Retro Football: Gary Sprake Floors Bobby Gould With Brutal Punch, Both Players Shown Yellow Cards, 1968/69 (Video)

Chris Wright

23rd, January 2015


By Chris Wright


He may have looked like butter wouldn’t melt with his fresh(ish) face and wispy blonde curls, but Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake was just about as diabolical as the rest of the club’s late 1960s/early 1970s vintage.

Indeed, as can be seen in the photo above, Sprake had a nasty knack of coming to claim high balls with his studs purposefully raised at roughly neck-height to put strikers off challenging him.

By and large it worked like a charm and strikers left him well alone in the air, but when Arsenal’s Bobby Gould defied convention and attempted to out-jump the Leeds goalie to score in 1969, Sprake took umbrage and promptly punched him square in the face.

As was the style at the time, the referee wrote the belting off as mere sporting gentlemanly hijinks, booking both men despite Gould ending up on the floor with a partially dislocated jaw…

However, it would appear that Gould wasn’t quite as innocent as it first seemed, at least not according to Sprake’s version of events.

In his autobiography, Careless Hands, published in 2006, the former Wales ‘keeper recounted the incident thus:

“I caught a cross and as I fell Gould kick me in the privates very hard.”

“He then turned around and called me a f***ing Welsh so-and-so and I lost it and felled him with a sharp left that I think knocked out a few teeth.

“I was taking my jersey off because I thought I was walking.

“But the (Welsh) referee said ‘Everything will be okay, Gareth. I heard what he called you’.

“The next day in the papers there was a cartoon of me knocking out Henry Cooper with what had become by now my famous left hook.

“I’m not proud of it but then again a lot of people congratulated me for doing it. They still do now.”

Gould, an Englishman of course, went on to manage Wales – fairly poorly as it happens – hence the continued thanks from members of the Welsh public, we can only assume.

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  1. Peter says:

    Shouldn’t the headline read “Gary Sprake Floors Bobby Gould With Brutal Punch after receiving cowardly kick to the groan after the ball had gone”?

  2. Russ says:

    Remember seeing this on Match of the Day when I was 8 years old; even as a kid, I couldn’t believe Sprake hadn’t been sent off. Obviously no-one was shown ‘yellow cards’ – they weren’t around for a few years yet!

  3. OzTyke says:

    He was a big lad, Sprake. That punch must have hurt!

  4. Don says:

    A yellow card in 1968? I very much doubt it…

  5. Geraldo says:

    Don – they were both booked so figuratively speaking they both received yellow cards, even though it was before the introduction of yellows and reds. Sprake’s version of events may or may not be true but any alleged kick to his groin from Gould notwithstanding, let’s not forget that he was as much of a f***ing thug as the rest of the Leeds side back then and this was by no means the only occasion when he clocked an opponent.

  6. Reg says:

    Mertesacker or Ure? Which was the worst regular Arsenal centre half in their history?

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