Date: Monday, 19th April 1954.
Venue: Elland Road Leeds.
United 2 Luton Town 1
United: Charles (2, 1 pen). Luton Town:
Leeds United: Scott; Dunn, Hair; Kerfoot, Davies, Burden; McCall, Nightingale, Charles, Iggleden, Williams.
Luton Town: Unknown.
Leeds United began the 1953-54 season
in superb fashion beating Notts
County 6-0 and Rotherham United 4-2
in their first two home games as John Charles bagged seven of them. However, by
the time Luton Town
arrived at Elland Road
for the last home game of the season on Easter Monday, their Second Division
campaign had developed into an all too familiar tale of disappointment.
Former Sunderland and England
star “Raich” Carter had taken over from the legendary
Major Frank Buckley during the summer of 1953 and there was a new air of
optimism at Elland Road.
The first four home games had produced gates totalling more than 90,000
compared with 51,000 for the last four games of the 1952-53 season, but just
13,930 turned up to see this game against Luton Town. While the fans appeared
disillusioned as a result of their lack of success, they certainly could not
complain about a lack of goals in United’s game
during the season. Those first two wins were followed by defeats at Swansea
Town and Leicester City by 4-3 and 5-0 respectively and then at the turn of the
year they thrashed Leicester City 7-1 in the return fixture only to lose 4-0 at
Stoke City in their next League outing.
Luton were one of the top six sides in the division but
their 1-1 draw with Leeds at Kenilworth Road on Good Friday had typified a
season that saw them drawing too many games to seriously challenge Leicester
City and Everton in the promotion race. There was no shortage of class in their
ranks, however, with England
goalkeeper Bernard Streton and the man later to
mastermind so many Leeds United victories, centre-half Syd
Owen. It was perhaps one of Owen’s most successful seasons as he made three
appearances at centre-half for England
during the close season Continental tour and the World Cup which followed.
In John Charles, however, Leeds United had the greatest
match-winner in the country, having been moved up from centre-half to centre-forward
in the middle of the 1952-53 season, and he began this season in the front line
and ran riot. After that brilliant seven goal start he went on to beat Tom
Jennings’ thirty-five goal club record with the Leeds goal in the draw at Luton
and both goals as Carter’s men won 2-1 to send the fans home happy. One of
those goals was from the penalty spot but remarkably only four of his eventual
forty-two goal haul came that way in this record breaking season.
It was disappointing from the fans point of view as First
Division Football was denied them yet again but Carter was to carefully change
the side over the next two seasons, with only six players surviving to play in
the 1955-56 promotion-winning side. One of the players who did move on and miss
out on the success was ex-Blackpool player Andy McCall, the father of
Leeds-born Scottish international Stuart McCall. He figured on the right wing
in this game, while at centre-half Byron Davies played his only first team
appearance in a four year stay at Elland
Luton had many fine players on their
books with Bernard Streten and Ron Baynham both English Internationals, there was an Irish
International full back pairing in Seamus Dunne and Tom “Bud” Aherne, a formidable half backline of Bob Morton, Syd Owen and Wally Shanks. While up front were the likes of
Mike Cullen, Gordon Turner, Johnny Downie, Jesse Pye, George Cummins, John Groves, George McLeod and Jimmy
Adam. They were good, but not good enough, and finished sixth at season’s end.
The following season, Luton were
good enough to gain promotion to the First Division in a very tight finish to
the season. The top three, Birmingham
Town and Rotherham United all
finished on fifty-four points, with goal average deciding, while United
finished fourth one point adrift, with Stoke
City in fifth spot just one point
less than United!
Harold Williams shows Syd
Owen a clean pair of heels
McCall: Leeds-born Scottish Luton Town Centre-Forward Jesse Pye
International son of Andy
Luton Town keeper Ron Baynham Luton Town
Right-Half Bob Morton Luton
Town Centre-Half Syd Owen
Luton Town Full-Back Seamus Dunne tackles Luton Town Inside
Forward Gordon Turner
Colin Grainger, who was later to join Leeds United.
Goalkeeper Bernard Streten
Right-Back Seamus Dunne Left-Back Tommy ‘Bud’ Aherne