Video of the Day: Reading vs Manchester United, August 1970
Football clubs have always been a bit of a bunch of suckers for pre-season tournaments. With sponsors more than happy to throw money at them and the opportunity to raise a little money from gate receipts, the temptation to give players a bit of a run out in something approaching a competitive environment has long been an offer too good to pass up. The arrival of The Watney Mann Invitiation Cup – better known as The Watney Cup – was one such curio. Running from 1970 until 1973, it pitted the two highest scoring teams from each division of the Football League that hadn’t been promoted or qualified for European competition against each other in a mini-tournament that ran from the start of August until the beginning of the new season.
Looking sparkly clean in their brand new kits on the first day of August in 1970, then, were Reading and Manchester United. Manchester United had finished the previous season in eighth place in the First Division and scoring sixty-six goals in the process, and new manager Wilf McGuinness, who’d been appointed in June of the previous year at just thirty-one years of age, apparently deemed the pre-season run-out important enough to justify a strong first team, including such familiar names as George Best, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Alex Stepney. For their part, Reading had finished the season in seventh place in the Third Division, having scored eighty-seven goals. ITV also considered the match important enough to broadcast extensive highlights, and the commentator for this programme is Brian Moore.
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