football for me began a few years ago febuary 1956 man utd where playing aston villa at o.t according to my diary the team was
i think and hope i'm right with that side, whelan scored in a 1-0 win,i remember picking an orange box up outside the ground ,(they were left there for kids)so that you could take them down to the front of the stretford end and stand on them to see over the wall,i'm sure when players were shooting for goal they used too aim at us cos the amount of kids who used to get knocked off there boxes was unbelievable,what a day though,after that could anybody go anywhere else,it was one of the loudest grounds going(even with nobody in)but it was deafening,smoke filled the ground as fans lit up there woodbines(cigs)water running from the roof down your neck....god i miss those times...my first memories..like utd never forgotten !!!
just a few weeks after my first visit utd played birmingham in an f.a. cup semi final and won 2-0,2 days later they played bolton at home (they moan nowadays if they have to play within 3 days)couldn't wait rattle, scarf, bob hat,and i was off.my first night match the atmosphere was tremendous,my first game against villa 55thousand was there,but tonight there was over 60 thousand,the noise was deafening (i think i spent most of the night on my orange box just looking round trying to take the atmosphere in)then it happened i was just to the right of the stretford goal on the fence , it was one of those mouth open looking round at the crowd moments when all of a sudden i was knocked into the middle of next week,edwards(so i was told later)unleashed a shot from 25 yds and missed the post by inches straight onto the back of my head,(never took my eyes of a game since)all i remember was david pegg asking whether i was ok and just looked at him in awe and nodded,what made it worse we lost 2-0 ,did i want to go back after a night like that!!you bet your life i did pegg had spoke to me!!
april 20th 1957
sunderland are coming to o.t. up at 7,rattle oiled ,scarf ironed and bob hat still on from when i went to bed(no central heating in them days(unless you had a dog))and waiting for my uncle to come home from work,8 o'clock still not home,9,10,11,12.hurry up they kick off at 3(those were the days sat 3 o'clock)then in he comes,i helped him wash and put his coat on for him(shit he didn't have his shirt on)as you can gather i was keen,anyway of we went bus, train to warwick road and that memorable walk..my god my goose bumps were like duck eggs(still the same now)i was a seasoned pro now this was after all my 3rd game,shock and horrer where's the orange boxes not one to be seen...inwe went through the clicking turnstile me looking up at my uncle as if to say (i wont be able to see)unc went the toilet (old type a wall with no roof so you got wet one way or another!)i was left against a wall waiting,then he came through the crowd like a knight in shining armour...he'd found me an orange box!...there i was in my usual spot(3 games haha) programme in hand waiting for the team news...wood,foulkes,byrne,colman,blanchflower,edwards(just you dare..)whelan,berry, taylor,charlton(yes with hair)pegg(did i tell you he spoke to me once)..the match was a bit of a blur really we won 4-0 and whelan got 2,edwards must have seen me this time and scored just inside the post,tommy (taylor)got the other,he was some header of a ball,charlton did his favourite and shot over the scoreboard end,in those days it had no roof and a scoreboard that somebody used to put the scores up like an amatuer cricket match,A 1-0 B 1-1 C0-0 etc...we were going to win the league...my first season and i was looking at the champions(things don't change much coming to think about it).and again not long before my next game..mon 22nd(yes only 2 days away)burnley at home,sat on the train coming home the thoughts go through your head about running out at o.t. with the red shirt on and scoring the winner(DO NOT TELL ME YOU NEVER HAVE) then you get it "come on wake up its our stop,have you enjoyed it ??"............i think the smile was enough..........roll on monday
monday 22/4/57 3rd game in 4 days(we'd beaten burnley 3-1) on the friday)again rattle out,gran had washed my scarf(shit had she washed out the luck?)and it was still wet,sod it i'm wearing it(it took days to wash the dye out of my neck even with carbolic soap(don't go there))bob hat still hadn't come off from saturday i'm sure it was welded to my head,and i'm ready to go...who am i waiting for again...yes unc.in he trots "bags of time yet".. i looked at the sundial but its nearly..midnight,(will have to put it in the right place oneday) but in all honesty its nearly 9.30 and you what the traffic is like at easter,11 and we're off (only cos unc wanted a pint first) there i was outside the boozer with a lemonade and all of a sudden out comes unc and pours some beer into my lemonade(i swear he's got a lot to answer for, for that)i stood there i was now not only a football fan but a boozer,anyway out they come pick me up and carry me to the train station,half fare to utd from stockport was 6d(2 1/2p)again the goose bumps,and again stood outside the pub while they went in the trafford,just looking at the amount of people going down to o.t.was amazing it was just a sea of red n white,out they come and down to the ground pick up the orange box and into the ground..again wait for team news a few changes today(was s.a.f. picking them)..wood ,foulkes,greaves,goodwin,cope,mcguiness,webster,doherty,dawson,violletand scanlon. still good enough too beat burnley and i breathed a sigh of relief ...no edwards.starting to become an expert now and found the courage to shout when cope made a bad pass..but soon shut up when i turned round and was being looked at by a big beefy utd fan who was shaking his head at me!!(i still get nightmares now about that stare)..utd went 1 up when dawson scored,this was the league winning day,webster made it 2-0 and the title was ours..the roar was brill..i turned round to unc and smiled..and yes you guessed right scanlon shot and missed...but not me..not as bad as last time but my ear was ringing for days!!!sod that in future i'm behind the nets,i always put it down to red hair,or was that all the kids heads over the wall was too inviting..we will never know..we are the champions.but there was still a little game to be played on thursday ...real madrid in the second leg of the european cup final..we'd lost the first leg 3-1..i wasn't really a utd supporter when the first leg had been played(only been to 2 games)but surely now i was a fully fledged red(had the neck to prove it)they wouldn't let me down after all we were utd ..nobody beats utd ,so we'd beaten burnley 2-0 and of course we should beat some namby pamby spanish side(must get this scarf dry for thursday(i did i wore it to bed,still with bob hat who needs a dog))getting ready for my big european night,my first but certainly not the last.....loving it
