1909 FA Cup Final

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1909 FA Cup Final
Manchester United 1908-09.jpg
Manchester United posing with the FA Cup and other trophies won
Event1908–09 FA Cup
Date24 April 1909
VenueCrystal Palace, London
Man of the MatchBilly Meredith (Manchester United)
RefereeJim Mason (Staffordshire)

The 1909 FA Cup Final was the final match of the 1908–09 FA Cup, the 38th season of England's premier club football cup competition. The match was played on 24 April 1909 at Crystal Palace, and was contested by Manchester United and Bristol City, both of the First Division. Manchester United won by a single goal, scored by Sandy Turnbull midway through the first half. This was the first of United's twelve FA Cup titles to date.

Match summary

It was the first time that either team had played in an FA Cup Final, but Manchester United went into the match as favourites, having been league champions the previous season. Despite having lost 1–0 to Bristol City at Bank Street just two weeks earlier, United held a one-point advantage over their opposition with two matches still to play.[1][2]

Both teams usually wore red shirts, so, prior to the final, the FA issued them with orders to change their kit for the match.[3] Manchester United's players sported white shirts with a red V-stripe and a red rose of Lancashire on the left breast, while Bristol City chose to wear blue shirts.[4] United made an event of the presentation of their new kits, hiring contemporary music hall star George Robey to present the uniforms to the players.

Scene of the match

Manchester United inside left Sandy Turnbull had been struggling with a knee injury in recent times, but, on the morning of the match, he convinced his manager, Ernest Mangnall, that he could play. Turnbull's claim was endorsed by club captain Charlie Roberts, who told Mangnall "[Turnbull] might get a goal and if he does we can afford to carry him."[5]

The star of the Bristol City team was Billy Wedlock, an England international centre half, but he failed to take control of the game and was nullified by United's half back trio of Dick Duckworth, Charlie Roberts and Alex Bell.[6] United outside right Billy Meredith also played an important part in the match, his contribution to his team's attacking opportunities earning him the man of the match award.[7]

The only goal of the game came midway through the first half, with Charlie Roberts' earlier comments to his manager proving prophetic. As a result of a United attack, a shot from Harold Halse hit the crossbar and the ball fell to Sandy Turnbull, who fired the ball past goalkeeper Harry Clay and into the back of the net.[5] Bristol City's closest opportunity came after a fine passing move left inside right Bob Hardy unmarked in front of goal, only to have his shot turned round the post by a diving Harry Moger.[8]

During the match, Manchester United left back Vince Hayes was injured and had to be removed from the field. As substitutes were not used in those days, it meant that United were down to 10 men. Mangnall reshuffled his team to retain their numbers in defence, and, after treatment, Hayes returned to the field as a forward.[6] Despite his injury, Hayes lasted to the end of the game, and the match finished 1–0 to United. Charlie Roberts went up to receive the trophy, becoming the first Manchester United player to lift the FA Cup.[3]

After the match, the Manchester United mascot, a goat named Billy, drank too much champagne and died of alcohol poisoning. His head was preserved and hangs on the wall of the Manchester United museum at Old Trafford.[9]

Match details

Bristol City0–1Manchester United
Report S. Turnbull Goal 22'
Attendance: 71,401
Bristol City
Manchester United[11]
GK 1 Harry Clay
RB 2 Archie Annan
LB 3 Joe Cottle
RH 4 Pat Hanlin
CH 5 Billy Wedlock
LH 6 Arthur Spear
OR 7 Fred Staniforth
IR 8 Bob Hardy
CF 9 Sam Gilligan
IL 10 Andy Burton
OL 11 Frank Hilton
Harry Thickett
GK 1 Harry Moger
RB 2 George Stacey
LB 3 Vince Hayes
RH 4 Dick Duckworth
CH 5 Charlie Roberts (c)
LH 6 Alex Bell
OR 7 Billy Meredith
IR 8 Harold Halse
CF 9 Jimmy Turnbull
IL 10 Sandy Turnbull
OL 11 George Wall
Ernest Mangnall

Match officials

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Replay if scores still level.

Road to the final

Home teams listed first.

Bristol City

Round 1: Bristol City 1–1 Southampton

Replay: Southampton 0–2 Bristol City

Round 2: Bristol City 2–2 Bury

Replay: Bury 0–1 Bristol City

Round 3: Bristol City 2–0 Norwich City

Round 4: Glossop North End 0–0 Bristol City

Replay: Bristol City 1–0 Glossop North End

Semi-final: Bristol City 1–1 Derby County

Replay: Derby County 1–2 Bristol City

Manchester United

Round 1: Manchester United 1–0 Brighton & Hove Albion


Round 2: Manchester United 1–0 Everton


Round 3: Manchester United 6–1 Blackburn Rovers

Round 4: Burnley 2–3 Manchester United


Semi-final: Manchester United 1–0 Newcastle United


  • Barnes, Justyn; Bostock, Adam; Butler, Cliff; Ferguson, Jim; Meek, David; Mitten, Andy; Pilger, Sam; Taylor, Frank OBE & Tyrell, Tom (2001). The Official Manchester United Illustrated Encyclopedia. London: Manchester United Books. ISBN 0-233-99964-7.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Murphy, Alex (2006). The Official Illustrated History of Manchester United. London: Orion Books. ISBN 0-7528-7603-1.
  • Tyrrell, Tom; Meek, David (1996) [1988]. The Hamlyn Illustrated History of Manchester United 1878–1996 (5th ed.). London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-59074-7.
  • White, John D. T. (2008). The Official Manchester United Almanac. London: Orion Books. ISBN 978-0-7528-9192-7.
  1. ^ "W. H. Smith & Son's Souvenir Card of the English Cup Final 1909". Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  2. ^ In the end, Bristol City finished one point and five places above Manchester United in the First Division; they won one of their final two matches, while United took no points from their final two games.
  3. ^ a b White; p.118
  4. ^ "English FA Cup Finalists 1900 – 1909". Historical Football Kits. Archived from the original on 25 September 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008.
  5. ^ a b Murphy; p.23
  6. ^ a b Barnes, et al.; p.32
  7. ^ Tyrrell; p.107
  8. ^ "F A Cup Final 1909". Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  9. ^ Hodgson, Guy (11 April 1998). "Football: Pele, Giggs and Billy the goat". The Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  10. ^ There are conflicting reports regarding the referee for the final. Most sources claim that the referee was a Mr. J. Mason, while others say it was Mr. T. P. Campbell
  11. ^ FA Cup Final kits, 1900–1909

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