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Friday, May 19, 2006

Doing the rounds but funny


Egg on Face
Seasoned Hash
Frogs legs (past their best)
Spanish Surprise (well beaten)

Main course
Humble Pie
Chump Chops
French (has) Beans
Manager's Beef (not rare)
Catch of the Day - big lemon Sol (gutted)
NB: everything is imported, nothing is home grown.

Sour Grapes (may be hard to swallow)
Fruitless Tarts
Raspberry Fools
Hard Cheese

Little Spirit
French Whine
Cabernet Empty 2006
Champagne - sorry none ordered

NB: drinks should be consumed from glasses as there will be no cups this year.

Guest speaker:
Sir Alex Ferguson - "What it's like to win the European Cup"

Please note that the club’s European Tour for the season 2006-07 is not guaranteed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Arsenal whinging continues!

What you're missing out by missing the mag. The 1976 Cup FInal interviews as featured in RN124

Just one - interviews with current and former players - of many features that makes the mag different to this wonderful blogservice!

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“...and McCalliog…to Stokes, who’s on-side…one-nil…”
With these words, David Coleman, that doyen of BBC commentators, described to millions throughout the world the goal that set up what was at that time THE biggest FA Cup shock result.
The 1st May 2006 will be the 30th anniversary of that disastrous day which once and for all put the tin hat on a season that had promised so much and delivered nothing! We were to get used to many of those in the years ahead but back in 1975/76 it seemed that we stood on the threshold of a golden era.
We had come flying out of the old 2nd division after only one season - playing fast, attacking football with two wingers and scoring goals for fun. We had stormed the First Division and by April 1976 we were nip and tuck with the grannystabbing bin-dippers & QPR (!!) for the title and in the final of the FA Cup.
A defeat at Leicester in early April ended our league hopes and we only managed 3rd place, but we were at Wembley for the FA Cup Final at a time when for younger readers the FA Cup Final was the only live club football match shown on television all season! We were playing Southampton of the Second Division and we were the reddest of red hot favourites and those of us blinded by all things United and by drink could only see one winner…
Red News caught up with some of the United players who played in the Cup Final and during the season generally. It is best left to them to recall those heady days. Take it away Messrs Buchan, Pearson, Daly, Macari & McIlroy…
The Interviews
RN: What do you remember about that season back in the old First Division?
Martin Buchan (MB): “I’ll go to my grave believing that we might have won the League if some of the team hadn’t been distracted by the Cup run.”
Stuart Pearson (SP): “It was very exciting, we played great attacking football – we should have done an Arsenal and gone the whole season unbeaten.”
Gerry Daly (GD): “You know, I don’t really remember anything in particular, just the wonderful support we got from our great supporters wherever we played.”
Lou Macari (LM): “I honestly thought we would struggle. We were physically a small team, but relegation helped cement a bond between us players and the supporters and the results spoke for themselves.”
Sammy McIlroy (SM): “I felt there were high expectations of us. We’d stormed through Division 2 and had taken Division One by surprise playing attacking football with a young side. We believed we could go anywhere and win. If the opposition scored 2 we knew we could get 3 or 4 - no sweat.and the fans home and away, well they were something else...a total inspiration.”
RN: What are your memories of the FA Cup run?
SM: “Wolves away in the Qtr-Final replay. We’d drawn 1-1 on the Saturday at OT and Wolves had a good side. Gerry Daly had got a late equaliser for us.Molineux was packed that Wednesday night, floodlights, night match all make for a better atmosphere. There were thousands of United supporters behind one goal I remember. I also remember we were 0-2 in no time. But our spirit was good, Tommy Docherty had generated that and when Pancho got one back I felt we could do it. Of course we did. Brian G got the equaliser and I was lucky to be on the spot in extra time to make it 3-2. After that I thought if we get the luck of the draw we could go all the way here.”
LM: “In those days the FA Cup was a big deal – a big event for all in football. After losing out in the league we had a great opportunity to win something. The Wolves replay was the first time we thought it could happen for us. Then the semi final against Derby, who were a top team at the time confirmed it in my mind that our name was on the cup so to speak.”
GD: “I remember scoring a late equaliser against Wolves in the first game at OT to earn us another crack. Of course the replay was brilliant – we were dead and buried at one stage but came back to win it in extra time. That would be my lasting memory.”
SP: “I remember the semi at Hillsborough against Derby the most. It was our first one off semi and there is always more tension when it’s a one off like that as both teams have a lot to lose. What I remember is that we handled it well and on the day we played great and Derby never had a chance and they were one of the great teams of that era.”
