United in the ’70s: 'We were like cowboys on a cattle drive!'

Friday 03 February 2023 10:12

As a Red that started following the club in the ’50s, Chas Banks has lived it all – from the tragedy of Munich to the dizzying glory of the Ferguson years.

But from a fan’s perspective, Chas – who is also secretary of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association (MUDSA) – says that there’s no denying the most unique period of the club’s post-war history: the 1970s. 
From the despair of relegation to a buccaneering resurgence under Tommy Docherty, the decade was a madcap ride where triumph and disaster never seemed more than a few inches away.
Chas (seen here with Kate Green, former MP for Stretford and Urmston) has been attending games since the 1950s.
But although ugliness could occasionally spill out from the stands, Chas remembers it as a time of great togetherness.

“I did every game, home and away, in the ’74/75 season,” remembers Banks, who is the latest fan to appear on the iconic handshake motif that appears on the cover of our matchday programme, United Review. “We were like cowboys on a cattle drive. We had that brotherhood, you know?
“There were people up to all sorts of mischief, loads of argy-bargy, though I’ve never had a fight at a football match and I never used to get drunk either. Someone needed to stay sober to tell the others what the score was on the way home! But everyone wanted to be part of that crowd; that brotherhood; that tribe.”
United were famously the best-supported team in the country during the ’74/75 season Chas refers to, which we spent in Division Two.

But although football might have increased in sophistication during the years since, Banks believes the fervour for the Reds remains exactly the same.
“It has changed,” Chas admits, “but the youngsters who are doing it [going home and away] now, they’ll see it and feel it in the same way.

Were the 1970s the best decade to be Red?


Club reporter Joe Ganley examines our spirit of the 1970s and an era intrinsically linked to the late Tommy Docherty.

“In terms of the energy and the enthusiasm and the support, there’s only two clubs in this country that generate that kind of away support, and that’s United and Liverpool. 
“I was talking to the ticket office and they’ll tell you: whatever the allocation is for an away game in this country, we could fill it at least three times, if not four. The demand has always exceeded the supply. An away ticket has always been a valuable ticket. 
“Watching United get relegated was tough,” Banks admits. “But then we had ’74/75 and that great year. The kids today will have their time. Everything always comes around.”