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Hi WT, good article as ever - hope you're well; send ya a few tweets, you might have witnessed, I love the video "The Formation Of The Holy Trinity 1964" - thats great stuff On This Day: Best, Charlton, and Law's first game together - next Sat. I'm off for a week skiing in our beautiful country, all the very best - take care
Taken my son to the liverpool game on the 11th. We got our tickets this morning we were allocated east stand tier 2 row 21. Are the seats any good? As it's my sons first time going and want him to have a memorible day any advice would be great thanks.
Taken my son to the liverpool game on the 11th. We got our tickets this morning we were allocated east stand tier 2 row 21. Are the seats any good? As it's my sons first time going and want him to have a memorible day any advice would be great thanks.
your talking to an old man now...whose first game was over fifty years ago......but even now every game is like the first...i still get a tingling sensation all over whenever i walk down Warwick rd (sorry Sir Matt Busby Way)......my only advice would be too take slow steps and let him take in every minute , get there early let him see the sights , the build up..............just the atmosphere as you start to get closer is something special.....the smells , the chants , the people....just let him take it all in ...and you will look into his eyes and you and him will know .....sorry got to go teams are out and my dongle is getting battered......
Today began as every 'footy' Saturday did, scramble round for scarf and bob hat, still dark and cold, make the fire, nothing beats the warmth of a coal fire, jam butty then sit there ready waiting for what seems an eternity to go round to Unc's.....
Today was the visit of one of our local rivals Bolton, a team who wasn't to be feared so much as yesteryear. Images of Nat Lofthouse (who had recently retired) cutting through your defence, who had done this a few times against United and was the scourge of us in the not so long ago Cup Final of '58 where he had pounced twice in our 2-0 defeat... Anyway let them worry about us, we had the nucleus of a good side and should Sir Matt get the players he required silverware was just around the corner (the eternal optimist....).
Round to Unc's then, and as usual for Saturday morn was met by a bleary eyed beer monster (sorry Unc) whose only communication 'til he'd had his tea and a fag was ugh! Half an hour later and he was starting to resemble a human being... and then out of the front door, which nearly killed him as fresh air (if you could call it that in them days as smoke from the factories hung about like a fog first thing in a morning and smoke from the chimneys slowly drifted across the roofs of the houses) invaded his lungs causing the usual coughing fit... and with a 'feel better now'... we were off. Meeting the rest of the lads down at the pub... few jars (me still with a shandy, but boy would I make up for it in later life!) then off to the game.
In the ground the talk was of last week's defeat at Wolves and players that we'd like to sign... all the usual stuff as the team was read out over the tannoy. Pinner who had made his debut a couple of matches back was in goal, Brennan and Cantwell were again our full-backs with Stiles, the ever dependable Foulkes and 'the beast' Setters as the middle three, with a forward line of Kenny Morgans (who would play his last game for United next week, after making his debut in 1957. He had struggled to make an impact, but was a steady winger but just lacked that something) Quixall, Dawson (who put his head in where others wouldn't ...brave or daft, we never knew...) who like Quixall was having his best scoring season for United. Mark Pearson was a dependable inside forward who linked well with Dawson but lacked that turn of pace, and last but not least Bobby Charlton who about nothing can be said that already hasn't. Bolton were going through a transition period and weren't the force of old. The game got off to the usual blood and thunder of two local sides meeting each other and it wouldn't be long before Dawson was squaring up to the Bolton centre-half, and Setters would soon after be putting some poor unsuspecting wing half on the seat of his pants and nearly in the stand... (oh for the good old days...lol). The first half hour was like a cup-tie as a frenzy of football was played with nobody seeming to stand on the ball and calm play down. That was not until a certain Bobby Charlton decided he'd had enough, picking a ball up inside his own half he slowed down to a walk and as players came at him played a one-two with Stiles and was gone leaving Bolton players in his wake he glided down the wing and in one movement clipped over a cross, which was met by such power from Dawson's head (I swear the keeper dived out of the road it was that hard).
United were one up and at last settling down to play football and not get caught up in little battles. Five minutes before half time United doubled their lead when the same combination as the first worked again. Charlton again supplied the perfect cross for Dawson to come sliding in and score in the bottom corner. Half time and we were two up and good value for it.
The next ten minutes would be spent stamping your feet and clapping hands to get some warmth into them, it was a really cold day and the wind was blowing over the scoreboard end (no roof in them days) straight into the Stretford End. After what seemed an eternity the players came streaming onto the pitch and the game was soon under way. Although Bolton tried they couldn't get the better of Uniteds defence. United continued where they left off, playing football on the deck and passing round the Bolton team, we came close on a few occasions but to no avail, then the unthinkable happened Bolton pulled one back as there was a mix up between Brennan and Stiles, which resulted in the inside forward nipping in and beating Pinner at the near post. 2-1, surely not... we'd been so comfortable, surely we wouldn't throw two points away today...
