By Alan Holmes.
So many games to choose from in 40 odd years of following United but my favourite game takes me back to 1967 and as a 14 going on 15 year old at the time, is now a dim and distant memory in terms of the actual goal details more a memory of the performance and what that meant.
It is back in the day when two points for a win was the rule and the tried and trusted method to win titles was to win at home and draw away.
United had achieved this to such an extent they went in to the penultimate game against West Ham needing a point to clinch the title.
We had been unbeaten since the turn of the year with nine home wins and eight away draws.
West Ham had World Cup winners Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore in their ranks and we had Bobby and Nobby.
The full United team was Stepney, Brennan, Dunne, Crerand, Foulkes, Stiles – my word that lot still trips off the tongue so easily – Best, Law, Charlton, Sadler and Aston.
David Herd, who had broken his leg while scoring against Leicester and Bobby Noble, sadly injured in a car crash after a 0-0 draw at Sunderland, were the main absentees from that season’s regular line up. Noble never played again and Herd was never the same player.
West Ham had a young winger called Harry Redknapp – whatever became of him?
So, after a bit of crowd trouble, the 36,000 souls in Upton Park eagerly anticipated a tight game.
Tight game? After 20 minutes it was West Ham 0 Manchester United 4! Goals from Charlton, Best, Bill Foulkes and even Paddy Crerand put the result beyond doubt.
West Ham got one back through John Charles and in the second half a couple from Denis Law made the final outcome 6-1 to United, the new champions.
Then a mass pitch invasion and a souvenir piece of Upton Park turf for me, unfortunately I had a hole in my jacket pocket so was picking bits of dirt out of the lining for weeks after.
But those first 20 minutes and the exhilaration it brought will never be forgotten – a week later and a 0-0 draw against Stoke at Old Trafford was an anti climax only worth attending for the trophy presentation.
Who could have then thought it would be 26 years before we were champions again – though we should have won it the following year; we were too busy winning the European Cup and took our eye off the league allowing the noisy neighbours to sneak it.
But that was my first full season following the Reds home and away and probably the hey-day of the Best, Law and Charlton triumvirate. And that game at Upton Park was the fitting climax.
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I was the same age as you and I remember the beating very well. You mention a ‘bit of crowd’ trouble well I remember it as a bit more than that with outbreaks nearly all through the game especially as the outcome of the result was all over very quickly. I also remember having the palm of my hand cut open as I was walking through the crowd probably by someone holding a broken bottle in their hand. No segregation in those days so it was bound to a UTD fan! lol. I also remember running battles on the tube tracks at Upton Park Station after the match and they had to turn off the electricity. Those were the days eh? I must say it was a great MUFC team in those days. From an ageing Hammer
Cheers Gerry I was in the end where the bottles and fists flew but only recall the per match fisticuffs.
Perhaps the football master class overtook my memory and cannot recall how I got back to London – mind you I did not get my hand cut!
But glad that a student at the ‘school of science’ witnessed the football lesson .
here i am almost 50 years later trawling sites/archives/memories of games thet i attended. this ones still at the forefront of memories for me. i was on the coach from ipswich as an end of season treat for my boys football team who performed well. remember well the crush and people climbing the fences to enter before kick off. i’m thinking there was close on 50,000 inside. my group are to the west of the north bank and can still see the united penalty and the pitch invasion at the end, oh and the punch ups! great days
I was also 15 when I visited this game as a United fan living in London. I remember how West Ham fans started throwing bottles, and we covered our heads with our jackets as the glass showered over us. Other United fans started to move in the direction from which the bottles were being thrown, to “sort out” the troublemakers. As usual, United fans behaved impeccably.
That was the first game I attended as a 10 year old. I remember it very well, particularly the glory of United’s attacking play. The level of violence on the North Bank was shocking: fans were being taken off the terraces covered in blood with some very ugly wounds. My father’s friend, Paddy Oates, who took me and his two sons (Jimmy and Michael) to the game had his overcoat over our heads to protect us from the flying bottles.
I wasn’t at the game but I remember it for another reason. I wasn’t really into football at that time but being from East London if anyone asked me who I supported I used to say West Ham. The World Cup may also have had an influence. This match was on TV, not live but either MOTD or the ITV show the day after. After watching it I was thinking why I was saying I supported that bunch of losers when I could be supporting United. An original Glory Hunter I suppose. However next year it will be 50 years and like many United fans I’ve seen some rubbish over the years but I’ve never wavered and my sons were signed up very early and never a chance of following another team.
I too was at that game also a fourteen year old Man Utd fan from London.Utd were superb that day and I bunked in the ground by climbing up a bed frame leaning against the wall as did a few United fans in the away end which Utd fans overran. It was a great atmosphere despite a bit of crowd trouble.
This was the first time I ever saw United. I was 10 years old, and my mum dropped me and my mate off at Upton Park. Didn’t know it but we ended up among United’s hard core who were trying to break into the North Bank. Looking back, they wanted to take Westham’s end, the North Bank. A guy scaled the wall, a few choruses of “Harry Roberts is Our Friend, “cheers and chants, and the small door was actually kicked in and the crown surged through an impossibly tiny opening. We were in, and it was chaos. People running up and down the terraces – this was before the gates were open – and bottles were hurling down from the United fans who had gone to the top of the terrace. Someone ran on the fielding like an act of holy sacrament laid a Untied scarf down on the half way line; red and white balloons were being kicked by a couple of United fans in the goal mouth, all in front of cheering fans in the North bank. Remember this was before the stadium doors were ope. I remember the cops coming in but there were just too many Untied fans to kick out.
The game was incredible and even to my young eye, George Best, amidst female screams, stood out, he was a wizard. There were a few East Enders who had made it in, older blokes, who laughed at our chants of Stepney for England, when he bobbled a shot. The whole thing was a scene and memory that I often think of and wonder how it could have happened when you compare it with today’s antiseptic all seater, soulless stadia.
And the game? Faded red shirts, Denis’s two goals, one a scuffed penalty that Standen still couldn’t stop, and constant cries of “Busby, Busby”
United all but clinched the title, and their fans took the North Bank Upton Park. It was a day I will always remember.
I was at the match. 20 year old student in London. First Div 1 game in the capital – I was playing football myself throughout the season. Big queue. Got in at 2pm, and the gates closed at 2-05pm.
The detail has gone for me, too, but I remember Man U were leading 3-0 after 10 minutes. I have never seen such a devastating performance.
At least 20 years later I was talking to someone who said he had been to only one West Ham match, and had seen George Best. He was still incredulous about what he saw. The very same match.