Not many football clubs can claim their rivalry stretches back to the 15th century – and the Wars of the Roses.
But commentators believe the medieval conflict between Lancastrians and Yorkists may well have something to do with the ongoing enmity between Manchester United and Leeds United.
It came to a head in the 1960s and 70s when Leeds boss and former Manchester City captain Don Revie locked horns with United manager Matt Busby.
There were some tremendous tussles between the two teams – not least the 1965 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough where Denis Law and Jack Charlton ended up wrestling on the ground.
Leeds gained a reputation for being a tough, uncompromising side with players like Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner and Charlton himself taking no prisoners on the pitch.
But they played some compelling football too, twice winning both the Inter Cities Fairs Cup and the First Division title. What’s more, they were league runners-up on five occasions.
The Red Devils were league champions in 1965, pipping Leeds to the title on goal average, and again in 1967. A year later, they also secured the trophy the Yorkshire team have never won – the European Cup.
The Roses’ rivalry faded away in 1982 when Leeds were relegated. The Yorkshire club were destined to spend nearly a decade in the Second Division.
The first match between the two clubs took place on January 15th 1906 at Bank Street stadium in Manchester. Around 6,000 fans saw Leeds City, as the club was then known, win the Second Division clash 3-0.
It was not until 1923 that the clubs met again. The Red Devils were promoted to the First Division at the end of the 1906 season and Leeds City were disbanded due to financial irregularities.
A new club called Leeds United took the place vacated by the Leeds City reserve team in the Midland League, and were finally elected to the Second Division in 1920. They played all their matches at the Leeds City ground – Elland Road.
The Red Devils achieved their first double over Leeds in the 1946-7 season. The Manchester side won 3-1 at Old Trafford and 2-0 at Elland Road.
Don Revie became the Leeds manager in 1961, by which time Matt Busby had been in post at United for 16 years. The Red Devils had won three league titles in the 1950s but had also endured the tragedy of the Munich air disaster.
Leeds quickly became a force to be reckoned with, especially when Revie signed Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Johnny Giles for £33,000 in September 1963.
Giles formed a formidable midfield partnership with Scotland international Bremner, supported on the wings by Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer.
Two years later, Giles faced his former club in the infamous FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough on March 27th 1965. Denis Law and Jack Charlton punched each other and wrestled on the floor in what was described as a ‘very rough game’.
Our photo shows Manchester midfielder Pat Crerand grabbing hold of Bremner as Bobby Charlton tries to intervene. Law is being pulled away by Leeds’ player Bobby Collins.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw so the teams met again for the replay at the City Ground, Nottingham, on March 31st. Leeds were the winners this time with an 89th minute goal from Bremner.
But the Red Devils had the last laugh. Even though they tied Leeds for first place in the league on 61 points, the Manchester side were crowned champions on goal average.
There was another epic FA Cup semi-final between the two clubs in 1970 which went to no less than two replays. There were no goals until the third match at Bolton’s Burnden Park when Bremner once again got the vital winner in Leeds’ 1-0 victory.
Although they won the league in 1967, the Red Devils suffered a string of defeats by Leeds. These included a 5-1 thrashing at Elland Road in 1972, after which Leeds’ assistant coach Les Cocker consoled Bobby Charlton on the pitch.
The Red Devils struck two major blows against Leeds in 1978 by signing two of their best players, both Scottish internationals. Centre half Gordon McQueen crossed the Pennines for a transfer fee of £495,000 after centre forward Joe Jordan had moved for £350,000.
Leeds fans targeted McQueen with boos and jeers when he returned to Elland Road the next season and objects were thrown.
But the powerful defender silenced the crowd by heading a goal in an exciting 3-2 away victory.
*More of North West’s great footballers are recalled in Clive Hardy’s three Around Manchester books covering the 1950s, 60s and 70s.