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Old 21st November 2004, 17:31   #1
tomclare
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Default Duncan Edwards - United's First Ever Treble Bid

"The Treble Bid"

Manchester united as League Champions, were invited to take part in the 1956/57 European Cup Competition. This was the second year of the new cup, created by the French sports newspaper. L'Equipe, for all the European Champions to enter. The previous season, Chelsea, on the advice of the Football league, turned down the opportunity to take part in the inaugural competition. The Football League felt that there was already enough games played during the season, and if teams were to travel all over Europe to fulfil fixtures, then it would have an adverse effect on the home competition.

Manchester United However, were eager to take part in the new Tournament, as Matt Busby felt that British football could only benefit from playing against the top Continental sides, and they accepted the invitation to take part. This now gave United the incentive to go for an amazing treble of the League, the F.A. Cup, and the European Cup, something that no English side had ever attempted. The challenge began with a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford against Birmingham City, and it was not until the 20th October that they lost a match, when Everton won 5-2 at Old Trafford. This excellent start took United to the top of the table, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur.

By then, the assault on Europe had begun, and in the First round of the European Cup they were drawn against the Belgian Champions, Anderlecht. In the first leg over in Brussels, United won 2-0, with goals from Dennis Viollet and Tommy Taylor, but Duncan missed this European debut by Manchester United due to an injury received the previous Saturday against Newcastle United at St. James Park. Three days after Brussels, Duncan had recovered sufficiently to reclaim his No. 6 shirt to play against Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford, and to snuff out the threat of the promising Albert Quixall. Newly promoted Wednesday were made to look considerably ordinary as the high-geared Manchester United won 4-1. Duncan stuck closer to Quixall than a prison warder, but the only time he was not near tackling distance, the Wednesday player scored. Two years later, Albert Quixall was to become a Manchester United player.

On 22nd September 1956, a mere three and a half years after making his debut, Duncan celebrated his 100th League appearance for United in the "Derby" fixture with City at Old Trafford. A 2-0 victory kept United at the top of the table and they fielded the following side, which was the eleven synonymous with the tag "The Busby babes" : Ray Wood, Bill Foulkes, Roger Byrne; Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, Duncan Edwards; Johnny Berry, Billy Whelan, Tommy Taylor, Dennis Viollet and David Pegg.

The second leg against Anderlecht was played at neighbouring Maine Road, on 26th September, due to Old Trafford still being without floodlights. The Belgians came to Manchester hoping to wipe out the 2-0 loss from the first leg, but on a sodden maine Road pitch they were thrashed by 10-0!!! Not one of the Football league Officials were present to see this amazing display, but they would have been left in no doubt what the public felt of such European adventures, as the 43,635 present gave the United players a standing ovation as they left the pitch at full time. The score could easily have been many more, but once United had scored the tenth goal, they eased up and spent the closing minutes of the game trying to get David Pegg on the scoresheet, as he was the only forward not to score.

From European Competition, to International involvement as Duncan, Tommy Taylor and Roger Byrne lined up for England against Northern Ireland, who included their team-mate Jackie Blanchflower, in Belfast on the 6th October. That same day, Manchester United played Charlton Athletic at Old Trafford, and included a youngster from the North-East, Bobby Charlton, for his debut as Taylor?s understudy. Bobby celebrated his call-up in style scoring twice against his namesake side, whilst over in Belfast, honours were even 1-1.

