I was nursing a hangover on Sunday morning, when a good friend of mine, Fred McNeill, sent me a message from a pub in Paisley. “Just chatting in pub, did Celtic play Leeds in about 1974… and it was 4-4?” I was sure that Fred was referring to Jackie Charlton’s Testimonial match against Celtic a year earlier in 1973. The scoreline finished 4-3 to Celtic that day and I had collected a lot of newspaper cuttings and pictures of the event during previous historical research.
Having discussed things further with Fred, we confirmed that it was this match and he explained that he had started talking about it because he was speaking to a Leeds fan in the pub, and recalled his brother having a ticket stub from the game pinned up on their bedroom wall many years ago.
As I dug into my notes to send over the line ups, I realised what a superb game of football this had been with two terrific teams. It’s quite a poignant occasion to look back on too, considering that Jack Charlton sadly passed away recently. With that in mind, I felt it would be a good idea to share some history from that day and evoke a bit of nostalgia if you were one of the 4000 Celtic fans in Yorkshire that day.
After pointing out the correct result, my first point of call was to send over the line ups:
Sprake Reaney Madeley Bremner Charlton (McQueen) Hunter (Bates) Lorimer Clarke Jones (Jordan) Giles (Yorath) E Gray (Cherry)
Goals:- Clarke 2 (28, 56), Bremner (71)
Hunter, Hay, McGrain, Murdoch, McNeill, Connelly (McCluskey 45), Johnstone, Murray, Dalglish, Callaghan, Lennox Unused Subs:- Connaghan, Hood, Deans
Goals:- Dalglish (18), Lennox (49), Johnstone 2 (68, 85)
The Celtic team struck me as being littered with top class names. You certainly know you’ve a strong side when Hood and Deans can’t get a game! Meanwhile, Fred’s Leeds pal confirmed that the Leeds line up was the strongest of the time, though he didn’t recognise the name of substitute Bates. A quick bit of research revealed that the man in question was Mick Bates, who played for Leeds from 1962 until 1974, although he never nailed down a regular place due to Giles and Bremner keeping him on the bench. Bates also scored in the 1971 Fair’s Cup final against Juventus, whilst he played in the 1968 Fair’s Cup final against Ferencvaros (a game which has a whole wealth of Celtic history tied in, but that’s another story). Therefore, even the less recognisable players were very good.
35,000 fans turned up to pay tribute to Jack Charlton on Saturday 7 July 1973. He had racked up 762 appearances for the club (still a Leeds United record) and had dominated the centre of defence to such an extent that he held his position for 21 years. A World Cup winner, Jackie was a one club man, who also lifted 2 Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, 1 Division One Championship, 1 FA Cup and 1 League Cup. His place in the side had become under threat for the first time in 1972/73 season, when he was approaching the age of 38, often replaced by Gordon McQueen. This fact, coupled with an injury that kept him out of the 1973 FA Cup final, ultimately led to his decision to retire.
A boyhood Newcastle fan, who he would later go on to manage, it was slightly surprising that Jackie chose Celtic to play in his Testimonial match. However, the Celts were a top European club at this point, having been continental champions in 1967 and runners up in 1970.
Play got underway with a high tempo, Kenny Dalglish breaking the deadlock on 18 minutes. Leeds hit back through Clarke ten minutes later, to take the teams into the break level at 1-1. The second half would be phenomenal, completely goals galore.
Four minutes after the restart, Lennox scored a beauty, but Celtic could only hold the lead for seven minutes this time, as Clarke levelled proceedings once more. Johnstone, Dalglish and debutant Murray were all impressive, but it was the greatest ever Celt who put the Bhoys back in front on 68 minutes. Less than 150 seconds had passed before Bremner made it 3-3!
Then, Jinky rounded off the night in 86 minutes, when he sprinted from the half way line to beat Sprake with an excellent shot.
Celtic had won 4-3, but this was a celebration for Jack Charlton and for football, which is why both sets of fans sang for each other’s players as they did a lap of honour. Both teams swapped shirts too, except Steve Murray who refused to do so as he wanted to keep his Celtic shirt as this was his debut for the Hoops.
It was a fantastic day for a fantastic man. However, Charlton later revealed a bit of bad feeling in his book. He said:
“The leaving of Leeds closed the book on one of the most exciting phases of my life. 23 years earlier, I’d made the train journey from Ashington with not much more than the clothes on my back, Now I was going home with a tidy bank balance and almost every honour the game had to offer. To that extent, I’d good reason to thank the club. And yet when I walked out of the gates at Elland Road for the last time, I felt just a little bit let down by the club officials. It had to do with my testimonial game against Celtic.
They took £40,000 at the turnstiles on the night, which was a nice sum for a man who had never earned more than £175 a week. But then I saw the deductions – £12,000! What really bugged me was that they included a match fee of something like £8,000 to Celtic – and Celtic owed us a game for a match at Parkhead the previous year. Now, the Leeds directors could have insisted on a reciprocal arrangement and requested the Scots to scrap their fee for my game. But they didn’t. Instead, they kept it for themselves, an asset to be cashed in at their time of choosing. I mean, it wasn’t as if Leeds United was a poor club.”
Jack Charlton left the ground in tears “for the first time since Munich.” Although, the Liverpudlian comedian, Jimmy Tarbuck, remarked “What a game. This was real football. I wish Celtic played down here – the fans in England would love them.” Leeds’ President, the Earl of Harewood, said “Celtic were out of this world. They made it a great game for Jack. We’re delighted it was such a success.”