On this day - Alfie on Leeds '75
28 April 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
It was 39 years ago today, the match Pat Jennings remembers as one of the most important of his career, the night when we beat reigning champions Leeds United at White Hart Lane to stave off relegation, April 28, 1975.
It was also the night Alfie Conn sat on the ball.
To set the scene, to avoid the drop, we needed a draw (we had a better goal difference than Luton and Chelsea) against the famous Leeds side that included the likes of Frank Gray, Billy Bremner, Gordon McQueen, Norman Hunter, Allan Clarke, Joe Jordan, Terry Yorath and Peter Lorimer.
Leeds couldn’t match their previous title-winning campaign but underlined their class by reaching the European Cup Final - they were due to play Bayern Munich a month later.
We gave ourselves a chance by beating Wolves, QPR, Luton and Chelsea in the closing weeks of the season, but a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal just two days before saw us step back on the tightrope - only a positive result against Leeds would do.
A win was delivered in best Spurs style. Roared on by a crowd of 49,886, we flew out if the traps, went ahead early through Cyril Knowles and after dominating, finally made it 2-0 in the second half when Martin Chivers scored from close range.
Knowles made it 3-0 from the penalty spot and after Jordan pulled a goal back, Alfie put the issue beyond doubt with the fourth. t that point, Alfie sat on the ball - to the delight of the crowd, but to the anger of the Leeds players - and Lorimer had the final word for 4-2.
Alfie rose to the challenge when it mattered at the end of that campaign.
Having bagged a hat-trick against Newcastle on his full debut in January, Alfie scored three goals in our final five games, goals in crucial wins against Luton, Chelsea and Leeds.
It’s no wonder he looks back on that spell with a smile after what had been a fraught season at the Lane.
Back at Spurs for the first time since departing in March, 1977, Alfie was happy to recall how we beat the drop – and just what Billy Bremner said to him when he sat on the ball.
“First of all, we should never have been in that position,” said Alfie, speaking ahead of our recent game against Fulham. “We had so many great players here, internationals, but it was a difficult season.
"To be truthful, I never thought about relegation. I just wanted to go out and play.
"It was only the second last game of the season where if we'd got a point against Arsenal at Highbury, we would have been safe anyway. Unfortunately, we lost 1-0 and it all came down to the Leeds game.
"I scored here against Chelsea, that was a big win. Then at Arsenal I had another chance, this time for 1-1, six yards out, but I missed it. That was hard to take at Highbury.
"So we had to beat Leeds. That was two days after Arsenal and they were about to play in the European Cup Final.
"It was the performance of the season. We destroyed them. It was the crowd again, I think the gates were locked at 6.30pm - there were 50 thousand in here and another five locked outside. It was incredible.
"I can vaguely remember sitting on the ball! I don’t know what happened, it was unconscious thing. That was me, I suppose, and sometimes it was okay, sometimes a bit below the belt.
"It caused a few problems. It was just one of those things. Billy Bremner came rushing over to me, foaming at the mouth, I said ‘before you say anything, Dave Mackay is not here to defend me’!
"What a game though, absolutely brilliant."
Below - Alfie at the Lane, April 19, 2014