My father, Gordon Charles Dinnis was a man who loved football. I have been sorting through some old documents and papers of his this week and found a programme from the F.A. Cup Final of 1957. If you’ve read this far and think you’re not interested in football, please read on because this is much more than a story about the beautiful game.
One year before I was born, almost to the day, Dad treated himself to a day out at Wembley, to watch Aston Villa play Manchester United. I know he was definitely there, because he kept the ticket, as well as the programme, and he also talked a little about it, although there were some things he didn’t mention.
For this epic treat Dad bought a ticket in the South Grand Stand and we can see from the ticket details that he was in row 23, seat 22. He had decided to pay for a seat, instead of standing, which surprises me. The price is 15/- (fifteen shillings) and the programme was 1/- (one shilling). The back of the ticket has some interesting instructions printed on it.
“This ticket is issued subject to the Rules and Regulations of Wembley Stadium Limited, and upon the express conditions that the holder thereof shall not take a Camera or photographic apparatus of any description into the Stadium, nor shall the holder take any cinematograph picture or photograph of any kind. The possession of this ticket shall constitute an acceptance by the holder of the above conditions and imply an undertaking on his (or her) part to observe the same and also an admission of the right of Wembley Stadium Limited to confiscate any camera and/or photographic apparatus, film or plates in the holder’s possession; further, the holder of this ticket is requested not to stand in any gangway or in any stairway and to obey the instructions of the officials in this connection.”
Looking at the formation of the two teams, we find both favoured the 2-3-5 formation (or the W, as it was known) popular back in the 1950s. The game was a lot more physical then, and Manchester United’s goalkeeper, Ray Wood, suffered a broken cheekbone when he collided with Villa’s match winner Peter McParland. Wood was left unconscious and another United player, Jackie Blanchflower took over in goal.
Ray Wood returned on 33 minutes to take up an outfield position, (a virtual passenger) carrying a cloth with smelling salts on before again departing the field and returning in goal for the last seven minutes of the game. You wouldn’t get that happening today, which is just as well!
Villa won the game 2-1, the statistics show that 99,225 people attended the match and I am proud that my father was one of them.
I looked through the pages of the programme, keen to learn more about who was playing that day. The photograph of Manchester United is accompanied on the previous page by an article headlined “Babes” Can be Youngest Cup Winners.
This attracted my attention because I knew the Busby “Babes” to be very famous, and also to have been involved in a terrible plane crash which killed many of them. It seemed incredible to me that Dad had actually seen the Busby “Babes” play at Wembley. On checking the dates I found this website
The Munich Air Disaster was on Thursday 6 February 1958, just nine months after the team had appeared in the Cup Final at Wembley, and Dad had seen them playing. It was a terrible tragedy, with 23 of 43 passengers losing their lives, including six of the team that had played at Wembley: Roger Byrne, Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Eddie Colman, Liam Whelan and David Pegg.