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Thursday, 1 November 2012

The magic of the cup & why you fetch your father's gun?

After struggling in recent League games Leeds once again confirmed the old adage that a week is a long time in Football by stunning a poor Southampton side in the League Cup on Tuesday with a comprehensive 3.0 victory.  In the previous 7 days Leeds had limped to a 1.1 draw against Charlton and meekly succumbed to a less than impressive Birmingham side with worryingly directionless and totally uninspiring displays.  There was no wonder that only 17,000 bothered to turn up for the Saints game but those who did witnessed an encouraging turn round in fortunes that should bode well for our trip to Brighton.  It also meant that we were in the draw for the Quarter Finals and another tentative step on the road to Wembley.  I love cup draws having been weaned on listening to Monday lunchtime draws on a crackly radio in my childhood I never tire of the potent mix of emotions that a cup draw brings.  Who will we get? Who don't we want? Should we go for an easy draw or a top team?  All thoughts race through your mind as you wait for the balls to pulled out of the bag.

Well Sky TV certainly gave you plenty of time to contemplate every permutation possible as they prolonged the analysis of Chelski's 5.4 defeat of the Salford Yanks to what seemed like an eternity before switching to the draw.  Once it was under way we didn't have to wait long though as the No 4 ball was the first pick giving Leeds another home tie against..................Chelski................get in!  Cyberspace exploded with reaction from North and South salivating in anticipation of the renewal of one of the classic and most bitter football rivalries.  Fans of the Russian Blues were ecstatic at the prospect of coming to Leeds which must puzzle the younger generation of fans but to understand how deep the feelings run between the two clubs you need to go back to a different century and different footballing era.  Man had just landed on the moon and the swinging sixties were giving way to Californian flower power whilst in English football Leeds United had stubbornly risen from obscurity to challenge and beat the perceived footballing elite.  Amongst that elite were Chelsea.

The Chelsea side were adored by the southern based national media and their players took full advantage of the "delights" available on fashionable Kings Road and Carnaby street as the newly liberated sixties drew to a close.  In an age when off the field activities of players were no where near the radar of sports journalists players such as Osgood, Cooke  et al lived life to the full safe in the knowledge that unless they did something absolutely outrageous both the club and the press willingly turned the proverbial blind eye.  Yes Chelsea were the archetypal southern fancy dans.  Contrast this with Don Revie's mean machine who were ruthless in their pursuit of footballing perfection with a style that got right up the noses of the footballing establishment.  When Osgood and Cooke were cavorting in some West End club Revie would have his players tucked up in bed after a cup of cocoa and a game of carpet bowls or bingo.  The two teams were as far apart in their approach to the game as you could get and the two sets of players genuinely hated each other on the pitch almost as much as the fans did off it in the embryonic days of rabid football hooliganism.  Remember this was an era when players didn't move clubs at the drop of an agents pen and the core of a team would stay together for a decade.  Personal running battles would fester as each season passed.  One of the most notorious was the match up between Big Jack Charlton and Peter Osgood the Chelsea centre forward.  Jack the no nonsense northerner against Osgood the cigar smoking frequenter of West end night clubs who played with flair rather than hard work.  They were never going to send each other Xmas cards were they?

The peak of this simmering hatred was the 1970 FA Cup Final.  Now in 1970 the whole country stopped for the FA Cup Final.  It was the pinnacle of the football season even more coveted than the league title whilst the European Cup (as it was then) was just a distant dream that only one English club had tasted success in.  The scene was set for a classic.  Don Revie's "Dirty Leeds" against the darlings of the Kings Road, Chelsea, on a Wembley pitch that resembled Blackpool sands after the Horse of the Year show had rotavated 90% of the turf into mud.  The game finished 2.2 but will be remembered for two reasons, one a youthful Eddie Gray's man of the match performance and the other the sheer brutality of the contest as both sides sort to settle the battle between the Southern Fancy dans and the Northern heathens. Chelsea prevailed in the replay at Old Trafford to rub salt into Leeds' wounds.   The fall out from that game and other contests between the two teams during that period is still felt today and with a certain ex Chelsea chairman's tenure at Leeds United adding to the deep felt resentment towards the West London blues the atmosphere on the 19th Dec at Elland Road will be more explosive than anything that Guy Fawkes could dream up.  I just hope that the minority of troublemakers on both sides don't take the opportunity to out do Aaron Cawley's exploits at Sheff Wed?

Before that we have the league to worry about starting with Brighton away.  Can we kick on from our cup exploits and secure a welcome three points?  Will the Serbian police cart Tom Lees off to jail?  Will Diouf's agent take his star away from Leeds? Will the takeover happen before hell freezes over?  All questions we will debate to death during the extended pre match refreshments in Brighton tomorrow afternoon.  Life is never dull following the mighty whites is it?  Enjoy the video of the 1970 Cup final.  Hopefully my next post will be eulogising about how a Diouf inspired Leeds destroyed Poyet's southern boys?

Can't wait.


Travels of a Leeds Fan.

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