The Greatest Goal I (N)ever Saw: Leeds United's Lorimer In The European Cup Final
Bitter, twisted... who me? Just because of a controversial football match and even more controversial goal, am I mad? Too bloody right I am, rancour like that is part of my DNA near enough.
The day was supposed to be our big day, our biggest day, when we were to be crowned, indisputably, undeniably, the champions of Europe. No, not the winners of the gross and inaccurately named ‘Champions’ League’, rammed into the face of today’s football fans like a particularly unappetising Supersized McMurdoch Crapburger but the European Cup, competed for by European nation league title holders only.
The Super Leeds team had won the Inter Cities Fairs Cup twice in relatively recent history, and they had shamefully been cheated out of the Cup Winners’ Cup too a couple of years before, in 1973. While Sunderland beat them fair and square in the FA Cup final that year, it was a sh*thead referee who won the European final for AC Milan shortly afterwards. I’ve never claimed Leeds United were the only British team to be ripped off in European competition, but they were the ripped off the heaviest. Not only did they get their unfair share of ‘sh*t refs’ in those days, they got the most criminal ones too. The whole shoddy affair had such an effect on me and dare I say it, plenty more Leeds fans at the time, that I wrote about it in Disrepute - Revie’s England (Tonto Books) - Wednesday 28th May 1975, Leeds United, champions of England, versus Bayern Munich, champions of West Germany : -
"Twenty-five minutes left and it’s still 0-0. Leeds are awarded another free-kick, midway in the Munich half. It’s yet another one of those games where ‘dirty’ Leeds are the sinned against rather than the actual sinners. Johnny Giles takes the free-kick with his left foot. He picks out Paul Madeley easily, who had peeled away from the throng to meet the pass with his head and send the ball across the crowded goal area. A Munich defender gets to it first but succeeds only in heading the ball upwards. There is one particular player who you, as an opponent, would not wish to see lining up a volley within sight of your goal... that player is Peter Lorimer, and that headed clearance is descending slowly and invitingly to that very player. Lorimer steadies himself, he watches the ball closely and then he strikes it with his famed right foot, as sweetly and powerfully as is humanly possible. It rockets past Maier’s flailing left hand in to the top corner of the net. Deafening cheers from the Leeds supporters, as their players run around to celebrate and congratulate each other while the Munich players barely react, almost as if they had expected to concede, deserved to concede. But then, as if their captain, Beckenbauer, has suddenly remembered something, he raises his arm to protest that something was wrong with the goal. What exactly, he does not know… To add to the confusion, as if Beckenbauer’s raised arm is an invitation, photographers, press men and stewards race on to the pitch to get closer to the turmoil.
David Coleman, commentating for BBC TV (with guest pundit England manager Don Revie alongside him) remarks – ‘And the German players are protesting… And what’s he given? See what happened here: Madeley forward, knocked back – and while you’re watching (the action replay), there’s bedlam on the field. Lorimer puts it away… and Bremner may have been offside… and… what’s happened? The Leeds players protesting and pointing to the linesman who’s gone to the halfway line. The linesman had no doubt but what’s the referee given? The linesman is actually on the halfway line, having made up his mind it was perfectly alright…’ Franz Beckenbauer, captain of Munich as well as the current World Cup holders, speaks with French referee Michel Kitabdjian as if they’re old friends, supporting him, encouraging him, cajoling him, to decide in which ever way he thinks is best... even if, as is patently clear, he is unaware of any rule infringement and his linesman has adjudged the goal as fair. Coleman again - ‘… And the referee, who seems to have had his problems, has now given a goal… Total confusion! And, in fact… well, he hasn’t, he’s given offside!’ " The goal is disallowed and that bastard Beckenbauer has finally got some revenge for 1966.
Lorimer’s shot was customarily spectacular, he didn’t score many ordinary goals. We’ve had some superb strikers of the old pig bladder at Elland Road: Giles (with either foot), Currie, Sheridan, Sterland, McAllister, Yeboah etc, but Lorimer was the king. When he really hit a ball - like against the Germans - it knew about it, briefly taking the shape of a great kidney bean as his right boot pummelled the leather surface. He made his debut in the early 1960s so naturally there are many of his 238 goals for the club that I wasn’t lucky or old enough to witness. Regardless, I saw plenty of classic Lash strikes, and the one against Munich would have been high up the rankings, probably the top one in fact, it was that good, a Hollywood blockbuster of a shot. Of course, as I’m frequently reminded by the sickening twinge in my soul, it wasn’t allowed, which means therefore, it is the Greatest Goal I (N)ever Saw. Had it stood and had Leeds United been awarded a penalty for one of the most blatant fouls you could ever see - Beckenbauer on Clarke, even the STILL photos prove it’s a foul - then the result would have been a foregone conclusion and Leeds would rightfully have been crowned European Champions. (Beckenbauer handled the ball in the penalty area too, also in the first half of the match).
Such experiences of disgraceful, bent refereeing explain why I always used to back the British clubs in the European Cup in those days. That probably would not have stretched to Man United getting my support but seeing as they didn’t win the League for a lifetime, it’s irrelevant. And nowadays there are hardly any British players involved in the Competition Formerly Held For Champions Only, so frankly I don’t give a toss anymore about it, it’s all overhyped and overrated sh*te.
Had Leeds won the European in 1975, I doubt they would have remained at the zenith of football for much longer, there were too many changes to personnel needed in too short a space of time, and for all his qualities I don’t think Jimmy Armfield was the best manager for the job at the time. A gentleman and a splendid chap yes, a great football boss no. Just my opinion, it’s not important; it could have been worse of course, and we would find out once the Leeds board showed they’d been dining on too many stupid pills again, sacking Armfield and really setting the club on the slide thereafter. I do think though, that the consequent, deathly slow collapse of the club wouldn’t have happened, and of course there wouldn’t have been a European ban on the club after Leeds United fans rioted at the Paris final. (After cheating the club out of two European finals, UEFA then banned them from European competition). Damn it, they could have saved us all a lot of bother and heartache if they’d done it a few years earlier!