GREAT GAMES REVISITED

The English season’s traditional curtain-raiser is usually a tepid affair. Not so in 1974, when tempers flared like never before, Dan Roberts writes…

Liverpool 1-1 Leeds United, [Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties], (Charity Shield, 1974)

To be perfectly honest the Community Shield – or Charity Shield as it used to be known – is not regarded as one of the stand out games of the season. The victor will celebrate it as a trophy won, while the loser treats it as a friendly that means nothing. Not much of note usually happens –but that wasn’t the case in 1974.

Leeds United, managed by Don Revie, had won the 1973-74 English First Division title and Liverpool, under the stewardship of Bill Shankly, had won that season’s FA Cup. Both managers had then decided to leave their respective clubs – Revie to the money of the Middle East while Shankly retired after a trophy-laden career.

So it was the newly appointed Brian Clough who led out the Leeds side onto the Wembley turf on that August afternoon. In a gesture of thanks, Bill Shankly was asked to lead out the Liverpool team before handing the reins over to Bob Paisley. It was just about the last magnanimous gesture of the day. Leeds had earned a reputation for hard tackling and was not averse to bending the laws of the game to gain success – something that Clough had been publically critical about when he took the manager’s job. Liverpool was not without its own hard men, who played a brand of football that is not seen today. From the outset the Leeds players targeted Kevin Keegan and repeatedly fouled the diminutive striker to nullify his ability as Liverpool’s main goal threat. After about an hour Keegan had finally had enough. Following yet another bad challenge the forward lashed out at Billy Bremer, scything down the Scotsman with a vicious challenge. For good measure he then carried on into the back of Johnny Giles. Giles did not take this lightly and promptly turned round and landed a right hook to Keegan’s jaw. Remarkably Giles was only booked for his punch – but that merely ramped up the tension in the game. The free kick was cleared but Keegan wanted revenge and struck out at Bremner once again – this time landing some punches of his own. Bremner responded in kind and as the referee blew his whistle in a vain attempt to stop the fracas, players from both teams stepped in to supposedly calm things down.

When all the pushing and shoving had stopped the referee sent off both Keegan and Bremner – making them the first British players ever to be red carded at Wembley Stadium. In one more piece of drama both ejected players took their shirts off and threw them to the ground as they stormed off the pitch. Liverpool went on to win on penalties after the game ended 1-1. Clough sent the Leeds goalkeeper, David Harvey, to take one as the spot kicks went to sudden death – and the subsequent miss handed Liverpool the trophy.

The shocking scenes were discussed throughout the land over the next few weeks – including the matter being raised in Parliament – and Keegan and Bremner were eventually fined and banned from football for 11 weeks.

It had been the most uncharitable of Charity Shields – but definitely the one that lives longest in the memory.

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