Video of the Day: Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion, December 1978

by | Mar 5, 2016

Much as it may seem difficult to believe to our modern, multi-cultural eyes, there was a time when having three black players in the same was treated as if it was a novelty. The signing of Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson by West Bromwich Albion was considered dangerously exotic by some and a reason to spew hatred and bile by others. These three players, however, were the spark behind the West Bromwich Albion team of the time, a team that was packed with skill and creativity yet somehow managed never to win a major trophy.

Nicknamed – again astonishingly – “The Three Degrees” by manager Ron Atkinson, on their day Cunningham and Regis were amongst the best attacking players in England. This wasn’t, however, enough to prevent hate mail and abuse from the terraces, and this morning’s Video of the Day features commentator Gerald Sinstadt calling out abuse coming from the stands at Old Trafford as West Bromwich Albion fought their way to a memorable win there on the last day of 1978.

Albion travelled there that day sitting at the top of the First Division, whilst Manchester United, still arguably in their protracted rebuilding phase following relegation from the top flight and promotion back several seasons earlier, were in a somewhat lowly tenth place in the table. The cameras of Granada Television were at Old Trafford to record what has come to be remembered as one of the defining games of the late 1970s in English football as a thrilling Albion team overcame falling behind and an outstanding performance from the young Manchester United goalkeeper Gary Bailey to record a famous win.

This video is a complete recording of Granada’s highlights show The Kick Off Match, so it also features interviews with managers Ron Atkinson and Dave Sexton, as well as with the two goalkeepers, the aforementioned Bailey and Albion’s Tony Godden. And tacked onto the end are brief highlights of another First Division match, between fourth placed Arsenal and bottom of the table Birmingham City. Commentary for this match comes from who else but Brian Moore.

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