Tuesday, March 20, 2012

English Leagues the 70s: Leeds Manchester City Division One 1978 1979

13 January 1979
Elland Road,

Attendance 36,30

  This has been the season in which the First Division has been split into three distinct groups — the elite, the also-rans and the strugglers. Without naming them, the clubs in the middle bracket know who they are. The strugglers are Birmingham, Chelsea, Q.P.R.. Wolves, Middlesbrough and Botton, all liable to go down to the Second Division, at some stage of the season. This definitive split has come about because the Magnificent Six have been able to draw away from the pack and form virtually an exclusive club, Liverpool, Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest unquestionably offer all that is best in British football. Liverpool, of course, have been almost permanent members of that group for the past 20 years; Everton have been trying to match them without quite succeeding; Albion have come of age this season; Arsenal's progress has been gathering pace over the past two years; and Forest wrote their own names in with brilliant style by almost sweeping the board on their return to the top. That leaves Leeds and their progress this season has been impressive. the extraordinary fact is Leeds could have been excused for losing their feet on a banana skin after the sort of upheavals they've suffered. The season began without a manager at Elland Road after the departure of Jimmy Armfield and only one of the first four matches was won. Then Jock Stein arrived and all appeared sweet and light — until that is Scotland found themselves looking for Ally MacLeod's successor and naturally enticed the Big Man.

At that stage Leeds could have felt the whole world was against them and been lulled into a careless sort of attitude. Interestingly the reverse happened. Things continued to tick over until the arrival of Jimmy Adamson, and since the quiet man left Sunderland for Elland Road there has been barely a dull moment. The only disappointment came with the League Cup Semi-Final defeat by Southampton, but in terms of the First Division there has been no more convincing side as the record for Adamson's first . 17 games proved: Won 10 Drawn 6 Lost 1 Goals (for) 33 (against) 15. One man in particular who appreciates what's going on at Elland Road is Scottish international goalkeeper David Harvey, one of the few survivors of the Don Revie era. "Only Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer, Paul Madeley and myself of the current squad were here at the turn of the Seventies, and of the rest most have been bought within the last three seasons. "I can honestly say this is now the best team we have had since the super team of the Sixties .. . the days of Bremner and Giles, Hunter and Cooper, Clarke and Jones," he says. Harvey's own position has become clearer in recent weeks. With the sale of another Scottish international 'keeper David Stewart to West Brom he has now re-established himself as the number one at Leeds.

"David and I have been alternating over the past couple of seasons getting about 20 odd games apiece in the First Division. Sometimes one has been injured letting the other one in, occasionally we've both been dropped. "People talk of competition being good for you in terms of keeping you on your toes, but it doesn't always work that way. Providing a goalkeeper is playing well he should have peace of mind so far as his place is concerned, but when there's someone as good as Dave standing in the wings it can bring a touch of nervousness to your play. "i honestly believe I'm keeping goal as well as ever at the moment, and my one burning ambition is to get back into the Scotland side. My application hasn't always been what it might have been, but I'm enjoying my football now as much as at any time in my career. "Once you've kept goal in international football it's hard to accept someone else is in the position you think you should be occupying. Scotland have had a succession of goalkeepers since I last played, and I'm just hoping now that Jock Stein comes and has a look at me again. "He knows my capabilities having been at Elland Road even for such a short period, and I'm praying he doesn't forget me." Harvey, who has played over 300 times for Leeds, recalls with utter despair the League Cup Semi-Final defeat by Southampton. "We really fancied our chances in that one — and perhaps that was our undoing. We'd beaten Southampton 4-0 in the League only a few weeks before and we turned them over to such an extent that subconsciously we probably thought it was going to be easy.

"After going two up just after half-time in the first-leg we should have sewn it up but we didn't and we were punished with two bad goals and then defeat in the return. 'That's the third Semi-Final in a row we've lost. "I suppose you could say that's the difference between the current side and the one which brought us all those honours. "I'm sure this side will have learned a lesson. Lads like Paul Hart and Brian Flynn are learning all the time. Paul, In particular, had an awful start when he pmed us from Blackpool. "Brian also took time to settle in, but I've never seen anyone work so hard, and he's very skilful. He and Tony Currie must be one of the best midfietd combinations in the game. 'This season we've gone to Liverpool and Everton and led them both until the closing stages of the game before conceding a point, we've also won at West Brom in the League, drawn there twice in the F.A. Cup and League Cup, drawn at Arsenal and won at difficult grounds like Tottenham, Ipswich and Chelsea 'Team spirit is super and I reckon we've now got a squad that can only get better. "The way things are going right now we're a must for Europe next season and that means an awful lot to Eddie, Paul and myself who enjoyed some great moments in Europe and have hankered for another crack ever since the ban that was imposed after the European Cup final fiasco in Paris. 'The team we have now can win trophies I'm quite sure, and I'm looking forward to another successful period at Leeds," he says.


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