injury of a broken thigh.

Billy Bremner was very distressed and described the incident thus; “I was so upset, I found myself weeping, and had the chance come my way, I would have ‘done’ the player who had so crippled my teammate.”

Bremner admitted to losing his head and saying to Poletti “I’ll kill you for this.” Poletti got the message as he stayed well out of reach for the rest of the match.

However, Bremner later observed, “The incident taught me something. I have never since that day gone on to the field with such feelings as I had then. That day, blinding anger and passion got the better of me and obscured my better judgement. If I had tangled with that Italian player in a fight for possession of the ball, I could not have been responsible for my actions. The foul had been so unnecessary and was so obviously vindictive. Bobby had been ten yards from the ball when he had been quite literally jumped on.”

Of that battle with Torino, Paul Madeley recalled: “None of us had ever experienced just how cynical foreign players could be and it was a really tough battle. One horrendous challenge broke Bobby’s thigh and ultimately finished his Leeds career. We were determined to progress and did incredibly well to come away with a draw, but the occasion was ruined by Bobby’s injury because he was so influential to the side.”

Although substitutes had been introduced into English Football for the first time that season, they were still not allowed in European competition and Leeds had to fight on bravely with ten men. They managed to hang on to their one goal lead from the first leg, keeping the Italians scoreless and the 0-0 draw was sufficient to see United through to the next round.

The horrendous injury sustained by Bobby Collins was ultimately the end of his time at United,  he did comeback, playing the last game of the season at Old Trafford, but only played seven more games in the following season. Manager Don Revie then gave Johnny Giles the chance to take on the Collins mantle.

No one could doubt that Collins played his part in the emergence of Leeds United as a force in English and European football, leading by example with a never-say-die attitude of grit and determination which was to be the hallmark of Leeds United teams for years to come.

After leaving Leeds Collins had a two year stint with Bury before departing for a short period back in his native Scotland with Greenock Morton, where he doubled up as a scout for Revie and recommended Joe Jordan. Jordan went on to become a respected striker with Leeds, Manchester United, Milan and Scotland.

After hanging up his boots for good Collins had brief managerial stints with Huddersfield, Hull and Barnsley.

 

by Karl Hofer.

 

 

Fergie’s Tales of The Unexpected Did SAF Give Credit Where it Was Due..?

By Rob Shepherd.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book is not only a best-seller it has caused a media frenzy. Bizarrely some journalists are even complaining Fergie has been a bit too frank. Talk about killing the goose that lays golden eggs…

Yes, the timing of publication could have been better given it casts a shadow over successor David Moyes so soon into his reign. Then again; why not get it over and done while Moyes at least has a bit of his honeymoon period left..?

Rarely has an autobiography of any sort, let alone a soccer one, attracted such interest and inspection.

When the book was launched and Ferguson held court at a press conference in London’s Pall Mall, it was akin to listening to a sermon front the Mount: The Gospel according Fergie as the Manchester United manager of 27 years responded – sometimes sharply – to questions on the big issues he had raised.

Fergie lifted the lid on why David Beckham had to go, how Roy Keane lost the plot, his loathing of Liverpool and Rafa Benitez, his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo, why he turned England down twice…..

The explosive revelations went on and on, there was barely enough space on the sports pages the next day to cope with the headlines.

Credit Due..?

Yet in the feeding frenzy one name was distinctly absent from scrutiny.

He will be in there somewhere of course and it will be fascinating how much credit – or otherwise – Ferguson pays to this player who more than any other shaped the silverware laden years (38 trophies) of The Fergie Era which began in 1986.

Eric Cantona.

ERIC CANTONAManchester United FC and France InternationalUniversal...

Cantona brought confidence and a swagger to United that had been missing

While home-grown players Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were major and pretty much constant themes through the glory years, it was the Frenchman Cantona, to borrow a line from Ian Drury, who was the catalyst who sparked a revolution.

Remember, when Cantona joined United in December 1992 they had yet to win a league tile under Ferguson.

The previous season Cantona had in fact been a major influence on a different United winning the last Divison One championship when he was at Leeds.

When Cantona arrived United were in contention but looked as though they would blow it again.

By the end of the season they had landed the first Premier League tittle, United’s first top flight success in 26 years.

Cantona turned a very good team into what would become a great one.
He added a different dimension to the side not just in the way he played but with his attitude.

Confidence bordering on arrogance is often the characteristic of champions. Cantona had it in spades.

Cantona injected that type of confidence into a highly talented United team that had at crucial times been pitted with self-doubt. He did so with supreme skill and style counterpointed by brooding menace and sometimes raw aggression.

Cantona’s goals and guile shaped United not only for that season but even after he retired five years later.

In many ways even if there were language barriers it was Cantona, the rebel from Marseille, who understood and interpreted the message Ferguson, the rebel from Glasgow, was trying to put across to the rest.

They had much in common. Deep thinkers and readers they were rebels with a common cause.

Ferguson spoke at length about Cantona in his first autobiography 14 years ago true enough. But Cantona’s part in the United story in Ferguson’s success remains vital.

