1977- Ron Atkinson had taken over from Bill Leivers in 1974 and had taken a year and a half to build a promotion winning team. But when he did, boy, he did it in style. United winning the 4th Division Championship by 3 points and 17 points ahead of 5 th place Swansea City (these were the days of two points for a win and before the play-offs) who the visitors for the last home League match of the season. United had been in 1st position since the turn of the year and, to be honest, I can’t remember the match which actually clinched promotion, but the championship had been clinched the match before Swansea’s visit. A rather dull 0-0 draw at Stockport.
My outstanding memories of the Swansea game are United being presented with the trophy and parading it around the Abbey before the match and the aggression shown by the Swansea players and fans who were congregated at the Allotments end (South Stand or, should I say Paul Mullin Stand?). Swansea needed to win to keep any promotion hopes they had alive and they certainly intended to get the win by fair or foul means. By half time Swansea were 3-0 up and appeared to be heading for an easy two points. But early in the second half Swansea’s aggressive tactics saw them reduced to ten men and United started to come into the game and with 30 minutes left a Jim Hall goal and an Alan Biley penalty had reduced the arrears to one. A comeback wasn’t to be though and Swansea hung on for the victory in vain as results elsewhere went against them and the finished 5th. This didn’t help the Welsh club’s fans moods and scuffles that had broken out on the terraces throughout the game became more intense, at one stage police with dogs had to restore order when about 50 fans ran on the pitch.
Outstanding players for me were Steve Fallon, Alan Biley and Steve Spriggs. All of whom could be bumped into in the Racehorse pub on Newmarket Road on a Saturday evening after a home match and later in the Still and Sugarloaf under the Victoria cinema on the market square.The Racehorse is now one of those fast food places with a big letter M outside and the Still, as it was affectionally known, is now the basement of M&S. Another outstanding point of that team was that whatever the score at half-time somehow Big Ron would get them going with his team talk and many the time United would go in at half-time one or two goals down but still end up winning by 3 or 4 goals.
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.