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When Manchester United Played A Home Game At Anfield

When Manchester United Played A Home Game At Anfield

Manchester United fans might know Anfield as the home of their most hated rivals Liverpool but on August 20th 1971 it became home for their own club, as they took on Arsenal.

There aren't many scenarios you could imagine fans on the Kop cheering on a Manchester United team playing in front of them but that's exactly what happened 48 years ago.

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United certainly didn't choose to abandon Old Trafford in favour of playing in Merseyside but after crowd trouble throughout the 1970/71 season, which culminated in fans throwing knives at the away end, the club were punished.

Alex Stepney looks on after Arsenal open the scoring. Image: PA Images
Alex Stepney looks on after Arsenal open the scoring. Image: PA Images

The FA decided to ban the Red Devils from playing their first two home games of the season at home, and had to find neutral venues instead.

After two away wins Frank O'Farrell's side rocked up at Anfield to face Arsenal with 27,649 fans in the ground, and United fans in the Kop, to watch the bizarre match.

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Frank McLintock gave champions Arsenal the lead after just four minutes but the 'hosts' put together a comeback to win 3-1. George Best assisted Alan Gowling for the equaliser before Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd secured the victory.

Speaking to the Guardian in 2010, goalkeeper for the day Alex Stepney was amongst several United players who revealed he didn't remember the match, saying, "I vaguely remember that we had to play two games away from Old Trafford, but I can't recall that match.

"I thought I'd only ever won one match at Anfield, when we beat Liverpool 4-1 [in December 1969] - so I can add a second win now," proving how little even players wanted to remember being at Anfield.

There was unfortunately more crowd trouble from the 'home' fans at Anfield, despite being there for that exact reason, with hundreds running onto the pitch before kick off.

The match was delayed as many United supporters tried to get into the Kop when they realised that was the end their team would be attacking in the first half.

Players, including George Best, look on as fans invade the pitch. Image: PA Images
Players, including George Best, look on as fans invade the pitch. Image: PA Images

Liverpool received 15% of the gate from the game and it was still the days of top tier sides splitting the money from the game so it really hit Untied in the pocket, although the punishment clearly didn't stop them picking up points.

Fans of Liverpool will have been glad that Stoke City's Victoria Ground, their home before they moved to the Britannia Stadium, played host to United's second game away from Old Trafford, a 3-1 win against West Brom.

One United win cheered on in the Kop will have been quite enough for everyone involved, don't expect it to happen again anytime soon.

Topics: Liverpool, Football News, Anfield, Football fans, Manchester United, English Football, Premier League, Arsenal, Old Trafford

Ryan Sidle

Ryan is a writer for SPORTbible. He covers all sport from football, formula one, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, mma and wrestling. He obviously hates YOUR football team and has no interest in synchronised swimming.

 

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