Lorimer of Leeds, hard shot in a hard team

THE LEEDS UNITED team of the club’s golden era under Don Revie has lost another of its shining stars with the passing of Peter Lorimer. He was an integral part of Leeds’ classic side, a group of highly-skilled and highly-motivated internationals that probably won less than they deserved during a marvellously consistent period.

Lorimer was renowned for his fierce shooting ability, said to be even harder and faster than a Bobby Charlton thunderbolt. Aided by regular drives of over 90 miles per hour, he became Leeds United’s record scorer, netting 238 goals in 705 appearances.

He was a player that any club would have liked to have had in their squad, a skilful and busy individual who scored spectacular goals on a regular basis. Manchester United were especially keen on signing him as a youngster.

It says a lot for the team spirit at Leeds that he never left the club during his peak years. “We were like a family and that’s how Don Revie wanted it. We still have great respect for each other and enjoy each other’s company. We’re like brothers. We never had any prima donnas even though we had some massive characters,” he said in an interview some years after his playing career had ended.

Like all of Revie’s men, he always retained great respect for his mentor, believing that he was ahead of his time in so many ways. “Don ran the whole club, making everyone feel part of things. He was one of the first managers to take the team away in advance of away matches – he even had us on special diets and wanted to know we were getting the right food and plenty of rest.”

Lorimer will forever be remembered for a disallowed goal in the 1975 European Cup final, a game that Leeds should have won. Similarly, a disallowed strike in the 1967 FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea not only underlined his shooting ability, but also Leeds’ habit of falling at the final hurdle. 

Born in Dundee on December 14 1946, Lorimer joined Leeds in May 1962 as a 15 year-old.  He made his Leeds debut in September of that year, but it was not until 1965-66 that he became a regular, scoring 19 goals as Leeds finished runners-up in the Football League. Leeds and Lorimer finally won their first trophies in 1968, the Football League Cup in March against Arsenal in a brutal encounter, and the Inter-Cities’ Fairs Cup later in the year against Ferencvaros.

Over the next six years, Lorimer won two Football League titles (1969 and 1974), the FA Cup (1972) and another Fairs Cup (1971). He also went close to winning more, including in the 1969-70 season when Leeds finished runners-up in the league and FA Cup and reached the last four of the European Cup.

Scotland recognised his talent and he won his first cap for his country on November 5 1969 against Austria, replacing Chelsea’s Charlie Cooke with 20 minutes remaining in a World Cup qualifier in Vienna’s Prater Stadium. Lorimer secured 21 caps in total, scoring four goals over a six-year international career. He played all three of Scotland’s games in the 1974 World Cup finals in Germany, netting against Zaire.

He proved to be one of the more durable members of the great Leeds side, staying with the club right through until 1979 initially, and then enjoyed a second spell that ran from 1983 to 1985. 

Peter Lorimer was, by all accounts, a likeable fellow who was respected by team-mates and rivals alike. Anybody who saw him in full flight, lashing home a trademark rocket shot would also confirm that he was a player worth watching. 


Photo: PA Images

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