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Remembering John Denis Downie

John Denis Downie joined Manchester United from Bradford Park Avenue in 1949 for £18,000, making him our most expensive player, when he was 23-years-old. Sir Matt Busby gave him his début on March 5th against Charlton Athletic, when he scored the first goal in a 3-2 win, and he went on to score 37 goals in 116 games for the club.

John was a stalwart of the United team of the early 50′s and often roomed with Roger Byrne when playing away and became friends with Byrne and Harry McShane. He toured the USA with the club in 1950 and scored a hat trick against Tottenham. He won the league title and two runners up medals before leaving the club five years before the Munich Air Disaster.

Sadly he died this week after a long illness, in Tynemouth in Northumbria, where he moved 6 years ago from Bradford. He became a newsagent in Bradford after retiring from football and was a respected member of the community. In 1985 he retired and spent much of his time at West Bradford Golf Course. A series of strokes reduced his mobility but he continued to watch local football games, being a regular supporter at Whitley Bay FC.

Sir Alex wrote to him personally last year to wish him a speedy recovery from a minor stroke and enclosed photos of his career with United, which were greatly appreciated by his wife and family.

Rest in peace.

John Downie stats from AboutManUtd

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.

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  1. DreadedRed says:

    Rest in peace, John Downie.

  2. FletchTHEMAN says:

    RIP John. Thoughts with your family.

    Right, and he won the league more times than Stevie Gerrard!

  3. Dave Malaysia says:

    Rest In Peace John Denis Downie. God Bless.

  4. DiegoForlanDK says:

    Rest in peace John. Good work on these articles Scott

  5. drv3011 says:

    RIP John Downie.

  6. Gerriered says:

    R.I.P John

  7. Giles Oakley says:

    I never saw John Downie play but when I first started supporting United after Munich and began studying the history of the club I became aware of his contribution in the early 1950s. He was a major contributor to United winning the league title in 1951-52, something they hadn’t done for over 40 years. This was Matt Busby’s first championship, after a series of frustrating runners-up positions, and Johnnie’s goals were a major factor in the success. It’s good to see his sad death being marked properly here on RoM. My thoughts go out to his family of course, who may take some consolation that he’s not forgotten by Sir Alex and United, nor by those fans who value United’s rich history.

  8. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    Another small but valuable part of United history that together with thousands of other players and members fo staff that have all contributed to making the club the institution that it is today.
    In the same way that many Americans thanks ex-soldiers for their service I’d like to thank John Downie for his contribution to making the club I follow that bit more special.

  9. Sparkz says:

    R.I.P John

  10. belfast red. says:

    R.I.P John Downie. May God be with you and your family.

  11. Zulu-Utd Malta says:

    R.I.P. Johnny Downie. God help his family and guard his sole.

  12. orez says:

    RIP John Downie.

  13. Rybu says:

    Rest in peace from a Bradford (Park Avenue) FC supporter.


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