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.