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1920 - 1921: Billy Meredith sold back to City

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:19 am

The 1920/21 season was even worse than the previous one. After an argument with the club, Billy Meredith was given a free transfer at the age of 48 and rejoined Manchester City. Billy Meredith played for United from 1906 till 1921, playing 332 matches for them. With this amount he stands at 30th places of the all time appearance records.

His departure was the beginning of the end. That season United finished 13th, with two more defeats than they had wins (15-17). In the FA cup they lost in the first round.



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1921 - 1922: Relegated!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:19 am

Since the end of the war United had finished up in 12th and 13th position in the league and had no joy in the FA Cup. The 1921 season started out in terrible fashion with just five points from 7 games. Their manager John Robson had become ill and it was agreed that he would step down to assistant manager to make way for John Chapman, a Scot United hired away from Airdrieonians. The deterioration continued under Chapman's watch with Man City thrashing them 4-1. United sank to the bottom of the league and stayed there the length of the season. They were relegated to the 2nd division again after finishing with only 28 points.

Joe Spence was the only bright light for the team. He had joined United in 1919 from Scotswood and remained at Old Trafford until June 1933 when he moved to Bradford City. In all he made 510 appearances for the club, a record that stood for 40 years when it was bettered by Bill Foukes.

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1922 - 1923: Stuck in the 2nd Division

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:20 am

In 1923 life in the second division proved to be more difficult than United had anticipated, they were favorites to return to the top flight on their first attempt, instead they finished in 4th place while Notts County finished as Champions and were promoted. During the season County had stayed on top and it was very surprising to them that while entertaining United at the City Ground, United soundly thrashed them 6-1. County had a goalie that was considered one of the best anywhere, Albert Iremonger who stood 6' 6" tall, but on that day he spent the whole afternoon trying to keep the rampant reds away.

The man of the match was Frank Barson, the United centre half. He had been signed by United from Aston Villa for 5,000 pounds and the promise of his own pub if United gained promotion within three years. They were and the story goes that when Frank opened the door of his new pub he was swamped in the rush and decided then and there that running a pub was not the life for him. The story of United's season this year was one of a team that had all the talent, but maybe not the will to win.

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1923 - 1924: Third worst season ever!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:20 am

If 1923 wasn't difficult enough for United than this year was even worse. They had their third worst season in their history. They lost in the second round of the FA Cup but in the league they finished 14th, with 13 wins, 14 draws and 15 defeats. The club that had been the champions of England 12 years ago, now had to worry about avoiding relegation to the third division.

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1924 - 1925: Battling back to the 1st Division

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:20 am

But there came no relegation. The next season United got themselves together and finished the league in a fine second position in the league. This meant that United were promoted back to the first division. In this season United lost 8 of their 42 matches, but won 23 of them, scoring only 53 goals in all their matches. In the FA Cup United lost once again in the first round. A combined United/City team met a Liverpool/Everton side in a testimonial match for Ernest Mangnall who had led United in two league Championships and an FA Cup triumph.

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1925 - 1926: Settling back into Division 1

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:20 am

The first year back in the first division after four years was not a bad year for United. They finished a long way from the Championship, but they also never came in any danger of relegation. At the end of the season United finished in 9th place, with two more wins than defeats (19-17).

Their goal average was not so good, having only scored 66 goals while scoring 73 goals. In the FA Cup United did very well, they reached the semi finals, but couldn't get into the final. That season would be the last season for the United manager John Chapman, who was manager from 1921 till 1926. With him United had been relegated once and promoted three years later, he did not win any trophies with United in this difficult time for the club.

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1926 - 1927: Manager John Chapman suspended

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:21 am

On the 20th of September 1926 an FA investigating committee met at the Grand Hotel in Manchester to begin an inquiry into the affairs of Manchester United. The committe met again in Sheffield the following week and then met once more back in Manchester the first week of October. What they were investigating to this day remains unknown but on the 7th of October they announced to an astonished footballing public that United manager John Chapman was to be suspended from Football for improper conduct in his position as secretary-manager of the Manchester United Football Club. Nothing further was added and no explanation has ever been given to this day.