European Cup round two, saw the visit to Maine Road of the German Champions, Borrusia Dortmund, and a crowd of 75, 598 ( the largest at Maine Road since 1934) gathered in the hope of another goal avalanche. The game certainly got off to a flying start as Berry created the first for Viollet after only eleven minutes of play. In the twenty sixth minute Viollet struck number two, thanks to fine play from full back Billy Foulkes. Goal number three came nine minutes later, when a tremendous shot from pegg was deflected into the net off a Dortmund defender. Sadly, after such a fine start, the United team collapsed completely, and the Daily Despatch reporter Frank Taylor, was critical of the majority of the players in his report of the match the following day. He wrote: "Don't ask me why, but the "Babes" lost their poise in the second half, and it was the Germans who played pin-table football. I blame Roger Byrne for the first German goal, and I blame slack defending down the right flank for the second goal." Nobody escaped the scathing pen of Frank Taylor, a man who was to travel across Europe and almost give his life to United just a few years later. Frank went on...."United's inside forwards kept the wingers out of the game for long periods, and the wing half pairing of Colman and Edwards never had their usual grip on the match. A final score of 3-2 to United is not likely to be enough when the second leg is played on November 21st in Germany.....not on this showing anyway."

Three days later, a run of 26 League games without defeat came to an end at Old Trafford in a 5-2 loss to Everton. United had actually led 1-0 but again the defence had an off day, with Duncan no exception. It was in fact a mistake by Duncan which gave Everton their third goal, shortly before half time. Uncharacteristically, Duncan lost possession just inside then centre circle, when he had all the time in the world to do as he pleased. Gauld took the ball away from him and created a goal for the fast running left winger, Tommy Egglington. Everton held a 3-1 interval lead, but immediately after the restart, United pulled a goal back. The Merseysiders however, continued to have the home defence at sixes and sevens, and went on to score another two goals before full time.

It was back to Maine Road on October 24th and a 1-0 victory over neighbours Manchester city, the F.A. Cup holders, as Duncan increased his collection of honours with an F.A. Charity Shield winners award. The victory was well deserved, considering that United lost the services of Ray Wood, their goalkeeper after 37 minutes. Guess who donned the jersey briefly? Yes, Duncan Edwards took over in goal until half time before 15 years old David Gaskell took over as Wood?s replacement in the second half, and played so well that the media commentators thought that ray Wood had returned!

After letting that three goal lead go against Dortmund, amd losing to Everton, United hit a patch where injuries and results started to go against them, and with the return in Dortmund due, the chances of progress in Europe looked bleak. The attendance in Dortmund was swelled by some 7000 British Servicemen, and due to an injury to Dennis Viollet they saw Duncan line up at inside left. The German club had erected floodlights at their ground in just 21 days, and the match was an ideal opener for them. Ground conditions were against United, as the pitch was like a skating rink, and with no rubber studs with them, the united players struggled to keep their feet. For once in his life, Matt Busby decided that a defensive ploy would be the most advisable and Duncan found himself playing in a two man attack with Tommy Taylor. The opportunities that fell to the pair could be counted upon one hand, but Duncan came the closest of the two of them when a second half shot was kicked off the line by a German defender. The British troops gave the team tremendous vocal support, and were rewarded in the end with a result that saw United into the next round with a 0-0 draw. The German crowd also saluted the fighting display Duncan had given for England in Berlin some months before and he was the star personality of the United party, being followed by pressmen and photographers wherever he went.

With a successful result in Europe behind them, White Hart lane was the next stop, and a top of the table clash against Tottenham Hotspur. It was a match which showed everyone that Matt Busby?s team were in no mood to let their recent problems worry them, and confirmed that even the best of teams (and players) go through bad patches. There was in excess of 60000 inside White Hart Lane as the kick off approached, with ticket touts outside the ground selling 10/6d (52 and pence) tickets for 3 Pounds. The atmosphere was electric as play got underway, and with only seven minutes of the game played, United found themselves two goals down. Taylor missed an easy chance to put United back into the game, and Duncan, again playing at inside left, was unlucky to see a shot hit the foot of a post. Minutes later he had another attempt from some 30 yards but only hal hit it, and this prompted Alf Clarke to write....."It could not be said that Edwards was a heaven sent inside left. Of course there is a terrific difference between inside left and left half, but one at least expects better shooting from him." Early in the second half, Berry reduced the arrears, and threw the game wide open. Play went from end to end and kept the crowd on their toes. With two minutes to go, Duncan hit a through ball to Colman who managed to scramble the ball home for the equalizer. Then, with practically the last kick of the game, Duncan might have given united both points. He cut through the middle, but again, only half hit his shot, which went straight at a very surprised Ted Ditchburn in the 'Spurs goal. Even so, United were grateful for the point and so remained two points in front of their London rivals.

