the story of leeds football from 1974 to 1990

More ups and downs for our Leeds United. This page goes from the depressing season of 1974-75 to the glorious season of 1989-90. Looking at the departure of The Master Don Revie in 1974 and his 8 successors who lead the club during this period. Revie had left Leeds in a more than healthy position, his side lifted the title in 1974 and this was more than a parting gift. The same side faced Bayern Munich in the European Cup final, Le Parc De Princess in Paris was the venue and Leeds were cheated out of the games most coveted trophy. Leeds start a slow decline resulting in relegation at the end of 1981-82. During the seventh season of our stay in the second, sees Howard Wilkinson take the reigns. With genius signings 'Sargeant Wilko' guides Leeds back to the top divison. Leeds United are promoted, back in the 1st as champions for 1989-90.


WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 1965 ~ 1974 | Period 1990 ~ 2000

  1974-75 ~ 1979-80
The close season before the start of 1974-75 saw Don Revie leave Leeds United. After turning down lucrative offers in previous years from clubs such as Sheffield United, Birmingham, Everton and Panathinaikos. Revie resigned his position at Elland Road to take over Sir Alf Ramsey's post as manager of England. When Revie left Leeds he left the club in a financially sound situation. A squad full of internationals, who were insured for over 3 million and Elland Road had undergone some vast improvements, with 2 million spent in the last two years. Contrasting this with what Revie took on when he made the switch from player to manager of Leeds United shows what an incredible achievement his period at Elland Road was. Leeds from the bottom of the second divison were now lauded by many to be the best club side in Europe.

Brian Clough took over as manager of Leeds for the 1974-75 campaign. The same man who had previously called the team cheats. He tried to put his mark on the club, drafting in John O'Hare and John McGovern. One win in seven, plus the discontent of the Leeds team and crowd, forced the board to get rid. He left after only 44 days with a more than generous payoff. Jimmy Armfield replaced Clough as manager and brought about some cohesion to the club. Leeds under Clough had had a bad start to the season and Armfield never managed to turn that round finishing 9th in the league. A little success in the FA Cup reaching the quarter final stage, but eventually lost out to Ipswich after three replays. It was in the European Cup though where Leeds would shine. Reaching the final of the cup beating Barcelona on the way. 50,393 fans at Elland Road watched Clarke and Bremner score in the first leg of the semi final, making the tie 2-1 to Leeds. 110,000 saw a Peter Lorimer goal at the Nou Camp, deliver a European Cup final ticket to Leeds United after drawing the away leg 1-1. Yet again, in the final against Bayern Munich at Le Parc De Princess in Paris, the Leeds fans witnessed the most appaling and ludicrous refereeing by the Frenchman Michel Kitabdjian. Leeds scored a perfectly good opening goal, a trademark thunderbolt from Peter Lorimer, ruled out because it was seen that Billy Bremner was interfering with play. The linesman was already running back to the halfway line thinking he had seen a perfectly good goal but Kitabdjian ruled it out with the bizarre reasoning that Bremner had interfered with a ball travelling at 70mph. The outcome of the game seemed inevitable, especially after the two clear penalty claims were dismissed. Leeds who were by far the better team, finally succumbed to the bent referee and two Bayern Munich goals.

  1974-75 Old Big 'Ed Out Armfield In As United Finish 9th And A European Cup Final.

1975-76 saw Mick Jones and Johnny Giles leave Leeds, the latter leaving for WBA for a fee of 48,000. Despite after one of the most depressing periods for Leeds United they still managed to finish a respectable 5th in the league but went out early in the FA and FL Cups. 1976-77 saw Bates, Yorath, Hunter and Bremner leave Leeds. The great side that Revie had built probably ended their era after the Paris debacle and now the team was gracefully moving apart. Armfield did prise the gifted Tony Currie away from Sheffield United though for a fee of 250,000 and Ray Hankin also arrived from Burnley. Leeds finished a relatively low 10th spot in the league and went out of the FL cup at their first appearance. In the FA Cup and Leeds did well reaching the semi final stage against Manchester United, but despite a late comeback lost the game 2-1.

