Date: Wednesday, 15th May 1968.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
Fairs Semi-Final, Second Leg.
United 1 Dundee 1.
United: E. Gray. Dundee: Nil.
Leeds United: Sprake;
Reaney, Cooper; Bremner, Madeley, Hunter; Greenhoff, Lorimer, Jones, Giles, E. Gray.
Dundee: Donaldson; Selway,
Houston; Murray, Easton, Stewart; Campbell,
J. McLean, S. Wilson, G. McLean, Scott (Stuart).
Referee: Willem Scalks (Holland).
United were appearing in their third consecutive
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Semi Final and it was only a three quarter sized Elland Road that greeted the two teams as work had already
commenced on the roofing of the Kop or Geldard End.
United were about to play their sixty-fourth game of an incredible season, but
the winners knew they would not have to play the final until August as UEFA had
postponed its holding until that time due to the fixture backlog.
Jack Charlton was injured and so Paul Madeley
dropped back to take his place at the heart of the defence, but United were
strengthened by the return of their first choice goalkeeper, Gary Sprake, and centre forward, Mick Jones.
Rarely can a game of such importance have been played in
such an eerie atmosphere. Talks had already been held with Sheffield
Wednesday about the use of Hillsborough if United got to the Final and had to
play the game before the Kops revamp had been completed. Fortunately for United
the Management Committee agreed to hold the Final over to the start of the
following season and so there was now a little matter of getting past Dundee to
create that eventuality. Eventually the clubs agreed the Semi-Final Second Leg should
go ahead on 15th May 1968
even though the Kop was shut due to building work. The state of the ground and
the poor turnout made for an odd atmosphere and seemed to affect Unitedís first half performance as Dundee
dominated, surprising United with the quality of their approach work. The Scots
made the most of a strong wind at their backs and Gary Sprake
did well to save a deflected free-kick from George McLean, who also put a good
chance over the bar. Terry Cooper blocked a Billy Campbell shot and Jim McLean
tested Gary Sprake as United were forced on the back
It was a tactical change by Don Revie
that changed matters as he pushed Billy Bremner into
a more advanced role and immediately the pendulum of pressure swung back in Unitedís favour and chances were created. Johnny Giles was
a yard wide with a shot, then a dipping thirty-yard
volley from Norman Hunter went close. Billy Bremner
now more involved as an attacking force, fed Johnny
Giles whose shot came back off a post into the grateful arms of Dundee
goalkeeper Alistair Donaldson. Two minutes later a Peter Lorimer
header spun from Donaldsonís grasp, but he just managed to retrieve it as it
spun against a post. With ten minutes left Dundeeís
resistance was broken when Eddie Gray drove home a thumping shot from a Jimmy Greenhoff corner to seal a second successive Fairs Cup
Final appearance for United. But all in all they had looked tired and jaded
after their long season and in a lethargic display they just squeezed through with
only nine minutes left on the clock.
Phil Brown of the YEP observed Ď The team was completely
played out both mentally and physically by their mammoth programme† and to force any more competitive games on
them would be football cruelty to a side that a few weeks back could have taken
on any team in Europeí. Thankfully the Gods smiled on United and the final was
delayed until the next August as UEFA had already decreed. In the other
Semi-Final Bologna pushed Ferencvaros hard in Italy
but could only manage a 2-2 draw and the Hungarians won the right to meet
United in the Two-legged Final on a 5-4 aggregate.
Eddie Gray jumps to head the ball with the Geldard Road End partly demolished in the background