Wednesday 1 April 2015

Manchester United says 'No': PRONI Doc of the Month

Okay, it's got nothing to do with genealogy, but the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland's Document of the Month for April is a good reminder of the wide range of topics and the sometimes esoteric nature of material being protected and preserved in our wonderful archives.

This month's document is a letter from Sir Matt Busby, manager of the Manchester United football club from 1945 to 1969, and a British soccer legend.

PRONI’s Gavin McMahon explains: “Manchester United had been invited by Glentoran FC to play a match at the Oval to promote the Ulster 71 festival. However, the result proved to be an own goal for Manchester United, as Busby was unable to confirm Manchester United’s participation. This led to Division One rivals, Leeds United, playing instead in a match which resulted in a famous 3-1 victory to Glentoran.

“In Sir Matt’s letter, he advises that no commitment was agreed to playing the match and that it would be subject to club commitments and agreement with manager, Wilf McGuiness.

“Little did Wilf McGuiness know that he would be sacked 10 days later on Boxing Day. It is all very reminiscent of the manner in which David Moyes was dismissed only a few months after succeeding Alex Ferguson."

Manchester United was to have been offered £3,500 to field a full team including its pin-up winger George Best, a native of Belfast. Leeds United would eventually be paid £4,000 for the match that took place on 5 May 1971.