In Chapmans place United appointed Clarence Hilditch as caretaker, Clarence was the starting right half for United. To this date he remains the only player-manager in the club's history. Hilditch did a workmanlike job and managed to keep the Reds in the first division that year, but only by the skin of their teeth. United finished 15th in the league. Hilditch was replaced 7 months later by an old Friend of United's!

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1927 - 1928: Avoiding relegation by a single goal!

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:21 am

The Old Trafford team began the 1927/28 season with a new manager, Herbert Bamlett. His claim to fame had been to take a struggling Middlesbrough from the second to the first the previous year. But United fans remembered him for something else. Bamlett had been an accomplished referee and had even referreed the 1915 FA Cup final, he was also the referee that had called off the 1909 Burnley - United Cup tie because of the snowstorm (United won the rearranged match and went on to lift the Cup). Maybe United owed him a favour for that decision?

The new manager did not bring good times back to Old Trafford, the team hovered just above the relegation zone all season and on April 22nd found themselves at the foot of the table. It was the last game of the season and the log jam at the bottom was so tight that there was only 7 points separating the bottom club from the 4th placed team in the league. United were 2nd from the bottom but all the three bottom clubs were level on points and games played. It was to come down to the last game of the season, and goal difference. The visitors that day were Liverpool and not many of the United faithful held much hope with both Spurs and Middlesbrough having better goal difference.

Within 11 minutes United favorite Joe Spence had shot United into the lead. Rawlings added two more before Liverpool replied and then Spence added another to make the halftime score 4-1. As the teams came out for the second half Old Trafford was electric, the 30,000 strong crowd willing the team on, and it worked, Spence scoring two more to complete a hat trick and send Liverpool home losers by 6 goals to one. At the end of the game the players stayed on the field waiting nervously for the Spurs and Middlesbrough results, had they done enough to stay up? They had!! Spurs and Middlesbrough went down and United had dodged the drop, they stayed up on goal difference. The 6th goal had proved decisive.

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1928 - 1929: United continue to struggle

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:21 am

United lost 15 matches before March 1929 was over and again were looking contenders for relegation. However thanks to a rousing end to the season they again managed to survive, finishing the last 6 games with 5 wins and a tie.

Most of the explanation for this turn around could be found in the signing of Tom Reid from Liverpool. Reid, a Scot scored 14 goals in 17 appearances that season and went on to score 67 goals in just 101 games before joining Oldham five years later. But United were still not setting the league alight, it seemed as though they stayed in a never ending battle to stay out of the relegation zone. And it was to get Worse!

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1929 - 1930: Close call again at the bottom

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:22 am

And worse it got in the next season, when United had a lot of trouble staying in the first division. They finished the league in 17th place, just enough to stay in the top division. But from 42 games United lost 19 and won only 15, with a goal average of -21 (67-88). But although United played no role whatsoever in the title run-ins of the last few years, they did better in the FA Cup. In the 1925/26 season they reached the semi-finals of the competition. In 1926/27 they reached the third round, in 1927/28 they got to the sixth round, while in 1928/29 they lost in the fourth round and in 1929/30 United were knocked out in the third round.

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1930 - 1931: Crisis at Old Trafford

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:22 am

As if the previous season had not been bad enough the 1930-31 campaign had to go down as one of United's worst. They started the season losing 4-0 to Villa, followed by a 3-0 loss to Middlesbrough, and then things continued to go downhill. Losses to Chelsea 6-2, Huddersfield 6-0 and Newcastle 7-4 and United's usual devoted support started to wane. By the time Newcastle were waxing them at Old Trafford the crowd numbered less than 11,000.
There was much discontentment from the terraces and the normally placid Supporters club began to make waves. Handbills were passed out outside the ground on match days calling for the Club to heed a five point plan that they had presented to them. The supporters wanted a new manager, an improved scouting system, some new signings, five shareholders elected to the board, and money to be raised through a new share issue. The club ignored the demands refusing to even meet with them, arguing that the Supporters Club was an unofficial body not recognised by the club and unrepresentative of the bulk of the supporters.

