Bet now with totesport - Free £25 bet!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Guardian match report on title win in '67

Manchester United take championship home to Old Trafford

by Albert Barham
Monday May 8, 1967
The Guardian

West Ham United 1, Manchester United 6

Once again Manchester United will be welcomed into the European Cup, Europe's most exclusive competition, confirmed champions of the Football League for the fifth time since the war. And that 6-1 decimation of West Ham United was a mighty decisive way of settling it.

Any doubts there were-and the terraced hordes of red scarves rippling in the sunlight had not the slightest-were settled within two minutes. Goals sudden and unexpected swamped West Ham. There was no shelter for youthful goalkeeper Mackleworth in those harrowing minutes from a defence by turn apprehensive and careless.

By coincidence, in the rush to reach Upton Park before finally it was sealed off, with a post-war record crowd of 38,424 inside three quarters of an hour before the kick-off, I took along an old notebook in which I had recorded Manchester United's memorable defeat of Benfica, 5-1, in the Stadium of Light. The opening 25 minutes of Saturday's match contained much of that quality of a surprised opposition, the same intent of the United forwards, the same delicate meshing of the gears in the game's lubricated flow.

West Ham, following the failure of some of the older players, have been giving the youngsters their chance-Redknapp, Bennett, Heffer, and Mackleworth deputising in goal. By the manner in which, for this, the sixth successive defeat, they were confounded. World Cup players and youngsters alike, there is much for West Ham to do. The donation of a seeming acreage of space left Stiles free to play as neatly and constructively as ever he has. But the day belonged to Charlton, the player most endeared to the world of football. No one had the key to lock up his genius in midfield-few defences have. That delightful control of the ball, the crisp pass, the swift change of direction which takes him round a defence-he passes six West Ham defenders in one such manoeuvre-and the devastating shots were all there to savour.

There was no need of sourness on a day when victory was so easy, yet, apart form the appalling behaviour of the thugs on the terrace, and the sickening sight of their bloodied victims, United were occasionally a little needlessly petulant.

Within two minutes they had to all intents and purposes won the championship, with a goal from Charlton; a masterpiece in the art of taking half a chance in a sliver of a second. Law and Stiles swept the defence aside; Stiles's shot was blocked, and, as Burkett was about to play the ball away carefully, Charlton burst upon him, dispossessed him, shot, and scored. The second goal was scored with simplicity five minutes later. Ashton left Burkett wallowing, and centred high, for Crerand to head in as though on the practice pitch. After 10 minutes, following a corner by Aston, Foulkes and Mackleworth rose together for the ball; Mackleworth dropped it at Foulkes's feet, and that was that. Two goals in three minutes from half backs told its own little story.

Best, who checks the ball so adroitly, upset the defence yet again to take Syiles's pass in the 25th minute and score, and the remainder of the game, although there were little bursts from Sissons and Hurst, was an exercise in Manchester United's superiority, and at their own speed later in the game -walking pace. The fifth goal, a penalty scored by Law after 63 minutes. Was rather a harsh decision, following a push in the back by Charles; the sixth, also for Law in the 79th minute, was the nearest he came to the spectacular. It followed one of the little set pieces between Crerand, Law, and Best, with Mackleworth parrying Best's shot, and Law stabbing the ball back high into the net.

Charles obtained West Ham's solitary goal in the opening minute of the second half, racing upfield and shooting. Stepney did not move towards the ball being unsighted by Sadler, deep in defence. And the hordes of United supporters who invaded the pitch at the end got what they sought - a few words from Matt Busby, the architect of this team triumph.

Coming in October, Mihir Bose's revised look at United's finances