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When the Busby Babes scored a perfect 10 for United
Published : 02 Dec 2010 11:21:31Rss feed
The Pride of All Europe' is one of the most popular Manchester United terrace anthems. Part of the lyrics include the line We often score six but we seldom score ten. It's true, United have hit teams for six 64 times in the club's history including several times in recent memory. But ten? United have scored ten just twice, once as Newton Heath against Wolves in 1892 once in the club's first ever European Cup home game against Belgian champions Anderlecht in 1956. We've often heard from a United perspective about that night, but never the Belgian one, so I tracked down one of the Anderlecht players. Hypolite Vandenbosch is now 84 and lives in Brussels, but he remembers that humiliating night clearly. We knew very little about our opponents from Manchester, he explained. Scouting didn't exist and we had never seen any images of United before the first game in Brussels. "ircumstances in those days just didn't allow it. Strong We were the best team in Belgium, a really great side, he added. But Manchester United were on another level. They remain the best English team I've ever seen. Bobby Charlton wasn't even in the starting eleven that day, just to give you an idea from how strong this team really was. Saturday's seven against Blackburn was a record score against the Ewood Park side. United have scored seven on 21 occasions - about once every seven years. In 1950, United beat Aston Villa 7-0 at Old Trafford in front of just 22,149, half the average crowd of that season. My Uncle Charlie scored four, three of them penalties. When I used to visit him and my great grandmother at a modest three bed-semi on Seymour Grove in Old Trafford in the 80s and early 90s, it was one of Charlie's favourite stories. Charlie had an organ in his front room and a croquet lawn in the back garden. In Old Trafford! The back room was where he told his stories - about football, greyhounds and the war. For the Villa game, he stepped up, placed the ball on the spot and took four steps back, never taking his eyes off the keeper. Left, he said, before whacking the ball which bounced out of the goal from the left-hand corner stanchion. He did exactly the same for the second penalty. A hush descended on Old Trafford when United were awarded a third. Charlie stepped up. Before he could do his usual routine, Villa's goalkeeper came forward a couple of paces in an attempt to unsettle him. I suppose you're going to tell me that this is going in the same place Charlie? he asked. Same place, confirmed Charlie. His team-mates Stan Pearson and Allenby Chilton were aghast, but Charlie moved forward - and converted his third penalty in exactly the same spot. He got a fourth with a rare header. Charlie scored 61 goals in 161 matches for United, 18 of them penalties, a record until it was surpassed by Eric Cantona. He was adamant that a player shouldn't miss a penalty. No one should miss from 12 yards out, he'd repeat. And he always told the goalkeeper where he was going to place it, even telling Jack Crompton in training. That's one reason why they called him Cheeky'. I went to see him just before he died, aged 80, in 2002 at a nursing home in Styal near the airport. I'm the boss here, he said with a wink. The nurses laughed and let him get on with it. Makes a change from him telling us how to take penalties, she added. Not that United needed any such advice this Saturday, all seven goals coming from open play. What do you think? Have your say.