thurs 25/4/57 the day started of shit,dad (blue sh*te)said i couldn't go cos i had skool next day(tell by the spelling i didn't miss much..haha),but after crying into mums skirt(onions do have a use)dad relented,unc duly came home (by then i was at grans)i'd got his scarf ready,mine was still round my neck trying to hide the dye from the last game,(this bob hat is starting to smell,not combed my hair for 5 days(bob hat hadn't been off(it's lucky)))and off we go,being fanatics (4 games) our habits were getting normal,pub-bus-train-goose bumps-pub,but tonight felt special not just that little tingly feeling you get walking down warwick rd but...expectation...your feet want to walk faster than ever,and everything just....well just is..this is european night,...and then it hit me as we were in front of the scoreboard end along came a group of spaniards dressed as bullfighters and the women all done up in spanish dressess,(one actually tickled me under the chin(my god utd fan,boozer and now a womaniser))anyway off into the ground box ready(behind the nets) and waiting the team news came up..wood, foulkes,byrne,colman,blanchflower,edwards,berry,whelan,taylor,charlton,pegg(he was my mate he spoke to me once...did i tell you)it was afull house 65000 and all of a sudden there was an almighty roar,utd and real came out,my god this great side actually looked ultra professional,they beat most teams before they kicked off just by the look of them, i'd never seen a team(after all by then i'd seen 5 teams i'm a pro fan..haha.)that scared you just by looking at them,it was the kit no baggy shirts ,no baggy shorts,boots that shone and hair all greased back(they were spanish what did you expect).it was soon obvious not only did they look good ,they were.they were soon 2-0 up,but being me i thought we were leading them in to a false sense of security(we weren't)and although we pulled it back to 2-2,(charlton and taylor scored)we were never really going to win,one funny moment was one utd player(not sure who)got injured in real area near the touchline utd had a corner so was trying to get the injured player off,real players kept dragging him back on(to slow the game down and run down the clock)and ther was an handbags at 2 paces fight.(unheard of in them days as such),anyway after a football lesson(on the train going home) it made me think how could we beat this great real side(and they were great)..easy, if i played as a wing half and my mate from school(who'd scored 6 at school dinner break)( but i still say to this day one went over the coats and not between))....."come on wake up its our stop ,school tommorrow...yes planning my strategy,(am i busby or edwards..(manager or player))...what a great night .still seeing that all white strip when i was dozing off in bed....THEN IT HIT ME WE DIDN'T WIN COS WE PLAYED IN RED SHORTS SO WE DIDN'T CLASH WITH REAL.......the cheating bast..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
29/4/57 monday.to-night against west brom is utd's 8th game in 18 days,and on saturday we're playing aston villa at wembley in the f.a. cup final (could you imagine wenger if his precious arsenal had to do that or any present day manager for that) ,tonights game i would actually see the league trophy for the first time,or would i.dad (blue sh*te) said i couldn't go cos it was school next day he'd tried this excuse against real, so again it was get round mam time,she got her own way and again i was ready and waiting for unc,the usual routine was gone through and we were next off the train and onto warwick rd,from being so nervous and tense i suddenly went flat....where is everybody?..as we walked down warwick rd it seemed empty...dont get me wrong there was red and white going down the road but not with the same intensity...unc explained that not a lot of people could afford to go to all the games we'd had in the last few weeks plus wembley on saturday.well i'm not bothered i'm here i want to see the trophy!!in the ground it was eerie there was only just over 20000 there to see the champions (id picked the team on my way down on the train with my managers head i was only wrong by 7)(busby was safe) utds team was clayton,greaves ,byrne,goodwin,jones,mcguinness,berry,doherty,dawson,viollet and scanlon(definitely getting behind the goals now (i'm sure he aims at me and with him clipping me once i wasn't going to give him the oppertunity)still we should beat this lot(again nowts changed)anyway we drew 1-1 with dawson scoring for utd,anyway this was the last league game of the season and we'd won the league and we could possibly win the double.it was strange watching utd with the tropy with 2/3rds of the ground empty...did i care,i was there ..my first of many.outside the ground i stopped and turned round and looked at the ground ,my first season was over,the floodlights lit the gound up like bonfire night and i just stood and stared....could that first season be put into words..to me it was just BRILLIANT...could we beat aston villa WE COULD BEAT ANYBODY..........but sadly we didn't...so my first season ended up as ,league champions-f.a.cup runners up,semi-finals of the european cup...............if you can think of a word for me ,be my guest..so in first season i'd been matt busby picking teams,duncan edwards scoring goals and also a coconut at a shye..............roll on next season
well the season has ended on reflection we've had 7 players who have played more than 50 games this season,5 players have got into double figures for goals(taylor was top score with 34,beating whelan who had 33)all in my first season(what a lucky sod i was)....all i'm waiting for now is the fixture list and....leicester away first game(shit cannott go)followed by everton and city at home...YIPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEE...scarf has been washed and dried(not putting up with another red neck) bob hat washed (gran made me take it off(we didn't have showers in them days otherwise.....))rattle well oiled(god help anybody near when i first use it they'll be covered in the stuff),time to get the ball out and play the opening fixtures...........if utd play like i've played on the park the title will be sown up by christmas....anyway not long now till the first game ,can i wait.....you'll bet your life i cann't ..........COME ON YOU REDS!!!!!!!!!!
well the season kicked off just as i thought, an easy away win at leicester3-0 , whelan hat trick carrying on from last season,then came wednesday night everton at home,would we go through the same as last season(dad saying school , me getting round mam for her to get round dad(as i've said in the past (nothing changes))anyway when all that was over off we set,down to the pub ,swift lemonade, and on the train,it seems a bit more crowded tonight,expectations are high for this season seeing as we did so well in europe(big place that looked on an atlas)as we got off the train and walked down warwick road it all came back(it wasn't goosebumps tonight(it was ostrich eggs(first home and night game off the season)))you know what i mean,it always gets you (even seasoned proffesionals like i was...haha) now i knew all the things to do (deffo not stand to the right of stretford end post(don't shout at any player if there's some brick sh*thouse of a red behind you)) it was all coming back...anyway in the ground programme ready..team..strange no charlton again,he'd not played at leicester nor in the team to-night ,but what a side wood,foulkes,byrne,colman,blanchflower,edwards(i'm watching you!),berry,whelan,taylor,viollett and my mate pegg(only cos he talks to me),well as the game went on we completely took control and ran out easy 3-0 winners,not once was i in any trouble of being hit,being a seasoned pro i now knew where to stand,then i saw it (there was a bar that ran along the stretford end underneath the wooden fencing and you could stand on that and put your arm round the fencing, you get a great view and dont have to carry an orange box in, thats for me saturday against city i'll show i know old trafford,i'll have the rest of the kids copying me soon...on the way home i confidentally told unc "no more orange boxes for me,i'm older,bigger,boozer and womaniser now i'll show you...""we'll see" was the reply......then it was"come on our stop ...wake up",i had a smile on my face 6 goals scored none against and i'd found a way to watch the game without a box......I WAS BECOMING A MAN!!!
