Flashing Blade 128 rolls back the years to look behind a great headline from Sheffield United's past.
Thursday, April 15th 1976.
WHICH PAPER IS IT?
It’s the back page of The Star.
WHICH GAME IS IT?
Leeds United v Sheffield United in the old First Division.
WHY IS IT SPECIAL?
Any time United beat Leeds at Elland Road is special!
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE MATCH?
United manager Jimmy Sirrel had won at Elland Road earlier in the season when at Notts County and used the same tactics of keeping it tight and playing on the break. Leeds were not the force of a couple of years earlier - some of their players were getting old - but they still had players of the calibre of Allan Clarke, Duncan McKenzie and Peter Lorimer.
Sirrel’s gameplan relied heavily on 17-year-old central defender Tony Kenworthy, playing against his hometown club. The young man was up to the task. Fellow youngster Simon Stainrod and the classy Tony Currie, in one of his last Blades appearances, kept Leeds on their toes and it was left to old-stager Alan Woodward to deliver the killer blow in the 65th minute, or, as Tony Pritchett put in his match report, “cut Leeds off at the knees.” He collected Currie’s pass and blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
In the last moments Jim Brown saved brilliantly from McKenzie and United were victorious. United’s line-up was: Brown; Franks, Garner, Calvert, Flynn, Kenworthy, Woodward, Bradford, Guthrie, Currie, Stainrod. The attendance was 22,799.
After the game Sirrel said, “There is a bit of sparkle about the place now and one of the bonuses about it all is the fact that we have involved our young triallists. There’s an opening for any boy with talent.”
Leeds manager Jimmy Armfield expressed his admiration for the way United defended but when questioned about the play of Tony Currie and whether he was going to put in an offer for him, he remained pointedly silent. Leeds would, of course, buy Currie a couple of months later.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
United were already relegated by this time but since the drop was confirmed at the end of March they had now won three on the trot. The winning run was not an omen for the following season in Division Two as United could only finish in mid-table.
Kenworthy and Stainrod suffered the fluctuations of form and fortune of many young players but eventually they both enjoyed long careers in the game. Over the next couple of seasons other young players were introduced - Keith Edwards, Gary Hamson, Ian Benjamin and Imre Varadi - but before the end of the decade all except Kenworthy had been sold.
This policy of selling away the future for short-term cash gain inevitably led to only one thing - a rapid decline. By 1981 United were in the Fourth Division. Kenworthy had therefore played for United in all four divisions in just five years, a feat replicated by his defensive teammate at Elland Road, Paul Garner.
But both were important contributors to the Ian Porterfield-inspired revival and, indeed, Garner was still in the team when United returned to Division Two in 1984.
WHAT ELSE HAPPENED THAT DAY?
There was one other game in Division One that night - Newcastle United beat Manchester City 2-1 in front of 21,095 people. Those Geordies show their loyalty again.
Two English clubs made it through to European finals: in the UEFA Cup Liverpool drew 1-1 with Barcelona at Anfield (attendance 55,104) but had already won the first leg away 1-0. In the Cup Winners’ Cup West Ham United overcame a 2-1 first-leg deficit to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 at Upton Park (attendance 39,202).
Later, Liverpool beat Club Brugge 4-3 on aggregate in the two-legged final but West Ham lost 4-2 to Anderlecht in their final in Brussels.
In the European Cup, Bayern Munich and St Etienne won through to the Hampden Park final, beating Real Madrid and PSV Eindhoven respectively. Bayern went on to complete a hat-trick of European Cup wins, beating the French team 1-0 in Glasgow.
The largest league attendance that night was at Ninian Park, where a massive 35,549 watched Cardiff City beat Hereford United 2-0 in Division Three. Despite the win, second-placed Cardiff remained three points behind leaders Hereford and had played a game more.
Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, were third from bottom of the same division, two points ahead of bottom side Colchester with just three games to play. Wednesday eventually climbed to safety.
