#ThrowbackThursday: FA Charity/Community Shield - Part One: 1898 to 1973

A few years ago Tony Hodson - the Liverpool supporting editor of the now defunct freesheet ‘Sport Magazine’ which used to be handed out at various tube and overground rail stations around the capital - bemoaned in an editorial piece that the Charity Shield was not taken as seriously as it used to be in ‘the good old days’ when Keegan scrapped with Bremner.  It makes you wonder whether Hodson had actually bothered to do his research on the history of this particular piece of silverware, as there’s little evidence for most of its existence that it was ever really taken that seriously.  There is in fact, very little evidence of film footage of this fixture captured before the 1950s (Pathe newsreel footage of the game during the 1930s for example seems pretty much non-existent). 

You see to many people, the Community (nee Charity) Shield is - as is often parroted via the media – ‘the traditional curtain-raiser fixture from Wembley involving the League Champions and the FA Cup winners’. The fact of the matter is however, that actually, it isn’t.  The fixture wasn’t initially played between the League Champions and FA Cup winners until 1921, it never used to kick off the season until 1959 and wasn’t even played at Wembley until 1974.  Before the F.A. permitted floodlights in the mid-1950s, it was mainly played out on midweek afternoons during working hours and as a result it greatly struggled to attract big attendances.


It did raise funds for Charities such as the building or maintaining of hospitals in the days before the NHS, or the Disaster funds for the families of the sinking of the Titanic in 1911 or the 439 miners killed in the UK’s worst ever mining accident – the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster in Glamorgan - in 1913.  But being a Charity competition, one thing you don’t get from looking over its early history is the impression that it was ever really treated as a serious trophy.  The roots of the FA Charity Shield actually lay in its predecessor trophy – the Sheriff of London Charity Shield, which was a six foot high shield first competed for in 1898.

The Shield was contested between the sides who were considered to be the best professional side in England, up against who was considered to be the country’s best amateur side.


Looking at it from twenty first century eyes, this looks like an horrific mismatch on the scale of a heavyweight boxing bout between Vladimir Klitschko and Kenneth Williams, however in the late nineteenth century the term ‘amateur’ sportsman held different connotations.  Those whom the term applied to were mainly drawn from the professional classes in jobs which paid better, and held greater social standing, than that of a professional sportsmen.  Amateur sportsmen naturally never aspired to become professional and more often than not proclaimed themselves as ‘gentlemen’ and morally superior to their mostly proletarian professional ‘player’ counterparts.

The first Sheriff of London Charity Shield involved the Corinthians FC – a side founded in 1882 by staunch opponent of professionalism and then Secretary of the FA, Nicholas Lane-Jackson as an English amateur super-club to challenge the supremacy of first the Scots and then the English professionals. Their opponents were Football League champions, Sheffield United. In the 1898 match, the Shield was shared as Sheffield United declined to play extra-time because they disagreed with some of the referee's decisions. The Corinthians went on to appear in nine of the ten Charity Shield games, winning on just two occasions.

The dominance of the professional sides, as well as a rift within the FA over the requirement for all county associations to admit professional clubs (which led to the creation of the breakaway Amateur Football Association) meant that the competition was scrapped in 1908 and replaced by the FA Charity Shield.  The original concept was for the Football League Champions to be pitted against the Southern League Champions. Again, through twentieth century eyes this looks like another horrific mismatch, however at the start of the twentieth century the Football League was mainly seen as a Northern and Midlands league. 


Until 1905, Arsenal were the only Football League member side based south of Birmingham and nearly bankrupted themselves by becoming so, due to incurring the cost of frequent travel to the North of England and Midlands.  The Southern League was at least seen as on a par with the Football League and even, with the initial absence of the maximum wage, seen to have a slight advantage over the Football League (something you might want to remind a Spurs fan of if they ever claim to be the only ‘non-league’ side to have won the FA Cup in 1901. Southern League sides actually reached the FA Cup Final three years in a row between 1900 and 1902).

