Some context: almost exactly one year before the late, great David Rocastle scored this marvellous goal, Arsenal beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford in a game that featured a mass brawl midway through the second half. Rocastle’s take on the melee: “At Arsenal we never, ever started any brawls – we just finished them.”
And going back a couple more years, to 1987, Rocastle was sent off at Old Trafford in Alex Ferguson’s first match against Arsenal as United manager. George Graham, Arsenal’s gaffer at the time, remembers that game as follows:
David O’Leary was getting kicked all over the place by Norman Whiteside, David Rocastle was provoked so much that he got sent off and there was a big row coming off the pitch. Alex Ferguson and his then assistant Archie Knox were right in our faces and I thought: ‘Jesus Christ! That’ll be the first and last time they intimidate us. We’re not going to be bullied any more’.
So it’s fair to say Rocastle was no great lover of Manchester’s team in red, and would have enjoyed immensely the manner in which he reduced United’s midfield (Neil Webb, Paul Ince and Bryan Robson) to ash on that grey Saturday afternoon – even if the final score was 1-1 (Steve Bruce equalised five minutes after Rocastle’s stunner). Putting Peter Schmeichel on his arse was no mean feat either, although the big Dane did love to prowl far from his goal-line.