Thursday, 23 July 2009

1919-1922: The Return of Peace & the Resumption of League Football

On the August 30th, 1919, the league was resumed, just as it would have for the 1915/16 season, had it not been suspended due to the Great War.

The United team had seen many changes in that time, with the likes of George Wall leaving for Oldham, defensive duo Pat O'Connell and George Hunter also moving on and of course the loss of Sandy Turnbull who was killed in action. They also kicked off the new season without Billy Meredith who was apparently in a dispute with the club as he wanted to return to Manchester City but the club did not want to let him leave for free.

New players making their league debuts that season would include Joe Spence, Jack Silcock, Charlie Moore and Lal Hilditch, all of whom would be at the club until the early 1930s.

The United team line up before the home match against Aston Villa on December 6th 1919. They are wearing the same shirts seen in one of the 1911/12 team photographs, although they have clearly seen better days. Again, some have lost their buttons and been repaired by running laces through the holes. At this time, due to shortages caused by the war, teams had to appeal to supporters for donations of clothing vouchers or make do with whatever they could find, including damaged old kits like these:

Manchester United 1919-1920 team photograph

Manchester United1919-20 Home kit

Meredith returned to the side on boxing day and by May the team had secured a 12th place finish. Their FA Cup campaign ended in defeat to Villa in the second round.

The following season was much the same as the one that preceded it. United finished 13th in the league having exited the cup after a first round replay against Liverpool ended 2-1 to the Merseysiders.

The players pictured before two matches in the 1920/21 season. The socks do not appear as dark as on previous photographs. Instead, they appear to be the same shade as the shirts, so I will assume that this season the club wore red socks. This may have been the only colour available to the club at the time rather than by choice:

Manchester United 1920-21 team photograph (1)

Manchester United 1920-21 team photograph (2)
These photos are part of the extensive Leslie Millman collection that can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterunitedman1/ and are used with full permission.

Manchester United 1920-1922 Home kit

Billy Meredith finally left the club in the summer of 1921 to rejoin City. He had made a total 335 appearances for the Reds and by the time of his last game at United he was 46 years old. Despite his age he was still one of United's best players and was certainly missed the following season. Remarkably, he would continue to play professionally for a further three seasons.

United suffered from very poor form at the start of the 1921/22 season. They lost 5-0 to Everton on the opening day and by the end of October they had only won three matches out of twelve played. Manager Jack Robson had been suffering with health problems and was replaced in November by John Chapman, previously manager of Airdrieonians. He was not able to change United's fortunes quickly enough however, and that season ended with the club at the very bottom of the table. Jack Robson sadly died of pneumonia on the 11th of January 1922.

The team photographed at Old Trafford before a practice match ahead of the 1921/22 season. They appear to be wearing the same home kits as in the previous season except now with black socks with white hoops on the turnovers. The change kits are the same as those worn in the 1913/14 photograph, with more laces added to replace the missing buttons:

Manchester United 1921-22 team photograph (1)
This photo is part of the extensive Leslie Millman collection that can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterunitedman1/ and is used with full permission

Manchester United 1921-22 Home kit Manchester United 1921-22 Change kit

Another photograph from September 1921 shows the players wearing what appear to be plain black socks:

Manchester United 1921-22 team photograph (2)
This photo is part of the extensive Leslie Millman collection that can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterunitedman1/ and is used with full permission

Manchester United 1921-22 Home kit (variant)

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