There wasn’t much goodwill, and precious little football on show, the first time the Charity Shield was held at Wembley. Liverpool beat Leeds United on penalties but the result hardly mattered. The match disintegrated into a series of niggling fouls and ill-tempered clashes, culminating after an hour in a stand-up fist fight between Liverpool’s Kevin Keegan and Leeds captain Billy Bremner. Sent off, they threw their shirts to the ground as they left the field, an image that went around the world and brought condemnation.
It was a bitter disappointment for Ted Croker, the FA secretary, whose idea it was that from 1974 the match would pit the champions against the FA Cup holders at Wembley. He made sure that Bremner and Keegan, the first players sent off at Wembley, knew they had disgraced English football. Instead of the usual one- or two-match ban, they were each suspended for 11 games and fined £500, a huge sum in those days.
Liverpool defender Tommy Smith says the players expected a real battle, even if the FA didn’t. “We had players who could look after themselves, and so did Leeds,” he says.
“We went at each other hammer and tongs. Nobody was going to shy away, and there was no complaining or whining on the field that day. As for the sendings-off, Leeds had been getting at Kevin all day, Johnny Giles in particular. It was at a corner, and Giles came up behind Keegan and whacked him. Kevin whirled round but Giles had disappeared and Billy was the nearest Leeds player so Kevin went for him. Okay, so Billy ended up throwing punches too, but it should have been Giles who got Kevin’s attention.
“Despite the dismissals, there were only two other bookings: me, for a foul on Allan Clarke, and Giles. The disciplinary committee tried to throw the book at us too, accusing us of starting the ill-feeling. But Matt Busby [former Manchester United manager] was on the panel and he soon put a stop to that and we both got off without even a fine.”
Phil Boersma gave Liverpool a first-half lead, only for Trevor Cherry to equalise. The match went to penalties and after both sides had scored their first five, Leeds goalkeeper David Harvey missed from the spot and Ian Callaghan made sure the Shield went to Anfield.
Bill Shankly had announced his retirement after Liverpool won the FA Cup earlier that year and Bob Paisley took over as manager, but it was Shankly who led Liverpool out at Wembley. Opposite him was Brian Clough, who had taken over at Leeds following Don Revie’s appointment as England boss.
Brian Hall, in Liverpool’s midfield that day, says he was not surprised that the Charity Shield ‘friendly’ erupted in controversy. “Manchester United were in decline at that time, so our big games then were against Leeds and Everton,” he recalls. “There was always something about playing Leeds. They were tough matches and I had to learn fast. I remember lining up in the tunnel to face Leeds for the first time when Tommy Smith nudged me and said, ‘Hey Brian, that f***ing degree won’t do you any good against this lot’. He was right, too. My background was different from most of my teammates. Like Steve Heighway, I’d come to Liverpool late, having played amateur football after leaving university. The difference was that I was more of a passer while Steve liked to run with the ball at his feet. Before that first game, Shanks told me that Big Jack [Charlton] and Norman Hunter in the Leeds defence were not quick and that I should run at them when I got the chance. Well, Norman kicked me all over the pitch. I was counting my bruises in the bar afterwards when this big arm wrapped around my neck and Norman leaned over and said, ‘Sorry about that, Brian, I thought you were Steve Heighway’.
“The team that won the FA Cup in 1974 was the ideal template that Shanks, Bob and Joe Fagan had been working towards.
“Our passing game tore Newcastle apart and was the model Liverpool worked on and improved from then on. The model that made the team great.”
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