Leeds United Legends: Allan Clarke
By Sid1
Monday 21 Jul 2008 22:30:00
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Allan Clarke Poses

Allan Clarke is Mr Leeds United. Cut him in half, and he'll bleed Leeds United. Clarke spent 11 years at the club, winning numerous trophies and establishing himself as one of the all time Leeds greats.

Allan signed from Leicester City in 1969 after Leeds' Championship triumph for a large fee of £165,000. He immediatly became a fans' favourite, scoring a goal in Leeds' 3-1 win on his debut vs Tottenham Hotspur in front of 35,000 people.

The deadliest goalscoring career that Leeds United fans have ever seen was all set to begin.

Clarke In England ShirtIn his first season with the club, Clarke and Leeds was on course for the treble. The European Cup, The FA Cup and the First Division was all on Leeds' radars, and who would bet against United on doing it.

Due to the small squad all clubs had in those days, Leeds just burned out of fuel, and fatigue took its part on the clubs players. FA rules stated at the time you could only have a squad of 20, and United took part in 62 games that season. Leeds lost to Celtic 3-1 on aggregate in the European Cup semi final, and eventually fell away from the league title as Everton went from strength to strength, yet, United had an FA Cup Final against Dave Sexton's Chelsea to look forward to.

It was Leeds' first appearance in an FA Cup Final for 5 years. Leeds had played 9 games in 22 days leading up to the cup final. The strain on Don Revie's face alone in the Wembley tunnel told 1,000 stories.

Leeds appeared to have won it with only minutes left. Bremner chipped the ball over the defence for Giles, Giles crossed, Clarke headed towards the goal, the ball hit the foot of the post and Mick Jones hammered the rebound hard and low into the far corner to send Leeds into a 2-1 lead with only minutes to play for.

Clarke vs Chelsea 1970 ReplayChelsea then went up the other end of the pitch and scored to send the game into a replay at Old Trafford, a game in which Clarke played a major part of, a game which has gone down in FA Cup history.

Leeds took the lead through Jones. Clarke received the ball, skipped past numerous challenges and put Jones through. Jones brushed of tackles from the Chelsea defence before dribbling 40 yards and placing the ball into the far top corner.

Chelsea scored a late goal to force the game into extra time through Peter Osgood, and David Webb scored in extra time. Leeds couldn't recover and Chelsea won the cup for the first time. This however, filled Leeds with a more determined resolve to do better next season. Clarke however forced himself into the national team.

Clarke scored 23 goals the following season, as yet again United suffered a major disappointment, once again, United had been robbed, this time, by referee Ray Tinkler against West Brom in April 1971.

UEFA Cup WinnersClarke scored for Leeds, yet Leeds lost 2-1 due to Ray Tinkler failing to spot a clear offside, and a clear offside flag on the far side. Play went on and Jeff Astle went on to score to win the game for the Baggies. Arsenal won the title by one point, in what was the most controversial title race of the 1970s.

Despite the above disappointment, United still had something to cheer as the Whites beat Juventus in the Inter City Fairs Cup on away goals (3-3), Clarke scored at Elland Road for United, but the general consensus was busier on wondering on what should have been.

1972 really was the year Clarke entered himself for good in the United history books. That diving header against Arsenal is a goal all United supporters, young and old can relate to. Mick Jones got to behind Bob McNabb, crossed the ball towards the edge of the penalty area where there was Allan Clarke, running onto the ball, diving in the air, meeting it perfectly and sending it into the bottom corner. Clarke also hit the bar in the game.

Sniffer also scored in the infamous 7-0 and 5-1 routs of Southampton and Man Utd respectively at Elland Road.

Clarke With The FA CupLeeds was once again robbed of the title. After playing a grueling FA Cup Final in front of 100,000 people, and millions worldwide, Leeds were forced to play Wolves away on the following Monday to win the title. A fatigued United lost 2-1 to Wolves.

Brian Clough's Derby County won the title, picking up the scraps, so to speak. Clarke rightly commented on this:

“We were the only team that won the FA Cup and never got to celebrate,” 

Yet again, United had been kicked in the teeth for the following season running.

1973 was another season of disappointment for Leeds and for Allan Clarke.

The 1972-73 season was pretty poor by Leeds' high standards. A season where highlights were very far and few between, Leeds finished in a mediocre 3rd place. Clarke did play a part and scored in Leeds' 5-0 rout of defending 'Champions' Derby County.

Sniffer also played in one of the most famous shocks in the FA Cup. Leeds vs Sunderland, 1973 FA Cup Final. The less said about that, the better.

Internationally, England failed to qualify for the World Cup, losing to Poland, 2-1. The Poland goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, labelled 'The Clown' by Brian Clough had the game of his life. Clarke managed to convert a late penalty to get England back in the game, but not even Clarke could haul England back into contention.

Leeds were starting to age as a team, yet after being written off by all the press, United managed to generate one last real push for the title.

United's first opponents of the 1973-74 season was Everton. Before the game, Leeds boss Don Revie stated that he wanted the team to go through the season undefeated. United won 3-1, which included a spectacular 30 yard strike from Johnny Giles.

Clarke 1975Leeds went from strength to strength in the league, United won the first eight games, then drew 0-0 with Manchester United, then proceeded to go another 21 unbeaten, before losing to Stoke 3-2 at Victoria Ground. This 29 game unbeaten streak from the first game of the season was a record, and only broke by Arsenal in 2004, when they went the whole season (38 games) unbeaten. 

Despite a little black patch near the end of the season, Clarke and United pulled together and won the title. Clarke's first ever league title.

United manager Don Revie left for the England job, as self styled Leeds hater Brian Clough took over the reigns at Elland Road. Clough's 44 day tenure included the loss on penalties against Liverpool at Wembley, in the Charity Shield.

Jimmy Armfield took over at the club, and guided Leeds to their first ever European Cup Final, Clarke scoring at Elland Road in the semi final against Barcelona. Another final, and Clarke was once again at the forefront of it.

Clarke was hacked down by Franz Beckenbauer in the first half, a clear cut penalty, yet the referee Michel Kitabdjian refused to award a penalty, and instead gave a corner. Leeds also had a clear goal disallowed by Peter Lorimer, once again, United had been kicked in the teeth.

Clarke's career had started to wind down afterwards; this coupled with a knee injury had forced Clarke to leave Leeds in 1978.

Sniffer did however feature in the 1977 FA Cup semi final and scoring too. However United lost 2-1 to Manchester United.

Clarke in managementArmfield got the sack, Jock Stein took over, left after 44 days for the Scotland job, then Jimmy Adamson came in, before being sacked in 1980, and then Manny Cousins hired one of Elland Road's sons - Allan Clarke.

Management didn't go too kind for Clarkey. Despite big name signings like Frank Worthington and Alex Sabella, United were relegated to the Second Division in 1982, for the first time since 1964.

Clarke had management spells with Scunthorpe, Barnsley and Lincoln City, before retiring from football for good in 1990.

Allan appeared in a Leeds shirt 273 times, with a return of 110 goals.

Allan is still a regular at Elland Road nowadays, along with the likes of Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer and Eddie Gray.

 



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