With renewed vigour Bolton started to pour men forward and for ten minutes we were on the back foot, bodies flew in to block shots and forwards were dropping deeper... It was during this period that brought about the move of the match when Cantwell recovered a ball a slide rule ball up the touchline found 'Nobby' Stiles, who just on the half way line spread it cross field to Charlton who without looking (or so it seemed) hit a 25 yard diagonal ball splitting the Bolton defence in two to the feet of the blonde bomber Quixall who took it in his stride dragged Hopkinson off his line and with aplomb placed it just inside the far post... YES!! 3-1 to the Reds... Safe and sound with very little fight left in Bolton that's how the score stayed.
On the way home and looking at our remaining fixture list... we only had one home game in the next six, we would be away to Forest next week and the talk was of getting a bus there. Nightmare... all the stopping and starting, off the bus, behind a bush, repeatedly as beer after beer will be consumed.... WOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY... COME ON YOU REDS!!!!
The Forest game round in no time and as usual goose bumps and lumps in the throat came just as quick, expectations were high as we had beaten Forest 2-1 earlier in the season and if... if we went on a good run now there was a possibility of finishing 3rd. We wouldn't win the league and little chance of second as Spurs seemed to have it sown up with Wolves and Sheff Wednesday fighting for scraps... but we had a chance, and too finish in the top three would have been a good season The Forest manager Andy Beattie had put a compact side together but they were no world beaters so it was with eager anticipation that i was ready for a United triumph today.
The papers had stories of Stiles being out with a slight strain and Gregg coming back in for Pinner, which on the day proved right. As we sat on the coach going to the game discussions were taking place on who was going to replace Stiles and how glad people were of seeing Greggy back (in between making toilet stops every fifteen minutes... Makes you wonder how so many trees are still standing after all the pee they must have drunk in them days..lol). Parking up (near a pub, of course!) ten minutes away from the ground and already the atmosphere was building... not like in the later years of chanting and shouting echoing round the streets, but a buzz due to Manchester United being in town and the looks of opposing fans of the United scarves and the awe in which we were held. The look of sympathy was sill evident and although it was appreciated it was starting to feel a bit of a burden..... as years later we found out by the likes of the Leeds and Liverpool... Anyway back to now, and as usual Smidge was first through the pub doors, straight to the toilet, but this time it backfired... Unc got the beers and my shandy and waited for Smidge to come out when he thought it was safe and told him it was his round!.... The look on Smidge's face was a picture, and after scrambling through his pockets he just had enough a cheer went up as Smidge emerged from the bar to outside with his beer in hand and a red face, but boy did he drink it fast... he wasn't going to let anybody get away without paying after that!
Crossing over the Trent to get to the ground the goose bumps and dry throat were in full flow and expectations were high. Fans nodded to each other with mutual respect and then it was into the ground. Forest had a nice compact little ground with a good atmosphere and boy was their Bovril strong. The team news was announced and Nicholson had come in for Stiles (which wasn't everybody's cup of tea. Stiles had been building a reputation and was starting to be looked on an as integral part of the team. Only in later years would that be proved right). As the teams came onto the field the shouting from both sets of fans increased. United's team consisted of Gregg, Brennan, Cantwell, Setters, Foulkes, Nicholson, Morgans, Quixall, Dawson, Pearson and Charlton. Surely good enough...
The teams faced each other and the game was off. United were quickly into their stride and posed the first attacking threat as Quixall and Dawson exchanged passes, which ended with Morgans firing high and wide. Charlton was starting to be a thorn in the right full-backs side, Setters and Foulkes were looking comfortable and as the game wore on we seemed at ease. Grummit the Forest keeper was the busier of the two, then out of nowhere Addison robbed Nicholson and and split United's defence and the inside forward (not sure whether it was Wilson or Booth) ran on to it and slotted inside the post, Forest 1-0... surely not! The players then started looking round in disbelief, but instead of rolling their socks up they felt sorry for themselves and just before half-time things got worse as Forest scored a second. The half time whistle couldn't come quick enough as Forest were looking dangerous every time they attacked... Relief came with the whistle. Sir Matt had his work cut out as the United team walked off looking beaten.
We were shell shocked at the way the game had gone, the buzz coming from the Forest end was one of euphoria. From looking on the back foot to two up was unbelievable, they were in heaven, but we would show them, we were United.
