While the United players were toiling in the Cypriot sun in 1973, the supporters back home were celebrating promotion to Division Three and paying tribute to their player of the year: Brian Greenhalgh.
The 26-year-old striker had finished top of United’s 1972/73 goalscoring charts, notching 18 times in 47 games, but his tally of 19 the previous season had already established him as an Abbey favourite. The fans were certainly glad he had overcome his initial misgivings about dropping from the First Division to the Fourth when Bill Leivers came calling in August 1971.
Greenhalgh made his reputation with Preston North End and Aston Villa, but the goals dried up when he moved to Leicester and then, in 1969, to Huddersfield. Leivers was certain of his potential, but there were some grumbles on the terraces when he failed to score in his first six U’s games.
The moaners were silenced when his first goal came at Bury in September. Greenhalgh then married Annette the following Monday and, five days later, netted four times in a 6-0 drubbing of Darlington.
He drew a blank in his first eight games in 1972/73, but his class was plain to see and the goals soon began to flow again. The winner in a 1-0 win at Workington was a Greenhalgh classic: he allowed a Vic Akers cross to run through his legs at the near post, then flicked it in off a dumbfounded defender.
Eleven more goals followed in 1973/74, but his happy relationship with United fans came to an end in February when Leivers, declaring ‘every player has his price’, sold him to Bournemouth for £40,000.
Happy Harry's blog
I'm the living embodiment of the spirit of the U's, and I'll be blogging whenever I've got news for you, as long as I don't miss my tea.