Down Memory Lane: Clarke sniffed out final win over Arsenal
Strange how fate brings clubs together in the FA Cup. Tonight Leeds United will take on Arsenal in a third round replay at Elland Road — 39 years after they famously met in the final at Wembley.
They called it the Allan Clarke final, for Sniffer — as his team-mates labelled him — scored the only goal in a 1-0 convincing victory, secured by the Yorkshire giants.
Clarke, capped 19 times by England, was one of the most natural goal scorers in post-War football — a predator who could trace goals with the consistency and accuracy of a dog in the Heathrow customs areas. Few chances escaped him.
Clarke’s time at Leeds under manager, the late Don Revie, was really the glory era of the club.
Fortunately, Leeds are currently staging a comeback in every respect, including battling for promotion to the Premier League.
Many, me included, would like to see them back.
He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but controversial chairman Ken Bates has brought dynamism to the set-up. They could justify their place in the top flight — without any problems.
Appropriately, Clarke was asked last November to open the ultra-luxury Centenary Pavilion at the stadium — named after the club’s 1972 Cup triumph.
It has a capacity of 3,000 standing or 1,200 seated — “a magnificent venue — a credit to Yorkshire,” was how Sniffer described it.
Back to the Centenary FA Cup final which was so called because the first one was in 1872.
It was, however, only the 91st staged due to abandonment of other deciders because of the First and Second World Wars. It was the 34th played at Wembley with its famous twin towers and possessing an atmosphere lost in the new stadium.
Arsenal, who had achieved the League and Cup double the previous season, were favourites against a side which had never won the trophy — the country cousins — but, as so often happens in football, it didn’t quite turn out that way.
Not only did the match provide the legacy of Clarke’s famous goal, but the origin of the song Leeds!, Leeds!, Leeds! (commonly known as Marching On Together), the B side of the Cup Final record which proved an immense hit and was adopted by many Yorkshire sporting organisations.
It was a Clarke- Mick Jones build-up which provided the goal after 53 minutes of frenzied football, the former heading past the Gunners goalkeeper from 15 yards.
There were fouls galore at the start, commencing with Clarke tackling Alan Ball with only five seconds on the clock and then we had the spectacle of Charlie George’s volley coming back off the bar, with Clarke and Peter Lorimer also striking the woodwork.
No goals in the first half and not the final which will be recorded as one of the classics, but recalled with relish by Leeds fans thanks to Clarke.
Jones dislocated his shoulder in the last minute and had to be helped up the stairs by his team-mate Norman Hunter to collect the FA Cup winner’s medal. At least that was an historic moment.
Leeds Utd 1 Arsenal 0, May 6, 1972, (Wembley)
Leeds Utd: Harvey, Reaney, Madeley, Bremner (capt), Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray. Substitute: Bates.
Manager: Don Reavie.
Arsenal: Barnett, Rice, McNab, Storey, McLintock (capt), Simpson, Armstrong, Ball, George, Radford (Kennedy, 73), Graham.
Manager: Bertie Mee.
Scorer: Clarke (Leeds Utd, 53).
Referee: David Smith (England).