Topic: Eddie's Mazy Dribble
Golden goal: Eddie Gray for Leeds United v Burnley (1970)
Our series remembering special goals recalls an outrageous piece of skill in the mud, even if its brilliance could not save Don Revie’s side from a marathon season ending with nothing
Eddie Gray Eddie Gray scored two wonderful goals against Burnley: one a 40-yard lob, the other after a deliciously mazy run. Photograph: Colorsport/REX
Winning is fun; it’s true, it’s true. What a moment to remember, what a thrill to enjoy! But let’s be honest, when the bones are boiled down, there’s never much left to sink your teeth into. And just as the devil has all the best tunes, so football’s beautiful losers boast the most romantic tales.
Ask the Brazil sides of 1950 and 2014, whose biblical failures ostensibly threaten to tarnish the country’s entire World Cup haul, but in fact make the story so much better in the telling. Ask last season’s Liverpool side, whose melodramatic widescreen capitulation (dir. Douglas Sirk) will be recalled in all its bittersweet glory long after many of the club’s actual titles have been forgotten. Ask Don Revie’s Leeds United, who in season 19 … actually, there are plenty to choose from there, though one in particular stands out.
Leeds United’s 1969-70 season is perhaps the single-most astonishing campaign in the history of English football. Revie’s team had, after years of striving, finally won the league title in 1968-69. With the monkey off the club’s back, the team buoyed by confidence and the oft-maligned Revie the new manager of the year, Leeds embarked on the following season in a mood to challenge on all fronts: the league, the FA Cup, the European Cup. It would be an unprecedented assault: only one team had won the league and Cup double in the last 70 years, never mind thrown a European title into the mix. It was surely impossible. It’s to Leeds United’s credit that, for a while, the impossible looked like it was on.