Editor's Pick

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An EPIC interview with David Blatt, author of "How Manchester United Ruined My Wife" and "The Red Eye"

It’s easy to see why David Blatt had amassed quite a following amongst Manchester United supporters. His unbridled and unapologetic passion for the club is instantly relatable. Mix in a straightforward, honest and witty writing style that evokes early Anthony Bourdain, and a jet-setting world-traveler lifestyle that evokes late Anthony Bourdain, and his readers find themselves living vicariously through his page-turning adventures.

David is the author of two great books that humorously detail the massive collisions that take place at the intersection of club support and family life. His most recent book, The Red Eye, chronicles a year-long trip around the world with his football-loathing wife, Helene, and his secret mission to watch as many United matches as possible along the way.

Inexplicably, he managed to survive his ordeal, and he was gracious enough to sit down for an interview with us the day before the Derby.


 

WIL: David, I want to begin by thanking you for agreeing to this interview, espcially with your busy schedule. It’s hard to keep up with you sometimes.  Where in the world are you today and how did you watch the last Manchester United match?

DAVID: It’s 3:15 pm and I am sitting on my bed in Auckland, New Zealand, a fantastic country. We came here to be with our eldest daughter, Melanie, and celebrate her 40th birthday together. She is currently a judge on The X Factor New Zealand. You may have read about the controversy over two other judges that were sacked for vicious remarks over a contestant. Melanie stood up for her prodigy and she’s now the “Lady Di” of New Zealand. We’re so proud of her. Melanie’s daughter, Lilyella and younger sister, Jasmine arrived last week. We’ve just come back from three mind blowing days, and nights, in Queenstown. Absolutely fantastic!

However, my mission now is to try and catch the derby game live, which means 3:00 AM New Zealand time, so if you think you’ve got it bad in LA, imagine what Kiwi Reds have to go through.

I failed to catch the Villa game live as the steaming channel on my laptop totally ****** up my computer and I have to visit an authorized Mac dealer here in Auckland to clean it up. Surprisingly, there is no Mac Store in Auckland so I kept in touch with bbc.co.uk/sport and their 2 minute updates. It looks like we are finally getting our heads and feet around van Gaal’s “philosophy”

Therefore, my last match was Liverpool v United in your home town. I had organised a 3-day stopover in Venice Beach, as the thought of an almost 24 hour non-stop flight from London to Auckland was worse than going to the dentist without an anesthetic. I’d researched various venues in LA that would be showing the match live, and the neatest to my accommodation was the Cock ‘n Bull in Santa Monica. Little did I know it was owned by a Scouser, but more of that later.

Much to my wife’s annoyance I got up at 5:15 AM, got dressed and took a taxi to the pub. I was early. There were a few Reds outside so naturally we got chatting. Once inside I ordered an English breakfast as the place began to fill up. I have to say it was 65/35 in Liverpool’s favour amongst the supporters who were almost entirely American Reds, very few ex-pats. One guy came up to me and asked if I was David Blatt. It was too late to put on a false moustache so I answered in the affirmative. He told me he’d bought my first book, “Manchester United Ruined My Wife” when it first came out and he really enjoyed it. Honest!

By now a crowd had gathered and I was answering questions about both my books, what it’s like to watch matches at the centre of the universe, et cetera. At this moment the scouse owner came up, took me to one side and quite aggressively told me to stop promoting my United books. I told him I was just having amiable conversations. He sure put out a bad vibe. Scouse wit? He must have had a humour by-pass.

I couldn’t have written a better script for the match itself. We all know what happened. The previous week Tottenham had decided to play their worst match of the season, giving United space and time to settle into our most flowing football of the season. It could’ve easily been more than 3-0, I’m sure you’ll agree. Most importantly it gave our players the belief that maybe Louis van Gaal’s philosophy might finally begin to pay dividends.

As each of our two goals went in I stood up and let out an almighty roar, given more ammunition due to the confrontation with the owner, and the atmosphere and banter took on new heights. Outnumbered by the disbelieving Liverpool supporters we roared the Reds home. My head said Sterling’s goal would only be a consolation, but my underwear was constantly changing colour until we heard the final whistle. Even Wayne’s penalty miss faded into the ether. For his introduction to the crowd, Pele actually stayed on the pitch longer than Gerrard. What a ****. Gerrard that is.

I left the pub with a Cheshire/Lancashire grin on my face. What a wonderful way to start the day, which, incidentally, finished gloriously by attending the 2CELLOS concert at Club Nokia. You could say that was one of my better days on planet Earth.

