Most Manchester United supporters in the world today, there’s 659 million of them now according to United’s commercial director Richard Arnold, why we have employed that shirt from ITV Breakfast telly is beyond me, Old Malc must be going for the Pink pound! (i know its not him really) have known nothing but success in their lifetime following the reds, but us older fans were really put through the mill. Don’t ever forget though during that 26 year gap between league titles we were the country’s best supported club for 24 of them, and the two times were didn’t top the attendance table was because of ground developments reducing our capacity, just letting you all know ‘we did our bit’….And its funny how the media have completely forgotten that, with their sad and pathetic innuendo’s we are all jump on the bandwagon, gloryhunters. But, that’s not surprising, they are stuck so far up the scouser’s arse, it’s just not allowed to give Manchester United supporters the slightest credit…But you youngsters don’t let the picture I’m painting deceive you, we might not have had the tremendous haul of trophy’s the modern United fan has witnessed, but we still had some great times and never lost faith! The highlights been the FA Cup final victories and appearances, but the most memorable undoubtedly, was our year in Division Two the 1974/5 season, which is currently been serialised in Red News http://www.rednews.co.uk/
What made this 26 year barren spell (virtually a drought) even more unbearable was Merseyside, Liverpool and Everton with Leeds for a while dominating English football…Thinking back now it makes City’s lottery winning bought title last May more palatable! Of course that still really hurts……………………… .. But watching them Scouser’s swinging on their Perch was intolerable…So i now get to the real crux of this article, Any chance we had then….And to quote Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army “To Stick it Right Up Them” was too good to miss and i have got a couple of crackers for you…..Two FA Cup Semi Finals in 1979 and 1985 both of which went to replays were incredible occasions, on and off the pitch!.. Here’s my take on all four matches
The 1978-79 season had begun with a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in United’s centenary match. When the season started we were full of hope, only to find ourselves at Christmas halfway down the league and suffering an ignominious exit at home to Watford in the league cup, so as January approached it was once again the FA cup we pinned our hopes on getting some success. Victories over Chelsea, Fulham, Colchester and Tottenham brought us face to face with Liverpool in an FA cup semi-final scheduled for Maine Road on Saturday 31st March 1979, with great anticipation we headed for Maine Road. As you would expect at the time the vermin were hot favorites, especially after tanking United 3-0 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, can you imagine a more miserable festive season. Now that was a match a more sensible person than I wouldn’t have attended. I’d been living in Whitefield, Manchester the previous six months and was absolutely pot less, I had just enough money to get the National coach to London, or go to the game and have a few beers. Meaning I’d have to jib the train home if I was to see my family over Christmas……… Well the train journey was a lot more successful than the match; I even managed to borrow a box load of fruit cakes from the buffet car, which doubled up as a Christmas present for my twin brother.
Anyway back to Maine Road, I met my twin Paul, Pete Yeardley and a few of the lads at the ground early in the morning, I can’t remember where I got pissed but I did, In between, awaiting news of the arrival of Liverpool fans.Nothing happened really, it was more the police charging at United fans keeping us away from the scousers as they tried to sneak in. As you can imagine the entire 90 minutes was played in a cauldron of hate, with those lovable cheeky chappy scousers giving us the full repertoire of Munich songs behind the safety of fences, anyone else see the irony there?
The match ended 2-2 with big Joe Jordan and Brian Greenoff netting for United, but the defining moment was when Kenny Dalglish who had opened the scoring, backed into Martin Buchan and fell over with all the sincerity of Suarez and Gerrard nowadays. The cheating scousers got a penalty, but missed it! ……. The sense of injustice spurred United on and we led 2-1 until the 82nd minute, when “You wont win anything with Kids” Alan Hansen scabbed an equaliser.
And after been witness to what can only be called a minor miracle, over twenty thousand scousers disappearing into the night, avoiding the massed ranks of baying reds hungry for vermin blood, we had the replay at Goodison Park to look forward to.
THE REPLAY……..Wednesday 4th April 1979
Wednesday 4th April 1979, I got into town early that day , for an early start drinking in The Auld Reekie, Market Street, with John Hallet, anxiously watching the clock in readiness for one of the specials going from Manchester Victoria into Liverpool Lime Street. Again there was a decision to be made, Get the first special or take a later one, and have a few more beers. Well its like talking to an old soldier, saying he landed in France on 7th June 1944, when everybody knows all the real action happened the day before June 6th(D Day).I had to get the first train, and I wasn’t to be disappointed…….When the train pulled into Lime Street, the adrenalin was really flowing and everybody was really wound up and eager to exchange pleasantries with the local populace. The noise was deafening as we exited the station, The police were surprisingly slow off the mark, as united rampaged through the streets chasing the great unwashed of Liverpool, who had congregated on the town hall steps as a welcoming committee…….I know we affectionately call them vermin, but they actually did look like rats scattering as they saw the full force of uniteds mob, descend upon them. During the ensuing charge, I suddenly felt a really sharp pain in my bum cheek, looking around I turned to see an Alsatian helping himself to great chunks of my arse, Between me and the copper on the end of his lead, we managed to get him off me, somewhat dazed but extermely pleased to have avoided a nicking. I carried on towards Goodison. It was mayhem all the way to the ground, with the police eventually getting control and United chasing off scousers at what seemed every corner en route. On arrival at the ground I was in the Park End, and actually had time to assess the damage to my posterior, and was advised by John and the other lads to seek medical attention. It was then I got reason 101 to hate scousers, in a polite civil manner I approached a policeman and said “excuse me officer, but is there a St John’s ambulance in the ground, where I could possibly get a tetanus injection? ….As I have been bitten by a dog” pointing to my damaged exterior.With all the sensitivity of an SS guard he said “I hope you die! You Manc bastard”……The start of the match took my mind off any pain I was suffering and when Jimmy Greenoff headed the winner twelve minutes from time I had forgotten all about it.
I think I’m still on the floor! …. Eventually after what seemed an eternity the referee blew the whistle and United were back at Wembley. United goalkeeper Gary Bailey Loves beating the scousers as much as us!
The Merseyside police kept us in just long enough for the scousers to get in position to throw bricks from every available vantage point, I was in the giant escort back to Lime Street, boxed in tight and sitting ducks to all those brave scousers throwing bricks in the pitch black, you just couldn’t see them coming, at one point I even put a traffic cone on my head. I must have looked a right dick, with me arse hanging out of my jeans, and traffic cone on my head, but I was happy. Back in Manchester we headed straight for Pips disco, at the back of Victoria station to celebrate and discuss the night’s events.
Part two the 1985 semi final to follow ..(of course neither myself or Red News condones violence at football matches, this is just an account written for true historical records)