The very first FA Charity Shield took place in 1908 at Stamford Bridge between Man United and QPR in late April on a Monday evening.  A crowd of 6,000 turned out for the event.  Rangers took the lead with a goal from Frank Cannon on eleven minutes, United however equalised with a goal from Billy Meredith on the hour.  The game finished in a 1-1 draw.  It was decided that the two sides would replay for the shield the following August, again at Stamford Bridge but this time on a Saturday before the start of the 1908/09 season.  Man United ran out 4-0 winners, in front of a 50,000 crowd with a hat-trick from Jimmy Turnball.  The two matches raised the equivalent of £122,000 in today’s money.

For the first four years of its existence, the Shield was played at Stamford Bridge and attendances after 1908 never topped 13,000.  The last of the four had been between Football League Champions Man United and Southern League winners Swindon, which brought twelve goals – the highest ever number scored in a Charity/Community Shield game.  Man United ran out 8-4 winners with Reds forward Harold Halse scoring a double hat-trick (the most scored by one player in any Shield game).  Only 10,000 however turned out at Stamford Bridge for the game, which was played on a Monday in late September.


The format of the champions of the Football League and Southern League was to last just one more year, after the game transferred to White Hart Lane and attracted a crowd of just 7,000.  The only Southern League Champions to win the Shield during this time had been Brighton and Hove Albion, who defeated Aston Villa 1-0 in early September 1910.  The final Charity Shield before the outbreak of the First World War came in early October 1913 at Millwall’s Old Den in New Cross.  The match had been contested between a Professional XI v an Amateur XI.


The professionals drew players from distinguished teams of the day, such as Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Blackburn while the amateurs were led by Chelsea’s Vivien Woodward – who captained Great Britain to back to back gold medals in the 1908 and 1912 Olympics - but also included players from sides such as Bromley, Ilford, the New Crusaders and London Caledonians.  The Professionals ran out 7-2 winners.  There then followed a seven year break for the war before another Charity Shield fixture was played.  By this time, the Football League had established itself both as a national league and of a superior standard to the Southern League.  The format of the Charity Shield therefore changed to the winners of the First and Second Divisions.

In May 1920, First Division champions West Brom met Second Division winners Spurs at the latter’s White Hart Lane ground.  Albion won 2-0 in front a crowd of 38,168 – the highest for a Charity Shield game since 1908.  The following year, the Shield was again played in London N17 and involved Spurs against Burnley.  This however was the very first Football League Champions v FA Cup winners Charity Shield game.  The attendance however dropped back down to 18,000 as Spurs won 2-0. By 1923, the Shield returned to the format of a Professionals XI v Amateur XI, which it remained for the next four years. 


Incredibly, the amateurs won two of the fixtures and in both games scored six goals.  The last had been a 6-3 win for the amateurs at Manchester’s Maine Road in early October 1926, however a disappointing attendance of just 1,500 turned out for the game – not helped by the fact it was a Wednesday afternoon fixture which kicked off at 3PM, which for most people would have been working hours.  The FA took the decision for the 1927 Shield game to be again played against two club sides.  FA Cup winners Cardiff City took on amateur side Corinthians at Stamford Bridge in mid-October.  Cardiff ran out 2-1 winners and a much improved attendance of 16,500 turned out for the event. 

The Football League Champions v FA Cup winners format returned a year later, when Everton met Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford in late October 1928.  Two Dixie Dean goals bagged the Shield for Everton, but in front of a crowd of just 4,000.  Professionals v Amateurs returned for one year only in 1929, but after this the League Champions v FA Cup winners would become the norm from hereafter.  In the 1930s, Arsenal came to dominate English football and, by extension, became regular competitors in the Charity Shield during that decade. Their first involvement came in early October 1930 when as FA Cup holders, they took on reigning League Champions Sheffield Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.  A crowd of 18,000 saw Arsenal run out 2-1 winners.