Results continued to get worse and by the end of September they had lost all of the opening eight games and were sitting at the foot of the table. On October 4th the team went across town for the derby with Man City under a threat from the Supporters Club that if the board did not respond to them there would be a mass boycott of the home fixture against Arsenal scheduled for the 18th of October. The club did not respond. Man City defeated them 4-1, and the following week West Ham hammered them 5-1. The Supporters Club called an emergency meeting to be held at Hulme Town Hall and as many as 3,000 were reported to have turned up. Mr Greenhough, secretary of the Supporters Club moved that the boycott against Arsenal should go ahead.

Charlie Roberts, the former club captain spoke against the boycott and argued that the fans should be getting behind the team not boycotting them. Roberts was shouted down and the vote was taken to boycott the Arsenal game which was to be played the following day. The visit of the previous years Cup winning team was considered a huge game, and the newspapers had talked about a possible 50,000 crowd, 23,000 made the effort. United lost 2-1 and followed that with a 4-1 loss to Portsmouth.

After these games the attendances slumped even lower and in fact the only time the crowd bettered 10,000 the rest of the year was the local home derby with Man City. In their final game 3,900 watched them play out a 4-4 draw with Middlesbrough. They had lost 27 matches while only winning 7 and conceding a staggering 115 goals. At the end of the season the board finally acted and fired Herbert Bamlett, there was no immediate replacement for him and secretary Walter Crickmer and Louis Rocca took over the reins. But even the long serving secretary, and the man who had named the club Manchester United could not help United's slide and as 1931 ended the club were once again almost bankrupt.

It was at this point that a fairy godmother came to the rescue, this time James Gibson placed 2,000 pound at the club's disposal and indicated he was ready to make further funds available if the board would reconstitute itself. James Gibson was made President and another financial crisis was averted, Gibson placing cash at the club's disposal and guaranting the players' wages.

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1931 - 1932: Struggling in Division 2 again

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:22 am

In May 1931 Herbert Bamlett was sacked as manager after United were relegated, finishing bottom and conceding 115 goals. Walter Crickmer, who was club secretary at the time, took over the duties of team selection along with Louis Rocca, until August 1932, when Scott Duncan, an ex-player, who had guested for the club during the 1st world war, was appointed. Duncan had played with Newcastle, and Dumbarton and was also one of the few players who could boast playing for both Glasgow Celtic and Rangers. Duncan was to be paid a salary of 800 pounds a year and after taking over at the helm he promised to infuse new blood into the team and to re-vamp the Youth system.

But Duncan did not fulfil his promises, spending a very large amount of money on new players, mainly from his native Scotland. His signings included Neil Dewar from Third Lanark, Chalmers from Cowdenbeath, Byrne from Shamrock Rovers (Ireland) and Bamford from Wrexham. He had the huge task to bring United back into the first division, but he couldn't do it in his first season at the former English champions. His first season saw United finish 12th in the second division and reach the third round of the FA Cup, but the hard years for Duncan still had to come.

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1932 - 1933: Promotion still far off

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:22 am

The second season of Scott Duncan as manager of United was a little better. After finishing 12th in his first season he now finished 6th in the league, but he never got United anywhere near the promotion places, so it was hardly a return for the outlay.

In the FA Cup he reached, just like the previous year, the third round, but again United lost at home to Middlesbrough 1-4 in that third round. In this year, just as last year, United managed to score 71 goals in the league, what is a large amount for a team out the middle group in the second division.

