Video of the Day: Leeds United vs Southampton, March 1972

by | Jan 20, 2016

Over the years, the reputation of the Leeds United team that bestrode English football over the decade between the middle of the 1960s and the middle of the 1970s has often been tarnished by those who remember it. The obsession of Don Revie seldom seemed to be a particularly strong look outside of Elland Road, while the “professionalism” of the team has been widely criticised. Not that Leeds United supporters are bothered by that, of course. Between 1968 and 1974, Leeds were the champions of England twice, and winners of the FA Cup and League Cup on one occasion each. And these tallies may have been higher had the strains of fighting on so many different fronts not so often taken a toll upon the team in the closing weeks of seasons, playing on pitches that wouldn’t be permitted for one minute in the modern era and in an age during which professionalism and reductionism often seemed to become confused.

Some of the criticism levelled against this team is justified, but none of this is to suggest that they weren’t capable of playing some outstanding football and when the BBC’s cameras turned up at Elland Road on March 1972 they bore witness to the very best of Leeds United against a Southampton team that was battling for its life to avoid relegation. What is noteworthy about this match is the swagger and arrogance with Leeds first skewer and then play with an increasingly demoralised Southampton team. Somehow or other, though, even a team capable of this brilliance couldn’t end the season as the champions of England. In a four-way title race, the eventual champions were, of course, Brian Clough’s Derby County. But on that day in spring 1972, it must have felt as if the sky was the limited for this Leeds United team. Commentary comes from Barry Davies.

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