Reflections: Off the Ball look back at 1972

Muhammad Ali fights at Croke Park and the Five Nations is cut short

BY Simon Maguire 15:30 Monday 10 July 2017, 15:30 10 Jul 2017

Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Al

Every Saturday, Off the Ball's "Reflections" series looks back at the big stories and glorious moments of a certain year.

1972 saw Tottenham beat Wolves to win the UEFA Cup while West Germany claimed the European Championships with a 3-0 victory over the Soviet Union.

One point separated the top four sides in the First Division in England with Derby County claiming the honours for Brian Clough. John Giles helped Leeds win the FA Cup against Arsenal.

"First of all it was the centenary cup final," Giles told Nathan Murphy. "It's always a big final anyway but the centenary was special. Cup final day was always special, it was one of the major competitions in those days. We were playing Arsenal who were our big rivals who had won the double the previous year. We went on to win the cup in '72 and we needed a draw against Wolverhampton away to win the double.  

Leeds United's winning goalscorer Allan Clarke celebrates with the FA Cup after his team's 1-0 win. Picture by: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

"And we were beaten, we needed a draw but we were beaten at Wolverhampton. So I didn't actually have much time to celebrate the cup. We had to leave straight away after the match for Wolverhampton and actually it was our fourth match in eight days.

"We played the previous Saturday, we played the previous Monday, we played on the Saturday and we had to play again on the Monday. So we were a bit tired to say the least going into the Wolves match. We didn't have time to celebrate it!

1972 also saw the first Five Nations since the war to not be completed as both Scotland and Wales refused to travel to Dublin due to The Troubles.  

Ireland had already beaten France in Paris and England in Twickenham and were on course for a first Grand Slam since 1948.

Tom Kiernan reflected on the disappointment of missing out at the chance to complete a clean sweep: "It was a case of Scotland and Wales not wanting to come and that was that. We didn't interfere in the politics of the thing and we didn't condemn them and neither would I wish to now but it was disappointing that they didn't come but understandable in a way."

You can listen to the full episode on the podcast player below or stream/download on iTunes.

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