I don’t know if I’ve posted this before, so if I have, here it is again. This is what I believe to be a snippet of Sam Hanna’s colour film of the Busby Babes losing to a talented Villa side, nine months before Munich.
The match itself was ruined as a spectacle, if not as a contest, by the early injury of the Manchester United goalkeeper. For eight minutes at the start, United played perfect football.
That eight minutes is almost all we have left of that team.
Wood came back on in the second half, as a winger, and put on such a good display that you wouldn’t have known he was out of position. At one stage, he embarks on a Giggs-style run through the defence, all twists and turns, before a last-ditch tackle stopped him from surely turning the match.
The whole game was played in an atmosphere of sportsmanship, by everyone on both sides save for Bill Foulkes, who went to war on Peter McParland after the Villa man’s collision with Wood. In particular, one notices how both sides return the ball promptly to their opponents for free kicks and throw-ins – and how little time is lost to stoppages as a result.
It would have meant the double had United won, but here’s what actually happened:
Charlton played – a very young man in 1958, and it showed: watch the DVD of the entire match and try to keep count of the number of times he loses possession, notice how rarely he looks for the pass. Then switch to Charlton in 1966, 1968 or 1970 and watch him in his magnificent heyday. What a difference, and yet the criticism followed him almost up to the very end.