Many will profess not to be collectors, perhaps not wishing to be saddled with the word ‘anorak’, or worse, by their match-day drinking companions and work colleagues. Others, might be considered as taking the collecting thing to the extreme due to squirrelling away almost anything bearing the Manchester United crest. However, a fair percentage of those ‘non-collectors’, when put under the spotlight, will readily confess to keeping the ticket stubs from their away-day travels, especially from their sojourns into Europe. So perhaps, on that assumption, tickets could be considered near the top of the collecting tree, second arguably behind programmes.
It is therefore only right that I kick-off the ‘Collectors Club’ pages with “Tickets Please” one of the regular features that will appear here. Other collectors columns will be the likes of “What’s On The Menu”, “Take A Card”, “The United Bookshelf”, “Sign Here Please”, “Collectors Miscellany”, “United In Print”, as well as programmes, badges and whatever else falls out of the cupboards once the doors are opened.
So match tickets it is and what better to kick-off with than a really obscure and ultra-rare one from 1953, issued for a friendly encounter at the Cliff training ground for ninety minutes between a Manchester United X1 and a Manchester Amateur League X1.
How this particular ticket has lasted the tests of time, still in mint condition, is surprising to say the least and it is doubtful if there are any others in existence. In fact, I have only ever seen one other ticket for a game played at the Cliff, such are their rarity. Many of those tickets would have simply been thrown away after the game, or indeed lost, as the one shown here measures only 7.5×6 cms.
Equally rare are tickets covering those memorable FA Youth cup ties of the 1950’s, when United brushed aside all comers as they strode towards winning the much coveted trophy for the first five years of its existence.
The illustrated item comes from the fourth of those Finals in 1956 and was issued for the away second-leg against Chesterfield on May 7th. Leading 3-2 from the first leg, the United youngsters had to settle for a 1-1 draw and an aggregate 4-3 win to lift the prestigious trophy.
Unlike the previous ticket, which was printed on card, this one is the more conventional ‘paper’ issue, measuring 10.5×10 cms with the match details on the front and the reverse side blank. Stamped across this particular ticket is “complementary” as it was part of the United teams allocation.
Unfortunately, I have no idea whose it was.
From paper and card tickets to something a little before its time, a plastic one.
In the 1980’s attending a football match was an entirely different experience to that of today and with hooliganism blighting the game some clubs, such as Luton Town, took matters into their own hands and banned away supporters. Not only did they ban travelling fans, but they set up new turnstiles, huge metal gates which required a credit card style ‘ticket’ to gain entrance. The idea didn’t exactly keep away supporters out, as many did manage to gain access to their teams fixtures.
The card ‘ticket’ is credit card size, with the fixture details on the front and nothing but a black strip on the reverse which would activate the turnstile when inserted. Very much like the united season tickets of the present day.
As mentioned at the start of the article, many religiously keep their ticket stubs from the European away fixtures that they attend, memories of visits to the continents major cities and sometimes out of the way destinations, accompanied by rather hazy memories of the bars visited. So, it is only right that this article features a European away ticket, but what one to select?
After much deliberation, I settled for a truly memorable ninety minutes and one that has been shown time and again on television, whilst constantly watched on You Tube – Benfica away in March 1966 when, on a balmy Portuguese evening George Best tantalised the home defence as United ran out 5-1 winners.
A paper ticket, measuring 12.5×6.5cms, match details on one side, although no date, and an advert for a Portuguese airline (I think) on the reverse. As you can see by the illustration, even in those somewhat distant days, the men on the gate had a fetish with tearing a chuck out of your ticket. Sacrilege!
From one iconic Manchester United fixture to another – Arsenal away, February 1st 1958. The final appearance on British soil by the ‘Busby Babes’.
With admission at the turnstiles and only the seating requiring a ticket, there will only be a limited number of these 8×9.5cm tickets for this never to be forgotten fixture still in existence and it will be one that those who own them would never part with.
Pages could be filled with countless tickets from home and abroad for the thousands of fixtures United have played and in recent editions of my ‘United Collectors Club’ newsletters I looked at all the different variations of post-war United home tickets, something I might well up-load in the weeks ahead, but to keep this initial article to a nice round half dozen, I need one more, so let’s go for a match ticket that isn’t actually a match ticket, but it would have gained you entry to watch a United game. With me?
For programme collectors, the sixties and seventies are a mine field of postponed fixtures, some easier to get than others. One of those postponed fixtures was against Leeds United on February 9th 1974 and upon entering the ground I was given the ticket illustrated by the turnstile attendant, as the game was in some doubt due to pitch conditions.
Thankfully, the match did go ahead, as I would not have been able to make the re-arranged mid-week date, although I would have been able to gain a re-fund by sending this ticket back to United. If that had been the case, then the ticket collection would have been one short. Perhaps it would have been best if the match had been postponed, as Leeds won 2-0!
So there we are, half a dozen United match tickets to kick-off the regular ‘Collectors Club’ column. There will be many more tickets to come in the weeks, months and perhaps even years ahead, but I will look at a different collectable in my next contribution to Retro United.