The second half started much like the first with United in the ascendancy and like the first half Forest broke again having robbed Nicholson and counter attacked ending with a goal bound effort that Gregg not only saved, but held and in one motion was up on his feet and kicked the ball up-field to Charlton, who went on one of his mazy runs cutting inside and passing to Pearson. Charlton meantime kept his run going and 'Pancho' found him with an inch perfect pass keeping his run going he hit a screamer that stayed six inches off the floor all the way and Grummit could only look and admire as the ball hit the back of the net.... 2-1 down, but on the way back... COME ON YOU REDS... (or as they said in them days 'play up United' ). United carried on and with about fifteen minutes to go Quixall equalised with a deft little header. Forest were on the back foot and we were in the ascendancy... Ten minutes to go and we were still looking good, five to go and Forest were holding on. Hands were gripping my scarf, I was nearly choking myself... expectations were running high. Then a punt upfield and a ball into the box a bit of a scramble and the ball trickled over the line, 3-2! The Forest fans looked round in disbelief... They had come back to win the game.... Me? I just stood there speechless, as did most of the United supporters. Try as we might after that we just couldn't get anywhere near the Forest goal and the game (for us anyway) just fizzled away...
Drained and broken on the way home... I managed to sneak a couple of bottles of stout (now it was my time too be watering the trees... lol). The two points dropped meant in reality we would do well to finish in the top five. The thoughts went to the next match, one we had to win. Away again... we had to win to get back on track... Not only that WE HAD TO WIN IT WAS CITY AWAY....
Saturday couldn't come round quick enough, any game against City was one I always looked forward to, and although we weren't in contention for the league we wanted to beat the old enemy and today was no different. Walking through the streets of Moss side anticipation was at its highest... We had to win. The look on the City fans faces was one of the same anticipation, after all it was all they ever had to look forward to.... a visit from the big boys!!
City's side at the time consisted of some good players, but only one or two.... Bert Trautmann was slowly coming to the end of his very distinguished career, Barnes who was another steady player, but slowly coming to the end... Cliff Sear a player of some standing (but still wouldn't get in our team...) Wagstaffe a tricky winger who went on to better things with Wolves, Oakes a solid dependable defender a rock for City, Betts, Plenderleith, Barlow, Hannah, Hayes.... and oh yes another kid who would never make it.... Law. Who Sir Matt had coveted when he played for Huddersfield, but had decided to sign for City instead... foolish boy! (he could have been good if he'd signed for us... must be mad). Anyway, when you compared them to the team we had Gregg, Brennan, Cantwell, Foulkes, Stiles, Setters, Moir, Quixall, Dawson, Pearson and Charlton.... Gods most of them.
It was, compared to nowadays, as though every ground was the same big brick walls with tall wooden gates that opened at the end to allow the surge of fans out. The club names were carved on the front of the ground into the big bricks, most grounds were close to small terrace houses with washing hanging out and smoke coming from the chimneys. As usual we had to queue for ages as fans paid their money and then struggled to push the old rickety turnstile that creaked and groaned for the umpteenth time in their life, as the wizened face from behind the grill sorted out his money fumbling for change hoping you'd just push through and forget your penny.... no chance! Then there was the queue for the Bovril at the old wooden hut where you were lucky if there were three people in attendance then the climb up the weed strewn steps to a gap into the ground where at this time fans mingled, but in years to come would be the scene of fierce battles as fans were segregated by a row of coppers and hatred would be seen at close quarters... but that's in later years, though not much later.
The game was like most Derbies, a close fought tense affair with United starting to get into their stride first and slowly, but surely getting on top and if it wasn't for Trautmann would have taken a very early lead as Dawson thundered a header, which brought out the best of the City keeper. We were in the ascendancy and playing well, we'd settled and started to run the show and sure as eggs were eggs we took the lead when a move that involved Moir, Pearson and Dawson saw Charlton rounding off the move with a sweetly struck shot that left Trautmann clutching at fresh air... 1-0 to the Gods. Looking at Unc, he just smiled and said ' irst of many'.... Oh I just hoped so, then for a fifteen minute spell we went into our shell instead of going for the jugular. We allowed City into the game (rings a bell...not Colin..lol) and it was getting worrying. With a few minutes to half-time and on the back foot United got a corner. Charlton delivered the corner with perfection and on the end of it was Dawson... and when he headed them like that they stay buried... 2-0 United. Surely no way back for City now! The half time whistle went and a cheer from the United faithful echoed around the City ground. Unc, Smidge and myself gave a little jig, this was as good as it gets (well for this season anyway..!!)
City came out in the second half like a team possessed and were putting tackle after tackle in. They got closer to Charlton and put pressure on 'Nobby' (i'm sure he loved it, his grin was awesome..), Moir was crowded out of the game and City threw everything but the kitchen sink at United. The defence was holding strong, and needed to be... Then it happened, City scored and the look of belief on there faces said it all.....
Charlton swapped to move inside a bit more with him coming off the wing and going more into an inside forward position attacking the City defence full on with his pace seemed to confuse them and with barely ten minutes to go he burst through the centre and swapped passes with Dawson and then slipped the ball into the path of Pearson, who with aplomb beat Trautmann..... 3-1! It was the longest ten minutes of the season, we'd done it, we'd beaten City... WE WERE CHAMPIONS OF MANCHESTER......