Phone Call

And all this from a player who Ferguson HADN’T even considered buying.

To remind you: The shock £1.2 million move from Leeds United came about because LEEDS chairman Bill Fotherby had rung United asking whether they could buy left back Dennis Irwin from them.

Ferguson said no. But a few days later rang back and asked if Cantona was available.

At the time Mark Hughes and Brian McClair had been in erratic form. Summer signing Dion Dublin had broken his leg. Bids to sign David Hirst, Matthew Le Tissier and Brian Deane had all failed.

Fotherby informed manager Howard Wilkinson, who much to the chairman’s shock agreed to sell his maverick striker.

ericcantonasigning1992_275x155

Fergie can’t believe his luck pinching Cantona from Leeds

So, Cantona, L’enfant Terrible as he had been known during a troubled time in his native France, became Un Devil Rouge and to the United fans would become Eric The King.

In this second autobiography Ferguson inevitably pays a lot of attention to events since the Treble season of 1999, a year after Cantona had departed. And as he has shown there are plenty of tales to tell.

He points out that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most talented player who has played under him in his years at United.

But in the grand scheme of Ferguson’s golden reign as Manchester United manager Eric Cantona remains the most significant player – as shown below;

Brian Clough Sacked! Brian Clough and Leeds United: Divorced almost before they married

Jock Stein and Brian Clough. Two very different characters. Two different paths to the very top of their profession. And two significant common denominators:

• Jock Stein was offered the manager’s job (and declined it) at Leeds before Brian Clough was appointed – though he did accept the post in August 1978.
• Both men, astonishingly, reigned at Leeds United for just 44 days.

CloughLeeds

Clough: My players are right behind me

But whereas Jock Stein resigned the manager’s role to fill the vacant Scotland post and left Yorkshire amicably, the same cannot be said for Brian Clough who, on the 12 September 1974, was unceremoniously sacked.

Though this cloud did have a silver lining. He left with a handsome payoff of around £100,000 which set him up for the rest of his life.

To many it seemed a strange appointment. Why would Leeds employ a man who had been highly critical of previous manager Don Revie (who had left to manage England) and had branded the Leeds style of play cynical and dirty – which Clough felt undermined the more skilful football they often produced.

And why, after such criticism would Cloughie take the job? He must have known it could be a poisoned chalice. Perhaps not because later he said he didn‘t realise the extent of the dislike and resentment waiting for him at the club.

In his defence Clough said he took the job so he could try to win the European Cup (as League champions Leeds had already qualified for the competition).

Looking back he could see the funny side of the experience when he wrote in his autobiography in 1994, “Did I say the European Cup? I hardly lasted long enough to be given my own teacup at Leeds.”

His brash style upset a team of seasoned professionals almost from day one when he reportedly told them that they could throw their medals in the bin because they had not won them fairly. But then Clough was never short of an opinion or two.

Yet such was the enigma of the man that before the Charity Shield match in August against Liverpool he telephoned Revie, a man he held in disdain, to ask if he would like to lead the team out at Wembley as it was Revie’s team that had won the league the previous May. The offer was declined. And Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties after the match finished all square at one goal apiece.

Things didn’t really improve after that. During Clough’s time in charge Leeds won only once in six league outings and sat in 19th place in the table with just four points. It was the club’s worst start in 15 years. Something had to give.

CloughCussins

Brian Clough is warmly welcomed to Elland Road by Leeds chairman Manny Cussins. The young lad with the ball at the front is the current Derby County manager Nigel Clough, then 8 years old.

Leeds chairman Manny Cussins acted swiftly and wielded the sword. Cloughie was on his way after just 44 days in the job.

He left Elland Road with his ego dented. But he wasn’t known affectionately as ‘ole bighead’ for nothing. After his experience at Leeds many clubs wouldn’t touch Cloughie with a barge pole. However one did, Nottingham Forest. And the rest as they say is history.

But what of Jock Stein? He steered Scotland to within touching distance of the upcoming World Cup in Mexico. Then on the 10th September 1985 at the end of a World Cup qualifying fixture against Wales at Ninian Park Stein collapsed. He died a short time later from a heart attack. Sadly he didn’t get to see the fruition of his labour in the Mexican sunshine, the task of guiding the team at the finals fell in the lap of a certain Alex Ferguson, then manager of Aberdeen.

by Richard Bowdery.

Opening Day: Memorable Matches

We all love opening day weekend, here KARL HOFER looks at some past classics from the first weekend of top flight action.

The kick-off to the new season in the Premier League is almost upon us. Up and down the country fans will, for the most part, be entering this weekend with undue optimism and a bunch of utterly unrealistic dreams and aspirations.

But the opening day does tend to throw up the odd classic encounter and its share of strange results.

We had a rummage through the archives and picked out four of the best. So now we present to you Bobby’s Opening Day Belters!

