Manchester United legend Sammy McIlroy has likened the side he played in in the Seventies as ‘like Barcelona’.
Forty years ago, the Reds celebrated promotion after an infamous year in Division Two. The year saw the formation of the exciting team that was built by Tommy Docherty and thrilled supporters, and McIlroy gave a lofty compliment to that side.
‘Everyone joined in on our team, attacking and defensively, there were no shirkers,’ he insists. ‘With maybe one or two additions we would have won the League with that Cup Final side in 1977. You might laugh but Barcelona’s recent teams were so successful because as soon as they lost the ball they got it back. We were doing that in the 70’s under Tommy Doc and Tommy Cavanagh. We harried people, got in their faces, we’d toe-poke balls away, make them pass the ball as quickly as possible to create mistakes. Everyone talks about how fit the Barcelona team are but we were doing the same and the energy levels were unbelievable in our side.’
Docherty agrees. ‘Like the Barcelona side, we were like flies around a sugar bowl when the other team had the ball,’ he says. ‘We’d hurry them into making mistakes. Home and away we played the same way. The football was great to watch – I enjoyed it as much as anyone, and so I can completely understand why the supporters remember the year with affection.’
The pair were speaking in a new book just released to commemorate that year, written by Wayne Barton with Tommy Docherty and a host of players from the team. ’74/75′ has been given regional and national press, with the Manchester Evening News and the Independent reporting on it.
The captain from that team, Martin Buchan, also contributed to the book and passed us a message to congratulate us on the book being released. ‘I’ve seen Sammy Mac, Stewart Houston, Stuart Pearson, Lou Macari and Alex Stepney and Arthur Albiston over the past few weeks and the spirit of 74/75 is still very much alive!’ he says.
’74/’75’ is out now and can be ordered via Amazon and Kindle. Kindle price is just £5.49.