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      OTD: Palace's 5-0 Man Utd triumph - Champagne, weddings and Norwegian winters


      The winters are cold in Norway, and the afternoon of 16th December, 1972 - 51 years ago today - was no different: the wind howled, the snow crunched underfoot and sun had long dipped below the horizon. It was a Saturday evening but you wouldn’t know it. Most of the town had battened down the hatches for another freezing night, but in the cellar of a small house the hum of a television could be heard behind the flicker of the fire.

      It hadn’t been long since English football had first arrived in Scandinavia – and now it was in full colour too. On the screen appeared the vibrant red of Manchester United, the pure white of Crystal Palace and the animated cornucopia of faces bobbing and swaying on the terraces. It was like stepping into a new dimension.

      “I was 12-years-old when I really got into the love for Crystal Palace,” says Thorbjørn Tvegård, now leader of the Norwegian Supporters Club tours. “I was the only one in my community, and people were laughing a little bit.

      “The name: ‘Crystal Palace’, for a Norwegian this was fantastic. I was the only Crystal Palace supporter in that region, I know that. But some boys [were] looking at their televisions all around Norway, some coming from Oslo, some from far up north, all sitting and watching the same match.

      “The starting points was this 5-0 against Man United.”

      Across the nation, eyes widened in wonder as Bert Head’s side dismantled the former European champions. Surely this is what supporting Palace would always be like?

      “[There were] two stars for me at the time: Paddy Mulligan and Don Rogers,” Tvegård says. “I remember drawing them by putting tracing paper over them and drawing a pencil dashing of them.

      “My parents passed away some years ago, and I found the drawings they had saved all this time.

      “I wrote to the club more-or-less straight after. I said: ‘I’m a 12-year-old Norwegian boy, a Palace fan. Do you have anything I can have from the club?’

      “I got [sent] a pin, which I have saved for these 50 years. Every time I go back to Selhurst I have this on my jacket. I wear it with pride and passion.

      “If I'm in the London city centre we always talk football with taxi drivers. They are very surprised when I say I am a Crystal Palace supporter and have been for 50 years. One more or less drove off the road!

      “I love Palace deeply, there is a deep love for it. The Man United match made an eternal impression on me. That defined me.”

      More than a thousand miles away, Don Rogers was in the thick of the action. He felt determined, positive; his preparation was good and he was in form. It would be a day he'd never forget.

      “I can remember all of it – you ask me, I can tell you,” he laughs, half a century later. “I definitely remember the two goals I scored.”

      Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before finding the net after half-time, Rogers had already created two for teammate Paddy Mulligan, and run the visitors’ defence ragged in the process.

      After the break he stepped up a gear. Latching onto a long ball from teammate and good friend Alan Whittle, he advanced on legendary United goalkeeper Alex Stepney. Feinting one way, he knocked the ball past the 'keeper and ran around the opposite side, before slotting past a desperate defender and into the net.

      “Rodgers, in a way, doing a Pelé,” roared Brian Moore on the commentary. There are worse comparisons to receive.

      For his second – and Palace’s fifth – Rodgers left Stepney sprawling once again. He was unstoppable.

      “This will be their greatest afternoon,” thundered Moore, his voice a mixture of excitement and incredulity. “Will this be five? It’s going to be five… it is five!”

      Rogers chuckles at the memory.

      “It looks really good when you see it – I still like seeing it now. It was two goals I'm very proud of. I honestly think that’s probably my best ever game for 90 minutes. I didn’t do too much wrong that day.”

      For some fans, the memories are bittersweet. In Bromley, Howard Jenkins stood in front of the bedroom mirror and prepared for another trip to the Holmesdale Road. He was dressed for the occasion, sporting his smartest jeans, his scarf looped around his belt buckle and a stylish jacket.

      “When you get the fixtures at the start of the season, you can look at who you want to go and see,” he remembers. “Obviously the Man United game stuck out for me.

      “But all of a sudden brought into the mix was my sister’s engagement party. Mum and Dad weren’t into football, they couldn’t understand what it was about. I was threatened and told not to go to the game. I said: ‘I’ll be back by six!’ But it wasn’t happening.

      “That was the one game in history that I wasn’t at. In those days there was no media, so I had to rely on Grandstand. My mood got worse and worse as the score came through. You can imagine my reaction when I heard they had beaten Man United 5-0.”

      There is, as always, a silver lining – although he doesn’t sound convinced.

      “My sister and her husband will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in February, so that is one good thing to come out of the story…”

      It was the least she could do.

      Elsewhere in south London the celebrations were just beginning. Rogers and Whittle headed to their regular haunt, where a surprise awaited them.

      “I always remember after the game we used to go to the club,” Rogers says. “There was a bottle of champagne on the bar, I've never forgotten that. Someone bought us a bottle of champagne. I thought: ‘That’s very nice. Good start to the evening!’

      “We would go across the road to the supporters' club after that. We used to mix with them – that’s essential because the supporters are what make the club, aren’t they?

      “[Whittle and I] were joined at the hip. Two years we had of that. We were very close. I was his bodyguard, because he could flare up quite quick! But he was a lovely lad, I loved him. Super fella.”

      More than five decades on, the impact of that famous afternoon is evident across the generations. For Tvegård, he and his fellow Norwegian supporters bond over memories of that cold winter’s night in Norway, as they allowed themselves to be taken in by the wonders of the English game.

      And for Rodgers, whatever life throws at him, there is always solace in the night he tore apart the country's most famous side.

      “We get all the glory, but I thought that was my job. My job was to score goals,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what I did, it’s what the team did that matters.

      “If I'm sometimes feeling a bit down or on my own, I will put the highlights on.

      “It makes me feel good, that.”