The only time the classic Revie XI started a game together

07 Feb 2020 09:01 pm, by YorkshireSquare

A fifth round FA Cup tie against Mansfield town fifty years ago may not seem like it should be one of the most important in Leeds United’s history, but it stands out for one reason. Everyone can name the great Revie era team can't they? The one that trips off the tongue; Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, Gray, Clarke and Jones. Well those eleven were only at the club together for four years between 1969 when Allan Clarke joined and 1973 when Jack Charlton left. Saturday, 7th February 1970 at Elland Road against Mansfield was the only occasion that famous eleven started a game together.

It was one of the few games missed by Don Revie’s Rolls-Royce, Paul Madeley. A near ever present during those four seasons, Madeley was most versatile player ever to wear the Leeds shirt. He made 724 first team appearances, spread over an incredible 17 year span at Leeds, scoring 34 goals, playing in every position except goalkeeper. Perhaps the Mansfield game is so incredible not because it was the only time that famous eleven played together but because it was one of the very few games Paul Madeley missed.

Despite the Leeds starting eleven being the strongest ever, on paper, they struggled against weaker opposition and had difficulty beating Mansfield. They survived a disallowed goal by the visitors before they beat the Stags with goals from Giles and Clarke. There was real controversy when the Stags had a goal disallowed after just thirteen minutes. Dudley Roberts nodded a ball down for Jimmy Goodfellow to crack home, but the referee ruled that Roberts had climbed over Paul Reaney. It was an incident that could have changed the course of Stags' history, but instead Leeds prevailed 2-0 to move into the sixth round.

After an initial burst from Leeds, which could easily have brought a couple of goals, Mansfield were getting into their stride. The United defence was caught on the hop a couple of times, but the Mansfield strikers struggled in the heavy conditions. It was the razor-sharp finishing in the penalty box that proved to be the difference between the sides and sank Mansfield in a seven minute burst which started in the twenty-seventh minute.

An Eddie Gray corner was only partly headed away and Paul Reaney, backing up, headed it back into the box and Johnny Giles pivoted on a sixpence and the ball was in the net. If anyone wondered why Mick Jones was currently rated England’s top centre-forward then the second goal showed them why. Jones, held most effectively by Stuart Boam for most of the game, eluded his shadow as the ball floated across the face of the Mansfield goal, apparently destined to go out of play. But Jones darted after it and managed to screw the ball back into the six-yard box, where the lethal boot of Allan Clarke did the rest.

That was that, and now it seemed a case of how many, or so much of the crowd thought Mansfield didn’t give in and with a little more steadiness in front of goal might have scored. A great ball from John Quigley found his centre-forward Dai Jones but the Welshman blazed over. A little later Jimmy Goodfellow fired narrowly wide with a cross-shot. United still pressed and the Mansfield goalkeeper Graham Brown made several fine saves and coupled with some careless work from Allan Clarke the second half score-sheet remained blank. Dai Jones was replaced by Ray Keeley after seventy minutes, which seemed a poor move as he had battled bravely even though dwarfed by the towering Jack Charlton.

Mansfield took an estimated 10,000 fans to Elland Road in an attendance of 48,093 which was Leeds' highest of the season. It was helped by the fact that this was the first time the new extension to the West Stand was opened and even though it was not fully completed it did help to accommodate an extra 1,500 spectators. To think only 48,093 people saw that amazing eleven Leeds players start a game together is quite remarkable.

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HarryofOz wrote on 07 Feb 2020 11:27 pm

Imagine if that team played in today's internet era and achieved the same level of success.

Would it be appreciated?

I reckon there'd be non-stop complaints about how often they finished runner's up rather than as winners.

There'd be calls for Revie to play a weakened team in the domestic cups so that we could concentrate on winning the league or the champions league.

There'd be psychotherapists spouting on about how there must be something wrong at Leeds given our propensity for finishing second rather than first.

In eight years at Leeds Mick Jones scored 77 goals which is less than 10 a year on average - he'd be blasted.

As for Don Revie stubbornly insisting on wearing the same 'lucky' suit all the time, don't get me started.

1964white wrote on 07 Feb 2020 09:38 pm

And I was there :scar1

One of the greatest stats of all-time