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Red Matters

After several months of planning and editing, we are today proud to launch “Red Matters”. This book compiles the writing of Giles Oakley who has been supporting Manchester United since the Munich Air Disaster. Having attended United games since 1960 onwards, Giles delves in to the history of club, discussing stories and events you have probably never heard of.
Paddy Crerand, who is the topic of one of the chapters, has written the foreword for this excellent Manchester United book.
If you are keen to learn about the two players who attacked fans long before Eric Cantona, what Denis Law’s best goal for the club was like, intriguing stories about the rise and fall of George Best, when United players were probably involved in match fixing, the greatest save a United goalie ever made, amongst plenty of other stories about our club, then this is the book for you. There are also brilliantly researched pieces of the history of the names used to refer to United, as well as the term “soccer” in England. The most entertaining read, for young or old fans, is probably the account of Cantona’s time at the club, looking at his arrival, the kung-fu kick, and his redemption with the Double success of 96.
To download, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US, or search “Red Matters Giles Oakley” on your country’s Amazon site.
Here’s an extract from the chapter on Denis Law:
In the spring and summer of 1962 there was a protracted tug of war between Torino, Juventus and United, eventually resolved in United’s favour when Denis effectively went on strike, fleeing from Italy, and insisting he wanted to join Matt Busby at United. It helped that Denis knew Matt as manager of Scotland and he’d already fallen under his spell.

We finally got our man in time to start the new season. He scored on his debut in a 2-2 draw with West Brom at Old Trafford, but United were well-beaten in the next game, away to Everton. I couldn’t wait to see Denis in the flesh for United and I got my chance in his third game, against Arsenal at Highbury on 25 August 1962. It was a beautiful summer’s day, the perfect setting to see United’s new formation in eye-catching all-white, sparkling in the bright sunshine. I was standing behind the goal on the open terraces at the old Clock End, a good vantage point to observe what turned out to be Denis’ master-class demonstration of the art of midfield generalship and all-round string-pulling orchestration. That might surprise many people today, as most probably now associate Denis with lethal finishing as an out-and-out striker, as we would call it today. We all think of his spectacular bicycle kick volleys and the astonishing salmon-leap headers of net-ripping power. The truth is, yes, Denis was always a good goal-scorer but when he first arrived at Old Trafford he seemed destined to become the midfield hub around which United would turn. Even in those grim days, Busby and Jimmy Murphy relentlessly tried to re-discover the elusive ‘rhythm’ that all their great teams had possessed, the ability to hold the ball and pass it in wave after wave of free-wheeling attacks.
I was mesmerised by Law on that magnificent day at Highbury, and his fizzing energy seemed to transmit itself to everyone on the team. Eventually United beat Arsenal 3-1, and it was probably the best performance I’d then ever witnessed from United, who I’d only seen in the flesh since early 1960.
So what can I remember of Law on that magical day? I was watching him closely from beginning to end and one thing I noticed was his ability to control the ball when running at high speed, without appearing to look at it, his eyes flicking too-and-fro in search of the right opening to play in a teammate. He could fool opponents with his look, just like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer used to do, giving goalkeepers ‘the eye’, looking one way, while slotting the ball in the other side. Law was doing that all over the pitch back in ’62. I can remember him facing a ring of 4 or 5 Arsenal players, all of whom he sent the wrong way with a look and a shimmy of his hips, leaving a couple of them on their backsides. I swear I saw a little laugh flicker across his mischievous lips as he nimbly skipped past them into acres of space.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

View all posts by Scott »



  1. DreadedRed says:

    Wonderful! We have all missed Giles regular contributions of quality on RoM. It’s great to know that he has been working away behind the scenes to provide us with his enlightened prose.

    Red Matters is a must-buy for all of us. Thank you Giles, and thank you Scott!

  2. wayne says:

    Giles good luck with you’re book mate

  3. Unitedyankee says:

    Love Giles’ posts and stories! Thanks for getting it on the US amazon for us”plastic” fans who love learning about the clubs history!!

  4. markynorbs says:

    Fantastic! Thank you Sir Giles.

