Man City 3 Man United 4

Paddy Crerand

Man­chester City 3 Man­chester Uni­ted 4, Maine Road, Eng­lish Foot­ball Lea­gue Fir­st Di­vi­sion, May 5, 1971. Sir Matt Busby took charge of Man­chester Uni­ted for the fi­nal time as his te­am edged out Man­chester City by 4-3 at Maine Road. Also in this mat­ch, de­fender Tom­my O’Neill made his Fir­st Di­vi­sion de­but for Uni­ted, whi­le mid­fielder Pad­dy Cre­rand made his last ap­pear­ance wear­ing the fam­ous red shirt.

Man­chester Uni­ted had suc­cumbed to an em­bar­rass­ing and heavy 4-1 de­feat ag­ainst Man­chester City at their Old Traf­ford ho­me in the re­verse meet­ing of the 1970-71 sea­son, and Matt Busby´s men were look­ing for re­venge ag­ainst The Light Blues. The Man­chester Reds opened in style in front of an at­tend­ance of more than 43,000 spec­tat­ors and the vis­it­ors were three up at the ha­lf-time break. For­mer Three Li­ons play­er Bob­by Charl­ton opened the scor­ing ac­count for Man­chester Uni­ted on fif­teen min­utes be­fore Scot­land in­ter­na­tion­al De­nis Law pro­duced a sec­ond goal for The Reds on the ha­lf-hour ma­rk. The Old Traf­ford­i­ans kept on push­ing for­ward and North­ern Ire­land fa­vour­ite Geor­gie Best ad­ded a third just a min­ute la­ter to make the ha­lf-time score 3-0 to the vis­it­ing out­fit. Joe Mercer´s Man­chester City hit back fol­low­ing the re­sump­tion thanks to a goal from vet­er­an stri­ker Fred­die Hill in the 46th min­ute of the en­counter, on­ly for the al­ways dan­ger­ous Best to score Man­chester United´s fourth goal of the af­ter­noon when he be­at Maine Road goal­keeper Ron Healy wi­th bril­liant head­er af­ter 75 min­utes of fierce ac­tion. Then, dur­ing the clos­ing sta­ges, Fran­cis Lee and Ian Mel­lor ev­entually net­ted a goal each for The Cit­izens in the 80th and 82nd min­utes re­spect­ively to make the fi­nal score read 4-3 in the fa­vour of Uni­ted. And as it turned out, Man­chester Uni­ted fin­ished the Foot­ball Lea­gue cam­paign in eighth po­s­i­tion, whi­le old ad­versar­ies Man­chester City ended three places be­low them.

Born in the small min­ing vil­lage of Or­bis­ton in May 1909, Matt Busby grew up id­ol­ising play­ers such as Hugh­ie Gal­lach­er and Al­ex Ja­mes. Al­though Busby took over the ma­na­geri­al reigns at Man­chester Uni­ted in Oct­ober 1945, his con­tract had be­en sig­ned the pre­vi­ous Feb­ruary. And from the very mo­ment the de­mo­bil­ised com­pany ser­geant ma­jor ar­rived at Old Traf­ford, things would nev­er be the same ag­ain as he in­stantly put his ma­rk on the Man­chester club. A com­plex and de­term­ined char­ac­ter wi­th a strong work eth­ic, Busby de­man­ded powers over the hir­ing of per­son­nel and the buy­ing and selling of play­ers im­me­di­ately af­ter his ap­point­ment as man­ager of Man­chester Uni­ted. And al­though there was more Scot­tish than So­cial­ism in his Scot­tish So­cial­ism, the ex-Man­chester City and Liver­pool for­ward ma­naged to trans­form the club com­pletely and dur­ing his fir­st three years in charge The Reds fin­ished Fir­st Di­vi­sion run­ners-up three times in a row as well as win­ning the coveted FA Cup in April 1948 when they be­at Black­pool 4-2 in the fi­nal. Busby was the man­ager at Man­chester Uni­ted from 1945 to 1969, tak­ing the sleep­ing gi­ant of Euro­pean foot­ball to bo­th Lea­gue and Cup hon­ours dur­ing his long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer. Af­ter win­ning the Fir­st Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship in 1952, 1956 and 1957, his im­mensely tal­en­ted Uni­ted si­de were tra­gic­ally des­troyed when their air­plane crashed on its third at­tempt to take off from a slush covered run­way at the Mu­nich Air­port in Feb­ruary 1958.

The now le­gendary head coach con­tin­ued his search for glory and he will al­ways be re­membered for the Euro­pean Cup Fi­nal in May 1968 when his be­loved Man­chester Uni­ted went on to de­feat Por­tuguese Cham­pi­ons Ben­fica by 4-1. The mem­or­able tri­umph at Wemb­ley Sta­dium was fully re­cog­nised as the suc­cess­ful man­ager was de­servedly knighted in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours List shortly af­ter the fi­nal and when he died on the 20th of Jan­uary 1994, a vast amount of ded­ic­ated and loy­al Man­chester Uni­ted sup­port­ers turned out to pay their last re­spects to the for­mer man­ager and two years la­ter the club un­veiled a bronze statue at the Score­board End in hon­our of the great man who was simply known as Mr. Man­chester Uni­ted. Sir Matt Busby´s ma­na­geri­al ca­reer had its ups and downs, how­ever, and The Mu­nich Air­port Dis­aster of 1958 no doubt took its toll for the rest of his days. But as des­tiny would have it, Man­chester Uni­ted de­feated neigh­bours and rivals Man­chester City at Maine Road to the merry tune of a 4-3 score on the fi­nal day of 1970-71 cam­paign to sa­lute his last ga­me in charge. Man­chester City Te­am: Ron Healey, To­ny Book, Dave Con­nor, To­ny Tow­ers, Ge­orge Hes­lop, Wil­lie Don­ach­ie, Ste­ve Car­ter, Ian Mel­lor, Fran­cis Lee, Neil Young, Fred­die Hill. Sub­stitutes: No­ne. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Al­ex Step­ney, Tom­my O’Neil, Fran­cis Burns, Pad­dy Cre­rand, Ste­ve Ja­mes, Da­vid Sad­ler, De­nis Law, Alan Gowl­ing, Bob­by Charl­ton, Bri­an Kidd, Geor­gie Best. Sub­stitutes: None.


Paddy Crerand Quickfacts

Hail­ing from Glas­gow, Pad­dy Cre­rand sig­ned his fir­st pro­fes­sion­al con­tract wi­th Celt­ic in the sum­mer of 1957 and was han­ded his Scot­tish Foot­ball Lea­gue de­but by Jim­my Mc­Grory in a com­fort­able 3-1 win over Queen of the So­uth at Park­head on the 4th of Oct­ober 1958. Af­ter ap­pear­ing in 91 Scot­tish Foot­ball Lea­gue ga­mes for The Bhoys, the mid­field com­batant was sold to Matt Busby´s Man­chester Uni­ted for a trans­fer fee of £56,000 mid­way thro­ugh the 1962-63 sea­son and was giv­en his fir­st taste of Eng­lish Fir­st Di­vi­sion foot­ball in a 1-1 draw wi­th Black­pool in front of a 43,000 crowd at Old Traf­ford on the 22nd of Feb­ruary 1963. Whi­le wi­th Man­chester Uni­ted, Cre­rand amassed 397 ap­pear­ances in all com­pet­i­tions for the club and won the Fir­st Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship in 1964-65 and 1966-67, the FA Cup in 1963, and the Euro­pean Cup in 1968.


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