The city of Manchester is currently the hotbed of footballing success, with both City and United racking up league titles and cup triumphs between them over the past few seasons. While the United success has been steadily flowing for the past two decades, until recently the same couldn’t be said for the Blues. However, the idea that both the red and blue side of Manchester are successful is nothing new. Fans of a certain age will no doubt remember an era where both City and United contested Cup Finals on a regular basis.
The photo above shows the Manchester City side being presented to King George V before their 1934 FA Cup triumph over Portsmouth, a game which the blues won 2-1. At the time this was a rare victory for the Manchester clubs, their most recent victory in the FA Cup prior to 1934 being Manchester United’s victory over Bristol City.
The success dried up for Manchester following the 1934 final, the city endured a 14 year wait for more success in the Cup, although City would win the League Championship in 1936. The next Cup success for Manchester came with United toppling Blackpool in 1948. However, by the mid 1950s fans of both Manchester clubs would be forgiven in thinking of Wembley as a second home.
Between 1955 and 1958 all four FA Cup Finals were contested by one of the Manchester clubs. City were unsuccessful in 1955, losing out to Newcastle, however, they tasted victory a year later, overcoming Birmingham City. The 1956 Final was most notable for the story of City legend Bert Trautmann who played on despite breaking his neck with over 20 minutes of the match still to play.
City were treated to an open-top bus parade after the match, with thousands of fans lining the streets to greet them.
While City were contesting Cup Finals, United were having success of their own. They won the League Championship in 1956 and beat their neighbours in the Charity Shield at the beginning of the following season. 1957 saw more success for the Red Devils, another League Championship was won and United negotiated their way through to the FA Cup Final, although they would come up short against Aston Villa.
The following season disaster would strike Manchester United, following the Munich Air Disaster the United side lost 8 of their players, manager Matt Busby was left in a critical condition, while Jackie Blanchflower and Johnny Berry were left unable to play again. Despite this tragic setback United fought their way to another FA Cup Final against all odds (pictured below the team being presented to Prince Phillip prior to the game). The fairytale ending never arrived for United, losing 2-0 in the final to Bolton Wanderers, yet for the side to make it to Wembley given the circumstances was something of a victory in itself.
The 1960s saw more success for Manchester, United picking up another FA Cup in 1963 (David Herd pictured above scoring the third goal in the Final against Leicester), and further League Championships in 1965 and 1967. 1968 then saw Manchester experiencing success both at home and abroad. Domestically City picked up their second league title, while Manchester United became the first English side to win the European Cup. City went on to win the FA Cup the following season, while United reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, but failed to retain the crown. (Pictured below; Matt Busby with the European Cup followed by City manager Joe Mercer with the FA Cup.)
The end of the 60s saw the end, for the time being, of Manchester’s dominance of English football, despite the occasional FA Cup triumph for United and a League Cup triumph for City, the Manchester clubs could never reach the heights they managed through the 1950s and 60s. That barren spell would end for the Reds once Sir Alex Ferguson worked his magic and now, with the revitalisation of CIty, we seem to have reached a new golden age of football in Manchester.
Images – Copyright Dave Thomas / Manchester Evening News / Mirrorpix except where otherwise stated.