On this day: George Best scored six goals
It's 50 years to the day since George Best netted a double hat-trick to help Manchester United beat Northampton Town 8-2 in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
While a Reds player has netted three goals or more in a game on 224 separate occasions, it almost goes without saying that hitting six is an exceedingly rare event - Harold Halse, in the 1911 FA Charity Shield, is the only other man to have managed the feat for United.
The achievement is even more incredible when you consider that Best was returning from a 28-day suspension.
As the man himself said after the match:
“I’ve been living in secret fear we’d lose this game, especially with me back!”
Six of the best from GeorgeVideo
Best had to wait 20 minutes for his first goal, a header from Brian Kidd’s deep cross from the right. The Northern Irishman added his second strike on a bog of a County Ground pitch just moments later.
Paddy Crerand’s lofted through ball sat nicely for the 23-year-old and he dodged past the onrushing Cobblers keeper Kim Book, brother of City’s Tony, to slot home.
He completed his treble, his second in a red shirt, shortly after the break, when he converted from close range after two Northampton defenders had tried in vain to clear their lines.
The fourth goal was arguably the pick of the six, a textbook diving header from another swirling Kidd ball into the box. And let's not forget, the creator of that goal - our future assistant manager - also weighed in with two strikes himself!
The final two goals were classic Best. He demonstrated a turn of pace and elegance of touch to latch on to another Crerand through ball before converting and then showed pizzazz and poise to sit down Book and roll it into the empty net.
The watching Sir Matt Busby, who was recovering from an operation was in no doubt as to the genius on display that Saturday afternoon.
“I would think George is a fraction of the way from being the best player in the world and I am only holding back from putting him on top to keep him on his mettle,” enthused Sir Matt.
Busby's counterpart, Dave Bowen, was rather less glowing after the chastening experience.
“You don’t make errors against the best and get away with it,” said the Northampton manager.
“He’ll punish you and smile while he’s doing it.”
The Reds would eventually be knocked out by Leeds United in the semi-final of the Cup after two replays, but Best's one-man, six-goal display is still remembered by all who saw it to this day.
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