Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty with the 1977 FA Cup
Author: The Mancunian Red (Guest Blogger)
I often listen to the older fan bemoan today’s atmosphere, claiming it was different it the 1970s, yet I first started going in the 1970s and had fans telling me it wasn’t the same at the old days, how it was said you could hear the roar in Oldham when United scored in a big European cup game. And even in the 1970s I distinctly remember fans after the game complaining about the atmosphere.
While the atmosphere did benefit from standing in the 70s fans could pay on the gate, join up with their friends and the singing sections were well known, moreover the banter between the Stretford End, Stretford Paddock the Scoreboard End and the Scoreboard could often be bemusing, entertaining as well of course electric.
A few games in the 1970s stand out as very special, I will stick to the home games but who could forget the season we went down to the old second division and more often than not outnumbered the away fans such as taking 20 plus thousand to Sheffield Wednesday in a 35,000 attendance, or our first season back in the top division where our reputation as the red army had become
Norwich City in the League Cup semi final, we hadn’t entered the League Cup in the early rounds and of course hadn’t looked like winning a trophy for a number of years, for many of us this was the first of many to come and our first visit to Wembley, unfortunately as good as the atmosphere was we could only manage a 2-2 and Norwich did us in the 2nd leg.
I’ll start with the Sunderland game, both teams were chasing promotion and the Sunderland fans filled the standing section of the scoreboard end and the Roker roar met the Stretford End head on, while I wouldn’t go along with Lou Macari’s analysis that they are the only club to out sing us at OT they put up a helluva go and this was something United fans would accept being out sung in our backyard the ground at times was shacking and the football complimented the game, I cannot think of a 3.00 Sat afternoon match that really compares, all the rest of the games are night matches.
That season we shook the 2nd division and believed we would also win the League Cup we beat first division sides Burnley Boro Citeh and now Norwich City were waiting in a two-legged semi-final League Cup semi final. We hadn’t entered the League Cup in the early rounds and of course hadn’t looked like winning a trophy for a number of years, for many of us this was the first of many to come and our first visit to Wembley, unfortunately as good as the atmosphere was we could only manage a 2-2 and Norwich did us in the 2nd leg.
The next game is Ajax in the UEFA cup, we hadn’t been in Europe for many years and Ajax had a great reputation while they weren’t the great side that had dominated the European Cup in the early 1970s they still had that glamour that foreign top teams had in those days the truth was we didn’t know much about them that in a way made them even more special. The Stretford End crackled with noise and was full at least an hour before the game started,
By far the noisiest game I ever went in the 70s and compares with any game I’ve ever been to since was Porto on 77 in the Cup Winners Cup, we had been well and truly stuffed in the first leg 4-0 and the ground was around 10,000 short of capacity but for the first half it just wasn’t possible to have a conversation the ground crackled with noise from every section, every fan seemed to be shouting and horse, next day at school tales of headaches, sore throats and they were the ones who had bothered to turn in a number took the next day off, we won 5-2 for the record but the result wont be remember as long as the reverberation which rang around OT.
Lastly I will pick a game we got hammered 3-0 at home to Everton also in the League Cup, I mention this game because we were murdered as a team and never looked in the game but the singing never stopped, it even got praised in the programme next game but the chants were not shall we say politically correct as the program also notes. I mention this game because this I doubt would happen today we have become used to winning and winning trophies, if we aren’t playing well home fans do not try to motivate the team as we did in those days, we saw ourselves as the 12th man and songs such as Attack Attack Attack were sang from all sections. I’ve tried not to be too green eyed for the past but at times it is difficult not to be.
This post was originally published in 2007 but has been added to the blog from the older template.