Our next four games were a disaster as we only took two points a draw at Newcastle, a draw at home to Arsenal a 5-1 hammering at Sheff Wed and another defeat at Blackpool. Then out of a possible 14 points to be had until the end of the season we took 12, including a 6-0 hammering of Burnley. We finished 7th level on points with Leicester, some 21 points off Spurs, who in the end comfortably won the league. There was light at the end of the tunnel. We were a couple of players short of being a good side, a championship side... What would the close season bring..? Would we get the players we needed...? Would Sir Matt's health hold out..? Questions we would have to wait for a while to be answered, but for me.... UNITED ARE THE GREATEST AND NO ONE CAN DENY!!!
I have wrote these diaries for what seems a long time now and i am wondering whether the boredom factor is now setting in......i'll leave that to anybody who reads to let me know if now enough is enough.....
Thank you everyone for your kind words. Much appreciated.
Like all footy fans and especially the younger fans we waited eagerly for the football fixtures, and i was no exception.... Today was the day the fixtures were released. I rushed down to the shops after school to buy the chronicle where a full list of fixtures were awaiting my sweaty palms. When would we play City? And my personal favourite Spurs at home? As usual nothing in life is easy, the paper was late, sat on the kerb waiting as was a few others and in the distance we saw the yellow van coming down the street, up everyone jumped to get in the queue and me being a short arse got pushed to the back..! With great anticipation in watched as the bundles of newspapers were thrown onto the pavement wrapped with pieces of string, "come on... come on." What seemed an eternity I eventually made my to the front of the queue with my twopence in hand. Paper secured I jostled my way out of the shop to the safety of the kerb and opened the page... "here lets have a quick shufty", said Smidge and with that he took the paper and started to read the fixture list, "but, but.. it's mine! I want to read it." "Damn first game's away at West Ham", said Smidge. "First home game is a Wednesday night against Chelsea."...."mmmm, September: Spurs and City at Old Trafford..." Things I didn't want to hear! I WANTED TOO SEE FOR MYSELF! Then up pops Unc and he starts reading and talking to Smidge about the fixtures..! "Give me my paper back, there'll be no print left soon..!' And with that Unc gave me the paper and headed for the pub with Smidge in tow.
Sod it, I rolled up the paper and ran home heading for the sanctuary of my bedroom where i could look in peace. Through the back door and it had to be... "just in time, teas ready" said mam. Sat at the table with the paper, willing to be opened (but I daren't, not at the table...), "slow down, you'll get indigestion eating that fast." I wasn't bothered i just wanted to see the fixtures. Tea downed and I asked to leave the table when dad spotted the paper... Oh no, I whispered to myself... "Let's just have a quick peak..." and with that he picked up the paper and headed for his chair in front of the coal fire... "But dad..." I said, "old thee horses", he replied, "i wont be long" and with that I had to wait while the old man read every inch of print..! When he eventually finished I scooped up the paper and ran to my room.
As Smidge had said we started at West Ham, then Chelsea at home (love night games!) followed by Blackburn at home and again another night game at Chelsea away all in the space of eleven days, Blackpool away... loved that fixture as we made a week-end of it and good times were had by all! September was not going to be an easy month as we had Spurs at home on the 2nd, City at home on the 23rd and Wolves at our place on the 30th, with Cardif and Aston villa away in between. Thoughts were forming in my head of points to be had and mini leagues were being put down on paper as to where we will be at the end of each month. Me? I had us in a good position with things to look forward to and by Christmas I had us in a position where I would be happy. Ready for a push in the New Year and fighting for honours... and of course there was a small matter of the F.A.Cup. I so desperately wanted to go to Wembley, walk down Wembley Way towards those twin towers and see my heroes walk up those thirty nine steps and lift that coveted trophy aloft. Dreams. That is what football is all about!
In July of this year Sir Matt (I know he wasn't Sir Matt yet, but too me he was!) had signed David Herd from Arsenal for a pricely sum of £35,000. A well known goalscorer and a man that was feared by opposing centre-halves, he was signed to replace the war horse Alex Dawson, who eventually left for Preston for £18,000, though not till October. There was also the thought that Wilf McGuinness would not return to the United team through a bad injury. Wilf last played against Everton in our 2-1 defeat on November the 28th 1959, and rumours were that it was career ending, which was a shame as Wilf had been a good player for United. A solid wing half whose career ended at the age of 22, he'd just broken into the England side (2 caps) in 58/59 and his future looked rosey, but a broken leg had failed to heal as was expected, so it was a sad loss to United and football in general.
Ronnie Cope would also be leaving signing for Luton for £10,000, and Mike Pinnar, who we had signed from Q.P.R as a stand in keeper would leave for Chelsea and although we hadn't made the signings we had hoped for, things still looked optimistic, so roll on the new season... I WAS READY AND WAITING... GLORY GLORY MAN UNITED AND THE REDS GO MARCHING ON AND ON...
p.s we also got dumped with a young kid from Cregagh Youth Club by the name of George Best... Will he ever live up to his name..? We shall see!!