  1975-76 United Finish A Respectable 5th.
  1976-77 A Difficult Transition Begins And Leeds Finish 10th.

The season of 1977-78 saw Leeds better the previous season in the league by one place finishing 9th. Armfield again dipped into the transfer market that season bringing in Arthur Graham, Brian Flynn and Paul Hart. In the FA Cup and Leeds went out at the first stage to Manchester City but made it all the way to the semi fimal in the FL Cup. Although a two legged affair saw Leeds lose to eventual winners Nottingham Forest with Eddie Gray bagging a goal in each encounter. With the success of the Revie side still entrenched in the board and minds of the Leeds public. It would seem nothing short of a miracle for Armfield to impress. Armfield did steady the ship at Elland Road and produce a little success but with expectations still high, the board decided to end his time at Elland Road.

  1977-78 Armfield Finished As United Finish 9th.

1978-79 and the Leeds board employed the services of Jock Stein, a man who had enjoyed European Cup success with Celtic but bizarrely like Clough before him he only lasted 44 days, as the offer of being the Scottish national manager proved too much. This left the Leeds board in a bit of a quandary and they eventually recruited Jimmy Adamson to the position. Leeds that season made an impressive 5th in the league qualifying for the UEFA Cup and although went out early in the FA Cup, made the semi final of the FL Cup again. The two legged tie saw Leeds lose to Southampton. Drawing the first game 2-2 with goals from Currie and Hankin only to lose the second leg 1-0. The season of 1979-80 saw Leeds make the lowest finish to the season since they were promoted in 1963-1964. Leeds finished the season in 11th spot. They also had an embarrassing exit from the FL Cup losing 7-0 away to Arsenal after a 1-1 draw at Elland Road. The FA Cup and Leeds were out at the first stage losing to Nottingham Forest 4-1 at home and Europe didn't prove any better losing out to Universitatea Craiova by 4-0 on aggregate at the second round stage. The Leeds fans wanted 'Adamson Out'.

  1978-79 Another 44 Day Wonder But Adamson Takes Leeds to 5th.
  1979-80 A Dismal Time Of it As Leeds Finish 11th.

  1980-81 ~ 1989-90
After losing four of the opening five games of the season in 1980-81 the Leeds fans got their wish and Jimmy Adamson was finished as Leeds United Manager. Allan Clarke who had previously left to manage Barnsley was brought in as his successor. It wasn't to be a happy return for Clarke, as Leeds only bettered their previous season in the league by two spots finishing in 9th place. First stage exits in the FA Cup and FL Cup made Clarke's return and debut season a dismal affair. Clarke's next season in charge for Leeds proved to be even worse. In season 1981-82 Leeds only managed 10 wins all season. Leeds were relegated to division two after accumulating only 42 points. The situation was not helped by the failure of record signing Peter Barnes who cost Leeds 930,000, Barnes just scoring once in 30 league games. Again early exits in both domestic cup competitions that season, proved costy for Clarke. Allan Clarke was sacked as manager and the board turned to another old Leeds favourite. Promoting Eddie Gray from his youth team position to be the next manager of Leeds United.

  1980-81 Adamson Out And Sniffer takes Leeds to 9th.
  1981-82 Only Ten Wins All Season Sees United Relegated.

1982-83 and Leeds United found themselves back in the second divison. Twenty years ago it was Leeds being promoted to the first that was making the headlines and now they had to do it all again. Eddie Gray had an unenviable task. Leeds that campaign finished the league in 8th position and went out at the second stage in both cup competitions. Eddie Gray employed the talents of Andy Ritchie that season in a swap deal with Brighton. The player going down South in exchange was Leeds born Terry Connor. 1983-84 and matters did not improve on the park for Leeds. Finishing 10th in the league and again exiting early from both cup competitions. That season saw the return of Peter Lorimer aged 37. Coming back to help his old teammate out to provide much needed cover in midfield. Eddie Gray was doing a good job of building a team with the little resources he had. With players like Dennis Irwin and Scott Sellars coming through the youth system all he needed was time. The cup showing again in 1984-85 was again disappointing with Leeds going out of both cups at the early stages. It was in the league though where much improvement was evident. Leeds finished in 7th spot winning 19 games. Ian Baird was brought in from Southampton for 100,000 and with teamates like John Sheridan and Tommy Wright, Eddie Gray was creating a side with a promising outlook.

