Club Legends #10 – Denis Law

Denis Law

By Andy Hyslop

  • Born February 24 1940 in the city of Aberdeen
  • Scored 237 goals in 404 games for Manchester United
  • Made 55 appearances for Scotland, scoring 30 goals for his country

Denis Law will not only go down as one of the greatest goalscorers of his genratation, but one of the greatest of all time. At the time of writing he is Manchester United’s second highest goalscorer of all-time.

Law was born on February 24 1940 in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. He was the youngest of seven children for George and Robina Law. His father was a fisherman. Law was one of four boys and has three sisters. The Law family lived in a council flat on Printfield Terrace in Aberdeen.

As a child Law supported Aberdeen and went to watch them when he had the money to do so. When he didn’t he would watch local non-league sides. Due to his obsession with football, he turned down a place at Aberdeen Grammar School. Because he would have had to play rugby instead of football. Instead he attended Powis Academy.

Law started his football career with English second division side Huddersfield Town. Huddersfield scout Archie Beattie spotted 15 year-old Law and invited him for a trial with Huddersfield. During his time at Huddersfield, Law was managed by Bill Shankly. When Shankly left to take charge of Liverpool. It was thought that Shankly would take Law with him but Liverpool couldn’t afford him.

Matt Busby made his first attempt to sign Law in 1956 but Huddersfield turned down United’s £10,000 offer for the teenage Law. He would eventually sign Law for a then British transfer record of £115,000 on July 10 1962. Law moved from Italian side Torino. Meaning a return to Manchester after a spell with City before moving to Italy.

Law made his Manchester United on August 18 1962 against West Bromwich Albion. The game finished 2-2 and Law scored his first United goal after seven minutes. United were still rebuilding after Munich and their form was inconsistent and they spent his first season at Old Trafford fighting relegation.

United and Law reached the FA Cup Final in his first season. With Law scoring a hat-trick against former side Huddersfield as they reached the final against Leicester City. Law scored the first as United won 3-1 in what would turn out to be his only FA Cup Final appearance.

The 1963/64 season saw Law scoring 46 goals in 42 appearances for United, this fine goalscoring form saw Law selected for a Rest of the World side to play England at Wembley. England won the game 2-1 with Law scoring for ROW. United finished the season second in the league and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

The 1964/65 season saw United lifting the league title for the first time since Munich. With Law finishing as the top-scorer with 28 goals. He scored 39 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions. Law fine form in front of goal saw him winning the Ballon d’Or.

In 1966 Law asked Matt Busby for a pay-rise at his next contract renewal and threatened to leave the club, if he didn’t get one. Busby placed Law on the transfer list immediately. Announcing that no player will hold this club to ransom. A message that still stands today.

Despite all the furore over Law’s pay-rise request. He scored 23 league goals in 36 appearances in the 1966/67 season. Helping United to win the league once again and return to the European Cup for the 1967/68 season.

The 1967/68 season was United lifting the European Cup, ten years on from Munich. Law struggled with a knee injury he first had operated on in his Huddersfield days. The injury cause Law to miss both the semi-finals and final of the European Cup. Law managed 28 appearances despite the injury, scoring 10 goals.

The 1968/69 season would be Law’s last with Busby as his manager as United’s defence of the European Cup was controversially ended at the semi-final stage by AC Milan.

United lost the first leg 2-0 at the San Siro. United were winning the second leg 1-0 when Law claimed to have put the ball over the line. The ball was kicked away by a AC Milan defender and the referee waved played on. Busby retired at the end of season and United began to struggle.

Law remained at United for a further four seasons under three different managers. Firstly Wilf McGuiness, then he was replaced by Frank O’Farrell, poor results in the 1972/73 season saw O’Farrell sacked. United not helped by Law missing large chunks of the season due to his knee injury.

O’Farrell was replaced as manager by Tommy Docherty on Law’s recommendation. Law knew Docherty from the Scottish national team. Law was given a free transfer in the summer of 1973 and moved to Manchester City.

After 11 years at Old Trafford, he left the club with two league winners medals and one FA Cup winners medal. And the European Cup winners medal in 1968. He was named the Ballon d’Or winner in 1964 and he was the top goalscorer in the European Cup in the 1968/69 season.

Law played 404 games for United and scored 237 goals. Making him the second highest scorer in United’s history, with only Bobby Charlton scoring more for United than him.

Law has been immortalised in two statues at Old Trafford. One at the Stretford End of the stadium. The other along with Best and Charlton. The three were often referred to as the United Trinity or the Holy Trinity.

About Andrew Hyslop 398 Articles
Creator of Sir Alex Ferguson Way and writer of football books

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