The season started drastically (for me anyway), Unc and Smidge had decided we were going to West Ham for the first game, so preparations were made to hire a coach and plans were in motion, only for everything to go wrong as far as I was concerned... I'd been grounded and dad was adamant that I wasn't going to the first game... bastard!
Unc tried as hard as possible (which ended up in a blazing row with my eld fella), but to no avail. This all came about because we'd moved house in close season, with a new district and new school I became the favourite punch-bag of the local bully both where I lived and at school. One day my friend Ian and I decided to pretend we were going to have a fight after school so the local bully turned up to watch... and I did the stick trick - you put a small sharp nail through the end of the stick and rub it in dog shit, then as me and Ian squared up to one another I asked Alan (the bully) to hold my stick, naturally he took hold and pricked his thumb on the nail and as per usual his thumb went straight to the mouth.... and I was off like a bat out of hell with him chasing me uttering oaths of death! He eventually got me two days later and beat the living daylights out of me, so I plotted my next revenge. This came about a week before the start of the season. He used to cycle down an alley and at the end was a bush, which was to be my cover. As he came cycling down at warp speed I pushed a piece of wood through the bush and through his front spokes... I still remember that scream till this day... He flew over the top and took all the skin of the palms of his hands and ruined his jacket and was bloodied and bruised. That'll teach him, so I thought, until a big hand clamped me round the shoulders and I was in the clutches of the local bobby, who after giving me a good clout round the ear frogmarched me home to dad, who gave me a clout round the other ear, and I swear I was hearing bells for days! So that's why I missed the first game.
By all accounts it was a good game and United came away with a point in a 1-1 draw, with David Herd making his first start for United, but it was a rare Nobby Stiles goal that earned us the point. I had to wait for Unc's report about the game as dad grounded me to the point that he wouldn't even let me go and buy the football pink and read about the game.....bastard!
I was lucky that my grounding ended that Sunday (just in time for school Monday, good of him that... bastard!) and United played Chelsea on the Wednesday at home, as was the case then games came thick and fast, so all I had to do now was keep out of trouble before Wednesday. Would I be able to keep out of Alan's way? Only time will tell!
WE WILL FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT FOR UNITED 'TIL WE WIN THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE!
President of ĎI want Andersonís and Naniís babiesí fan club
"This all came about because we'd moved house in close season, with a new district and new school I became the favourite punch-bag of the local bully both where I lived and at school. One day my friend Ian and I decided to pretend we were going to have a fight after school so the local bully turned up to watch... and I did the stick trick - you put a small sharp nail through the end of the stick and rub it in dog shit, then as me and Ian squared up to one another I asked Alan (the bully) to hold my stick, naturally he took hold and pricked his thumb on the nail and as per usual his thumb went straight to the mouth.... and I was off like a bat out of hell with him chasing me uttering oaths of death! He eventually got me two days later and beat the living daylights out of me, so I plotted my next revenge. This came about a week before the start of the season. He used to cycle down an alley and at the end was a bush, which was to be my cover. As he came cycling down at warp speed I pushed a piece of wood through the bush and through his front spokes... I still remember that scream till this day... He flew over the top and took all the skin of the palms of his hands and ruined his jacket and was bloodied and bruised. That'll teach him, so I thought, until a big hand clamped me round the shoulders and I was in the clutches of the local bobby, who after giving me a good clout round the ear frogmarched me home to dad, who gave me a clout round the other ear, and I swear I was hearing bells for days! So that's why I missed the first game."
Hi WT! Fantastic that you keep on writing, you know I love your stories very much. Hope you're well and you enjoyed a great summer; I'm fine and looking forward to go to Crete for a week at the end of September - beeing back (flying in) to OldTrafford for home game v Potters. All the very best ))
Nice to hear from you Paeder hope you are in fine spirits for the new season , and that goes for every one who's daft enough to read these posts....lol
Well i'd missed the first game of the season but i was going to be at Old Trafford for our first game .....Wednesday night against Chelsea....night matches as i've said in the past is something else........the walk down Warwick road in the dark and seeing those pylons beeming out so much light was mind boggling...as was the norm ....i was dreaming of going to wembley for the F.A.Cup....i was believing this was our year...we was going to win the the championship....United at the time was still going through a transition....but i felt we were good enough.....only time would tell .
As we walked down Warwick road tingles started to come back and goose bumps where high...this was surely going to be our year....Greggy was back from niggling injuries . Sir Matt had gone out and bought David Herd...a strapping centre forward who was not pushed about easily...and who had an eye for goal.....Stiles was a year older and more experience....Charlton had had another year to lose the trauma of Munich (it was only years later and after speaking to him that i realised he never did and never will......sad because if anybody deserved to play with a smile on his face it was Sir Bobby....) We had Giles establishing himself (who went on to be a Leeds great....even though he learnt at the school of excellence....M.U.F.C).....and even though we would sell Ronnie Cope and Alex Dawson and lose the fine services of Wilf Mcguiness....i still believed this was our year !