Luton Town came to Old Trafford the following Saturday and were beaten 3-1 with Duncan scoring one of his now rare goals. He was still in the number ten shirt in place of the injured Dennis Viollet and it took him only four minutes to open up the Luton defence. Eddie Colman and Tommy taylor began the move over on the right wing, with the latter running the ball back into Duncan's path. From fully 35 yards he hit a peach of shot with his left foot which went well outside the reach of a well beaten Ron Baynham in the Luton goal. Although his goals became few and far between, they were certainly worth waiting for! Shortly afterwards he came close again with a similar effort which thudded against the crossbar and went over the top, and later on went close again with another pile driver which actually hit Baynham, knocking him into the back of the net with the ball ballooning over the top of the bar! Further goals by Taylor and Pegg gave United a 3-1 win, but it was the shooting power of Duncan that attracted most of the headlines, with Alf Clarke in the Manchester evening Chronicle proclaiming....."Whizzer Edwards, He's the Wizard of the Wham" as he forgave Duncan for his misses of just a week earlier.

Being a Midlands lad, Duncan must have been very proud indeed on December 5th when he was selected for England in a World Cup Qualifying game against Denmark at Wolverhampton Wanderers Molineux ground. Playing for the first time at number ten in an England shirt, Duncan impressed everyone by scoring twice, with team mate Tommy Taylor hitting a hat-trick as England won comfortably by 5-2.

Duncan added to his goal tally before the year was out, when he scored their second goal in a 3-1 victory against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, on the last Saturday of 1956. Again, the Evening Chronicle gave him the headlines with: "Torpedo From Edwards Has Portsmouth All At Sea." Tommy Taylor had been injured against Cardiff City the previous Saturday and the United Manager surprised everybody by naming Duncan as centre forward. It was not a new position for him, as he had played there for the England Under-23 Team, and also for the United Youth side. Even so, he found playing centre forward in a First Division game a little different, and in the first forty five minutes, he missed scoring chances. One particular opportunity left him completely disgusted, when after a great run by Whelan, the ball was slipped to Viollet, who headed it back and down to Duncan?s feet. From only eight yards out, the experimental centre forward shot hopelessly wide. In the second half, as he took on a much deeper role, the openings eventually came. After 52 minutes a long ball over the Pompey defence by Whelan found Edawrds racing through. He quickly brought the ball under control and drove it past the Portsmouth goalkeeper, Norman Uprichard, and into the net. Shortly afterwards Duncan almost had another, but his shot cannoned off a defender and bounced to safety. United's third goal in the 69th minute was down to Duncan. He spied an opening as Viollet went racing through, and quick as lightning he sent a superb ball down the centre. Viollet collected it and beat two defenders before slipping the ball into the corner of the net. A brilliant goal, brilliantly conceived.

As usual, the first match of a New Year brought the F.A. Cup into the spotlight, and United began on the third stage of their treble hunt. They were drawn away to thiurd Division Hartlepool United, and almost fell at the first hurdle!

Duncan, was back at wing half, and Eddie Colman gave the forwards excellent support, and with early goals from Berry, Whelan and Taylor, United threatened to run riot. The home side pulled a goal back before half time, and then really shook United as they leveled matters at 3-3. Billy Whelan saved United's blushes with a late winner.

January was certainly Cup-tie month, with both F.A. and European matches to be played. Eleven days after the visit to homely Hartlepool, United were off to Spain where the opposition waiting for them was Athletico Bilbao in the Quarter Final of the European Cup. Spain was far from sunny when United arrived the day before the match and the outward journey had also been far from comfortable. The plane's heating system had developed a fault, which left the United party very cold. Thankfully, this was fixed as the plane refueled at Bordeaux. Duncan, as his previous trips abroad proved, was not the best of travelers and on reboarding the plane found the conditions now too hot! Feeling very air sick, he sat alone at the back of the aircraft looking ill and saying nothing until the plane touched down in Spain. On arrival in Bilbao he looked as though he wouldn't make the match the following day.

Conditions in Bilbao for the match were atrocious, with the pitch a mixture of mud and slush. Heavy snow and rain also fell at various times during the match, making football very difficult indeed. Bilbao had been defeated only once at home in three years, and this form showed true as they took a 3-0 first half lead. United were showing very little of the form which had defeated Newcastle United 6-1 the previous Saturday, or the magic of the Anderlecht matches, but within eight minutes of the second half kicking off, they had fought back to 3-2 with goals from Tommy Taylor and Dennis Viollet. Slack defending let the Spaniards back into the game with another two goals and it looked as if United would travel home with a three goal deficit to make up. However, in the dying minutes, Billy Whelan gave them a little less to make up when he scored a superb solo goal to make the final score 5-3 to Bilbao. Even so, against a side like Bilbao, this looked to be too much to make up, despite the class in the Manchester United side. Of Duncan?s performance, Frank Taylor in the News Chronicle said......."What a joy for English hearts to see Duncan Edwards, the blockbuster, biting hard in the tackle and shoving the ball about with so accurate passes" Still, Manchester United had the problem of getting home, with the team having to help out in sweeping the snow and ice off the wings of the plane before they could leave Spain.

Finally home, United had a fortnight to prepare for the second leg and had two League matches and an F.A. Cup tie to play before that. The League games brought a defeat and a victory, the latter an emphatic 4-2 win over Manchester City, with Duncan scoring the fourth goal. The F.A. Cup tie was another tricky visit to a Third Division side , this time over the border into Wales and a match at Wrexham. There were no problems this time though , with United winning easily by 5-0. And so Bilbao came to Maine Road on Wednesday 6th February 1957, to defend their two goal lead. United took to the field to a deafening roar from the capacity 75,000 crowd, and the Spaniards must have realised that they were up against more than a football team. The game was played in an atmosphere never before experienced on any ground in Britain, and right from the start, United went out for the goals that they required to see them through into the semi-final. Perhaps they were trying too hard as their passes seemed a little rushed and their shots made too early during the opening thirty minutes of play, as this period flashed by without a goal. The vital break through came just four minutes before the interval. From the touchline, Matt Busby signaled to Duncan to move upfield in support of the attack. Seconds later, the ball found its way as if by some unforeseen force to his feet and off he went heading straight for the Bilbao goal. As he got within shooting range, he let fly with a blockbuster the was partially stopped by a Bilbao defender, but Dennis Viollet was onto the rebound in a flash to rifle the ball home with no mistake..........one goal behind and forty five minutes to go!!!

