Portrait Dec 96 (In Memory)
Visitor sinceDecember 1997.
born Manchester, 20th September 1933
Debut v Newcastle (a) 11/4/53
Manchester Schoolboys/UNITED (trial) Oct47
am during season 1949-50 / pro Sept 1950
Stoke City Jan 1962 Baltimore Bays,
NASL April 1967-Sept 68 Witton Albion
Jan 69 Linfield player-coach
Aug 1969 Preston North End coach
1970 Crewe Alexandra coach Feb 71, briefly manager
Aug-Nov 71 Washington Diplomats, NASL coach 1974-June 1977
Jimmy Murphy, Dennis and Kenny Morgans
Dennis Viollet had his first trial with UNITED at 14 years of age and became proffesional at 17, graduating through the clubs nursery system. He became a regular first team player at the time when Stan Pearson's fine career was drawing to it's close. Captain of Manchester Schoolboys and capped 5 times in England Schools, he made his league debut atan outside right in season 1952-53, scoring on his 2nd appearance against West Brom at OT. He eventually settled at inside-left and proved to be one of the finest ever to wear the number 10 jersey for the club.
A man looking figure lacking the usual forwards physical advantages, Viollet was an exciting, wonderfully gifted player who relied upon his immense skill & vision, coupled with electric pace and an inbuilt ability to place quality passes and shots with unerring accuracy. An adroit footballer in all phases of the game, he still holds the clubs goalscoring record with the quite remarkable return of 32 league goals from just 36 matches in 59-60.
Undeniably an outstanding forward in his own right who could both make and take goals, Dennis was equally deadly earlier on in partnership with magnificent Tommy Taylor. The prolific duo had an almost telepathic understanding, contasting and complementing each other perfectly. Quite why they were nevere paired together for Englandis not only an enduring mystery but a travesty too.
A survivor of the Munich Aircrash, Viollet recovered from injuries which initially thought to be career threatening, making his 'come back' in two League matches just in time to take his place in the 1958 FA Cup Final, for which he received a runners-up medal. He had earlier won successive League Championship medals in 1956 (20 goals) and 1957 (16 goals), but missed the 1957 Cup Final through injury.
Albert Quixall, Sir Matt, Dennis and Bobby [CLICK ON PIC FOR FULL SIZE]
He left OT in a surprise 25.000 pound transfer to Stoke City in Jan 62, and collected a 2nd Division Championship medal in 1962 scoring 23 goals in 37 matches during the season whilst operating intelligently from a deeper role than he played at OT. In 1964 he added a League cup runnners up medal to his collection. After a happy stay of five and a half years with Stoke, during which time he appeared in over 200 League and Cup matches and scored 66 goals.
He moved to the USA to play for Baltimore Bays. During a subsequent spell as player-manager of Linfield, he won an Irish cup winners' medal in 1970.
Dennis Viollet represented the Football League on three occasions and disapointingly, was awarded only a paltry two England caps.
FL 259 - 159 g
FAC 18 - 5 g
FLC 2 - 1 g
EUR 12 - 13 g
Total: 291 apps 178 goals
Richard Kurt, of the fanzines and various books (as well as 442) fame, has agreed to contribute periodically to the list (ie whenever he can)! A real treat for us ex-pat Reds (like myself), who are unable to go to the corner bookstore to peruse over Utd literature.
I will also put his "column" up on the list webpage. His first offerring is a tribute to a Busby Babe who now needs our help - Dennis Viollet.
DENNIS VIOLLET: A TRUE GOAL KING
There aren't many Red legends whose story begins with: "Grew up in the shadow of Maine Road as a committed Manchester City fanatic..." Typical of Dennis, extraordinary and unusual as both player and man, to buck the rule about Blues making poor Reds. A genuine five-star original Babe, Viollet was to convince many who saw him at his peak that there could never be a greater inside-left. First sight? Surely this rather frail, even wan-looking Manc kid wouldn't be able to cut it on rough pitches against hard clogging brutes? But few footballers of his era were as prodigiously gifted, ample compensation for his slight build: a superb passer, outrageously fast, visionary and with a shot of uncanny precision and timing. That he was also able to develop a seemingly telepathic understanding with Tommy Taylor should have sealed a permanent England place alongside his mate; inexplicably, he had to make do with being a permanent fixture in the classic 55-58 team. Again, not a bad compensation...
Mentions of his name cascade across United's scoring record books, of course. Most goals in a season, fourth top scorer of all-time, one of the best goals-per-game averages in United history, four goals in a European debut... it could never be said that he was an unsung hero, despite the failure of England's selectors to give him his due. Yet, like many stars of the pre-63 era, his massive achievements were never reflected in the paypacket: Dennis never made his fortune in football, despite being the kind of smooth and exciting talent who'd be a multi-millionaire today. In fact, he strikes a remarkably contemporary image - Dennis could have showed some of today's nouveau riche players what real class is all about. For he was a real red devil off the pitch; a bit of a smoothie, pretty damn sophisticated and with cultivated tastes for the best clubs and the coolest kittens. No prizes for guessing who dominated the judging of the first Miss Manchester United contest at the Chorlton Palais in '58: Dennis knew feminine quality when he saw it, from experience.
And he was never simply just one of the lads. Dennis was a bit different; incredibly popular in the dressing room yet also an individualist who'd do his own thing, who'd seek out the better places and cut a lone path. Cantonesque, perhaps? Whatever: milkshakes at the skating rink wasn't his bag. Silky women and sultry jazz at the Continental? That'd be more like it.
On February the 6th 1958, Dennis regained consciousness
to see Bobby lying next to him in an icy, muddy pool of water that was
reflecting the flames of disaster. In many ways, he made a miraculous recovery,
fit enough to play at Wembley and going on to score many more goals for
both United and Stoke. Indeed, the onetime "frail ghost of a player"
eventually starred at centre-forward for us, which few who saw his debut
back in '53 would have predicted. But the time came when Herd and Law would
be Matt's preferred options and Dennis was eventually sold to Stoke in
1962; Jimmy Murphy did once wonder whether Munich had damaged Dennis more
than anyone realised, whether in fact he suffered some kind of delayed
reaction. Yet irrepressibly, he top-scored at Stoke under the great Tony
Waddington and led them back to Division One; he also picked up an Irish
Cup medal at Linfield before permanently emigrating to the States. But
there was never a need to wonder what might have been. By the age of 25,
he'd established his name forever as one of the brightest Busby
Babes - no footballer in history can enjoy
a greater privilege, however many caps and medals he may acquire.
Copyright Richard Kurt. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Annoucement Sunday 7th March
At 3pm local time on Saturday 6th March Dennis passed away. [in memory]
His memory will linger in the minds of those of us who were privileged enough to watch him play.
Tributes and family messages can be left here
Dennis, Helen, and Daughter Rachel, Dec 97.
Below is the message that Dennis has written Thu, 18 Dec 1997:
To all my Friends everywhere
"Your messages of support, encouragement
and love have moved me deeply, and I only wish I could shake hands and
thank each one of you personally. Unfortunately this is not possible at
the present time, but thank you for remembering me after all these years,
and to all you great United fans, and my friends from Stoke City,
Happy Holidays and love from me and my Family"
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