Five Games That Changed Me: Chas Banks MBE

Wednesday 28 February 2024 06:00

At Manchester United, more than perhaps any other football club, the highs are deeply, emotionally connected with the lows.

Chas Banks MBE, the secretary of MUDSA – football’s oldest disabled supporters’ association – knows that better than most.
Raised in the shadows of Old Trafford, he can remember watching the glorious Busby Babes play as a young child, only to see three of their bodies taken down Chester Road in hearses just two months later, after the Munich Air Disaster. “Total silence,” is his recollection. “It's a bit upsetting even now, thinking about it.”
Chas is also one of the few fans to take part in this series that has picked a United defeat. And not just any defeat – a derby defeat to Manchester City, in which the goal was scored by his all-time United hero. His selections demonstrate the epic sweep of our post-war history but, throughout the triumphs and the tragedies, his affection and admiration has never wavered.

“I’ve never thought of United as anything other than good,” he says, simply.
In 2022, Chas was awarded an MBE for services to people with disabilities in Greater Manchester and North West England.
First Division | Old Trafford | 25 December 1957
“Christmas Day, 1957. I was seven years old. I was born in 1950 in Stretford Maternity Hospital on Seymour Grove, and grew up and lived on Northumberland Road. My dad took me, and we used to walk through Seymour Park and be at the ground in no time. They used to have a boys' section then. As you're looking from where the manager sits now, towards the Stretford End, it was in that north-west corner. About sixpence. We won, and I can't remember if it was 3-1 or 3-0, but I definitely saw Duncan Edwards and definitely saw Bobby Charlton. 
“I don't remember much about the game, but I remember my dad putting me in there and saying: “I'll come and get you.” He used to go in the Stretford End and watch there, with all the men smoking and this cloud of haze hovering above. I think they paid one and three. The main thing I remember is this wooden rattle that he'd bought me for Christmas… I was playing the damn thing all day, driving my mother mad! But what a great first experience, eh! I saw Duncan Edwards score a goal! I remember the surges in the boys' enclosure, too, and there was this bloke going round the edge of the pitch with a big urn selling Bovril. I think it was thruppence. 
“We walked home, had Christmas dinner... it was just amazing. Magical, you know? I fell in love with it. The next day we played Luton away and it was a draw. I remember being at home eating tangerines and dates and my dad listening to the sports round-up on the radio, doing his pools. He said: 'I had that down as a banker away win!'”
When United beat Leicester in the FA Cup final Video

When United beat Leicester in the FA Cup final

We're taking you all the way back to 1963, as Sir Matt's Reds beat Leicester 3-1 in the FA Cup final...

FA Cup final | Wembley | 25 May 1963
“I can remember my mum getting us up at five o'clock in the morning and going with my dad to Trafford Bar, which was a big bus station then. Lined up all the way along the old Chester Road were all these charas [charabancs], as we called them. Old coaches. We had this huge bag of sandwiches – spam sandwiches! We all had rosettes and all the blokes had crates of brown ale. There weren’t many motorways then, so it was a long drive. They were all smoking too, so god knows what that did to my lungs at 12 years of age! 
“I remember all the men taking the empty crates to the turnstiles, and not knowing why. I always remember it was Turnstile 42 and my ticket was a 10-bob note, which my dad slipped to the guy who lifted me over the turnstile. And that's how I got in. Then on the terraces I found out what the wooden crates were for. I was stood on one, even though I was quite a tall boy, and all these rivers of urine starting flowing past me! I think Denis [Law] scored, and I can remember him doing this turn – he sort of swivelled on the spot and whacked it in the corner. Absolute genius. He was my hero – still is, really. I was a lot more aware of what was going on at the game by then. I remember Bobby playing on the left wing, and David Herd scored two. 
“They were all singing in the coach on the way home: 'Aye, aye, aye, Charlton is better than Pele! Because Pele is a no-good bum and so is Eusebio!' We got home at one in the morning! It seems like so long ago, it's incredible. I'm old, I'm 73, but I'm not that bloody old! But it is like aeons ago, really. Were there other kids getting passed over the turnstiles? Yeah, every single one of them!”
Kings of Europe, 1968 Video

Kings of Europe, 1968

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European Cup final | Wembley | 29 May 1968
“I suppose a lot of people would choose this one. It was an amazing campaign and the semi-final, I remember listening to it on the radio with my dad. We beat Real Madrid and that took some doing. The day after, my dad wrote to the headmaster of my school, Stretford Grammar on Great Stone Road, and told him he was going to take me to the European Cup final, because he thought it was historical and I should be there. Anyway, I got permission to be off school on the Thursday, because we didn't get back until four in the morning! The sun was coming up. 
“I was almost a man then, and knew I wasn't going to be a professional footballer! The weird thing is Brian Kidd scoring that goal at 19. I didn't really know him as a player and he wasn't really talked about. And the other thing was John Aston playing the game of his life and everyone talking about it on the bus on the way home. At the wake [for Sir Bobby Charlton], they had a little thing set up with Bobby's shirt from the final and the exchange pennant from the beginning of the game. The girl from the museum showed me the pennant with her white gloves – I had a lump in my throat. 
“I had a ticket for this, but there was still people jumping over turnstiles. It was the same story, though: a big bag of sandwiches and all the rest of it. But what a night. I remember being very, very nervous because of Eusebio, and if I had to pick one memory it would be the save Alex Stepney made. He never used to wear gloves in his career. He was very much against it. That was his thing.”
Denis Law's second short spell with Manchester City delivered a heartbreaking moment for United fans.
First Division | Old Trafford | 27 April 1974
“By this time, I was 23, and not only 23 but married with two kids! I worked at Michelin Tyres in Trafford Park, and there was a bloke there who was a United fan. He said: 'Do you still go to the game?' and I said: 'I've got two kids, so I can't really afford it.' He said: 'Well, I can get you a job selling programmes.' So I used to sell programmes on the Stretford End. A lot of the lads didn't want to work there, because it was rough in those days, but being a big chap with broad shoulders, I wasn’t scared. That was how I got the money to pay for my tickets to watch them away. 
“But I remember this mainly for the pitch invasion. When Denis Law put the ball in the back of the net with his heel, there was this myth that he'd put us down. He hadn’t. Some of the idiots thought that if they invaded the pitch and got the match called off, it would stop us being relegated. Of course, it didn't, because results went against us elsewhere, so we were already relegated. 
“[The decline] was very shocking, but it was like the frog-boiling-in-the-water thing. It happens slowly. I watched the fans going on the pitch and it was just very depressing. You felt like you could weep; it was humiliating. I'd been on many away trips, and a lot of the lads I went with did get involved in fighting, but I never did. I'd have a beer but never get drunk, because I wanted to remember it. I'd gone to a lot of trouble to get to the games. I asked Denis about the goal when we had him as a guest at the MUDSA dinner. He said it just felt very, very wrong… that he wouldn't have been there if United had still wanted him.”
Nottingham Forest 1 United 8 Video

Nottingham Forest 1 United 8

6 February 1999: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer steps off the bench to score four goals during an 8-1 victory over Forest...

Premier League | City Ground | 6 February 1999
“Me and my mate went to every single game, home and away, in 1998/99, and this game will stick in my memory forever. More than the semi-finals and the finals, to be honest. The power that we had then… Andy Cole scoring two goals, Dwight Yorke scoring two goals… We were 4-1 up at that point and Alex was always going to start bringing them off. Then Ole came on and scored a hat-trick. No, four goals! Just incredible finishes. 
“To have Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole and Ole and Dwight... to have those four was just astonishing, really. You could look at the final in Barcelona and say: “Well, the substitutes came on and made the difference.” But this day, to me, really held up that we were at a pinnacle. To go away and batter a side like we did, and for Ole to come on, with us already 4-1 up, and score four goals... It was mind-blowing really. You never thought we were going to lose.”