Early in the second half, United had the ball in the Bilbao net twice, only to have both efforts disallowed, and the disappointment began to show in their play. Thankfully, it did not affect Tommy Taylor, and the big Barnsley-born player, who arrived at Old Trafford with his boots under his arm in a paper bag three years earlier, leveled the scoring. Bilbao then pulled every player back, and United were faced with a solid defensive wall for the last twenty minutes. As the minutes ticked away, players and fans alike were getting so tense, but with only a few minutes remaining, and a third match in Paris looking imminent, Tommy Taylor again took command and showed what a world class player he was. He drifted out wide to the left hand touch line taking the outstanding Bilbao centre half, Jesus Garay, with him. He showed Garay the ball and invited the tackle, which was accepted. A quick movement of the ball from left to right foot evaded Garay's lunge, and Tommy was away down the touchline. He had electric pace and as he began to turn inside towards the penalty box, his movement drew defenders towards him, and looking up he spotted little Johnny Berry, the outside right who had drifted infield and was hovering around the penalty spot. Without hesitation Taylor delivered and inch perfect ball to the little winger's right foot and he gleefully crashed the ball into the back of the net. The scenes were amazing and the cheers and roars of the crowd could be heard all over the City, and as the final whistle blew the crowd and the players went wild with delight. Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy danced down the touchline in front of the Maine Road Main Stand, and they openly shed tears of joy. Senor Enrico Guzman, the Bilbao President, said after the match; "Manchester United are a brilliant team and played much better than Bilbao. What struck me most though was the passion of the crowd! It wwas so inspiring to United. I thought that although we played well, our wing halfs let us down - the difference was Duncan Edwards!" Incidentally, it is interesting to note that for this match, United players were on a special win bonus of three punds! If they had drawn, it would have earned them one pounds ten shillings (one pound and fifty pence today!)

Duncan was again in the thick of things three days later when Arsenal found themselves on the wrong side of a 6-2 hiding. He scored one of those six from an unusual close-in effort. For the first time in his career he had scored with a tap in from on the Gunner?s goal line!

The week after came another first, this time Duncan scoring in consecutive matches for the first time, when his goal settled the F.A. Cup Fifth Round tie against Everton at Old Trafford. This goal, however, was a low skimming drive, which flashed into the net far out of the goalkeeper's reach from some 35 yards. Duncan later described it as his "finest ever goal." He was reported as saying, "It seemed that the old Everton jinx was still with us. We attacked and attacked, but just couldn?t put the ball into the back of the net. Albert Dunlop, the Everton goalkeeper was having one of those games when nothing seemed to go past him - he had a ?blinder? and made some outstanding saves. Then I picked the ball up in the centre circle, and as the Everton players retreated in front of me, I set off towards the goal . I hit the ball hard from outside of the penalty box and through the gap in the crowded penalty area. It hardly got off the ground and finally beat Dunlop's despairing dive and flew in to the back of the net. We were through!"


Bournemouth, who had defeated both Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur in previous rounds, stood between United and a second semi-final place.

An injury to Tommy Taylor gave Duncan another opportunity to show his versatility, by turning out at centre forward for the second time that season. He only lasted ten minutes in that position, because Mark Jones went off injured and Duncan had to move back to centre half. His play was in no way affected, and he took up something of an attacking centre half role! He was up in the attack for almost every corner kick and any stray crosses from the wing, and then back defending as capable as any regular centre half. The South Coast Club opened the scoring after 35 minutes, but Johnny Berry equalized on the hour. Five minutes later, it was Berry again with a penalty kick who sealed United?s victory. Joe Brown, who was once United's Youth Development Officer, then played for Bournemouth, and it was he who gave away that penalty kick, but he also recalled Duncan Edwards:

"He was a towering figure that day, and just seemed so impassable" So Manchester United were now in two semi-finals and still strong favourites for the Championship.

Duncan continued at centre forward for the next game against Aston Villa, but returned to his usual number 6 shirt for the trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers seven days later. Bobby Charlton goals in both of these games gave United 1-1 draws, and also a 5 point lead over Preston North End, with a game in hand also.

Just to show United?s strength in depth and that even more starlets were coming off the production line, the team that went to Everton for a League match and won 2-1, was without Duncan, Eddie Colman, Billy Foulkes (due to Army commitments!) and Mark Jones and Tommy Taylor (both injured!)

