THAT WAS THE SPORTING WEEK: United v City clashes through the ages fondly remembered...

22 January 2010 01:34
From the pram to the first team: Ryan Giggs approxiamately 53 years ago

Who says the Zenith Data Milk Marketing Board Rumbelows Handicap Shield is  suffering an identity crisis?

Following this week's explosive semi-final at Eastlands, weshamelessly exploit  a golden opportunity for nostalgia by spotlightingpivotal Manchester derbies from down the years.

1957 - Ryan Giggs plays in his first game at Old Trafford. Havingastonished  seasoned onlookers by  playing keepy-uppy with a wet ruskin his stroller, Giggs is plucked from training with Manchester Cityand thrown straight into  the United first team with devastatingresults.

City fans soon despair at the sight of the wiry Welshman who gotaway, tearing down the left flank pursued by a succession of below-parfull backs.

1969 - A Manchester City side at the peak of its powers and expertlycoached by  Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer devise specific tactics tonegate United's main threat.

Allison deploys Mike Summerbee to man-mark close friend George Bestby detaining him in a local pub until five minutes before kick-off.George is  furious when they finally leave for the ground, adamant thatthere is still  plenty of time for another pint of mild with a brandychaser.

Mean trick: George Best was led to various venues by City's Mike Summerbee (right) in a bid to make the United star miss games

1971 - With City ruling Manchester and boasting the likes ofSummerbee, Colin  Bell and Francis Lee in a stellar team, defeatingtheir cross-town rivals is a common occurrence in the early Seventies.United take radical steps to turn  things around by, err, allowing Bestto play on long after he has lost interest in top flight football.

The result is a 3-3 thriller notable as the only game in the entiredecade during which Fiery Franny did not get involved in a  punch-up,dive theatrically for an undeserved penalty or take the credit for agoal he did not contribute to in any way whatsoever apart from anunintentional deflection off his rear bumper.

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Sticking as close as any man can to somebody with such huge hair,  McGrath has the lightweight Kinsey in his pocket from the first minute. On the one occasion when Kinsey does escape, his multi-layer, cantilevered mullet creates such a phenomenal drag coefficient that McGrath reels him in with a  minimum of fuss. In a contest so one-sided it verges on playground bullying,  McGrath is eventually cautioned for excessive use of the chinese burn.

1989 - Gayle, Brightwell, Bishop, Oldfield - the names still roll off the  tongue for any lover of football played the right way.

City thrash United 5-1 and even enjoy the luxury of starting with  World XI candidate Gary Megson on the bench. Victory backfires on the boys in blue, however, as Sir Alex Ferguson realises once and for all that he has to break the drinking culture which he  believes has engulfed Old Trafford - personified by Norman Whiteside and Bryan  Robson.

Fergie acts quickly and decisively by confiscating the drinks cabinet  from the players' lounge indefinitely. Sensibly, he decides to keep it under lock and key in his own office until matters are sorted. Or all the bottles are empty.

Look, there's William Prunier: Even the thought of the future Manchester United comedy legend brings laughter from Mike Summerbee, Malcolm Allison and Francis Lee

Things got so exciting in Mancherster derbies of yesterday that even when Eric Cantona scored, city players also wanted to claim it.

1993 - Eric Cantona becomes the scourge of the blue half of Manchester when he  strikes twice to wipe out Niall Quinn's headed double in another Maine Road thriller which ends 3-2 to United.

City players are so bemused by Cantona's  movement off the ball that their problems inspire a screenplay which will  eventually become the hit film 'Looking for Eric'.

2000 - Reported to the monopolies commission for ruining the atmosphere at derbies by winning too many of them, Fergie is ordered to redress the balance. 

He goes on to sign the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron, Kleberson, David Bellion,  William Prunier and Venezia goalkeeper Massimo Taibi -nicknamed the Blind  Venetian.

Cool customers: Paul McGrath (left) and Shaun Goater

2003 - Gary Neville is voted player of the decade - by grateful City fans. The  accolade follows his appalling defensive blunder which sets up Shaun Goater to score in a rare 3-1 City win.

During the build-up to the game, Neville fondly  reflects on the fact that he has never lost to City, even in junior football. A poem about his excrutiating contribution to ending his own unbeaten run is soon circulating: 'Derby day, the scores are level, then the Goat is fed by Neville'.

2010 - Unhampered by his non-mastery of the language, Carlos Tevez  enthusiastically takes up where Goater left off in promoting the Gary Neville  Benevolence Fund for Under-Appreciated Footballers.

Following an extended bout of name-calling and childish gesturing, both players are confined to the staff  creche for the second leg of the Carling Cup but immediately start squabbling  over first use of the soft play trampoline.

.and back to the future: Neville and Tevez brush up on their hand signals - ahead of driving tests, possibly

2011 - In an innovative ground-share scheme which sets the template for other  financially insecure clubs, the struggling Glazer family sell Old Trafford to the Sheik of Eastlands and City rent the ground back to their neighbours.

The only downside from United's point of view is revealed when it becomes clear the  Glazer boys have not read the smallprint in the contract. Every time United score, the rent doubles. 'We have not sold United's heritage down the river,' protests Glazer Snr, dressed in sky-blue matchday trousers with matching Blue Moon motif stetson.


Source: Daily_Mail