  5. slim says:

    Hearty congrats to a ROM kegend. Giles Oakley. Definitely gonna look this one up. Big ups to Scott too. Top ref and loving his blog.

  6. yustaq says:

    This is amazing…

    “I was watching him closely from
    beginning to end and one thing I noticed was
    his ability to control the ball when running at
    high speed, without appearing to look at it, his
    eyes flicking too-and-fro in search of the
    right opening to play in a teammate”.

    Thanks Giles

  7. domunited says:

    Preserving United history from a unique perspective – this needed to be done. Purchased for sure.

  8. bobbycharlie1968 says:

    Buying a kindle just to read this book, always thoroughly enjoyed Giles articles on here, and now there’s a whole book of his anecdotes for me to get through! Keep up the good work Giles and Scott, you provide a haven for us reds who see ABU attitudes everywhere else

  9. Red Army 75 says:

    Is it only on kindle or are you bringing out a physical edition at any stage? Love to get it. Might have to beg borrow or nick a kindle otherwise. Like to add it to my collection of books on United. Flying the (red) flag for the real thing. But great to see it out anyway. Giles is a great writer.

  10. StatesideAussie says:

    Red Army and BobbyCharlie … if you don’t own a Kindle device, you can download the Kindle application to a laptop/desktop computer (either Mac or Windows) and read Kindle books there. I just got the book myself and am looking forward to reading it. Cheers

  11. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Now for the the BBC special! Well done Giles. From all of us.

    Just commenting on how United were the flavor of the month after doing “England” proud at the Bernabeau. Strange to see article after article on Phil Jones and Rafael as the “futures of the game”.

    Well, from these authors anyway. HA rather hear it from trusted sources! Love ROM! Hate the Glazers!

  12. King Eric says:

    Will be getting this Giles. Great to see. Hope your health is keeping up mate.

  13. Warwick says:

    Bloody good read! Giles captures what’s going on in the hearts and minds of all fans during games. Brilliant foreward by Paddy. Giles brought alive players I’d never heard of with a Roy of the Rovers feel

  14. Red Letter says:

    I remember that game at Highbury well, no I was not there I was a United daft young boy in Dublin.
    I remember reading the report by Brian Glanville in the Sunday paper and his admiration for Law’s
    brilliant performance that day and a wonderful photo of Denis heading goalwards in his all white strip with red v neck and red cuffs and John Giles standing beside him. To me the photo seemed to capture the thrilling player he was. We just avoided relegation that season but beat Leicester City at Wembley
    in the FA Cup Final with Denis having a brilliant game. My United love was rubber stamped that 25th May forever!

  15. 16 says:

    Finally a book !!!!! Nice oneGiles!

  16. Giles Oakley says:

    Many thanks for the nice comments everyone. I’m really chuffed to have this book out and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Scott, first for inviting me to write lengthy articles for RoM and now for suggesting doing this e-book . He’s put an enormous amount of effort into making it happen and I’m hugely grateful. For his sake I hope the book is a big success as it may open up opportunities for other RoM projects.

    Thanks for the message King Eric (long one of my favourite RoM regulars). My health is OK, although the last year has been a bit rough, hence the lack of recent long articles. I hope to do more as soon as – with luck- my strength returns. After all, I’d love to see a Volume 2 out!

  17. Red Letter says:

    Get well soon Giles.

    Am reading your book, for a life long United supporter like me(I’m the same as you) it’s a wonderful read and recaptures so many great memories of times past, as usual so well written and always
    holds one’s attention. Love your description of Highbury and WHL, gosh I remember well when United came to town you had to get there early as the played to full houses, even when we had bad teams.
    I remember at a packed Stamford Bridge on a beautiful Sept night in early 70′s a Chelsea supporter
    telling his son “That’s the great Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best, George did not disappoint, he was magic that night, as he always was at The Bridge.

    Enjoy your contributions to the Guardian obits. section.

  18. Giles Oakley says:

    Many thanks, Red Letter, much appreciated – including comments on my Guardian stuff!

  19. bah_humbug says:

    Brilliant. I have always enjoyed your writing Giles and will definitely be buying this book. Glad to hear your health is OK, here’s wishing you a strong 2013.


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