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1933 - 1934: Drop to 3rd Division avoided on last day

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:23 am

On December 26th 1933 Grimsby Town defeated the United team 7-3, things just were not getting any better at Old Trafford. During the season United searched for the right blend, and by season end they had used 38 players. On May 4th 1934 Manchester United travelled to Millwall knowing that only a victory could save them from the humiliating drop into the 3rd division north. The `Manchester Evening News' had already wrote them off and called it "the most heartbreaking season in the history of Manchester United".

They stood next to bottom on 32 points, while Millwall were just above them on 33 points. If United won the game Millwall would be relegated. Millwall started the game with a flourish and pinned the Reds back in defence for long periods of time. Then against the run of play United got a breakaway goal to make the score at halftime United 1 Millwall 0. Within two minutes of the restart Cape added another goal for United and the team began playing with confidence and won the game comfortably 2-0. United's travelling supporters numbered over 3,000 and upon returning to Manchester Central that night the team found many thousands more waiting to welcome their hero's home. United had survived once again at the last gasp!

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1934 - 1935: Things slowly begin to improve

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:23 am

United could only improve after the worst season in their 47 years history. This season they finished in a good fifth place in the league playing good football, making it difficult for all teams in the league to beat them. But they only scored 55 goals themselves. In the FA Cup they did made good progress as well, reaching the fourth round.

By the end of the season United was tipped to gain promotion next year. At last things were starting to look up.

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1935 - 1936: Promotion back to the top flight

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:23 am

The Thirties had so far not been good years at Old Trafford and the 1935-36 season started out just as bad as the previous years. On January 4th they were to lose to Bradford City, but in an amazing turnaround this loss was to be the last of the season. By Febuary they had begun climbing up the table. Manager Scott Duncan claimed it was a new plan he had instilled that was the reason for the upsurge, he said they had been concentrating on getting a point away and two at home. Whatever the reason it was working and by mid-March they had jumped to 4th place just three points behind the leaders.

In April they were in 2nd place and Old Trafford was sensing the prospect of promotion. The crucial game came on Wednesday 29 April when they travelled to nearby Bury, United had beaten them on the previous weekend at Old Trafford and a win was needed to stay in the promotion race. As many as 20,000 fans made the short trip to see United win the game and keep their hopes alive going into the last week of the season. United did not disappoint their travelling fans and defeated Bury 3-2.

After the game the fans invaded the field and carried their hero's shoulder high to the dressing rooms. The following Saturday only a point was needed for United to be crowned 2nd Champions, it was duly achieved with a 1-1 draw. It had been United's home record that formed the backbone of their triumph. They had lost just two games at Old Trafford and drawn only three, scoring 55 goals.

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1936 - 1938: Shortlived stay in Division 1

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:23 am

United's return to the top flight was indeed short lived. They returned to division two the following season. 1937 however was to mark the year two players were signed who would dramatically change the club's future fortunes. Johnny Carey joined the club from Dublin side St James' Gate for 250 pounds, he began life at Old Trafford as an inside forward, but would soon convert to become one of the all time great fullbacks the World had ever seen. A month after Carey's debut Duncan signed another youngster, this time paying Bournemouth 3,000 pounds for Jack Rowley. After the first 15 games of 1937/38 Duncan resigned to take over at Ipswich Town, despite having 4 years of a 5 year contract remaining.

Crickmer again took over the managerial reins in November 1937. At the time United were nothing more than a good 2nd division side, however his first game United hammered Chesterfield 7-1 and began a run that would again gain them promotion as runners-up, while reigning champions Manchester City were relegated. The next manager of United became Jimmy Porter. He stayed manager of United until 1944. Crickmer continued his combined duties at that point until February 1945, when Matt Busby was offered a 5 year contract by the Directors upon completion of his army duties. Porter managed to give United their promotion and he did what others before him couldn't do, keep United in the first division.

