The History of Manchester United
Back in 1878, a group of railway workers decided to form a football team to play against fellow workers. They called themselves Newton Heath LYR (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways) and from such humble beginnings grew one of the greatest football teams ever, for today that small works side is known the world over as Manchester United.
This small club struggled to survive in its early days. When the Football league was formed in 1888, it was not in that class to consider joining, though it did just four years later. And early in the twentieth century, the club looked like collapsing with financial problems until local brewer John Henry Davies put his hand in his pocket to save them.
Birth of Manchester United
One of the conditions that John Henry Davies attached to him financing the club in 1902 was that the name be changed and after toying with the likes of Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic, the name Manchester United was chosen. In 1908, the revitalised Manchester United won the Football League, its first of many league titles. The following season, they won the FA Cup for the first time.
In 1910, they moved to a new ground Old Trafford where they remain to this day, adding another league championship to celebrate.
Club saviour John Henry Davies died in 1927 and thus was not around to help them a few years later when more financial problems threatened to put the club out of business. This time it was businessman James Gibson who stumped up the finance to save Manchester United and take control of the club.
Manchester United and the Second World War
Old Trafford was bombed and badly damaged during the Second World War and would not be rebuilt again until 1949. But the war brought another man to Manchester Uniteds attention. Former Liverpool and Manchester City player Matt Busby served during the war in the Ninth Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment and afterwards joined Manchester United as manager, a position he was to hold for more than a quarter of a century.
Matt Busby took full control of team affairs and built them into the team that became famous the world over. In 1957, they became the first English team to compete in the European Cup.
The Munich Air Disaster
In 1958, on the return journey from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade their aeroplane stopped for refuelling at Munich. It crashed when it tried to take off killing twenty-two people including seven players, among them the incredibly talented Duncan Edwards. The survivors included Matt Busby himself and a young player by the name of Bobby Charlton.
Matt Busby, despite being seriously injured and close to death after the crash, went back to work and rebuilt the Manchester United team and in 1963 they again won the FA Cup. One of the young players Matt Busby signed in 1963 was George Best. The partnership of George Best, Bobby Charlton and new signing Dennis Law took Manchester United to another league title in 1965.
They followed this with the title again in 1967 and in 1968 Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup.
Until then, the team had adopted the nickname Busby Babes as a tribute to the young profile of the players but in the late 1960s this was formally changed to Red Devils. Matt Busby was knighted in 1968 and retired in 1969.
Manchester United in Decline
The post-Busby era in the 1970s was a nightmare for Manchester United. They struggled in the league and in 1974 the unthinkable happened, the great Manchester United were relegated to the second division. They came back the following season but despite an FA Cup win in 1977, the decade was one the team wanted to forget.
The poor league form continued in the early 1980s and again it was the FA Cup that brought triumph in 1983 and 1985.
Alex Ferguson and the Revival of Manchester United
In 1986, Manchester United appointed Alex Ferguson as manager after he had proved his worth by helping Aberdeen break the domination of Celtic and Rangers in Scotland. In 1990, he brought the FA Cup back to Old Trafford as he started a record haul of silverware that continues to this day, earning him a knighthood and making Manchester United one of the most feared teams in the world.
Under his management, Manchester United have so far won twelve league titles, five FA Cup finals, four League Cup finals and two Champions League successes. They have also won the old UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup during a reign that continues to this day. Winning the 2011 league title took the total for the club to 19, beating Liverpool’s record for the most top tier wins.
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