This week I asked RoM favourite, Giles Oakley, to reflect on some of his favourite Manchester United moments. Here is his account on the first time he saw the King of the Stretford End, Denis Law, play.
I became aware of Denis Law a good couple of years before he joined United in the summer of 1962. I was at a friend’s house late one wintry evening in January 1960 when I was transfixed by all-too- brief and un-announced TV News highlights from an FA Cup replay played in swirling snow at Upton Park. It was very rare to see any footage of football in those days and live coverage was largely confined to the FA Cup Final, ‘Home Internationals’ and the occasional England friendly. I have no idea why this match got preferential treatment, and nor can I remember which channel it was on (there were only two then, BBC and ITV).
At the heart of the underdog’s victory was an electrifying performance from a skinny kid called Denis Law, aged about 17, who scored two or three (I think the final score was 3-5, but I might be wrong). Law seemed to be at the heart of everything, and I can still picture his loose striped shirt flapping round his scrawny frame as he skimmed across the icy surface past floundering defenders in the deepening snow. The next day there was huge coverage of this rising star, and I wistfully wondered if United might make a bid for him, true to the spirit of the Busby Babes, little knowing that Matt had already tried to sign him from his old pal Bill Shankly, recently departed manager of the Town, now installed at Liverpool.
Of course it was very galling to see Man City snap up Denis Law for £55,000 not long after I’d first been so impressed by him in those fleeting pictures destroying the Hammers, and I couldn’t understand why United had let that happen…
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