HISTORY is something you cannot buy. It occurs; it is not created in the wallets of billionaire owners signing chequebooks with a stamp for quickness. It is about the ups and the downs and acknowledging them both equally.
‘No one else had the ball when Bestie was nearby’ – Denis Law speaking about the statue.
Sometimes you know when you have witnessed history in the making; Peter Schmiechel captaining United to the European Cup victory in 1999 in his last appearance for the club, Ryan Giggs breaking records and lifting the same cup this month, Bobby Charlton leading the present team up this year just as he did forty years ago at Wembley after the United team defeated Benfica. Of course in acknowledging that first European victory, it is natural to take the step ten years before to the Munich disaster.
History is about ups and downs, and acknowledging them both equally.
29th May 1968, Manchester United win the European Cup. 29th May 2008 it was the time to remember.
Eight days after Manchester United’s victory over Chelsea in Moscow to win the European Cup for the third time, an event was held to introduce the world to the club’s acknowledgement of another part of its history. It was the unveiling of the sculpture to commemorate the United Trinity; George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton and I am privileged to say I was there.
It was impossible not to be in awe. This was an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the first European Cup victory but it was more than that because it was a salute to three of the greatest players ever to play in the United red, three winners of the European Footballer of the year award. In a coincidence that was designed by the Gods this gathering was also the first Manchester United function since our most recent victory in Europe, so by beautiful accident the players of 1968 were talking about winning the European Cup while that very piece of silverware sat in the room.
Things really do come full circle but in that room sat listening to those gentlemen; David Sadler, Brian Kidd, Pat Crerand, Alex Stepney, and Sir Bobby Charlton it’s easy to appreciate their history, which in turn makes you all the more appreciative that another man present at the unveiling, Sir Alex Ferguson, has been able to bring us modern day moments to treasure.
My Dad and I both admitted that we would have loved to record their stories but we didn’t think that fast so a lot of the finer details have already been lost. I will say that it as utterly spellbinding, listening to their jokes, stories about digs, memories of unexpected players finding themselves in scoring positions and finding the net, the players from the modern era they liked and the question of how Sir Matt would fair in the company of today’s top managers. The consensus was that he would more than hold his own in the company of Wenger, Mourinho and whoever else you care to mention.
All Photographs © Stuart Moult 2008
And so past and present combined to make sure that the future generations of Manchester United fans would be able to see the United Trinity of Best, Law and Charlton, notably now as in their playing days, Sir Matt Busby watches over them from the front of the stadium
The heroes were welcomed home.