60th anniversary of Hartlepool United’s famous FA Cup tie with Manchster United’s Busby Babes

The Pools team that played the Busby Babes
The Pools team that played the Busby Babes

IT’S a day forever imprinted in the memories of all those lucky enough to be squashed into the Victoria Ground.

The day Hartlepools United very nearly knocked the famous Busby Babes out of the FA Cup - which now celebrates it’s 60th anniversary.

On January 5, 1957 Pools hosted the mighty Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup.

Pools came from 3-0 down to almost complete the giant killing of all giant killings – eventually losing 4-3 to Matt Busby’s side.

Pools star striker Kenny Johnon was one of the Pools players on target on that famous day and his daughter, Julie Greenhow, told SportMail: “ I am proud to say I am the daughter of one of those goal scorers - Ken Johnson.

“Those were the days when Pools had a great team who played for the game and not the money. They were team players and goalscorers and a formidable manager in Fred Westgarth and trainer Ned Westgarth.

“Fred Westgarth was ill and couldn’t be at the match but got a message from Matt Busby to say what a great game our Hartlepools United team played to the very end. A game that still shines in the history of Hartlepool.

“Proud moments that generations of townfolk have lived over and over again.”

If you have relatives of a certain age, they will all tell you they were at the Victoria Ground for this David v Goliath contest.

As it was, the official attendance must have been wrong, it says ‘only’ 17,264 were there, not the 50,000 who said they were there!

Busby brought a side many footy historians rate as one of the best, only for the Munich Air Disaster to intervene.

The Busby Babes raced in front through Billy Whelan, Johnny Berry and Tommy Taylor, but back came Pools through Frankie Stamper, Kenny Johnson and Jackie Newton.

At 3-3, a replay beckoned, only for Whelan to hit the winner.

Seven of the Manchester United XI died in the Munich disaster – Roger Byrne, Eddie Coleman, Mark Jones, Duncan Edwards, Whelan, Tommy Taylor and David Pegg.

It was a game what Matt Busby later described in his autobiography as “the most exciting match I’ve ever watched.”