What a book!
This trade paperback edition of Andy Mitten’s acclaimed bestseller, featuring the candid recollections of former United players Bryan Robson, Gordon McQueen, Gary Bailey, Billy Garton, Arthur Albiston, Clayton Blackmore, Alan Brazil, Frank Stapleton, Arnold Muhren and Ron Atkinson.
Through the 11 chapters – each a mini-autobiography of each player – we build up a picture not just of life at United, from the football to the fights, the booze sessions to the mad pranks, but of an era where footballers still lived alongside the fans who watched them from the terraces, went to the pub after training and, crucially, hung up their boots with little or nothing to show for their efforts apart from dodgy knees and a medal or two if they were lucky.
Author – Andy Mitten – whose great uncle Charlie Mitten was a star in Matt Busby’s first great side – is the editor of the long-standing and highly respected fanzine United We Stand. He writes regularly for The Independent and FourFourTwo magazine. He has written or co-written eight books on Manchester United.
When Sir Alex Ferguson was lifting his first trophy with Manchester United in May 1990, Billy Garton was about to slip quietly away from the game of football.
The Salford lad, Red through and through, was racked by a debilitating illness and a promising career lay in tatters.
It was poignant that Garton should be forced to quit at that time, because in some ways he epitomised old-fashioned football values in a game that was on the cusp of a whole new era.
He straddled two United eras, playing in both Ron Atkinson’s under-achieving but flamboyant team and Ferguson’s upwardly-mobile outfit.
Now that United era, the Eighties, long overlooked in United’s history in favour of the more successful Fifties, Sixties and Nineties, has been brilliantly chronicled in the words of the players themselves in a new book by lifelong Red and “United We Stand” fanzine editor Andy Mitten – “We’re the Famous Man United; Old Trafford in the 80s – the Players’ Stories” (Vision, £17.99).
Many of the players interviewed in the book are big names – Bryan Robson, Gordon McQueen, and Frank Stapleton to name three.
But for any dyed-in-the-wool Red, it is the chapter on Garton which is the most inspiring and, ultimately, the most heart-breaking.
Born in the Red heartland of Ordsall, he lived the dream.