Why Leeds United’s FA Cup win, David Coleman’s iconic goal description and memories of the day still stir the hearts of Whites fans

‘Mick Jones on the right; number nine. He’s going to take on McNab on the outside; he’s around the back. Clarke! One-nil...”

Those words from that doyen of the commentary box in the esteemed shape of the late, great David Coleman roll off the tongue for countless Leeds United supporters.

This month is the fiftieth anniversary of their cathartic triumph in the centenary FA Cup final against Bertie Mee’s Arsenal at Wembley. It is still their only success in the most enduring domestic cup competition in world football to date.

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That golden moment which ensured that the cup came home to Leeds on May 6, 1972 – the last time that a Yorkshire club won it – was a thing of beauty, with footage of that landmark decisive goal having been played over time and time again in thousands of Whites-supporting households since.

Special day: Leeds United celebrate winning the FA Cup on May 6, 1972: (l-r) Mick Bates, Paul Madeley, Eddie Gray, Paul Reaney, Johnny Giles, Jack Charlton, Allan Clarke, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, Norman Hunter, David Harvey. Picture: PA

It was dispatched in clinical fashion on 53 minutes by Allan Clarke, a crown prince of goalscorers who was then at the height of his powers and arguably England’s top striker. His brilliant long-range stooping header flew past Geoff Barnett.

His trademark celebration of right arm coolly lofted in the air remains a firm part of the football landscape in England.

On that iconic moment, Clarke said: “The goalkeeper never had a chance. I picked my place and it was well out of his reach.”

Finding the net with unerring precision and regularity was something that was simply part of Clarke’s DNA – and joyously acted out on too many occasions to recite from 1969 to 1978.

No chance: Leeds United striker Allan Clarke said Arsenal’s Geoff Barnett had “no chance” of saving his FA Cup-winning header. (Photo by Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images)

Sadly, six members of that Leeds side who achieved history at Wembley in 72 have passed away since – captain Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Paul Madeley and substitute Mick Bates – alongside revered manager Don Revie.

Some of the remaining members met last weekend for a reunion to celebrate the anniversary of that glorious afternoon on the hallowed turf.

It was a fateful day for one in Jones, memorably helped up to the Royal Box with his arm in a sling by team-mate Hunter after damaging his shoulder late on in the victory.

For Jones and other players in that great Leeds side, one of the greatest ever produced on these shores, the successes should have been more plentiful.

Leeds had some jewels in their trophy cabinet during those halcyon days in the 60s and 70s, but it should have been bulging at the seams.

United lost in cup finals against Liverpool, Chelsea and Sunderland and had other near misses at home and abroad – most notably in their abortive treble raid in 1970.

Two days after their final win over Arsenal, the league hierarchy deemed that Leeds had to play their last league game of 1971-72 at Wolves and missed out on the league and cup double.

That they lined up just over 48 hours after taking the field in after an emotionally-charged cup final was disgraceful. A jaded Leeds lost at Molineux.

Speaking after the Wembley win, Revie, who joined the elite of FA Cup winning players and managers, said. “I’ve waited and sweated years for this day.”

More’s the pity that Leeds weren’t able to truly celebrate. Instead, heading off to the Midlands to prepare for Wolves.

Still, when the dust settled, the honour of being the centenary winners of the cup, something Leeds cherished, was something.

Eddie Gray commented: “In those particular days, the FA Cup final was the biggest one off game in the country.

“Everybody wanted to play in the cup final. It’s not as much now, well it doesn’t seem to be anyway. Players who get to the cup final, they’ll always say it’s a great occasion, to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley in front of a hundred thousand. It probably meant a lot to the players, especially having lost a couple of cup finals to eventually win it, so that one’s in the memory.

“Allan was right up there with the best. It’s something that he’ll remember forever.

“When you actually look at the header it was a great header. He met it well, he could have actually had a step back and tried to volley but by quick thinking, he thought ‘I’m gonna go and dive and head this, it’d probably be better’ and he met it perfectly.”