Football: Action Replay - Briggs in tears after United's record home defeat
Manchester United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 7
Monday 15 February 1999
He had a nightmare in a dream match and in seven dreadful minutes presented Sheffield Wednesday with three goals. The score zoomed from 1-1 to 4-1 against United as Briggs let a shot from Alan Finney spin out of his arms (30 minutes), grasped with wild inaccuracy at a header from Keith Ellis (33 minutes) and, after diving bravely at the toes of Ellis, failed to grab the ball (37 minutes).
And there were no smiles in the Irish eyes of Briggs when the whistle mercifully ended the slaughter at 7-2, United's worst post-war home defeat.
The boy, in white pants six inches too short for his lanky legs, came off the field last and alone - clutching his cap, covering his tears with his left hand and loping with schoolboy awkwardness towards the players' tunnel.
In his last stride he paused to look up shyly at the packed stand, expecting, perhaps, assault or abuse. He received neither. Manchester, bless its broken, sporting heart, gave him a cheer.
So now Sheffield go to Leyton Orient in the fifth round for London's only Cup tie. Orient manager Les Gore watched this replay and must have been impressed by an all-round side that can play rough or smooth.
They needed their toughness against some of the tackles of United captain Maurice Setters and inside-right Nobby Stiles. But these were jarring notes in the subtle, inventive rhythm of United's attack. I am sure they would have won but for this difference - United were shooting against Ron Springett of England, Wednesday only against shattered Briggs of the `A' team.
Goals: Fantham (3) 0-1; Pearson (4) 1-1; Finney (30) 1-2; Ellis (33) 1-3; Ellis (37) 1-4; Fantham (52) 1-5; Dawson 2-5 (65); Ellis (74) 2- 6; Finney (84) 2-7.
Manchester United: Briggs; Brennan, Cantwell; Setters, Foulkes, Nicholson; Quixall, Stiles, Dawson, Pearson, Charlton.
Sheffield Wednesday: Springett; Johnson, Megson; McAnearney, O'Donnell, Kay; Wilkinson, Craig, Ellis, Fantham, Finney.
Wednesday were eventually knocked out by Burnley in the quarter-finals but went on to claim the runners-up spot behind Tottenham in the First Division championship. Briggs played only 11 games for United (who finished a distant seventh in the League that season) and three years later moved to Swansea City. He also played for Bristol Rovers and won two caps for Northern Ireland.
Latest in Sport
Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
Divock Origi arrives for Liverpool training in a Mini with a broken wing mirror
Angel Di Maria to Bayern Munich: The reasons why Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben will not be joining Manchester United
Manchester United transfer news: No 9 shirt left vacant - a hint that new striker will be arriving?
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Kyrgios set for heavy fine for giving up game during loss to Richard Gasquet
- 1 Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
- 3 Tube strike: This pedestrian-friendly map tells you the time it takes to walk between stations
- 4 Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2015: Three men gored and 10 hospitalised on first day of festival
- 5 Sarah Jessica Parker explains why she is not a feminist: 'It's not just about women now'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...