Originally, this item was titled "See Sheffield United win the FA Cup at Wembley". I changed  it to something less ambitious because I thought winning the FA Cup is never going to happen.

Having said that it did come quite near happening many many years ago and I would have been at Wembley.

On 18th April 2018 I attended the funeral of this chap at the Methodist Church on Holmhirst Road.

He was a good friend and colleague of mine at British Telecom. A younger version of him is below.

The day before the funeral I telephoned his family, introduced myself and asked if I could say a few words at the service. At first they declined because the service timetable had already been arranged and then later agreed if I kept it short.

At the funeral when I walked to the front  to give my  tribute my hand tremor was quite bad. So I began by saying "I'm not trembling with fear I have Parkinson's".  I continued saying that I was speaking on behalf of British Telecom and  about ten retired employees who were at the service. I then mentioned that in all the years I'd known Mike not once did I see him lose his temper, fall out with anyone or even raise his voice. He was a perfect gentleman.

 I went on to say that I remember him for the advice he once gave me and the advice  I once gave him. It was in the early 1960's when were both working in the Repeater Station  in Fitzalan Square. He was lining up a speech circuit that involved a  tricky,  complicated procedure known as equalisation. Well he just couldn't get the figures correct and after a  while I heard him say " I'm off!" and disappeared from the room. He returned ten minutes later and said " right , now I'll crack it". Soon after he had  completed his task and his advice was- If you have a problem that you don't seem able to solve then have a compete break from it. Go away and do something else. When you return to it you will invariably solve the problem quickly. I have used this advice many times.

I then said that the advice I gave him occurred on the 4th March 1961 at about 8pm and went on to say if you are wondering how I can be so precise, I will tell you.  By now I was feeling quite relaxed because I could see from the look on everyone's face that I had a captive audience who were all wondering where this was leading.

Two days earlier I had found this programme for sale  on Ebay ,so I copied it, blew it up to A4 and took it with me to the funeral. I held it up and told them that prior to the match Mike had asked me if I  fancied going to the game. I told him I rarely went to away games and  asked how would we get there?

 He replied "we could go in my car". I  turned over the programme and showed them a photo of the  car model he owned at that time. 

It was a very unusual car called a Jowett Javelin. A  huge 6-seater beast of which only 22,700 were made at a plant in Bradford.


The car was easily recognised by its distinctive shaped rear shape. ( see the  second photo below this one)

I told them that in 1961 very few people owned cars compared to today. I  hadn't got one but I had passed my  driving test in my father's car in 1957.

They laughed a little when I told them why I thought Mike had invited me to accompany him. He was still a learner-driver and needed a qualified driver with him.

I said I thought it was a little ambitious for a learner driver to attempt a drive to Newcastle and back in the same day  but I agreed.

We were both courting at the time and Mike said " we can take the girls with us and they can go  shopping in the town whilst we go to the match".

The day came and he drove very well up to Newcastle. We dropped the girls off and went  into St James's Park ground. There was a crowd of 57,400 inside and most of them were Geordies.

What  chance  have we of getting a result I thought?

I  told them that by half time United's inside-forward, Billy Russell,  had scored a hat trick and we were winning 3-0. Newcastle pulled one back in the second half but we came out winners.

We were now in the semi final of the FA Cup but I said that was another story.

It was dark when we made the journey back home and  although he was driving like a person who had passed the driving test I noticed he was doing something that concerned me.

Whenever he saw a car at a road junction waiting to join the main road we were travelling on  he would flash his car lights to warn the other car driver of our presence.

I explained to him that the highway code stated that drivers should only flash their lights to warn others of their presence (which is what he was doing) but an unwritten rule had evolved whereby flashing your lights meant the very opposite. It meant, and still means today, that you are giving precedence to the OTHER driver.

I gave them an example that occurred  only a few minutes ago as I drove to the church from Chesterfield Road into Holmhirst Road and a driver had flashed his lights at me. There are slow-down obstacles installed on Holmhirst Rd that allow only single file traffic and the other driver was signalling to me that I should come first.

I told Mike that it  was safer not  to flash his lights to warn other drivers of his presence but if he wanted to do so, rather than flash them he should keep them on until he was past the road junction.

Finally, I said I had probably exceeded my time and I returned to my seat during which I got a surprise.

Mike had lost his wife, Christine  to Motor Neurone disease and lost his only son to cancer. He was a member of several Associations and Groups including  SITraN (The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience) which is one of the leading centres for research into Motor Neurone Disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Mike had a natural ability to fund raise and wherever he had been involved cash was raised.

 Several people got up to mention and thank him for his help and each one sat down to church-observed silence. My surprise was that when I went to sit down all the congregation started to applaud loudly. I can't think why because my tribute was trivial  compared to the others he received.

There were refreshments provided after the service at the church and many people, who I had never seen before, came up to me and said they had enjoyed my story.

As it had gone so well, when I returned home I went straight on Ebay and purchased the programme from which I had copied the front page.  When it arrived I was very pleased to find that the programme consisted of 18 pages filled with relevant information.

If you are wondering what happened at the semi-final Sheffield United was involved in I will tell you what I remember.

On the 16th March 1961 United played Leicester City at Elland Road Leeds  in front of a crowd of 52,000 and drew 0-0. I was at the match but have no recollection of who I went with or how I got there.

The replay was on the 23rd March 1961 at the City Ground, Nottingham. Again the score was 0-0

The second replay was on the 27th March 1961 at St Andrews ground, Birmingham where United lost 2-0

So now you know how close I got to seeing United win the cup at Wembley.

II will have to be content with seeing them just play at Wembley, the account of which now follows:


This match was played on 25th May 2009 against Burnley

I travelled to the ground by coach with Hannah, my granddaughter. The game was very disappointing as Burnley won 1 0 and gained promotion to the Premiership league