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1938 - 1939: Porter's first and only season at United

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:24 am

This was the first and only season for Porter with United in the first division. He had a hard fight to avoid relegation, but he managed to keep them there. They finished 14th in the league, with 11 wins, 16 draws and 15 defeats. United did not score more than 65 goals, but still had a high goal average of +27. A record Old Trafford attendance of 76,962 watches the FA Cup semi-final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Grimsby Town in March. By that time United were already out of the FA Cup, having lost in the third round.

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1939-1945: World War II

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:24 am

There was much apprehension on the terraces that final Saturday before war broke out. Everyone knew that the deadline given to Germany by the British government to pull out of Poland was only hours away and everybody had realised by then that Hitler would not retreat. United were away to Charlton on what was the third game of a new season. They had begun the season brightly winning 4-0 at Grimsby followed by a weekday tie at Chelsea, but Charlton beat them this day 2-0. The next morning at 11am war was declared on Germany.

The football league met two days later and made the decision to cancel the League season. It would be seven years before League soccer reappeared, although soccer was played in some form or fashion through that painful duration. In place of League play a series of regional leagues were formed much like what had happened in the 1st world war, and a guesting system was introduced once more. This made for strange bedfellows indeed with some small 3rd division sides often fielding famous international stars that just happened to be posted close by, while some major clubs scratched around for players. In June 1940 United fielded an unusual lineup on one occasion with Man City star Peter Doherty and Stanley Mathews featuring on the same forward line as a center forward who had been drafted out of a local pub team. Throughout the 6 years of hostilities there were few prizes to be won, and even fewer spectators showed up to watch, United rarely attracted a crowd of over 4,000.

For the record United won the Lancashire Cup in 1941, beating Burnley, and topped their regional League in 1941-42, there was little else to boast about other than a few spectacular scorelines. New Brighton were hammered 13-1 in 1941 and Wrexham were beaten 10-3 the same year, while Burnley were defeated 9-0 in 1944.

On the night of Tuesday 11th March 1941 there was a roar around Old Trafford, but it was not coming from the terraces but rather from the drone of German planes overhead. The magnificent stadium sustained heavy bomb damage, and was in a dilapidated state, a shadow of its former self. The terraces were covered in weeds and grass and out on the famous turf a 6' high bush had sprouted. Thanks to the kindness of Manchester City, United were given use of Maine Road, although they didn't return any favors slamming City 7-1 a month later.

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1945 - 1946: Matt Busby takes charge

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:25 am

Actual News report as reported in the Manchester Evening News Monday 19th Feb 1945:
Matt Busby signs as United Manager
Company Sergeant-Major Instructor Matt Busby, Liverpool right back and Scotland captain, today signed an agreement to become manager of Manchester United when he is demoblised. Only a few years ago Busby (now aged 34) who has proved himself one of the great half backs of modern times, was the "forgotten man" of International Football.

ATTRACTIVE PLAYER

His thousands of Manchester fans, remembering him as a stylish and attractive player when he turned out For Manchester City, unswervingly believed in his brilliance when Scotland's selectors seem to have neglected and forgotten him. And he justified their faith. After one pre-war international cap in 1934 we was ignored until the 1941-42 season, since when he has appeared for Scotland in eight games, several times as skipper. in these games he has been outstanding, and today he made a name in Scottish Football. "Busby has had a number of offers, but he approached us himself as he particularly wanted to come back to Manchester," Mr W. Crickmer Manchester United secretary explained today. "He will build up the team and put it where it belongs-at the top." Busby who played with Alex James as a boy, left Manchester City for Liverpool in 1936 at a fee of 8,000 pounds, and has been released from his appointment as Liverpool's post-war coach.
Although nobody could have known it, the signing of Matt Busby was as momentous an event as any in the history of Manchester United. It ranked alongside the appointment of Ernest Mangnall, the signing of Billy Meredith and the timely intervention of JH Davies to save the Club from bankruptcy.
At the time Busby was still on Liverpool's books and still in the Army as an instructor at the Sandhurst Military Academy when he received a letter from Louis Rocca, the United scout, informing him of the managerial vacancy at Old Trafford. Busby was keen to come to Old Trafford and quickly arranged a meeting with Crickmer the United secretary. The rest is history.

