Supporting United through the lean Years Part 2

1 Nov

Supporting United through the lean Years

Busby had grown tired and let the team get old between 1964-72 we only bought 3 players. Moreover the players who had come through the ranks were not up the required standard. Law and Charlton were far from the players they once were and while Best was still good enough to take fans breath away, win games virtually on his own he couldn’t do it for a full season. And the football we played was the worst I’ve ever witnessed at times. Naturally there were some wonderful memories the 3-3 draw at Maine road Sammy Mac’s debut. 4-4 boxing day at Derby.

Being a red at that time, looking back wasn’t easy on the field. The closest we came to winning a trophy was in the League Cup 1970/1 which we previously had not entered.  Aston Villa beat us in the semi final.

Best’s antics, Law leaving, Charlton retiring, poor and tbh at times boring football. And on the face of it worse was to happen. We got relegated the great Manchester United were no longer good enough for the top English division.

I say on the face of it because with the benefit of looking back at history it could be argued that the season we spent in the old 2nd division was the most important in the history of the club. I am in the process of completing an in-depth analysis of that season so I will explain more at a later date. However the team were re-energised we were playing all out attacking football, new exciting players had come to the club and I cannot tell you how important this was the fans were different, these were 70s fans.

We had hope, we enjoyed life we enjoyed being loud, in your face and we believed we were back, we had our own way of dressing and we knew United were back. We grew in enormous numbers it has been estimated 20,000 reds went to Hillsborough to watch a 4-4 draw against Sheff Wednesday the crowd was 35,000. The Red Army was born, I am not going to defend the antics of the hooligan people can read about that elsewhere but boy did we get behind our team.

Supporting United was fun again, yes the results were brilliant but virtually everything about the club was on a high. You knew you were going to have a good day, a laugh, a joke, a sing song, feel very passionate, watch a team play great football and you had thousands of mates for the day.

We were the best supported club in the country despite being in a lower division. The following season was equally as good for the same reasons. We finished 3rd and an FA Cup final against Southampton waited.

While not good enough to win the title we were good enough to bring great European nights back to Old Trafford. In those days while the European Cup was still the main one to win, the EUFA and the Cup Winners Cup were not far behind. And games were decided on two legs, any team could be drawn against any other.

Of course it would have been wonderful to have won the title in those days but for many of us football was never just about winning trophies. Life is about moments the best atmosphere’s I’ve ever witnessed at Old Trafford AC Milan 1969. Ajax and Juve 77 Porto 78 and Barca 84.

I think in those days a win was more exciting teams tended to be more equal and victories were more difficult to achieve. Today and for the past 18yrs I expect United to win virtually every game, I don’t get the same buzz because it has become routine.

Today many fans have developed as United fans based on the enjoyment from winning trophies at the end of the season. While many of the seasons I watched United after a few months it was obvious we had no chance of the league and I just went to OT to enjoy the game.

I know so many United fans who talk with passion about the WBA when we got beat 5-3 at home. It was freezing but the quality of football from WBA especially was stunning. Would you get United fans today talking that way? Personally I doubt it. I’m not saying they are wrong not to see it that way I’m just trying to explain the differences.

The Doc who it could be argued for a short period was the most loved United manager ever was replaced by Sexton and to a degree that changed things. There was a flatness around Old Trafford, we were more negative we finished the highest we had for a decade 2nd but crowds continued to dwindle.

Part 3 will discuss the 80s


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