WITH Wanderers playing Manchester United at the Reebok on Saturday, Gordon Sharrock looks back on a previous meeting when the Old Trafford men were humbled in Bolton

THEY were the famous Busby Babes, league champions and unbeaten at the top of the First Division, but Manchester United had not won at Burnden Park since the 1949-50 season.

The pattern continued in their first meeting of the 1957-58 season but what made this encounter more remarkable than others was the ease with which it was achieved.

Wanderers had done the double over United the previous season and maintained the local bragging rights with an emphatic 4-0 win.

It was a victory that was all the more impressive because Dennis Stevens – scorer of a superb first goal after just five minutes – was off the field injured for 10 minutes with a suspected broken leg while full-back Johnny Ball spent most of the second half hobbling on the wing.

Wanderers were comfortably the better side and took the points on merit thanks to magnificent work by John Higgins, Derek Hennin, Bryan Edwards and Eric Bell, who kept the formidable United attack in check while their forwards gave the Reds back line a torrid time.

It looked ominous when Wanderers were reduced to 10 men when Stevens was stretchered off on the half-hour with a suspected broken leg after a clash with his cousin, Duncan Edwards. But the injury turned out to be no more than a bruised nerve that temporarily paralysed his leg and he returned to the field just before half-time to rapturous applause.

Things turned ugly early in the second half when Edwards again sent Stevens tumbling, sparking an angry exchange between the cousins.

United threatened for a spell but Wanderers proved altogether too powerful and too classy for their illustrious neighbours. Dougie Holden turned Eddie Coleman and Bill Foulkes inside out, allowing Ray Parry to set up Brian Birch for the second goal; Parry made it three from the penalty spot after Foulkes had deliberately handled a Nat Lofthouse shot and Lofthouse himself completed the rout just before the end when he rounded off a Stevens-Parry combination.

The 10,000 United followers in the crowd of 48,063 had seen England’s finest made to look very ordinary.

United would exact revenge four months later when they humiliated Wanderers 7-2 at Old Trafford with an imperious performance – but their dominance of English football and their march on Europe was tragically cut short just days later when so many lost their lives at Munich airport.

The teams on that September afternoon at Burnden were: Wanderers: Hopkinson; Ball, Edwards (B), Hennin, Higgins, Bell, Birch, Stevens, Lofthouse, Parry, Holden.

United: Wood; Foulkes, Byrne, Coleman, Blanchflower, Edwards (D), Berry, Whelan, Taylor, Viollet, Pegg.