Date: Tuesday 28th March 1978.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
United 5 Leicester City 1
United: Hankin, F. Gray, E. Gray (3, 1 pen). Leicester
City: Davies (pen).
Leeds United: Harvey; Madeley
Flynn, Hart, Cherry; Harris, Hankin, E. Gray, F.
Leicester City: Wallington; Whitworth, Kember; Williams, Sims, Webb; Weller, Hughes (Armstrong),
Davies, Salmon, Goodwin.
Referee: A.Jenkins (Scunthorpe)
Eddie Gray was one of the most graceful
players of his day and supporters were never slow to show their appreciation of
him. The likeable lad from Glasgow gave his followers plenty to shout about in late March 1978 when, because
of injuries, he was given the job of stand-in striker and reacted by scoring a
rare Elland Road hat-trick
in a 5-1 hammering of Leicester City.
United, managed by Jimmy Armfield, were trying to qualify for Europe but Armfield had not been too happy with United’s
two previous displays, a 2-0 defeat at Everton and an unconvincing 2-1 home win
against Wolves and he admitted that he had had one or two choice words to say
to his players after the Wolves fixture.
He was concerned that unless United improved
they would squander a chance of finishing high enough in the First Division to
qualify for Europe. “It was the first time I had told the team off after they had won a match, but it had to be
done,” Armfield said. “Against Wolves we just did not
play like a team that badly needed to win,” added Armfield
who missed the impressive response of his side as he was confined to bed at his
Blackpool home with a touch of flu. His earlier message,
however, had obviously been received and understood by his players.
Their recent indifferent form, however, had
taken its toll on the turnstiles and the attendance of 21,145 was the second
lowest for League games at Elland Road that
season, but those who chose to stay away missed an exhilarating display. United
were in irrepressible form and merciless in the destruction of a Leicester team tumbling towards the Second Division. There was little that Leicester could do to stem the tide on a night when most things went United’s way. The blockbusting efforts of Ray Hankin, the speed and skills of wingers Carl Harris and, to
a lesser extent, Arthur Graham, the ceaseless running of Brian Flynn and the
arrogance of Eddie Gray sank the visitors almost without trace.
It was an emphatic win by any standards once
United opened up a seventh minute lead courtesy of a Carl Harris-Eddie Gray
link-up that led to Ray Hankin controlling the ball
well on the edge of the penalty area before hitting it past Mark Wallington in
the Leicester goal for his nineteenth goal of the season. The visitors lasted
another twenty minutes before dropping further into arrears when Frank Gray,
showing the impish skills more associated with Duncan McKenzie, noticed
Wallington off his line and calmly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper.
However, the second half really belonged to
Frank’s elder brother Eddie, whose skills and determination had been in
evidence in United’s previous three games but had
suffered misfortune in his goal-scoring efforts. In this match, though,
everything went right from him as he scored his first hat-trick for United.
He took his three goals with the ease and cool
self-assurance not always evident in recognised
strikers let alone one who was playing in that role only because of an
emergency. His first goal came three minutes into the second session when he
fired in from eight yards after Hankin had chested on a Peter Lorimer
free-kick. His second came in the seventy-seventh minute and was another
unhurried strike, after Arthur Graham had had two shots blocked. The hat-trick
was completed with a well taken eighty-fourth minute penalty, after Leicester defender Tom Williams had brought down the diminutive Brian Flynn as the
Welsh midfielder threatened to burst through.
Leicester’s goal had also come from a spot kick, taken by former Derby County striker Roger Davies, after Paul Hart had
handled a high cross. The referee, Tony Jenkins, picked up his match fee of the
princely sum of £14, but if the Football League Referees were to get their way
the match fee would be doubled to £28 and the mileage rate match officials were
allowed should , they claimed, be increased from 10p a mile to 12p. The men in
the middle had applied to the government’s Advisory Conciliation and
Arbitration Services for legal status. At the time these demands, which also
included a request for fringe benefits such as meal allowances, were thought to
be extreme in the least but the figures paled into insignificance when compared
to the pay of present day EPL referees.
Jimmy Armfield was
looking Eddie Gray scored a fine
hat-trick and Ray Hankin and Frank Gray scored the
other Leeds goals
for a place in Europe
Roger Davies got the Leicester Paul Hart conceded Mark
goal from the spot a
caught out by Gray’s skill