In 1964, Man United drew twice with Sunderland in the FA Cup Sixth Round, 3-3 at Old Trafford and 2-2 in the replay at Roker Park. The second replay was scheduled for Monday night, 09 March at Leeds Road, then Huddersfield Town’s ground. I was 14. How could my mates and I get to the match? Our final lesson was double-period French, so we explained to the teacher that the school basketball team had an away match and we’d have to leave after the first period. We were ushered out at the appointed time, but, just as we got to the door, one of our ‘friends’ shouted “Get us a programme, Rosie!” We belted down the corridor and made it to the match, which United won 5-1, Denis ‘The King’ Law, scoring a hat-trick. Unfortunately United than lost to West Ham in the semi-final, but I had at least seen them win the Cup at Wembley the previous year, 3-1 against Leicester.
At the school, Burnage Grammar, I occasionally sat at a desk with the name 'R. Byrne' carefully inscribed into the surface. This was of course Roger Byrne, Man United captain and England left-back, who died in the Munich air crash. I decided to emulate his carving over a double period of German, but during the next class, the teacher whose form-room we had just vacated came storming in, demanding to know who had vandalised one of 'his' desks. As there was only one other pupil in our class with the initials 'PR' there was little point trying to bluff this one out, so I was sent to the Head. One hand on top of the other, strap on each hand, matter closed. Those were the days…
My own football career ended with Crouch End Vampires, The Vamps play in the Southern Amateur League, and were formed originally as Balmoral FC in 1883, turning out against the likes of Woolwich Arsenal and Ipswich Town. Opponents now are more likely Old Boys or Bank sides, plus locals such as Winchmore Hill. As one of the largest amateur clubs in the country the Vamps run seven teams plus a Veterans team. Stories from that time are hampered by the inevitable post-match alcoholic haze, but I do remember the famous annual Easter tour to Antwerp (now in its 50th year!) hosted by KFC Rood-Wit, where we beat a German team 1-0 in the final in 1980 (no penalties).