Reds fan Brian Hugo (70), a Mancunian now living in Heysham, recalls the day in 1962 when he met the United team, slept in Noel Cantwell’s bed and even gave the team talk!
I’ve always had a real spirit of adventure and, in September 1962 (aged 21), took the spur-of-the-moment decision to hitchhike to Madrid to watch United in Jose Zaraga’s testimonial match in the Bernabeu.
It took me four days of thumbing it, plus a ferry, to get to Madrid, but the real adventure started when walking down the street I bumped into United goalkeeper David Gaskell. I tapped him on the shoulder and said: "I know who you are." To which he replied: "Well, who are you?" I told him I was a supporter over for the game and was on my way to the Bernabeu to buy a ticket. “It’s sold out," he replied, "but come to the team hotel and we’ll find you a ticket." I couldn’t believe my luck.
With four days of stubble and having had little sleep, the players had to sneak me into the hotel and I then sat in reception, from where I could see the team, chairman Harold Hardman, Matt Busby and three reporters sat around a huge table eating a meal. When they finished they came out to see the crazy fan that had hitchhiked from England to see them play a friendly. They were amazed that all I had with me was a small brown paper carrier bag containing a bar of chocolate, an apple, some bread and a piece of sponge. One of the players pulled out the sponge. "What’s this for?" he said. "It’s my pillow," I replied. Well, they cracked up laughing. "You’re a lunatic," they said.
Captain Noel Cantwell took me under his wing, ordered me a slap-up meal and fired questions at me about my journey? "How did you get over? How much did it cost?" The three reporters were listening in and started writing down what I was saying.
When I finished the meal, Noel said: "You look shattered, do you want a kip? C’mon lads, we’ll smuggle him into the lift." So he got Jack Crompton,