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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My European Cup Finals with Manchester United by Greg Barnes, 1968 and all that

Red News readers remember 1968 and our other Finals. Today; Greg Barnes.

Manchester United 2010/11 Season Review DVD out June 13th, advance discount order here

How did you travel down to the '68 Final, what are your memories of the build up?

Yellow Ways not very yellow (more of an off beige) coach from Central Station (GMex). It managed to avoid the newly constructed and totally empty M1 on its ridiculous route, which, I am sure included visits to Norwich, Cardiff, Canterbury and Plymouth before crawling into London, some 76 hours later. My Dad got absolutely slaughtered, staggered down to the very front, deposited me at the wall with my Mum some 2 hours before kick off and pegged it back to the bar. Didn’t see him again until we got back to Uxbridge when we found him in a coma, in our friends outside lav. Outrageous behaviour and a dawning realisation that he may have had issues. Overriding memories involved smells. Unsurprisingly beer (Watney’s Red Barrel), Old Spice, Liniment, strong fags and of course piss, some of it mine, as my Mum was too scared to let me go back up the terrace, which, I recall was very, very shallow compared to the scoreboard end at United.

Did you think we'd win, how did your younger self take it in and now remember the game?

Had no doubt that we would win. I remember being truly shocked when they equalised and terrified when Eusebio got through on the break against Stepney. Confident going into extra time though. I couldn’t see that much as all the action was at the other end, and being 10, I could barely see over the wall. Early onset myopia also proved something of a hindrance, probably explains why I can only recall smells. That said, I do recall getting crushed to buggary when the goals went in, and a copper getting ready to yank me out at my Mums imploring request.

Do you remember anything about the atmosphere and United crowd?

I remember a distinct atmosphere between my Mum and Dad that lasted a couple of years longer than the game. Very, very loud where we were, particularly those old school wooden rattles. Sadly no recollection of any songs apart from “ Your gonna get your F****** Head kicked in,” which was directed at my Dad from my Mum.

And what were the celebrations like, in the ground and after?

Sadly we didn’t stick around for long. I really remember the cup being really shiny as Bobby lifted it and the sheer power of the guttural roar that followed. There was real outpouring of emotion that I had never previously experienced; a bit disorientating to a little kid.

How does it feel being lucky enough to attend them all, which memories most stand out?

Blessed and very, very fortunate. This ticket cost 10 shillings and I got it off Bobby Charlton, who rented a clubhouse off United. How lucky is that? Only got it because he couldn’t get us tickets for the Real Madrid game. His missus Norma was always really lovely with me. Class act. Always sent my Mum a Christmas card up until she died a few years back. I am forever grateful.

Best memory? The three Barcelona orgasms in 90 seconds and being barely able to breathe as a result. Saw a guy fall out of our tier and land on his back. He was saved by the explosions of beer from within the rucksack he was wearing. Spectacular effort.

What has been your best Final?
Barca. Great result, stunning setting, fabulous crack and total rollercoaster of emotions. People were emotionally spent. On our coach back to Gerona people were too drained to even sing.

What's been the most difficult to get to, sort a ticket for?

Have not got one for this one. Praying on 2nd ballot or possibly more likely, 2nd coming. Moscow, tricky to get to.

How you feel about this Final this time around?

I like the fact that people have pretty much written us off against the greatest club side that has ever played the game. They have to press high up the pitch because I really believe they are shaky at the back. Puyol, great warrior but no Usain Bolt. Pique, fantastic with the game in front of him, but exposable when turned. I firmly believe Sir Alex has the strategy, providing we don’t concede early again.

If you could pick out 1 moment from all the Finals, which would it be and why?

The moment Avram handed Anelka the ball. He so did not want to take that. Think I was smiling more that Van der Sar 30 seconds later. I just knew he wouldn’t score.

Brand new European Cup Final shirts to wear

European Cup/United scarf at
Roses European scarf Final inspired at
3 wins, want a 4th, all the Final dates at
Wemblerlee Devil Final shirt at


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