 

(7) _Can you kick it__ Outside South Africa pavillion, Shanghai World's Fair, ChinaWIL: You have been quite the world traveler these past few years.  As amatter of fact, your most recent book, The Red Eye, chronicles a year-long trip around the world that you describe as “365 days, 90,000 miles, 4 continents, 25 countries, 60 matches… and 1 wife who hates football.”  Why did you decide to make that trip and when did you realize it would make an outstanding book?

DAVID: My wife and I had always dreamed of travelling around the world, but as an ordinary working man, I was at a loss as to how to achieve this particular goal. Slowly the solution began to materialise in my brain and eventually came to fruition. We sold our property in London, paid back the naughty bank, and with some of the equity bought two round-the-world tickets. We knew that once off the London housing market we’d never be able to afford another property there, but first of all I don’t believe in re-encarnation, and second, unlike James Bond I believe we only live once. We decided to ‘go for it’ whilst most of our limbs were still in working order. And we’ll never regret that decision for as long as we live.

My not-so-secret mission whilst travelling was to watch as many of United’s 58 matches and England’s progress in the World Cup during the calendar year of February 2010 to February 2011 live, no matter where we were in the world or whatever unholy hour the match would be shown. Helene, as you can imagine, was no help to me in this matter. A combination of pubs, bars, sports cafes or simply streaming on my laptop were my priority.

I knew this was going to be a life-defining trip and with a football fanatic’s fervor I began to write a diary every day. I didn’t want to forget a single moment. I had to write it down, and as I was writing I thought this unique angle may have literature possibilities. However, it wasn’t until we got back home and I began to re-write some pieces and put them in some sort of cohesive order that the thought of a book took shape. Getting the book to market was another matter however. Publishers couldn’t decide if it was a football or travel book, or how to market it. Eventually I found a small sports book Manchester-based publisher and here we are.

As for the outcome, that’s not for me to say. As a combination of travel and football anecdotes I hope there’s enough for even a non-United fanatic to enjoy.

 

WIL: During your travels you made it a point to wear a United shirt almost every day in order to evoke a response from people you encountered along the way.  You must have been stopped by plenty of fellow Reds.  Tell us about your most memorable encounter.

DAVID: I’m happy to report that I saw more Manchester United shirts than any other Premiership team on my travels. Liverpool were a clear second with Chelsea and Arsenal neck-and-neck in third. However in South America, Barcelona were way ahead of Real Madrid, with us in third alongside a handful of Italian clubs, Inter, AC and Juventus.

I remember my wife and I were in Valparaiso in Chile. I was searching for a special shop that Lonely Planet recommended for over 30 varieties of empanadas [pies]. In the distance, I saw this horrendous polyester vision that could only be a fake United top, but United nonetheless. My wife whispered “Don’t you dare”. I ignored her advice. As this young, unsuspecting man drew near I let out a friendly “U-NI-TED” and clasped his hand. He looked at me in horror, like a rabbit caught in car headlights, murmured something and made as quick an exit as his remaining free hand and two legs could muster. My wife muttered “Told you so.” I reconciled myself that perhaps the lad’s lack of English warranted his response.

On a more memorable note, also in Chile, we’d arrived in La Serena for the start of our 3-day trek over the Bolivian Salt Flats. Amazing! I noticed a small group of football supporters holding up a banner. I wandered over and it turned out to be a group of Colo-Colo supporters attempting to raise funds for their club to build a new stadium. One of then wore a fake United shirt so immediately we bonded and much hand gestures and smiles ensued, followed by obligatory photos. My wife was bored rigid but I loved it, proving once again, as if anyone needed reminding that football, not English is the international language.

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David with the local Colo-Colo supporters in Chile.

 

 

WIL: Of course, your fashion choices must have elicited some negative responses as well from the “Anyone But United” crowd.  Which anti-United encounter stands out the most?

DAVID: I began by talking about my joy at beating Liverpool on their own patch. As any regular match-going Red will tell you, beating Liverpool ranks even higher than City. Why? Let me give you but one example. One of our worst experiences was having listened to Leeds beat Sheffield United 3-2 in 1992 on our coaches parked across Stanley Park from Anfield. We then had to endure one of our worst 90 minutes as the Kop chanted, “You lost the league on Merseyside” throughout the match which we lost 2-0. This was technically untrue of course, but that meant little to those lovable scousers. As the United team coach arrived for the game, waiting Liverpool fans threw tear gas at our players coming off the coach, also affecting younger Liverpool fans in the front. What *****! I could go on, but you get my drift. For any true United fan, Liverpool are THE enemy, so this year’s double is doubly sweet.

Many years ago my wife and I had friends living in Malpass, Cheshire. One year it coincided with United playing at the Victoria Ground, home of Stoke City. After the game our group all headed into town for a bite and watch the goal highlights. At around 6:30pm we left the cafe, I said goodbye to my Red mates and made my way to my parked car. As I walked along I spied a group of red and white wearing fans.

“U-NI-TED!” I cried.

Mistake! They were Stoke supporters looking out for stray United fans like me.

Doh!

Two stepped forward. One unleashed a punch but it was pretty poor and just hit me on the cheek. I stepped backwards but hit the back of my head against a lamppost. Cue the finest Hollywood method acting.

I fell to the ground crying, “I CAN’T SEE! I CAN’T SEE!”

I could make out muttering around me.

“Shit, he’s really hurt.” and they legged it. I let out the odd wail or two until I satisfied myself the coast was clear, then calmly got up and continued back to my car. It was only as I drove away that my underwear changed colour.

 

WIL: One of your personal goals for this trip was to catch as many live matches as possible.  How easy is it for a Manchester United supporter to watch a match in virtually any corner of the globe?

DAVID: Not as easy as you imagine, although it’s been 5 years now and the availability of live streaming has come on leaps and bounds since then. We started our trip in India, an amazing country. So good, so bad, but a “must see” destination all the same. During our first month in Goa, for rest, recuperation and dentistry (so much cheaper than the UK) I thought this tourist-friendly destination would hold no worries for any English football supporter. Wrong! The IPL had just begun, which is the International Premier League….of Cricket! Most bars that normally showed Premiership football were all showing bloody cricket! Don’t get me wrong, I like cricket, but not at the expense of my beloved United.

The other problem was the time difference in the South Pacific islands and South America. We may think Premiership football is the best in the world, and the whole world loves watching Premiership football. Possibly, but not live.

As I write I’m waiting for the City game which works out at 3:00 AM New Zealand time. No venue has a license at this hour. The best I can find is The Fox by Viaduct Harbour which will screen the match at 8:00 AM on Monday 13 April. As long as I don’t switch on my mobile and check my e-mails, and that’s going to be hard.

On many occasions the only choice was to get up in the middle of the night and hope my streaming card worked, as many times it didn’t, which resulted in a stream…of genuine Anglo Saxon.

 

Spreading thr word in Rio. Jesus H Christ, who's that big bugger behind me!
David in Rio

WIL: In your first book, Manchester United Ruined My Wife, you talk about the impact that your obsession with all things United has had on your wife and daughters.  Share with us a time when you put the club over your family that you have yet to be forgiven for.

DAVID: In the beginning of our relationship, when I thought passion was at its height, I arranged a romantic weekend away with Helene and a mate of mine and his girlfriend, in a lovely picturesque hotel in the New Forest. I had told Helene that I would be away for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon as United were playing a FA Cup match at Watford but she thought I was joking. I wasn’t. I left her fuming as I drove back to London and out the other side until I got to Watford. Met up with my Red mates, walked around the allotments to the away end, only to watch us lose 1-0 in a miserable match, then drive back to the New Forest where Helene didn’t speak to me the rest of the weekend, and beyond. I never bring that incident up as I know she would still give me a right ear-bashing.

For the Champions League Final in Moscow in 2008, Melanie helped me out with the prohibitively high air fare (£800 for a one day return) only I spent our holiday money making up the balance. Damn Russians! I’m still paying in kind for that one.

 

WIL: You like to say that your wife, Helene, hates football with the same intensity that you love it.  Helene likes to say that Manchester United would be named the “other woman” in future divorce proceedings.  I’m sure there are quite a few couples that can relate to your particular situation.  How have the two of you made it work?

DAVID: Helene’s a professional. You can’t see the marks!

In all honesty I wouldn’t say we have made it work. Not 100% anyway. Let’s just say we’ve agreed to an uneasy truce. She acknowledges my passion but fails to understand how a man could be seemingly more passionate, more demonstrative over an inanimate object such as a football club as opposed to a real live human being. As I wrote in “Manchester United Ruined My Wife, “How can a man love one woman, when he’s in love with eleven men?”

It really is a conundrum. I have to say United have taken me to higher high and lower lows that any other activity on the planet, including sex! I’m 65 years old. I was at Wembley on May 29, 1968 to see United beat Benfica 4-1. I was 18 years old. Imagine I had to live through every week of every season until 31 years later United played Bayern Munich in Barcelona. That’s 31 years of foreplay, plus 90 minutes of the game too far, until those famous 3 minutes of orgasm. Sex will never be as good, or as long, as those three minutes? Need I say more?

If I can’t get to watch United in person I watch games on TV or on my laptop. If I had my way I’d watch every live football match broadcast, but occasionally I have to make concessions so that I don’t miss vital United matches. Relationships are all about compromise, aren’t they?

Let me put it another way. What are the most important three words that any man or woman can say to another woman or man? The answer I often receive, and worthy of second place, is “I love you,” a worthy contender I’m sure you’ll agree. But surely at number one is “I was there!” Not only does that apply to watching United in the stadium, it could also apply to watching your favourite band or artist in concert. Even sex. TV, cinema, internet are all good, but “being there” is better. It’s that extra dimension that only “being there” can achieve.

 

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Basil! Basil!

WIL: You spent more than a decade teaching English as a foreign language, and in your book you talk about bringing some of your international students to Old Trafford as part of their “Red”ucation.  Can you share with our audience, most of whom are also Manchester United supporters who did not grow up in England, why it is so important to “red”ucate themselves in the history and traditions of the club?

DAVID: Manchester United have the biggest fan base in the world. Just look at yourselves. And why do you think that is? There’s triumph mixed with tragedy and glorious failure that captures the emotions like no other football club. Wonderful players, wonderful football intertwined with a loyalty that no other club can generate on such a scale. You either get it or you don’t. In all areas of activity, knowledge of the past helps you make better, more informed decisions in the present and for the future. New players are immersed in the history of the club, so that they feel they are part of something special. More than just a football club that pays stratospheric wages. It affects your heart and your soul. It’s almost undefinable. It’s pure emotion, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

WIL: Speaking of the history of the club, you have been a Manchester United supporter for more than 50 years.  Who is the greatest player to ever put on the red shirt?

Supporters today debate who is better, Ronaldo or Messi? Of course it’s Ronaldo, but I would say that, wouldn’t I?

A few years ago, it was Pele or Maradona, but in my living memory it just has to be George Best. I was privileged to see him week in and week out. He did it home and away. He did it despite hatchet men like Ron “Chopper” Harris, Stan Smith, Ron Yates, Billy Bremner, et cetera. He did it with a much heavier ball and on pitches that were often a quagmire compared to pitches today. Imagine if George had been playing today. Sigh. Cristiano who?

The only problem protecting George’s legacy is that during George’s era Northern Ireland never qualified for the World Cup finals, so fans in many parts of the world have little or no idea just how great he was. There were also less televised matches, but I advise any football supporter, not just United fans, to go onto You Tube and discover for yourselves the magic that was Best.

Has there ever been a better United player? People who played with him such as Bobby Charlton, Billy Write, Gordon Banks, and those that played against him, would say, the one and only Duncan Edwards. Tragically killed so young, by seventeen he was already a regular for United and England. If it wasn’t for the Munich Air Disaster, the team of Manchester United would be up there with Real Madrid at their majestic best. That’s how good he was and they were.

(5) Me and Wayne, UK pavillion, Shanghai World's Fair, China. Who's wearing a wig_ I wonder...
David posing in Shanghai with an eerie yet fascinating Wayne Rooney replica.

 

 

WIL: Sir Alex Ferguson wrote the foreward to Manchester United Ruined My Wife and the two of you have interacted many times over the years.  What is one of your fondest memories of Fergie?

DAVID: My Red mates and I would take a day off work and travel up every year for the Manchester United Annual General Meeting. It was an opportunity, as shareholders, to say how we felt to the powers that be, the manager and the board, not just our mates in the pub. I would often stand up and question the parenthood of Martin Edwards and the board, yet the right mixture of venom and humour meant I was always able to speak one-on-one with the various board members once the official meeting was over and the media had departed. At the end we did the obligatory rounds of asking each of the board members to lunch, which they always refused (sensible men) but the first year of Sir Alex’s reign he said, “OK lads, I’ll be right with you.”

Underwear changing as we took in the enormity of the response, we followed the great man through the bowels of Old Trafford to one of the many staff restaurants. We waxed lyrically for over two hours. He asked us where we were from, how long we had supported United, et cetera. At one stage, his secretary came over and reminded him that Mr. and Mrs. Bosnich were waiting for him in his office, together with their son, Mark. He waved her away and we continued to converse. We were in Red heaven. He told us to keep our eyes out for a superb young prospect named Ryan Wilson that would be one to watch for the future.

Eventually it was yours truly that had to call an end to our lunch as I felt Mr. and Mrs. Bosnich would be feeling a little peeved. He stood up, wished us all the best, then he was gone. We looked at each other, digesting all the insider trading he had let on when the bill arrived. Being Scottish he had left without playing so it was a bunch of Cockney Reds that footed the bill. Money well spent I would say.

 

WIL: David, I could listen to your stories all day. I’m sure that by now our readers are very interested in your books.  Where can they go to purchase them?

DAVID: I’ve just updated my first book, Manchester United Ruined My Wife as an e-book on Kindle. In the States it’s available on Amazon. CLICK HERE

The Red Eye – A United Fan’s Distorted View of the World is also available on Amazon as a paperback as well as an e-book. CLICK HERE

Just one last thing. Production costs meant that there were many stunning photos from our one-year, round the world trip that never made The Red Eye paperback. For a much greater selection, please feel free to go to my other Facebook page, entitled, not unsurprisingly, The Red Eye.

https://www.facebook.com/TheRedEyeAUnitedFansDistortedViewOfTheWorld

 

WIL: I really don’t want to end this interview, but I’d like to thank you for your time.  Safe travels and we look forward to following you around the globe on both your Facebook page and your Twitter account.

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Fran Koerner, Jr. catches up with Clinton Carroll, a proud Charm City Red serving his country overseas.

I recently had a chance to catch up with a familiar face of the Charm City Reds, Clinton Carroll. As some of you may or may not know, Clinton recently relocated to Seoul, Korea. He took an opportunity to transfer to the South Korean capital to continue his work with the Public Affairs office for the U.S. Army.

How was your move to Seoul?

The move to Seoul had been a process for over a year, I knew it was coming. The actual move itself was very simple. The Army just moves my stuff and I show up to an already in place system.

Hopefully your trip wasn’t too long. Did you have any long layovers?

The flight took 18 hours. For someone who hates to fly, this is hell. Every minute you feel like you could fall out of the sky. There may have been some whiskey drank. I only had one layover in Atlanta. I found out they do not serve beer before 12:30 pm on Sunday, ANYWHERE! It sucked!

How long will you be stationed in Seoul?

I’ll be in Seoul for a year but could extend to stay longer. It just depends on what is going on. I’d like to get back to Europe but Korea is fun and it’s different. You certainly feel like you’re in another world.

Outside of your family of course, what are you missing most about Baltimore?

What I miss most about Baltimore is the small town feel it has. I miss walking in to a place and knowing half the room. A city like Seoul, 25 million-plus. That’s going to take a lot longer than a year to accomplish.

How long before your wife and son join you in Korea?

Going to try to get them here in the fall. We have to sell our house in Baltimore first.

Are there other servicemen or women you are stationed with also fans of the game?

So far I have not made any friends who are big in to the games. However there is light at the end of the tunnel. My first experience was at a Liverpool bar called Hollywood’s in Itawaen. There was a big crowd of supporters for the game so I know there must be a good following. I’ll just have to keep looking.

Being 13 hours ahead, how has watching matches changed from when you were in Baltimore?

The time difference is actually not an issue because instead of being up at sometimes, 8 am, the games run between 11 pm and 1 am. So it’s actually perfect weekend fun. Sunday night I just stream in my room though.

So Clinton, for those not familiar with you how did you become a Manchester United supporter? 

I became a United supporter in 2002 while living in Hiroshima, Japan. There was a bar called Molly Malone’s. It was an English-speaking bar. It didn’t matter if you were a student, a baseball player, a businessman, or a solider, if you spoke English that was pretty much your first stop. The owner was a United supporter and had them on 24/7. So I got swept up in it and it’s stuck with me. Every time I go to a new town I find a new group of United supporters and it connects me back.

Is there a player past or present that you favor?

My favorite player was David Beckham. I travel a lot and he was always that connection to a new group of people, most of which I would have very little in common with. Name dropping Beckham became just part of the conversations.

When was the first time you saw United live?

The first time I saw United was in Milan actually. It was during February 2009 for a Champions League match [against Inter]. It ended 0-0 but still fun as hell.

What is your most memorable moment as a supporter?

My favorite moment as a supporter……That’s hard to say. I did enjoy being at Slainte when RVP scored that extra time free kick against City. Pretty much knocking them out of the running. There were a lot of annoying city fans in the bar that day and watching them cry made me smile.

How did you become a Charm City Red?

Almost as soon as I moved to Baltimore, I think the second weekend, I went to [watch] a match and met a bunch of people. I got a Facebook invite [to join the group] and instantly had a group of friends the entire time I was there.

Any moments that sticks out about your time with the Charm City Reds?

Going to see United beat Inter [with the group]. It was a friendly sure , but there really is no such thing once the whistle blows.

What do you think the future holds for Manchester United?

I think United regain top form in 2 or 3 years and stay there again. Honestly, we have a great group of young talent, which has always been the backbone of United. We have a manager, who has proven he has what it takes. Once we get back in to Champions League and some of those young kids get that experience we are only going to become more dangerous. If you look at United right now, we are taking points, even when we play poorly. This is a good mix already and we will improve on it next year, and the next year.

Something Clinton said to me really stuck. I wanted to make sure I shared it. I think it’s something that is embedded in all of us, whether we are home, at the bar, or abroad. He said, 

“I’ve watched United play at bars all over the world. For 90 minutes it’s exactly the same no matter where you are. For 90 minutes we are all United.”

The Charm City Reds and United in the States wish Clinton nothing but the best while he serves our country. We hope he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible and that he thoroughly enjoys his time in Seoul. Good luck our friend! And oh yeah…Glory Glory Man United!

Seoul, Korea

Fran Koerner has been a Manchester United supporter for nearly two decades. He is also a proud member of the Charm City Reds and handles the social media and web content for teh group. Fran is still learning to deal with the post-Fergie era. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @FKoerner43 and the group @CharmCityReds.

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How a Scottish ship builder became the first American to play for Manchester United

The first American Manchester United player was born and raised in Scotland.

James Brown was born in Kilmarnock and grew up in the town of Troon. He was the oldest brother in a family of footballers, and he became the man of the house when his father abandoned the family and left for the United States. James had to grow up fast and at only thirteen years old he started working as a riveter’s apprentice in the Troon Shipyard.

At the age of eighteen, James set sail for the United States to look for his father. He settled in New Jersey and soon found himself playing for a few local amateur clubs up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. It wasn’t long before his exploits on the pitch were noticed.

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James was called up to represent the United States at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. He played well in the first two matches, and scored the only goal in a 6-1 defeat to Argentina in the knockout stage. Upon his return to the United States he played professionally for a few clubs in the troubled American Soccer League, but by 1932 the league was in danger of collapsing.

Having made a name for himself both at the international level during the World Cup and professionally in the United States, Brown had already attracted genuine interest from clubs in the United Kingdom. He sailed back to the British Isles to meet with the clubs and discuss terms. Managers from across England and Scotland were gathered at the Liverpool docks, waiting with bated breath for his ship to pull in and hoping for the opportunity to secure his signature.

That opportunity never came. Manchester United’s secretary-manager, Scott Duncan, beat them all to the punch by hiring a tugboat and boarding the vessel before it ever docked. By the time Duncan and Brown walked down the gangway, he had already signed his Manchester United contract.

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James Brown, James Brown running down the wing against Millwall

Unfortunately for Brown, he arrived at Old Trafford during some of the leanest years in the club’s history. The club was almost relegated to the Third Division but it certainly wasn’t due to Brown’s performance. In 40 matches spanning two seasons, his 17 goals represented the club’s second highest total. However, despite his contributions to the team, his conflicts with management regarding player unionization hastened the end of his United career. He was transferred to Brenton the following season.

After five more seasons with four different clubs, Brown put an end to his professional career, picked up his riveting tools and returned to the shipyard for a few more years. Eventually he returned to the United States where he helped form the Connecticut State Amateur League while taking on a role as a player-manager at Greenport United, one of the league’s clubs. After two seasons, James left the club and took a job as a coach at a prep school in Connecticut. He would stay there for twenty-two years.

In 1986, James Brown was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He was posthumously inducted into the Connecticut State Hall of Fame in 2000.

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Eudom Moncada passed away on February 6, 2015

The Red Army in the United States has lost one of its bravest fighters.

Eudom Moncada, who was diagnosed with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor in 2011, passed away on February 6, 2015 at the age of 24.

DSRCT, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, required Eudom to undergo daily chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiation treatments. However, despite the effects of the treatment on his body, he joined a church league and played soccer a few times a week for both emotional and physical therapy.

Last year, Eudom was named the Spring 2014 honoree by The Craig Willinger Fund. Through their efforts, and in conjunction with both Manchester United and One United USA, Eudom was treated to a match-day VIP experience at Old Trafford against Hull City on May 6, 2014. This included a meet-and-greet with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

On behalf of all Reds across these United States, we offer our condolences to Eudom’s family and friends.


The Craig Willinger Fund, formed in 2009, seeks to improve the lives of children and young adults stricken with cancer by providing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience world-class soccer – both domestically and abroad.  For more information on their mission, please visit them at www.cwfund.org

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Today is the 57th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. Andy Hyslop from the Sir Alex Ferguson Way shares with us the history of this tragic event and the players we lost.

February the 6th Manchester will mark the 57th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster that took away what could have been the greatest Manchester United team ever. The Munich Air Disaster occurred when British European Airways flight 609 crashed on its third take off attempt from a slush covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport. On the flight were Manchester United players and staff, supporters and journalists who would have been covering Manchester United’s game in Belgrade, Yugoslavia against Red Star Belgrade. The flight had stopped in Munich to refuel because a direct flight from Belgrade to Manchester was out of the Airspeed AS-57 Ambassador’s flight range. After refueling pilots James Thain and Kenneth Rayment had twice abandoned take off attempts because of boost surging in the aircrafts left engine.

Fearing they would get too far behind schedule, Captain Thain rejected an overnight stay in Munich in favour of a third take off attempt. By which time snow was falling, causing a layer of slush at the end of the runway. The aircraft hit the slush and ploughed through a fence beyond the end of the runway and the aircraft’s left wing was torn off after hitting a house. Fearing that the aircraft would explode, Captain Thain began evacuating passengers from the wreckage with help from Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg. Captain Thain was originally blamed by West German airport authorities, saying he did not de-ice the aircraft’s wings, despite eyewitness accounts to the contrary. It was later established the crash was caused by slush on the runway which had slowed the plane too much to take off. Thain wasn’t cleared until 1968, ten years on from the crash.

The aircraft shortly before take off and the fatal crash

The crash occurred in the 1957/58 season and Manchester United were trying to become the third club to win three successive English League titles, they were six points behind leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers with 14 games to go, they were the Charity Shield holders and had just reached their second successive European Cup semi-final, they had not been beaten for 11 games. This really was a team on the verge of greatness. We can only speculate whether or not they would have won the European Cup in 1958 but you have to feel that they would have won two or three European Cups before they eventually did in 1968. Manchester United would probably be on 5 or 6 European Cups nowadays but then again would Manchester United be the club they are today if it wasn’t for the Munich Air Disaster.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THOSE WE LOST

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UNITED in the States caught up with Rachel Viollet, daughter of Dennis Viollet, who is producing a documentary about her legendary father’s life.

Dennis Viollet is a Manchester United legend. An integral part of the Busby Babes, his contributions helped the club earn back-to-back championships in 1956 and 1957. He scored the opening goal in the 2nd minute of a 3-3 draw with Red Star Belgrade, the final match the Busby Babes would play together before the tragic Munich Air Disaster took the lives of eight of his teammates the following day. He would soon recover from his injures and assume the captaincy, helping steady the club through its darkest hours while also setting United’s single-season league goal scoring record, which stands to this day.

Rachel Viollet graciously agreed to be interviewed about her father and the upcoming Dennis Viollet Documentary.


WIL: Rachel, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. Tell me about the genesis of the Dennis Viollet Documentary. What motivated you to tell the story of your father’s life?

RACHEL: I’ve always thought his story would make an interesting documentary. However, as I got older, I started to realize the magnitude of his influence in the United States, and that’s what really inspired me to do it.

WIL: You interviewed many of your father’s contemporaries for this documentary and they provided you with their insight on both the player and the man. Can you share with us an interesting fact or story about your father that you learned about as a result of this project?

RACHEL: Something I didn’t realize was how firmly he stood up against football’s maximum during his Captaincy with Manchester United. Another is his influence as a coach in America. The number of young players he mentored was staggering and continues to this very day.

Dennis Viollet USA4 FINAL

WIL: Dennis grew up in a “blue” household and was expected to join Manchester City after leaving school, but he decided to join the youth movement that Matt Busby was pioneering at United. We know the impact that your father had at the club, but tell us about the impact that the club had on him.

