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Old 22nd December 2010, 21:37   #1
Oli Winton
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Tom,

Just seen your piece on Man U/ Man Utd in Red News. Fantastic stuff, very informative indeed as I have heard all the myths but did not know which were true.

Thanks,

Oli
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Old 22nd December 2010, 22:31   #2
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Thanks Oli Merry Xmas to you and yours.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 01:05   #3
Stu Parish
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Tom can you post on here?
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Old 23rd December 2010, 01:05   #4
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For those of you who haven't seen it:

“Man U” or “Man Utd” – Where Did it Originate From?

Once again the old chestnut about the origination of the term “Man U” or “Man Utd” has reared its ugly head. Just a few days ago the following poster was displayed upon a FaceBook Page, and it caused quite a lot of controversy thereafter. The poster was uploaded by somebody in India who goes under the pseudonym of Red Devils In India. The controversy caused did not surprise me, simply because the poster was misleading at best, and at its worst, so inaccurate in its accusations. It is an old chestnut that rears its head, mainly with younger supporters, time and time again. Perhaps it is time to nail this myth once and for all.

There is certainly nothing sinister, nor derogatory in either term, and neither reflect anything whatsoever to do with the Munich Air Disaster. To find the roots of both of those titles, you have to go back into early part of the 1900’s, and maybe even earlier than that. They are to be found in the history of newspapers both national, and local. Back then when there were no computers, reporters at football matches would telephone their match reports in to the newspaper, and they would speak to a copy writer who would manually type down what the reporter was saying. The copy writer would then send what he had typed, down to the print room where the compositors (typesetters) would set the report manually on the print plates, ready for the presses to roll.

The reporters were actually in the lap of the Gods where the copy writers were concerned because most of those copy writers would be employed on an ad-hoc or part time basis, and sometimes, the spoken word and what was passed to the print room, differed enormously, and the finished result could be quite comical. For example, the Irish football team Crusaders once appeared in print as “Crewe Sailors”, and “chunky” Sammy Lee appeared as “junkie” Sammy Lee. “Revie shot up in the air” became “Revie **** up in the air”. Years ago when the late Polish international Kaz Deyna was leaving City it was reported that he was “going home to Warsaw because he cannot understand the language” but it appeared in the paper as “going home to Walsall.”

Probably one of the funniest examples concerned the late Frank McGhee, who for years was the Daily Mirror’s chief football writer, and on this particular occasion was covering a European cup-tie during Shankly’s era. He began dictating copy over the ‘phone to the copy taker at his newspaper; “Liverpool produced another glory night at Anfield when they crushed the pride of Italian football………..” at which point, the copy taker, a “casual”, and an Indian who was as unfamiliar with Liverpool as he was with football, stopped him. “Excuse me Mr. McGhee, but I am stopping you because your grammar is incorrect.” Now Frank was an old school type reporter and could fly off the handle very quickly, and a “casual” copy writer pulling him for grammar was something that very easily lit his fuse.
Frank roared; “What the **** are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with my ****ing grammar ……. Just take the bleeding copy ….. the ****ing desk want it NOW!”
What dear old Frank had to listen to next was hilarious. “I am sorry Mr. McGhee, but I am insisting that you are very wrong. You are very fine writer but I am knowing from my school in Bombay that what you are saying is, gra – mat – ic – ally incorrect. You can say ‘a field’ or ‘the field’, but you most certainly must not say ‘an field!” But I digress.


Other news, and results would come in via telegraph etc, and again, these would be put together and sent down to the print room. The classified Football Results would then be set in type and in columns, a separate one for each Division of the Football League. These columns had to be uniformly aligned both horizontally and vertically. It would have been impossible to do this if the typesetters had to set in the full names of most of the clubs concerned. To alleviate this, they would use a club’s nickname i.e. Wolves, ‘Spurs, or they would abbreviate a club’s name. Sunderland for example would become S’land, Sheffield Wednesday would become Sheff Wed, Portsmouth would read as P’mouth. So a result that was to read like Middlesborough 2 Manchester United 2, would be altered to read something like, M’Boro 2 Man Utd 2. However, the end result was that all the columns would be uniformly set out and perfectly aligned when the newspaper was printed.
It was the same in later years when the results appeared on television screens, although back then, the reader would always read the abbreviation as the club’s full name, especially if it was the BBC. However, as we got into the mid ‘60’s and things got more technical, a new breed of journalist/reporter began to appear. Reporting got more sloppy and lazy, and the terms “Man U” and “Man Utd” started to be heard more and more from these people, and so it was inevitable that opposing team’s fans picked up on this. It was same when the teleprinter became a popular way of showing results on the tv – United’s name would come up and be shown as Man U or Man Utd. But these terms never, ever had anything to do with Munich, nor were they meant to be derogatory in any way. Just like the proverbial rolling stone, they have gathered stories as the years have rolled along through people who have put a slant on it to suit their own ends.

In the end, on top of lazy, sloppy journalism, it was just what the football fan saw, read, or heard that brought these terms for Manchester United into more frequent use. It is interesting to note that Big Fat Ron, even when he was managing United, has always referred to the club as “Man U.” So the real explanation for both terms is just very plain and simple.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 01:15   #5
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Excellent stuff Tom! A Merry Christmas to you!
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Old 23rd December 2010, 10:05   #6
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Cheers Tom, certainly clears up a few myths (and love the mention of my own team in there, Crusaders have been called many things in their time and Crewe Sailors is probably the nicest..C'mon the Hatchett Men!!)
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Old 23rd December 2010, 10:14   #7
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suspect there weren't any **** in the printed article!

thanks Tom, illuminating as always.

Thanks Oli for alerting us, and Tom for posting it here
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