Sir Matt discussing his 'Babes'
"Ray Wood in goal. We bought Ray from Darlington for £6000. He was staid. You didn't get miracles from Ray. He was just there when it mattered, moving confidently into position and taking the ball cleanly.
Harry Gregg, who cost us £23,000 from Doncaster later, was more of a showman in goal, and I am told he had a brilliant World Cup for Northern Ireland in 1958. I didn't see it, of course, though I should have gone as Scotland's manager.
There was Bill Foulkes, a big, rough, tough and reliable lad from St Helens, a no-nonsense right-back, and later centre-half, who played such a big part in the club's success. And Geoff Bent was emerging as the type of player who would have been regarded as a steady dependable back.
Roger Byrne at left-back. An aristocratic footballer, majestic in his movement. Roger was so fast, one of the fastest full-backs of all time - but at the same time his controlled his movement beautifully, like Nureyev.
He would go up the wing to attack, but always had the speed to get back before the opposition could make anything of it. Often he would give the other fellow a bit of a start before running to catch him, just to keep things interesting.
Roger was brilliant at intercepting passes. He could read a situation very quickly and make a move to counteract it. And he has the knack of jockeying wingers into positions where he could tackle them before they could make a move.
Great as they were, Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney never played well against Roger. In fact, I don't think Stan liked playing against him at all, although I always used to say in those days Stan used to play the Palladium. He always seemed to save his best for London.
Eddie Colman at right half. Eddie, the little stylist with the wonderful shake of the hips and great control of the ball. Eddie was a beautiful player to watch, a contrast to Duncan Edwards but able to work perfectly alongside him. They complemented each other.
Centre half was the one position we had not really sorted out, and we had two fine players in competition for the job. We always had competition for players in the first team, but centre half was probably most noticeable.
There was Mark Jones, a big commanding player. A strong type of centre half, dominating in the air. And there was Jackie Blanchflower, an astute player like his brother, Danny. Very skilful, and though not great in the air, very good just the same.
Duncan Edwards. The player who had everything. He was so big, so strong, and so confident. And so young. We used to look at players in training to see if we might have to get them to concentrate more on their kicking, perhaps, or their heading or ball control, whatever. We looked at Duncan, right at the start, and gave up trying to spot flaws in his game.
Apart from anything else, he could move upfield and lash in goals when we needed them. John Charles was a giant of a player, a giant with great skill. But John and Duncan were different. Of the two, Duncan was the more powerful player. He used to move up the field, brushing players aside. Nothing could stop and nothing unnerved him.
The bigger the occasion, the better he liked it. He had no nerves before a game. He was like George Best in that respect. While other players would have to be pacing up and down a dressing room, rubbing their legs, doing exercises and looking for ways to pass the time, Duncan, and George later, was always calm. They would glance through a programme or get changed casually and wait without a trace of tension.
I remember a game at Highbury, when I brought Ronnie Cope into the team and told Duncan, who was only a boy himself, to keep an eye on him. Believe me, you would have thought Duncan had been a professional for twenty years that day.
He was a good type of lad too. Even in those days, when football followers were not what they became later with regard to wanting to be with players socially, you still had people who waited for them. But Duncan did not want to know about the high life. He just wanted to play and go to his digs or go home. He lived for his football.
We bought Johnny Berry from Birmingham for £25,000 in 1951 and he was a great little outside right. But it was something he did against United that prompted us to go for him.
The season Portsmouth won the Championship (1948-49) we were four points clear going into Easter, having still to play six games at home and four away. But we did a sort of Leeds United, losing to the bottom two clubs, Birmingham and Everton. Johnny scored a couple of goals against us and one of them was so well taken along the line it always stuck in my mind.
Billy Whelan, had he been spared, would have been one of the greatest players of all time. He was a wonderful inside forward, tall, graceful and tremendously skilful. A slow kind of skill. But he was the opposite of Duncan Edwards. Billy had an inferiority complex.
He was a terribly shy type of lad. I don't thnk he knew just how good he was. I remember one day when a section of the crowd were having a go at him and he just could not do a thing right. The following Tuesday I took him to one side and asked "What was wrong with you on Saturday?" He looked shy and awkward and said, very quietly " Those people in the crowd were shouting at me." I looked at him and said, "If you're going to take notice of people like that you might as well go back home to Dublin right now."
The next home game was against Wolves and Billy scored a hat trick. I'll always remember one of those goals in particular, when he took the ball into the penalty area and used his wonderful body swerve to dummy the defence this way, that way, and every other way before sticking the ball in.
Tommy Taylor was the player we needed to round the team off, to complete the picture - a big strong finisher. We bought Tommy from Barnsley for £29,999 in 1953, knocking off the pound so he wouldn't be tagged a £30,000 player.
Tommy was ideal. Brilliant in the air, so good that he would rank with the greats. Not only could he head for goal with great power, he could also turn in the air and head delicately to a man either behind him or alongside.
He was also a great finisher with his feet, and an unselfish player. He wanted to score goals himself. Naturally, everyone does. But he really didn't mind who scored them as long as the ball went in. He was just as happy making goals as scoring them himself.
Dennis Viollet was the perfect match for Tommy. Dennis was quicksilver, a wonderful chance-taker. He would spot Tommy making a move for the ball, either in the air or on the ground, and could work out where to position himself to take advantage. He could read a situation before a defence could. And not only could he take chances, he could also create them with wonderful touches of skill.
David Pegg was a great asset then and would always have been a great asset to any team because he was a natural left flank player. David was very, very clever. He was our best left winger by a mile. Albert Scanlon was a good direct type of winger, but David was the kind you do not find very often.
He was brilliant playing off another player. He knew just when to bring a team-mate into play and could vary his game. Sometimes he would work the ball upfield with a team-mate and other times he would take on men himself. And when opponents were expecting him to do one or the other of those he would make a direct run and cross.
David was affected by his game and if things were not going well for him he would take it to heart. But he could still overcome this because of his sheer talent."
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