Date: Wednesday, 19th September 1979.
Stadium, Gzira, Malta.
Cup, First Round, First Leg.
0 Leeds United 4.
Nil. Leeds United: Graham (3), Hart.
Valletta: Grima; Gauci, E. Farrugia; Abdilla, Spiteri, Fenech; Magro, L. Ferrugia, Agius, E. Seychell (Curmi), C.Seychell.
Leeds United: Harvey; Hird,
Hampton; Flynn, Hart, Madeley; E. Gray, Cherry, Hankin, Curtis, Graham (Harris).
Referee: Mr R. Renggli (Switzerland.
United were drawn against Maltese side Valletta in the First Round of the UEFA Cup in 1979. Only Eddie Gray and Paul Madeley remained from Unitedís
last game in Europe, the European Cup Final of 1975. Paul Madeley was now almost
exclusively a central defender and his partnership with Paul Hart was one of
the main reasons that United had fought their way back into Europe. David Harvey,
who also had considerable European experience was in
goal, while full-backs Kevin Hird and Peter Hampton,
completed the back-line. Midfield was patrolled by the diminutive Welsh
International Brian Flynn and Trevor Cherry with Eddie Gray and fellow Scot
Arthur Graham on the flanks while powerful Ray Hankin
teamed up in attack with new signing Alan Curtis as the teams took the field at
the National Stadium in Gzira.
United were thankful for an Arthur Graham
hat-tick at the Gzira Stadium. He opened the scoring
after twelve minutes, when Eddie Gray swung in a corner which was headed on by
Paul Hart and the ex-Aberdeen winger swept the ball into the net from close
range. Eddie Gray struck a post with a twenty-five yard effort midway through
the half before United eased towards the interval with the comfort of a second
goal from Paul Hart after thirty-three minutes when the towering central
defender headed in Kevin Hirdís cross from the right
to leave the score 2-0 in Unitedís favour at half-time.
One minute into the second half United swept
down the middle and Welsh International Alan Curtis teed up Scottish
International Arthur Graham for his second and Leedsí third as he
clipped the ball into the net from twenty yards. The same combination made the
score 4-0 as Arthur Graham completed his hat-trick just seven minutes later after Alan Curtis had made good
ground down the right to centre for Arthur Graham to lob in for the goal that
ensured Unitedís fiftieth victory in European
competition as they cruised to an easy 4-0 victory.
Leeds eased themselves back into European
Competition, after an absence of four years, in the steamy heat of the Gzira Stadium in Valletta in confident controlled command. They left themselves chasing scoring
records to round off their entry into the Second Round of the UEFA Cup a
fortnight later at Elland Road. Four goals up in fifty-one minutes
against a Valletta side made up mainly of head-waiters,
accountants and machine operators, Leeds were then able to stroke the ball around in the style of Leeds sides of the past in Europe. Flynn and Curtis, who had
experience Maltaís testing conditions before,
playing for Wales, were particularly prominent in a
strong all-round team display, but the goal-scoring ace was Arthur Graham,
whose hat-trick was the first scored by a Leeds player since he himself had hit one in the previous January at Birmingham.
An overcast sky wiped out most of the glare
that Leeds feared might prove difficult. In fact the
overcast cloud cover could have put the game in serious doubt for three hours
before the kick-off, a storm only five miles away at Mosta,
flooded the streets of the town to a depth of three inches. A downpour like
that in Valletta could have left the playing area looking like
a sea of sludge. Soon after the game the harbour area
was hit by a heavy storm. It was cool football together with the absence of
aggravation from the terraces, which was a source of embarrassment for Leeds in the European final of four years previous, which made it sunshine all
the way for Leeds.
Vallettaís concern about Leedsí strength in the
air proved to be fully justified. They had spent three
hours the previous day in training with their goalkeeper Frank Grima practicing dealing with crosses from both wings, but
inside thirty-three minutes, he had been beaten twice as a direct result of Leeds winning centres from the right wing. The
diminutive Valletta side the felt the full force of Arthur
Grahamís shooting, as the Scot hammered home the rest of Leedsí goals, to leave
the Maltese side with their heaviest home defeat in
European competition. Considering the awkward bounce of the ball, the tricky
sandpit of a pitch, and the sauna-like heat Leedsí effort was all the more
commendable and a fitting way to complete their fiftieth win in Europe. Jimmy
Adamson, the Leeds Manager had said that a goal-less draw would have been a
good result. Valletta officials thought their side would be beaten
2-0. In the event, Leeds doubled their best score-line of the season.
The compact stadium was packed to the seams
with 18,000 spectators and hundreds more crammed on the rooftops of the
overlooking buildings. Leeds brushed aside Vallettaís
enthusiastic opening in comfort and moved
ahead with their first serious attack. After twelve minutes Alan Curtis swivelled well to force Frank Grima
to turn his eighteen yard shot for a corner. Eddie Gray took it. Paul Hartís
power in the air was too much for the generally small Maltese defence and Arthur Graham ran through on the headed pass to
poke the ball home from close range for his first goal of the season. Valletta,
playing in their seventh season in Europe, were already on their way out of the first
round for the seventh time. From then on Leeds were in
complete control, and apart from awkward moments when Ray Hankin
was involved in flare-ups, nothing stopped Leedsí Mediterranean
cruise to victory. Eddie Gray struck the post with a
drive from sixteen yards in the twenty-fifth minute and eight minutes later
Kevin Hirdís pressure down the right saw him cross
left-footed for Paul Hart to head powerfully home from six yards to record his
third goal of the season. The Maltese side must have been hoping for better
things in the second half but Leeds killed off any comeback hopes almost as soon
as the half opened. In the forty-sixth minute they swept down the middle with
Brian Flynn finding Alan Curtis, who laid the ball off sharply to Arthur Graham
to provide a shooting chance from twenty yards, which he accepted in style for
his second goal. Five minutes later it was again the Curtis-Graham combination
which saw Arthur Graham complete his hat-trick and the scoring for the game.
Leeds players file onto the pitch led by†††††††† Arthur Graham hits the white sand
based pitch as he nets the first goal at Gzira
David Harvey and Paul Hart
Two views of Arthur Grahamís first goal (Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
Arthur Graham scored a hat-trick†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Paul Hart got
the other Leeds goal††
Eddie Gray and Paul Madeley
were the only survivors from the last game in Paris