Chelsea had lost the services of Ted Drake (manager)due to a poor result against Crewe (last seasons F.A.Cup) and one of the best finishers in the 1st Division in Greaves , so i felt we would win this in a canter...........would i be right? only time would tell.
Getting to the ground was as usual.....scarf and bob-hat firmly implanted....the first game of the season beckoned and as the norm i wanted to get there a.s.a.p. but unc and Smidge being season pro's took it in there stride...but wlking down Warwick road and looking up at Unc i knew expectations were high.....WE HAD THE BUZZ....there's nothing like walking down that hallowed walk especially on a night match when it's still light but the floodlights are on dragging you in like a moth........i loved it (and stil do ).....i'd started to notice that a few songs had started to come up as we walked down the road......which in all honesty was a suprise because football was a plce you just shouted ...not sang , and though it was only a few it seemed to bring a different atmosphere......not shouts of 'play up united' but chants of 'United'.......god this was something else....
As the norm into the Stretty end.....but was it the norm....people were actually getting together in a group and shouting or chanting for United..........normally it was people shouting whatever they wanted but for a group to be as one......interesting!
The teams were read over the tannoy as claps went up for each individual player ....the Chelsea team included the likes of of 'chopper' Harris(who was to get this nickname in later times....) Bobby Tambling (who was a real wizard at times........on his day as good as any winger i've seen).........But Uniteds side sounded better......
The game started cagey but with Chelsea looking the better side , it took united a while too get into the game but when they did.......they looked great some of the football was a joy too behold......then the move of the match came about......United in the shape of Cantwell moved down the left passing to Stiles who fed outside to Quixall who jinxed passed the Chelsea full-back to cross the perfect ball to Herd who with aplomb headed into the back of the net United were 1-0 up with more to come i was sure.......United were now on top and running the Chelsea team ragged and it wasn't long before Pearson put us two up...we were going to murder 'em.....our fault was the half time whistle came.(if only we had Fergie time in those days...lol).....The second half started and Chelsea was like a team possessed , the groans went up as they pulled a goal back (we'd seen this too many times in the last five years....) and as the way Chelsea started to dominate , but United being United started too get a foothold again and although not convincing slowly got back on a level plain and it was during this spell that Bobby put a defence splitting pass for Viollet to run onto and pass it into the back of the net beating the despairing dive of Bonnetti the Chelsea keeper ......now it was over.....or was it........with ten minutes to go Chelsea scored a second....and it was all hands too the decks.....how well we played defencivly was unbeleivable....but there was only one set of fans that were glad too hear the final whistle........we had 3 points out of a possible 4...............we were on the way.....YIPPPPPEEEE..........Blackburn was the next game again at O.T. not many sleeps but plenty of dreams....league possibly....surely F.A.Cup...only time will tell.......but at last we were off and running...!!
The season had got off to a good start with three points out of a possible four, but mainly for the football we had started to play. As always the United way was still to worry you during some point of the the game, no matter how well you were playing. Could this at last be our year? And would we make that nerve shattering journey to the 'smoke' walking down the famous Wembley way with the twin towers coming into view sending shivers of excitement through you like a hot knife through butter, just like walking down Warwick road.....
Anyway these were the thoughts going through my mind as I woke on the day we were playing Blackburn. A usual match day, told off for eating breakfast too fast, having bob-hat on at the table, shoe fronts all scuffed from playing with tin cans on the way home from school, "do you know how much they cost" said my parents, "you think money grows on trees" blah blah blah. Quick as a flash I was up, scarf, "can I have me spends for footy" and then off. Why is it always the same? They(parents) always tell you there's bags of time, no need to rush. Do they not understand there's nothing like being at the ground early just to take in the build up, the adrenaline rush, trying too smooth down the goose-bumps in case people thought you were new to O.T. and that you had never seen anything like it. Just being there and having a chance too spot one of your hero's walking through the crowd to the ground surrounded by gangs of kids with their short pants, woollie socks, scuffed shoes, shirts buttoned up to the top, but most of all big beaming smiles cos they had walked down Warwick road with their hero, and standing at the crossroads watching bus after bus passing with their steamed up windows and smoke filled and the youngsters on the back seat hoping they'd hurry up, so they could get to the ground. The smell of the fresh pies that were being sold from Butchers bikes, and the man who stood on the corner and sold home made wool scarfs and bob-hats... That was precisely why you got to the ground early.
The Blackburn coach came down and parked right outside the players entrance. As they started to come off with boots in hand they were greeted with a smatter of applause, after all they had been to Wembley just two seasons ago defeated 3-0 to the Wolves. Dave Whelan, Ronnie Clayton, Peter Dobing, Matt Woods and Bryan Douglass and the rest.
