|  News  |  Interviews  |  Fixtures  |  Match Info  |  Reports  |  Stats  |  Players  |  Editorials  | 
 red11.org Supporter Article

Published: September 2000

Old Time's Sake
by "Hotchkiss" jdhotchkiss@speedline.ca

I read Utd Daily News most days and thoroughly enjoy it. Paul Hinson and I discuss the Reds activities regularly. I now live in Whitby, Ontario and have support United since around 1947. I saw your call for articles once again and submit the following for old time's sake.

This week Anderlecht come to Manchester after all these years, some 44 of them. I was at Maine Road amongst the 75,000 screaming supporters that historic first night of European Football. In those days United played a steady crafted game of football; the Busby doctrin being, " keep on playing good football and the results will eventually look after themselves". The approach was a methodical one for the times and it reflected in the ground they played on. After the bombing of the war, when the enemy tried to hit Manchester Docks and Trafford Power Station, but hit United's ground as well, the rebuilding of the railway side stand simply reflected what went before. On the other hand Manchester City worked on flare, star players, such as Roy Paul, Nobby Clark, Ivor Broadis,Bert Tautmann, Johnny Hart giving startling performances one week yet losing to lower teams the next.

City seemed for ever yo-yoing between the first and second divisions and in between winning the Cup or at least being in the final. That same flare reflected in the fact that they, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Millwall, were the first with floodlight games. Wolves famously played European Teams under lights in the 1953 and 1954 era, shown on BBC and performed successfully, although they were always friendly affairs with the doubt that with something at stake perhaps they would not do so well. In 1955 Chelsea, under the captaincy of England International Center Forward Roy Bentley, won the First Division championship. As your expert statsman , Paul Hinson, states it was the last time the Pensioners won it. That year the European Cup was born. The staid FA made it very clear to Chelsea that there was no way they were going to play in any European Cup, for whatever reason. Possibly a similar mindset to the International Team not competing in the World Cup for so many years, thinking that the calibre of football was beneath them. Chelsea conformed and England had no representative.

Busby had inherited some good players in 1945 and added some of his own to produce an excellent side which won the 1948 Cup Final and came second in the League several times in succession. In 1952 United won the League with a team not nearly as good as the so called 1948 team. Busby was in transition from the aging stars of the 40s and gradually breaking in younger players. Many, such as Cliff Birkett, Brian Birch, Eddie Lewis, Ernie Bond, Jeff Whitefoot, were very talented but could not sustain their early promise. By 1955 Busby decided that a bold move was required and made wholesale changes bringing in his youngest, including Duncan, Roger Byrne, Eddie 'swivel hips' Colman, Big Bill Foulkes, Dennis Violet, David Pegg and Billy Whelan and Mark Jones. Ray Wood had been bought from Darlington a year or so earlier late one Friday night, because United's goalies were all injured and he played the next day. Johnny Berry had played for Birmingham in 1951 against United in a Cup tie and ran them ragged so Busby bought him for a record 25,000 pound.Tommy Taylor, my most favourite United player, still United's most prolific scorer at 62.8%, was bought from Barnsley for 29,999, a record fee, and was photographed at London Road Station with his boots under his arm as Matt Busby met him off the train. My how travel and greetings have changed. Nothing less than a Ferari and press conference now I'd say. So similar to today's team, most, 8 of 11, were home grown players straight out of the youth system and that is what makes a team.

This team played well from the start and in essentially its first season won the League. Once again the FA refused to allow participation in the European Cup, but Matt Busby replied that United would participate simply because the way you get better is to play the best. United supporters have expected the best and nothing less ever since. Unfortunately United had not kept up with technology and had no lights. Perhaps rebuilding the ground after the war damage had taken all the funds I don't know, but neighbours City once again came to the rescue, as they had from 1946 to 1949, to allow United to play their European Cup games under the lights at Maine Road. However United quickly relised that they had to initaite floodlights, which were ready for the Real Madrid semi final tie in the spring of 1957. The draw for the first round was against Anderlecht and we were told they had a strong team with fine forwards and , if I remember corectly, Johnny Rep was their star inside forward and captain. The first leg was in Belgium and United were pleased to win 2-0. The second leg at Maine Road was fantastic. The crowd was huge and expectant. They cheered and roared encouragement from the beginning to the end and we United fans had never experienced that before. United were on fire and shot five goals into the net at the other end from where I was standing. We were a little concerned that we would go home not seeing a goal scored at close range but the Red Devils did not disappoint. They simply drove another five into the net at our end, I think they call it Fairfax Street end, and we went home hoarse and happy. I believe United have not beaten any team by as large a margin since that night. So I wonder, I just wonder whether they can surprise us this week?

Afterthought ... by webmaster Barry 13th Sept - the result was 5-1 David - not a bad call! :))

David Hotchkiss
e-mail; jdhotchkiss@speedline.ca

Supporters Articles Index

 Free red11.org Daily Newsletter
Subscribe: MufcDailyNews-subscribe@egroups.com
Unsubscribe: MufcDailyNews-unsubscribe@egroups.com
All Newsletters & Mailing List Info
 red11.org  |  News  |  Fixtures  |  Match Info  |  Reports  |  Stats  |  Players  |  Editorials  | View Guestbook  |  Sign Guestbook  |