Larry Pritchard played as Sutton stunned Leeds in 1970
“I couldn’t tell if Sid was saying it tongue in cheek or not,” remembers Pritchard. “But Sid’s team talks were always a little bit different. He probably meant it.”
It was January 1970, the fourth round of the FA Cup, and the part-timers from Sutton United were about to run out against the best team in the land – Don Revie’s feared, famed and not altogether loved Leeds.
Leeds had just won the title for the first time in their history, would go on to reach the European Cup semi-final that season – and the FA Cup final as well. The most powerful team in England, in other words – and not even at their peak.
That was the last time Leeds visited Gander Green Lane. Have a look at it on YouTube – it is football from another era. There were 14,000 crammed into the ground, some of them on benches inside the perimeter fence. And Revie fielded his full side – no resting players for league games in those days.
Then 25 and one of the best amateur players to have emerged in this country, Pritchard was no mug and nor were Isthmian League Sutton, FA Amateur Cup finalists in 1969. It was a massive game.
Guess the football pundits by their playing careers
Fri, January 27, 2017
Click through the gallery to guess the current football pundits by their playing careers
1 of 31
Can you guess the current football pundits by their playing careers?
Leeds are back on Sunday, this time as a promotion-chasing Championship side, and things are very different. But for Pritchard, now 72, and the few other veterans of the 1970 side who will be there, the memories will come flooding back – not all of them happy. To this day, the 6-0 thumping Sutton took stings.
“When we were drawn against Leeds then, it was like playing Chelsea now. It was fantastic,” says Pritchard. “That’s what you want as a player. Leeds were in the highest echelon.”
This was the team Revie put out: David Harvey; Paul Reaney, Terry Cooper; Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter; Peter Lorimer, Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, Johnny Giles, Paul Madeley. Sub: Mick Bates. Eleven full internationals, every one of them a household name.
“I remember their players saying to us, ‘Do you need any tickets?’ because they had spare ones,” Pritchard recalls. “They had wanted the game switched to their place, but they didn’t lord it. They were straight, disciplined.
“We always had decent crowds but it was different that day. The atmosphere was fantastic.
“What hit you was their speed of thought and passing. In the England amateur squad we had lots of games against pro sides, so I was used to it. I enjoyed that competitiveness.
“But Leeds were very professional, no mucking about. They knew exactly what they were about. When it was 4-0 it looked like it could go to seven or even eight, which would have been highly embarrassing.”
By half-time, Clarke had scored twice and Lorimer once, and it became a stroll for Revie’s men. Clarke went on to net four, Lorimer two.
But Pritchard, who later managed Sutton for three spells, remembers: “We had some chances. A corner came out to me and my shot got cleared off the line. I hit the bar.
“Giles and Bremner were very good, and competitive. There were a few bruises but that’s what you expected. They were renowned for their ability to catch people.
“Leeds took us very seriously. When you are playing a side below you, you can end up looking the mugs. They didn’t let up.
“At the end, Revie didn’t say anything or come in into the dressing room. A couple of players did, but he didn’t.
“We were really disappointed with the result. Our goalkeeper Dave Roffey wouldn’t talk about it for a long time. It was on Match of the Day, but I didn’t watch it, I went out.
“It hurt to lose like that, but that match really put Sutton United on the map.”
It was the start of Sutton’s now daunting reputation as a cup giantkilling team. Ask Coventry about that.