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Red Army Soldier part 3

January 28, 2010

Written by: GW

A few months after my first OT game my Dad & Mum informed my sister, two brothers and myself that we would soon be moving away, to a new home in Herefordshire, Dad had got a better job there, and he felt his children would have better opportunities moving to the country, my tow brothers and I were well pissed off, they had a great deal of friends they would find hard to stay in touch with, and I had just discovered United, and now we moving a whole day or more away from them.
We moved within the month, I ended up in a small primary school, where we had to take a bus trip to play a game of football on grass, I had to share a room with my two brothers, me having the bottom bunk, I had to be content with a very small patch of wall to stick my pictures carefully removed from the brand new Shoot! Magazine which I bought every week with my 2/6d pocket money (12.5p).
Things went on apace and sooner than I thought my two brothers and sister were married off, and I at last had my own room, I was fifteen, it was the early seventies, and life was a bit tough, growing up on a council estate you had to learn to look after yourself, luckily for me a bloke by the name of Paul had taken me under his wing, he was few years older than me, and was a staunch red, he told of trips of trains to see games, I asked if I could come along, he looked me up and down, a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, the smoke obviously getting in his eye making It water, “alright he said I’ll take ya” but you ask your Dad first.
And that is how it began, I managed to scrounge some money off my Mum now and again, but invariably we would hitch a ride, or jump the barriers at stations, trains in those day had compartments not corridors, so you could go almost anywhere with out a ticket if you were quick.
The seventies were flying by, Paul and I had become real mates, by now I had managed to get a part time job to support my passion, my weekends were filled with travelling to first division grounds all over the country, I was soon to become a member of what the media called the Red Army, we loved that, and played up to it.
I can vividly remember one game it must have been around 1978, by that time we were well known, BR the Police and the authorities were clamping down on us hard, the riot gear was being established, we would be searched and if you so much as stepped off the pavement you would find yourself in the back of a Black Maria until the game was over.
November 11th 1978 was a bloody cold morning, I woke up with frost on the inside of my bedroom window, we only had a small heater for the whole of upstairs and it was like pissing in the wind, the water in the sink was cold as well, I couldn’t be bothered to go down and boil a kettle for a hot wash, so I cleaned my teeth and splashed cold water on my face, it was icy and woke me up in an instant, back in my bedroom, I pulled on my drainpipe jeans, Ben Sherman shirt, braces, and dug my 18 hole DM’s from under the bed, my jeans were cut to show off the shiniest pair of DM’s you’d ever seen, 18 holers were expensive, so if you could afford them you showed them off, because of the cold I decided to wear my Crombie overcoat, draping it over my arm I walked downstairs. The whole ensemble would have cost me in the region of four weeks wages, the crombie alone was £65.
My Dad was in the kitchen making breakfast, the kettle was chugging away.
“Morning I said
He looked at me
“Where are you off to………..Football again, he said answering his own question
Of course it’s Saturday isn’t it ? I replied just as quickly
This was a conversation we had most Saturdays and I knew the questions before they were even asked.
Where is it this week ?
Birmingham
Who are you go with ?
Paul and a few mates
Well don’t get into trouble, I don’t want the Police knocking on my door
No Dad I wont, he knew this was a lie, but stayed quiet this week so he obviously wasn’t in the mood for a row about it.
Who’s paying he said putting his hand in his pocket
I’ve got my train fare, Pauls helping me out with the entrance money I lied
He withdrew his hand as I sat down and poured a very large bowl of cornflakes, moments later there was a knock on the door Paul strolled into the kitchen.
Alright he said, I nodded, my mouth full of food
He looked at my Dad, “Alright Mr W
My Dad stared at Paul, well he looked up to him actually, Paul was over 6ft tall, and built like a brick shithouse, and hands like shovels.
Look after him will you, Paul finished the sentence “and make sure he stays out of trouble !
Exactly said my Dad.
The journey was a right one, first a bus ride to Hereford, no heating, then a short walk to catch a train to Worcester, it was one of the old compartment trains, no corridor, no buffet no toilets, and we would be on it for a good two hours, there were a few Birmingham fans on the platform at Worcester so it was obvious why that train was used, they wanted to keep us apart, there were plenty of United fans around so we spent a bit of time giving the Brum fans the finger and singing, “Come and have go”, they didn’t. The train was bloody freezing as well, I was glad I’d worn my Crombie, Paul was just in his Levi jacket, he must have been freezing.
We got off at New street, there must have been a couple of hundred united fans milling around, it was gone midday, and soon the specials from Manchester started arriving, they literally poured off those trains in their thousands, the cheer went up to greet them “UNITED !! UNITED !!, HELLO HELLO WE ARE THE BUSBY BOYS CAME BACK AT US, followed by a chorus or two of United calypso, the Police were escorting small groups of us as we made our way to St Andrews, bloody hell it’s a long way on foot. We were quite well behaved and contented ourselves by singing and chanting, we were in good spirits and the general feeling was there would be no trouble today.
As we approached St Andrews, Paul nudged me, “You still up for it ?
“Of Course I said, I showed him the wedge,
Good lad, but watch you bloody fingers will ya.
We made our way down the hill, and started to queue at a turnstile, we were packed together, the police were intent on cramming as many people in as small a place as possible, Paul was right behind me, in front was a bloke I didn’t know, but I knew I had to stay tight to him, as we approached the turnstile I said in his ear
“We’re wedging the gate.
“Okay mate he said in a broad Manc accent.
He entered the gate and stalled, I bent down almost on my knees, between his legs, the pawl on the turnstile went up as he paid, wedge in hand I rammed it as hard as I could under the pawl,
“ Go! I screamed
Paul lifted me off the ground and heaved forward, others behind us seeing what was happening rushed forward, we streamed into the ground, Paul was pointing to me, and my back was getting slapped from all angles.
Fucking brilliant young un. I looked back and people were still coming through, eventually they managed to close the outer door, Paul reckoned on a couple of hundred getting in scot free.
The game was a disaster, we lost 5-1, Jordan scoring a consolation goal for us, believe it or not we were very well behaved, I think we were all so cold and pissed off we couldn’t be bothered, on the way back to the station a few minor rucks took place, as the odd group of Birmingham fans goaded us and fancied their chances, but they were soon put in their place We were herded like cattle to our trains, it took some convincing that we didn’t actually wan tot go to Manchester, the Police watched us like hawks as we bought tickets, none of them though to ask how we got there, dumb fuckers.
We got home just before the pubs shut, and managed a quick pint to drown our sorrows, next week would be different.
That season was a bit like that, we won only 15 of our 42 games, and drew just as many, finishing 9th in the league, the dippers won it again 23 points ahead of us, it was horrible being a United fan sometimes.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2010 6:18 pm

    The most comprehensive info I have found on this subject on the net. Will be back soon to follow up.

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