Like lambs to the slaughter they entered the lions den, surely they were there for the taking, we were United, we should be beating these sides if we were going to be taken seriously, after all our players names tripped of the tongue and sounded good: Gregg, Stiles, Charlton, Herd, Foulkes, Quixall.... enough to make you shiver in your boots!
That was it, in the queue, and as always, I get the slowest one, and after what seemed like a lifetime I handed over my 1s6d(7p) to a hand behind the grill and waited for the click, so I could push the turnstile and enter paradise.... Another 4d (2P) was handed over to a white coated seller and I was then in possession of the programme. Up to the top of the Stretford End, the sight was something to behold, quickly into position and stubb of pencil ready for when the teams were read out.
With everything duly done and teams noted all that was left was for the teams to come out... As the norm the first people to see them enter the tunnel was the fans on the centre line and as usual they were the first to break into applause followed by some 45,000 others as the Red Devils strode onto the pitch peeling away to their left to kick in at the Stretford End goal. As always Greggy jumped touched the crossbar, felt the netting at the back, put his cap and gloves just behind the post, kicked the post then marked out his centre of goal on the line and up to the penalty spot. It's at this point where the blood flows and the tension mounts all to be released on that little pass.....the kick off.
United kicked off and after ten minutes you could see it was going to be a no-contest day as Blackburn chased shadows. United for a change got into their stride quickly, it wasn't long before Herdy had the ball in the back of the net to be quickly followed by Quixall and Charlton. 3-0 with less than thirty minutes on the clock. Blackburn try as they might had no answer to sea of Red tide that was coming at them. United eased off a bit before half time, to which Sir Matt was going furious on the touchline and as the whistle went for the end of the first-half he turned and stormed off down the tunnel... Whatever was said worked, the second half started very much like the first with United in complete control and in the space of no time Herdy made it 4-0. Blackburn to their credit stuck at the task and managed to pull one back from a scrambled corner but it was to no avail as United scored twice more through Quixall and none other than big 'mo' (Setters).
United ran out 6-1 winners which was no more than they deserved with some of the best football seen for a while. Even Sir Matt looked in a better mood as the final whistle went and he patted each and every one on the back as they exited down the tunnel. Well we had five points out of a possible six, Championship form or what..? The old favourite 2pts at home, 1pt away... On Wednesday night we had Chelsea at the Bridge which wouldn't be easy, but hey we'd beaten them last Wednesday at our place so a draw looked on... Sh*t we weren't going to Chelsea on Wednesday, Unc couldn't get the time off work (it normally took about five hours to get to London then by coach... faster than nowadays.....lol) and not only that the 'pratt' (dad) wouldn't let me have the time off school.
So it was head under the blanket time with the radio trying to get scores and reports, tuning from one station to another (not that you had a lot in them days). Mam was downstairs watching Coronation Street (a programme that started in 1960, it wouldn't last... it was rubbish!) and I has you can guess had pinched the radio. The half-time report was coming through and lo and behold United were one down and by the sounds of it not really in the game... Damn! But wait a minute, it's half time... look what Sir Matt's half-time team talk had done Saturday, yes I had every faith. Waiting and waiting for the result with baited breath.... then the result came over a scratchy radio with crackle... Chelsea 2 United 0.
Someone was going to pay. Blackpool away on Saturday, one I wouldn't miss for the world. I loved the sickly smell of the candy floss, chips in newspaper, massive pieces of broken rock stuck in your teeth, flashing lights of the amusement arcades, plus the football of course... ROLL ON SATURDAY.!!!
School week felt like a long time... I always looked forward to games at Blackpool, it was every northern kids wish to go to Blackpool, either for a day out or for a holiday, it made no difference. When you got off the the train or the coach you could smell the sea breeze, the candy-floss, fish and chips and perfume as loads of women and girls strutted their stuff down the golden mile.... and my bonus was to see United at the same time. As the school bell went for Friday finish I knocked chairs, tables and anything else that got in my way over... I had to get home and get scarf and bob-hat ready for tomorrow's game... What time were we going? I had to go round and ask Unc... then once the time was know I was on countdown. Mam and dad would be forever shouting at me the night before a match as I would be going in-and-out of the front room checking the clock, waiting for tomorrow to come - did I tell you I loved Blackpool games! So there I was running home with a million thoughts of team selection, how we would play, what time tomorrow were we setting off, could I get an extra five shillings for spends to go on the fun fair... that's if we had time. All these thoughts ran through my head as I kicked a tin can on the run through the streets home.
