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Games That Shook Goodison: Everton vs Leeds “The Battle of Goodison”
by Ed Bottomley

Everton 0-1 Leeds. 7th November 1964


“So there you are – you can see what it is like. The camera’s hot, probing eye, these monstrous machines and their attendants – a kind of twentieth century torture chamber, that’s what it is.”

In 1962, Prime Minister Harold McMillan decided to open a Conservative Party broadcast with that candid statement. It could just have easily been Everton manager Harry Catterick describing his queasy unease for publicity.

Because of this, most of the 1960’s – a wonderful era for Everton – is shrouded in darkness. Catterick, worried about rivals studying Everton too keenly, shunned the limelight and repeatedly shooed cameras away from filming his stars. Perhaps though, Everton’s match against Leeds in 1964 wasn’t something either team would want anyone to see.

“The Battle of Goodison” was an ugly game, pockmarked with violence, and staggers onto this list with “love” and “hate” tattooed on its knuckles. The adage was that if you stood up to Leeds they bit back twice as hard. At Goodison that afternoon not only did the Everton players stand up to them, but the crowd did too. Throughout the game angry faces in the stands were clenched like fists.
Famously, a tackle by Willie Bell on Derek Temple knocked him out cold; Brian Labone later told writer James Corbett that they thought Bell had killed him. After the “tackle” – and the howls from an increasingly feral crowd, referee Spokes escorted the two teams off the field for a cooling off period. Richard Burton and Liz Taylor had nothing on Everton and Leeds that day.

Cushions, hats, and all manner of debris were tossed onto the pitch – Leeds players feared a lynching – and winger Albert Johanneson was flecked with racist phlegm. Amidst the carnage, Leeds managed to score.

This is a lesson that history isn’t always written by the victors; Leeds had won the battle of Goodison; but they went on to be remembered as the bullies. Everton evolved into “The Three Graces”, with the saintly skills of Alex Young. Leeds were to become infamous for their brutally successful football; more totalitarian than total.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @DixiesSixty


here we go again with the geeneyed monster leeds wernt brutal they were a class side who could look after themselves, end of chat

by paul on May 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Everton AND Leeds were brutal that day Paul.

    by Ed on May 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I was at that game as a 16 year old, & neither team came out of it with much credit.
I have two open questions:
1. Why have you not mentioned Sandy Brown’s sending off after 4 minutes for punching Johnny Giles?
2. In the photo, behind Harry Catterick is the “infamous” crescent behind the goals to stop fans throwing things at visiting goalkeepers.I am not aware of any other club who created such a device, are you?

by Mike on May 22, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Hi Mike
    1. Brown’s sending off is definitely worth a mention, and in many ways lit the fuse for the whole match.
    2. I’m not aware of any other ground either. I’d be interested to know to be honest.

    by Ed on May 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

It takes 2 to Tango, the foul count was Everton 19 to Leeds 12 in that game. Leeds were no angels obviously but opposition teams regularly played on the “dirty Leeds ” tag to get some kind of moral advantage.
Leeds could play and it wasnt till Revie took off the shackles in ’74 that we really saw the best of their football.

by Lamby on May 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I agree Lamby – I’d say Everton were the worst of the two that day.

    by Ed on May 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm

An interesting, albeit limited, account of what actually happened at Goodison Park on that “infamous” day. Leeds had been promoted from Division the previous season, so were the ‘new boys’ to the top division and the team had been ‘written-off’ by the pundits as relegation fodder. Don Revie, like most great managers, had built his team on a solid defence and Leeds did indeed serve up a dour brand of football aimed at winning games and 1-0 would do. It should also be noted that Goodison Park was an intimidating arena in the mid-1960s with several incidents of crowd disorder which resulted in the perimeter wall being moved back to prevent homes fans from pelting visiting players with ‘missiles’. So to the game itself, to add a bit more detail to the match report:

Trouble flared as early as the 4th minute when Giles and Sandy Brown clashed and Brown was sent off for throwing a punch, from that point on Gary Sprake in the Leeds goal was pelted with coins, the home crowd baying for blood and both sets of players flying in to tackles. The referee, Ken Stokes, was hit by a missile and made the decision to take the teams off for a 10 minute “cooling off” period. Jack Archer (The Sunday People) called it a “Spine-chilling game…one littered with a long procession of fouls” Even after the 10 minute break the match did not calm down with bad tackles committed by Norman Hunter and Roy Vernon which were described by Ian Guild (Yorkshire Post) as “a disgrace to the game of football”.

It is worth noting that the ‘foul count’ was Everton 19 Leeds 12.

Of course Everton went on to win the FA Cup in 1966 and the Championship in in 1970 with a very good team. As for Leeds, well Bobby Collins (Ex-Evertonian) was voted Footballer of the Year for the season in question. Many of the ‘tricks’ Leeds did such as a player on the goal line at corners, taking the ball into the corner to run down the clock and now practised by all teams – even Everton!

by oldlufc on May 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Excellent stuff, thanks for that, you filled in all my gaps nicely.

    by Ed on May 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

i was at that game as a sixteen year old and i can tell you the crowd were just as bad as the players and most of the truoble was from middleaged fans not teenagers the referee took the teams off for five or ten minutes till things cooled down

by a woods on Dec 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

In relation to the arcs behind the goals, yes, Everton were the only club to do it in the same way Chelsea were the only club to electrify their fencing or Luton to introduce a members only no away fans system. But like Chelsea and Luton after them, Everton were far from the only club that needed to stop its fans abusing visiting keepers.

by Steve Porter on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:23 pm

So on this particular day Everton decided to fight fire with fire, however Leeds got their “dirty” tag because of tactics used by Revie teams that came to light long after he’d abandoned both Leeds & England for the mega-bucks offer of Saudi Arabia . Besides the outward displays of so- called “hard football”, throw in the digging nails into players hands while helping them up, sly spitting into players faces & treading on players feet while on the ground were just a few of the underhand tactics they used. Ask any players at the time from, well take your pick , Chelsea, Liverpool, Derby, Everton, all of whom had famous battles with them . Like Revie, Leeds were a win at all costs side & very much like him sly with it !

by StDom on Nov 7, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I was at this game as a 14 year old. Leeds set the tone for what happened that day, Johny Giles hit Sandy Brown with a tackle that left stud marks on his chest, there was a photo of the stud marks on Browns chest in one of the papers the day after. This tackle was after 4 minutes. After saying that this was when the game was played by men and not the diving pretending to be in agony excuses for men that we have now.

by Bobby Givnan on Nov 16, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing Bobby – what was the atmosphere like?

    by Ed Bottomley on Nov 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Hi Ed, the atmosphere was very aggressive after Sandy Brown being sent off. This tackle was no accident by Giles, he knew what he was doing and that Sandy Brown was no ones fool and would probably react which Sandy did and Giles deserved the punch he got. Leeds were very lucky to escape a pitch invasion they were always the instigators. I have read the comments on here that say Everton were more to blame, that is complete nonsense. As i have said it was more of a man’s game then, watching players fall over now with the slightest touch completely ruins the game in my opinion and would have been laughed at in that era. The only thing i regret about that day was Albert johanneson the Leeds winger took terrible stick throughout the game because he was black, thankfully that is something that is better now than it was then.

by Bobby Givnan on Nov 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm

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