Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The day Manchester United won their first title amidst allegations of match-fixing

Manchester United have just won their 20th League title. Their first was clinched on 11 April 1908 but it was a day that left their fans outraged in a game where the result may well have been fixed beforehand.

Taken from

Saturday April 11th
Manchester United 0
Notts County 1
Bank Street

Manchester United: Broomfield, Stacey, Burgess, Duckworth, Downie, Bell, Berry, Bannister, Turnbull [J], Turnbull [A], Wall

Notts County: Iremonger, Morley, Montgomery, Griffiths, Clamp, Craythorne, Harper, Matthews, Gooch, Cantrell, Dodd

Referee CC Fallowfield of Lincoln

Despite being assured of a first ever League championship trophy the Bank Street crowd were outraged at the United performance. Notts County were fighting for survival but had a more than decent defence so a hard game was assured. 

Before the match it had been announced that the move to the proposed new stadium in Stretford had now been agreed. Whilst undoubtedly a sign of the club’s development might not necessarily have been welcomed by all supporters as at least some would now have to spend much more time travelling across the city if they wished to keep watching the champions. 

Yet what appears to have angered the home fans was the feeling that many of the home players hadn’t tried either to win the game or entertain them. People paid good money, which they had to work hard to earn, and if they were willing to spend it on football then the least they felt they deserved was 100% effort from the players, even if the team they followed had won the league! 

What sparked off the sustained abuse from the crowd was a remarkable incident just after half-time when no United player seemed keen to take a penalty they had been awarded. It had been expected that Sandy Turnbull would take the spot kick but when he refused, citing later a couple of knocks to the head and a damaged ankle, Wall stepped forward to send the ball well wide and bring booing from the crowd. Writing in ‘the Football Field’ the following Saturday the columnist ‘the Mancunian’ even reports that some of the Notts County players shook hands with Wall after he missed, which if true must give rise to the possibility that money had exchanged hands on the outcome of the match. This was to be the case seven years later when United played Liverpool in a relegation tussle and players from both sides won money by backing United to win 2-0. One was to be banned for a life as a consequence. 

As the game moved towards its conclusion it was apparent that a number of the United side were apparently indifferent as to how the game ended and so when Notts scored almost on full-time some spectators went absolutely wild with delight and heaped further abuse on the side. George Dodd had taken the ball extremely well on the run and rounded Stacey before beating Broomfield with a low shot. There was some sympathy for the keeper in the Manchester Evening News. The paper’s report said he did not deserve such hard luck and neither did the United defenders.

The hostility from the crowd was such that many of the United players took much longer than usual before deciding to leave the ground, by which time they would have become aware that with Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday both losing they were league champions. 

The crowd’s actions were subsequently the subject of much comment in many newspapers. One fan who wrote to Football Field, signing himself ‘Play Straight’, had this to say: “I am sure I am only voicing the opinion of 75% of the spectators when I say that it was the most disgraceful exhibition of football that it has ever been my lot to witness between two teams. My complaint is purely and simply against the home team, who after the first 20 minutes never made an honest effort to score.

“Let the directors make a full and complete inquiry and if need be, get rid of the players who are to blame for I am sure the spectators would rather see a team of inferior men who played the game honestly than a lot of men who play ducks and drakes in a match.”

No comments:

Post a Comment