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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

John White on David Pegg

50 Years On – David Pegg

By John White

Doncaster born in September 1935, David was a talented left wing prodigy who was hunted by all the big clubs of the day. He was eventually enticed to United to join all those other talented lads from both locally and up and down the land by that wily old genius, Matt Busby and David made his United debut as a 17 year old against Middlesbrough in a 3-2 home win on December 6th 1952.

He fairly much held onto his place throughout that debut season and did well for a 17 year old. He bagged his opening goal for the club in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Roker Park and followed that up with 2 against Preston on the 7th March 1953 in the same game that another United goal-scoring legend also made his debut (having been purchased from Barnsley for the princely sum of £29,999 - more separately of that great favourite another time) and he too weighed in with a couple of goals, .

David bagged another one against Spurs finishing up with 4 goals from the left wing - after which he was rested for the last 4 or 5 games of that season. He would go on to score another 20 league goals and 4 European Cup goals for United before Munich claimed his life.

David managed only 1 cap for England but was widely regarded as the natural successor to Tom Finney down England’s left flank and undoubtedly, many more caps would have followed.

Two things stand out for me about David and they are these.
He was at the height of his game in September 1956 when United slaughtered the Belgian champions Anderlecht in front of 40,000 piss-wet fans at the old home of neighbours City at Maine Road.
He laid on goals for all his forward line colleagues that night.
Dennis Viollett (4) Tommy Taylor (3) Liam Whelan (2) and even his partner on the other wing little Johnny Berry (1) all weighed in but despite David always having the capability to come inside onto his right foot rather than being the traditional left-wing flyer, AND despite all his fellow forwards doing everything humanly possible to get him on the score sheet, he couldn’t buy a goal that night !!

My abiding boyhood memory of David is when I chased him across Piccadilly Gardens after United had done a team appearance at Lewis’s store in Manchester. I had got there a midgy's too late to be allowed in to the team presentation to the public (post the end of the 1956/57 season I think it would have been and of course, the lads were there as Champions).

Back then sides were really much more accessible to their fans – they weren’t too far removed from their fans in either earning power or socially!! But, try as I might to get into a packed event room in the store, the security people on the door had it bottled up tighter than a duck’s arse. Having hung around for what seems like an age and having got nowhere, and feeling just like a pissed off and frustrated 11 year old, I was making my way across Piccadilly Gardens to catch the bus home when bugger me, I see David Pegg and his girlfriend/wife [I didn’t know which] jumping on some corporation bus just about to head off to Flixton.

I did no more than follow them onto the bus and up the stairs where they’d gone because back then upstairs was where you could smoke on the bus.
“Please, please David would you sign my book?” says me. He looked a bit nowty for a moment and she said to him “Oh go on David, don’t be awful to the lad” A lot more of the passengers were smirking at this raggy arsed lad mithering one of United’s heroes so he of course did as he was told and bingo, I got my autograph.
With a grateful "Thanks Dave" from me it was downstairs to deck off the bus just as it was pulling away to go to completely the wrong side of the city from where I lived!

Just half a year later of course David would be snatched from us at Munich.

Sad to report, I don’t know where that hard won autograph - nor indeed any of my other precious signatures are today. That's my abiding sadness from those wonderful, exciting days of my boyhood as we witnessed the birth of something unmatched before or since.

Rest in Peace David - none of you are ever forgotten mate.

Oh and PS - if you've a minute or so to spare, do you think you could see your way clear to letting me know in some way or other where the bloody hell I put my autograph book?


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