On This Day: Derby’s Francis Lee and Leeds’ Norman Hunter fight, 1975
If only we got rucks of this ilk nowadays. Not a set-to hold-me-back-handbags piece ay nonsense, but one demanding multiple rewatching, focusing on a different part of the screen each time.
Derby had won the league the previous season, deposing Leeds – who finished ninth and lost the European Cup final to Bayern Munich in circumstances suspicious enough to have them singing “we are the champions of Europe” even now. Going into the game, Derby were fourth on eighteen points, Leeds sixth on seventeen – the top three were QPR, Manchester United and West Ham.
Leeds started the game well, Trevor Cherry heading in a corner to put them one-up, but Archie Gemmill soon equalised. Then came the controversy. Francis Lee – signed from Manchester City the previous summer, and whose goals helped them to the title – showed why he was known in some circles as Lee Won Pen, hurling himself to the ground after a tackle that wasn’t there from Norman Hunter. Those cheating foreigners, and their simulating ways, taking our jobs – or maybe it was physics was to blame, given his exceptional fatness and smallness.
Anyway, the ref bought it and the spot-kick was duly converted, which did not sit at all well with Norman. So in the second half, after a Lee run and shot was saved, he took the opportunity to exact retribution, staggering him with a crisp right-hook to the pus that might just have counted as a knockdown – though oddly, it was Lee who initiated a confrontation he couldn’t possibly hope to win.
Surprisingly, Scots Bremner and Gemmill were amongst the first on the scene, and shoving and peacemaking ensued, before the ref sent Hunter off – though in commentary, Motty suggests that a booking would suffice – and then, hilariously, Lee.
This did not sit at all well with him, and as the players left, he absolutely misplaced his excrement, windmilling like a lunatic and forcing Hunter to backpedal. None of the shots appeared to land, but Hunter hit the deck anyway, at which point the others converged. I’ll not ruin your joy in picking it apart, but look out for Bremner introducing leaping knuckles to back of head.
Before the end McKenzie levelled the scores, but I doubt anyone was all that mithered, and it certainly didn’t matter in terms of the league – won by Liverpool, and beginning their era of dominance.