March 23rd saw a trip across the Pennines to Hillsborough, Sheffield and the first of the two semi finals that United were involved with. Their opponents were Birmingham City who were beaten finalists the season before, and more than a useful team. The United team arrived at the ground just 35 minutes before the kick off, but were quickly off the mark when it came to goals! Only 12 minutes had elapsed when Johnny Berry cracked a left foot shot high into the net, and 60 seconds later a Bobby Charlton thunderbolt had made it two. Birmingham attacked the United defence for the rest of the game but with Duncan and his team mates holding strong, the score remained 2-0, and a United victory was best summed up by Alf Clarke, in the Football Pink, who wrote....."Edwards was in typical dominating form, often doing the work of three men."

All the home European Cup ties played so far that season had to played at Maine Road because of the lack of floodlights at Old Trafford. However, on Monday 25th March 1957, all that altered with the switching on of United's own lights. Unfortunately, with Duncan back at centre forward, Bolton spoiled the event by winning 2-0 in the Football League. Goals had never been Duncan's strong point. If most of his efforts had passed on the opposite side of the posts then he would have led the scoring charts every season! Still, when they did come they were always well worth waiting for. One of those specials came on Saturday 6th April, not for United but for England against Scotland at Wembley.

It was Duncan's third International of the season, and it was certainly his best performance. Scotland took an early lead after only a minutes play, and England struggled for the rest of that half. Duncan stopped a free kick on the line, with the goalkeeper well beaten, but his forceful play just could not get England into the game. They did however manage to equalize after 64 minutes, and this did seem to change the course of the game. They began to press forward more, and the Scots seemed to lose much of their early confidence. Then, with only 7 minutes remaining, the ball broke to Duncan, 25 yards from goal and wide out on the left. He turned inside and let fly with a brilliant effort that never left the ground and rifled into the back of the net - it proved to be the winning goal.

On the same day that he scored that winning goal at Wembley, Duncan was named as the Manchester Evening Chronicle "Footballer of the Year." He was elected as the winner by readers of the Football Pink, who voted throughout the season for their top player. Duncan won with a total of 27,716 votes, and held off the challenge of second placed Tom Finney, who had 27,023 votes. The Editir of the Football Pink wrote..."Winning the Evening Chronicle Player of the Year trophy is a well deserved honour fpr the Manchester United left half, who at the age of just 20 is one of football?s most dynamic figures, and already he has gained ten full caps for England." He was the forst United player to win that trophy.

Five days later, Duncan was packing his bags and passport, and making the second trip of his season to Spain. This time he was heading for Madrid, and the semi final first leg of the European Cup against the holders, Real Madrid.

Interest in this game was phenomenal. Both television and radio giving this match wide coverage. On the evening before the game, Granda T.V.'s "Sports Outlook" was mainly devoted to a preview of the game, while the B.B.C.'s "Sportsview" also previewed the match. B.B.C. Radio were also broadcasting the last half hour of the game on radio, with 25 minutes of recorded highlights on television the night after. Sadly, the radio and television didn't make good listening or viewing for the United supporters, as the Spanish Senors showed their outstanding skills in a 3-1 defeat of their Manchester counterparts. The United players, however were not too downhearted as they felt that they could certainly make up the difference when they got the Spaniards back to Old Trafford in the second leg.

Two days after returning from Madrid, Luton were defeated 2-0, a 3-1 victory on Good Friday at Burnley followed, and on April 20th, a 4-0 victory at Old Trafford gave United the League Championship for the second consecutive season. In that title winning match, Duncan scored his first League goal for two months. After coming close with a 35 yard drive in the first half, he found the net with just six minutes remaining, when he fastened onto the ball some 35 yards out, and then hit a cannon-ball shot which the Sunderland 'keeper seemed to duck out of the way of, as he dived underneath the ball as it flew into the net. So, the first part of the Treble had been completed, with three League games still left to play.

