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Match of our time - Wally Hinshelwood: Reading 1 Manchester United 1

08 January 1955 FA Cup Third Round

In the second of a series of features on big Reading matches in history through the eyes of the players involved, we go back 60 years.
By Alan Bunce

Wally Hinshelwood (left) played up front in the FA Cup third round match against Manchester United at Elm Park on January 8, 1955.

Wally, now, 85, was marked by the legendary Duncan Edwards, one of two players in the United side that day who were to lose their lives in the Munich air disaster three years later.

Reading fans that day in 1955 were to have a rare opportunity to see these stars in their prime.

The tie against the Busby Babes, had the town buzzing and Wally remembers the same feeling among the players.

He said: "It was just one of those days when you are paired against very big players and you just had to hope for the best.

"It was a game where everybody wanted to play but obviously only 11 could.

"You never know in football what will happen. It was just one of those games where you had to go out there and do the best you can.

"Everybody, all 11 players, were really up for it. It was a great game, terrific. There was 28,500 there, it was a full house. It was very exciting."

But the teams went into it against contrasting fortunes. Reading, then in the Third Division (South), had lost top scorer Ronnie Blackman to Nottingham Forest just before the season, and had just lost their last four league matches.

United however, a team full of emerging talent, many of them internationals, were competing for their second Football League championship in two years.

Yet for 70 minutes of the 90, it was Reading who were on top. Bobby Campbell forced a save from United keeper Roy Woods in the first minute and Hinshelwood came close on a number of occasions.

One chance he remembers well after being put through by Barry Mansell

He said: "I remember getting the ball and putting it just past the goal, just past the far post. It was inches wide."

But although he didn't find the net, he played a key role in Reading's well deserved first half lead. His cross from the right allowed Denis Uphill the chance to shoot, causing United's Allenby Chilton to attempt a first time clearance which spun into his own goal.

With 20 minutes remaining, United picked up the pace, bombarding the Reading goal and with six minutes to go, Wales international inside forward Colin Webster shot from within a crowd of players to snatch the equaliser, despite the linesman flagging for offside.


Wally Hinshelwood said the mood of the Reading players in the dressing room afterwards was also high.

He said: "Everybody was pleased we had got the draw, we deserved it."

On Wednesday, January 12, Reading boss Jack Smith took his side to Old Trafford for the replay. Two goals from Webster, and one apiece from Arthur Rowley and Dennis Viollet ended any hope of Reading pulling off the surprise result of the season. Dennis Uphill scored a penalty and the Biscuitmen went down 4-1 in front of 24, 578.

United went out to Manchester City in the next round and ended fifth in the First Division while Reading finished 18th in Third Division (South).

The Elm Park tie remains one of the stand out FACup fixtures in Reading's history and Wally has had no shortage of fans wanting to talk about it.

He said: "People used to say to me 'did you play against Duncan Edwards?' I'd say 'Yes but I wasn't chasing him, he was chasing me'. It was difficult against all those players, they were such a good side."

Seven of the United players that day were in the Munich air disaster. Duncan Edwards and Roger Byrne lost their lives, Johnny Berry and Jackie Blanchflower never played again and Ray Wood, Bill Foulkes and Dennis Viollet survived the crash.

Wally Hinshelwood played for Sutton United, Fulham, Chelsea, Reading, Bristol City, Millwall and Newport County before leaving to play in Canada.

He recalls his dream move from Fulham to Chelsea in 1951 where he earned £12 a week, sweetened with a £10 signing on fee.

He has no issues with footballers' wages today. "Good luck to them," he said. However the game itself, he believes, is too negative with teams playing the ball back too often rather than getting forward.

After he retired from football Wally became a caretaker at a housing development called New Addington in Surrey but is now retired.

However, followers of English football will be aware of the name Hinshelwood long after Wally's time. His sons Martin and Paul both played for Crystal Palace, grandsons Danny, Adam and Paul have also played professional football and great grandson Jack who is only 10, is already on the books at Brighton.

12 March 2015

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