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17.99 Hardback

Includes over 80 
historic photographs

  ISBN 1 901 746 35 6

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Denis Law, hero of the Stretford End
by Brian Hughes
Published June 2nd 2003

"He didn't just act as if it was his ball.
He acted as if it was his stadium"

Paddy Crerand

"The greatest thing on two feet"
Bill Shankly

"The most exciting player in the game"
Sir Matt Busby


 

In the summer of 1962 Lawmania hit Old Trafford as fans instantly recognised a player brilliant enough to win games almost single-handedly. Over the next six years, he proved the catalyst for Matt Busby's final push for European glory and, though he missed the final in 1968, few doubted his influence. As distinguished Manchester United historian Brian Hughes makes clear, Law, more than any other player, typified United's flamboyance in this period.


In the latest of his biographies of former United greats Brian Hughes traces the Scots career from his arrival at Huddersfield as a 16 year-old to the dramatic conclusion of his career at Old Trafford playing for deadly rivals Manchester City. As Hughes discovers, Law remained a headline-writer's dream throughout a career that saw him land the FA Cup, European Cup and League Championship. Yet more than mere honours, the fiery Scot was an icon of the sixties and a hero to United fanatics on the Stretford End. His thrilling, all-action style marked a player with few peers in this period while his ability to win games almost single-handed made him the greatest British player of his generation.


In 1964 Denis was voted European Footballer of the Year, beating the likes of Luis Suarez and Eusebio to the coveted title. Yet his meteoric rise to fame didn't seem at all likely when, aged 15, he was scouted while playing for his school in Aberdeen. Scrawny and skinny, Law played with a squint until an operation corrected his vision. When he entered Huddersfield manager Andy Beattie's office for the first time, the manager believed he was the subject of an elaborate and very cruel practical joke.


Yet Law proved his doubters emphatically wrong. Under Beattie's successor, Bill Shankly, he came on leaps and bounds, his magnificent natural technique now allied to a strength able to withstand the attentions of the burliest of defenders. By 1958 he was capped for Scotland aged just 18 and in 1960 and 1961 he was the subject of big money moves to Manchester City and, later, Torino. But Law seemed destined for Matt Busby's Manchester United. Busby had already tried to sign the 16 year-old Law in 1956 but was turned down, so when Denis fell out with Torino's officials he was quickly on the phone to Matt.


The mid-sixties saw Denis don the mantel 'King' of Old Trafford for while Bobby Charlton was respected and George Best adored, Law was a fan's footballer, living out the dreams of his admirers before the Stretford End. Even his role in United's eventual fall from grace and relegation to the Second Division didn't dim the supporters' affection for him. Quite simply he remains 'the King'.

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