31st Aug 57 derby day,,my first ever derby,without seeing a derby I'd learnt too drink,how to womanise and become a man(today was going to be the first game without the orange box) so the derby was the icing on the cake!!i would today become a fully fledged red,and i don't care whose stood behind me today I'm going to shout if i want too!!still I'm not going to be daft enough to stand(yes stand!!)to the left or right of the posts.right usual routine bob hat,check.scarf,check.rattle oiled and in good working order....("shut that racket up it's only 7 o'clock")well you had to try the rattle out didn't you. anyway dressed and ready strolled round to grans and lo and behold unc's ready "where've you been don't you know it's derby day" so it was an early start,met up with a few of unc's mates,quick train and into the trafford for opening time,couple of lemonades,then joined the Masses for the last few hundred yards to the sacred arena,the atmosphere was electric with a buzz going round like i'd never heard before...the crush to get into the stretford end started earlier than norm..it was though everybody was trying to get in,the police were in there numbers and police horses were trying break up the queues..finally into the ground,minus orange box(well they are for kids)ran down to the front and secured my spot jumped onto the bar held onto the fence yep!thats for me..and still 90 mins till kick off!!the ground started to fill and by 2.30 the stretford end was a mass of red and white swaying and singing..out came the teams the noise was unbelievable it was deafening.the game kicked off and utd were quickly into there stride,they completely dominated city,edwards was the master of the middle,blanchflower in defence was masterly and taylor and viollet they just couldn't stop, there were goals to be had (and we did we won 4-1)when the fourth went i was so elated i jumped up in the air but unfortunately i came down and the fence post went straight between the top button of my coat so i was dangling on the fence feet in mid air unable to touch the floor and me slowly disappearing into my coat!!! from nowhere somebody got hold of me held me up and untangled my coat of the fence.when i could breathe +see it was none other than the brick shithouse who'd scared me last season!"are thee alreet sonny,tha wants watch theesen on that fence"i think i mumbled a quick thank you and as i did the final whistle went(if it wasn't for him I'd still be there now!!)since that day till around 64/65when i started going into the middle of the stretford end, he always let on and kept an eye on all the kids to make sure they weren't crushed or hurt in any way, all i can say is"thank you George..."
There had been 13 matches at old trafford between the derby and xmas day i had managed to get to a few but due to one thing and another i'd missed a few games,i had seen utd beat a poor leeds side 5-0,and shamrock rovers(europe)3-2 ,after trouncing them 6-0 in ireland.i had also been to the dukla prague game (3-0)and been beaten at home to a very strong tottenham side 3-4,by xmas we were just off the pace for the league but still in contention(you could lose 6 games in those days and still easily win the league)so by december 25th we had 29 pts and had luton home and away and city away in the next 3 days , it started off promosing beating luton at home 3-0,with charlton ,edwards and tommy taylor scoring,if memory serves me well charlton hit his from about 25 yds and it stayed the same height of the floor till it hit the back of the net,anyway after a dismal 2-2 draw away at luton the next day the time came around again for the derby,maine road my first away game!off we set ,yes you've guessed bob hat ,scarf but no rattle(long story but a horse and cart had gone over it one sunday and it went to the great rattle yard in the sky!!)we got in the ground and i'd never been so sqaushed in my life over 70,000 fans in the ground,the kippax was heaving,the game got under way and it was end to end stuff,city where just edging it when edwards took over and give a display second to none,but just not enough to save utd from a 2-2 draw,although we deserved to win it just for edwards efforts.our next game would be against workington in the cup(away) and then leeds away in the league before we played red star belgrade(no mugs these johnny foreigners) in the european cup ,that would be my next game,europe ,wednesday night,goose bumps........blisssssss
After beating workington at borough park 3-1 with viollet getting all three goals,we then went to leeds and held out for a 1-1 draw again viollet scored, then 3 days later it was red star(the name made them one's to be feared).. tuesday night.. ostrich eggs running up my arms as i walk down warwick road,the lights were on and the ground looked immaculate,red star fans were walking round mingling with reds,(there wasn't a great problem in them days)unc was talking to one one reds star fan when looking around who did i see walking too the ground(6.30)but colman, charlton and edwards.(gob open drooling)"can you sign this please!" i said and "can you all score tonight" the reply from edwards was "we'll certainly try but not everybody can." with that he signed my book as did colman and charlton and went in the ground.i was still drooling 5 mins after and looking at the signatures,edwards spoke to me!!(i might have told you in the past so had pegg)..........anyway in the ground ,again no orange box was i getting into this football thing.... was i...we beat red star 2-1 it should have been 4 we played that well,but there keeper that night was on great form...60000 people came out that night wondering had we done enough.......little did they know....we had bolton home saturday,they'd already stuffed us 4-0 earlier on in the season,fingers crossed we'll beat em this time ..............roll on saturday..
