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27 December 1955 Charlton 3 Manchester United 0

27 December 1955 was my 10th birthday.  I went with my Dad to our usual place on the huge old East Terrace to see Charlton beat the top-of-the-table pre-Munich Busby Babes 3-0 with goals from Gauld and Ryan and one OG.  After the match Charlton were 4th behind MU, Blackpool and Luton.   MU finished top that season and the next before suffering the air crash in 1958 which claimed the lives of more than half of the MU team I watched that day, including one of England's greatest - Duncan Edwards.

That Christmas season Charlton played 3 matches in 4 days (beating Bolton 3-1 on the 24th, losing 5-1 at Old Trafford on the 26th and then the home game on the following day.  On 31st they played a 4th match in a week (v Spurs)  And Premier League managers nowadays complain about fixture congestion!

The home programme against Spurs commented that the victory over MU 'was a crowning success and it did our hearts good to hear the full-throated roar of the 42,000 crowd when Jimmy Gauld scored the first goal.  But for Wood's brilliance in goal we would have routed United by a big score.  We certainly overplayed them, particularly in the first half'.    Getting carried away by euphoria it claimed 'The emphasis this season has been on attack and it cannot be disputed that this policy has reaped a rich harvest in goals but of course this all-out-for-goals plan has left a gap between forwards and wing half backs which has resulted in an unhealthy-looking goals against column.  No matter how many goals Charlton score we cannot win the league with an average of two goals per match scored against us, but if from now on our players can bridge that gap and cut the average down to one instead of two goals against, Charlton will stand a really good chance of winning the championship'.  Naturally, they didn't come anywhere near that unrealistic dream and faded badly to finish 14th before being relegated the following season.  After that I had to wait over 30 years, until my 40s, for Charlton's brief return to the top flight with Lennie Lawrence.   

The same programme also commented on the upcoming 3rd round FA Cup home tie against non league Burton Albion, saying that Burton 'are planning to bring a big contingent of supporters and everything points to a great match, with their players on a special diet'.  Burton were eventually dispatched 7-0.  I don't know the size of the  'contingent' Burton brought to that game but it must have greatly exceeded the meagre number at the recent League 1 fixture.  On the other hand the attraction of Charlton in these miserably diminished days is nowhere near what it would have been in 1955. 

A final memory of the 1955 MU match is that my Dad considered it important enough to take his brother Cyril, who had serious mobility issues caused by a bout of meningitis in his teens.  My uncle tottered alarmingly and unsteadily far down the crowded terrace to our usual place at a crush barrier near the gangway half way down and we had to wait until most had left the stadium at the end before clambering painfully slowly back.  Cyril was quite well recognised in Eltham because he used to sell evening papers, including the popular Saturday evening 'pink-uns' with the football results, stationed in a prominent position on the corner of the High Street outside Burton's Menswear (now McDonalds).   



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