As the 1983 – 1984 football season began English clubs were still dominating Europe and the best players at the top clubs were British. There weren’t many foreign players knocking about in those days. Big Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United were a very entertaining team to watch that was filled with players that are seen today as United Greats. The late great Ray Wilkins, Big Norman Whiteside, Frank Stapleton, Kevin Moran and the original Captain Marvel himself Bryan Robson were all stalwarts of that early 80’s United side.
United’s summer of 1983 was one to remember as they comfortably beat Liverpool at Wembley, to lift the Charity Shield, the final score 2 – 0 in favour of the Red Devils. United could look forward to the new season with confidence. That Charity Shield victory was a victory to savour as revenge was gained for the previous seasons League Cup final defeat at the hands of the Anfield club, a final Robson missed for United. However, when Robbo returned for United against the Scousers in the Charity Shield game it was Robson’s goals that claimed the Shield for the Old Trafford team.
“I told Martin Edwards (then Manchester United chairman) when he signed Bryan Robson: ‘It’s not even a risk. He’s solid gold.’” Ron Atkinson.
“As a midfield player, Robson had everything – goals, passing, tackling, and a remarkable work-rate. Captain Marvel for Manchester United and England and a true leader who was brave to a fault, injuries prevented him from reaching a deserved century of England caps. The outstanding British footballer of the 1980s who stuck around to inspire United’s re-emergence as England’s top club side under Sir Alex Ferguson. His namesake Bobby Robson swore by him during eight years in charge of the national team, and judges don’t come any shrewder than Bobby and Fergie.” Jimmy Greaves
“When Robson plays football, he must expect to get hurt, because that’s him. When he sees a ball, irrespective of where it is on a football field, he automatically goes for it. Afterwards, he sometimes says, ‘I don’t really know why I went for it.’ And he’ll be asking that when he’s lying in the treatment room. But that is Robson, and that is the end of the story with him.” Brian Clough
As far as the kit goes the United shirt underwent a slight change from the previous season. The Sharp logo on the front of the shirt would see the removal of the word electronics, and underneath the club crest the FA Cup Winners 1983 embroidery was added following their cup final victory over south coast club Brighton and Hove Albion. Only subtle changes yes, but that was all that was needed. United’s early Adidas kits looked the mutts nuts, simple but classy.
The impressive white away shirt was only worn five times that season. The first time was away to Arsenal at Highbury that saw a good away win for United as they defeated the Highbury 3 – 2 thanks to goals from Kevin Moran, Bryan Robson and former Arsenal player Frank Stapleton.
The second time was at Upton Park, Ray Wilkins scoring in a 1 - 1 draw vs West Ham. Frank Stapleton pictured below.
Again, early in the New Year at Anfield, the match ending in a 1 – 1 draw, United’s goal coming from the Shankill Skinhead himself Norman Whiteside.
The next time was a few days later in that infamous FA Cup defeat away to third division side Bournemouth.
Finally it was worn in a 3 - 0 win at Villa Park on 3rd March 1984. Moses, Whiteside, and Robson were the goalscorers.
Overall it was a decent season for Atkinson’s United. This was the season that saw United have a good run in the European Cup Winners Cup that featured that excellent home game against Diego Maradonna’s Barcelona. United came back against the Spanish side from two goals down from the away leg to win 3 – 0, underneath the lights of Old Trafford. It’s easily one of the best games that I have ever witnessed from the Stretford End. We were packed like sardines in there; the place was physically rocking all night. Domestically, United finished in fourth place that season, finishing on 74 points below Nottingham Forest also on 74 points. It was to be goal difference that made sure that it was Forest that ended up in third.
The 1983 – 1984 season saw the first team emergence of Mark Hughes, who was to become one the modern Greats of Manchester United. During his two spells at Old Trafford Hughes would go on to score 120 goals and with United he went on to win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, three Charity Shields, one European Cup winners’ Cup and a European Super cup medal. A decent haul of winners medals by anyone’s standards. Personal silverware would come in the form of P.F.A. Young Player of the Year in 1985 and the P.F.A. Player’s Player of the Year in 1989 then again in 1991.
Richard Fenton. May 2018.Follow @MancRicky