We're The Famous Man United...

We're The Famous Man United...

Old Trafford in the Eighties: The Players' Stories

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Paperback Edition

By Andy Mitten

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ISBN: 9781907637094

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Size: 216 x 135

Weight: 280grammes

Illustrations: 16 page colour section

Published: April 2011

Trade paperback edition of Andy Mitten’s acclaimed bestseller, featuring the candid recollections of former United players Bryan Robson, Gordon McQueen, Gary Bailey, Billy Garton, Arthur Albiston, Clayton Blackmore, Alan Brazil, Frank Stapleton, Arnold Muhren and Ron Atkinson.

Through the 11 chapters – each a mini-autobiography of each player – we build up a picture not just of life at United, from the football to the fights, the booze sessions to the mad pranks, but of an era where footballers still lived alongside the fans who watched them from the terraces, went to the pub after training and, crucially, hung up their boots with little or nothing to show for their efforts apart from dodgy knees and a medal or two if they were lucky.

About the author

Andy Mitten – whose great uncle Charlie Mitten was a star in Matt Busby’s first great side – is the editor of the long-standing and highly respected fanzine United We Stand. He writes regularly for The Independent and FourFourTwo magazine. He has written or co-written eight books on Manchester United.

Quotes

The football, jokes, drinks, fights, drugs, sex, gambling, touting... all the best stories will be in there.
United we stand, May 2006

Twenty years on from their heyday, the players of the '80s have nothing to hide. And even if they had, Andy Mitten would find it out. By turns jaw-dropping, enraging, staggering and alarming, but always, always charged with affection and enthusiasm, this book is what nostalgia is all about.
Jim White, Daily Telegraph, October 2006

Andy Mitten has a remarkable ability to get people to open up and reveal all. Full of great anecdotes, detail and colour, bringing back just what it was like following United in the pre-Ferguson era.
Michael Crick, October 2006

“Anyone who wants to read about nice, clean-cut footballers listening to Luther Vandross and going to bed at 9.30pm should look away now. Andy Mitten has compiled the warts-and-all, blow-by-blow forensic examination of what really went on at England’s biggest club in the 1980s. Utterly compelling.”
Daniel Taylor, The Guardian, October 2006

A terrific antidote to the banal sporting autobiography. Next time someone asks, 'Where have all the game's characters gone?', here's the answer. They're between the covers of We're the Famous Man Utd.
Ian Hawkey, The Sunday Times, October 2006

Reviews

Manchester Evening News

November 2006

Garton's tale helps revive forgotten era

Stuart Brennan

When Sir Alex Ferguson was lifting his first trophy with Manchester United in May 1990, Billy Garton was about to slip quietly away from the game of football.

The Salford lad, Red through and through, was racked by a debilitating illness and a promising career lay in tatters.

It was poignant that Garton should be forced to quit at that time, because in some ways he epitomised old-fashioned football values in a game that was on the cusp of a whole new era.

He straddled two United eras, playing in both Ron Atkinson's under-achieving but flamboyant team and Ferguson's upwardly-mobile outfit.

Now that United era, the Eighties, long overlooked in United's history in favour of the more successful Fifties, Sixties and Nineties, has been brilliantly chronicled in the words of the players themselves in a new book by lifelong Red and "United We Stand" fanzine editor Andy Mitten - "We're the Famous Man United; Old Trafford in the 80s - the Players' Stories" (Vision, £17.99).

Many of the players interviewed in the book are big names - Bryan Robson, Gordon McQueen, and Frank Stapleton to name three.

But for any dyed-in-the-wool Red, it is the chapter on Garton which is the most inspiring and, ultimately, the most heart-breaking.

Born in the Red heartland of Ordsall, he lived the dream.

Proud

Garton rode to his United debut in 1984 on the No 58 bus down Ordsall Lane, walking proudly from Trafford Bar to the stadium in his suit, unrecognised.

Afterwards, he celebrated the 4-0 Milk Cup win over Burnley with a pint in the Jubilee pub on the council estate where he was born and raised, surrounded by the genuine warmth and affection of his people.

The kid who had been one of those Ordsall urchins who offered to `mind your car' for 20p had made it to the big time, on £220 a week and playing alongside Mark Hughes and Norman Whiteside, who had been in the same FA Youth Cup final team in 1982.

A smart kid who would buy second-hand football books and absorb the facts and figures therein like a sponge, Garton could see the Old Trafford flood- lights from his bedroom window.

So the day that he walked down a corridor at the old United training ground at the Cliff and Atkinson casually asked him "Fancy playing tomorrow night?" was the second greatest of his life.

"Fancy playing where?" replied the taken-aback Garton. "We've got a game tomorrow night, the first team," said a nonchalant Big Ron. "Right, I fancy playing," said Garton.

That was to be the first of 51 first-team games Garton played for the Reds, the early part of his career ruined by injury, and the end of it coming cruelly soon, after he had been labelled in some cynical quarters as a waster or hypochondriac.

Criticised

Atkinson put his pride in his Red roots to good use, as Garton explains in the book: "United were getting criticised in the mid-80s by people who said that the players did not appreciate what it meant to play for Manchester United.

"So Big Ron used me as an example and got me to tell the players what United meant to the people of Manchester and Salford. It was dead easy.

"I told them that there were people who would go without food and spend their last penny to watch United. They'd travel to Newcastle on a Wednesday night when it was freezing, take the following day off and risk getting the sack.

"I believed strongly in what I was talking about. Further down the line, when we got our a***s kicked 5-1 by City in September `89, that was the only reason we lost.

"There was no-one in that team who really knew what a Manchester derby meant. We lay down and got what we deserved. If you had a Keano or a Robbo in your team and you were getting your a*** kicked, they would break someone's ****ing legs."

Garton was one of a dying breed. The book tells tales of players boozing in Sands nightclub in Stretford, or of travelling to away games on the old soccer specials, alongside the ordinary fans.

Perversely, Garton was lined up for a move across town to City when the acquisition of Gary Pallister in 1989 shoved him down the pecking order, until the medical revealed he had been suffering from glandular fever and the deal was off. It was the beginning of the end of his pro career.

He was depressed, even suicidal, and United refused to give him a benefit match. Garton's pals pressed ahead and, when United would not let them use Old Trafford, put it on at the Willows on a rainy night. Four thousand Reds turned up to give a decent send-off to one of their own.

Garton moved on and after he was diagnosed as suffering from ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, stuck a tentative toe back into the football pond. He played for local clubs Salford City, Witton Albion and Hyde United and used his natural intelligence to begin a teaching career, ending up as deputy headmaster of an Altrincham primary school.

In 2001 he emigrated to San Diego, where he now runs a huge junior soccer club and lives in a house on a golf course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

His is a salutory tale, but the book is packed with startling anecdotes and insights about United in the 80s.

Tales of Gordon McQueen, Paul McGrath and Bryan Robson taking on the might of the US Navy in a bar brawl in Malaga, of John Gidman forging a fine football career despite being virtually blind in one eye, and of Clayton Blackmore losing a tooth when he arm-wrestled Robson.

It is as far from sanitised football books, reflecting today's sanitised football, as is possible to get - and that makes it one of the best books on Manchester United you will ever read.

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