“The greatest player in the world”
That was the view that then-Scotland manager Tommy Docherty had of Hotshot. Eddie Gray’s view is that you wouldn’t get a Lorimer in today’s market for £50-60m. It was while playing for Scottish Schoolboys against England at Hampden that Gray first saw just how good a player Lorimer was, and it was there that Gray told himself that he had to step up to the mark if he wanted to be a player, as Lorimer was ‘sensational’.
A long career started with a 15 year old boy, still a record holder for youngest player, making his first appearance for Leeds. He signed in 1962, opting to join Leeds who had been the first club to show interest, over rivals Manchester United who offered £5,000 for him. He made his debut shortly after against Southampton. He was to spend over 20 years with the club, over 2 stints, and remained close to Leeds United after retiring, as a guest summariser on BBC Radio Leeds, writing a column in the Leeds matchday programme and another in the YEP, as well as being president of the Scandinavian supporters club and also being the fans representative to the board, and representing Leeds as a city during England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He also ran the Commercial pub in Holbeck, 10 minutes from the Elland Road stadium.
Whilst he’d been highly rated by Docherty he was limited in international appearances. This was in part due to a ban applied for opting to go to South Africa during the apartheid era, where he played on loan for Cape Town City, making 6 appearances and scoring 8 goals. Overall for Scotland Peter made 21 appearances, scoring 4 goals. He played and scored in the 74 World Cup.
His time in South Africa wasn’t the only controversy in Peter’s career, however. In the semi final of the FA Cup against Chelsea the referee, Ken Burns, chalked off a Lorimer goal because Chelsea had not retreated the full 10 yards from the ball. Chelsea held on to win the game and progress to the final ahead of the favourites.
In the famed European Cup Final in 1975 Michel Kitabdjian disallowed a goal for offside against Billy Bremner, who was in a passive position. Kitabdjian gave the goal and pointed toward the centre circle for the game to be restarted, after which he was accosted by Beckenbauer and convinced to change his mind. This he did, disallowing the goal. He had already turned down two strong penalty appeals, one for a clear Beckenbauer foul in the box on Clarke as he prepared to round Maier in goal, and one for Beckenbauer handling the ball in the area. It was clear that the German could do no wrong. The German side went on to win 2-0.
The Leeds side with Lorimer in it through the late 60s and early 70s dominated without winning enough silverware to evidence the level of domination the country had to endure. By the time the European Cup Final came around Revie had moved on and the side he’d built was ageing. Lorimer left in 79 having won two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, a Charity Shield and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (the predecessor to the UEFA/Europa Cup).
One famous game that Leeds fans enjoy reminiscing about was against Southampton. Lorimer scoring a hat trick against the side he’d previously made his debut against. For the 7th unanswered goal Gray makes a typical balanced run on the left, sweeps in a deep cross to the back post, Lorimer meets it with his head and provides Jones with a simple finish in the 6 yard box.
With 15 minutes still to go, and Leeds looking rampant, Revie calls to Paul Reaney and tells him that he doesn’t want to make it any worse. Revie is friendly with the Saints manager and they’ve already lost 8-0 to Everton in the same season. Reaney relays the message on the pitch ‘he doesn’t want us to score more goals’, Lorimer recalls in a quote given to The Express in 2012:
“It was in a period when we were slamming most teams,” he said. “It was a time when Don, who was very much a disciplinarian and calculating in his approach, had total belief and let us go out and do our thing. We were really enjoying football rather than going out with a fixed system. It amazed a lot of people who said that we just shut up shop to win the match as soon as we were ahead and that was it.
“But that particular afternoon, it was too much for Don. Ted Bates was the Southampton manager and Don was very friendly with him – I think their paths had crossed earlier in their careers.
“He called to the nearest player – I think it was Paul Reaney – and said, ‘Tell the players to keep possession and ease off a bit – it is getting a bit embarrassing. That’s enough punishment’. When you have got a boxer on the ropes, tongue hanging out and blood flowing everywhere, you have to call a halt.
“As the years went on they kept showing the 39 passes on programmes and that was what was featured more than the seven goals. But we weren’t trying to be cheeky or clever. We were just keeping possession. From time to time, I see Micky Channon and he is still embarrassed about it.”
I’ll end this piece with just one more quote, this one from his long time team mate, the manager that brought him back home to Leeds having retired from playing himself, and his room mate from 12 years of travelling the country and the continent doing what he loved – playing for Leeds.
Eddie Gray says of him, simply, “As well as being a great player and a great goalscorer, he was a great lad.”
Written by LUFC Gilly on behalf of the Orta Know Better podcast