Huddersfield-based Manchester United fan Andrew Pollard was locked out of Old Trafford the last time the two sides met – and now faces missing out on Saturday’s game as well!
Pollard attended all four top-flight meetings in the early 70s and has kept a stash of memorabilia which merits a thumbing ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash.
In March 1972, he was one of thousands locked out of a teeming Old Trafford that witnessed relegation-doomed Town lose 2-0 to the Red Devils in their most recent match-up.
Renovation work at the scoreboard end at Old Trafford meant that the ground’s capacity was significantly reduced, leading to almost 20,000 supporters being denied entry to United home games.
The 53,581 that made it in were baited by the debut of then-record signing Ian Storey-Moore, for the princely sum of £200,000, who joined George Best on the scoresheet in his first appearance.
It was not a happy campaign for the Terriers, who were relegated with a number of unwanted records that still stand; including their fewest ever wins and goals scored in a single season.
Star men Trevor Cherry and Frank Worthington both left for pastures new in the summer, after being part of the side that went a 22-game horror run without a win, despite getting to the sixth round of the FA Cup.
Among mementoes Pollard has kept to remember the fixture is a silk scarf bought outside Leeds Road the last time Huddersfield hosted the Red Devils in October 1971.
Despite Town’s current pioneering of affordable Premier League football, Pollard remembers quite the opposite – they raised prices to 35p and it was 90p for a seat!
Dean Hoyle would be horrified.
Gates opened at noon, with over 33,000 flooding in to see the Holy Trinity of Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law all score in the same match (for the last time, as it happens) in a 3-0 win.
In the previous season, the former Colne Valley High School pupil saw a United contingent descend on Leeds Road with tumultuous consequences.
Pollard has kept Huddersfield Examiner newspaper cuttings that detail a ‘rampaging’ minority of away fans, who terrorised Leeds Road residents and left a trail of destruction in their wake.
House windows were smashed and cars vandalised, with reports of a brick thrown through the window of the Terriers shop.
“It was the worst matchday I have known in my 10 years at the pub,” bemoaned the landlord of the Waggon & Horses, with disorder so drastic he had to stop serving and close doors.
Things weren’t much better in the ground, either, with a tea urn overturned at the away fans’ kiosk and one supporter running onto the pitch and snapping a corner flag in half.
At least eight youths appeared in court on the Monday after the game, with seven fined and one spending a month behind bars.
The game itself, something of a side note at the time, was won 2-1 by United with former Town favourite Law again on target alongside substitute John Aston.
Frank Worthington scored from the spot for a Town side backed by Leeds Road’s biggest crowd in 16 years.
In their first season in the top flight for 15 years (1970-71), Ian Greaves’ side went on to avoid relegation – finishing 15th, nine points clear of the drop zone.
For those sifting for good omens ahead of Saturday’s game, you do have to go back to November 1970 for the last positive result Town gained against United.
It was a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford that, by all accounts, the Terriers deserved to win.
Indeed, the Examiner’s headline read “Composed Terriers reduce United to a tattered shambles.”
A brilliant solo goal from Best in the 28th minute would have left the passionate but limited Huddersfield following of around 1,000 fearing the worst.
But Town drew level just before half-time through Bobby Hoy and exerted considerable pressure on the home side in the second half.
It’s unlikely that whatever Town do on Saturday will precipitate the sacking of Jose Mourinho, but that’s what they did 37 years ago as Wilf McGuinness lost his job soon after that Town fixture.
It’s clear how much this match means to Pollard, and he still treasures the stub of his 1971 ticket that cost him (and his dad) 65p each.
It’s proving somewhat trickier to get hold of one this time around.
“I’m still desperately looking for a ticket for this Saturday’s match,” he said.
“There was no chance of getting one from United and I tried when Town put the few remaining seats on sale, but they went in minutes.
“I tried to buy a corporate one from Town but they had completely sold out, I have also tried the ‘Terrier Exchange’ but not a single ticket has been put up.
“So if anyone knows of a spare – let me know!”