Suffolk man’s memories of United’s 1968 triumph

MANCHESTER United’s involvement in tonight’s final at Wembley has rekindled cherished memories for one Suffolk man.

David Barker was a 19-year-old student when United beat Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final at the same venue 43 years ago to the day tomorrow.

Barker, who is a farmer from Westhorpe, said: “I have had an affinity towards Manchester United ever since the Munich air crash as I was only nine at the time and it had an affect on me.

“I used to keep a careful eye on their players and matches and when I was at agricultural college in Writtle, near Chelmsford I saw and advertisement - I think it was in a football magazine - for tickets for the final. Even though the semi-finals were still to be played, I decided to apply and so sent off a postal order for four tickets.

“Manchester United were due to play Real Madrid in the semi-finals, and I thought that even if they didn’t get through it was still a European Cup final and worth going to watch.

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“After Manchester United won in the semi-finals there was a huge clamour for tickets, and everyone at college wanted to join me in going to Wembley, and I decided to take three members of the college football team with me.”

Barker, who is now 62 and has been an Ipswich Town season-ticket holder for 40 years, said: “We went down to London on the train and stood behind one of the goals.

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“I remember with the score at 1-1 Eusebio, the Benfica striker, was clean through one-on-one with Alex Stepney, who made a great save and Eusebio stood there applauding him.

“Of course United then went on to win 4-1 in extra time and George Best, Brian Kidd and Bobby Charlton scored in the goal in front of us. It was an incredibly emotional night, bearing in mind what manager Matt Busby and the club had been through after Munich.

“George Best was an incredible player - I don’t think we will ever see his like again - and it was a wonderful team performance.”

Barker still has his programme, which cost one shilling, and stub from his ticket, which cost ten shillings.

“Four tickets cost the equivalent of just �2. Tickets for tonight’s final are �250 each, meaning four tickets cost �1,000!” he mused.

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