Twelve at the Top 1965 to 1966

Leeds had begun the 1965-66 season in competent fashion and were in the group of sides at the top end of the First Division table, when the Italian club Torino visited Elland Road in September for the first round first leg, and found the United players had swopped their jerseys around in an effort to cause some confusion to the opposition. It is doubtful that the ploy did have much effect, but all the same the Italians found themselves two goals behind when Billy Bremner scored with a right-footed cross-shot from the left, and Alan Peacock headed in from close range, but Torino pulled a goal back and were therefore favourites to win the tie in the return match.

September 1965:
Alan Peacock heads in at the far post to give United a 2-0 lead against Torino at Elland Road in the first round first leg of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup

Leeds United's first experience of competition abroad provided them with a night of both great triumph and tragedy, when they forced a goalless draw, playing 40 minutes of the game with only ten men as Bobby Collins had to be taken to hospital with a broken leg following a foul tackle. It was a great triumph for United in extremely difficult circumstances, but the loss of Collins, whose skill and experience had made him such a fine leader of the side from mid-field, was an immense blow to the club and presented a severe test of ability and character if success was to be sustained.

S.C. Leipzig of East Germany were overcome in the next round on a 2-1 aggregate, but when the Spaniards from Valencia came to Elland Road a near riot ensued with the police on the field as players traded punches, and new captain Jack Charlton, along with two Spaniards, was sent-off in a disgraceful affair. The match ended 1-1 and it was obvious that Leeds faced a formidable task in the second leg, but once more they rose to the challenge and pulled off a win with Mike O'Grady scoring the only goal of the night, in a match that sportingly contrasted with the torrid Elland Road encounter.

It was Johnny Giles who was given the task of taking over the creative role vacated by Collins and in order to swell the ranks Don Revie bought from Huddersfield Town left-winger Mike O'Grady, and he joined Jimmy Greenhoff, Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer - three young players who had earned promotion into the ever stronger Leeds United first-team squad.

April 1966:
Billy's party-piece - the bicycle kick. On this occasion the ball finished in the net, but Chelsea's Marvin Hinton was the one debited with an own goal ! However, Bremner did score the other goal in a 2-0 win.

The Fairs' Cup provided probably the most humorous moment of the 1965-66 season for the Elland Road fans, when, during the quarter-final tie with Ujpest Dozsa of Hungary, a dog ran onto the pitch and defied anyone - players, officials and police alike - to catch it for a full ten minutes, before the West German referee hit upon the idea of bouncing the ball up and down, so enticing the dog to jump up after it. Slowly the referee, still bouncing the ball, walked towards the touchline where a semi-circle of policemen were waiting before, suddenly, they all pounced on the animal in what could only be described as a kind of scrum-down with helmets! United played superbly in that match to win 4-1, against a very skilful team, and despite being given the runaround in the second leg on the banks of the Danube they scraped a lucky one-all draw - to enter the semi-finals.

The situation in Division One was that Liverpool were striding towards the title, which they eventually won by a six point margin, but when Leeds went to Anfield at Christmas 1965, Peter Lorimer scored an early goal that was enough to inflict a very rare defeat on the Merseysiders in their own stronghold. In the League Cup, United comfortably defeated Fourth Division Hartlepools United, before fielding a below strength side against First Division West Bromwich Albion and consequently going out of the competition - both matches having the same 4-2 scoreline.

The FA Cup provided Leeds with their biggest win of the season when Second Division Bury were thrashed by six goals, which meant a trip to Stamford Bridge to face one of the First Division's strongest teams, and the pride of London - Chelsea - in round four. In front of 57,847 United faced an uphill task from the eighth minute of the match when Chelsea went ahead, but from then on it was Leeds United, the side with a reputation for dull, defensive football, who did almost all the attacking and the home team had to thank their goalkeeper Peter Bonetti for a string of marvellous saves and glue-like catching of the ball, which denied Leeds the victory that their fine football deserved.

United had finished as runners-up in the First Division, but Liverpool had always appeared to have the situation under control, so leaving the Fairs' Cup as the most likely avenue leading to a trophy, which reflected great credit on the team's efforts in their first crack at the competition.

Real Zaragoza presented formidable opposition as they were renowned for the scoring power of their forward-line, nicknamed 'the magnificent five', but Leeds held them to a single goal - and that a penalty - in the first leg of the semi-final in Spain. Before a 45,000 crowd at Elland Road, Albert Johanneson scored to level on aggregate before Canario blasted a shot into United's goal bringing an immediate response from Jack Charlton who headed a fine goal to win the match 2-1 and so necessitate a play-off. Although this was at Elland Road the Spaniards really hit top form on the night and the game was as good as over in just 14 minutes, as they ran in three goals in that time, and gallantly as Leeds tried they could only pull back one and the outcome was never in any doubt.

April 1966:
Jack Charlton heads the winning goal in the 2-1 triumph over Real Zaragoza in the Fairs' Cup semi-final second leg match - United's first season in European competition.

1966-1967 >>