Leading up to the FA Cup 5th round fixture between Manchester United and Crawley Town at Old Trafford, I was chatting to my father-in-law, a 72-year-old lifelong Manchester United fan, about the FA Cup and previous encounters with non-league opposition.
He recounted his first ever trip to an FA Cup game at Old Trafford, aged 13. On January 31st 1953, against non-league opposition, Walthamstow Avenue FC in the 4th round of the competition.
As clear as anything he reels off the majority of the starting 11 as I checked them off against the team sheet listed on aboutmanutd.com. Greats such as Roger Byrne, Johnny Carey, Allenby Chilton and Jack Rowley rolled off the tongue as if it were yesterday.
“Jack Rowley had an incredible goal scoring record through his career scoring one goal every two games. He played every forward position for England during his career”
He also recounts how the game ended 1-1, with the surname Lewis getting on the score sheet for both clubs. Eddie Lewis for Manchester United and Jimmy Lewis for Walthamstow Avenue). Non-league opposition had forced us to a replay, held at Highbury, a few weeks later where we comfortably turned our non-league opposition over, winning 5-2. Eddie Lewis found himself on the score sheet again for United along with Roger Byrne, Stan Pearson and a brace from the formidable Jack Rowley.
It was great to hear my father-in-law speak so clearly of an FA Cup tie that took place over 57 years ago, proving exactly how the FA Cup has a real magic and history about it.
Let’s hope today doesn’t present us with similar problems and we get an easy ride through this potential banana skin 5th round tie, unlike back in 1953.