Mark Andrews, whose book The Crowd At Woolwich Arsenal was reviewed yesterday, revisits the single goal victory at Old Trafford. If that wasn’t good enough, there was an almighty ruck and Anders Limpar scored the winner. This remember in the days when the goallines at Old Trafford were straight lines.
Memory plays strange tricks on us all as we get older. As I can’t remember anything about this game other than being in the Old Trafford away end, celebrating Limpar’s goal on the stroke of half time and shouting to our chaps to beat the beastly northerners when the fight came around.
Anders Limpar’s goal proved to be decisive but the match remains in the memory because of the clash between Nigel Winterburn and Brian McClair that escalated into a mass brawl involving every player on the pitch apart from Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. I think it was started as Winterburn made a hard tackle on the owl impersonator, Denis Irvine, then McClair kicked out at Nigel and it all went off. Most of the players involved were apparently trying to “stop it”. In those days Man Utd considered themselves hard, who could dish it out but couldn’t take it. Of course this dispute had its origins earlier in 1988 at Highbury when McClair had sent a penalty skywards and Nigel had the temerity to applaud him for his spot kick incompetence.
Arsenal fined manager George Graham and five players two weeks’ wages and an FA commission fined both clubs £50,000 and Arsenal were deducted two points and United one in the Division One table.
But near the end of that season we won the second league title under the management of George Graham, losing just one of the 38 league games all season. In a nice twist of fate we won the title on 6 May 1991, just before the kick-off in their league game against Man Utd at Highbury, which we won 3–1, and their players gave our players a guard of honour as they walked out before kick-off. The title was confirmed without kicking a ball as our remaining challengers Liverpool (and that’s not something you hear these days) had been defeated by Nottingham Forest earlier in the day.
However we won the league and got to sing “You can stick your f**king 2 points up your arse” for much of that game.
But I have digressed, the reason the aforementioned away game is so memorable for me is that I travelled up to Manchester in my B reg Escort with my Arsenal supporting friend “Manfred” who I had shared a very pleasant three years at Portsmouth studying History and we spent at least another 6 watching GGs Red and white army. On this occasion we were going to visit our Northern pal from our student days, David “Noakes” who was a nurse in Manchester. Not his real name but he was nicknamed after the Northern comedian in a Derek and Clive sketch.
David “Noakes” was and still is a Man City fan so he was as happy as we were with the win and fight. We spent the rest of the time in various pubs drinking Boddington’s (before it had been taken over by a faceless homogenous brewery). Good football times with friends.
Three years later “Noakes” got married to a fellow Nurse, Maria, on the day before the League Cup Final with Sheffield Wednesday in Driffield, Yorkshire. I attended the splendid event with my soon to be wife, but Manfred couldn’t make it. So the Sunday was a mad dash from Yorkshire in a very old Chevette (we had sold the Escort to raise some money for our first house) to Bromley, quick change and travel to Wembley via the train. I was lucky they decided to make it a late kick off moving the game back from its usual 3pm to 5pm. Not so lucky that day was Steve Morrow, except I suppose he was lucky as he scored the winner in a major game.
Thanks Mark. ’til Tomorrow.