18th january 58, bolton to-day lets just hope we get a bit of revenge for the last game when they'd beaten us 4-0,the old routine had been gone through scarf etc,(must get another rattle,look a right fool going through the motions with nothing in hand(routine)).bloody cold day .ran round to unc's(must be special he's nearly ready)piece of toast and off to the pub where unc meets his mates,it was so bloody cold that i was sneaked into the pub and hid in a corner,not long now we'll be on our way soon......then in comes this girl(woman really)and has the cheek to come talking to unc!(and not about footy)....5 Min's of whispers between them and unc comes over and hits me with..."i can't go to the game somethings come up...."devastation what am i going to do..i'd been thro the routine...scarf etc on..had a beer(weak lemonade)..and was ready.!! one of unc's friends said he'd take me if it was ok..ok...ok dead right it was ok.so off i set with my new adopted friend,it came about that he was utd mad and followed utd away as well,some of the stories he told me on the train had me looking at him in awe..!!anyway we got to the ground and into my usual spot..teams read out over the tannoy and we had a good side out to-day,but would it be good enough...was it!we absolutely walloped bolton bobby charlton had a field day he scored three,viollet chipped in with a couple scanlon and edwards rounded it off we'd won 7-2 what a game,edwards had run the show from midfield the man was awesome..the only strange thing was with all the goals taylor didn't get on the scoresheet(not for the want of trying)but he did set up 3 or 4 of the goals, out of the ground and on the way home and ted(unc's friend who'd volunteered to take me)hit me with those words of disaster.."you might not be going to many matches now your unc has got a girlfriend........."A WHAT .....he wouldn't stop going to utd for a ..girl surely!!! well we had ipswich at home in the cup next week(loves his cup games does unc)we'll soon see wont we..............
25th jan 1958 ipswich at home in the cup..we should murder them! but utd being utd never do easy..(do things never change)...as norm i've gone through my routine and everything is ok (had to look in the mirror for the bob hat(still on )) i must have been the only kid with a red ring round my head(i'm sure that bob hat is shrinking)(bit like the marks round your legs when you wore your first pair of wellies)...anyway off to unc's..(he wont let me down this week surely)..gran looked at me when i arrived and said".........teds picking you up in a bit uncs had to go somewhere..".......I DONT BELIEVE IT ..ITS A CUP MATCH!!! .ted turned up and went through the usual routine.. but it wasn't the same..pub,train..walk down warwick road ,i'm sure my bottom lip was going,why oh why unc,i'll never forgive him for this!!!anyway got my programme and went down to the front ,team news came on the tannoy..good side out today we should have no problem..out came the sides and the roar from more than 50,000 was magic..all of a sudden there was a tap on the shoulder(it'll be george..he always made sure the kids were ok)as i turned there was unc..(i knew he wouldn't let me down)..."told gran to tell you i'd be late,after all it is the cup".."wait for me after the game" well i felt great unc hadn't let me down utd got off to a start and was leading 1-0 and playing some good football,then being utd they took there foot of the pedal and couldn't really get going again properly,luckily they went 2 up when charlton got his and utd's second and eventually we won 2-0,the final whistle went and we didn't shoot off like normal,unc let a lot go before he eventually started to make a move....out of the ground and turned left..."but unc train stations the other way"...he looked and smiled"follow me"...off we went down some side streets and unc stopped at this big old car(running boards and big headlights) "come on get in...this is why i was late i had to pick this car up...."great we now had transport to the game and..........zzzzzzzzz those leather seats are comfy..."wake up we're home.."no game for 2 weeks....we had arsenal away and red star both away..damn!!!
sat 1st feb 1958.......shopping with mam and dad,...hows utd going on we're at arsenal today,good side but we're better all this is running through my mind as i'm tugged by the sleeve from shop to shop,then dad took me into a toy shop and bought me a radio(not what you think) one that you built up yourself...well we got home and like all youngsters(even though i was a womanising drinker)wanted it built up yesterday!!!...anyway to cut a long story short i had my own radio, the sound was rubbish and you could only pick up a couple of programmes ...but it was mine..!..ran down to the local newsagents to buy the football pink 2d(3/4's of a 1p) too find that utd had beaten arsenal 5-4..yessss we were on our way again "we're goin to win the league,we're goin to.....i sang as i ran home.. i could use my radio wednesday when we play red star...not to listen to the game but to listen to the news that had the results on..wednesday came and off to bed (school next day...radio under the covers and finally tuned in to bbc..yyyeeeessss utd had got through we were now in semi's, on the edge of the league and still in the f a cup(we'd drawn sheffield wednesday in the next round.............we were home and dry just what could go wrong....??
when i first got in touch with stretford end arising i mentioned that i had found some old diaries from my early years and in my stupidity i asked whether he would like me to share them with all and sundry,to my horror he said yes.what i have wrote so far as been from a child's eyes,what the next few writings i do will be from old and young,everybody in some time of there life lose a member of there family and it is heart wrenching,at that time or when you can think properly you wish that nobody would have to go through those moments that you've just had,and in the next few writings that i do i will feel the same,it's good to have history as every day is, but to have actually lived through some of the history that only some people can read about is something that no matter how good you are at putting events into words you can never really make people see them through your eyes,(mine which are running at this moment in time due to what is to come....)I'm sorry if the next few bloggs do not go on to the next match so quick but it was a time when football came second.........sorry!!
well here goes............6th February 1958.
