On This Day – Bobby Charlton Makes Manchester United Debut

6-10-1956: On this day in 1956 Bobby Charlton made his debut for Manchester United. United won 4-2 over Charlton at Old Trafford with Charlton scoring two. Berry and Whelan scored the other United goals and the game was played in front of a crowd of 41,439.

United team: Wood R., Foulkes, Bent, Colman, Jones M., McGuinness, Berry J., Whelan W., Charlton, Viollet, Pegg D.

“Billy Whelan beat Bobby Charlton into the first team. Whelan started the 1956/57 season at inside-right in a side that began the defence of its title confidently by running up a sequence of twelve games without defeat. Bobby Charlton was desperate. At the end of September Edwards and Taylor were injured during an away victory at Highbury.

‘I always remember that week,’ Charlton declares. ‘Three weeks before, I’d been injured at Maine Road in a reserve match. I twisted the ligaments in my right ankle – it’s still bigger now. It took me two weeks to start running again. The week the lads got injured the Boss says, “How’s your ankle?” And I knew this was my chance. So I said fine. It was sore as hell, not when I ran, but when I turned on it or tried to kick the ball. But I knew I had to get in. I was desperate. I played against Charlton at home, and scored two goals. I never kicked the ball with my right foot all day.

That level of enthusiasm existed throughout the club. ‘I was left out again when Tommy was fit,’ Bobby recalls, ‘but I got fourteen games that season which meant I got a blazer. You had to play fourteen games to get a blazer.’

Charlton, desperately worried about his future, was eighteen. He scored consistently whenever he played, including a hat-trick in the return fixture with Charlton at The Valley. Bobby was a young player with everything: power, wonderfully fluid movement and two great feet. He could score goals and link up in general play to devastating effect. His long gloriously flighted passes raked holes in the opposition defence. He could shimmy past defenders and once away was uncatchable. Bobby Charlton was a sensation. And he could hardly get a game.”

A Strange Kind of Glory by Eamon Dunphy, 1991, pages 206-7.


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