The Third Division included three teams that later went out of existence (Chester City, Aldershot, Halifax Town) and five who were later relegated to the Conference (Hereford United, Wrexham, Mansfield Town, Grimsby Town, Colchester United - Hereford and Colchester then returned to the League).
Five of the teams went on to play in the top division - Brighton, Millwall, Crystal Palace, Swindon Town and Wednesday. None of them are still there.
Millwall, Palace, Cardiff and Preston are now in the Championship. The Good Friday fixtures included a Division Two match that today would be Premier League Super Rich v financially stricken Conference promotion hopefuls - Chelsea v Luton Town.
Elsewhere in the sporting world, 17-year-old Sheffield fencer John Tomlinson, from Myers Grove School, received a call-up to the England team. Another Sheffield man, Roy Thorpe, was to represent Britain in the 50 kilometres walk against West Germany in Naumberg.
There was no greyhound racing at Owlerton that night, but the Hyde Park dog track on Manor Oaks Road was still in operation and hosted races the same night. There is a housing development on the site now (Manor Oaks Drive and Manor Oaks Gardens if you want to look it up on a map).
In what was termed “a sensational decision”, the Sheffield and District Works Sports Association kicked Forward Sports out of the Arthur Lee Cup Final for fielding an ineligible player in the semi-final. They were also thrown out of the Works Sports Premier League.
Forward Sports were found guilty of using a player “who was not a bona fide employee of the firm”. Harsh!
Apparently Ladybower Reservoir was in good form at the time. What’s that? A racehorse? No, it was the reservoir itself, producing innumerable fish to satisfy the region’s anglers.
The South Yorkshire Police Cadets football team beat their Humberside counterparts 11-0, their thirteenth game without defeat.
The following day’s racing featured cards at Kempton and Newcastle. No future champion horses competing though.
Sheffield Water Polo Club beat Barnsley 6-5 in a derby thriller. Carol Grove scored a hat-trick as Sheffield Ladies’ Hockey Club thrashed Harrogate 8-1.
David Rees of Derby beat Peter Shelley of Buxton 529-328 in the final of the Derbyshire Billiards competition at Matlock Conservative Club. The losing finalist gave up billiards to form the Buzzcocks later in the year.
Away from sport, other forms of entertainment could be enjoyed in 1976. Like wrestling. An advertisement brought to readers’ attention a ‘contest’ between Kendo Nagasaki and Count Bartelli at Sheffield City Hall. Also on the bill were the delightfully named Cat Weazle and Kangaroo Kid.
The “Showboat” bingo halls in Sheffield (Pond Street) and Rotherham (Main Street) were having ‘Fantastic Easter Specials’ in which you could win Easter eggs, chickens (live or dead?), joints, mixed grills and fresh veg dinners. And pairs of tights, tea sets, frying pans, shopping bags and table lamps. Oh the excitement!!
Good times could also be had at various drinking and dancing establishments. There was modern dancing with the Greg Jones Set every Thursday at the Embassy Ballroom at Intake and Easter Monday at the Hofbrauhaus was to feature “Miss Hofbrau 1976” in which “gorgeous girls” would compete for over £4,000 in cash prizes. Competing in exactly what type of event wasn’t divulged, but knowing the Hofbrauhaus…
The Aquarius Club on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, had some big names coming up - Marti Caine, Black Abbots, Sacha Distel, Duggie Brown (no, not the one who later ’played’ for United) and The Drifters.
Tiffany’s nightclub on London Road (later the Locarno, amongst other things, and now a Sainsbury’s) had a new resident group (Focus Harmony) and were inviting customers to join them from a minute past midnight till 4am on Saturday, admission 65p.
The Top Rank Suite had an Over 25s night on Thursdays but at Crazy Daizy on High Street people of any age (over 18) were promised “the best times of your night life”.
