TOUR NEWS & FEATURES

12/06/2013 11:39, Report by Nick Coppack
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Stepney recalls '67 tour

Best had been crowned El Beatle on that trip. Benfica really got the hump with that. So when it came to this friendly in Los Angeles it was more like a grudge match. We lost 3-1 and there was a lot of crowd trouble. At one point, there were a load of police and fans on the pitch. It was unfortunate, but we got our own revenge a year later when we beat Benfica at Wembley in the European Cup final.

We spent a few days in Los Angeles – we stayed on Wilshere Boulevard – before we travelled to San Francisco. In fact, it was a week before our second game, against Dundee United. So in San Francisco we visited the sights – we went to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz – and we also spent some time with a few supporters clubs.

It wasn’t a holiday, though. We stuck to a strict regime and trained hard, even though we’d just finished a long season. Our trainer, Jack Crompton, had us out on the pitch every day. There was no question of us relaxing or losing fitness. Even then, everybody wanted to beat Manchester United, so we wanted to stay in top shape. We had little outings here and there, but it definitely wasn’t a holiday.

From a sightseeing point of view, the highlight was probably the stopover in Hawaii, on our way from San Francisco to New Zealand. We landed in the morning and left at night, but we all got a few hours down at Waikiki Beach and had a look around. There were a few ships from Pearl Harbour, so we checked those out and walked on the beach. Nobody went surfing, though: Jack Crompton wouldn’t have allowed that!

Eventually we made it to New Zealand and we played two games against local sides. We won 8-1 in Auckland and 11-0 in Christchurch. The standard of opposition wasn’t great, to be honest, and the weather wasn’t what we were expecting, either. When you think of Australia and New Zealand you think of blazing sunshine. It was freezing in New Zealand, though, and it rained almost the entire time we were in Australia.

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