Saturday 25 November 2017

They've been here before -- and it ended in tears for both

Glenn Moore

It is 85 years since the only previous occasion the Manchester giants met in an FA Cup semi-final and an indication of how much has changed since is that neither were top dogs locally. That honour belonged to Bury, who finished fourth in the (old) First Division in 1926, above City and United.

Wembley's Empire Stadium was three years old, but the FA did not have to play semi-finals there to pay for it so Manchester fans only had to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane.

It was United's first semi-final since winning the trophy in 1909 (and would be their last until 1948). City had been semi-finalists two years earlier, losing to Newcastle United.

Their Cup run had started slowly, drawing 3-3 with the once-great amateur team Corinthians (now playing in the Ryman League First Division South, as Corinthian-Casuals). They won the replay 4-0 to launch a goal-laden run.


This was the first season under a revised offside law which reduced the number of opponents required to be between an attacker and the goal from three to the present-day two.

Defences struggled to adapt and there was a 30pc rise in goals scored. In the fourth round they beat Huddersfield Town, who were on course to retain their league title, 4-0; they then defeated Crystal Palace 11-4 and Clapton Orient 6-1.

United's run had been less dramatic, but included putting out two fellow First Division clubs in Sunderland and Tottenham. Though better placed in the league, they had lost 6-1 to City at Old Trafford just two months prior, so the tie had no obvious favourite.

Watched by 46,450, City won comfortably, veteran Tommy Browell scoring twice in the first half-hour and Frank Roberts adding a third.

That, though, was as good as the season got for City. They lost the final to a goal from Bolton's David Jack and were relegated.

United finished ninth, acceptable for a newly-promoted club, but failed to build on it.

The club was in the doldrums. The final match of the season drew fewer than 10,000 to Old Trafford and later in the year secretary-manager J A Chapman was suspended by the FA from all football activities for what was described as "improper conduct."

By the end of the decade United were heading back towards the Second Division and in danger of going bankrupt. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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