Busby's footballing career had ironically enough began at Manchester City where he begun as a 17 year old and played more than 200 games before moving to Liverpool. Busby, the son of a Scottish miner, was a stylish half-back with Manchester City and Liverpool before World War Two and although he won only one full cap for Scotland, he skippered his country in several wartime internationals. He was only 34 when he took over at Old Trafford, but even so was in great demand, turning down Spurs, Liverpool, Reading and Ayre United to join the Reds. There was no doubt that Manchester was where Busby's heart lay. His arrival was to spark the fusion of two great forces.

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1946 - 1947: Busby's great team is born

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:25 am

It was 1946 and the war was over, and League football kicked off again. The crowds flocked to the games hungry for football again after the long lay-off. Crowds were averaging 50,000 at the large clubs and United were getting 40,000 every week although playing at Maine road due to Old Trafford still not having being rebuilt yet. The United team that started the season was indeed impressive, with Jack Crompton in goal, Johnny Carey and John Aston in front of him, while Chilton, (who had been wounded in the war) Warner and Cockburn formed the halfback line. Up front there was Jimmy Delaney a 4,000 pound buy from Celtic and Stan Pearson a rugged energetic and scheming player who partnered the great Jack Rowley. Charlie Mitten prowled the left wing. It was an oustanding team and with Matt Busby and now Jimmy Murphy at the helm it was one that would transform United from the music-hall joke of pre-war football to giants of the post war years. United began the 1946-47 Season in great form with 5 victories, including a 5-0 win over eventual Champions Liverpool.

United were leading contenders all year along with Liverpool, Stoke City, and Wolves, but Liverpool out lasted them and won the title with United finishing as runners up. It had been a brave campaign by Busby's new team, who struck 95 goals and boasted fewer defeats than anyone else. Jack Rowley was leading scorer with 26 goals, followed by Stan Pearson with 19. Bert Whalley had been chosen regularly at half back, however in 1947 he decided to hang up his books and take a coaching job under Busby. This would prove to be highly significant in future years. Bert Whalley was an instant success as a coach, guiding, developing, and motivating a group of youngsters at the Club who would find recognition of their own in the near future, this group of youngsters would be later known to the Football world as: The Busby Babes.

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1947 - 1948: Busby's first trophy

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:25 am

The 'News of the World' Newspaper called the 1948 Cup final 'Wembley's finest'. This was maybe a slight exaggeration, although there is no doubting it was one of the finest games ever played on the Wembley turf.

United had arrived at Wembley via a most difficult route. In the third round they defeated Aston villa 6-4 after being down a goal in 13 seconds, at half time they were leading 5-1 but Villa fought back to 5-4 before Stan Pearson scored a sixth for the Reds. Then they drew current League Champions Liverpool at home, but because Old Trafford was still not ready to be used and Maine road was not available due to City being also drawn at home United had to find another ground to play the Cup tie at. They plumped for Liverpool's rivals ground at Everton and it proved to be a lucky venue for the Reds as they won 3-0 at Goodison Park in front of a 74,000 crowd.

Next up was Charlton, but City had again been drawn at home and this time United chose to play at Leeds Road Huddersfield. Again the Reds won their 'home game' when they beat the London Club 2-0. On to the quarter-finals and a game against Preston North End, Man City having a league fixture arranged for the same day the Reds had to find yet another place to play, this time it was Villa Park and another win for United 4-2 in front of yet another 74,000. Derby County were to provide the opposition in the semi-final and it was slated for Hillsborough Sheffield. Stan Pearson hit a hat trick to add to the 4 goals he had already scored in the remarkable cup run, and United ran out winners 3-1.

United had faced 1st Division opposition in every round and had been watched by an astonishing 300,000 and the Wembley date would make it 400,000 aggregate attendance, which stands as a record to this day.