looked up at the school clock ...not long now....Trevor(my best mate)and myself used to have a race home from school everyday , first home used to be the one who took his Casey down to the wreck for the match(he was then captain and picked the sides) Trev being a bit "pat n mick" could never understand why i always won...we lived on the same street but Trev lived 3 doors up from me so i didn't have as far too run!! anyway this day home..boots..ball and onto the wreck.(bloody cold and snowy but what the heck(I'm an hardened red))teams picked its either first to 20 or 5 o'clock whichever came first,(Trev being a rich b*st*rd had a mickey mouse watch so he was timekeeper(eat your heart out fergie))anyway the game was well into it(it must have been about 14 a side)and Trev said its getting close to 5,we were leading 18-12 and i picked the ball up just inside their half did a quick 1 2 and went and hit a screamer(I'd seen Duncan Edwards do this for utd and England,and I'd practised for hours on end because of Dunc)it went all the way into the bottom corner(well that's what i reckon)then the arguments started.."it went over me jumper so it hit the post..".."no way that went well in i said"..."blah..blah..blah"then i looked up and who should be there but unc..."it was in wasn't it unc..unc why you crying..."unc beckoned me over and told me that utd's plane had crashed...it had just been on the news..he'd come out not really to search or tell me but to get a place to think...he'd just forgot we'd be there,all the utd fans amongst us ran off to listen to the news....me an unc and trev walked slowly back and it was only when i saw unc with tears in his eyes that i realised this was more serious than i first thought(we're man utd...big Dunc,Peggy,Tommy Taylor,bobby Charlton..bill flukes(who got to know later on in life..another story)they're superstars ..nothing could happen to them.......could it!!arrived back at grans and everybody was crowded round the radio and it didn't sound good..news bulletins was coming in every 5 Min's and all they could report was that there was fatalities but nobody knew who for sure...looking out the window and people where gathering everywhere ,houses had there windows open with the radio's on just so people could listen as they were passing...as time went on names started to come out..sir Matt(he was always sir to me(again another story))was alive but only just.......big Dunc was fighting for his life..(surely not Dunc he was indestructible ..built like a brick sh*thouse)he'd played 175 times for utd and he was only 21...( Muhammad Ali said he was the greatest...i don't think so)..Tommy taylor was reported has having died..(please please be wrong...they weren't) he'd played 189 games for the reds and scored 128 goals the man was (and still is in my eyes a legend..)he'd also score 16 goals in 19 appearances for England...........David pegg( i might have mentioned but he once spoke to me......)he was 22 he'd played for utd 148 times....................sorry I'm going to have to come back to this later..I'm being a soft b*st*rd and cannot see the screen ,i always get this way about this subject..............
sad b*st*rds back ...sorry! i wasn't going through it a much as unc,he had supported utd for years , when you look at it i was a kid who though i was red mad...did i really understand?..that night i stayed up as long as poss ,(i slept at grans with unc...i stayed not for unc but for me..i needed someone who understood(dad was a blue sh*t)(what would he know about football..??)..i realised how much i'd grown up in this last few hours..emotions don't normally come to kids(only as an excuse to get what they want)but i was feeling some to-night..waiting for bulletins was awful,nobody knew what to say,then it came in that another player had died(if i remember i think it was liam (whelan),,oh no was he good or was he good........then all of a sudden we got the call to go round to geoff's(sorry geoff don't remember your second name)he had a television and the first pictures where coming through..it was horrendous i think what made it worse was it was in black and white(as it all was in those days)...coming away from geoff's it suddenly hit me ..i wouldn't see the likes of tommy.david...roger (byrne) possibly the best full back i've ever seen.(mind you i could be biased..or how many times do you see somebody for the first time and you think they're great and everyone else thinks they're..not bad.)..no i'm right he was the best!!!! eyes are starting to close and the last thing i remember for that night was it was nearly 12 o'clock and there was only me an unc in the front room....he was crying his eyes out...(soft sod!!) then i realised the pillow that somebody had put under me as i fell asleep was drenched....unc realising i had woken pulled himself together and said "you ok now you've been crying and praying for dunc.."i am not kidding when i say there is no way i am religious (strange seeing as i'm a utd fan)anyway that is where we stayed for the full night(you could say that was my first all nighter!!)just listening to radio bulletins,next morning gran said i didn't have to go to school if i didn't want,(shows how serious it was last time i was let off school was when..............eerrmm, i've never been let off school..),unc didn't go into work and we sat and sat and waited........
as said in my last post we'd slept downstairs in chairs last night and i was allowed to stay of school...what happened next has never been able to be explained..me an unc were outside old trafford,to this day i never remember going nor does unc...i remember unc with his arm round my shoulder and he was squeezing me like a tube of toothpaste..we sat outside the ticket office for what seemed an eternity..people were walking round like zombies,the silence was eerie,nobody spoke you didn't have too,i remember seeing one man with a cig in his mouth and one in each hand...nothing was real,as i sat i realised my scarf was wet i had been crying but never realised..then somebody came out of the offices with a piece of paper and read out that days bulletin..people gathered more in hope and expectations than anything...unc took me to the chippy and got me a bag of chips,for some strange reason every chip felt the size of a cucumber and i found it hard to swallow..another bulletin much the same as the first with just that more would be known in the next 24 hrs and when relatives had been informed..."come on we're going home"..then i noticed a group of people were actually going to stay all night ,they had sleeping bags and were lighting candles..it was so cold,they were true reds......then i thought ...one day i was going to be a true red!!!
At home we gathered outside mrs grimshaws house (great old lady)she was one of the rare people with a telly,it didn't matter about the cold she opened her window and parted the curtains so anybody could look in and listen,as i stood outside on tiptoes trying to see the telly and wait for news mrs grimshaw brought me a cup of hot beef tea ,what a great community i lived in,nobody had a great deal but it was shared with everybody during hardships.this was the warmest I'd been all day body wise but i felt so cold and numb inside.....things could only get better.......but did they.....
just to say i am writing this from diaries that i found and memories so if any dates or teams are slightly wrong I'm sorry as i am not researching whether all this is 100% accurate(when i look now at my writing and in pencil you would wonder how i could read half of it)
Trev knocked on my door(I'd stayed at home that night)there i was jumper, overcoat and bob hat(no central heating in them days,unless you lived at side of a bakery and the heat came thro the walls,or had a dog)"unc said can you go round to grans when your ready"..i wonder what was up,no please not more bad news Duncan was still fighting for life when i went to bed.and sir Matt was still unconscious..quick wash ,round of doorstop bread and jam,shoes with front nearly scraped off(did that scoring utd's 6th goal against real Madrid with a tin can on my way home from school one day,(god was i good with a can)) scarf,bob hat(no need to ask no I'd not taken it off)and overcoat(bloody cold!!)and off i ran into grans front door(doors were always open in them days)..."unc unc whats up unc.whats happened ..." unc was sat there and who should there but his girlfriend,they were going on something about she wanted to go shopping...blah ..blah..blah..then suddenly she said something i didn't catch ... and unc stood up face like thunder and told her to get out and don't come back,he the turned to me and said "come on were going out...were treating today like a match day ,were going to old trafford".we went through the same routine as match day ,down to the pub(but in all honesty it was a lot quieter there was no joking going on,and there wasn't a lot of drinking(because it was so cold they let me in the pub as long as i sat in the corner near the coat stand and stayed quiet.
