Devils’ Advocate: 5 lesser-known Manchester United Facts straight from Old Trafford
How much do you think you know about Manchester United? Test your knowledge of the Red Devils and the Premier League with these five cool facts!
Even if you don’t actively keep up with pro football, chances are you’ve at least heard of Manchester United.
But then again, you probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.
Arguably one of the most prominent football clubs in the world, much less one of the Premier League’s Big Six, the Red Devils have a storied history filled with loads of obscure trivia that even die-hard fans might not be aware of.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a handful of these lesser-known bits of information, so go ahead and see how many of them you already knew. Four or more gets you a metaphorical pat on the back for being a true-blue (or rather, red) Devils fan!
1. A lost dog essentially saved the club.
Like a plot twist right out of a Hollywood movie, Manchester United was saved during its darkest hour by the unlikeliest of heroes - a lost dog. During the early 1900s, the club was thousands of pounds in debt and on the verge of winding up, which led then-captain Henry Stafford to try and raise funds by walking his dog.
That is, until the dog disappeared one day.
Naturally, he set out to look for the missing pooch, and after no small amount of effort, he eventually found it in a nearby pub. From there, the understandably-thirsty Stafford managed to strike up a conversation with the pub’s wealthy owner – a certain John Henry Davies over a drink. A couple of beers later, the latter agreed to invest in the club, and here we are today – all thanks to man’s best friend.
2. A face-off between City and United is called a “Manchester derby”.
If you were to talk to someone who isn’t familiar with the Premier League (or just football in general) about it, one of the random questions that might cross their mind is “So what happens when Manchester City goes up against Manchester United?”.
Well, there’s an actual answer for it, and it’s called a “Manchester derby”. So far, there have been a total of 189 such clashes since the clubs’ first encounter in 1881, and among these 189 games, United has won 78, lost 58, and drawn 53.
The term is hardly unique. Similar “derby” matchups (and by extension, rivalries) exist across English football at large, and many of them stem from having two competing clubs within the same area. For example, when Liverpool plays Everton, that’s a “Merseyside derby”, while a “North London derby” is when Arsenal goes up against Tottenham Hotspurs, just to name a few. They’re still used by commentators every now and then during matches, so the next time you’re checking out such matchups, keep your ears open for them.
3. Manchester United is the first English club to win a “treble”.
The Red Devils are the first-ever English club to win a “treble”, and though this is already common knowledge among fans, we think it’s worth throwing out simply because it’s an immense source of pride for the club. After all, credit should be given where credit is due.
Still, for the benefit of those who might not know (or remember) what a treble is, it is an achievement that basically entails winning the Premier League, UEFA Champions Cup and the FA Cup all within the same season. United managed to pull off this amazing feat during the 1998-99 season under Sir Alex Ferguson, and it’s just as impressive then as it is now.
4. The club’s original name was a LOT less catchy.
Today, Manchester United is pretty much a household name in the realm of football, boasting more than half a billion fans across the world and counting. You could say that the simplicity of its name helps greatly with memorability, but did you know it only started going by “Manchester United” in 1902?
From its inception in 1878 up till a fateful turning point in its history (in other words, the “lost dog” incident from above!), the club was instead known as Newton Heath LYR Football Club. It was originally formed to compete against other railway companies, and red wasn’t in their colour palette either – the club apparently played football in green and gold.
Colours aside, we’d probably take its current name any day of the week – if only because “Glory, glory, Newton Heath!” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily.
5. Manchester United’s rivalry with Liverpool doesn’t originate purely from football.
Like many of the other clubs in the Premier League, United has longstanding rivalries with several opponents, but Liverpool probably tops that list by a mile. Yet, while one might instinctively attribute their rivalries to the sport (much less the fact that they both play ball in red), the truth is often much stranger than fiction.
Specifically, the rivalry between the Reds and the Red Devils doesn’t stem entirely from football – it’s partly rooted in the Industrial Revolution. During that time, the cities of Manchester and Liverpool themselves competed for business and trade, and somehow their historical beef ended up finding its way into modern pro football. Who knew?
Enjoy Premier League football the way you want to!
In fact, knowing all of these quirky titbits only makes United’s matches more exciting and invigorating to watch. So, the next time you’re chanting “Glory, glory!”, whether at Old Trafford or, more commonly, from the comfort of your couch, it’s worth keeping in mind that they are but one of many clubs in the Premier League. Each of them, not just the Big Six, have their own rich histories, and they’re part of what makes football as intriguing as it is.
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