14 Old Facts About Manchester United

It’s one of the biggest football clubs in the world, and in this post, you’ll discover a compelling list of old facts about Manchester United.

1. Manchester United was formed as a railway club

Manchester United is one of the oldest football clubs in the world. One of the most interesting facts about Manchester United though is that the club didn’t start with this name.

The original club was formed in 1878 as the “Newton Heath LYR Football Club” with the LYR standing for Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, one of the major British railway companies in the 19th century.

Newton Heath LYR Football Club
Newton Heath LYR Football Club in the 19th century. / Wiki Commons

2. They weren’t wearing red and white in their first match

Manchester United has been wearing the famous colors red and white with black socks for many decades, but they didn’t start with this ensemble.

In their first-ever recorded match and the games that followed, they were wearing the colors of the railway company they were representing, green and gold.

3. Their first match was quite embarrassing

Even though the original club was founded in 1878, it wasn’t until 1880 that Newton Heath LYR F.C. played their first-ever recorded game. Before that, they had just been playing against other departments and railway companies.

Unfortunately, playing against true amateurs was much easier than playing against a team that was somewhat training regularly.

The second team of the Bolton Wanderers beat Newton Heath LYR F.C. with a clear 6-0 score. The first game clearly wasn’t a big success.

Bolton Wanderers in late 19th century
Bolton Wanderers in the late 19th century. / Wiki Commons

4. They got a taste of the top league in the 1890’s

After spending several years in regional leagues which never ran for too long, the first major league, the Football League, was formed in the 1892-1893 season.

This allowed Newton Heath F.C., which by then became independent from the railway company and dropped the LYR, to play in the first league of England for the first time in its history.

It didn’t last long as they got relegated after two seasons, but they already had a taste of the great things that would eventually come very early on!

Newton heath FC

5. Their first stadium was called “North Road”

Football (or soccer as some call it) became a professional sport in England in the year 1885, and Newton Heath LYR F.C. became professional in 1886.

The first stadium they used had a capacity of 12,000 spectators and was called “North Road.” It was expanded with 2 stands on each side with an additional capacity of 1,000 spectators.

Unfortunately, buying the stands put the club in financial difficulties and they were forced to move to another location when an eviction note was sent to the club in June 1893.

Manchester United's first stadium, North Road (1878-1893).
Manchester United’s first stadium, North Road (1878-1893). / Wiki Commons

6. This is how Manchester United got its name

Great success didn’t happen overnight, and there was some trouble to come in the early 20th century as the club faced serious financial problems.

The club had a total of £2,670 in debt, the equivalent of nearly £300K today! It was club captain Harry Stafford who played a crucial role in the continuation of the club.

What did he do?

He found a total of 4 investors who were willing to each invest £500 in the club to clear most of the debt. In return, the club was renamed Manchester United.

Manchester United was officially formed on April 24, 1902!

facts about Manchester United

7. Manchester United won its first league title shortly after

In the season 1905-1906 Manchester United finished as second runners-up in the second division which earned them a promotion to the first division.

Just two years after they managed to secure their promotion to the first league, they also won their first title in the season 1907-1908!

This was the first of the 20 league titles they have on so far!

The team that won the first league title in 1908.
The team won the first league title in 1908. / Wiki Commons

8. This is the year Manchester United moved to Old Trafford

Old Trafford, the Theater of Dreams, is the home of Manchester United. In 2020, it has been the home of Manchester United for over 110 years because they first moved to the ground in 1910.

This means that they didn’t celebrate their first title in their current holy ground, but in another stadium that they briefly used called “Bank Street.”

The Bank Street stadium was located in the area where we can now find the Manchester Velodrome.

Manchester velodrome
Bank Street Stadium used to be located right here. / Source

9. Old Trafford was an amazing arena back in 1910

Old Trafford was described by commentators who witnessed the first game as the most spacious and the most remarkable arena they had ever seen. As a football ground, it was unrivaled in the world.

After all, the cost of construction was about £60,000, which was the equivalent of over £7 million today, and the capacity was just below 80,000, which is a little more than today!

Old Trafford in 1910
Old Trafford in 1910. / Wiki Commons

10. The first game at Old Trafford was lost though

The first game that was played at Old Trafford happened on February 19, 1910, when Manchester United hosted Liverpool in their new ground.

The game ended in a 3-4 victory for Liverpool.

11. An all-time low came in the year 1934

Even though Manchester United had won its second title the year after it had moved to Old Trafford in 1910, it was relegated the year after in 1912.

The club never really achieved great successes in the two following decades and has been described ad a “Jojo club” which was often relegated to the first division, only to be promoted again shortly after.

The club experienced an all-time low in 1934 though when the club ended in 20th position in the Second Division.

12. There was a record attendance at Old Trafford without Manchester United

One of the weirdest facts about Manchester United is that the record attendance in the club’s stadium wasn’t for a game of Manchester United themselves!

On March 25, 1939, a semi-final of the FA cup between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Grimsby Town was watched by 76,962 spectators.

This remains the highest attendance ever at Old Trafford, and I’m pretty sure that every United fan would love to see the capacity of the stadium increased so this record can be beaten by home fans!

Old Trafford record attendance game. / Wiki Commons

13. There wasn’t a league game at Old Trafford for 10 years

Just a few years before World War II started, Manchester United had invested £35,000 in an upgrade for Old Trafford. This included an 80-yard-long roof on what is now the “Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.”

This was all undone when the Nazis bombed Manchester and Old Trafford was severely hit on March 11, 1941. The stadium was destroyed and without a lot of money in hand, the club couldn’t play home games in their own stadium for the next 10 years.

To make things even worse, they had to play their home games in the “Maine Road” stadium of their city rivals, Manchester City, and pay them £5,000 per year for it.

Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium in the 1930s. / Wiki Commons

14. The first game played at Old Trafford marked the change

Do you remember the team that beat Manchester United in their first game ever? Yes, that’s right, Bolton Wanderers.

That’s the club they played when Old Trafford was reopened back on August 24, 1949, and unlike their first-ever recorded game, it didn’t go into the history book with a loss.

Better yet, it exemplified the ultimate revival of the club as they won 3-0 and went on to achieve great success in the following years, starting with their first title in 41 years under legendary manager Sir Matt Busby in 1952!

Sir Matt Busby

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