'I couldn't have picked a better club'

Friday 20 January 2023 09:00

It is 50 years since Lou Macari made his Manchester United debut, taking on West Ham United at Old Trafford in 1973.

The hugely popular Scot would spend 11 years with the Reds and he made an instant impression on the home fans with an 80th-minute equaliser against the Hammers in a 2-2 draw.

To put his career at United into context, the other scorer that day was Sir Bobby Charlton, while Lou contributed to the dramatic win over Everton in the FA Cup-winning run in 1983, in a side containing the likes of Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside.

Lou Macari in action during his early days for United, against Newcastle.

"I know it’s half a century, because people like yourself and others do remind me," he told Inside United, the official club magazine.

"Fifty years on, it’s an achievement for people to still remember you. It is, it’s an achievement - I work at Old Trafford, I do the television. Could I have picked a better club? No, I couldn’t. And I didn’t pick it, somebody decided that they’d pick me.

"I was on my way to Liverpool, because I had no idea that there was any interest from Manchester United. As soon as I knew Manchester United [were interested], I'd played with the Lisbon Lions at Celtic and I was determined to play with another set of European Cup winners at United, with Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best and Brian Kidd, whom I'd played against for Scotland Schoolboys."

The debut itself was a memorable one for the Scotland international, who quickly made his mark after the switch from Celtic by converting an excellent cross by fellow countryman Willie Morgan.

"It’s what you hope happens," he admitted. "First of all, you hope you’re picked and have a decent game. Obviously, the manager told me I’d be playing.

"It was West Ham – with England captain Bobby Moore – so it was a big, big game for me, in terms of who I would be playing against. And I scored at the Stretford End. I didn’t realise, obviously, being a Celtic player for all the years I was, what different things meant.

"All I know is I ended up with a no.10 shirt, which didn’t mean anything to me – Tommy Doc [manager Tommy Docherty] gave me it – and Denis [Law] was playing, who’d worn no.10 all during his time at Manchester United.

"It wasn’t until after the game that people were saying: ‘bloody hell, you’ve got Denis Law’s shirt.’ Whose shirt you had at the time didn’t really matter, it didn’t register, but I did have Denis’s, and couldn’t understand why Tommy Docherty gave me it."

Lou Macari discusses joining the club on his emotional Utd Podcast.

Macari, who now works tirelessly in helping the homeless and other charity projects, certainly has no regrets about making the move to Manchester and forging such a lengthy association with the club. 

"I didn’t join them after looking at any league tables at how they were doing," he said. "I joined because it was Manchester United. I wasn’t going to go anywhere else, because the pull of the club at the time was as it is nowadays. You can struggle in the league nowadays, but still people want to come – they want to play for Manchester United.

"It was the same back then and I, no matter what in the 11 years I served at Manchester United, no matter whichever way you want to weigh it up – I regarded it as the right decision. If you’re looking at it from year to year, from Wembley to relegation or whatever, how it happened, it was what you expect from a massive football club that has got character about it. That was the rollercoaster ride, from relegation, bouncing back and then after that, to be honest with you, never really looking back."

After winning the old Second Division in 1974/75, the Reds lost the 1976 FA Cup final to Southampton before beating Liverpool, and denying them the Treble, a year later, with Macari's shot going in off Jimmy Greenhoff for the winner at Wembley.

Read the interview in full in this month's Inside United.