From when I was still a child of 11 years old, I love to see Manchester United play. I first watched Man Utd play on TV in May 1976 (32 years ago).
Man Utd were playing Southamton in the 1976 FA Cup Final at Wembley stadium and TV1 was broadcasting it live to Malaysians. Man Utd dominated the match but Southamton won by 1-0. MU was managed by Tommy Docherty and I still remember they play attacking 4-2-4 formation, with the front 4 being Hill (left), Coppell (right) and Pearson/ Macari in the centre.
After that game, I began to show interest in the club. I started to buy SHOOT! Magazine in my local News Agency shop and followed the English League Football. By the time I was in boarding school at MCKK in 1978, my interest in football grew stronger. I realised that many of my friends in MCKK were either supporting Liverpool or Man Utd. So, I decided to “pretend” that I am a Manchester City supporter to create an identity of myself. But deep inside me, I am truly a Man Utd fan. So in 1978 until 1982 they were 6 different English League Football teams being discussed every Monday morning between my friends. They were Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City(myself), Aston Villa, Everton and Wolves. But Liverpool fans had the last laugh. They totally dominated the League at that time.
Back to Manchester United. They did not win the English League until 1993. But I still supported them anyway. From the era of Gordon Hill and Sammy Mc Illroy(1978) through the likes of Bryran Robson and Norman Whiteside (1983), then came Gordon Strachan and Neill Webb (1988) and Mark Hughes and Brian McClair (1993). Then came Eric Cantona and the youngsters followed by Cole/Yorke partnership (1999). Then it was RV Nisterooy as the lone striker with Giggs/Beckham as suppliers (2005) before the 2R’s came (Ronaldo/Rooney). I never once stop supporting Manchester United. I have the players database since 1976 until 2008.
As I reflect back at what has transformed Man Utd from a good team into a GREAT team under Sir Alex Ferguson, I began to acknowledge the winning formula of the team as a whole. Yes, there are individuals who stands out as the main contributor to the team, but I want to emphasis on the “unsung” heroes that was never a first team player, but when there was an injured player, they came and deputise in that position to cover the star player. When the injured player came back, they then sit back on the bench and never complained. They can play in any position that the manager asked them. They were good players and represented their country, but they were never a first team for Man Utd. Even if they never held a regular first 11 in a season, most of them have played for United more than 200 appearances. They deserve my award – as being loyal, flexible and reliable. I am giving the honour every 5 years since 1976. These are the players:-
1976-1980 David McCreery (Northern Ireland)
1981-1985 Mike Duxbury (England)
1986-1990 Clayton Blackmore (Wales)
1991-2000 Nicky Butt (England) and Ole Solskjaer (Norway)
2001 – 2005 Phil Neville (England)
2006 – 2008, John O’Shea (Ireland)
Eventhough I remember Man Utd players thro the years, I also ensure that I remember Allah’s (99) Names from Allah to Sabur, Malaikats (10) names (Jibrail to Zabaniah), Rasuls names (25) names (Adam to Mohammad) and Al-Kitab. This is to ensure that my undivided support to Man Utd never hinder me from memorising other important things in life. For Manchester United fans out there, please comment on my posting...