The Gunners as reigning League Champions retained the Shield a year later with a 1-0 win over West Brom at Villa Park in front of a crowd of 21,276.  As Arsenal failed to win a trophy in 1931/32, finishing runners up in both the League and FA Cup, this year the Shield involved League Champions Everton taking on Newcastle United at St. James’s Park.  Four goals for Dixie Dean saw Everton run out 5-3 winners, however only 10,000 turned out for the game.  Arsenal won back the League title in 1932/33, while Everton won the FA Cup.  The two sides met at Goodison Park for the Charity Shield.  A crowd of 20,000 saw Arsenal comprehensively win 3-0.


After retaining the title in 1933/34, Arsenal were involved in the Charity Shield again, this time facing FA Cup winners Man City at Highbury.  What was noteworthy about this game is that it was the first Charity Shield fixture to be covered by BBC Radio on the Regional Programme.  The second half was covered live, with commentary from Arsenal director George Allison.  Arsenal enjoyed another thumping win with a 4-0 victory, however a crowd of just 10,888 came to Highbury for the game which had been a 2.15PM Wednesday kick off in late November.  As a comparator, Arsenal’s average attendance that season had been 46.252. 


Arsenal secured a third League title on the bounce and met FA Cup winners Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury for the 1935 Charity Shield in late October of that year.  Once again, the BBC’s Regional Programme covered the second half of the game, though the BBC’s commentator George Allison was now Arsenal manager after the death of Herbert Chapman (can you imagine current Gunners boss Arsene Wenger commentating for Radio Five Live on an Arsenal game?).  Despite enjoying home advantage, the Gunners crashed to a 0-1 defeat in front of 15,000 spectators.  The Press had criticised the game itself as being ‘drab and disappointing’.  Arsenal finally lost their crown as League Champions in 1936 to Sunderland, but won the FA Cup.  This meant the Gunners’ sixth Charity Shield appearance in seven years, this time at Sunderland’s Roker Park.


The BBC’s Regional Programme covered the game again, though commentating duties were taken over by former Olympic Football Gold medallist Ivan Sharpe.  Despite this, the level of importance given to the Charity Shield at the time was indicated by the Daily Mail’s report on the game, which claimed the Shield to be ‘a mid-week game with little prestige in victory’ which had ‘offered little incentive to competitive football’.  Going into the final minute, the two sides were deadlocked at 1-1, until England forward Raich Carter took a long range shot which hit the bar.  The linesman had adjudged the ball to have crossed the line, with Sunderland taking the Shield with a 2-1 victory.


The 1937 Shield game was only the second of the 1930s which didn’t involve Arsenal.  Man City won the League title, while Sunderland were winners of the FA Cup.  The two met at Man City’s Maine Road in early November.  Once again, the Regional Programme covered the second half.  A 2-0 win for City bagged them the Shield, with the second scored by Peter Doherty (obviously not he of Libertines fame).  The final Charity Shield of the 1930s saw Arsenal as League Champions take on Preston North End at Highbury in late September.  The fact that the game was played earlier in the year meant that the game could kick off slightly later, outside of work hours at 5.30PM.


The second half of the game was again covered by the BBC’s Regional Programme, with the Radio Times in describing the event, stating it is: ‘always regarded as one of the most interesting events in the football season. While no issues are at stake so far as the results are concerned, the game affords thousands of people a chance of seeing how the top two teams of last year fare against each other’.   The game itself however only attracted a crowd of 7,233 – the lowest attendance for a Charity Shield game for nine years.  Two goals for Ted Drake secured a 2-1 win for Arsenal.  The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 however meant that there would be a decade long gap before the Charity Shield would be revived.


