1968 Football League Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1968)

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1968footballleaguecupfinal1.jpg

Leeds United players celebrating with the trophy.

Status: Partially Found

The 1968 Football League Cup Final culminated the eighth Football League Cup season. Occurring on 2nd March 1968 in front of 97,887 at Wembley Stadium, the match saw Leeds United defeat Arsenal 1-0 to claim not only its first League Cup, but also its first major trophy.

Background[edit | edit source]

Leeds and Arsenal, as First Division members, entered the tournament in the Second Round.[1][2] Leeds' road to the Final saw it defeat Luton Town, Bury, Sunderland, Stoke City, and Derby County.[2] Meanwhile, Arsenal's campaign consisted of it overcoming Coventry City, Reading, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, and Huddersfield Town.[2] Both clubs were appearing in their first League Cup Final.[3]

Heading into the match, Leeds had confidence after achieving a 16-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, eight of them involving clean sheets.[4] However, the team was also experiencing fatigue after already having played 45 matches.[4] Additionally, many within the team were reminded of the various times they lost key matches within the League and in Cup tournaments.[5][4] This included a loss to Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup Final, a loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the 1967 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, finishing twice runners-up in recent First Division seasons, and losing twice in the semi-finals of other recent FA Cups.[4][5] By this point, Leeds had yet to win a major trophy, but this only motivated some within the club.[6][5][4] Among them included Don Revie, who stated "It would be a nice reward if we could win this one following four years of hard toil and sweat. If we do succeed I feel it will be a springboard for even bigger things."[4] However, Arsenal too had ambitions; after several unsuccessful years under Billy Wright, the club were seeking their first major trophy since 1953.[4]

The Match[edit | edit source]

The Final itself occurred on 2nd March 1968 in front of 97,887 at Wembley Stadium.[7] Leeds held the advantage early on with opportunities being denied by Arsenal defender Bob McNab.[4] However, Arsenal fought back, although David Jenkins was unable to capitalise on an opening made by his team.[4] After 18 minutes, Leeds took the lead when, after Arsenal goalkeeper Jim Furnell blocked Eddie Gray's shot, it rebounded towards Terry Cooper, who produced a volley to make it 1-0 despite protests from the Gunners that Furnell was fouled while blocking Gray's shot.[4][6][5][7] Arsenal held greater possession of the ball, but was generally unable to convert this into goalscoring opportunities.[4] Leeds also demanded a penalty when Jack Charlton was brought down by Furnell, but this was denied by referee Les Hamer.[6] Prior to half-time, Arsenal captain Frank McLintock knocked over Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake, to the fury of the latter's team, triggering a fracas that was dealt with by Hamer.[4][5][6]

Arsenal again controlled possession during the second-half, but Leeds nearly doubled their lead when a shot from captain Billy Bremner went just wide of the far post.[4] Another incident occurred when Bremner hit Furnell in a shooting attempt, to the Arsenal players' outrage.[4] Sprake later claimed there was hostility between the two clubs, amplified by the London newspapers generally despising the Yorkshire team.[4][5] Leeds continued with a defensive strategy;[6] Arsenal however nearly equalised when George Armstrong shot the ball into the Leeds' net, but a foul on Johnny Giles meant it was disallowed.[4] Thus, Leeds held on to claim its first major trophy, and Yorkshire's first since Sheffield Wednesday won the 1935 FA Cup.[5][6][4][7]

Despite newspapers such as The Guardian criticising the game's low-quality, it was of little concern to the Leeds players, who were finally able to celebrate after many near-misses in the 1960s.[4][5][6] In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Leeds' Gray recalled that "The club had never won a major trophy so it was terrific for us to finally break that duck, especially against one of the so-called more established clubs. Don always wanted to make Leeds part of the elite and beating Arsenal in a Cup final helped do that. From that day on teams started to fear us. Once you have lifted a major trophy the way others look at you changes. We felt more confident to kick-on, too."[5] This proved true when Leeds won the following Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, and later the 1968/69 First Division title, among other accolades.[8][5][4] However, they have yet to win another League Cup, while Arsenal have since won it twice in 1987 and 1993.[9][8]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The match was not televised live, as Football League officials, including secretary Alan Hardaker, were concerned that doing so would reduce ground attendance.[5] Nevertheless, ITV filmed the match and broadcast 50 minutes of highlights on the following Sunday as part of ATV London's Star Soccer and ABC's World of Soccer, becoming the first League Cup Final to be televised by the broadcaster.[10][11][5] Commentary for the Star Soccer broadcast was provided by Hugh Johns, while the World of Soccer transmission may have had commentary from Barry Davies.[10] The broadcast attracted controversy however, as it occurred at the same time Leeds were engaging in its homecoming parade.[5] As few had means of recording television back then, many fans opted to watch the highlights when they aired, reducing the parade attendance to only 15,000.[5] This infuriated Revie, who demanded that no similar television clash occur again.[5]

Ultimately, whereas ITV's full coverage of the subsequent 1969 Football League Cup Final has resurfaced, its 1968 broadcast has yet to resurface.[12] The only known footage to have publicly resurfaced originates from newsreels such as British Pathé and as part of a documentary on the match.[12]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

British Pathé newsreel of the match.
Another newsreel of the match.
Footage from the aforementioned newsreels and in a documentary.


Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]