One of the early signs that the new football season is approaching is when the various parts of the media start mentioning the up-coming Community Shield, the traditional curtain raiser for the new season.
The game is one of the great traditions of English football. So, this time, instead of talking about the latest news and events in the Premier League I thought we could take a look at the manner in which this iconic tradition managed to lurch its way into such a highly regarded position. Its early history is a story of mismanagement and of it staggering from one crisis to the next. But somehow it managed to survive for well over a century to become one of the show piece occasions in English football.
For years it was called the Charity Shield but in 2002, the Charity Commission found that the Football Association failed to meet its legal obligations under charity law, by failing to specify what money from ticket sales went to charity, and delaying payments to the charities nominated. As a result, the competition was renamed the Community Shield and it has continued under that name ever since.
The annual match is played at Wembley Stadium between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the holders of the FA Cup. Of course, there have been instances when the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup and in such cases the league runners-up provide the opposition.
The now historic event was first played in the 1908–09 season when it replaced an annual match called the Sheriff of London Charity Shield….. but more of that in a minute. Although it is ranked below the FA Cup and League Cup in importance, it is nevertheless recognised as a football super cup.
Nowadays the match is organised by the Football Association, and now it is ensured that all the proceeds from the game are distributed to community-based initiatives and charities around the country. Every year all 124 clubs which played in the First Round proper of the FA Cup, including non-League ones, receive an equal share of the gate receipts and programme sales which they then pass on to their own choice of charities and projects. The remainder of the money raised is distributed to the FA’s national charity partners. The current holders are Manchester United who defeated Leicester City in the 2016 match
The Sheriff of London Charity Shield format I mentioned earlier was introduced way back in 1898 as the “Professionals versus Amateurs Cup”. It would appear to have been an effort to follow cricket’s “Gentlemen and Players” tradition. It was replaced by the Charity Shield after the leading amateur clubs fell out with the FA over a range of points…..nothing new there, I suppose!
The new format saw the Football League First Division champions play the Southern League champions, and the first match was in 1908 between Manchester United (the First Division champions) and Queens Park Rangers (the Southern League champions). The match was drawn 1–1, so the game was replayed. This time United won 4–0 in the only time the Charity Shield game has had to go to a replay. Both games were played at Stamford Bridge.
Over the years the format of the competition has varied. For example, in 1913 the Shield was contested between Amateurs and Professionals XIs, while seven years later, in 1921, the it was between the Football League and FA Cup winners for the first time. The teams contesting the Shield continued to vary throughout the 1920s, usually along the lines of Amateurs v. Professionals, although in 1927 the Professionals were represented by the FA Cup holders, Cardiff City, and the Amateurs by the Corinthians. It was in 1930 the format we know today with the Football League winners v. FA Cup winners returned.
This same set up has continued with a few exceptions, to the present day. Perhaps the most notable exception was in 1950 Shield when the England World Cup team played against an FA team that had toured Canada that summer.
Another exception was in the 1961 Shield, when Tottenham Hotspur became the first team of the 20th century to win League and Cup double and so played a selected Football Association XI.
From 1959 the game was moved to the start of the season. This made good sense since at that stage the outcome of the previous season’s competitions was known although the question of which two teams should contest the Shield should one club win both the FA Cup and League continued to provide concern and food for thought. As we now all know this old problem raised its head again in 1971 when Arsenal became the second team to win the Double since the Shield’s foundation. However, owing to their previously arranged pre-season friendly matches, they could not take part and so Leicester City, as Division Two champions, were invited to play FA Cup runners-up, Liverpool, instead.
This was a year in which history was made because Leicester went on to win the match and so take the Trophy without ever having won either the League or the FA Cup!
There was more controversy in 1972, when League champions Derby County and FA Cup winners Leeds United both refused to take part in the Charity Shield. It ended up somewhat chaotically with Manchester City, who had finished in fourth in the First Division, and Third Division champions Aston Villa both being invited to take part with City winning 1-0.
The following year City finished the 1973 season in eleventh place in the First Division but somehow played once more in the Charity Shield match where they lost 1-0 to Second Division champions, Burnley.
Eventually, after many years of sometimes extraordinary shenanigans, with the set-up of the “showpiece” event being changed into something of a shambles, the then FA secretary, Ted Croker, created the current format in 1974 with the match being played at Wembley Stadium, and being contested by the reigning League and FA Cup holders.
Having gone for so long with only one match being drawn, the 1908 encounter between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, there were four drawn games in the 1980s and early 1990s resulted in each team holding the trophy for 6 months. This wasn’t considered very satisfactory and so in 1993 penalties were re-introduced to decide drawn games.
With the formation of a new FA Premier League, the Shield became a showcase match between the Premier League and FA Cup winners from the 1993 onwards. Arsenal were the first winners of the renamed Community Shield with a 1–0 victory over Liverpool.
Of course even though it is now considered to be a prestigious showcase of a match it is still considered by some to be a minor trophy and the games may not be as hotly contested as other trophy finals. It has been described by some media sources, including Mark Lawrenson, as a “glorified friendly“. Also, before the 2008 FA Community Shield, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson summarised his opinion of the competition: “It’s always a game we never quite use as a do or die thing; we use it as a barometer for fitness”.
Whilst looking through the record books to put this blog together, I came across some interesting facts about the Community Shield I thought I would share with you. For example
The most successful teams in the competition are Manchester United (17 outright wins, 4 shared), Arsenal (13 outright wins, 1 shared), Liverpool (10 outright wins, 5 shared) and Everton (8 outright wins, 1 shared). The highest scoring game was Manchester United’s 8–4 win against Swindon Town in 1911.
Everton hold the record for most consecutive wins (4) from 1984 to 1987; however, in 1986 it was shared with Liverpool. Manchester United hold the record for most consecutive losses (4) from 1998 to 2001. During this period Manchester United also held the record for most consecutive games played (6) from 1996 to 2001 in which they won two.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Pat Jennings scored against Manchester United from his own penalty area in the 1967 Charity Shield, which was shared at 3-3 and Brighton & Hove Albion are the only club to win just the Shield, never the FA Cup or the League.
As all clubs are in the process of team building The International Champions cup kicks of this week in a series of friendly matches in three countries from July 18th to 30th July, the matches are spread over three regions, the USA, China, and Singapore, China and Singapore will host seven games each and twelve in the USA. Look out for all the prices available on these matches, to get involved, go to the WSB website.