Its return would again involve Arsenal and was also played at Highbury, as Arsenal won the 1947/48 League Championship.  Their opponents had been Matt Busby’s Man United, who in winning that year’s FA Cup had secured their first trophy for thirty seven years.  The match took place in the first week of October.  Goals for Bryn Jones and two for Reg Lewis gave Arsenal a 3-0 lead.  As described by the Times’ report on the game, Arsenal had: ‘sneaked a commanding lead of three goals, before Manchester had realised they were in London’.   By half time, Arsenal were 4-2 up.  Charlie Mitten pulled another one back for United, however Arsenal managed to win back to back Charity Shields a decade apart with a 4-3 victory.


The immediate post-war years saw record breaking attendance figures.  Unlike Charity Shields of the late 1930s, in 1948 the game was not covered at all on the wireless. Both factors contributed to an attendance of 31,000, which had been over four times the size of the attendance for the 1938 Charity Shield game.  The attendance grew further still a year later.  Portsmouth v Wolves took place at Highbury on a Wednesday afternoon, yet still managed an attendance figure of 35,140.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw and for the first time ever, the Shield was shared between the two competing sides. 1950 however saw a break in the format of League Champions v FA Cup winners, after twenty one years.


Instead of League Champions Portsmouth taking on FA Cup winners Arsenal, that year at Stamford Bridge an England XI which had performed at that year’s World Cup in Brazil, took on an FA XI which had toured Canada that same summer.  Quite why it took on this odd format might be due to the fact that England’s embarrassing defeat to the USA (which saw them eliminated in the group phase) was partly blamed on the fact that an FA XI which toured Canada featured players such as Stanley Matthews and Nat Lofthouse, which made them unavailable for the World Cup as a result.  Pitting the two sides against each other may well have made some sort of point as to the strength of the Canada tour XI which missed out on the World Cup Finals.  The England World Cup XI won the game 4-2, while the attendance of the Charity Shield fixture continued to rise to a high of 38,468. 


In 1951 however, the format returned to League Champions v FA Cup winners and remained so for the next two decades.  After winning their first ever League title, Tottenham Hotspur faced FA Cup winners Newcastle United at White Hart Lane.  Spurs won 2-1.  One year later, Newcastle United retained the FA Cup and met Matt Busby’s Man United, who had won their first League title for forty one years the previous May.  The game took place at Old Trafford in an early evening kick off in late September 1952.  It would make history in being the first Charity Shield to be part-televised live on the BBC, to the very small number of pre-Coronation TV viewers.  Kenneth Wolstenholme (of 1966 ‘they think it’s all over’ fame) had been commentating on the game for BBC Television.


Despite this (or maybe even because of it), the game drew just 11,381 spectators with the attendance heading in the direction of what the Charity Shield attracted before the war.  The TV audience however got to see six goals, as Man United ran out 4-2 winners, bagging their first Charity Shield since 1908.  One year later, with the number of people owning TV sets rising as a result of the Coronation that June, the FA decided against televising the 1953 Charity Shield and neither did the game feature on BBC Radio. Quite possibly because of Blackpool’s notoriety due to the ‘Matthews Cup Final’ the previous May, the attendance for the game had swelled to 39,853 – the biggest Charity Shield gate since 1908.


In the game itself, Blackpool took the lead with a goal from FA Cup Final hat-trick hero Stan Mortensen.  However goals for Tommy Lawton and two for Doug Lishman meant that Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners.  This would however be the last time Arsenal would appear in the Charity Shield for the next thirty six years.  One year later, the Charity Shield would be a local Black Country derby between FA Cup winners West Brom and League Champions Wolves.  A whopping crowd of 45,035 turned out for the game and also got their money’s worth in terms of goals, as the game ended in a 4-4 draw, with a hat-trick from West Brom’s Ronnie Allen.  Wolves missed the presence of their Captain Billy Wright who was away on international duty and twice blew a two goal lead, meaning that the two sides shared the Shield.


