By Iain McCartney.
I was severely tempted to write strip poker or even better strip scrabble – ever tried it? But when suggesting the topic I was about to write about, I was informed that it was to be a Manchester United game, so no luck there readers!
So, a United game and not simply any old ninety minutes, but my favourite.
The horse drawn cart ride from central London out to the spacious surroundings of Crystal Palace was an experience in itself for someone who had never been outside the county boundary.
Sandy Turnbull’s goal is little more than a blur and I awoke from my dream before Charlie Roberts was presented with the trophy. Which was a shame really!
I never saw the ‘Babes’ in the flesh and my first game was a 4-1 defeat, so both are certainly cancelled out.
Barcelona in ’84 was certainly a most memorable night, as indeed was that evening in Spain in 1999, but then again, only the overall occasion and the last couple of minutes were indeed memorable.
To pick out one game from all those that I have had the good fortune to watch is difficult. A bit like trying to pick the best player you have seen. Was it George Best, or then again Denis Law did things that Bestie couldn’t and both of them were rubbish goalkeepers.
Arsenal at Villa Park in the FA Cup semi of 1983 still stands out, as do the two semi-finals against Oldham Athletic.
Owen scoring that winner against City, or Ole against Liverpool in the cup, the list goes on.
Anyway. I have to pick one and I am going to go for… Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford on Saturday April 10th 1993. Imagine today if Sky Sports missed that one?
Man United had beaten third placed Norwich 3-1 at Carrow Road five days before, giving them a one point advantage over The Canaries, but with a vastly superior goal difference. They were still, however, one point behind leaders Aston Villa, so a victory over Sheffield Wednesday was a real necessity if that twenty six year wait was not going to become twenty-seven.
Having lost the championship to Leeds the previous season still caused nightmares.
It did look, however, that the nightmares were going to continue, indeed a new one could well materialise as Wednesday were awarded a penalty in the sixty fifth minute, which Sheridan – who if memory serves me right, was meant to be a red, despatch without a care past the big Dane.
Slowly the minutes ticked away and watches were looked at more than the actual game. There were suddenly only four remaining, plus whatever was to be added on for the injury to the referee Mike Peck, perhaps a convenience so that he did not have to face Fergie at the end were United to loose, while there were also another five games to play. Losing, however, would give Villa a three point advantage.
United pressed forward. Corner.
From down below me, the ball swung into the Wednesday area and Steve Bruce, having had to take a few steps back, headed home from just inside the area.
A point would maybe do. Better than nothing anyway.
But how long was there to go? No “the referee has added a minimum of three minutes (or whatever) stoppage time” announcement back then.
Come on lads, one last effort.
Giggs crosses the ball and misses everyone, but Pallister chases and turns with the ball, crossing it towards goal. It was not the best of crosses, but it was deflected high into the air and over his head by a Wednesday defender, and in runs Brucie again. Everything slows down, the ball glides towards goal. Woods dives, arm outstretched, but he misses the ball and it’s in the net. GOAL! We’ve scored.
That was it. 2-1.
United held on, Villa had drawn at home with Coventry and United were top by a solitary point.
The rest, as they say, is history.
It was a game that kick started so much, including the last gasp goals, as I cannot remember many prior to that.
When I travelled south by train, I used to leave a few minutes before the end to run down the steps of the Scoreboard Paddock, up Warwick Road to catch a bus back into town, as the train went at 5.20. Always made it and can only remember missing one goal – Martin Buchan, against Everton. If I also remember correctly, the programmes were late in arriving that day as well. Wait a minute. I seem to recall another game that stands out…..
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