Saluting history’s most under-rated Reds

Friday 17 April 2020 12:25

The unsung heroes selected by our team of writers naturally focus on players they’ve seen across the last couple of decades, when they’ve been following ­– and reporting on – United.

But speak to the older generation who have decades more service under their belt, and a whole host of other brilliant names who gave blood, sweat and tears for the shirt will be added into the debate. 
There’s no-one around today to tell us about the exploits of Joe Spence, but he’s unique in our top ten appearance-makers in that he played over 500 matches for United – between 1919 and 1933 – without a single medal to show for it. 
Undoubtedly a star of the game at the time, but his years of service for the Reds came in a particularly barren period for the club.
Joe Spence is the only pre-war player in our all-time top 10 appearance-makers list.
There are many names in the Busby era who gave great service without capturing the imagination in the same way as some of the more storied players, men like Johnny Berry, Jack Crompton and John Aston Snr. 
Our writers have highlighted the under-rated quality of Michael Carrick, the cog in the wheel that helped his more high-profile team-mates work their magic, and the same could have been said with Paddy Crerand in the 1960s, a much-loved figure but maybe someone whose genuine quality and importance to Busby’s side in the 1960s is somewhat over-looked. 
Likewise, Bill Foulkes, Nobby Stiles and David Herd may not have grabbed the same headlines as the United Trinity, but all were vital to that decade’s success. 
The 1970s may not have been as trophy-laden as the previous two decades – or the years to follow – but players like Arthur Albiston, Jimmy Nicholl and the Greenhoff brothers were loved by the Red Army for their quality and commitment. 
Throughout the majority of that decade they were led by Martin Buchan, a hugely respected captain but also an outstanding defender for club and country. 
Into the 1980s, and men like Mike Duxbury, Remi Moses and Kevin Moran were hugely effective lieutenants for the Reds, leaving the glory to the stars of the team like Robson, Hughes and Whiteside. 
We salute them all.