Date: Saturday 22nd December 1984.
Venue: Molineux, Wolverhampton.
Wanderers 0 Leeds United 2.
Wanderers: Nil. Leeds United: F. Gray, McCluskey.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Flowers; Humphreys, Barnes
(Dougherty): Dodd, Pender, Herbert; Ainscow, Evans,
Langley, Buckland, Crainie.
Leeds United: Hughes; Irwin, Hamson; Sellars, Linighan, Aspin; Wright,
Sheridan, McCluskey, Lorimer,
Referee: Mr A.N. Buksh (London).
United and Wolves fell through the top-flight trap door in the early 1980s the
duo were labelled "fallen giants". With
recent domestic success and European adventures still fresh in the mind, the
tenure of Leeds and Wolves in the Second Division
was viewed as something of a temporary measure. Leeds fell through the trap
door in 1982 and were persistently billed as pre-season favourites
for promotion while Wolves came down in 1984 and, despite suggestions of
financial difficulties, were expected to bounce straight back. But, while some
of the other so-called big name sides in the Division, ensured their stay out
of the top-flight was a short one, Wolves had even won promotion themselves in
1983 after suffering the drop with Leeds, and neither club appeared comfortable away
from the elite.
levels were high, opponents relished the visit of the big-name duo, and both Leeds and Wolves boasted proud histories
that went before them. In fairness, Leeds were fairly
well-placed going into the pre-Christmas showdown between the two sides at Molineux in 1984, but Wolves were a club hovering over the
abyss. An immediate return for the Black Country outfit was already out of the
equation and their only escape route from the Second Division appeared to be
via Division Three! While Eddie Gray's United had suffered just two defeats in
nine, Wolves had won just one in six and had been on the wrong end of thumpings from Blackburn, Huddersfield and Grimsby.
all was not well at Molinuex and Wolves were already
locked in a relegation battle with Cardiff City and Notts County. United, however, went into the
game on the back of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of promotion-rivals Birmingham City, and victory was a must at Wolves
to set Leeds up ahead of the busy festive programme. Gray's preparations were dealt a huge blow in
the build-up when Andy Ritchie, United's in-form
marksman with five goals in three outings, was ruled out with injury, and
George McCluskey was drafted in from the cold.
the former Celtic striker, had only withdrawn a transfer request earlier in the
week, yet the Scot went on to turn in a match-winning performance for United in
the Midlands. The 27-year-old scored United's second goal in the 2-0 success at Molineux. Eddie Gray's younger brother Frank had given Leeds a first half lead after great work
by veteran Peter Lorimer. And suddenly the former
Celtic striker had thrust himself back into contention for a regular starting
spot. Boss Gray was full of praise for McCluskey,
reports described it as a "satisfying return", and the striker
responded by bagging another goal in the following game, a 2-1 loss at the
hands of Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day.
strike, though, turned out to be McCluskey's last of
the season and, despite persistently flirting with the promotion places, Leeds
were ultimately undone on the final day of the season when they suffered
another 1-0 reverse at the hands of Birmingham City. In contrast, Wolves fell
through the trapdoor again after picking up the wooden spoon and were soon in
the bottom division and in financial hell by 1986. It took a full two years for
the club to pick itself up again and by the time Leeds and Wolves met again in the second
division, during the 1989-90 season, the "fallen giants" tag was
still doing the rounds, and, incredibly, the same expectancy levels hovered
over the two old rivals.
United and Wolves went their separate ways in 1985, McCluskey
waited another 12 months before saying his farewells to Leeds. The one-time Scottish
Under-twenty-one international returned north of the border where he had spells
with Hibs, Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Clyde before retiring at the age of 39. McCluskey went on to set up a taxi business in Glasgow and later coached youngsters at
Report (Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
United kept up their promotion push with a convincing Molineux
win over a struggling Wolves side, who crashed to
their fourth successive defeat. Leeds were always in a different class, and,
inspired by a tireless performance from Scott Sellars,
they continuously posed problems for a Wolves side rooted to the lower half of
the table. I thought we played some good football and we created a lot of
chances, said the Leeds Manager, Eddie Gray, afterwards. It is always nice to
win away from home and I feel we are improving all the time. Tommy Docherty
the disappointed Wolves Manager, was quick to praise Leeds. He said, Leeds have got a
lot of experienced players. I would like to see them go up. They would be good
for Division One.
If it had
not been for a series of good saves from Tim Flowers, the young Wolves
goalkeeper, Leeds would have won by a far greater
margin. They took the lead in the thirty-fifth minute with a hard shot from
Frank Gray after a short pass from the busy Scott Sellars.
Then, in the fifty-second minute, George McCluskey
guaranteed the points with a superb angled chip over the head of the advancing
Tim Flowers after a good pass from Frank Gray. Wolves, who were flattered by
the score-line, were pinned back in their own half for long periods, with
Flowers doing well to dive and hold another shot from the unmarked McCluskey. While Scott Sellars
fired a thirty-yard drive that flew inches wide of the target. The enterprising
Leeds forwards took full advantage of the
many gaps in the Wolves defence and the home
supporters staged a brief pitch invasion after the break as a mark of their
frustration. Tim Flowers made one marvellous save to
finger-tip over the cross-bar what looked like a certain goal from Tommy Wright
and then he denied the same player, when he went down to hold his shot from the
edge of the box.
threats on the Leeds
goal were rare and they had only two good efforts, a weak header from Mark
Buckland and a low shot from the enthusiastic Alan Ainscow
that Phil Hughes pushed round the post. Wolves were then struggling with gloom
and despondency on the pitch and unrest in the boardroom which could have meant
the departure of their chairman Derek Dougan, just
two years after he had helped save the club from extinction. But Leeds were
marching on and the victory, their fifth away from home that season, took them
into fifth place in the Division Two knowing a good Christmas programme would re-enforce their bid for promotion.
Frank Gray and George McCluskey got the Leeds goals
Phil Hughes saved well from Alan Ainscow
Scott Sellars was
outstanding for Leeds Alan Ainscow was lively for Wolves Tim Flowers made several marvellous saves
John Humphrey, John Pender
and Alan Dodd were part of an overworked Wolves defence