so the routine began but again no pushing and shoving on the way down to the station,it was just hands in pockets heads down and putting one foot in front of the other,on the train the talk got round to the air crash and it was only then i realised who had died and we wouldn't be seeing again, Roger Byrne - the captain - Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, David Pegg and Geoff Bent. thier average age was 24. and with hindsight johnny berry and jackie blanchflower never played again but we still had big Dunc he was still in there fighting,he wont let me down...he can't.after getting off at Warwick road we started that long walk(normally your down it in no time...but not today..)and the place was eerie there was so many people there but you could hear a pin drop it was sheer silence..no vendors shouting the price,no little chants nobody shouting across the street to people they recognize from where they stood in the ground,there was nothing..we got to the ground and people were just walking round(there was no shop in them days to even look through the window at)people from what seemed like everywhere were just coming down taking off there flat caps and trilby's saying a few words then turning round caps and trilby's on then going back home.....it was then i realised if united meant so much too me who had only just started going to these people they lost everything...we did a lap of the ground and as we got to the players entrance it hit home....no longer would i get to see the players i was used to.... standing outside having just got off the bus and walking down to the ground talking to the fans...how i wish i'd have got their autographs when i could have..what we would and could have done had those players lived we will never know ..but one things for sure they would have brought an awful lot of happiness to the people who went watching them ..but as it was through no fault of there own there was only sadness.....
Great read. Have read alot about those days before but just from the media side of it.
I'm from Norway and am only 25, been following Utd since my uncle wanted to buy me a Derby jersey back in 89. I was about 5-6 years at the time. I apperently told him I liked the red jersey, hanging right beside the Derby kit, alot better. I was stubborn and wouldn't leave before I got what I wanted.
I work in an electronics store today and somehow have always been a big fan of sharp TV's
It's been easy to be a Utd-fan the last two decades. But I really appreciate reading this to get more knowledge of how it was back then. Up until now I could only imagine how the Munich accident happend. Today we are used to internet and cellphones so it's amazing to read how you glued yourself to the radio just waiting, hoping for good news.
I've always read great stuff about Duncan. Must have been great to see the guy play! Would have loved to see them all. Duncan, Charlton, Best etc..
thank you very much dalegute,i was beginning to think there was only me writing and only S.E.arising reading...when the next few bits of written pieces are over and munich(though never out of the road)have settled i will give you a summary of each player from the pre-munich side of what i remember if you wish.
Things were getting a bit more back to normal,i had been made to go to school on the Monday and unc had gone back to work,i rushed home from school to wait for bulletins to see how Dunc and sir Matt where getting on,it was usually around 4 o'clock when they came on,id listen then run like bloody hell down to where unc worked and waited outside the factory gates waiting for the hooter to go,then all the men seemed to come out through the double gates all at once,unc used to know where i'd be stood , lucky really otherwise he'd never see me over the hordes of workers .he'd come running across "no news unc..no change" faces were round me expectantly waiting and as soon as one heard it would spread like wildfire through the crowd then it would come..a great sigh of relief and the word Duncan was on everybody's lips..... things like "lads a fighter"..."big Dunc never been beaten by anybody"..."he'll get up tomorrow and ask who we're playing"......it strange how little things stick in your mind,but its little things like that that gave you hope.well if grown men thought he'd be alright who am i as a little kid to doubt them,this went on all week and we even had one bulletin that was looking favourable for Dunc.....through all this sir Matt had fallen in and out of his coma and at the time was the one we had the biggest concern for,Charlton had slight injuries and had spent time in hospital being monitored but was ok and would be home ok.as we guessed united were given dispensation from playing their league and cup games,it then came out that united were going to play Sheff wed in the cup on wed 19th...in some ways i could wait(we want Dunc playing..and sir Matt in the dugout)but in other ways people wanted to get back to going to watch the reds,it was going to be hard to get a competitive team but we were united and whoever turned out for us would try there heart out......wouldn't they?..............
wednesday 19th feb 1958
we were playing sheff wednesday in the 5th round of the f.a cup tonight ,believe it or not but i was dreading going to the first game after munich.I didn't really run home from school with much enthusiasm...sir matt was still fighting as was the great dunc..but from the bright bulletins we'd recieved earlier dunc had slightly relapsed..(again he's too big.. too strong he'll be back i knew it..i'd scored at dinner just inside the coats(posts) just as he had in the past)..anyway home mam sez it's ok to go,.blue shite (dad)trying to stop me,but time i've had me jam butty and got dressed,(i'd taken my bob hat a couple of days ago and lo and behold IT HAD BEEN WASHED!!..well you know what wool is like after being washed.........3 sizes too small(it was like frank lampard hitting a pen...........no good!)i couldn't go to utd without me bob hat...not lucky..but not only that,this was my hat that got knocked of by pegg,this was part of me and utd...i was adamant i wasn't going without the hat!..i was that long in argueing unc turned up because he'd got fed up of waiting for ME for a change .."come on our kid i'll get you a new one at O.T.".. but would i move no way,i wanted the hat that had been to the last ...and every game i'd been to on my head and with me...would it fit..would it b*ll*cks,there was no way i was moving, i cried ...and cried...THIS WAS MY UTD BOB HAT....it had been with me from day one,..it had been hit by pegg,dunc...bobby had roufled it when i got his autograph as had coleman..n..byrne....i'd even worn this being kissed by a spanish senorita..(real madrid european cup...but in all honesty she sounded from manchester more than madrid) ...unc then put the ultimatum .."you've got 5 mins to decide either you come or go i cannot wait any longer"...no my bob hats got come on my head i'm not going without it(i know i could put it in my pocket but i felt i needed to wear it)....would it fit would it hell.......would i go!!...did i really want to without some of my hero's...
