Manchester United 3–5 West Bromwich Albion (1978)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion (1978)
Manchester United F.C. 3–5 West Bromwich Albion F.C. (1978) programme.png
Match programme
Event1978–79 Football League First Division
Date30 December 1978
VenueOld Trafford, Manchester
RefereeGwyn Pierce Owen (Anglesey)
WeatherVery cold, snow

The first fixture between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion in the 1978–79 Football League First Division season was played on 30 December 1978 at Old Trafford, Manchester.[1] The scores were level at 3–3 at half-time, before West Brom scored twice in the second half to win the match 5–3. As winners, they received two league points in the 1978–79 Football League First Division.

The game was described at the time as "Game of the Century" and is still regarded as one of the greatest games of English football. The West Brom team featured three Black British players – Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson; nicknamed "The Three Degrees" after the African-American vocal group, they blazed a trail for black footballers in England and were frequently the subject of racist abuse, including "audible boos" from Manchester United fans in this game.[2]


Before the game commenced, West Bromwich Albion were at the top of the First Division, while Manchester United were in 10th place. West Brom were on a roll, having won games in December 1978 against Valencia (2–0, in the UEFA Cup), Middlesbrough (2–0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (3–0) and Arsenal (2–1). United, on the other hand, were coming off consecutive 3–0 defeats against Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool and had dropped several positions in the table.

The game was televised with extended highlights on Granada Television with commentary by Gerald Sinstadt.[3]



Manchester United3–5West Bromwich Albion
B. Greenhoff Goal 21'
McQueen Goal 30'
McIlroy Goal 32'
Report T. Brown Goal 27'45'
Cantello Goal 28'
Cunningham Goal 76'
Regis Goal 84'
Attendance: 45,091
Referee: Gwyn Pierce Owen (Anglesey)
Manchester United
West Bromwich Albion
GK 1 England Gary Bailey
LB 3 Scotland Stewart Houston
CB 2 England Brian Greenhoff
CB 6 Scotland Martin Buchan (c)
RB 5 Scotland Gordon McQueen
LM 7 England Steve Coppell
CM 4 Northern Ireland Sammy McIlroy
CM 10 Scotland Lou Macari
RM 11 Wales Mickey Thomas
CF 8 England Jimmy Greenhoff Substituted off 46'
CF 9 England Andy Ritchie
MF 12 Northern Ireland Tom Sloan Substituted in 46'
England Dave Sexton
GK 1 England Tony Godden
RB 2 England Brendon Batson
CB 5 England John Wile (c)
CB 6 Scotland Ally Robertson
LB 3 England Derek Statham
RM 4 England Tony Brown
CM 7 England Bryan Robson
CM 10 England Len Cantello
LM 11 England Laurie Cunningham
CF 8 England Alistair Brown
CF 9 England Cyrille Regis
England Ron Atkinson
Match officials
Match rules
  • 90 minutes
  • No extra time or penalties
  • One named substitute


The league season ended in May 1979 with West Brom finishing third and United ninth.[4]

Len Cantello's volleyed goal was voted Goal of the Season for 1978–79 on ATV's Star Soccer show.[5]

In May 2013, former players (Tony Brown, John Wile, Cyrille Regis, Brendan Batson and manager Ron Atkinson from West Bromwich Albion; Gordon McQueen and Martin Buchan from Manchester United)[6] reunited at The Hawthorns (West Brom's home ground) to commemorate the famous match, as part of the Celebration Statue 1979, culminating on 15 July 2014 with the unveiling of a sculpture of Albion's iconic trio Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson. Batson described the 5–3 win as "a seminal game [for black players] in many respects because of how well we played."[7][8]

In The Guardian in 2013, Scott Murray described the game as the "signature performance" of Cunningham and of that great West Brom team.[9]

Nick Constable, in Match of the Day: 50 Years of Football (2014), described it as one of the greatest games ever, saying "Cunningham on the ball was the enduring memory of the game — shrugging off pathetic racist boos with a performance that oozed class, grace and pace. If ever a winger was art in human form, it was Cunningham that night."[10]


  1. ^ "Manchester United - West Bromwich Albion 3:5 (Premier League 1978/1979, 23. Round)".
  2. ^ "Classic Moments: Man Utd 3-5 West Brom, 1978 - Who Ate all the Pies". Who Ate all the Pies.
  3. ^ "Video of the Day: Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion, December 1978 - Twohundredpercent".
  4. ^ "Football Statistics Archive".
  5. ^ Matthews, Tony (15 July 2013). "West Bromwich Albion: The Top 100 Matches". Amberley Publishing – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "West Brom heroes remember 5-3 win over Manchester United".
  7. ^ Lepkowski, Chris (7 December 2012). "Level of abuse was a big shock recalls West Brom legend Brendon Batson".
  8. ^ "Statue to honour WBA's black trio". 1 August 2012 – via
  9. ^ Murray, Scott (27 September 2013). "The Joy of Six: Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion - Scott Murray". the Guardian.
  10. ^ Constable, Nick (15 September 2014). "Match of the Day: 50 Years of Football". Random House – via Google Books.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]