Football: Only one United? Why we are united in our disgust

Simon Turnbull says Newcastle had a United 10 years before Manchester

CONTRARY TO what you might hear from the red half of Wembley Stadium next Saturday, and what you might read in black and white the following day, there does happen to be more than one United. There are, in fact, 15 to be found within the membership of the Premiership and the Football League. Two of them meet at Wembley on Saturday. And this historic occasion, the first of 118 FA Cup finals to be contested between Uniteds, affords a suitable opportunity to set the record straight.

To those of us who live in Newcastle, Sheffield, West Ham, Carlisle, Southend, Hartlepool, Scunthorpe, Leeds, Torquay, Rotherham, Peterborough, Colchester, Cambridge and Oxford, there is nothing more galling than the presumption that Manchester's second oldest football club should have some form of monopoly on the name "United". The construction of this very paragraph was broken by a telephone call from a sports-desk colleague who mentioned that Newcastle might cause an upset and "beat United". It has become too tiresome to respond to with the entreaty: "And which particular United would that be?"

Even to someone brought up on Tyneside as a Sunderland supporter (rather than a Protestant, a Catholic or plain heathen Newcastle United worshipper), it is irksome in the extreme to read of "Newcastle" - or "Leeds" or "West Ham" for that matter - playing against "United." The fact is Newcastle had a United 10 years before Manchester did.

It was at a meeting at Bath Lane Hall on 9 December, 1892, that the committee of Newcastle East End voted to change their club's name. Several alternatives were considered - Newcastle FC, Newcastle City, Newcastle Rangers and City of Newcastle - but it was decided that "Newcastle United" would be an appropriate choice, Newcastle West End having merged with East End six months previously.

It was not until 1902 that Manchester United materialised. They did so in circumstances that could be described as both bizarre and bazaar. The club that entered the Football League as Newton Heath, having been formed by carriage makers at the Newton Heath depot of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, might have been derailed had they not held a bazaar in a final, desperate attempt to raise funds. They might have still folded had Harry Stafford, the team captain, not tied a collection box to his St Bernard and allowed it to wander out into the streets outside. It just happened to be found by a wealthy local businessman, John Davies, who proceeded to become the club's saviour and benefactor. It was he who decreed a change of name to Manchester United. He also changed the club colours, from green and gold to red and white, and funded the building of Old Trafford.

The rest is history, though any football historian worth his anorak will tell you that the Old Trafford residents have no chronological claim to the United title. They are in fact, only the fourth oldest United, preceded by those from Sheffield (1889), Newcastle (1892) and West Ham (1900) and succeeded by those from Carlisle (1903), Southend (1906), Hartlepool (1908), Scunthorpe (1910), Leeds (1919), Torquay (1921), Rotherham (1925), Peterborough (1934), Colchester (1937), Cambridge (1949) and Oxford (1960).

So if any club has the singular right to be referred to as "United" it is the one that came into being 110 years ago when Wednesday FC moved out of Bramall Lane and the Ground Committee, facing a loss of revenue, decided to form their own club. Newcastle United, of course, could strike a blow for the sleighted majority if they were to emerge victorious from the first FA Cup final battle of the Uniteds. Even then, however, chants of "There's only one United" from the black and white half of Wembley would not have an entirely convincing ring to them.

As any veteran member of the Toon Army will tell you, there have always been two Newcastle Uniteds - the one that lost to the Southern Leaguers of Hereford one Saturday afternoon in February 1972 and the one that beat a Manchester United team featuring Best, Law and Charlton at Old Trafford seven days later. That was the last time either of the Newcastle Uniteds beat Manchester United away from St James' Park. It's time that record was put straight, too.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible