Ryan Giggs and Bill Foulkes

29 Nov

Today Giggsy is 40 and approaches 1000 games for Manchester United. This week the granite centre half of the Busby years, Bill Foulkes, died aged 81. It is easy to revel in the sinewy brilliance of Giggs’s back-catalogue. Only this week he gave a master-class against Bayer Leverkusen in a 5 – 0 win. Memories of European triumphs and Foulkes are thinner on the ground but one stands out.

On 15th May 1968 Man Utd took a slender 1 – 0 lead to the Bernabeu. I was at home with a tense ear to the transistor. Real cruised to a 3 – 0 lead leaving only a glimmer of hope by conceding an own goal on half time. 3 – 1. I had stopped listening. My brothers were taking the piss. I sulked in my room. I checked the radio with 20 minutes to go. No change. Then a roar from downstairs. Given their allegiances, my brothers might have been cheering another Real goal. I stayed in my room. Then another roar. This time louder and calls for me to join. Bill Foulkes has bloody equalised. Bill Foulkes!!

I won’t forget the ecstasy. Bill Foulkes was an old school centre half. The opposition half was another country. He needed a passport to cross the halfway line. In 688 appearances for the Reds he scored 9 goals. He even checked with Busby when he went forward for corners. Now he had put United into the final at Wembley a fortnight later.

Giggsy still gives great pleasure but that moment in 1968 when Foulkes delivered  The Reds from the dead is a singular delight. My inner ear was reminded of that excited brotherly shriek when I heard of Bill’s death. A landmark week if you’re a United fan.

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