Saturday 6th May 1972 | Wembley Stadium, London
The 1972 FA Cup Final took place on 6 May 1972 at Wembley Stadium, and was known as the ‘Centenary Final’, due to it being 100 years since the competition was first played during the 1871/72 season.
Having defeated Bristol Rovers, Liverpool, Cardiff City, Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City; Leeds United found themselves facing an Arsenal side who had won the Football League and FA Cup the previous season.
A hard fought game, the tone would be set after just five seconds when Allan Clarke was kicked up into the air by Arsenal’s Alan Ball.
As the game reached the 60 seconds mark, Bob McNab wrote his name in the history books for the wrong reasons, when he became the first player to be booked in a Wembley Final, following a cynical foul on Peter Lorimer.
With such an important game at stake, the first half was noted for being an overly cautious affair, with little action, and both sides doing anything to avoid conceding possession.
As the game reached the break and beyond, Don Revie’s side grew into the game during the second half, with Mick Jones and Allan Clarke teaming up to find a way through Arsenal’s solid defence.
The breakthrough finally came in the 53rd minute, when Peter Lorimer fed a pass through to Mick Jones, who avoided Bob McNab’s tackle to provide a perfect cross to his strike partner Allan Clarke.
With the ball floating into the box, Clarke managed to launch himself forward into a fantastic dive, and place a long-range header beyond Arsenal’s goalkeeper Geoff Burnett, as it hit the low corner of the net. “The goalkeeper never had a chance, I picked my place and it was well out of his reach” said Allan Clarke after the game.
With United on their way to securing a 1-0 win, the game opened up between the two sides, with Clarke, Bremner and Giles controlling the game.
Arsenal went close themselves, as they enjoyed a number of chances, one of which saw Paul Reaney clearing an Alan Ball shot off the line. David Harvey was called upon shortly afterwards, as he pulled off a fine save to keep out a deflected Frank McLintock shot.
With just fifteen minutes to go, and Arsenal getting desperate for an equaliser, Charlie George went closest for the Gunners, as he saw his strike cannon off the crossbar.
As the game headed towards its conclusion, Leeds had the advantage of being able to rely on the experience of Jack Charlton at the heart of the defence, who provided an impenetrable barrier alongside the superb David Harvey, who was in great form after keeping Gary Sprake out of the Starting XI.
Allan Clarke who had done enough to be named Man of the Match for the final continued to press in the closing stages of the game, going close to getting a second after another header struck the bar.
With just two minutes until the final whistle at Wembley, the Whites were dealt a blow when Mick Jones dislocated his elbow, while chasing down the ball. As the referee brought the game to an end, and with his teammates climbing to the Royal box in order to receive their medals from the Queen, Jones was still on the floor receiving treatment from physio Les Cocker.
In a touching scene which wouldn’t look out of place in a film, Norman Hunter walked back down the Wembley steps and helped to lead Jones up to collect his medal in front of the Leeds fans.
After lifting the FA Cup trophy, manager Don Revie, who joined the elite of FA Cup-winning players and Managers, said “I’ve waited and sweated years for this day.”
Leeds United: Harvey; Reaney, Madeley; Bremner, Charlton, Hunter; Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles, Gray.
Arsenal: Burnett; Rice, McNab; Storey, McLintock, Simpson; Armstrong, Ball, George, Radford (Kennedy), Graham.