MB: “I don’t remember much until the Wolves replay, where we came from behind to win. Sammy Mac was our match winner he played really well that night and got our winner in extra time.”
RN: Do you remember the build up to the Final? What was it like?
GD: “All I remember was that everything was a roller coaster ride from start to finish.”
SP: “I remember we went to London early in the week. The Doc got the preparation just right in my view. We didn’t do much training, just enough to keep us sharp.”
MB: “Not a lot now really after all this time. The players pool and getting measured for suits and all that nonsense!”
SM: “I remember we left for London early and stayed at the Selsdon park Hotel. We were confident borne out of the fact that we were a young side and we weren’t afraid, but I would dispute that we were overconfident. You see Southampton although a second division team had good players; 4 Channon, Osgood, Rodrigues, Holmes, Blythe, so we knew we had a task on but I felt we were more than capable of winning the Cup”
LM: “We stayed in the Selsdon Park Hotel from Tuesday onwards. The preparation was spot on. The Doc got it just right. I remember reading the papers on Friday morning before the game and they were all making us overwhelming favourites. That’s when I got a bit worried because that puts so much pressure on you. I remember on Saturday morning looking at the Southampton team in the papers and thinking…hang on a minute these are good players, Holmes, Osgood , Channon, Rodriguez. This could be tougher that anyone thinks.”
RN: On the day what was the feeling like in the camp?
MB: “I remember thinking some of our players were over-confident and underestimating Southampton. There was a lot of big match experience in their side - more so than in ours.”
SP: “I personally felt very confident. We had a good team that was playing well so we went into the game I thought very confident indeed.”
GD: “With hindsight maybe we were a bit too complacent. Maybe we thought it was just a matter of turning up to collect the cup and our winners medals.”
SM: “I know I am going on about confidence all the time but we were, we were quietly confident – the Doc had us all relaxed – he was good at that. He was a real joker and he took a lot of the pressure off us. Seeing all the United fans on Wembley Way made the build up to the match for me.”
LM: “From what I can remember the camp was buoyant. What I do remember was coming down Wembley Way in the coach and seeing all our fans in their thousands - that was just phenomenal.”
RN: When you walked out of the Wembley tunnel what was it like and what did it feel like?
LM: “I felt a weight of expectation on my shoulders. Everywhere there were United fans even in the Southampton end. (RN reporter – Yes Lou – I was in there too) You know our supporters were different then...that roar that greeted us that day I will never forget – fans haven’t got that type of passion anymore these days. (RN reporter – Don’t we know it Lou, don’t we know it).”
GD: “I felt a very proud young man, knowing all our fans and my family were all in the stands. As an Irish international I felt the whole of Ireland was behind me. It was very emotional.”
SM: “Fantastic noise – I’d played at Wembley with Northern Ireland so had some experience of it but that day was something else. I had dreamt of a day like this as a boy growing up – my boyhood dreams had come true. Everywhere you looked there were United fans. I remember the heat. 1976 was the hot summer as I remember and it was ferociously warm on the pitch. I remember thinking that the heat could sap players energy if we weren’t careful.”
SP: “Up to that day it was the best feeling I had had in football, I didn’t think at that time that anything could better it. (RN reporter – I bet a year later you changed your mind…)”
MB: “The noise hits you as you got to the top of the tunnel, basically you want to get the formalities over and done with, out of the way and just get on with the match.”
RN: What are your most vivid memories of the match after all these years?
SM: “The header late in the second half just before they scored. There was corner on the right taken by Steve Coppell and the ball flashed into the box, Pancho got a flick on and I knew the ball was on its way to me but it got obscured by a Southampton defender so I could only react instinctively to it with my head. I got good contact and as I fell over I saw it going under the bar…next thing it hits the underside bounces down and out, I couldn’t believe it. Two or three minutes later they scored!”
MB: “I don’t remember defeats. I have only ever watched the following years Cup Final against Liverpool. Enough said.”
GD: “I remember being really sad and dejected as I knew I wasn’t playing to the level I knew I could during the match and to be honest as I looked about the pitch none of us were performing to our true level.”
SP: “Not the best of games. Both teams deserved to lose. I was gutted for the fans because I could see on the pitch that we were struggling. We weren’t really at our game. Hard to figure out now why after all these years and I don’t want to dwell on it.”
LM: “Within a short period of time I realised this was no foregone conclusion. Southampton had equal ability and were a bigger side. As the favourites you want to get in front early on so you can express yourself in your football. As the minutes ticked by and we didn’t score I began to just wonder if it was going to be our day.”
RN: Did you ever think for one minute during the match that we would get beat?