I'd never seen unc as mad at me as that night ,in the end he lost in and shouted that if i didn't either get a move on he would leave me there an then and wouldn't be taking me again,that was when i realized what to-night meant,having come out of my little tantrum and seeing the look on uncs face i knew he wasn't joking,the bob hat got thrown in a corner and with a heavy heart we set off for old trafford.This was a strange journey we didn't go to the pub,and there was very little talk about Sheff wed and how we'd beat them,no speculation on what the team would be...it was like something wasn't right(well it wasn't was it ) anyway as we got closer to the ground and the train was full .A few murmurings were starting to come and a slight atmosphere was coming back,off the train, saunter down Warwick road and the noise was getting more like a match day,as people passed the ticket office at the scoreboard end they were removing there caps and just stopping for a brief second just to acknowledge those we'd lost(including all the Sheff wed fans who turned up that night)a lot of the talk was about sir Matt and Dunc...sir Matt's news was more encouraging than that of Dunc's and whether you believed or not people were all saying little prayers for Dunc(it was after this that i became an atheist).........through the turnstiles,certainly no pushing or jostling to-night,everybody was on their best behaviour,all told there was nearly 60,000 in the ground that night,and if you think its quiet at o.t now that night for up to 15 Min's before kick off was like a ghost ground,people were talking but in a whisper,no shouting no noise from the Wednesday fans(it was as if they were waiting for utd fans to start up first)..the programme was eerie,the Sheff wed side was filled in but utd's was left blank and you had to fill it in yourself , the team was read out over the tannoy utd's side that night was;..........gregg..foulkes..greaves..goodwin..cope..crowther..webster..taylor.E..dawson..pearson..brennan.......Then they appeared and the wave of emotion that swept round the ground was unbelievable,grown men were crying(i am now )then up went the rattles and scarves and the noise just grew and grew,it's hard to describe but to a young lad like me I'd never witnessed anything like it noise wise...i have since...but that at the time was special.Everything just seemed to get back to normal for that next 2 hrs we outplayed Sheff wed(but in all honesty i felt sorry for anybody who had to turn up against utd that night)not that we were great it just that we played on a wave of euphoria...they weren't playing for utd but for sir Matt and big Dunc and all the lads who didn't come back , the relief on there faces was plain for everybody to see when the first goal went in(Brennan),then Dawson scored and Brennan rounded it off for his second and utd's third..the game went so fast it only seemed 10 Min's from kick off to actually walking back up Warwick road,on the train i looked at my programme again and sat and reflected..was this a good side..it would be better when Dunc was back in and sir Matt there controlling everything between them we'd be back ..we had to for those that didn't make it....we'd got forest at home Saturday,we were 2 games from getting to wembley,and also a small matter of a semi final against A.C Milan.....Dunc could beat that lot on his own.....couldn't he............
feb 21 1958
after a day at school the news came through that Dunc had lost his fight for life,the one thing i do remember was standing outside Mrs grimshaws watching the news bulletin and watching the doctor who had been at Dunc's side all the way looking absolutely shattered and he was shedding tears as he read out the bulletin ,in between times which i to this day don't remember how but Mrs grimshaw had seen how i was crying and she brought me in and i was crying into her pinny(they all wore them in them days)she was really good to every body but at that moment in time was just what i needed..i had lost my hero, in fact it felt as though I'd lost everything.....
if you will bear with me but just recently i said that i would try and put into perspective the pre Munich side and my thoughts on the players individually..i would like to start with the person i have just mentioned,my hero .
He had unrivalled stamina and could have run for hours. He could shoot powerfully with either foot, was dominant in the air, was strong in the tackle, and was a superb passer of the ball.
Think of bobby Charlton's shot,presently i would say Wayne Rooney, big bill foulkes in the air again nowadays i would look at Nemanja Vidic ,nobby stiles tenacity and tackling again look at Roy Keane, pat crerand with the astute defence splitting pass plus not wasting a pass and Paul Scholes off today, then you had Edwards,and some more....he had an aura about him that at 21 no other footballer had or has had in my time..he had seasoned pro's,internationals all with good pedigree looking for inspiration when things weren't going right from this giant of a man ,no matter what i say i just cannot do this man justice...he would have led England and utd for years to come and would have undoubtedly have lifted the world cup i believe in 62 and 66,i am proud to say i have seen him,been hit by him and spoken to him(it was only for an autograph but just to be stood at the side of him with mouth open and dribbling better than g.best was and is forever in my memory)
i am going(if you wish) to go through all the pre munich side and give my opinion and try and put them into perspective of recent players..
I've been on this site for a while now and weirdly never noticed this thread. Awesome stories. I hope to be doing something similar in 50 years time. Probably won't need to though as all the modern stories on the internet anyway. Great to hear about these players though when there isn't much footage of them.
Billy was a magician with a ball at his feet. I really don't think he knew how good he was and how much better he could have become. A world-class forward. There is no doubt about that. His vision and passing was sheer class i remember seeing 'billy' taking on and beating at least six players on a run and then beating himself he was that kind of player,as you can see from his goalscoring record he knew where the net was,he wasn't a ronaldo ,his shot wasn't as hard but is approach play was better he used to look up and could see players in better positions and could somehow get the ball through to them,its only after they are not there that you realise how good they were,if you could imagine giggsy the way he can or could beat people but put the ball across with a touch of cantona then you have whelan(he wasn't a winger but he could drift wide and confuse defences because in them days players were supposed to stay in set positions it was only when real Madrid started to use different formations that we realised football could be played differently as.... sir Matt exploited,but billy sensed it more than most he used to drift ,therefore making more room for the rest of the forwards)being only 22 when he died it meant that yet again united had lost a talent that not only had we seen the best of but one that we would have seen rule .though not as powerful as Dunc he would still as been as influential in the forward line..............again sorely missed ,but glad i witnessed a man who was so gracious on a football pitch....as he was off it..
