John Rafferty on the night Billy Bremner stood tall at Easter Road
Hibernian 0 Leeds United 0 (Leeds won on penalties) The Scotsman, 8 November 1973
Hibs, knocked out of the Uefa Cup last night at Easter Road after the match was decided by penalty kicks, are claiming that the result is void. They are cabling Uefa headquarters stating that Leeds officials, Don Revie and Les Cocker, broke the rules by being on the pitch while the penalty kicks were being taken.
The Uefa representative at the game, Mr Albert Gudmunsson, of Iceland, said: “The referee was wrong to allow them to stay on the pitch.”
Tom Hart, managing director of Hibs, said that they were claiming the tie under Article 11 of the rules which states that only players on the field at the end of the regulation time can take part in the penalty-kick competition. “We are so confident we will be awarded the tie that we are sending a representative to the quarter-final draw in Zurich tomorrow.
“In addition to Revie and Cocker breaking the rules, Bremner also contravened them by leaving the field after extra time for a drink of water.”
Don Revie, Leeds’ manager, accepted after the game that he should not have been on the pitch during the penalty-kick competition.
So Hibs may live to fight again. and how they deserved the chance. After 120 minutes which they dominated, but had failed to score, the decision went to the tie-breaker, penalty kicks. Pat Stanton, the Hibs captain, hit a post with the first kick. All the other kicks were scorers; and so Leeds, after being hammered unmercifully into continuous defence, took the tie. That was grossly unfair.
It was a shadow Leeds United side with six reserves and playing with a heavy commitment to the midfield. They had never more than two forwards – Jordan and Clarke. They were sorely harassed as they defended cleverly and resolutely and desperately, and with a huge measure of good luck round the so-cool and clever Bremner. Five times, the ball was knocked off the Leeds goalline with the goalkeeper beaten.
One could but describe Hibs as inspired: and if anyone was responsible for the inspiration, then it had to be Alex Cropley. His darts, his well-struck crosses from the left, seeking the head of Gordon, his fierce shooting, his searing speed set him apart in a superb attacking team that was not recognisable as the one which recently lost twice to Rangers.
The quick surprise was to find that Don Revie had used considerable ingenuity to get out of the problems caused by his injuries. He moved that supreme attacker, Billy Bremner, to the back four to play beside the centre-half, Ellam. With his superb technique and abundant skills he gave a credible impersonation of Franz Beckenbauer.
Lorimer, too, had a strange role, lying deep to cover Cropley, who had been so impressive in the first leg.
There was early evidence of Hibs’ atacking zeal and willingness to shoot at sight when Stanton slipped a pass to Cropley and he hit it on the volley only to see it swerve past a post. Soon, it was apparent that the lively Cropley was able to slip Lorimer. He aimed his crosses to Gordon’s head at the far post; but even when Higgins joined in the jump, Ellam and Yorath were powerful in the defending jump, and there seemed no way to goal in the air.
In the ninth minute, as the game was in a fury of excitement, Blackley tried another route as he charged straight up the middle. He hit a hard, swerving shot which seemed to be going in high, near a post, but the young goalkeeper, Shaw, leapt to save spectacularly.
The game down the hill had been going mainly Hibs’ way, and at a tremendous pace; but they were jolted in the 19th minute, when they almost lost a goal. Leeds won a corner on the right. Yorath rushed on to the low ball, but made poor contact; and only deflected it to Ellam. From a yard out, he knocked the ball almost straight up, and against the underside of the crossbar, and it went back into play. That was a close one.
Just before half-time. Gordon was cautioned for a foul on Yorath. That was a surprise, for the game, though fast and uncompromising, had been manfully played.
Almost on the half-time whistle there was an extraordinary jumble of shots and headers and blocks and saves. Five or six times in as many seconds, the ball was flashed at Leeds’ goal and knocked out again dramatically and desperately and too quickly for the action to be accurately recorded.
Shaw came out of the scramble with damaged fingers and he could not play in the second half. Lethern took his place. Hibs also made a substitution and Hazel replaced Higgins.
Immediately the mood for the second half was set and Hibs almost scored. The ball was sailing to the net when Reaney with a run and leap cleared it from under the bar.
There was a terrific furore when Gordon headed the ball into the Leeds net and the great crowd danced and yelled in acclamation and then in fury when it was seen that the referee was giving offside. It was a near thing. There was further fury when Yorath bodychecked Edwards painfully and he had to have prolonged treatment from the trainers before he could resume. The Hibs attacking then was awesome.
They ran with fanatical speed and determination and charged deep into the Leeds defence until even Bremner was clearing desperately and it had seemed nothing on earth could have broken his composure.
The racing Duncan, who throughout the night had shown surprising aggression, was sent tumbling; and it might have been a penalty. Instead, a free kick was given on the line, and it seemed that justice had been done when Black’s header was bound for the net. Bremner, with a leaping contortion, headed clear.
There was a flying shot from Cropley – too high – two more that sped into the goalkeeper’s hands, as on and on it went until it seemed that something must crack. The only respite for Leeds was when they knocked the ball around, more to give the defence a breather than with any aggressive intent. And so it went into extra time, with Leeds fortunate beyond measure to have survived unbroken so far.
Hibs: McArthur, Bremner, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Edwards, Higgins, Gordon, Cropley, Duncan.
Leeds: Shaw, Reaney, Cherry, Bremner, Ellam, Yorath, Lorimer, Clarke, Jordan, Bates, F Gray.
Referee: P Schiller (Austria).