Competition: First Division.
Referee: Mr A. Dimond (
United strode into the Anfield arena on the threshold of their greatest achievement; the 1968-69 League championship. Only the power of their nearest challengers, Liverpool, could deprive United of the vital point which would land the coveted crown.
The atmosphere appeared to crackle with anticipation as two soccer giants clashed on a Monday evening in April. The game quickly fell into the expected pattern with Liverpool throwing men forward frantically as Leeds relied upon the superb defence which had served them so valiantly throughout the season.
In a game of blurring speed, United, with Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter magnificent in the heart of the defence, denied Liverpool time and space. Such was United’s efficiency that Gary Sprake only had one shot to deal with in the first half; an ambitious thirty-five yard drive by Ian Callaghan, to which United responded with a deflected Billy Bremner shot which almost beat the scrambling Tommy Lawrence.
One goal looked as though it might settle the game and the Mersey-siders should have snatched it in the thirty-fifth minute when young striker Alan Evans wasted a good chance, but United closed ranks again. Callaghan forced Gary Sprake into action in the sixty-second minute with a curling shot and United had one more scare when Evans hooked a shot wide late in the game. Leeds fans howled for referee Dimond to blow the final whistle, yet with the last moments melting away seemingly in slow motion United’s players remained calm amid the cauldron of noise.
Two nights later at Elland Road the new champions beat Nottingham Forest with a Johnny Giles goal to finish the season having beaten or equalled nine club records. Most points (67), most home points (39), most wins (27), most home wins (18), fewest defeats (two, both away, another record), unbeaten at home, 26 goals conceded with only nine at home.
Mick Jones is tackled from behind
Eddie Gray tries to round Tommy Smith
Billy Bremner receives the Championship Trophy
Jack Charlton beats Geoff Strong
Billy Bremner and Gary Sprake show off the League Trophy
Paul Madeley wins a header as Jack Charlton and Mick Jones look on
Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Paul Reaney, Johnny Giles, Mick Jones, Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray and Paul Madeley salute the fans
Mick Jones, Jack Charlton, Paul Reaney, Gary Sprake, Johnny Giles and Paul Madeley
celebrate with Peter Lorimer and Billy Bremner in the Anfield dressing-rooms
Bill Shankly congratulates Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner. Jack Charlton, Paul Reaney, Gary Sprake, Johnny Giles and Paul
Madeley celebrate with Peter Lorimer and Billy Bremner in the
United’s moment of triumph! Mick Jones, Jack Charlton, Paul Reaney Gary Sprake, Johnny Giles,
Paul Madeley and Mike O’Grady help Billy Bremner and Peter Lorimer celebrate. Terry Cooper,
Norman Hunter and Eddie Gray must be close at hand!
(Photo courtesy of Mark Ledgard)
Back Row: Geoff Strong, Gerry Byrne, Chris Lawler, Tommy Lawrence, Ray Clemence, Larry Lloyd,
Ian Ross, Alec Lindsay.
Front Row: Ian Callaghan, Alun Evans, Roger Hunt, Tommy Smith, Ian St John, Bill Shankly
(Manager), Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes, Peter Thompson, Bobby Graham.
Back Row: Mick Bates, Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter, David Harvey, Gary Sprake, Jack Charlton,
Paul Reaney, Mile O’Grady, Rod Belfitt, Eddie Gray.
Front Row: Terry Hibbitt, Mick Jones, Terry Cooper, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer.