Chas Banks: 'I was born a Red and I always will be one'

Tuesday 17 January 2023 12:38

We’re accustomed to United players and managers being celebrated by the royal family, but it’s rarer to see diehard Reds receive the highest accolades.

So all at the club and those within the fan base were delighted to see Chas Banks, secretary of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association (MUDSA), awarded an MBE for services to people with disabilities in Greater Manchester and North-West England. United Review is only too happy to join the chorus of praise, so who better to feature in our new handshake illustration than the man himself?
Chas has been part of MUDSA since 1997, after becoming disabled the year before, and has helped to massively improve the experiences of disabled supporters in the years since. But his story as a Red goes back much further, to when he was a young boy growing up in the shadow of Old Trafford.
Watch a special video celebrating Chas Banks's MBE award, featuring club legend Wes Brown.
“I was born at Stretford Memorial Hospital and went to my first game on Christmas Day 1957 with my dad,” he recalls.

“I saw Duncan Edwards, not that I remember any of it! I was only a kid and had just turned seven. But you could walk from my house to Old Trafford in about 10-15 minutes.
“Dad used to take me and put me in the boys’ compound; you could go in the Stretford End for sixpence. Then, as I grew a bit older, often stewards would open the gates at three-quarter time, so we’d to run up the steps at the Scoreboard End and catch the last 20 minutes. Then I got a job selling programmes in the late ’60s. That paid for my away tickets through the ’70s. I did every game, home and away, in the ’74/75 season – one of my favourites.”
Career-wise, Chas earned success in music management, where he took care of two legendary bands: Teenage Fanclub and Pixies.
“It wasn’t quite the romantic vision that a lot of people have!” he laughs. “Lots of hotels, lots of time spent on tour buses. But it was a great life, travelling round the world. I still had my League Match Ticket Book, but when I was on tour I’d lend it out to mates. Then as soon as I got home, I’d go to the matches.”
So who were the biggest Reds he encountered in the music industry? “Tony [Wilson] was a big fan,” he muses. “I remember him driving me up to Sunderland once for a League Cup game in his Jag, not long after I became disabled. But I suppose Mani from the Stone Roses, really. He was a big Red. Ian [Brown] too. Mark [Coyle], who used to do the sound for Oasis, he was a big United fan. We used to have a bit of a craic with Noel and Liam back in the early days, give them stick! That was when we were top of the shop and they [City] were nothing.”

Congratulations Chas! MUDSA leader honoured


Chas Banks, secretary of United's disabled supporters association, has been awarded the MBE.

Despite being forced into retirement soon after becoming disabled, Banks quickly put his contacts to good use during his early MUDSA days.

“They were looking to expand and get involved with more social stuff,” Chas explains. “Of course, that’s my background, so I said: I’ll organise that for you. The first thing I did was get some of my mates down for a celebrity quiz night. David Meek came down and did the sports section; Mark and Lard, who were on Radio 1 then, did the music. Tony Wilson did the entertainment. And then I got Gordon Burns to do the general knowledge at the end. Denis Law came and did the raffle. That was it, we were away. The next day I got a phone call saying: ‘Would you like to come on the committee?’
“Then we started an annual dinner – that was 23 dinners ago! We’ve had George Best, Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson. Nearly all the managers [have come].”
Chas attended his first game on Christmas Day 1957 – which is our most recent match on 25 December!
In 2016, Chas became secretary, as MUDSA formed a closer relationship with the club’s Foundation, in order to support people with disabilities in the local community.
“We have a really close relationship,” enthuses Banks, “and it’s a really nice triumvirate with the club, MUDSA and the Foundation. It works really well.” 
But behind everything is the close bond that endures between Chas and the club he has always supported.
“It’s part of my life and it will always be part of my life,” he acknowledges. “From cradle to grave, like they used to say about the NHS! I was born a Red and I will always be one. United is like life: full of ups and downs. I was at Wembley in ’68 to see us win the European Cup, and then watched us get relegated. Oof, that was tough. But everything always comes around.
“We’ve gone through a rough patch recently, but we’ll come out the other side, and I feel better about the team now than I have in a long time. We’re playing some fantastic football. In the end, even if you lose, if you’re playing with some elements of style, you can live with it.”

This article first appeared in the Manchester derby issue of United Review, the club's historic match programme.