Remembering Peter ‘Lash’ Lorimer

20 Mar 2021 10:14 am, by YorkshireSquare

The last year has not been a good one for the legends of Don Revie’s great side. Last year we lost Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry and Jack Charlton, now we are saddened to hear of the loss of another club legend in Peter Lorimer. Leeds United confirmed a few weeks ago that Lorimer had been admitted to a hospice as he battled a long-term illness, a battle the great man has now sadly lost.

Don Revie was in such a hurry to sign Peter Lorimer him that he was stopped for speeding on his way to Scotland. Lorimer signed in May 1963 turning professional in the December. Possessor of one of the hardest shots in the game, he is the only player to have netted over two hundred goals for Leeds United. He is the club’s youngest debutant, making his debut when he was fifteen years and two hundred and eighty-nine days old. Lorimer established himself in the first team in the 1965-66 season, making thirty-four League appearances and scoring nineteen goals, more than any other player at Leeds United managed that season.

Thereafter his place and No.7 shirt was assured for the next decade and beyond. A skilful and industrious player who operated best in a drifting position wide on the right, but not as an orthodox winger as he was more likely to cut in and shoot than stay wide and cross. Normally he operated behind two main strikers, usually Allan Clarke and Mick Jones. Lorimer was a frequent and often spectacular goal scorer and earned himself several nicknames stemming from his powerful shooting, Hot Shot, Thunder Boots and Lash were the main favoured ones. He became renowned for those fearsome strikes, with his shots reaching supposed speeds of up to ninety mph, whereas in fact he was recorded at 77 mph.

He made his full international debut for Scotland on 5th November 1969, in a 0-2 loss to Austria in Vienna, when he came on as a substitute for the last twenty minutes in place of Hugh Curran of Wolverhampton Wanderers in a European Cup Qualifier. With Leeds United, Lorimer won the League Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967-68, their first major trophies under Revie, and Lorimer scored thirty goals during that season. He again featured prominently as Leeds clinched their first League championship in 1968-69. In 1970, Lorimer was in the side which chased a dream "treble" of League championship, F.A. Cup and European Cup, though they famously ended the season with nothing though Lorimer ended that season with nineteen goals again.

In the summer of 1971 Lorimer guested for Cape Town City in South Africa, along with Francis Lee for the team that was managed by Frank Lord. He scored eight goals in six games. John Giles had also played for John "Budgie" Byrne's Durban City in the same League. It was to have an unfortunate consequence for Lorimer as the Scottish selectors had wanted him for Scotland and he could not break the commitment. It resulted in his being banned by Scotland.

Leeds won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup once more in 1970-71 and then finally won the F.A. Cup in 1971-72. Lorimer picked up winner's medals in both, scoring twenty-nine goals in the Cup winning season, including his best seasonal League tally of twenty-three. A year later, Leeds United were back at Wembley to defend the Cup against Sunderland and Lorimer became part of FA Cup folklore after an incident in the second half. Unwisely, Lorimer had said in an on-pitch interview with the BBC in the hours before the game that he expected an exhibition performance from Leeds United if they could score early.

They didn't and as the second half reached its midway point it was Sunderland who led 1-0 and Leeds United seeking to equalise. Pushing men forward to support the strikers and find the equaliser meant that Lorimer was one of several Leeds United players in Sunderland's area when the ball was laid back to full-back Paul Reaney to put a high ball across to the far post. Fellow full back Trevor Cherry, making a late and fast run into the area, met the ball with a meaty diving header which was palmed out brilliantly by Sunderland keeper Jim Montgomery.

The ball fell to Lorimer, six yards out and the open goal in front of him, and he hit his shot duly towards the target only for Montgomery, somehow, to react and spring back to his feet, extending an arm at the same time and diverting the ball on to the crossbar and away. Up in the commentary box David Coleman screamed, "And Lorimer makes it one each!", but he and everyone else in the stadium were wrong. Lorimer and Jones had even begun to celebrate the goal before they realised the ball had not crossed the line. Sunderland held on to win 1-0. Leeds United subsequently lost the European Cup Winners Cup final to AC Milan by the same score line.

Meanwhile for Scotland it was not until the appointment of Tommy Docherty as the Scotland coach that he was recalled, because of Docherty's insistence of being able to pick his best players. A year later, on 20th May 1972, he scored his first full international goal in a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast, after coming on as a substitute, for Jimmy Johnstone of Celtic, and he quickly added another, just four days later with a powerful shot from distance for the only goal in a win over Wales at Hampden Park, but three days later he gained his sixth cap as England triumphed at the same venue by 0-1.

In 1973-74, Lorimer had a fine season in a Leeds United team which proved almost invincible. They started the season with an unbeaten run of twenty-nine League games and coasted to their second title under Revie. Lorimer's season was crowned with a place in Scotland's squad for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, and he scored in the group game against Zaire. He scored his fourth Scotland goal in his fifteenth international appearance, with a twenty yard volley, as Scotland beat Zaire 2-0 in Dortmund on 14th June 1974 and then he played in the two other crunch games in the group fixtures as Scotland drew 0-0 with Brazil four days later in Frankfurt and then four days after that drew 1-1 with Yugoslavia at the same venue, but though undefeated Scotland were eliminated on goal difference.

Another eventful season with Leeds United followed for Lorimer, as he continued to score goals, managing four as Leeds United progressed to their first European Cup final. Held in Paris, they played Bayern Munich and lost 2-0, with Lorimer having a goal disallowed due to a dubious offside decision given against captain Billy Bremner. That was the last major trophy for which the team built by Revie, who had left the year previously to manage England, would compete, and the ageing team began to break up. Lorimer made his final four appearances for Scotland in the European Championship Qualifiers to bring his tally to twenty-one. His twenty-first and final appearance came in a 1-1 draw with Romania at Hampden Park on 17th December 1975, when he came on as a substitute foe John Doyle of Celtic.

Mediocrity summed up the rest of the 1970’s for Leeds United and Lorimer was no longer a regular player. His thunderous shooting had helped Leeds reap a rich harvest of honours but a £25,000 move took him to Toronto Blizzard in March 1979. He returned to England that September to sparkle in York City’s ranks, scoring eight times in twenty-nine appearances, before going back to Canada in March 1980. He had two seasons at Toronto Blizzard and scored eleven goals in forty-seven appearances. He then became Johnny Giles' Assistant as player-coach of Vancouver Whitecaps, where he played three seasons from 1981 to 1983 and scored twenty-two goals in eighty appearances.

He was thirty-seven when he re-joined Leeds in December 1983 and was older than his Manager Eddie Gray. He played a key role in midfield and overhauled John Charles’ League aggregate before moving to Whitby Town in December 1985. He had a brief spell as player-coach in Israel with Hapoel Haifa before returning to Leeds to enter into the hospitality trade and eventually to famously run the Commercial Hotel, between the Leeds City centre and Elland Road.

Rest in Peace Lash