  1982-83 Eddie Gray Takes Charge As Leeds Finish 8th.
  1983-84 Team Building Takes Time As United End The Season 10th.
  1984-85 An Improvement From Gray's Side Takes Leeds To 7th.

To the dismay of the Leeds fans though and indeed to players and certain members of the board Eddie Gray was sacked just three months into the season 1985-86. Leeds had had a poor start with a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Stoke City being one of the lowlights. Leslie Silver the chairman of Leeds hired the services of another old Leeds hero Billy Bremner who at the time was manager of Doncaster. Bremner bought midfieder Ian Snodin that season, who he knew from Doncaster but significant departures included Sellars and Irwin. The promising side Gray was building was being dismantled and sold for far less than it was worth. Leeds finished in 14th position in the league and early exits again in the cup proved a bumpy arrival for Bremner. Hard fought fortunes favoured the Bremner side in 1986-87 with a vast improvement. In the FA Cup and Leeds made it all the way to the semi final only to lose 3-2 after extra time, to first divison outfit and eventual winners Coventry City. Leeds went out early in the FL Cup but finished a lofty fourth position in the league earning 68 points. Leeds had reached the play-offs, beating Oldham over two legs in the semi. Two goals, one in each encounter from Kieth Edwards took Leeds through to the final. Winning the home game 1-0 and the away leg losing 2-1. Leeds met Charlton in the final. They lost the first leg away 1-0 but equalled that result at Elland Road setting up a replay at Birmingham's ground St Andrews. The game went to extra time after staying goal-less for 90 minutes. In the first period of extra time and John Sheridan scores for Leeds. The celebrations of the Leeds fans didn't last though, as Charlton scored twice in the last ten minutes of the second period.

  1985-86 A Premature Sacking As Leeds Finish In 14th.
  1986-87 Legend Billy Bremner Takes Leeds To The Play Off's.

1987-88 saw David Batty emerge from the youth team to make his debut for Leeds, but the achievements of the previous season were not built on. Leeds finished in 7th spot in the league, going out early in both cup competitons. Billy Bremner could not regain the formula that so close brought his Leeds United team success, just two seasons previous. In 1988-89 Bremner was finished after a poor start to the season, just one win in the first six prompted the board to make the change. Leslie Silver now looked to talent in the first division as an answer to Leeds United's problems. Howard Wilkinson who at the time was having a succesful time with Sheffield Wednesday caught Silver's attentions and he persuaded Wilkinson to join Leeds. This probably proved one of two things, either Silver had the gift of the gab or Leeds United were still a very big pull. Wilkinson went down a division and started about the business of being the new Leeds United manager. That season saw Wilkinson pull Leeds back to mid table decency but again, failing at the early stages in the cups. He did also however make some very significant signings that year. Bringing in Chris Fairclough from Tottenham and for a bargain 300,000 Gordon Strachan was signed from Manchester United.

  1987-88 United Disappoint Finishing In 7th.
  1988-89 Sergeant Wilko Takes Over And Leeds Finish 10th.

For 1989-90 and Wilkinson made more acquisitions with players like Mel Sterland, Vinnie Jones, Chris Kamara and Lee Chapman joining the ranks. Leeds fans were quick to take note and believed that Wikinson meant business. Leeds finished their domestic cup campaigns again at the early stages. It was in the league though where Leeds showed their force. In December 1989 Leeds went to the top of the table after a 2-0 win at Middlesborough, with goals from Shutt and Fairclough and that's where Leeds stayed for the rest of the season. 12 players made their debut in that season, which notes the often overlooked genius of Wilkinson. In his first full season in charge, after Leeds had spent the seven previous seasons in the second division, he did the deed. Leeds United were promoted as second division champions.

  1989-90 Wilko Makes His Mark And Takes Leeds Up As Champions.

WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 1965 ~ 1974 | Period 1990 ~ 2000

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