LM: “When Sammy’s header hit the bar from point blank range I thought then maybe….just maybe we’re going to get beaten here. You see all season we had been a free scoring team, scoring goals for fun and on this day we weren’t.”
SM: “I didn’t think at anytime we were going to get beaten you know.”
MB: “I never thought the result was a foregone conclusion unlike some of my team mates! (RN reporter “Ouch Martin…”).
GD: No I never did. But I think had we scored early we would have probably won easily. The longer the game went on you sensed something could go wrong but that’s no different to any other game. You put it to the back of your mind and get on with your own game.”
SP: “No! Absolutely no. Up until they scored I was very very confident we would win through.”
RN: Do you think Stokes’ goal was offside?
SP: “YES!!”
MB: “I did at the time, although 30 years ago we didn’t have the TV angles we have now to prove it one way or the other. If anything he might have been almost level with someone in the right back position. (RN - Look at the video Martin– he’s a good yard offside – if he was level as the law stood then he should have been given offside)”
SM: “Offside by 2 or 3 yards - no question. Thought that then and nothing has changed my mind in 30 years since.but that’s football...there will always be arguments about decisions”.
LM: “Can’t say whether it was or wasn’t. On the day most said it was. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of Alex (Stepney) and that was it. Stokes was the hero and I couldn’t wait to get off the pitch.”
GD: “I’m going to go the other way here and say I thought he wasn’t offside in my eyes. It took a hell of a long time to go in though. (RN reporter – yes Gerry I know it trickled for an age towards us Reds in the Southampton End)”
RN: TV pictures showed Brian Greenhoff was inconsolable at the final whistle, how did you feel?
GD: “Not too good either! Next question.
LM: “In despair – couldn’t believe it had 4 happened – that’s football!”
MB: “Heartbroken, but not surprised. You get results like that against you sometimes.”
SP: “I think we all felt like Brian. But some dealt with it differently. What was the biggest disappointment was all of us being told by Ted Croker of the FA before the game that the losers were not allowed a lap of honour and had to get off the pitch. We couldn’t therefore show RESPECT to our fans and we all got stick for that because the fans couldn’t work out what was going on. It was the most pathetic mean spirited thing I ever came across in my playing career. I’m glad I have the opportunity to put the record straight as to the reasons why we didn’t salute the fans at the end all those years ago.”
SM: “Gutted! Wembley’s no place for losers. We’d had a fantastic season and to end up with nothing was too much to bear. I felt even worse the following day, but I felt we hadn’t done ourselves justice and that we’d be back next year…I honestly did at the time”
RN: Considering the result and the way we played, did the reception in Albert Square the next day surprise you?
MB: “It did. We didn’t deserve it, but it inspired us to go back the following season and win it when we were the underdogs. Although the Doc’s rather rash statement that we’d win it the following year made us hostages to fortune.”
SP: “It didn’t surprise me. I’d only been at the club for just over a season and a bit but in that time I had come to appreciate and respect how special our fans were at that time and still are in my opinion.”
SM: “Absolutely surprised…fabulous reception. The Doc made his famous speech about winning it next year and I knew we would...I really believed we would – we were a good side and we deserved to win something for the fans and of course for the type of football we tried to play.”
GD: “No, it didn’t surprise me either. Our supporters were and in my opinion still are the best in the world bar none. I felt we had let them down so badly that I was so disgusted with myself that I threw my losers medal out into the street when I got home. My wife ran after it and put it in her handbag so I couldn’t get at it! (RN - Way to go Gerry! players with your passion are sadly lacking these days)”
LM: “It surprised me! It was very pleasing to see that reception. It was strange 24 hours after a defeat. Our support then was unquestionable. There were many games at that time when it was our support that carried us to victory. There was a different relationship between players and fans then to what it’s like now. I would like to think that I was always approachable and made time for the fans. Tommy Doc’s statement that we’d go back the next season and win it was in the circumstances of the time outrageous. There wasn’t the gap between the teams that there seems to be now – everyone was capable of beating everyone else so from that angle it was dangerous what the Doc said.
You see contrary to popular belief at that time Man United were not the best payers in the league. You played for Man United because you wanted to, because of the history but most importantly because of the fans and their reception to us on that Sunday epitomised why I was proud to play for United. (RN: Lou Macari Legend)”
Interview Bus To Videoton, players interviewed separately, copyright Red News 2006.

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RN 125 out May 7th
RN 124. 1976 Cup Final interviews
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