The attendance fell back down again to just 12,802 for the 1955 Charity Shield.  After winning their first ever League title, Chelsea faced a Newcastle United side who had won their third FA Cup in five years.  Chelsea ran out 3-0 winners.  Highlights of the game were shown later that evening on BBC Television.  One year on, the Charity Shield became a local affair again and once again saw the attendance shoot back up.  Man United’s ‘Busby Babes’ as reigning Champions faced a Man City side inspired by Bert Trautman’s heroics - who played on with a broken neck - to win that year’s FA Cup.  The fact that the whole of the second half was shown on BBC Television, didn’t stop a crowd of 30,495 turning out at Maine Road.  A Dennis Viollet goal with fifteen minutes to go gave Man United a 1-0 victory.


Man United retained their League title in 1956/57 and defended the Charity Shield at Old Trafford in late October against the Aston Villa side which defeated them in the previous season’s FA Cup Final.  That loss had prevented them from being the first side of the twentieth century to perform the League and FA Cup Double, after Peter McParland crashed into Man United keeper Ray Wood and broke his cheekbone.  The second half would be shown live on BBC Television.  Man United got a revenge of sorts with a thumping 4-0 win after Tommy Taylor bagging a hat-trick and Johnny Berry added a fourth from the penalty spot three minutes from time.  Sadly, hat-trick hero Taylor would perish in the Munich air crash which occurred just four months later.  


The air crash hit Man United’s defence of their League title and the Reds famously lost the 1958 FA Cup Final to a controversial goal by Bolton Wanderers striker Nat Lofthouse.  Bolton played league Champions Wolves at Burden Park in the 1958 Charity Shield.  Two goals from Lofthouse gave Bolton a 4-1 win, highlights of which were shown on BBC Television’s ‘Sportsview’.  Wolves retained their League title and faced Nottingham Forest at Molineux for the last Charity Shield of the 1950s.  This year, the fixture was moved to the start of the season in August, on the Saturday before the League season commenced.  From hereafter, the Charity Shield became the traditional curtain raiser to the football season.


Forest took a first half lead, however Wolves pulled the game back for a 3-1 win.  A Wolves FA Cup victory in 1960 meant that they would return for a third Charity Shield against that year’s League Champions Burnley at the latter’s Turf Moor stadium.  The sides played out a 2-2 draw, meaning that the Shield would be shared.  Highlights of the game would be shown four days later by the BBC’s ‘Sportsview’.  As the format of League Champions v FA Cup winners was now established, in 1961 the FA had dilemma in the fact the Tottenham Hotspur became the first side to win the elusive League and FA Cup Double.  To kick off the 1961/62 season, the FA therefore decided to select an FA XI to face Spurs at White Hart Lane. 


The whole of the FA’s XI were English and were managed by England boss Walter Winterbottom, however were not officially an England XI as the side did not contain Spurs players who would otherwise be turning out for England.  Two goals for Les Allen aided a 3-2 win for Spurs.  Tottenham retained the FA Cup in 1962, but lost out on the title to Alf Ramsey’s Ipswich Town.  The 1962 Charity Shield took place at Ipswich’s Portman Road.  Two goals for Jimmy Greaves aided a thumping 5-1 away victory for Spurs. 


As the 1960s progressed the Charity Shield suddenly reached new heights in terms of attendances and with the introduction of regular TV highlights shows such as the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’, the annual fixture began to be regularly captured for posterity.  By the time of the Charity Shield game at Goodison Park the start of the 1963/64 season, the fixture had now attracted a record attendance of 54,844 (where just eleven years prior the attendance for the same fixture could only just muster 11,381).  The fixture was played out between reigning League champions Everton and FA Cup winners Man United. 


The Toffees were newly minted as a result of investment from the Moores Family investing within the club and neighbours Liverpool had just won promotion to the top tier twelve months prior.  Man United on the other hand had just missed out on relegation, but won their first trophy since the Munich Air Disaster five years prior.  The game didn’t feature on TV, but there was second half commentary of the game on the BBC’s Light Programme.  Reigning Champs Everton picked up their first Charity Shield for thirty one years with a thumping 4-0 win.  Twelve months on, Liverpool won the League Championship for the first time in seventeen years. 

