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When Bobby Charlton silenced the Kop in the FA Cup

Liverpool 1 Man United 3, January 30, 1960

You’ve got to love the Scousers. When Liverpool were drawn at home to Manchester United in the 4th round of the FA Cup in January 1960 it was immediately declared an all-ticket match, naturally enough as United had already attracted the two largest league attendances of the season, despite being in the bottom half of the table. So the locals duly turned up in their thousands at Anfield to join the long snaking lines for tickets. Many queued for more than twelve hours in grim wintry weather conditions, desperate to see the match. But, as the News Chronicle reported, ‘They felt silly afterwards…5,000 tickets were still unsold when the turnstiles were closed that night’.

That was not the only disappointment for the Merseysiders, then wallowing around in Division Two, just about registering in national consciousness as a slumbering giant of British football, a little while before Bill Shankly’s arrival prodded them back to life, with legendary effect.

I didn’t get to see the match in person but I remember it well from seeing the highlights on television on the BBC’s ‘Sports Special’, fore-runner of Match of the Day. What sticks in the memory was that it was one of the best performances I’d seen on TV by Bobby Charlton, who had been struggling with his form for much of the season, less than a year after his 29 goals had propelled United to the runners-up position in the old First Division, behind Champions Wolves. When the cup draw was announced I was nervous because whatever else one knew about Liverpool, the fame of the Anfield Kop (then still often referred to by its full Boer War appellation of ‘Spion Kop’) loomed large. It was still thought worth a goal start, and United’s form was very uneven to say the least. To speak only of the games I’d seen featured on Sports Special, I’d seen them swing from the brilliance of a 5-1 away win at Forest to the humiliation of a shameful 7-3 defeat at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, followed soon after by a sobering 2-1 loss at Tottenham. As always, the question was, which United would turn up for the Cup?

To read this story in full, purchase Red Matters from Amazon.



  1. GilesFans says:

    thanks Giles, you’re the man

  2. smartalex says:

    Thank you Sir Giles.

    A great article, as always. We are lucky to have your reminders of times almost forgotten.

  3. theboogeyman says:

    Hodgson out, Kenny in.

  4. willierednut says:

    Sorry Giles, but of topic, Hodgson has been sacked. King Kenny vs SAF.

  5. Doghouse says:

    Great news to see the Scouse smiling again just before we fuck them over. Kicking them when they are down is never as satisfying as knocking them over in the first place.

    Good to read about United’s strong tradition of making the Scouse cry too. :D

  6. Zelh says:

    Great peace, Sir Giles.
    Good to see that you’re more active again

  7. smartalex says:

    We live for the big games. The bigger the better. Knocking Dalgleish off his pedestal and Liverpool off their perch in one fell swoop is big.

  8. Chicharito14 says:


    on the game tomorow the scousers have fired hodgson and placed dalglish in charge for the fixture

  9. Ingar says:

    A great piece as always from mr. Oakley! Now how about a piece on Lou Macari? Seems fitting if you ask me.

  10. user404 says:

    Giles you are awesome

  11. BloodRed says:

    thanks Giles, great article as always.

    Any thoughts on whether or not Hodgson’s departure and ‘King Kenny’s arrival at Anfield will be good/bad for us in our game on Sunday?

    They should have kept Hodgson I reckon, he was doing a great job…

  12. YorYor says:

    Compile your posts, thread them nicely, expand them a bit more, and you can try getting a publisher to print a book. I’d buy one for sure.

  13. Red Diablo 19 says:

    As usual Giles gives us younger united fans a unique insight into uniteds past history

  14. hammons says:

    giles & scott: Please keep these articles coming. they are class and Giles’ words brings you back to the days of these as you are sitting along side of him in the ground.


  15. Scorp says:

    You are outstanding writer Giles. Your amazing narration puts a reader right in the middle of the experience you are writing about.

  16. willierednut says:

    Very good read Giles sir, look forward to the George Best article in the future.

  17. Eric the King says:

    hey indian devil…it is indeed a brilliant article…feeling nostalgic.I believe everybody shud read the master piece

  18. orez says:

    Another great article from Giles Oakley. Thank you very much.

  19. The Big Red says:

    cant wait for number 19!

  20. dq says:

    Really great article!!

    Cheers from Polish reds


  21. RedScot says:

    Giles is pure class, It was so good I read it three times. Chopper and Hunt.
    A united legend you are Giles.
    Off topic I see you have been posting your feeling well, hope so Sir.
    Lets hope those thighs are not on the mantle piece tommorow lunchtime and Nani strikes one away against them Dippers.
    Hip Hooray Giles.

  22. Giles Oakley says:

    Thanks for the comments. I must be going senile….one slight error in my piece: I wasn’t aged 11 at the time of the Chopper column in Jan 1960, I was 13. Mind you, even at 11 I knew the word…

    On the question of turning these articles into a book I would be happy to do so. I’ve got lots more tales to tell….

    Anyway, to business, time to get into ‘the zone’ for the big kick off. Wish I was more confident.

  23. kace kun says:

    great article!


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