Yesterday Mr Bangor Dub, fellow Blogger and decent enough guy for a Gooner (a fan of Arsenal FC) challenged me to write a post about Jose Mourinho becoming manager at Manchester United.
Ya know its a strange thing. I find it hard to get motivated about Football these days. Of course, I still watch when Manchester United are on TV but what can I say …it isnt the same. There is always a Golden Age.
For me, the Golden Age was 1958-1970. Schooldays. Things are never the same after that. And I can confirm this because I have seen my two sons go thru the Golden Age. And I have two grandsons going thru it.
Football is bigger now than ever. So really hard to describe that I was once a 4 year old boy who went with my father to Uncle Jackies house to see the 1956 Cup Final. Auntie Mary, an amateur soprano came out of the tiny kitchen to sing “Keep Right On To The End of the Road” and “Abide With Me”.
That Cup Final is famous. Manchester City beat Birmingham City but City’s goalie Bert Trautmann, a former German POW played with a broken neck. To be honest I barely remember the 1957 FA Cup Final when Aston Villa beat Manchester United except that Auntie Mary sang again.
But…6th February 1958….my grandparents house…they now had a TV and there was a news item that made my father say “oh my GOD” and a plane had crashed. I was 6 years old and I asked my father what colours they played in when he said red, I said “thats my team daddy”.I can actually remember that very moment, in part because the innocence, the childishness of it all..it was one of those things that parents, grandparents remember and remind children about. Even into the 1990s, Auntie Sheila would just say it when watching the football results come thru….”Everton 2…Manchester United 0… thats my team daddy”…”Manchester United 4….Arsenal 0…thats my team daddy”.
For some reason, I can recall Man Utd playing Fulham in the 1958 FA Cup Semi Final Replay. Was it a news item, highlights or live? I dont know. And my grannys house again for the Final were the recovering Man Utd (eight players had died in the Munich Air Crash) lost to Bolton but the Legend had been born.
Really very young children are incapable of having favourite football teams without the loving input of parents or an “Auntie Sheila”. So my father taught me to read thru the Manhester United reports by James Mossop in the Sunday Express and syndicated match previews in the Irish News. The English Catholic newspaper The Universe often mentioned Manchester. United ….Salford was a big anglo-Irish diocese and United were the “Catholic-supported” team. So things like United players getting married or christenings were big stories. Most Catholic priests (including my cousin) in the Diocese of Salford had complimentary tickets to Old Trafford.
Every summer in the early 1960s my cousin would talk about Matt Busby, Joe Murphy, Shay Brennan, Wilf McGuinness, Nobby Stiles, Tony Dunne etc.
There was no live Football on TV in those days. Probably the reason why I can recall hazy images from 1957 and 1958. We only ever got to see FA Cup Finals and hoghlight programmes years before Match of The Day seemed to formalise it all. There was of course chewing gum cards
So after the difficult post Munich years, Manchester United reached the 1963 Cup Final beating Leicester City, which was the beginning of a great team whiich won two league titles and a European Cup.
But of course in those days, there were no substitures and teams rarely used more than twenty players in a season. Just a few weeks ago, I used a website to make up a spread sheet…67 players were used by Manchester United from 1958 to 1970. And I recognised 65 names. Like I say….a Golden Age.
it is not unusual. My sons can rhyme off names from Giggs, Scholes, Schmeichel thru Djemba Djemba to Rashford. Likewise my grandsons can rhyme off names with Janujaz, Rojo, de Gea ….and as for me, I am just more familiar with the 1963 FA Cup. Winners than the 2016 FA Cup Winners. Strange….the United team that won the 1968 European Cup is engraved in my heart. Not so the names of the teams that won it two more times.
Thee Matt Busby Years. But for my contemporaies there were the Shankley Years at Liverpool, the Revie Years (Leeds), the Nicholson Years (Spurs) the Greenwood Years (West Ham)…because Football Clubs were more constant then. Brand loyalty at its best.
After Busby…. McGuinness, O’Farrell, Docherty, Sexton, Atkinson all failed to really make an impact. The glory of the Ferguson Years warms me but only thru my sons and grandsons. Moyes and Van Gaal failed.
And Jose Mourinho? He will come, negotiate his image rights install his own backroom team and the whole hype of 21st Century Football will start. Not really looking forward to it. Great coach of course. Unique character….but there is that cliché that nobody is bigger than the club. One thing Id like to see is a Womans team at Manchester United. It is frankly inexcusable that United are the only major club that neglects Womens Football.
Mourinho has something to prove. He lost his touch this season. No Premiership title will be won in the first six games of a season but it can be lost.
Me….I am not as enthused at 64 as I was at 14. But supporting MAnchester United has been a very fundamental part of who I am. I got to go to Old Trafford, in the 1960s and I even got to bring my father in 1976. Having been critically ill for years, he told me it was the first time he had felt normal in years. And in the 1990s, I got to bring my sons to Old Trafford….and in the 21st century my sons bring my grandsons….and occasionally they bring me. But its not the same.
There is no Golden Age of Football as such…just Golden Ages in our own lives.
Football is essentially FOR children. But in the spirit that Men have some kinda need to hand on a football team as much as a political party or religion to our male chilldren…then I maintain an interest. I would really look up obscure internet articles about Manchester United 1958-1970 and buy histories of the Club than worry about 2016/17. I need Auntie Sheila to encourage me.