Part two continued the following Thursday, when Real Madrid stood between United and a place ion the European Cup Final. Duncan was the one man in the United lineup who could equal all those magical Spaniards, apart from Di Stefano. It was Di Stefano's brilliance that gave Real a shock 2-0 lead and left the Manchester crowd speechless. Then United steadied and continued to play the football that had win them the League Championship. Duncan had a storming game and was all over the pitch urging and cajoling his team mates forward. It was a non stop assault on the Real Madrid goal. Tommy Taylor pulled one back after 61 minutes, but it was now a race against time. The Spaniards resorted to all kinds of gamesmanship and tricks to waste time, and with just 5 minutes to go, Bobby Charlton equalized to make the score 2-2, but it was now just too late, and dreams of a place in the European Cup Final disappeared in that misty Manchester evening. All that was left now was the illusive League and Cup double, which had never been achieved since United?s Wembley opponents, Aston Villa managed it in 1897. The "double" dream lasted all of six minutes because at that moment in the game, McParland of Aston Villa charged United's goalkeeper Ray Wood, and both players fell to the ground. McParland was fit to continue, but the unfortunate Ray Wood was carried off with a shattered cheekbone.

Jackie Blanchflower took over in goal, and Duncan went to centre half as the ten man United team faced an uphill task. Jackie Blanchflower performed real heroics in the United goal, and was clearly the outstanding player on the pitch. Duncan also turned in a wonderful performance as could be expected in such circumstances . United's ten men fought so gallantly, but Villa slowly began to get into the game more and more - even so, at the end of the first 45 minutes, there was still no goals. Wood reappeared at outside right for a brief spell before the break, but failed to come out for the second half.

On 67 minutes, Villa took the lead, ironically, through McParland, but just before this happened, Duncan had an opportunity to do the same for United. Tommy Taylor had been brought down just outside the Villa penalty area, and from Berry?s free kick, Duncan miskicked completely. McParland struck again on 72 minutes with a goal that looked more than offside, and it looked all over for United. However, they refused to give in, and in a desperate gamble to Busby brought Ray Wood back on in goal.

Duncan and Jackie Blanchflower moved back to their original positions and United threw everything at Villa. Duncan, never one to accept defeat, seemed intent on taking them on single-handed. He attacked at every opportunity and wasted no time with throw ins. With just 7 minutes remaining, he rushed over to the left hand side to take a corner, and from his kick he found the head of Tommy Taylor, who, although moving backwards to get his head behind the ball, powerfully bulleted the header into the net from 12 yards. United had the ball in the Villa net again with just three minutes left, but it was disallowed in a contentious offside decision. So, Duncan had no F.A. Cup Winner's medal to go with the rest of his honours, but along with the rest of the United team, he promised the supporters that they would be back next year................

Duncan's season did not finish with the F.A. Cup Final but extended to the end of May, during which time he played 3 times for the full International side, and twice for the Under-23 team.

The three full Internationals were all World Cup qualifying ties, and all played within 11 days. But these matches simply enhanced Duncan's reputation as an International star. England beat Eire 5-1 at Wembley, Denmark 4-1 in Copenhagen, and then held Eire 1-1 in front of a packed Dublin crowd to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Sweden. In Dublin, Duncan marked clubmate Billy Whelan, and both played superbly.

When Duncan was flying to Bucharest to join his England Under 23cteam mates after the Dublin World Cup match, he spotted a MIG fighter plane flying dangerously close, buzzing around like an angry wasp. On arrival at his hotel, he met Daily Express writer Bob Pennington and related to him what had happened, but swore him to secrecy. It wasn?t that he minded anyone knowing about his fears of flying, but told Bob, "We don't want any trouble here behind the Iron Curtain. If you print this it will upset the whole tour."

In the match against Rumania, Duncan set up England?s 1-0 victory when he feinted to slam home a free kick, but then slipped a short ball to the unmarked Johnny Haynes who had the simplest of tasks in scoring. The team then went on to Czechoslovakia and in Bratislava, Duncan scored both goals in a 2-0 victory.

Back home in Manchester after his international adventures, it was time for Duncan to recharge his batteries for the following season, a season he was surely about to help lift the Treble for The Reds!
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