By Mark Rasdall
When I was just a little boy Peter Lorimer scored a late goal for Leeds United against Chelsea in the FA Cup which was disallowed. I was seven years' old and I have never forgotten it. To my young, developing mind, the injustice of that day was beyond reason.
Kenneth Wolstenholme still voices in my mind the disbelief I felt and even after 45 years it still hurts, as does, similarly, Barry Davies's assurance that 'Leeds will go mad and they have every right to...' after that Jeff Astle goal in 1971.
In the same year - 1967 - Celtic won the European Cup. Three years' later LUFC lost to them in the semi-final of the European Cup. I actually admired Jimmy Johnstone and the rest and, though it was upsetting, the devastation wasn't nearly so bad as it was after the FA Cup defeat - again to Chelsea. Whereas Celtic were simply a great team to be admired in the same way as Don Revie admired Real Madrid - and put us in white shirts as a result - Chelsea were just intent on stopping us playing. They were lauded for their silky skills and we were simultaneously hated for our dogged determination. Journalistic license of course: what real football fan could not admire the skills of Bremner and Giles or deplore the building site intent of 'Chopper?'
That 1970 final at Wembley still haunts me - especially Gary Sprake's late mistake - but I do also remember Eddie Gray absolutely tormenting David Webb throughout the game. No surprise then that Ron Harris committed a terrible tackle early on against Eddie in the Old Trafford replay which effectively put him out of the game. The violence that followed is history of course but I still wake up in the middle of the night willing Webb's winner to go over the bar. The record books show that it didn't, of course, and we got nothing. Surely the epitomy of injustice that year? The Chelsea goalkeeper - Peter Bonetti - then let us down in Mexico that summer as well: England 2 West Germany 3 still upsets me to this day...
So, Chelsea have a special place in my heart - dark clouds on previously sunny days - and whatever happens in the Capital Cup tie at Elland Road tonight I don't think the heartbreak of those young years as a Leeds United supporter will ever be truly forgotten. But I am older and wiser now and more devoted to our club than ever. Good days may well be on the horizon once more and maybe one day we'll truly move beyond the shadows and head into the warmth of knowing that white is the colour and football really is the game.
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