In the final United faced another Lancashire team in Blackpool who of course boasted the services of the great Stanley Matthews who was recognized all over the World as being the greatest player of the day. Blackpool took the lead when Shimwell scored from the penalty spot after 12 minutes, but United stormed back and 27 minutes into the game they levelled the scores as Jack Rowley out sprinted the Blackpool goalkeeper to thunder a shot into the net.

Blackpool were proving to be more than worthy opponents and they struck again when Stan Mortensen slotted home a goal from a Matthews free kick. Skipper Johnny Carey was having a storm of a game and his prompting and constant surges forward paid off when Rowley headed home a free kick to draw the two sides level again. Ten minutes later the Cup was secured for United when Stan Pearson slammed home the winner. Pearson had scored 8 goals in six matches for the Reds, and he would always be remembered as the man who fired United on their way to another Cup Triumph. The double was nearly achieved. United won at Wembley to lift the FA Cup for the second time, but were pipped by Arsenal for the League title.

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1948 - 1949: No silverware this season

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:26 am

The next United tried again to achieve the covetted double, but again they failed. In the FA Cup the played the best football of England till the semi finals. Everyone was positive that United would also win this semi final and go for their second successive FA Cup win. But in the semi finals United lost. And in the league they couldn't win either.

For the third time in a row United finished second in the league. But the hard times from before the war were forgotten and with Busby as manager happy days lay ahead.

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1949 - 1950: United return to Old Trafford

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:26 am

After 8 years absence from their home Manchester United returned to Old Trafford in 1949, the bomb damage had been mostly repaired there was still some work to be done, but the gates opened for a crowd of 42,000 to pack inside and watch the Reds face Bolton Wanderers on a breezy summer day in August.

It was an exciting event with traffic backed up for miles which caused many to be late for the kickoff, but when the Stadium finally filled, the noise was reported to be deafening and the Stretford End roared their approval as Charlie Mitten became the first player to score the a goal at Old Trafford for 8 years. United ran out 3-0 winners. United didn't finish the league as good as the last three years, the became fourth. In the FA cup the couldn't do it as well, they only reached the sixth round.

Busby bought a new goalkeeper, he signed Ray Wood for 6,000 from Darlington.

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1950 - 1952: The Busby Babes are born

Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:26 am

United fans were astonished when they read their morning newspapers during the summer of 1950. Charlie Mitten had deserted Old Trafford for an unknown Columbian team by the name of Santa Fe, after 113 consecutive appearances in the red shirt Mitten was off to South America. Mitten and his fellow professionals were earning a maximum 12 pounds a week, Santa Fe promised him a signing bonus of 2,500 pounds plus a salary of 2,500 pounds per year and a win bonus of 35 pounds a week, he was 29 years old.

Life in Bogata did not suit him however and he was soon on his way back to England, he was still officially a United player, but upon his return they made it apparent they would not continue with his services. He went on to sign with Fulham, later becoming manager of Mansfield before joining Newcastle as Manager.

On Saturday, 24th November 1951 United gave a debut to two youngsters who over the next few years would play a vital role in the club's fortunes. One of the players was named Jackie Blanchflower, the other Roger Byrne, they were selected to play against Liverpool at Anfield. Tom Jackson of the Manchester Evening News wrote: United's 'Babes' were cool and confident. It would be the first time the word `Babe' would be used in conjunction with United. The introduction of Byrne and Blanchflower signalled the beginning of changes in the team, United went on to win the Championship in 1952 with the old guard forming the backbone of the team, however in the reserve and youth teams players were pushing the older established players for their spots every week. Since the war United had never been out of the top four, so the title was long overdue when it finally arrived in 1952.

They moved on top in February and stayed there the rest of the season, even though in the end it took a win in the penultimate game of the season to secure the title. Arsenal needed to beat United by 7 goals to snatch the title, it was never to happen as the Reds finished the season in rousing form hammering the Gunners 6-1.

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