LEEDS UNITED 1 ARSENAL 0 1972 FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium 06/05/72

The Greatest Leeds United Team Ever - Picture from the Daily Mail

(A version of this post was first published on the Leeds United Blog Clarke One Nil in May 2011)

As a child I was given a book by my Granddad which I feel has shaped my fascination with sport. I’m not sure where it came from, and why he gave it to me but I am convinced it shaped how my mind works now and why I have the capacity to recall results, goal scorers and sporting events almost at will.

The book was The World of Sport Almanac 1971/72 and was produced by the team behind the eponymous ITV programme which rivalled Grandstand on Saturday afternoons in the 70’s and 80’s. It contained every result of every sporting event held from the opening day of that football season Saturday 14th August 1971 until Friday 11th August 1972 (It also featured a “special” appendix listing all the medallists in the 1972 Olympics which took place at the end of August). It’s that book that I can blame for me knowing off the top of my head that Aston Villa won the third division that year, that Leeds lost to Lierse SK in the UEFA Cup, that Chelsea put 13 past a team called Stromgodset in the Cup Winners Cup and that England were bowled out for 101 at the Oval to lose a test to India for the first time ever.

The highlight of course of the TV Sporting Year in the Seventies was the FA Cup Final, and the Almanac had several photos of the game as well as pictures from “behind the scenes” showing Brian Moore at his commentary position.

Obviously being from Leeds, this was pretty special and the 1972 FA Cup Final has been indelibly inked into my psyche. I remember my Granddad again giving me a reel to reel recording of the BBC Radio commentary of the game, which I listened to on numerous occasions, learning new words such as “penalised” and hearing how Celtic were thrashing Hibernian 6-1 at Hampden park in the Scottish Cup Final.

In the late Eighties the BBC released a video of the final, which my stepdad bought, and I was finally able to see the entire game, rather than the much shown winning goal and David Coleman’s classic commentary: “Clarke. One-Nil.”

It’s not that coverage though which I now have. With a deal done with ITV to cover the FA Cup, the release of FA Cup Final DVD’s has the ITV World of Sport coverage on them, so now I can listen to Brian Moore, whilst remembering those photos of him sat in his gantry from my childhood.

As it was the Centenary final, the FA had produced some pageantry for the day, and the two teams entered the field through a guard of honour representing the previous winners of the Cup from The Wanderers in 1872 to the current holders and Leeds United’s opponents that day, Arsenal. Even the Queen was in attendance, for the first time since 1965 when Leeds had lost to Liverpool, but she left the greeting of the teams to her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh.

The two sides had met in a Wembley final previously, the 1968 League Cup Final, and the game had been a brutal affair, which Leeds won by a goal to nil. It would have been no surprise then that there would be a foul in the opening seconds and that inside the first minute Bob McNab would be the first player ever to be booked in a Cup Final.

Despite the niggles, and Eddie Gray was sought out by the Arsenal players in the opening minutes, it was Leeds who started the brighter. However the first real chance came Arsenal’s way when Frank Mclintock hit a long range free kick, the ball swerving and almost squeezing past David Harvey in the Leeds goal. Then moments later Paul Reaney produced one of his trademark clearances to prevent Alan Ball from opening the scoring prompting Brian Moore to exclaim “Reaney a magnificent save off the line… That really got the crowd buzzing.”

With the game flowing from end to end, Leeds also had chances and went very close twice in a matter of minutes. First from a free kick, Jonny Giles and Peter Lorimer got in a mix up, probably put off by one of the funniest pieces of foul play ever as Allan Clarke pulled Charlie Georges long hair in the wall, but Lorimer recovered to execute one of his famous pile drivers, which Arsenal’s goalkeeper Jeff Barnett smuggled round the post. Then Lorimer smashed a cross towards the back post where Allan Clarke stooped to head onto the crossbar.

The second half began as the first did, with an Arsenal player going into the book. Charlie George was the culprit, hacking down Billy Bremner before back chatting the referee. The first 100 years of FA Cup finals had seen no cautions; he was the fourth of this game, joining McNab, Norman Hunter and Bremner in David Smith’s notebook.

