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Allan Clarke playing for Leeds against Chelsea's David Webb.
Possibly my happiest football moment ever was watching Allan 'Sniffer' Clarke's diving header to win the F.A.Cup in the Centenary Final of 1972. For months afterwards, when playing upfront, I was converting every goalmouth cross - no matter how low - into a diving header at goal. I remember one day soon after the event, re-enacting the goal tirelessly, with my friends sometimes extending the drama on to a broken winged Mick Jones, bravely collecting his Cup Winner's medal. Back then we thought Leeds United won the Cup every year !
For Clarke it was just reward for his F.A.Cup final defeat in a Leicester City shirt in 1969, and in a Leeds United shirt the next year. When he moved to Leeds it was for a U.K. record fee of £165,000. In those distant days as with more recent times, Leeds didn't continually break their record with footballing flops, and Clarke became Leeds' leading scorer in four different seasons. He remains Leeds's third highest ever scorer in all competitions (behind Peter Lorimer and John Charles).
left Leeds as player-manager for Barnsley, where he won
fourth division promtion. Sadly, his return to Leeds
United as manager in 1980 was less successful, and the
failures of successive teams in the post-Glory Years
finally reached their natrual conclusion - relegation
from the top division. Many believed Clarke should have
stayed on to re-build the team for an immediate return -
as it was neither happened. Eddie Gray came in and Leeds
stayed down for eight long, long, long, long, long, long,
long, long, seasons. It says something about my life that
Year One of those eight was the year I came to Leeds, and
finally had chance to become a season ticket holder ...
|Bob Dunning 29 April 2007||
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