SONS 24: 25 YEARS AGO…

Thursday 4th August 2016

ON the day, it was about Alex Wright. In fact, 25 years down the line, it probably still is.

But if you were one of 1,200 people gathered at Boghead Park on this very date 25 years ago, you witnessed one of the first games a legend played for his new club.

Back then, Peter Schmeichel had just joined Manchester United for £500,000 from Brondby. He was already aged 27, but with the best part of 40 caps for his country at the time, clearly there was something special about him.

As part of a testimonial for Alex, who served the club for many years in various capacities, Dumbarton found out how special.

United boss Alex Ferguson, who was still eight years away from becoming a Sir, fielded five of the team who, three months earlier, beat Barcelona in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

They included current Stoke City boss Mark Hughes, who scored both United’s goals in the 2-1 victory in Rotterdam, and Steve Bruce, who recently vacated his post at Hull City. Also present was Scotland international and former SFA national performance director Brian McClair.

Schmeichel was also playing what is thought to be his first open-door game in the UK since signing for United.

Midway through the first half, he started the move which led to the opening goal. His throw from his own penalty area found McClair – inside the Sons half.

The forward advanced and crossed for Mark Robins to head home the opener. Within four minutes Hughes doubled the lead from a Danny Wallace assist.

Charlie Gibson did beat Schmeichel, but not the upright, denying Sons a goal back, and in the second half, the gulf between the sides told.

On 55 minutes Sons keeper Ian MacFarlane parried a Denis Irwin shot only for the rebound to fall to Robins for his second.

Robins then set up Hughes to round MacFarlane and make it 4-0 on 63 minutes. Fifteen minutes after that came the chance of a fifth goal after Dougie McCracken fouled Hughes in the area, but Bruce crashed his penalty off the bar.

He then conceded a penalty with two minutes remaining, bringing down Martin McGarvey and giving Colin McNair the chance of a famous consolation goal.

But Schmeichel wasn’t having any of it, saving from the Sons man. Indeed, in injury time, Irwin set up McClair to make it 5-0.

Within a year, Schmeichel went on to be a European champion with Denmark and, in 1999, won the Champions League with United.

There are 1,200 people who can say that 25 years ago, they saw him take one of his first steps with the Red Devils at Boghead.

However, there was also a significant debut off the pitch at Boghead that day. Check back later on in Sons 24 for more details.

The teams that day were:

Dumbarton: MacFarlane; Marsland (McNair 46), Foster (Boyd 46), Gow (McCracken 63), Martin, Melvin, McQuade, Dempsey, Gibson, Meechan (McGarvey 63), Gilmour (Millar 63).

Manchester United: Schmeichel; Martin (Irwin 53), Blackmore, Bruce, Robins, Whitworth, Webb, Ince (Beardsmore 46), McClair, Hughes, Wallace (Ferguson 33). Sub: Leighton.

Referee: B McGinlay (Balfron).

Join the debate @dumbartonfc and #sons24

Andy Galloway

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