You could “have a Good Friday” at the Penthouse on Dixon Lane and a “cracking Easter” at Scamps on Eyre Street. Boy Meets Girl were on at Bailey’s on Bank Street but the Fiesta could easily top that with Tommy Cooper and The Three Degrees (presumably not together).
Genevieve’s in Charter Square had a live discotheque and was a good place for hen and stag parties, as was “Sheffield’s Ultimate Nitespot”, Mona Lisa on Rockingham Street.
There was plenty of the customary (at the time) soft porn at the flicks - Emmanuelle and Just One More Time at the Cinecenta, Wild Honey and Afternoon Teas at the Penthouse Cineclub, and a great choice at Studio 5-6-7: Erotic Quartet, Bed Games, Crimes of the Black Cat, Horrible Sexy Vampire, Frauleins in Uniform and The Stud.
The more discerning cinema-goer could choose from One Flew Over A Cuckoo’s Nest at the Gaumont, Gone With The Wind and Jaws at the ABC and Return of the Pink Panther at the Odeon.
“Tonight’s TV Film” was Elvira Madigan (never heard of it), on BBC2 at 9pm. It was based on a true story of a Swedish army officer in the early 1900s who falls in love with a circus tightrope walker and runs away with her. Sounds thrilling.
BBC1’s schedule was Tomorrow’s World; Top of the Pops; Are You Being Served?; The Burke Special; The Detectives: Harry O; Omnibus in Hollywood; Why Call This Friday Good?, followed by the weather forecast and a 12.13am close.
Apart from the 9 o’clock film, BBC2 had The Health Show; Newsday; Worldwide; Network; Newsnight; Music from Cambridge and a close at 11.15pm.
Yorkshire TV were showing University Challenge; Calendar; Crossroads; Emergency; Bless This House; Clayhanger; This Week; News at Ten; Emmerdale Farm (at 10.30pm); Drive-In, and a close at 11.55pm.
No Channel 4, 5 or any other of the multitude of stations you can get nowadays.
Radio One’s line-up was: Noel Edmonds, Ed Stewart, Tony Blackburn, Donny and Marie (Osmond I presume), David Hamilton, Johnny Walker, Sam Costa and John Peel. Peter Crabtree was on Radio Sheffield and Johnny Moran, Roger Moffat, Keith Skues and Colin Slade on Radio Hallam.
Some of the front-page headlines of The Star were almost Viz-like. The lead story was “Sheffield Mother Dies Under Infra Red Lamp” and you’ll be happy to learn that “Schools to get indoor toilets”!
But some were serious: “Young mother dies after her baby is found dead in cot”. “Security man shot in wages snatch”. “Molten metal starts fire”. “Soccer fan beheaded”. This final headline was not as a result of Harry The Dog and his Millwall mob invading Chelsea’s Shed End, nor was it due to a Middle Eastern government being a bit overzealous with their punishment of a football hooligan. It happened as St Etienne fans welcomed their victorious team back home to the airport. One fan ran on to the runway and had his head chopped off by a plane’s propeller. Yeuch!!
The News In Brief ended with a grim catalogue of deaths: “5 die in M-way crash” (between Glasgow and Carlisle); “36 die in plane crash” (in Argentina) and “8 children die in fire” (in Sweden).
But there was better news too: “Bay City Roller improves after drug overdose” (this was Eric Faulkner) and “Millionaire sends skin disease girl on flight of hope”. The “Latest” column (or “Stop Press”) told us that “Tourists Take Risks” (because there was a flight controllers’ strike pending and the brave holiday-goers were still going), “Miner Found Dead” and “Gales Bring Havoc”. We also learned that inflation had gone down to 21.2 per cent!! Bloody hell.
You could buy a double divan bed for £55 and fitted wardrobes for £38.35 from Milners of Commercial Street, polarised sunglasses from Debenhams for as little as 99p, Brutus denim jeans from Tramps for £6.99 and exhaust systems from Tyre and Auto Service at Darnall for £4.03 (plus VAT).
The Star cost 6p.