Scott the Red: Where do you think our rivalry with City ranks amongst that with Liverpool and Leeds?
Pete Shaw: Well, emotionally, it’s the one for any home serving Red. And should be for all Reds. Competitively of course it’s Liverpool. The significance of what we could be about to achieve was the focus of all Reds of a certain ages’ attentions for much of the season, until the Semi came around. Leeds are like the fly that you try and swat away, but largely irrelevant bar a few random on field encounters like the 70s and early 90s. If you grew up even encountering the odd huddles of Blues, the days of going to Old Trafford one week, and Maine Road had long since ended by the 70s for the Red Army generation, and the needle from the terraces transported itself to playground, office and back again. Pretty much since they stopped winning things, they’ve been annoying Reds through childhood and adulthood because it’s almost as if they are trying to make up for any shortcomings by adopting a kid pose of jumping up and down and shouting ‘look at me, look at me’. If they just piped down, life would have been more bearable and they probably wouldn’t be scolded and abused as they are so much now. But when you have people who come up to you on one of those rare occasions when they win and we lose, and then you won’t see them for dust when it’s reversed, what can you do but pity/laugh at them. It such a lopsided relationship. They never got over them winning the league and us winning the European Cup a few days later to spoil their party – and I’m convinced everything between us since stems from their sullen eyes watching our game against Benfica on black and white tele and willing Eusebio to score, and knowing when he didn’t, nobody was going to remember their trophy, as ours was going to be talked about for the next 50 years. It’s been little man syndrome ever since from them.
STR: What’s your favourite ever derby day?
PS: A lot of choices but for pure cleansing. 5-0. That screaming for the 5th to go in. It didn’t wipe the slate clean in terms of the 1-5, as that day hurt. But this at least meant we could just laugh back whenever ‘5’ got mentioned at us. Such is United, we quickly moved on, and somewhere in town one solitary pub will be showing the 5-1 on continuous loop to remind them of ‘that day’. The only day of any significance in so many years, you’d hope they made lots of copies of it so it doesn’t disintegrate. What would they watch then?!
STR: What your favourite ever derby day goal?
PS: For comedy value, Sharpe’s winner in the FA Cup in February 1996. Their whole end in K was singing their repulsive songs about Munich, which they always deny they ever sing as a majority, and straight away United score. As if someone was saying ‘thats what you get for your ignorance/bile’.
STR: Where abouts did you grow up and what was the red/blue divide like?
I’m not going into Bitter self denial that they weren’t around at school, but never in greater numbers, as most kids were Reds, if even in passing ‘I support them but don’t really follow’, and as they were 6 or 7, we’ll let them off. There were a few who chose teams because of the colour of their kit. You always got the odd nutters in all walks of life and those kids are now probably living in a plastic bag wearing a tin hat to stop the radio waves from controlling them from a Government HQ. But United dominated the growing up skyline. The stats speak for themselves that this carried onto adulthood. If your family was Red, pretty much that was you, done, for life. And vice versa, but if they’ve always been lagging behind in attendances, then pretty much that disparity was going to continue, football breeding and all that, then how can they dominate the city unless one of them breeds like a bee and suddenly gives birth to the 250,000 who watched from the Blackburn hill? It almost annoys me to have to adopt any sort of defensive pose to knock back the attacks – like the 60 odd thousand we had during the fuel strikes, like the average them vs us attendances since the year dot. But you almost drop to their level when arguing because it’s so regressively child like, their refusal to accept the truth. Again, if they just accepted it, relations wouldn’t be so, ahem, bitter. But instead they produce posters saying United fans weren’t there in the 40s, etc – yep, we weren’t, because there were wars on and everyone was off fighting them. We all have our classic Bitter tales, some so laughable it’s as if some Reds are behind them. But they’re not. Are they?!
STR: If City didn’t exist, we’d make them up for a laugh. Do you think City’s half empty grounds with £5 tickets this season in the FA Cup and Europe have shown people outside of Manchester that the blues have been lying about who the city belongs to?
PS: I will say first I wish United would adopt some of their ticket pricing, but that’s as far as any sort of slight praise goes. You can watch any sort of coverage on youtube and see the empty seats from the 70s right the way through, so anyone daft enough to think this domination they speak of is true isn’t worth even continuing a conversation with.
STR: Any funny stories from a derby?
PS: Not from a Derby. But Niall Quinn rushing to the touchline to shout at Alan Ball that his instructions to keep the ball by the corner flag because a draw was good enough, were bollocks because they needed a win against Liverpool, last day, surely can’t be bettered for examples of cityitis.
STR: Which City players do you think would get in to our first XI?
Honestly? Just Tevez. We can moan about John O’Shea all we like but he’s still better value than Lescott. How Wayne Rooney is national villain when Gareth Barry is probably still trying to get up from those comedy splits he did against Germany I do not know. I don’t see the hype about Milner.
STR: Intersting that you mention him, given the reason why he left was he couldn’t get in to our first XI. Any regrets over Tevez leaving?
PS: That we never got the real truth. But what is truth in football land these days? It was clear that he was off for a while before, so I wish some United fans hadn’t have interupted Fergie’s title winning speech to sing ‘sign him up’. They were one of the first to lead all the abuse the next season, so I hope they think back to when Fergie took the mic that day. Tevez is one familiar script. Says he loves team, moves on, repeat. He has one hell of a big heart considering the teams he has offered it to. But there’s no denying we did miss him. He must regret it every single day until he’s off on his next heart exchanging exercise in the summer.
STR: Is all forgiven and forgotten where Rooney is concerned?
PS: I don’t like most footballers so I’ll not single one out for doing what most could if they would, or is that could if they would? Again, the actions of the men behind them show how these not bright young men can be led a merry dance. It was great seeing the fight in Fergie that week, but a few apologies here and there shouldn’t absolve Rooney for what he did and the way he did it. Saying that, booing, calling him whilst in a Red makes no sense. Why do the ABU’s work? I personally won’t be happy clapping with the ‘Rooney, Rooney’ line dancing all the time like others did from the off (these very people who were so hard on Ronaldo remember), but football as we knew it is finished and let’s just celebrate the likes of one club Ryan Giggs whilst we still can, because we’ll only see more examples of last Autumn, especially if the team do decline one day. He’s here, so I hope he does well. I wouldn’t want a pint with Rooney, nor he, me. The gulf between us and them has grown since the ‘good old days’, but in the good old days we didn’t win very much, so there is a price to pay, and we paid it in a massive contract. So the form he’s shown this past month has to be shown every month for the wage increase he got. Will he be off in the summer? Who knows. I’m more concerned with 19, Saturday, etc.
STR: What are your predictions for Saturday?
PS: The tension from both sets of fans could hinder the players. Fergie played the right team in the League Cup 2nd leg so you ‘ll hope he will do the same. The consequences are obviously massive. So massive that maybe we’re in for extra time. They are going to win something sooner or later, especially when Mancini goes, but the later the better. At least it’s not the Final for ‘what ifs’, but the potential of that final whistle for celebration and the alternative are keeping me awake both stressing and dreaming. He won’t go for it, and try and nick a 1-0. You’d like to think if not another last minute, then 2-1 might be good enough.
STR: Are we gonna win the league?
PS: Yes. Arsenal won’t win all their games. Amazingly, I think we stand really on the cusp of 19. Hard to imagine when it looked like West Brom were going to hammer us at their ground. But all that matters now is dragging ourselves over the finish line. Typically United, we start to hit form at the key stage. Incredible, really. How that must wind ABUs up who have hoped we’d crumble all season, and now contemplate a summer of hibernation.
STR: Gutted for them. Really. Cheers mate.