If the kids are United XI

Cod Almighty | Article

by Rich Mills

5 September 2016

England Under-20 keeper Dean Henderson is one of a few who have joined the Mariners from Manchester United. They form the basis for Rich's latest XI...

Town's deadline-day signing of England u20 keeper Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United had fans asking if this was the first time a player had joined us from Old Trafford. Of course it isn't – but it takes some digging to pull together a Mariners XI who have also turned out for our more (ahem) illustrious friends across the Pennines.

To make it harder, I limited myself to players who signed on full professional terms or played for the Man United first team. Sadly this means there is no space in my squad for John Thorrington, Mick Rowbotham or current Mariner Sean McAllister, all of whom were with United at youth level but without graduating to their senior XI.

I have just managed to pull together a bare-bones XI, so barring any injuries, we could just about hold our own in a match. We'll be lining up 3-4-3. So, without any further ado, check in your anti-United feelings at the door (you can collect them later) and let's get going.


Dean Henderson made the first-team squad for United but that isn't going to be enough to squeeze into this team. Instead the goalie's jersey goes to Jimmy Whitehouse who played 137 games for Town during two stints between 1892 and 1900. Whitehouse then moved to United for three seasons (although for the first two they were still known at Newton Heath) before doing a Denis Law and transferring to City.


The first name on our team sheet has to be Allenby Chilton. In March 1955, after 17 years at Old Trafford – including a league title, FA Cup win and captaining the team under manager Matt Busby – Chilton took the player/manager position at Blundell Park. After having to apply for re-election to the league, Chilton led the team to the Division Three (North) title in his first full season. For this remarkable feat, Chilton will also manage our XI.

Charlie Roberts played for Town during the 1903-04 season before being sold to United for £400. As well as being a strong, skilful player, Roberts was a rebel, banging heads with the FA for wearing shorts above the knee (then against the rules) and for forming the players' union with teammate Billy Meredith. So against the union was the FA that members were suspended, forcing United to cancel their first fixture of 1909 as they were unable to field a full team!

Jeff Whitefoot joined Town in 1957, signing for his former United teammate Allenby Chilton. Although popular with the Blundell Park crowd, he and his family failed to settle and he moved on to Nottingham Forest the following year.


It didn't really work out for Neil Webb when manager and former Nottingham Forest teammate Brian Laws offered him a chance to jump-start his stalling career in 1996 (perhaps because Webb's physique by then didn't allow him to do much jumping or starting – ed). Town lost three of the four games he played in and his contract was cancelled, but he gets a place in this XI because of his superb credentials in a career which included three years at Old Trafford. And also because we're short of midfielders.

Michael Appleton didn't make much of an impact during his three years at Old Trafford but one of his loan spells saw him play 10 games and score three goals for Town in 1997. We couldn't afford to sign him permanently though, and after returning to United he was offloaded to Preston for £500,000 the same year. A successful management career followed hs retirement due to injury.

Ritchie Jones promised a lot but didn't deliver for Town, playing just six games in 2013. A product of United's academy and on their books on pro terms for three seasons, he has struggled with injuries whenever his career has seemed to be on the up.

Our last midfielder is Terry Cooke, a member of United's famous class of '92 youth team. It was this that hampered his chances in the first team, having to compete for a starting place with the likes of David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes. Cooke first turned up at Town on loan from Man City and then he was signed by Paul Groves in 2002-03 after City released him. As the team struggled, he proved divisive. Some fans wanted to see more of him, but Groves favoured the returning John Oster. Town were relegated and Cooke left for Sheffield Wednesday.


Our first striker also featured in our Cloughie's Mariners XI but as well as his time at Forest, Garry Birtles had a spell at United between 1980 and 1982. His arrival in 1989 at Blundell Park was no twilight nostalgia trip though; Birtles was an inspiration to fans and teammates and he retired in 1991 following two seasons and two successive promotions under manager Sir Alan Buckley.

Scott McGarvey spent four years at United under managers Dave Sexton and Big Ron. After spells at a number of clubs he signed for Town manager Mike Lyons in 1987. But it wasn't a good time for the club and McGarvey was often targeted by frustrated fans when playing out wide. He moved on to Bristol City following our relegation.

Johnny Scott struggled to gain a regular place in the United squad of the early 50s, eventually signing for his former teammate Allenby Chilton in 1956. He flourished at Blundell Park, scoring more than 50 goals in 250 appearances over seven seasons; his form such that he was capped for Northern Ireland at the 1958 World Cup.

Did we find them all? Was there someone else better for that midfield? 
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