West Ham United meanwhile won their first ever trophy with an FA Cup Final victory over Preston North End.  Liverpool’s first Charity Shield game for forty two years was played at Anfield and ended in a 2-2 draw, with the two sides sharing the Shield.  Leeds United boss Don Revie provided his analysis here on the Charity Shield performance between the two sides.  Just one week later, Liverpool featured in the first episode of the BBC’s new weekly highlights package ‘Match of the Day’ with their home fixture against Arsenal. 


Liverpool won the FA Cup the following season, while a Manchester United side containing the Holy Trinity of Law, Best and Charlton had won the League title.  A crowd of 48,502 turned out at Old Trafford for the 1965 Charity Shield between the two sides.  George Best gave Man United the lead on the half hour, before Willie Stevenson equalised for Liverpool seven minutes before half time.   David Herd put Man United ahead on eighty one minutes, however with four minutes to go, Ron Yeats equalised for Liverpool, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw and the Shield shared for the second successive year.

Not only had a Merseyside club had qualified for the Charity Shield for the fourth year in succession in 1966, but that year also saw the first all-Merseyside Charity Shield.  Everton had won the FA Cup at Wembley the previous May after coming back from two goals down.  Liverpool meanwhile won a second League title in three years.  The two sides met at Goodison Park in front of a whopping 63,329 fans, which saw the Charity Shield attendances at their peak.  The game took place just two weeks on from England’s World Cup win over West Germany and Everton’s Ray Wilson and Alan Ball, along with Liverpool’s Roger Hunt paraded the Jules Rimet Trophy to the Goodison crowd. 


The game ironically was to be refereed by the next Englishman to appear in a World Cup Final – Jack Taylor who officiated the 1974 Final between West Germany and Holland.  A Roger Hunt goal after nine minutes gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory.  The very first appearance of the Charity Shield on Match of the Day came in at the start of the 1967/68 season.  FA Cup winners Spurs headed to Old Trafford to face League Champions Man United.  Another big crowd of 54,106 turned out for the game.  Jimmy Robertson gave Spurs the lead, before the North London side doubled their lead on eight minutes in extraordinary circumstances, as goalkeeper Pat Jennings scored from a drop kick from his own penalty area. 


Ironically it had occurred while BBC commentator was discussing a change in the law regarding the number of steps a goalkeeper can take with the ball.  Man United however pulled it back with two goals from Bobby Charlton before half time – the second a superb twenty yard shot.  Frank Saul put Spurs back in front, however an equaliser from Denis Law meant the match ended in a 3-3 draw and for the third time in four seasons the Shield was shared.  The match, in stark contrast to pre-war Charity Shield fixtures, was played in a much more competitive fashion.

One year on, it was Man City’s time to take the league title under the management of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison.  In the Charity Shield at Maine Road, City would face FA Cup winners West Brom.  One again, the match would feature on the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’.  Two goals on his debut for Bobby Owen, signing from Bury Town, as two for Francis Lee, as well as a goal for Neil Young and a West Brom own goal meant that City clocked up an emphatic 6-1 victory.       

The final Charity Shield of the 1960s took place at Elland Road, as reigning Champions Leeds United took on FA Cup winners Man City.  For the third year in a row, the curtain raiser would be covered on Match of the Day.  Goals or Eddie Gray and Jack Charton gave Leeds United a 2-1 victory.

The first Charity Shield of the 1970s, came at Stamford Bridge between 1970 League Champions Everton playing FA Cup winners Chelsea.  It would be the very first covered by ITV, on LWT’s ‘The Big Match’.  It also attracted a crowd as big as 43,547.  Goals for Alan Whittle and Howard Kendall gave Everton a 2-1 victory, while Ian Hutchinson would be on target for Everton.

