Back when men were men, even if they did have ladies haircuts, the FA Cup really was considered by fans and clubs as something to look forward to as a break from the weekly routine of league fixtures.
The chance to jump on the football special train or join your pals on some rickety old coach with a Watney’s Party Seven and your best bell-bottoms was often the highlight for supporters during the glorious 1970’s.
Glorious for football, not for fashion!
In January 1978, two giants from either side of the Pennines came face-to-face at Elland Road in an epic Third Round clash. Leeds United, under the stewardship of former England captain, Jimmy Armfield, were paired with Tony Book’s Manchester City.
Although Leeds were still a top club, the late seventies were the beginning of the end of the clubs greatest era. After the success of Don Revie and the tumultuous 44 days of Brian Clough, Armfield was trying to recapture the days when Cup finals and title challenges were yearly occurences.
City, as was common during the decade of T.Rex, The Bee Gees and The Bay City Rollers, flattered to deceive even given their 1970 UEFA Cup and 1976 League Cup victories.
Both clubs were in the top half of the First Division when they were drawn together for this tie and those expecting a good old fashioned blood-and-thunder affair weren’t disappointed.
The visitors were denied a penalty early on when England winger, Peter Barnes was sent flying through the air when United centre back, Gordon McQueen, lunged full length to upend the City man in the penalty area.
McQueen, father of buxom Sky Sports News dolly bird Hayley McQueen, was never shy when introducing his studs to the shins of opposition attackers.
The Scottish hatchetman was in the thick of the action again soon after. Following City pressure from a corner, a slanging match ensued with his own keeper, David Harvey. The moustachioed goalie decided to give McQueen a wee shove which resulted in McQueen dishing out a swift, right-hand jab to his colleagues jaw.
This was the 70’s. Fights between players, and often teammates, were commonplace and expected. These were happy times when players could physically ‘interact’ with each other without throwing themselves to the floor.
Referees were also a different breed in those times. The official gave them both a good talking to and sent them off to defend the resulting set piece. No Phil Dowd-esque histrionics in sight.
Following a goalless first half, City turned up the heat on their hosts and took the lead when three players all wearing the previous seasons’ version of the City home shirt to their colleagues, combined.
‘Big’ Dave Watson’s lobbed free-kick (unsurprisingly given away by McQueen) found City and ‘Superstars’ legend, Colin Bell in the Leeds box. Bell’s flick-on was met by Dennis Tueart’s flying header.
City had finally turned their supremacy into a lead which they then doubled thanks to a scrambled goal by Barnes. Yet again Bell gave the Leeds defence problems in the air. His far post header was tipped onto the bar by Harvey but he was powerless to stop Barnes bundling in a second goal.
Tony Book’s side were dominant with the likes of Tueart, Bell, Asa Hartford and Brian Kidd pulling the strings.
Leeds needed to fight back in order to appease their restless fans in a packed Elland Road. The enigmatic Tony Currie set up Arthur Graham, whose effort was saved at point-blank range by City stalwart, Joe Corrigan.
Corrigan found himself at the centre of proceedings again soon after when a Leeds fan decided it would be good fun to run onto the pitch and have a pop at the England keeper (now where have we seen that before?).
The Rozzers were quick to cart the offender away but the exuberant Leeds following took the opportunity to dip their platform heels into the playing surface for good measure. Order was only restored once mounted police charged the trespassers and the referee, bearing a striking resemblance to Don McLean, took to a microphone to implore the Leeds fans to behave. His threat that the game would be abandoned received one of the biggest cheers of the day.
The break in play probably did the home team some good. Following the disturbances they pushed forward. Trevor Cherry had an effort cleared off the line before Leeds finally got on the scoresheet. In the final minute, tiny Welshman Brian Flynn chipped the ball to an unmarked Currie in the City box.
As he rounded Corrigan, he was tripped. The penalty was expertly slotted into the corner by Frank Gray but it was too little too late for the Yorkshiremen as they were deservedly beaten in this War of the Roses.
City’s cup run stalled in round four where they were conquered by eventual League champions, Nottingham Forest. But they did finish a creditable fourth place in the league.
Leeds season drifted from this point as they ended the season in mid-table mediocrity. This game also proved to be one the last in the all-white for centre half and part-time pugilist, Gordon McQueen. He left Leeds just a month later for deadly rivals Manchester United for a British record fee of £495,000.
This game encapsulated English football in the 1970’s. Big hair, flares, packed stands, crowd violence, player violence, terrible pitches and a meaningful FA Cup. Great days!