SEVERAL members of the Manchester United Supporters Club of Western Australia took part in the Football Hall of Fame’s 21st birthday celebrations on December 12.
And they were thrilled to meet up with one their heroes – former Manchester United star Francis Burns, who played over 120 games for the Red Devils between 1965 and 1972.
Burns was a special guest at the function and presented awards to five of the WA State team on the 50th anniversary of the international challenge game against the Manchester club at the WACA Ground in 1967.
United triumphed 7-0 in that game – and a few months later went on to become the first English club to win the European Cup when they beat Benfica 4-1 in the final at Wembley.
An article commemorating the WACA game was written by Perth-based Man Utd supporter Joseph Scanlon and was published in the Red Devils Fanzine (United We Stand) that was produced for the recent United-Man City derby game at Old Trafford.
Here, we reproduce part of the article written by Scanlon, who attended the Hall of Fame anniversary event along with his father Brian, another proud United fan:
“Manchester United travelled to Perth, Australia, 50 years ago for a friendly. Bob Brown was the WA team manger also charged with looking after the United players. We caught up with him.
Brown was an amateur player on Crystal Palace’s books at 16 but had to stop playing at this level because of a bad knee injury.
Aged 26, he emigrated to Australia and got involved with local club Perth City. He became the WA manager in 1965 and was in charge of the game against Italian club Roma in 1966, which they lost 4-2.
Everton and Chelsea toured in 1964 and 1965, but the visit of United was seen as the biggest draw card to date. A record crowd of 20,600 watched United win 7-0.
Brown said: ‘United had a very talented team with world famous names – Best, Law and Charlton – and a lot of people were talking about a young lad called Brian Kidd. Sir Matt Busby did not come to Perth, so Jimmy Murphy was in charge and was very helpful. A lively character who we all loved to listen to.
‘One of the most memorable things about the game was local referee Roy Stedman (who had a reputation in the local leagues for anti-swearing) sending Denis Law off for swearing in the 33rd minute.
‘The news led to journbalists from Australia and overseas filing reports on the sending off. The next day at the United hotel a special disciplinary tribunal of the Australian Soccer Federation fined Denis $50.’
Brown notred that Georgie Best and John Fitzpatrick were very friendly and, at the function, would sit aside drinking and chatting quietly. He added: ‘The last week of the tour, the playes were given time to relax, which they mainly spent at the horse races, playing golf and going to the beach.’
And Bob’s lasting memories from that week?
‘The visit from United created a huge amount of interest in Perth, not only of the game but for football in general. A few weeks later the WA side made history by becoming the first Australian team to compete in Asia at the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia.’
To celebrate 50 years since the game, the Manchester United team will be recognised by the Football Hall of Fame WA at a special event when the England cricket team are in Perth for the Ashes.”
**The Committee of the Hall of Fame thanks Joseph Scanlon for the acknowledgment of the 50th anniversary of the WACA Game – and for making the fans of United and City aware of what is going on Down Under through the fanzine article, which was illustrated with a picture of the WA team. Francis Burns made a presentation to Bob Brown at the Hall of Fame function.
PIC ONE; Francis Burns makes a presentation to Bob Brown. PIC TWO: Francis Burns (centre) with members of the Man Utd supporters club.