Best, Law and McKechnie: How Hull City and Manchester United wrote English football history
The two teams played out the first competitive penalty shoot-out at Boothferry Park
Alan Hardaker, Football League secretary and son of East Yorkshire, made it clear in the summer of 1970 that there had to be a reform way.
Coin tosses could no longer be used settle tense cup ties. Instead it would become a examination of nerve, rightness and character. “It bequeath honest to settle thing by real football,” uttered Hardaker.
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And with that the penalty shoot-out was introduced to English football.
Hardaker could not posses intimate the finest one would be staged in his home city but on August 5, 1970 came a seldom chapter of history in front of 34,000 at Boothferry Park.
The Watney Cup semi-final; Hull City at home to Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United.
A 1-1 invent in 90 minutes, with Dennis Law cancelling out Chris Chilton’s opener, brought extra-time before another half an hour of accomplishment moreover failed to disunion the two teams.
That coagulate up the blessing competitive penalty shoot-out on English smear and it was City goalkeeper Ian McKechnie who high from god to rogue in outside of Bunkers Hill. McKechnie might have saved from countryman Law but fired his obtain penalty lambaste the fastening to ensure the Tigers were eventually beaten 4-3.
“No one spoke to me in the flavouring room afterwards,” spoken McKechnie, who died in 2015 after moulding 284 appearances for City. “And they had all bottled out.”
McKechnie can at least cling to his vocation in English football legend thanks to the events of 50 years ago and so, too, can City. Plenty have felt the heartache of a penalty shoot-out but they commit always be the finest thanks to the short-lived Watney Cup.
City were one of eight teams selected to compete in what was moreover the top ever sponsored tournament in English football. The mission was to move the two top scoring teams from all four divisions together, conjuring an entertaining appetiser ahead of the 1970-71 season.
“One feature of the Watney Cup is that the organisers guarantee goals,” the schedule notes read. “That’s not so many a gimmick as a fact. That’s why you’ll enjoy the Watney Cup. It’s designed to provide all that is upright in football. It seems a unbiased venture that the cry from much soccer followers could well be, to turn a phrase, ‘What we enthusiasm is the Watney Cup’.”
Watney Mann, a London brewery and producers of the appealing Watney’s Red Barrel, paid £82,000 for an eight-team, eight-day tournament, with the hindmost played to opposition the 1970 Charity Shield amongst Everton and Chelsea.
City, who had scored 72 goals when finishing 13th in Division Two the previous season, got off to a flying inspire underneath renewed stud Terry Neill, battering Peterborough United 4-0 away home in their quarter-final.
That thicken up a home semi-final inveigh Manchester United to snatch the imagination. and they peace boasted the stars that had inspired victory in the European Cup later castigate Benfica two years earlier.
Hull City: Ian McKechnie, Don Beardsley, Roger Devries, Billy Wilkinson, Terry Neill, Chris Simpkin, Malcolm Lord, Ken Houghton, Chris Chilton (Stuart Pearson), Ken Wagstaff, Ian Butler
Manchester United: Alex Stepney, Paul Edwards, Tony Dunne, Pat Crerand, Ian Ure, David Sadler, Willie Morgan, Dennis Law, Bobby Charlton, Brian Kidd, George Best
George Best, Bobby Charlton, Pat Crerand and Alex Stepney joined Law in a star-studded brace that headed to Boothferry Park for what was to be Neill’s best entertainment as City’s player-manager at the age of 28.
“Over 34,000 overripe up; can you suppose it, a company of that size for what was rightful a pre-season friendly,” Chilton wrote in his autobiography Chillo.
“Obviously a mountain of the appeal was seeing Manchester United and all their stars: Best, Law, Charlton etc but I think there was a mountain of wellbeing from the family of Hull in seeing how City would earn on beneath Terry.”
It was Chilton who put the Tigers ahead with a trademark header after only 11 minutes, a vanguard that City would garrison for over an hour until Law struck unpunctual on.
“What a marvellous item it was to playing castigate Manchester United!” wrote Chilton. “I scored with a header… but as it was the pastime absolute 1-1 and we had a penalty shoot-out to decide the winners.”
The spot-kicks began with Best moulding no fault before his Northern Ireland team-mate Neill responded.
“Bobby Charlton is a moral individual of mine and he did me a favour,” verbal Neill in The Century: Ten Years That Transformed Hull City AFC. “He took the coin off the adjudicator and didn’t sublet me see it. He bluefish looked at me and said: ‘It’s you to carry a penalty, Terry.’ So I took the best one.
“And I envisage that Alex Stepney, as a favour to an old pal, dived early, as I was thinking: ‘This is my home debut in appearance of 34,000 people and I’m taking the elite penalty in a shoot-out.’ I licit whacked it and it went in thanks to Alex.”
Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton then both scored for Manchester United, as did Butler and Ken Houghton for City to bequeath the horde tied at 3-3.
McKechnie momentarily became the spot-kick ruler when saving to contradict Law from 12 yards but an uncharacteristic schoolgirl from Ken Wagstaff briskly adage City surrender the initiative.
Willie Morgan put Busby’s angle 4-3 up and that left the Tigers needing to incision to elude defeat. Chilton had been replaced by a teenager Stuart Pearson, who would go on to win the FA Cup with United, so bizarrely it was McKechnie who stepped up.
“I was licit stood with the orb waiting for one of our players to manage the penalty but no-one would come forward,” oral City’s keeper, who had been a left winger in his formative years with Arsenal.
“The coach John McSeveney shouted to me to bear it. Apparently all the further lads had mislaid AWOL. I wasn’t supposed to transact a penalty and I knew it could reasonably juicy hit the nook flag.
“I knew Alex Stepney from when he was at Millwall and I was with Arsenal and Southend United and there was some hearsay about goalkeepers always being the heroes and never the villains in such circumstances.
“Alex asked: ‘What are you doing?’ I spoken I was acceptance one censure him and he said: ‘You’re joking!’ I had a go and I hit the irascible bar.”
The night – and chronicle – belonged to United, who would go on to avoid 4-1 to Derby County in the final, earning Brian Clough his finest piece of silverware as a manager.
City, meanwhile, would retain to wait another 17 years for a later penalty shoot-out and another 36 years before finally winning one at home to Hartlepool United in the League Cup. Perhaps events of 1970 were a device of things to come.