ANDREW KIRBY is the author of The Pride of all Europe: Manchester United’s Greatest Seasons in the European Cup (Endeavour Press, 2014). 

About the Book - Manchester United was the first English team to make the foray into the European Cup, participating in the tournament despite the express disapproval of the Football 
League. They were also the first English winners of the trophy.

Over the years, United’s European adventures have spanned tragedy – the 1958 Munich Air Disaster – and triumph – three European Cup wins – and have provided no shortage of memorable 
stories. Despite United being only the eighth most successful club in the competition’s history, the United name is irrevocably linked to the European Cup.

This book explores the reasons why.

With interviews from fans, personal anecdotes and excerpts from football archives, this book looks back at the history of the club and their greatest – and worst – moments.

‘The Pride of All Europe’ celebrates Manchester United’s triumphs in European football, concentrating on ten key stories from the twenty-five seasons and six decades the club has 
participated in the Europe’s premier competition, interspersed with brief, first-hand fan accounts of those fabled United “Euroaways.”

In this detailed study, Andrew Kirby dissects the rich history of Manchester United in Europe.

This is the one book that every true Manchester United fan ought to read.

as told to Andrew Kirby

Home Defence UK
A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
Opinion: Grant Mortar On Why We All Love Sepp Blatter
How we laughed at the right honourable Sepp Blatter back in 2014. 

As Brazil burned with a million fires kindled by claims of corruption at Fifa; claims the money spunked on the 
World Cup could have been spent more wisely providing better services for the Brazilian people, Blatter fiddled and 
tinkered with the idea of bigger, better competitions in the future. The Swiss big cheese wasn’t thinking of the 
(controversial) 2022 Qatar World Cup. No, he had his telescope out to look beyond our meagre atmosphere. 

“We shall,” he told the associated press at a slap-up dinner, stolen from the mouths of babes in the favelas, “wonder if one day our game is played on 
another planet? Why not? Then we will have, not only a World Cup, we will have inter-planetary competitions. Why not?”

In 2014 the assembled journalists shared the universal, he’s had too many shandies gesture and quickly tweeted their mirth at the near-octogenarian’s Honey Nut Loopery.

Little did any of us know that – barely a year later, as the ash and dust clouds of revolt are still settling in Brazil, and as that great country’s residents are still smarting 
from that 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final – Blatter’s vision – for that’s what it was; a grand, crystal-balled blueprint for a better, bigger future - would 
be made, well, flesh.

Some people do not dare to dream, but Blatter did, and he dreamed loud. A blat is the word American horror novelist Stephen King utilises to describe a sound, heavy in the decibels-
department. In King’s books an alarm blats, a cop-car siren blats. So too, Blatter blats. He blats and, like those of us who grow used to ignoring house alarms and car alarms as they go 
off at all hours of the day or night, barely even bothering to look out of the window let alone call the five-oh, he is given short-shrift. He blats and we roll 
our eyes. Rolled our eyes. Unaware of the majesty of the man who was administrating in our midst.

Now we know better.

The dictionary definition of administration is “the process or activity of running a business or organization day to day”. It is a grand calling, and one which Blatter has blatted even further.
For he took the role from day to day to day to day to day.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise, not to those of us who know the man as I do, that Blatter’s administering has been honed to such a level he can now predict – and be correct in his
assumptions: they have certainly never made an ass out of you and me before – that there is life on other planets. As the great man said: why not? For Sepp has shown this same kind
of why not, can-do, will-do attitude wherever he has administered. 

Even before my time as a Blatter confidante, I was aware he showed no little skill in the arena of the administrators. Even a cursory glance at Sepp’s curriculum vitae on Wikipedia 
tells us that “in the early 1970s, Blatter was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation which tried to stop women replacing suspender belts 
with pantyhose.”

Go on, I dare you, you leftie liberal tofu-munching charlatan, ask any red-blooded male in the UK today if his woman wears pantyhouse.

He won’t even know what you’re talking about. Do you mean tights, he might say…

And this is not a case of somebody fucking around with Sepp Blatter’s Wikipedia page for japes; adding that “he has a penchant for having his food brought to him by tigers dressed in 
mini-skirts”. This is the God’s honest.

In the 1980s, Blatter’s own autobiography Me and That David Icke Bloke Were Right (Hodder and Stoughton, 2005) has him taking care of business, day to day, at an organisation that had
the oh-so-noble cause of developing a kind of Ultra First Class on planes and trains. This mean the upper classes would never again have to even smell those bottom-dwellers of the lower
classes. And then, in the 1990s, with a clearly logical inevitability, Blatter became head honcho at Fifa.

Through it all, all of this wondrous journey, the Blatt-meister was a mercurial presence in the corridors of power. Some treated his pronouncements as the bletherings of a man gone mad on
the heath of fine food, finer wine and even finer women, but there were a select few who followed his gospel.

I, Grant Mortar, was one of that select few. Of course, this allowed me to take advantage of the possibilities that came to Blatter’s inner-circle, but it was not for this reason that I 
hooked up with him. For we had to face the swings and arrows of contempt too, as well as the bludgeoning accusations of corruption, of idiocy, of sexism, of racism. And we 
weren’t none of those things, guv.

Right-hand to Jesus; we were forward-thinkers. We sent out messages – Close Encounters-style – from FIFA HQ into the universe, never once fearing we would fail to get 
messaged back.

We sent them up like prayers, like the lost-child’s balloons. Knowing they would nary be popped.

And now we have our answer, at last.

It is not polite to say I told you so, but I told you so. Sepp told you so also.

So when that ultra-fit band of Amazonian bouncing beauties – all of them like that Allison Hayes in Attack of the 50 foot Woman - G-stringed down to the
centre-circle, like a page 3 flying squad, before the first Biggest Game Ever of the English Premier League season, just after New Year 2015. Only then were
they recognised to be an alien species, so you can just imagine Blatt and I blatting to each other, over Twitter. But we never revelled in all of it.

And now they’ve asked us to come and play a return match on Venus (everyone knows all the fittest birds are from Venus) so we shall right away set about
administering the first ever Interplanetary Cup competition.

This trophy will be named after Sepp Blatter, just as previous, smaller trophies have been named after the likes of Jules Rimet or Henri Delauney.
And it will be the size of Blatter’s blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttttttttt. 
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