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Thursday, July 09, 2009

hor of new United book 'From Salford to Tucson and Back Again...'

by Bob Carter, author of the new book (details below), From Salford to Tucson and Back Again: The Globetrotting Memoirs of a Manchester United Fan

It was less than a week ahead of two momentous events in the history of our beloved club. The following Wednesday the reds would be facing Barcelona, attempting to become the first club to successfully defend the Champions League. The day before, the 26th May was equally important. The 26th May 2009 was the 100th anniversary of the birth-date of one of the greatest people ever to grace the game of football, the peerless Sir Matt Busby.

I had just taken my second glass of champagne and wandered through the museum at Old Trafford. I was amongst friends, several hundred friends who had joined the Manchester United Supporters Trust to celebrate the birthday of Sir Matt. As we settled into our seats in the Manchester Suite, the call for dinner was made and a piper led the guests of honour through the room. I looked in awe at Sir Bobby Charlton, Wilf McGuinness, Alex Stepney, David Sadler, Albert Scanlon and Sandy Busby as they made their way to the top table. As we sat through the speeches, vivid pictures of Sir Matt appeared above the table at the front of the room and a tear or two filled my eyes. In my 49 years on this earth I have cried many times and apart from the obvious times of joy and sadness around my family, almost every other tear has been shed for United. Pictures of the great Busby Babes hush the crowd for a moment and I reflect. I was born in January 1960, less than two years after the disaster at Munich. The legends who lost their lives that day should have been the first team I supported. I should have watched Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards in their prime, but like millions of others, I was robbed of that privilege by the cruelest ever twist of fate.

Most of the Busby Babes had graduated through the ranks, starting with the youth team. Matt decided that although they were incredibly young, he could not leave them out of the first team. The average age of the team that won the championship in 1956 was just 22. The following year, they won it again with a teenager called Bobby Charlton now a full member of the team. The Busby Babes had eleven stars but the two stand outs were Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor, possibly the best two players in the world at that time. Tommy was signed from Barnsley and scored an amazing 131 goals in just 191 games. Duncan is still revered by those lucky enough to see him play as the greatest player of all time. The then manager of England, Walter Winterbottom believed that England would have won the 1958 World Cup if the Munich tragedy hadn’t happened. Taylor, Edwards and the others were that good.

In 1958, United were going after their third title in a row and at the beginning of February went to Arsenal, winning 5-4 in what has since been described as the greatest game ever. Of course, it was completely overshadowed by what happened just a few days later. Having triumphantly knocked out Red Star Belgrade on their way to the European Cup semi final; disaster struck. After refueling at Munich airport, the plane crashed at just after 3 o’clock on February 6th. Twenty one people died, including seven players, David Pegg, Liam Whelan, Eddie Colman, Roger Byrne, Geoff Bent, Tommy Taylor and Mark Jones. Fifteen days later, the great Duncan Edwards joined them in heaven, dying from his wounds. The Busby Babes were cut down before they’d even reached their prime. I still cry when I watch the Pathé News report of the day.

My personal history with United has seen many highs and unfortunately more than a few lows. Whatever the reason that you support your team; there is no doubt that the history of Manchester United is one without rival. We have suffered more tragedy than any other club and thankfully, we have had more triumph than most. Our history is one of the main reasons why we are supported by millions throughout the world. The other reason, no matter what the circumstance, Manchester United will always play the game the right way. From Busby’s magnificent Babes through to the current team, United have been unrivalled in their passion for open, attractive and entertaining football. For fan or foe, the Manchester United story is one of highs and lows, of excitement, adventure and legends.

Manchester United is the biggest football club in the world. In fact, they are by far the biggest sports franchise in the world. This has major advantages, like the ability to sell merchandise all over the world, but it also has disadvantages like losing its identity as a local team. I personally will take the wealth, as long as it continues to be invested in the team, but there is an air of sadness when half the accents at Old Trafford don’t speak properly.
As the 2008/2009 season closed down we were all able to celebrate again as an eighteenth premier league title was safely tucked away. Unfortunately, we were not good enough to beat Barcelona on 27th May but it didn’t stop tens of thousands of reds flooding the city centre and having a party in the only way we know how, the Manchester United way. Ronaldo has now gone, and so has Tevez. We will miss them but their loss is nothing compared to other events in our history and I’m very excited about the next season under the guidance of the only man who could ever be compared to Sir Matt, the most successful manager in the history of English football, Sir Alex Ferguson. Let’s all keep the red flag flying high, I have, ‘From Salford to Tucson and Back Again.

details of the book... From Salford to Tucson and Back Again: The Globetrotting Memoirs of a Manchester United Fan

As a supporter of Manchester United, Robert Carter has seen it all. He has witnessed the highs, the lows, the false dawns; and more recently, the unprecedented success of his beloved team. He has watched the DVD’s, read the autobiographies and studied the history, but something was missing. What if a passionate supporter shared his or her experiences of following the club through thick and thin? Now that was a book that Carter wanted to read but couldn’t find. The only solution was to write it himself.

‘From Salford to Tucson and Back Again’ is the result of almost fifty years of supporting the Red Devils. It takes us from a bygone age of terracing and camaraderie to the faceless experience of the modern football stadium. Born in Davyhulme near Manchester, Carter spent his early years in Swinton, near Salford. He has lived and travelled all over the world, including 10 years in Tucson, Arizona, before settling back into his native Manchester in January 2008. Wherever his travels took him, Manchester United was always close to his heart. Read about a close encounter with the police in Bangkok, about how United's results affected his own playing style and about the devotion of following the red devils through thick and thin. On a famous day in May 1999, while United were winning the treble, this devotion almost cost him his life.

“If you're a sports fan, you should read this book. If you are a football fan, you really should read this book. If you are a Manchester United fan, you absolutely MUST read this book. It will take you back to your fondest memories of the world’s greatest game played by the world's greatest team, and remind you why you fell in love with the Reds.”
- Nick Towle, Chair, Independent Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST)