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Denis Law was hero and villain all rolled into one. His high-octane performances for Scotland, Manchester United and Manchester City often put him on a crash course with the football establishment of the 1960s, as jealous onlookers from Merseyside and London would question his temperament and character. Yet for fans of both Manchester clubs, Denis was a Boys' Own hero: a player capable of incredible feats of skill and power, all carried off with the knowing smile and villainous touch that put some in mind of a Piccadilly pickpocket. To Mancunians, this son of an Aberdonian trawler man became part of the fabric of the city; first as a dynamic front man for the Sky Blues and later as an all-action hero at Matt Busby's United.


Brian traces the Scot's career from his arrival at Huddersfield as a 16-year-old to the dramatic conclusion of his career at Old Trafford playing for deadly rivals Manchester City.

 

 

Centre-forwards live or die by the number of goals they score. To achieve this courage has to be paramount in their array of talents. Tommy Taylor had courage aplenty!

As the spearhead of the great Busby Babes side, Tommy was deadly in the air but also able to drift wide and pull defenders out of position. He went onto make 189 appearances for United and won 19 England caps. But it is as a 'big feller with a big heart' that supporters remember him 40 years after his death in the Munich air disaster.

Brian traces Tommy Taylor’s career from his upbringing in the coalfields of Barnsley via the packed stadiums of British and European football to the runway in Munich where Tommy and the rest of Busby’s great team perished. Along the way he interviews some of the biggest names in football: Alfredo di Stefano, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Nobby Stiles, Tom Finney and many more. They are all agreed - Tommy Taylor was a world class centre forward who died before he had chance to reach his peak, a happy-go-lucky footballer with lead in his boots and a spring in his heel.




 

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When Jimmy Murphy arrived at Old Trafford in 1946 he was greeted by the ruins of what had once been one of the wonders of pre-war Manchester. The stadium was a bombed-out wreck while the players trained on a patch of dangerous gravel and the club reeled from the embarrassment of playing their 'home' games at Maine Road. By the time Murphy packed his bags and left Old Trafford for the last time, Manchester United were world-famous: they had been conquered by and then conquered Europe, raised the profile of English league football to a degree unimaginable before the war and touched the hearts of millions in the process.

Alongside Matt Busby, the Welshman with an Irish name had made an English club the most famous name in the world. Matt Busby called Jimmy Murphy "my first signing and, my most important". Where Matt was the diplomatic front man and manager, Jimmy was the firebrand who instilled the passion in Manchester United. It is true to say that United would not be the club they are today without Jimmy Murphy; his passion and determination made Busby's vision a reality. Nevertheless his is a tale untold - the true story of his vital role in the birth of Manchester United is long overdue for examination and is vital to understanding the romance surrounding the club.


 


Viollet called his unwritten autobiography 'The Kings Have Gone' - this excellent work restores one of them to his throne. A legendary goal scorer and Busby Babe, Dennis Viollet's career took in tragedy and triumph in equal measure. As a player he thrilled thousands as an outstanding teenage footballer with Manchester United's all-conquering Babes, developing an almost telepathic understanding with fellow striker Tommy Taylor. Later, after surviving the Munich air disaster, Viollet broke Manchester United's record for goals in a season - a mark he still holds despite the attempts of Law, Cantona, Hughes, McClair, Yorke and Cole. Along with Wilf McGuiness, Dennis campaigned for the abolition of the maximum wage which saw United's greatest ever goal-poacher on wages of £20 per week. But by 1961 Dennis was mysteriously transferred from Old Trafford without a word from Matt Busby, the club or a good luck farewell from fans - United even denied the goal scoring legend a testimonial. Rather than dwell on his misfortune however, Dennis began a second career at Stoke City alongside Sir Stanley Matthews. There he helped the Potters win promotion back to Division One and, once he hung his boots up in 1967, received the testimonial he should have received in Manchester. In the second half of his life Dennis became 'Coach Viollet', a respected member of the British coaching establishment in the United States. But in 1998 Dennis fell ill and died, after a painful illness, in his adopted home of Florida in March 1999.

A gentleman footballer from a bygone age, Dennis was a loveable rogue, a charmer in turn of both the opposite sex and opposing defences: Dennis didn't so much bludgeon opposing defenders as pick their pockets. In this respect he was ahead of his time, a Manchester lad with the brains, style and skills of a continental forward







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