Retro Red: MUFC v Spurs, Friday Night 1983 | Manchester United News

Retro Red: MUFC v Spurs, Friday Night 1983

As is the modern way, we are repeatedly being told that history will be made on Friday night when Manchester United travel to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa.

That’s because, if you didn’t already know, this will be the first ever non-holiday Friday night game in the history of the Premier League.

But that’s about as ground-breaking as it gets, and as most long serving Reds will tell you, Friday night football is not a new invention. We’ve been here before.

Of course, there was the high profile trip to Cambridge in last season’s FA Cup, but as for top-flight football United were actually part of the very first Friday evening offerings rolled-out by The BBC over three decades ago.

Back in an era where live football was reserved purely for the FA Cup final and international tournaments, the 1983/84 season actually saw league games being broadcast to the nation for the first time ever.

And after much negotiation a two year agreement between the two biggest broadcasters at the time meant that both the BBC and ITV were able to screen seven live games each per season.

While ITV showed their live games and highlights shows on Sunday afternoons, the ‘Beeb’ opted to broadcast the matches they had the rights to on Friday nights, while keeping their regular Match of the Day highlights show on a Saturday evening.

So it was to be that the BBC’s first ever live televised league game was, in fact, Manchester United’s home fixture with Spurs – and yes, it was on a Friday night.

United, under Ron Atkinson, were reigning FA Cup holders and promised much, but had endured a mixed run of form in the run up to the game, with two wins from the previous six. While Spurs were becoming a team renowned for their flair thanks to the likes of Hoddle and Ardiles.

And what made things more tasty was that this was the little Argentinian’s first game back for Spurs after a period in exile following the Falklands war which had broken out the year before – something which guaranteed him a hostile reception from those at the ground that night.

As for the match, the watching millions, not to mention the meagre crowd of 33,616, were treated to something of an early festive feast as two of the most attacking and glamorous sides in the league locked horns.

Arthur Graham’s freakish opener put United into a first half lead, only for Alan Brazil’s spectacular overhead kick to level things up in the second half.
And the BBC couldn’t have wished for more from their first ever live Division One game as Kevin Moran and Graham again put United 3-1 to set-up a thrilling finale.

However, the introduction of Ardiles gave Spurs a lifeline and he set up Mark Falco almost immediately after coming on to make it 3-2 and temporarily silence the boo boys.

But it was that man Moran again who sealed the win and the points for United in this historical contest as he grabbed his second goal of the game and United’s fourth.

So the next time someone says that Friday’s fixture at Villa Park is something of a watershed moment, they might need reminding of this encounter that took place some 32 years ago.

But sadly, for many this game has long since been consigned to the dustbin of pre-Premier League football history. Never to be mentioned again in the modern Sky Sports era.


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