Entering the front door I saw Unc in the kitchen with mam... What's up, we were still going surely (Unc loved going to Blackpool as much as me). Then other thoughts took over... we weren't going, no, we had to. Mam looked up and smiled, "you'd better hurry and get changed, I've done you a packed lunch and packed a few clothes... You're catching the 5 o'clock train...." Unc on seeing me said "we're going tonight and staying in a caravan until Sunday, so get a move on.... we're going for Smidge in ten minutes...." I heard the end as I was getting changed (if only some of the United players could move as fast!). Two minutes flat I was downstairs with duffle bag over shoulder and butty box in hand, scarf on (nearly choking as the norm in a rush I'd pulled it too tight lol). Bob hat firmly planted on head and I was ready.... Mam was going on about being careful and watching out for different things, but to no avail my mind was elsewhere.... Blackpool! We met Smidge on the corner of the street and his cousin John who was the same age as myself, so we were off. Train from Manchester and expectations were high as the smoke billowed out of the trains chimney and the guard blew his whistle the driver gave the usual shrill blast of his whistle and next we were in motion... Talk then got to the game, how we would have a good weekend and to top it off we would be picking up two more points. How would we stop Ray Charnley, the Blackpool centre-forward who had been there leading scorer for a couple of years and who had found the net on a couple of occasions this season? Or would Stanley Mathews be playing (he had been left out a few times this season and it was rumoured that he was going back to Stoke....) Blackpool had also found a young keeper who had come through the ranks called Gordon West, who had been getting some rave reviews (who went on to make a big name for himself at Everton). Under the managership of Ron Suart, Blackpool had taken part in the first match to be televised against Bolton (which if memory serves me right Bolton won 1-0) though the full match wasn't on t.v. as they didn't join the game until ten minutes before half-time (I think it was because a popular programme was on) and they showed all of the second half. Blackpool was the first club in the first division to sign and play a Chinese player (please don't ask his name I cannot remember... I know I could look it up, but we didn't have computers in them days....) slowly talk drifted to what we were going to do tonight, Smidge had borrowed a caravan off a relation of his and he only had a vague recollection of where it was... so that would be the start... find the bloody van! Then talk between Unc and Smidge got quieter and then into whispers... I'd seen this before (I'd stayed in Blackpool overnight for a game before so I had a rough idea what was being planned and it didn't include John and myself in that!) As plans went on the train started to pull into Blackpool station - nerves and excitement was coming into play. I wanted to be first off so I groped the big brass handle and was ready... as the train slowed to nearly a stop the door was flung open and out I leapt... only for my momentum to throw me forward into a stanchion and off that into the stomach of some poor unsuspecting man who managed to stop me from doing any more damage and picked me up off the floor... by then Unc and Smidge arrived calling me all the names under the sun, only for Unc to look up and start to thank the poor man I'd bulldozed into it was then I noticed it was none other than Jimmy Armfield, the great Blackpool full-back. With a smirk Jimmy said something on the lines of being careful, especially if I wanted to see the game tomorrow and with that he smiled and went on his way to leave four of us stood there open mouthed and gob-smacked.
The next hour and half was spent looking for the caravan with Smidge and Unc getting more worried with every passing minute and has luck would have it we stopped in a chippy and Smidge mentioned to the girl behind the counter the site, which she said was five minutes away and after giving directions we found we were only ten minutes from the train station..... Smidge strikes again!!
Once the van was located it was a quick wash and out for Unc and Smidge. John and I were given some spends to go and have a look round and enjoy ourselves with the words, "be back before nine thirty..." so off we set walking along the Blackpool front, which was an experience and half. The illuminations were on and when the night is dark they looked great to two youngsters like us, and it didn't matter which way you walked you always seemed to be walking against the tide. Right first things, first, candy-floss. Pink sugar on a stick... love it! Taking in all the sites and smells and darting in and out of the penny arcades time flew and the next thing you knew it was ten thirty... John was worried that Smidge would go mad so off to the van we set. We'd made sure we knew exactly where the van was so as not to get lost and when we were only five minutes from the van and turned a corner we nearly bumped into Unc and Smidge, who were stood on a corner talking to two women. As quick as a flash I grabbed John and we made a detour round the streets and was back in the van before Unc and Smidge. After all by the looks of it they would be a while yet... so thoughts went to tomorrow's game, picking the team etc. The next thing I knew was Unc and Smidge shouting us for breakfast! That sea air is lethal... roll on the game!
black and white.....with the screen rolling as such......and commentry you wouldn't believe.....off todays standards , but for the first time and having it coming into your parlour (best room) it was breathtaking , just to sit there and watch football live (though i do think there was a delay...).........but i remember Unc saying at the time that he'd never watch United on telly if he could be there..............now the old dodderer.....(that's good coming from me...lol)....is glad of it!..........looking back i know we have to move with the times but i cannot help but 'feel' it was better without it...............old man i suppose with thoughts that technology spoils sports , because after all it was a spectator sport that had people talking about decisions in the pub afterwards and with no replays who was to say who was right ...............aaahhhh those were the days . (silly old sod)