RACHEL: This is something I explore a lot in the documentary. His years at United shaped him into the player and person he became.

BusbyBabes
Last team photo before the crash

WIL: The Munich Air Disaster is a defining moment in the history of Manchester United, a sort of romanticized tragedy that had a lasting effect on the club for many years. What were some of the lasting effects of the tragedy on your father, both personally and professionally?

RACHEL: I can tell you that the tragedy stayed with him his entire life. The Busby Babes were brothers in every sense. After Munich, my father never took a single day for granted.

WIL: Dennis scored 32 league goals for the club in one season, which is still a record nearly 55 years later. He is tied for fifth on United’s all-time scoring list and his average of a goal every 1.6 appearances is better than Charlton, Law, Best and Rooney. However, despite all of these accomplishments, your father doesn’t seem to get the same recognition as some of the more celebrated United legends. Why do you think that is?

RACHEL: I think the fact that my father’s accomplishments were pre-television had a lot to do with it. When TV came on the scene in the 60’s the game exploded. Football “stars” emerged for the first time. By 1962, my dad had transferred to Stoke City, and he retired in ’67.

WIL: Perhaps the most shocking fact about your father’s career is that he only earned two caps for England, despite being one of the best at his position. How did he feel about being overlooked at the international level?

RACHEL: My dad briefly talked about that with me. I could sense he was disappointed. The selection committee back then was very political, as I learned during my interviews in England.

WIL: Your father campaigned heavily for the abolition of the maximum wage, which was finally eliminated in the 1960’s. Tell me about the lasting impact of his efforts on the business side of both the English and global game.

RACHEL: My dad never set out to be a pioneer, he just did what he felt was right.  He stood firm in his convictions as did many other players of his generation.  During the maximum wage, my dad was earning thirty five dollars a week.  United were drawing sixty thousand people a match.  Somebody was making money, and it wasn’t the players.  The players had to take a stand, and I’m proud my father was one of those who did.

Dennis ViolletWIL: The Men in Blazers like to joke that soccer has been America’s sport of the future since 1972. The groundwork for that future was laid by visionaries such as Dennis who came over to the United States to play, coach and develop grass root talent. What were some of the challenges that your father faced in those early years as the sport struggled to gain a foothold in the United States?

RACHEL: There were many!  I think one of the biggest obstacles was getting the media to promote the game.  They were very anti-soccer in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Another was finding a way to integrate young Americans into the professional game, something my dad was passionate about.

WIL: In 1996, over two decades after pioneers of the sport such as your father arrived in the United States to help grow the game, Major League Soccer began play. How did Dennis feel about the league and the future of the sport in the country?

RACHEL: He was very excited about the MLS, and loved the “soccer specific” stadiums that were implemented. In fact many of the player’s he coached during his spell with the Richmond Kickers, went on to have successful MLS & National Team careers. That pleased him immensely. Sadly he passed away in 1999, but would be proud of the league’s longevity.

WIL: Rachel, you were quite the accomplished athlete yourself. A collegiate all-American in tennis, you went on to become the #1 ranked women’s player in Great Britain. What influence did your father have on your athletic career?

RACHEL: Huge influence. He taught me there are no shorts cuts, that repetition is the key to success, and attitude can make or break you.

WIL: We have spent a lot of time talking about Dennis the athlete and the sporting man. What can you share with us about Dennis the husband, father and friend?

RACHEL: He taught me that being happy is everything. He was a very modest, caring individual who enjoyed the simple things in life.  I’ve carried that with me every day.

WIL: This documentary could have not been made without the generosity of passionate Manchester United fans worldwide, particularly here in the United States. Tell me about the support you have encountered here in America, both for your father and the club.

RACHEL: My father always said, “I’m nothing without the fans.” Manchester United fans are the most passionate in the world. The support for the film, particularly in the UK & America has been amazing, and continues to grow. So many fans have generously contributed to the film, and continue to do so. It’s very touching. I realize this is not only a project about my father, but a film about United’s history, and I hope to make all the fans proud.

WIL: I know that many United supporters are looking forward to this documentary. Do you have a tentative release date for the film?

RACHEL: Yes, the film will be released in 2015.  We will be making an official announcement soon.

WIL: Where can people go to learn more about this project?

RACHEL: Our website has all the current news and updates on the film: www.dennisviolletdocumentary.com

WIL: I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, Rachel.

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