Most footballers would be jubilant after scoring six goals in a single match.
But not Manchester City’s gifted young forward Denis Law.
This week in January 1961, his double hat-trick against Luton at Kenilworth Road was wiped from the record books.
City were 6-2 up in the fourth round FA Cup tie when the referee abandoned the match due to a waterlogged pitch and declared the game null and void.
Law and his team-mates were downcast as they trudged back to the dressing room in the 69th minute caked in mud and soaked to the skin.
But worse was to follow.
Luton won the rescheduled match 3-1 on February 1st with Law scoring City’s only goal.
It was no consolation for the 20-year-old Scottish international, who would come to regret the lost goals even more 39 years later when the record books were compiled.
Had the goals have counted, Law would have been the 20th century’s top FA Cup goal-scorer. Instead the honour goes to former Liverpool striker Ian Rush.
Law finished the century with 41 official FA Cup goals compared to the Rush’s 44.
The chalked-off double hat-trick was just one episode in the whirlwind early career of the uniquely talented Scottish striker.
It all began when Huddersfield Town scout Archie Beattie offered the 14-year-old Law a trial in 1955. Skinny and wearing glasses, Law never expected to be signed. But he was.
After an operation to correct his squint, he made his first-team debut at the age of 16 on Christmas Eve 1956. It was a 2-1 win over Notts County.
Interest in the teenage forward quickly grew and Manchester United manager Matt Busby offered £10,000 for him. Huddersfield turned it down.
Bill Shankly managed Huddersfield from 1957 to 1959 and wanted to take Law with him when he left for Liverpool. But the Reds couldn’t afford the transfer fee.
Law eventually left in March 1960, signing for Manchester City for a British record fee of £55,000.
He made his debut on March 19th, scoring in the 4-3 win over Leeds United. In April he scored twice in the 4-1 victory over Aston Villa that ensured City’s Division One survival.
Law made the move to Europe in the summer of 1961, signing for Italian club Torino for a fee of £110,000 – a record for a transfer involving a British player.
He was accompanied on his Italian move by centre forward Joe Baker who had signed from Scottish club Hibernian.
The pair were involved in a car accident in February 1962 when Baker drove the wrong way round a roundabout and flipped the car. Both were injured, Baker the more severely of the two.
As the months rolled on, Law couldn’t come to terms with the defensive nature of Italian football and put in a transfer request in April. He was then sent off against Napoli.
Torino’s coach Beniamino Santos told Law he was being sold to Juventus, which led him to fly home to Aberdeen. He wanted out of Italy altogether.
The protest paid off and Torino relented. United manager Busby finally got his man when Law signed for the Red Devils for the new British record fee of £115,000.
After staying in luxury hotels in the Alps in Turin, Law returned to the same Manchester lodgings he boarded at while he was a City player.
His United career started on a high when he scored after just seven minutes in his debut match against West Bromwich Albion in August 1962.
His crowning glory came in the 1963 FA Cup Final when he scored the first of United’s three goals in the 3-1 victory over Leicester City.
Law eventually made 404 appearances for United scoring 237 goals – a feat only bettered by Wayne Rooney and Bobby Charlton.
His Scotland career stretched from 1958 to 1974. He made 55 senior appearances for his country scoring 30 goals.
He netted four times in one match in November 1962 when Scotland beat Northern Ireland 5-1 at Hampden Park and scored in the famous 3-2 victory over World champions England in April 1967.
Law, the legend, had truly come of age.