As Crawley Town prepared to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the F.A. Cup 5th Round recently, The Daily Mail’s Chris Wheeler looked back at some of United’s previous encounters against the ‘little guys’, including Walthamstow Avenue’s famous visit in 1953.
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Crawley Town v Manchester United - Daily Mail - Saturday 19th Feb 2011
Don’t write off Crawley… the little guys can scare Manchester United
By Chris Wheeler
Nobody will be giving non-League Crawley Town a chance when they visit Old Trafford to face the might of Manchester United in the FA Cup. The Blue Square Bet Conference side are in the fifth round for the first time after knocking out Derby and Torquay, while their opponents have won the famous trophy a record 11 times. But United have been victims of several upsets over the years and here CHRIS WHEELER meets the players who have managed to leave the famous Red Devils with red faces.
Manchester Utd 1 Walthamstow Ave 1 (FA Cup 4th rnd, Jan 31, 1953)
Nobody gave the Isthmian League underdogs a chance when they arrived at Old Trafford to take on Matt Busby’s English champions, even less so after United took a first half lead. But thermos flask salesman and England amateur international JIM LEWIS equalised (below) to earn a draw. Lewis, now 83, signed for Chelsea after scoring twice when United won the replay 5-2.
Jim Lewis scores Avenue's equaliser at Old Trafford
He said: ‘We saw it as a day out because we didn’t think we stood much of a chance. We’d never experienced playing in front of that kind of crowd before. There were 35,000 at Old Trafford and 46,000 at Arsenal (for the replay). Our average was about 5,000.
‘Eddie Lewis gave United the lead but I remember at half-time we didn’t think we were going to get thumped. We went out to give it our all. I equalised 10 minutes from the end. I was some way out and hit it straight into the top corner. It could have been the greatest upset ever because United keeper Ray Wood tipped my shot over, and Trevor Bailey, the England cricketer who sadly died recently, almost scored in the final minutes.
‘I think of it when I see the likes of Crawley doing well. They’ll think they’ve got a chance and you never know. It’s one of those things that does the FA Cup so much good.’