The history of Manchester United Football Club tells one of the most exhilarating and fascinating stories ever told in the footballing world. From death to glory, several key moments in the club’s history stand out in the memory of this English club and now global brand.
During 1878, Newton Heath LYD FC, the ‘Red Devils’ (as they were later to become known) were formed by a group of workers at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Depot. It is hard to believe that such a collection of employees paved the way for the multi-millionaires that now don the Old Trafford playing surface! 24 years later, in 1902, the club were taken over by a group of local businessmen and changed their name to Manchester United. It was at this point that the club also changed to their famous red shirts.
In 1908, the club won their first league championship which was quickly followed by the FA cup in 1909 and another league championship in 1911. This was accredited largely down to the manager, Ernst Mangnall. However, after this spell of success, Mangnall left the club (to neighbours Manchester City), and the club didn’t win any major honours until after the second world war.
After the war, once more, a strong manager was the answer to United’s problems. Matt Busby (who later became ‘Sir Matt Busby’), took over in 1945 and his philosophy was to prove crucial. Believing in youth, Busby confounded many critics by winning the FA cup in 1948, and finished runners up of the first division during three consecutive seasons (1947 – 1949). Whilst he may have feared that he would never end up winning the title, this eventually came in 1952: United’s first league title in over 40 years!
The ‘Busby babes’ (United’s average age for a player was just 22) continued this success, by winning the league in 1956 and continued this by winning the title during the following season. They started to progress well in Europe during this era as well, losing in the semi-finals to Real Madrid. However, during their cup run, they managed to thrash Anderlecht 10-0 – a remarkable score-line that is not often seen today!
A couple of years later, however, saw one of football’s greatest ever tragedies: the ‘Munich Air Disaster.’ 8 of United’s players died, as well as some supporters and key personnel. The disaster has never been forgotten. Despite pressure to fold the club, Busby remained strong and came back determined. Just 10 years later (1968), after re-building, Busby managed to win the European cup.
The next notable moment in the club’s history, was the appointment of Alex Ferguson (also to later become a ‘Sir’ in 1986. Fergie, as he was nicknamed won an incredible 13 league titles, 5 FA cups and 2 European Champions League trophies, to help give the club the global reputation that it has today.