By 1971 though, the FA Charity Shield once again had a crisis of format in that Arsenal became the second team of the twentieth century to win the League and FA Cup Double.  However the Gunners opted to put out of the game altogether.  The reason behind Arsenal’s absence is that in the eight days leading up to the start of the 1971/72 season the club had already been committed to partake in a pre-season friendly against Benfica in Lisbon, followed by a fixture against Feyenoord in Rotterdam and asserted they were unable to pull out of the fixture with Benfica, which had already been cancelled as a result of their hectic run-in the previous May.


The refusal to cancel a lucrative friendly had also been a matter of principle due to the stink the club kicked up three years earlier, when South American club champions - Estudiantes of Argentina - pulled out of friendly fixture with Arsenal, (who instead went off to play a friendly with Inter), as a result of the fall-out from their ill-tempered second leg of the World Club Championship fixture with European Cup winners Man Utd at Old Trafford, which led to a sending off for George Best.  Liverpool as defeated FA Cup Finalists agreed involvement in the game, however opponents were still required.


Liverpool’s Anfield ground however was out of action due to ground redevelopments.  Runners up in the League, Leeds United, also had their ground out of action but also weren’t a consideration due to an outgoing issue with the F.A. over crowd trouble against West Brom at the back end of the previous season.  Second Division champions, Leicester City, were therefore chosen to host the game at Filbert Street.  The only player therefore involved in the 1971 Charity Shield who had any form of involvement with a League title or FA Cup winning side from the previous season was Jon Sammels as Second Division Champions Leicester City were to play FA Cup runners up Liverpool at Filbert Street.  The game was covered by ATV’s ‘Star Soccer’.


Leicester City’s new boss former Gunner Jimmy Bloomfield took inspiration from Arsenal’s Cup Final win stating: ‘In the final, Liverpool were caught by the long through ball. We planned to take advantage of this – and it worked’.  A goal for Steve Whitworth gave Leicester a 1-0 victory.

Throughout the 1960s the Charity Shield was achieving respectable attendance figures, the 1967 fixture between Man Utd and Spurs achieving 54,000 on the gate. Arsenal’s snub in 1971 however was a huge dent in its credibility, setting a precedent which followed over the next two seasons.  In 1972, both the League Champions Derby County and FA Cup winners Leeds United declined to participate in the Charity Shield in what would have been an otherwise mouth-watering prospect of Brian Clough v Don Revie.  Once again, the F.A. needed to find two sides to participate.  Chosen to step in were Man City who finished fourth in the old First Division and Aston Villa who were Champions of the old Third Division.


The game would be covered by ATV’s ‘Star Soccer’ and would be Malcolm Allison’s first game in charge of Man City.  A Francis Lee penalty gave City a 1-0 win at Villa Park in front of a crowd of 34,859.  For the third year in a row, both League Champions and FA Cup winners refused to participate.  1973 should have been Sunderland v Liverpool, however the Cup winners instead opted to play in Scotland and beat Celtic away in a Challenge Cup game.  Liverpool also declined to participate.  Man City as holders were instead invited to participate against Second tier Champions Burnley at Maine Road.  The game would be covered by Granada’s ‘Kick Off Match’ and a goal from defender Colin Waldron gave Burnley a 1-0 victory.

The receding importance of the F.A. Charity Shield however began to alarm the FA that their annual fixture was in grave danger of becoming extinct.  There had also begun to be pre-season competition in the form of several pre-season tournaments (some now run by the Football League which around this time were vying for influence with the F.A., as well as being commercially sponsored), such as the Watney Cup, Anglo-Italian Cup, Anglo-Italian League Cup and the Texaco Cup.  This therefore spurred the F.A. into another revamp, which had turned the fixture into an annual Wembley event to cement its importance further.

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*Published 3rd August 2017