This summer fixture between a Welsh International X1 and Manchester United was played at Farrar Road, Bangor on Saturday 26th July 1969 to celebrate the Investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle some weeks earlier on the 1st July.

 

That Caernarfon event was scarcely welcomed by some but the visit of Manchester United was a hugely popular one with North Wales football fans of whom 12,000 packed into Farrar Road.

Manchester United were under the management of Wilf McGuinness who had replaced the long serving Sir Matt Busby during the summer.

Before the match though there had been ugly scenes outside the ground involving United fans.

The United side, featuring the likes of Best, Charlton and Law, dazzled the many thousands with pacey attacking play and took the lead inside six minutes. Inevitale this involved Irish wing wizard George Best whose every touch of the ball was greeted with huge excitement. Best backheeled the ball to left back Francis Burns whose pass freed Bobby Charlton down the left wing. His powerful low cross evaded Denis Law but right winger Willie Morgan followed in to tap home from close range.

Three minutes later Best and Charlton created another opening for Law but sliced wide. Then Best opened the Welsh defence up once more but Law and Morgan both spurned the opening.

Bobby Charlton was in fine form and his sent a trademark long range effort narrowly over before the impressive Terry Hennessey blocked another effort. On 24 minutes  Denis Law fired wdier from just outside the box and United ran riot. But Wales rallied and Caernarfon born Wyn Davies rose highest to a Ronnie Rees corner but sending his effort over the crossbar. Alex Stepney was hesitant on crosses and another Rees cross was fumbled to Davies’ feet but he could not muster a shot before the relieved goalkeeper smothered the ball.

On 35 minutes United doubled their lead. Gary Sprake seemed set to gather Dennis Law’s long range shot but Brian Kidd nipped in to seize possession, round the keeper and slide the ball into the empty net.

Moments later another pitch invasion followed as Bobby Charlton hammered home from distance but referee Ken Dodd (Rhyl) ruled Denis Law offside and awarded Wales a freekick. Wales though had the last word of the first half as John Majoney saw his freekick beat Stepney but bounce to safety off the upright.

So a clear two nil advantage to the Manchester side to the delight of many of the thousands inside Farrar Road.

In the second half United replaced Francis Burns and Brian Kidd with Shay Brennan and Don Givens respectively and to some degree took their foot of the pedal.

But chances still came and went with Leeds United goalkeeper Gary Sprake forced to save first from Bobby Charlton and then Willie Morgan. Scottish winger Morgan should have increased the lead on 64 minutes but shot wide.

Wales thought they had cut the gap but despite Gil Reece putting the ball in the back of the net an offside flag halted the celebrations. Tall Terry Hennessey was the pick of the Welsh midfield able assisted by the industrious Mahoney.

On 71 minutes United had a penalty as Tottenham centreback Mike England pulled down substitute Don Givens but the normally reliable Denis Law saw his penalty crash against the crossbar and the ball scrambled clear.

Nottingham Forest striker Ronnie Rees fired low into the corner as Wales looked to pull one back but Stepney saved well low his right.

The final chance was created by the mercurial Best whose deep cross found the head of Law but he could not hit the target.

If United had triumphed against the Welsh side the real winners were the 12,000 or so inside the ground who had enjoyed an entertaining match on the superb Farrar Road
pitch.

Teams

Wales: Gary Sprake (Leeds United), Peter Rodrigues (Leicester City), Rod Thomas (Swindon Town), Terry Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Mike England (Tottenham Hotspur), Ollie Burton (Newcastle United), Gil Reece (Sheffield United), Cliff Jones (Fulham), Wyn Davies (Newcastle United), John Mahoney (Stoke City), Ronnie Rees (Nottingham Forest).

Manchester United: Alex Stepney, Tony Dunne, Francis Burns (Shay Brennan), Paddy Crerand, Bill Foulkes, David Sadler, Willie Morgan, Brian Kidd (Don Givens), Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best.

Score: Wales 0-2 Manchester United (Morgan 6, Kidd 34)

Attendance: 12,000

Referee: Ken Dodd (Rhyl)

Photos Wales v Manchester United with George Best & Bobby Charlton in the foreground – Match programme – George Best leaving Bangor by helicopter on his way to London

Match Report – Mike Smith