19/08/1995  Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United

We all know this one, don’t we…? it’s the one when Villa ravaged United’s youngBeckhamvVilla starlets after Alex Ferguson had sold Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis in the summer, leading Alan Hansen to famously quip “you can’t win anything with kids” that night on Match of the Day.

Aside from the awful performance from United, the game was also notable for their piss-poor grey away kit, one that they would change at halftime later that season in a humping from Southampton at The Dell, and a tidy finish from the young Beckham as he rattled in a late consolation.

But let’s just address a couple of myths surrounding this match. There were a number of reasons United were slapped besides the oft-mentioned fact that they had seven players aged 21 or under in their squad that day. Missing through injury or suspension were a number of key players, including Cantona, Bruce, Cole, May and Giggs. And Villa were a decent side who went on to finish fourth. But what is rarely pointed out is the fact that Ferguson had one of his final flirtations with a 5-3-2 system, one that never worked for him.

The truth is the team that played this game would have won nothing for United that season. As the season developed they would usually play only three of their youngsters in a game; Butt, Beckham and a Neville. That they won the Double that year was largely down to Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona’s incredible efforts at the business-end of the season.

So Hansen was right. There, I said it.

29/08/1981  Swansea City 5-1 Leeds United

This season we will have not one but two Welsh teams in the top division. One of the greatest opening-day performances in English football history came from a Welsh team, when Swansea, taking their place in the top flight for the first time in their history, hosted the mighty Leeds.

Bob Latchford’s nine-minute debut hat-trick is an obvious highlight, but the finesse of Swansea’s fifth goal from Alan Curtis lives long in the memory.

This game was a pointer of what was to come later as Leeds would be relegated that season, but nobody had this down for a 5-1 home win beforehand. This was from the top drawer of opening-day shocks, no question. Highlights below.

15/08/1992  Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City

I’ll set the scene; Arsenal, many bookies’ favourites for the inaugural Premier League, entertained the Canaries who were being managed for the first time by Mike Walker.

The previous season the Gunners had finished top scorers in the league; in 1992-93, rather weirdly, they would be the lowest scorers. There was nothing to indicate that after an hour however, Arsenal led comfortably through goals from Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell.

Sutton beats Bould to the ball

Sutton beats Bould to the ball

Then Walker brought on his new signing, Mark Robins, and everything became a little surreal. Goals from Robins, David Phillips and Ruel Fox gave Norwich an improbable lead. Then Robins sealed the deal with a superb chip after a mistake from Tony Adams, who at the time was being barracked with donkey chants from opposing fans every weekend.

The North Bank looked on motionless and in silence. OK, it was a mural which had been brought in to improve the Highbury atmosphere, but you get my point.

Norwich, despite having to suffer that awful speckled shirt each week, went on to their highest-ever finish of third position. Dwell on that for a second if you will…

Arsenal clearly learned a lot from this opening day disaster; the following year they kicked off their campaign with a 0-3 reverse at the hands of Coventry City and a hat-trick from Micky Quinn having the game of his life.

19/08/1989  Manchester United 4-1 Arsenal

At the risk of draining all remaining hopes and dreams out of Arsenal fans ahead of their season opener, we’re going to give this one a mention as well…

It was essentially the perfect opening day for the title-starved Reds fans. It all began with businessman Michael Knighton, who had just agreed to buy Manchester United for – wait for it – £10m, showing he was a genuine fan by kitting up, ball-juggling and then smashing one home in front of the Stretford End.

Then United trounced the champions Arsenal 4-1.

During the game new signing Neil Webb topped off a splendid debut with a neil-webbpstunning, swirling volley. The long wait for the title was seemingly soon to end, it was all so intoxicating. It wasn’t the start of a new season; it was the start of a new era.

Or not. The cash-strapped Knighton was soon exposed as a chancer. Webb’s career was ruined when he ruptured his Achilles on England duty only 18 days later. And United were embroiled in a relegation battle for most of the season.

So our advice is to not get too carried away with opening day results as they are often not much of a guide for what is to come. Or sometimes they are. It depends really. I don’t know, you decide….

 

Caught on Camera

This week 43 years ago a picture was taken of a sporting hero that, if taken today, would set the sports pages alight. Social media would be awash with comments. Questions would be asked in the House. And the health and safety brigade would burst a blood vessel.

What could cause all this furore? Jack Charlton, Leeds and England centre-half, having a crafty puff during a training session at Eland Road.

But smoking has long been associated with the game of football.

Two legends of the game, Everton’s Dixie Dean and Sir Stanley Matthews of Blackpool, both advertised cigarettes.

Football great Johan Cruyff smoked 20 cigarettes a day before heart bypass surgery caused him to quit. And the late Brazilian legend Socrates smoked frequently as a player.

But with soccer stars treated like thoroughbred athletes surely it wouldn’t happen today? Well actually it does.

One notable example is ex-Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli who was urged to quit smoking by the then City manager Roberto Mancini.

And I’m sure you could probably name players at your club who have lit up. But have they been as brazen as Jack and smoked during training? I doubt it.

By Richard Bowdery