Supporting United through the lean Years Part 1

31 Oct

I watched everyone of United’s 26 seasons without the title chatting to some they think it must have been hell. In truth I loved most of them and two especially I wouldn’t swap for a repeat of the treble. My favourite season was when we were in the old 2nd division and our first season back in the top echelon when I thought we may win the title.

Football has changed so much I have no doubt players and teams today play to a much higher standard. We had the best of British, nowadays teams have many of the best from all around the globe. Squad rotation is used to keep players fresh, the best training facilities, the advances in medical treatment,  diets, boots, kits, balls. The laws of the game have been designed to protect the best players and punish the cloggers.

All this and United have dominated the premiership for the last two decades, so how can I complain and look back to a past with such a desire and passion. Its what old people do I hear a few of you say. Well yes actually that is true, I don’t think you ever enjoy moments of your life as you do when you are young. However I do believe there is much more to those that loved football in the 60s and 70s than nostalgia.

Going to matches with your friends was so much easier. It cost around 30p about the same as you got for a paper round. Virtually all the games were played on Saturday at 3.00 and Wednesday at 7.30. You would turn up and queue from 12.00 find your spot with your buddies and the atmosphere would build. If you were young you would normally go to the sides of the ground with your dad at the front so you could see or the bottom of the Stretford End.

The major change I think in 1970 to the ground was the end of all standing in the Scoreboard, United used to come out and go towards the Scoreboard in those days but that was replaced by standing at the bottom and seating at the top K stand.  Away fans would take up various sections of standing in the scoreboard end, a few clubs such as Liverpool would sill it. The scoreboard Paddock was probably filled with some of the most violent hooligans ever to go to OT. And the things they used to shower down on to away fans is not worth repeating, coins being the nicest smelling.

The Stretford End of course is renowned throughout football and the nosiest part of the ground. Many fans are surprised when I tell them it had wooden seats towards the top. The Stretford Paddock could also be noisy on its day.  United fans were never the friendliest towards away clubs. The Kop was renowned for its welcoming of opposition goalkeepers at the start of the game. The Stretford End mirrored this reception until the keeper acknowledged their splendid support, once he did a torrent of abuse would be reigned down on him leaving him confused and embarrassed and perhaps less concentration than he should have had

I am not going to say the atmosphere was always great at Old Trafford in those days, it wasn’t but most days it was special and if we went behind we knew our job and would do our utmost to lift our lads. Staying to the end was a given for most standing fans, those in seats sometimes left 5 to 10 mins early often to abuse.

Away games were great adventures, lads day out with liberally thousands of you together, the red army. I’m not a hooligan never was but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a great feeling walking though shopping centres such as Southampton with thousands of reds and people looking at you with a mixture of fear and respect and no one daring to try it on with the red army.
We were passed on history lessons from our elders we knew the importance of attractive football. We were reds. Attack Attack Attack Attack Attack still love that song today.

Most away games were not a big problem getting tickets, some were such as Liverpool away and you then had the option of going in to the Kop standing, keeping your gob shut and keeping your emotions in check. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t scary!

The club only had a few thousand season ticket holders, my Dad was on a waiting list for 20yrs without any luck, people never let them leave the family once someone had died. The option was a League Match Ticket Book  it guaranteed you entrance to all home games in the league but away games and away cup games they were no help.

The dreaded token sheet. The club would announce you required so many tokens to get a ticket. A token was put in programmes. About 90 percent of tokens were from first team games the rest from youth or reserve games. I think they cost a 1p. It was like a revolving door you would go in get a team sheet go straight out again, get another team sheet and go straight out again. The Manchester Evening News would have a section token 18 required or token 21 needed. People paid good money for tokens as they just could not get to certain youth team games.

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