YOU WOULDN’T FANCY PLA YING THIS LOT
In the 1960s, Don Revie wasn’t the only manager to assume referees would overlook a bloodcurdling foul early on that tested an opponent’s ‘milkiness’. Yet his team seemed to be involved most regularly, and in some notorious encounters – the 1963 clash against Sunderland that inspired the nickname ‘Dirty Leeds’; the 1964 battle with Everton which prompted referee Ken Stokes to leave the pitch in disgust; the 1970 FA Cup Final replay when Billy Bremner was kung-fu kicked by Chelsea’s Eddie Mccreadie – they were as much sinned against as sinning. As Johnny Giles once said: “It was a different game; much more physical than today – vicious, even – and you either took it or responded to it.”
Yet even at the time, Leeds’ cynical brutality seemed exceptional. In 1964, the FA called Leeds the “dirtiest side in the country”. Though outraged, Revie had himself to blame. He built his first Leeds side around midfielder Bobby Collins, of whom team-mate Jack Charlton said: “He’d kill his mother for a result”. Norman Hunter, skipper Bremner (the sign above his dressing room peg read “Keep fighting”) and Giles, whose chest-high challenge on left-back Sandy Brown ignited the carnage at Goodison Park in 1964, were every bit as combative.
Hunter insists Revie never told him to hurt anyone but, like many dictators, the Leeds boss created a milieu in which orders didn’t have to be given to be executed. You had to be tough to survive amid the flying fists and studs. The legend of ‘Dirty Leeds’ inspired many opponents to retaliate early and often. Paul Reaney, Terry Cooper and Hunter all had