World Cup 2010: David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson at the Manchester United Museum

By Ben Miller | 14 June 2010
A photo of a young man staring into the camera

In his own words: Jon Sutton, curator at the Manchester United Museum, on Beckham, Whiteside and Billy the Goat...

My favourite item at the Museum is, rather bizarrely, Billy the Goat’s head that we have mounted on a plaque.

Billy was the club mascot from 1905 to1909. He was given to captain Charlie Roberts by a theatre company and Roberts looked after Billy and kept him in his back garden.

Following the 1909 FA Cup final win over Bristol City, Billy sadly died of alcohol poisoning after taking part in the post-match celebrations with the players.

As a Blackpool supporter I really like the ball that was used in the 1948 FA Cup final when Manchester United defeated Blackpool 4-2, United's first triumph under Matt Busby's reign.

The most poignant item in the Museum is the telegram that Duncan Edwards sent to his landlady back in Manchester [in 1958] after a second take-off had been aborted telling her that all flights had been cancelled and that he would be flying back from Munich the following day.

A photo of a mottled post office telegram

(Above) The fateful telegram sent by Duncan Edwards to his landlady before the Munich Air Disaster

Unfortunately for him and the rest of the team a third attempt at take-off was made minutes later. The telegram was delivered after the crash.

We have a number of World Cup related items on display in the Museum that are worth seeing.

We’ve got the USA shirt worn by captain Ed McIlvenny (a Scotsman who was living in America at the time and joined United straight after the World Cup) when they defeated England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup – arguably the biggest shock in football history.

The Northern Ireland shirt worn by Norman Whiteside in the 1982 World Cup finals is also here. They shocked Spain 1-0 and he surpassed Pele as the youngest player to appear in the World Cup finals, aged just 17 years and 41 days old.

Bryan Robson's England shirt was worn during the 1986 World Cup, and we have his fourth placed medal from Italia '90 [World Cup].

David Beckham's England shirt was worn against Greece in a World Cup qualifier at Old Trafford on October 6 2001, when he scored a memorable injury-time free-kick which meant England qualified for the 2002 World Cup finals.

A photo of a worn England football shirt with the number 7 on it

(Above) David Beckham's shirt from the 2001 World Cup qualifying game against Greece at Old Trafford. Watch the goal he scored that day below

My earliest memory of the World Cup is Italia '90, when I was eight years old. I'd only started to take a real interest in football about a year before and in my first season I’d just seen Blackpool do their best to put me off as they were relegated to the Fourth Division!

This was the first major tournament that completely gripped me and definitely confirmed my love for the sport and the band New Order.

I remember watching virtually ever match, sitting quietly on the floor about two inches from the TV screen – I don't think my mother wanted it to end!!

It left a number of events etched in my memory. It was the first time I’d seen Diego Maradona and I don't think he quite lived up to his past reputation. Cameroon were a breath of fresh air, in particular Roger Milla, who scored twice against Romania and did his famous corner-flag celebration.

[Germany captain] Lothar Matthaus was the complete player, but England really struggling to find their form in the group stages and the 1-0 win over Egypt was the dullest match I've ever seen.

I’d never seen a more technically executed goal that the dramatic injury time one that David Platt scored to beat Belgium. That’s my favourite World Cup memory.

It was agony when we lost to West Germany, a game we probably deserved to win. It made me realise that football isn't always fair although we had enough chances to win the game before penalties commenced.

A photo of a man sitting in a football museum smiling into the camera

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (above) is a huge part of the Museum's story

Since then my memories of the World Cup seem to be how we underachieved or were cheated out of it – hopefully things will be different this time around, but I wouldn't count on it.

The Museum has around 24,000 items in its collection, a figure that increases dramatically as every season passes.

I have an interesting World Cup fact from the 1930 final between Uruguay and Argentina.

The two teams could not agree on which ball to use; FIFA intervened and it was decided to use an Argentinean ball in the first half and a ball supplied by Uruguay in the second half.

Argentina were ahead at the interval 2-1, but Uruguay came back to win the match 4-2, using their own ball in the second half. Both of these balls are now in the collection of the National Football Museum, where I also work.

All images © Manchester United

Watch David Beckham’s free-kick against Greece and David Platt’s goal against Belgium:

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