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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

What has changed since 1972?

The last time we won at Old Trafford was back in 1972. What was going on in English football back then?

Back then, Joe Harvey was Newcastle manager, aided by Keith Burkinshaw who went on to great things at Spurs. The scorers at Old Trafford were John Tudor, later sold as Gordon Lee imposed his brand of football on the club, and Stewart Barrowclough, who plied his trade on our wings for most of the decade.

That win came after one of the most reported FA Cup shocks, the defeat against Hereford and kick started an undefeated run of 4 wins in 5. What followed that run was a hammering at Liverpool and a solitary goal in 6 games.

We went on to finish in 11th place, Man United ending the season just 3 places higher. Manager at the time was Frank O`Farrell who 4 years later turned down an offer to manager at St. James` Park, preferring instead to return to Torquay. His successor was one of a line of Scottish hard men, after Busby and long before Ferguson.

The league that year was won by Brian Clough`s Derby, a manager who went on to relegated Forest after the next season. That summer saw Clough take defender, David Nish to the Baseball Ground in a new British record of £225,000. 7 years later, Clough again broke the record with the first £1m player, Trevor Francis to his European Cup winning team.

In 2nd place was Don Revie`s Leeds, who also won the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Behind those teams who now languish in the 2nd tier were some of the modern top clubs, Bill Shankly`s Liverpool in 3rd, the flamboyant and extravagant Malcolm Allison taking City to 4th, Bertie Mee`s Arsenal 5th and Dave sexton`s Chelsea in 6th.

The other 2 teams to finish above us have spent most of their time in lower leagues since, now in the 3rd tier, Sheffield United and Wolves who lost the first UEFA Cup final in 1972, to Spurs.

Elsewhere, some clubs now seen as yoyo secured their top flight places. Palace, who had come up from the bottom tier of the Football League started to become regulars at this level. In an era where long term managerial tenures of 8 years or so were the norm, Southampton`s Ted Bates was in his 17th year of management, his sidekick Lawrie McMenemy ready to take over for their decade long purple patch.

Stoke were established top flight regulars under Tony Waddington, soon to be replaced by former Newcastle striker, Georg Eastham who was at the end of his playing career. Leicester City too, under former Orient manager Jimmy Bloomfield continued to establish themselves. Harry Catterick was at Everton. Noel Cantwell performed against the odds at Coventry City.

Ron Greenwood was still producing mercurial football at West Ham before moving to the England job a couple of years later, to succeed Joe Mercer and Don Revie.

Contrasting fortunes saw Huddersfield Town leave the top flight for the last time whilst another young manager was on the up, a certain Bobby Robson with Ipswich was quietly assembling a soecial squad at Ipswich after taking over from Bill McGarry. Who know what might have happened if the Newcastle board at the time had spotted the potential of the latter before the former?

In lower leagues, Aston Villa won the 3rd division title under another up and coming manager, Ron Saunders, with QPR and Birmingham City making it to the First Division. This was the season before ex Newcastle defender Bob Stokoe took the Mackems to win the FA Cup and onto their sole European campaign.

This was the time when the World Cup winning squad started to reach the end of their careers. It will also be remembered as an era of goalkeeping greats, Gordon Banks and Pat Jennings in particular but with Shilton and Clemence on the up, big Willie McFaul between our own sticks.

There was a certain flamboyance about football too. ManU of course had the likes of Best, Law, Charlton. Huddersfield had Frank Worthington, Southampton`s Mick Channon, Man City`s diving Francis Lee, we had our own Supermac. On the way was Stan Bowles, with Osgood near his peak, Arsenal`s Charlie George, Derby`s Roger Davies.

Imports were from the British Isles such as Arsenal`s Liam Brady. Silky skills also came with the likes of Trevor Brooking. One not to be forgotten is the immense Tony Currie as well as our own Tommy Cassidy.

It was also the era of the striking partnership, Supermac and Tudor, Clarke and Jones at Leeds, Keegan and Toshack at Liverpool. The list goes on.

The last time we won at Old Trafford, it was a totally different era, one that was a huge fun time for English football and one that had a hint of history, a legacy of promise and a time of national under-achievement.

Yes, much has happened since we last won at Old Trafford. As our own squad has become one with a huge international presence, albeit one that is predominantly French rather than from within these shores, it seems that "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".

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The Journalist

Writer: Rexn  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 8 2013

Time: 10:00AM


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