Tommy Taylor - aged 26, forward, 189 apps., 128 goals, 19 England caps, 16 goals
one of the all-time, best centre-forwards in the game, and he had yet to realise all his potential. He was a typically bluff Yorkshire man in many ways, often acting the clown, and a great team man.i in all honesty as never seen a man as good with his head as this man,he wasn't the most powerful off headers of a ball(that went to Dunc)but his timing was immaculate,i know we old b*st*rds exaggerate about the old players but believe me this pre-Munich side was something else,the potential was there for years to come and England as a football nation was put back something awful,in Tommy we and England had someone who could scare defenders to death,one minute you had him in your pocket the next the ball was nestled in the back of the net,Sir Alf Ramsey once said that Martin peters was 10 years ahead of everybody well as a forward Tommy was 20.he was rapier like on the deck but his strength was in the air , he ghosted past defenders and made goals look easy which to me is the hard part and what made him as good as he was,at 26 he was just coming into his prime and you could see this in the short time I'd been going to watch utd,he led the line like no other forward I've seen since,possibly the nearest thing(sorry person)I've seen since as got to be ruud,Dennis(law)was part of a team,ruud really played on his own....but Tommy ..well was Tommy and he could play both,as a forward that held up play or as a team man who dropped off and then was in the box when you least expected him to be..........again all i can say is once seen never too be forgotten.....at least not by me........does the mind play funny tricks,am i biased,am i a daft red......maybe yes too all these.....but these are my memories AND I LOVE EM.........
Mark Jones - aged 24, half-back, 120 appearances, 1 goal.
The big, blond ex-bricklayer, a former captain of the England schoolboy's team, had joined United from Yorkshire junior football and turned professional in the summer of 1950. That autumn, still only 17, he tasted League action for the first time in a home victory over Sheffield Wednesday, but then faced a four-year wait for a regular place. Duly he emerged from the shadow of his boyhood hero, Allenby Chilton, who played an important and selfless part in the youngster's development, helping to iron out initial crudeness in the Jones technique. Mark was a fellow without an ounce of malice and his gentleness was a byword. Mark was the archetypal pivot, broad of beam, crushing in the tackle and majestic in the air. He was an uncomplicated sort of player and rarely ruined his ball-winning efforts by squandering possession with over-ambitious distribution. A simple pass to Duncan Edwards or Eddie Colman was his preferred option. jones only ever scored one goal for united and that was in a 2-1 win against Birmingham,i remember one day listening to mark Jones talking to a fan outside the ticket office and it wasn't about football it was about budgerigars (while he was smoking a pipe,some advert for a pro footballer.....lol)and this was a man who an hour later would be crunching into a tackle like a bulldozer,he was another who through Munich never fulfilled his potential,another who in my humble opinion was destined for a long career as England centre half,though not the best centre half I've seen at united i cannot think of one that was harder,he was the verbal brick sh*thouse and would run through anything for united.Again another i was priviliged to see but yet again one who i never saw the best of and one that was talked about less than others but appreciated by anyone who saw him,i can only finish by saying ........thanks........
Roger Byrne - aged 28, full-back. 277 appearances, 19 goals, 33 England caps.
One of the greatest defenders in Manchester United's history, Byrne was a father figure to the Busby Babes and tragically died alongside many of them in the Munich air disaster. when i say that no left back has come up to the standard of roger byrne you will probably not believe me,especially when we have been gifted with evra,Heinze...Irwin(close) and Dunne(what a good fullback he was!!) it very nearly wasn't to be though because in the 51/52 season sir Matt played roger on the wing(now you'll have to take my word for it or look it up)where if i believe what unc said he scored 7 goals in 6 games but because he wanted to play at left back he put in a transfer request,sir Matt realised what he would loose, reverted roger back to left back where he became(what i believe)the best left back in united's history. Despite being just 24, the Gorton lad was tough as teak, fully committed to the game and opinionated enough to stand up to anyone... even Matt Busby. when you think of the great captains united have had ie keano(not for me)robbo....charlton...byrne is always the one who sticks out, Roger was so fast but at the same time he controlled his movement ,he was possibly one of the first attacking fullbacks and it was really only after he was gone that you realised how good a) as a player b)as a captain and c)as an inspirational figure and man he was.........again i now realise what a very lucky person i was to have seen these(were they mere mortals(i didn't think so))people play....
David Pegg - aged 22, forward, 148 appearances, 28 goals, 1 England cap.
At just 22 he had amassed an incredible 148 games for United and had got his first cap against Ireland the previous May.He was an elegant, graceful left-winger with a precise cross and knack for getting away from his markers. He also possessed a powerful shot which provided him with 28 goals.Pegg was a ball playing winger who fullbacks found him hard to mark as he was in the habit of dropping a shoulder and jinking inside as he glided towards goal.he was a player i could watch and wonder how he had left his full back for dead,at 22 he wasn't as big as some of the other players but again typical of a busby player a)he was fit and would run all day....b)he had skill....and c) he had humility,he was another who would stop and talk to fans over anything,i remember once sir Matt coming out to get Pegg,Dunc and Eddie Colman outside the players entrance they were too busy talking and signing autographs to realise there was only 45 mins too kick off.I'll not forget Sir Matt saying "David would have been a great asset to any team because he was a natural, left-flank player. David was very, very clever. Our best left-winger by a mile." it was strange in the end that he actually went to Partisan because Peggy was going through a bad patch and he'd lost his place to Albert Scanlon who had come in after united had been beaten 1-0 to Chelsea and Peggy had had a bit of a mare..........i looked on it as a 22 year old just losing a bit of confidence...........but he was a really good player with much much more to come..if only.............and did you know he once spoke to me................I'll never forget..........
Eddie Colman - aged 21, half-back. 107 appearances, 2 goals
The 21-year-old was a mesmerising crowd-pleaser who had already played in 107 games and helped the club to a pair of Football League Championships
He was a player of prodigious skill, nicknamed ‘snake hips’ for his ability to jink his way past defenders with the ball at his feet. He was sometimes accused of being selfish, but when he did pass the ball it was always with accuracy,The only thing missing from his game was goals, with only two to his name, but by the time of his death his ability to provide them for others had made him a key member of the team,Eddie was a terrific player with everything to come his potential was unending,i honestly don't know how good he could have become,if he'd been allowed to mature and learn his trade even a 10% improvement would have made him some player,a god.....in a way his forward movement and his ability to beat players was as good if not better than ronaldo off today's players(obviously his goalscoring let him down ,but if he'd had an eye for goal he would have been...............words cannot explain.....i would have been salivating.....life is just not fair!!!)