Steve Diggle: My journey as a Red

Friday 17 February 2023 15:54

I was born in St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, 7th May 1955, and lived in Longsight for the years that followed.

My dad was a Manchester City supporter, and took me to see them twice in 1962, as we lived right near Maine Road. But by the time I was seven years old, we’d moved to Bradford in Manchester, living on the same street as my grandad, who was a Manchester United fan.

He had old United programmes from pre-Munich, and would talk to me about great players like Duncan Edwards. He had newspapers of the United plane disaster; I will never forget the image of Sir Matt Busby in an oxygen tent and pictures of those who passed away. Those who survived too, like Sir Bobby Charlton, Harry Gregg, and Bill Foulkes.

Bobby was sat at the back of the plane that day, something which ended up saving him. When we started to tour the world with my band, Buzzcocks, I always sat at the back for that reason. It’s strange how things affect you.
Steve, third from the left, with his fellow Buzzcocks members Mani Perazzoli, Chris Remington and Danny Farrant.
In the nineties, Munich Airport moved to a new building and with pride the whole thing was moved within 24 hours and the old airport put on a festival, where we played a set. After the show we drove down the runway where the United plane crash had happened. It was a very eerie feeling and something I never thought I would experience. The pictures I saw as a boy came flooding back to me.

Sir Matt Busby survived and said he would rebuild the team around the surviving players, Bobby Charlton, Harry Gregg, Bill Foulkes so on... and in 1963 a 17-year-old George Best played his first match against West Bromwich Albion.

That year The Beatles released their first single, Love Me Do, and the album Please, Please Me. George Best became known as the fifth Beatle, as he had a similar haircut and was young and stylish in comparison to many footballers at the time, who still had a post-war look. He opened a boutique and became a football pop star.
I used to go with the older kids in the street to Old Trafford. I remember the excitement walking down Warwick Road to see Matt Busby's aces – it was 1/6d in the Scoreboard End. I eventually graduated to the Stretford End as I was told that was the place to be. Behind the goal in the Stretford End, where I went on to see great moments like Denis Law doing an overhead kick against Queens Park Rangers, and United winning 8-1. 

We won the FA Cup in 1963 and the star team began the road to success, winning the league in 1965 and 1967, followed by the amazing game against Benfica, beating them 4-1 to win the European Cup. What a night that was! All the kids on the street were celebrating and we played a street football match using our coats for goals.
29 May 1968 was a truly unforgettable night.
After many ups and downs with managers, Sir Alex Ferguson joined as manager in November 1986, and the tide eventually changed – 38 trophies, 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, two Champions League trophies. Sir Alex created a great team, including Beckham, Scholes, Neville, Giggs, Irwin, Yorke, Cole. I always thought Paul Scholes was such a great all-round player, he had everything. Very creative in midfield, but a great goalscorer too.

In 1999, I was doing a world tour with Buzzcocks. My life was going great it seemed and so were Manchester United. It always felt if United won you had a better week, but if they lost there was a little cloud in the back of your mind for the rest of the week. I'm sure many fans feel this way. In 1998/99, the year of the Treble saw United win the Premier League by a point against Arsenal, beat Newcastle 2-0 in the FA Cup final and was topped off with an amazing win against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Things just couldn’t get any better and my personal party celebrations went on for three days!

Then in 2004, another arrival would change the history of Manchester United. This year saw the arrival of young Wayne Rooney, who scored a hat-trick in his first game against Fenerbahce, which United won 6-2.

Rooney played for United for 13 glorious years, scoring 253 goals and becoming our leading goalscorer, surpassing even the great Sir Bobby Charlton. Incredible! It was around this time I would see singer Terry Hall of The Specials in the local pub. He was a massive United fan and we would talk all things United. There were a whole range of United-supporting bands around at this time. Mani and Ian Brown of The Stone Roses, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, The Courteeners and of course me, from Buzzcocks!
All The Goals: Wayne Rooney Video

All The Goals: Wayne Rooney

All The Goals | Wayne Rooney scored 253 times for United, more than any other player in our history...

Fast forward to 2023 and new manager Erik ten Hag has come in, changed the feel around the club and brought more positivity going forward. He’s been cited as the new Sir Alex Ferguson and has made a rapid turnaround in a short space of time. With great new players like Marcus Rashford scoring goals, and midfielder Casemiro making a great impact, the future is looking bright once again for the great Manchester United. 

What a journey it’s been for me following this club. There are times I’ve been on stage doing a show and wondered: 'How are United getting on?'

Here's to United, the greatest.

Steve Diggle, Buzzcocks.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.