David Hawkes, a dedicated Manchester United fan since 1958, is a regular contributor to Red News, recounting his history with and around United. He has over 60 years of experience watching United, and with that comes exceptional writing contributing to Red News’ popularity amongst United fans.

Founded in 1987 Red News is an unofficial, independent, satirical Manchester United supporters’ fanzine published throughout the football season, for adults only.

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1. What inspired you to take up writing?

In 2017 Manchester United invited fans to submit their stories about their first European Cup win in 1968, for a 50th anniversary exhibition they were planning. I dug out my original copy of a newspaper photo of me celebrating United’s 4–1 win on one of the Lions in Trafalgar Square and then wrote up my account of myself and 7 friends going to Wembley, for what became a somewhat chaotic 30 hours. Apart from sending it to United, I circulated it to friends and family. This received a number of very encouraging comments about my storytelling. I was also really pleased that the photo featured in the exhibition.

My wife Caroline had been encouraging me to write for a while, typically she had more faith in me than I had. Shortly afterwards I met Barney Chilton, the editor of Red News fanzine. We struck up a conversation and he urged me to write up more recollections of my nearly 60 years of watching United.

2. When did you first become interested in football, and Manchester United in particular?

February 6th 1958, when I was just over eight and a half years old, I came home from school in Manchester to find my mother sat on the floor by the radio in floods of tears. News had come through of the Munich air disaster involving the Manchester United team, known as the Busby Babes at the time, due to the youth and home-grown nature of many of the players. Eight of the team died and others never played again. She was a United fan through and through and from then on so was I.

I attended my first game on my own with friends on March 14th, 1962, a floodlit FA Cup replay vs Preston NE in front of 63,468 fans, which United won 2–1. I was still under thirteen years old….inconceivable nowadays!! I was a regular from then on and started going to away games at fourteen.

3. Is there a particular article you’ve written for Red News that you’re most proud of?

The article “George Best, it was good while it lasted”, which I’m pleased to say is in the 300th edition of Red News, published in mid-October 2022.

I saw George play so many games from his debut onwards and I was in awe of his skills and physical prowess, in spite of him being quite small. I also saw him become diminished as his social life and alcohol, among many other factors, took their toll. In writing the article I had to consider and face up to the disillusionment I’d felt 50 years ago as his god-like status in my eyes fell away on a weekly basis. I found it hard to recount my feelings but I thought it was time that a fan told his side of that one-way love affair, which had contained the usual spectrum from the highest elation to utter despair. Red News’ acceptance for its publication has delighted me and increased my confidence in my writing.

Issue 300/301 of Red News

4. What’s the best part of writing for Red News?

Red News are very keen that the history of Manchester United and the experiences of their older fans are not lost as the tech world forever picks up pace and the old becomes old hat. They keep a space for United’s history whilst maintaining their critical view of United’s US owners and the nonsense of the modern corporate slant on football.

I was seriously offended and angry when, in the failed attempt to form a European Super League, I and fans of a similar vintage were labelled “legacy fans”, i.e. “not wanted on the voyage”. Writing for Red News has ensured that my history with United is not lost, both for their readers and for my family and friends.

My family come from inner-city Manchester and my great-grandfather worked at Newton Heath Loco Works, whose team was the forerunner of United. I watched and shouted myself hoarse supporting United as Busby’s second great team was formed, triumphed and then faded, as so many great loves do. My history with and around United is as valid as any other. I’m very grateful to Barney Chilton and the Red News crew for giving me the chance to relive and review the 64 years and counting of my personal love affair (affliction..??) with United. Their support and their dedication to the cause and to their contributors is very much appreciated.

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Thank you, David, for sharing your history and love for Manchester United. We are particularly impressed with how you saved an original newspaper photo of you celebrating United’s European Cup win in 1968!

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