2019 will mark the centenary year for Selby Town Football Club. In those 100 years the town has faced a great deal of change, and from the decline of the shipping industry, to the closure of the mines, it has felt its fair share of hard times. Yet now with investment and development, the town is again on the up, and serves as a vital centre point between all of the major motorways and cities of the north. On the pitch, Selby Town Football Club has also faced challenges. It has had to adapt as it outgrew its original home at the bowling green in the centre of town, it has had to help lead the way in first the Yorkshire League, and then the NCEL, and it has had to live up to the high hopes and expectations of everyone associated with the club. On the whole, there have been many good times, yet also some bad, but few could argue against the fact that overall it has been a hundred years to be proud of.
With the centenary soon to be upon us, hopefully we can make it something to remember (promotion and a cup final win would be a good start!). With planning for the centenary celebrations underway, I want to take a step back, and return to 1999, the year of Selby’s 80th birthday to see how we did things then, because not content with letting that special time pass with little fanfare, Selby went all out and pulled off a host of exciting friendly matches, including those against two big sides: Leeds United, and Manchester United, and it is the latter of the two that I’m going to focus on here.
To put this game into context, the turn of the century was mid-way through Alex Ferguson’s long and successful reign at Manchester United. This period of time was one that was full of trophies and plaudits for the squad he’d crafted, and as well as being fresh from winning the Premier League title, Manchester United had also rounded the season off by achieving the treble with victory in the FA Cup and the Champions League. The ‘98/99 squad was full of exciting players such as Beckham, Schmeichel, Giggs, and Scholes, and it was arguably at its peak. Selby Town too were doing well – albeit in a world far from the bright lights and ever increasing wages of the FA Premier League – having achieved promotion to the NCEL Premier Division three seasons earlier. It was an exciting time, and hopes were high that at least some of the Manchester United first team would turn up to play in the friendly. Supporters of both sides were not disappointed…
1500 supporters poured into the ground we now know as the Fairfax stadium, and for those familiar with the tight path to the ground through Richard Street, it’s hard to imagine how they all fit!
David Beckham and Paul Scholes were both part of the team, and Alex Ferguson himself also turned up to watch the proceedings. Autograph hunters had a field day, desperate to grab those all important scribbles in their books and programmes, lining up before and after the game, and even charging onto the pitch in excitement before the match and whilst it was still playing.
During the game itself, the Manchester United reserve team (plus the two stars) pulled off a 6-1 win, which was probably not unexpected yet still Selby put up a good fight. Scholes got on the score sheet and both him and Beckham (fresh from his honeymoon to ‘Posh spice’) played for the majority of the game. In fact it was when Beckham was substituted that the match came to an end when enthusiastic supporters once again invaded the pitch and forced the referee to bring the game to an end. For Selby Town, it was a real moment in the spotlight, especially for Dominic Moyles the former skipper of Selby Town, who was Selby’s only goal scorer. There are few people at this level who can proudly say that they’d scored past Manchester United, certainly a memory to cherish.
As you can see I have posted up some press clippings from the time as well as pages from the programme that was released to coincide with the game. The ‘Robins Review’ didn’t divert from the standard look of Selby’s programme at that time, with only the sticker on the front signalling that they were to be playing Manchester United. I particularly like how the match ball was sponsored by ‘Tandoori Kitchen’ who were also to donate £1 to Selby Town for every curry that they sold – a great promotion!
The Selby team featured the standard league side for that period, notable names including the aforementioned Dominic Moyles (Radio X DJ Chris Moyles’s cousin) as well as the Selby legend Chris Collier – was there ever a game that he didn’t play in? The programme also states how it was the third game played in five days for Selby Town, with that insight it’s amazing to think Selby held it together to just a 6-1, although with postponements piling up this season we might end up in a similar situation in a few months time.
Now as thoughts turn to the 100 year anniversary of the club, what can we do to top a visit from Manchester United? Invite Messi round for a pint in the clubhouse? Who knows, but whatever happens you count on Selby Town to make sure it’ll be one to remember. Yorkshire folk might be seen as a bit tight with money, but we know how to throw a party!
Just to finish off, there was a quiz in the match day programme and I thought I’d recreate it here. Have a go and see if you can solved this thirty year old quiz!
- Who played in both Manchester United’s 1985 and 1995 FA Cup Final sides?
- Which two Munich crash survivors played in the 1968 European Cup Final?
- Who was United’s first ever league substitute?
- Who took over as an emergency keeper in the 1957 FA Cup Final?
- To two either way, how many international caps did George Best win?
- What year did Sir Matt Busby become United’s Manager?
- Against which team did Bryan Robson score his last goal in a competitive match?
- Who was sent off in the 1990’s European Champions League 3-1 defeat in Gothenburg?
- Bobby Charlton’s last United league appearance was at which ground?
- Who was the only ever present player in the title winning team of 1993-94?
Answers on tomorrow’s fan interview!