The season 1969/1970 I was a young 17 year old and my love for Leeds United was really starting. Working at a local plastic factory in Pickering, North Yorkshire I earned enough to follow my team home and away that year. I became a fully paid up member of Scarborough Supporters Club which was under the stewardship of Maltese John.
It all started on a warm August afternoon and the opening game of the season at Elland Road, a small matter of the Charity Shield. Manchester City were our opponents, a crowd of over 39000 basked in the sunshine and a 2-1 victory gave us our first silverware. This was going to be our season we thought.
Our first 2 home games were against the North London rivals Spurs and Arsenal, 3 points were our reward. This was followed by my first ever visit to the city I now call home to play Nottingham Forest. A happy journey home ensued with a 4-1 victory under our belts.
In September I saw my first European opposition in the form of Lyn Oslo. A 10-0 win, yes ten, was a great start to my European journey. The away leg was a stroll in the park as Leeds won 6-0, I wasn’t in attendance, I hadn’t that much money to travel abroad. Our next game in the European Cup was against Ferencvaros of Hungary a 6-0 aggregate score was racked up. In the league it was business as usual with the highlight a 6-1 win at home to Nottingham Forest.
The FA Cup, in those days much more highly prized than it is today, started with me being lucky to get a ticket for our 4th round tie at Sutton United of the Isthmian League a proper David v Goliath game. No worries though as we cruised to victory 6-0. Interestingly enough John Faulkner the centre half for Sutton impressed Don Revie so much that a few weeks later John turned professional at Elland Road. 2 days later saw me watching Leeds grab a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in front of over 60000, a massive crowd for he time.
Our European journey continued with a 2-0 aggregate score against Standard Liege of Belgium. Things on the pitch were really on the up and there was much talk of Leeds winning not just the double but the treble, heady days indeed.
I am now into March 1970 on my fantastic journey and it was FA Cup semi final day, the opponents were Manchester United the venue was Hillsborough a 0-0 draw put pressure on the club as our fixture back log was building up. The trouble before and after the game was on a scale I had never witnessed before. A lot of fans reckon this was the game that sparked the bitter rivalry that still stands today. The replay was at Villa Park and another 0-0 draw ensued, it was going to take something special to break this stalemate. A favourite quote from this game came from The Mail I think “ There was barely time to light a cigarette in the wind for fear of missing something dramatic” The 2nd replay was at Bolton’s Burnden Park I said it would take something special to break the dead lock and it was a Billy Bremner goal. Again as with the other 2 semis the games were marred by serious crowd trouble before and after the game.
All these games were taking their toll and a lot of players were out with niggling injuries and points were being dropped in the chase for the league title. against Southampton several players were “rested” resulting in a £5000 fine from the Football League, no mention that the squad players could have played for any other club in the division.
April 1st 1970 and the visitors were Celtic in the European Cup semi final, Celtic had won the EC 3 years earlier. Despite Celtic’s allocation been 6000 it was believed well over 10000 made the journey south. My memories of the game Jimmy Johnstone aka Jinky, ran Terry Cooper ragged. Celtic won the game 1-0. The 2nd leg due to the number of Celtic fans who wanted tickets was moved from Parkhead to Hampden Park. We sent a lot of tickets back unable to sell them after the 1st leg defeat. 5000 of us made the journey north and we were initially rewarded with a Bremner goal but lost the game 2-1, 3-1 on aggregate. The crowd that night was an incredible 136,505, still a record today though many people believe it was even higher than that.
With us virtually having conceded the league for awhile to Everton we had one more big game the FA Cup final at Wembley against Chelsea. The game took place 4 days before our long trip to play Celtic. Some of players from the final have said since that they were physically and mentally exhausted. If this game had been played in todays touchy feely game most of the players from both sides would have been red carded such were the tackles flying all over the pitch. We as fans were pretty confident as to the outcome as we had already witnessed Leeds winning 5-2 at Stamford Bridge at the turn of the year. Leeds again dominated the game only for a late equaliser by Chelsea’s Hutchinson. Ex players today still say Gary Sprake was at fault for the goal. History was now in the making as extra time was going to be played for the first time in a Wembley final, just what the players needed another half an hour of football. The replay due to United’s commitments didn’t take place for almost 3 weeks.
So it was on to the replay at Old Trafford we were to witness another tense and fiercely contested game. Chopper Harris of Chelsea was doing a proper man marking game on Eddie Gray, some of the tackles were horrendous. A Mick Jones goal wasn’t enough as in extra time David Webb scored the winner, despite constant pressure in the 2nd half of extra time Leeds could not break through. A season that started on such a high had finished on a low.
What a season where Leeds played football light years ahead of their opponents. Alas though the league title eluded them, the FA Cup eluded them and the biggest prize of all the European Cup eluded them. Geoffrey Green of The Times said at the time “ Leeds like Sisyphus, have pushed 3 boulders to the top of 3 mountains and are now left to see them all back in the dark of the valley”
After all of the above I wouldn’t have missed that particular journey for the world. Little Billy, Big Jack, Norman, Eddie, Allan, Mick etc all thanks for the memories. Seeing Peter Lorimer and Mick Jones in The Pavilion yesterday afternoon, now gentlemen of pensionable age but still involved with this great club had memories going back to that fateful season.