‘Shame of Paris’

This was the headline, written atop the following days’ Yorkshire Evening Post, used to describe the 1975 European Cup Final. A phrase could not have been more apt to describe the events that had unfolded that night. Thursday 28th May marks the 40th anniversary of Leeds United’s foray to the pinnacle of European competition. The adventure culminated in the final held in Paris vs defending German and European champion’s Bayern Munich. Shame of Paris represents both events on and off the pitch, including a rather disturbing aftermath.

It was 1975, hooliganism was on the rise but still a far cry from its peak in the 1980’s. The 70’s were difficult years, both politically and economically. But behind all the difficulties, it is often said that most ordinary families were better off than ever and the era marked the beginning of a new chapter of modern Britain. Holidays abroad were much more accessible and families had disposable income for toys, lavish furnishings and entertainment. We joined the common market in 1973, enabling access to a variety of amenities but with the possibility of increasing food prices with ever rising inflation. Healthier foods were bought and not viewed as a fad, leading to more nutritionally balanced diets. Colour TVs and music centres led to more access to mainstream media and sports.

Leeds-fans-in-Paris,-European-Cup-final,-1975,-Leeds-United-v-Bayern-MunichThe 1970’s appear to represent an oxymoron, with displays of excess and struggle in equal measures, existing side by side. By spring 1975, unemployment was 1 million, which was more than 5% of the work force and yet money could always be found to support your local team domestically and even abroad. In fact some fans such as Carole Parkhouse and friends were planning how to fund a possible future expedition to South America to support Leeds United in the World Club Championship should they qualify. Face value prices of tickets for the game in Paris ranged from £2-£4. Gulliver’s Travel were offering fans £30 return packages, including tickets, travel ad accommodation. Some self-proclaimed ‘super fans’ claimed their expenses were reaching upwards of £400 with touts charging £25-50 for last minute tickets. Some fans turned up a few days early on the off-chance that they would be able to commandeer tickets for the big game. Others though had tickets but had trouble arranging transport with all trains and ferries fully booked. Some companies offered travel that took in the scenic route, having to go to Netherlands first before coming back across to Paris. There are many stories of good hearted fans turning down big money offers for their tickets and selling them instead for close to face value to youth centres and to fellow ‘true fans’.

The feeling at home was one of great optimism. It looked like the time for proper recognition of a truly great team was finally upon them. The City really got behind the team with several representatives well-wishing before the tie. Local Reverend Eric Allen of St. Andrews, Roundhay had decorated the grounds with blue, white and yellow flowers so ‘The congregation can look at the flowers over the weekend and think of Leeds United’. The team were in good spirits upon leaving Leeds for Paris. Bremner addressed the gathered crowd with confident words. ‘We’ll be back here with the trophy on Thursday teatime’. ‘We have no injury worries and everyone is dying to set about Bayern’. ‘We’ve waited a long time for this game and now we are keen to get on with the job and bring the cup to Britain for the third time’. Terry Yorath echoed this sentiment, ‘We haven’t travelled this far to lose, and we will be back in Leeds tomorrow evening with Billy holding the cup high’. Many saw this as the last chance of glory for much of the team but saw them as very much capable, favourites in most people’s opinion.

In similar fashion, the German camp were equally confident, with YEP reporter John Morgan writing ‘They walk with the rippling grace of frisky trained-to-the-minute thoroughbreds and they exude super-optimism in their ability to triumph and collect an accumulated pay-roll of £176,000 for 90 minutes of frenzied endeavour’.

The captain Franz Beckenbauer felt ‘This match represents Bremner’s last chance of a European Cup medal, Clarke strikes like a python and Lorimer’s shooting is so devastating that he can make a team pay for one mistake. It is up to us not to make the errors. And we are good enough to retain the cup’. Adding also that He, Muller and Hoeness believe that Leeds are ‘not in the same class as Barcelona’.

This is the same Barcelona that Leeds had beaten in the semi-final 3-2 over two legs. They had overcome Zurich, Ujpesti Dozsa and Anderlecht in the knockout ties leading up to the semi.

Bayern Munich were competing for the second of what would be three consecutive finals. The manager Dettmar Cramer had a plethora of talent at his disposal including Frank Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller who were all part of the World Cup winning team the year before.

Leeds United had promised to continue playing attacking football and started off the game fielding an experienced team lining up in a modern day attacking 352 formation, giving Billy Bremner freedom.

(Leeds United; David Stewart, Paul Madeley, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Paul Reaney, Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles, Terry Yorath, Frank Gray, Allan Clarke, Joe Jordan)

(Bayern Munich; Sepp Maier, Bjorn Andersson, Bernd Durnberger, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Franz Roth, Rainer Zobel, Jupp Kapellmann, Conny Torstensson, Gerd Muller, Uli Hoeness)


Leeds United dominated the early exchanges with Bayern Munich defending deep, Muller looking decidedly uncomfortable not playing his classic number 9 position.

In the 34th minute, Leeds appealed for what seemed a clear-cut penalty when Beckenbauer brought down Clarke in the box as he was about to pull the trigger. Beckenbauer would later reveal on TV that he thought it was a definite penalty. The Bayern defence continued to look shaky but battled stoically to protect its’ goal. Maier was living up to his nickname ‘The Cat’, acrobatically keeping shots at bay with more than one top quality save, denying Billy Bremner from 5 yards.