Moments later came the decisive goal, and one of the finest seen in Wembley’s history. Mick Jones scooting past McNab to get to the bye line, before pulling the ball back to around the penalty spot for Clarke to dive and head in the iconic Leeds United goal. Brian Moore’s understated “Alan Clarke has put Leeds ahead” no match for Coleman’s classic commentary.

The goal seemed to set Leeds free and wave upon wave of attacks rained down on the Arsenal goal. Frustration began to mount for the Gunners, Alan Ball resorting to hacking at Billy Bremner to try to get the ball, Billy just restraining himself from getting up and punching his lights out, two red-headed dynamo’s hard at it.

This was a period where the great Leeds team were playing some of the finest football, the 7-0 romp over Southampton still fresh in the mind. As they took control of the game and started to keep possession, the “Ole’s” started to sound in the crowd.

But this Leeds side were still known as eternal bridesmaids, and had dominated a Cup Final just two years earlier against Chelsea and gone home empty handed. With just a one goal cushion, they were still vulnerable, a fact emphasised when Charlie George crashed an effort of the crossbar.

Leeds though maintained control, hitting Arsenal on the counter-attack quickly and often. Jimmy Hill, working for ITV in those days commenting that “Leeds have got their foot on Arsenal’s neck … they’re in a vice and they’re not letting them out.”

With time ticking down, Leeds mounted one final attack, and as so often in their history, saw their triumph tinged with tragedy. Jones scooted past McNab again to the bye line, but was this time prevented from crossing by the Arsenal keeper, but in the collision fell and damaged his shoulder.

As the final whistle went and Brian Moore proclaimed “Leeds have won the FA Cup for the first time”, Jones was in agony, his shoulder dislocated. The cameras rather than focusing on the celebrating Leeds players were pointed at the prostrate Jones and Les Cocker shouting furiously for someone to “get the fucking doctor!”

Whilst Jones was being treated his team-mates went up to collect the Cup, Norman Hunter collecting a medal on Jones behalf. “Mick the Mover” though was not to be denied his moment of glory and ashen faced, strapped up and supported by Hunter made his way up the steps to the Royal Box described by Moore as “being in agony every step he takes but a great moment for Mick Jones.”

As Jones was then stretchered away to rapturous applause from the Leeds faithful, Don Revie told the viewers that “seeing them get that cup today is the greatest thrill of my life.”

For the team though the celebrations were short and sweet, a fixture pile-up meaning a match the following Monday at Wolves to clinch the League and Cup double. You don’t need my World of Sport Almanac to tell you what happened that night.

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10 thoughts on “LEEDS UNITED 1 ARSENAL 0 1972 FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium 06/05/72

    • There are plenty of people who can provide copies of the games. The Cup Finals etc should be readily available on Amazon etc, and there are more and more being uploaded to YouTube.

      You could also try sites such as oldfootballdvds.weebly.com or http://www.freewebs.com/footballontap

      Hope you have success in finding what you are looking for and thanks for reading.

      Stephen

  1. Hi Stephen and thanks for that. What i really want is the BBC version and commentary by the late great David Coleman. I don’t mind what format or copy .
    I already have the match but it’s an ITV version.Can you help?
    Bryn

    • Hi Bryn

      Apologies for the delay. I have contacted my three normal suppliers of games to find out what the commentary track is on the DVD’s they are offering. I did have the BBC on VHS a long time ago but that has been discarded once the game came out on DVD. However becasue of the FA’s deal with ITV it looks like they have had to use the Brian Moore commentary on the commercial release. As soon as I hear anything I will let you know.

      However on YouTube the full BBC coverage is available, although in small 10 minute chunks. Here is a link to Part 1 and then the entire playlist should follow on

      Hope that is OK for you, I’ll let you know when I hear anything else.

      Stephen

      • Hi There.

        Oh dear! I really would have liked the David Coleman commentary.
        And yes i did do the Youtube bit, but it’s not quite the same as watching an uninterrupted game.
        I know you’ll do your best so thanks Stephen.
        Hope to hear back soon as you get a result!
        Regards
        Bryn

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