History: How Leeds United denied Arsenal retaining the FA Cup in 1972

Arsenal’s 1972 FA Cup Final collapse by Liam

By May of the 1971/72 season The Gunners who were holders of the FA Cup from the previous year after beating Liverpool 2-1 in the 1971 final, lost their most prized cup in history to Leeds United.

Don Revie’s Leeds United who were one of the greatest teams of the 1960s and early 1970s got the better of Arsenal for the second time in four years after having beaten them 1-0 in the 1968 League Cup Final.

However Mee’s men got off to a bright start in the FA Cup Third Round overthrowing Division Two side Swindon Town 2-0 who had only beaten Arsenal three years earlier as Third Division underdogs in the League Cup Final 3-1. George Armstrong and England 1966 World Cup Winner Alan Ball slotted in two neat efforts both in front of 32,000 keen spectators.

The fourth round on paper should’ve been even easier against Fourth Division outfit Reading away in Berkshire, this would prove to be far from the case. The Royals held on tight allowing The Gunners to only edge their way past them in a close 2-1 victory, Pat Rice scored the one goal for Arsenal with an own goal from the hosts denying them a replay at Highbury.

Arsenal were yanked out of the royal blue coveted bag against Derby away in the fifth round who were eventually crowned winners of the 1972 First Division on the final day of the season under legendary manager Brian Clough. At the Baseball ground The Gunners found themselves stuck in a 2-2 draw with Charlie George scoring both times who had previously netted the winner against Liverpool in the 1971 final in extra-time. Three days later in North London the Rams stopped Arsenal in their FA Cup tracks again where after 90 minutes the scoreboard read 0-0, it was now back up to Derby again. In the second replay a pivotal Ray Kennedy winner sealed the 1-0 deal to allow for Arsenal to finally avalanche into the quarter-finals of the cup.

Orient (now Leyton Orient) of the Second Division awaited Arsenal at Brisbane Road in what would turn out to be a tough jostle of a match. Ball popped up with the only goal of the game to fire The Gunners into the semi-finals of the Cup after a nip in the bud 1-0 victory in East London.

Stoke City who had already picked up a piece of silverware already during the season after beating Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup Final, were raring to go in the semi-finals of the FA Cup against Arsenal as they looked to become the first team in history to clinch the cup double. After travelling over four hours up to Goodison Park (the venue for the semi) The Potters stole the lead through a corner before Kennedy fired in from close range to settle a 1-1 draw and a replay at Hillsborough. In Sheffield Peter Storey, who was known for his rough and unwavering attributes as a defender, rampaged the back of the Potters goal twice to rescue Arsenal a 2-1 ticket to the final.

The Whites under Revie who had earned the 1967/68 and 1970/71 Inter-Cities Fair Cup and League Cup and 1968/69 First Division championship were ready to lock horns with Arsenal in the final at Wembley with 100,000 fans in attendance. After a hard fought 90 minutes Leeds came out on top with a marginal 1-0 triumph through Alan Clark, whose unstoppable header stole the Cup off of Arsenal. This is the one and only FA Cup United have secured in their history to date.

Liam Harding

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1 Comment

  1. The second replay against Derby County was played at Filbert Street, Leicester. i was there.

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