Soon after Leeds had a goal disallowed for offside. Lorimer had rifled a blistering shot past the German keeper, Bremner in an offside position having been nudged there by a defender. Most fans accept this decision as offside was very much a clear rule at the time. The goal was initially awarded with the linesman having not raised his flag and well on his way back to the halfway line. Controversially, Bayern Munich captain Beckenbauer gestured to the referee and appeared to cajole him into making another decision. Refereee Michel Kitabijan scratched off the goal for offside. This reversal caused riots to fire up amongst the Leeds faithful. The match was interrupted as debris from broken chairs and bottles rained down towards the goal.

In the 72nd minute Bayern went 1-0 up with a Roth hammer blow. Within 10 minutes, Gerd Muller had latched onto a loose ball, appearing in the box for what seemed like the first time in the match. The security made no attempt to stop the 150 or so problem Leeds fans with their first thought to get everyone out of the stadium at the final whistle. Local journalists misinterpreted Leeds United players salutes towards fans at the end of the game as support for the rioting. But this is continued to be common practice to this day to show appreciation of the support. The violence continued with many looking to get out of the city and home as soon as possible. Reports of previous and further incidents cropped up over the following few days. Many put it down to hooligans who were masquerading as fans. From all accounts around 150 from 9000 travelling Leeds fans were involved in riots. Local papers led with the headlines ‘Les Animaux Anglais’ with Director of the stadium Parc des Princes saying ‘it was no surprise to us, we have come to expect it from English people’. ‘Over the last three days Leeds followers have attempted to break in and damage our premises. Their match behaviour was disgraceful. I have never seen anything like this and I hope I never do again’.

Former Leeds legend Bobby Collins was beaten up outside the stadium by unknown attackers after the final. Many fans wrote in to local newspapers criticising the minority of fans who had caused trouble whilst almost all complained about the standard of refereeing on show. The referee was dogged by bribery allegations for the remainder of his career. The Lord Mayor was quoted as saying he was ‘disappointed with the result and distressed at the behaviour of a section of our supporters’. He also commended Billy Bremner for trying ‘to calm down the unruly fans and did a great job’. UEFA secretary Hans Bangerter claimed ‘The fans tonight were not as badly behaved as they were in Barcelona but nevertheless I am very disturbed at the way football is going in European competitions’.

Leeds United were subsequently banned from European competition for 4 years which was reduced to 2 on appeal. Not that it mattered though as qualification was beyond our grasp as we began a steady decline.

Hooliganism had flourished as a medium to express general frustrations within a society that struggled to place the offenders. Anxiety surrounding upstarts of hooliganism behaviour caused initial ‘strong arm’ approaches to quash it. This created an ‘us’ against ‘them’ mentality with the opponent changing regularly but the attitudes remaining the same. Hooliganism has always been displayed at its’ worst on foreign soil. This is because this concept is then coupled with the strong notion of patriotism and national pride. Increased policing within grounds causing segregation will have played a part in pushing it outside of stadiums, actually putting the general public more at risk and giving it increased media coverage. Much of the younger population involved will have had a natural distrust of the law enforcement stemming from general discontent. This seemed to encourage well organised groups to revel in outsmarting the authorities with a variety of tactics. The media played a part in the upsurge in the behaviour, often using inflammatory language such as ‘animals’, ‘savages’ and ‘thugs’ to dehumanise them, distinguish them from the normal working class background they often belonged to. The last thing to do to an organised mob is to insult them and to create another foe which they can pull together and rally against. The media has untold outreach and often influences residing bodies into a way of thinking without feeling the need to investigate social roots and more effectively tackle the problem.

Leeds United supporters looked like a definite candidate to take on this outlook. It is from a one club city with a persecution complex. It was reviled by other clubs, known simply as Dirty Leeds. It had a view of being hindered by the national association at every turn, never being accommodated in its’ quest for domestic and European glory. This feeling still exists today with our lingering distrust of the Football League. We have been ‘cheated’ out of many trophies including the 1973 Cup Winners’ Cup, with the referee subsequently prosecuted for taking bribes, the trophy never being awarded to us on appeal. It very much looked like this great team of The Don’s making had once again beat the other team on the pitch but had somehow lost via the scoreline.

Leeds United struggled to recover after an inconceivable result, with the ever reasonable figure of Jimmy Armfield clearly unable to explain what had conspired against his team to deny Leeds the trophy. He was able to partially rejuvenate Revie’s squad but was eventually sacked after the 77/78 season, unable to reach their previous great heights. The club went through a succession of managers before being relegated in 1982 under the charge of Allan Clarke. Other cup final players; Eddie Gray, Billy Bremner and Norman Hunter failed to steer the club back into the top flight. It wasn’t until 1989/90 that Howard Wilkinson gained promotion and, two years later, won the Division One title having assembled the excellent midfield quartet of Gordon Strachan, David Batty, Gary McAllister and the late Gary Speed. Leeds United weren’t to see the highest European stage until 2000/01 when David O’leary guided his young squad to a semi-final exit to Valencia after seeing off many tough opponents to earn their right to be there.

The fans still regularly sing ‘We Are The Champions, Champions Of Europe’ (WACCOE) during games in reference to the 1975 defeat and the previously mentioned debacle in 1973. With the club currently languishing in the 2nd tier with low mid table finishes in the last two seasons, it appears that this chant is the closest we will get to European Competition in the foreseeable future.

Written by Austin Dawkins

All images used in this article are from the excellent photo section on WAFLL.com

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