World 'united' behind club

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am


Truly Red Fans

Manchester United enjoys the biggest worldwide fan base of any English Premier League football team. Loyal supporters can be found all over the world - from Chile to China.

A quick look at the Manchester United fanblog, Truly Red, reveals the diversity of the team's fans. One of the newest postings is from a fan in Kathmandu, Nepal - a very long way from Manchester, in northern England.

One of the biggest criticisms among rival supporters is that few United fans actually come from Manchester.

A running joke says:

'Which team do you support?'

'Manchester United.'

'Really? So what part of London are you from?'

You could substitute Hong Kong, Australia or America for London, and the joke would still make its point. Manchester United fans are everywhere - not only in Manchester. You can't walk round a corner in any city or country in the world without bumping into one.

Birth of a Giant

How many of today's Manchester United fans know that the club began with a few railway workers kicking a ball around? In 1878, a group of workmen at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company started a football team and got company sponsorship.

The team were named Newton Heath LYR, after the company, and the part of Manchester where they played. At first, they played rival teams of railway workers, and were soon regularly winning matches. In 1886, the 'Heathens' won the Manchester Cup, and three years later Newton Heath joined 11 other local teams to form the Football Alliance.


In 1892, the Football Alliance combined with the rival Football League and the teams were split into a First and Second Division.

Newton Heath, playing in the First Division, moved to a new ground in the Manchester suburb of Clayton the next season.

However, at the end of the 1893-94 season, the club faced failure for the first time.

After a poor season, the team became the first club to be relegated from the First Division. The club was also experiencing financial problems and fighting to avoid bankruptcy.


A group of local businessmen paid ?2,000 to save Newton Heath from being declared bankrupt in 1902.

That year, the club's name was changed to Manchester United Football Club. In 1903, Ernest Mangnall became the manager; it was the start of the club's rise to fame.

Mangnall quickly built up the side's strength by signing players from rival teams. United came third two seasons in a row before finishing runners-up to gain promotion to the First Division - 12 years after they were relegated - in 1905-06.

In 1907-08, United won their first league championship, then a second title in 1910-11, plus the FACup in 1909.

Facts and Figures

Are these statements about Manchester United true or false?

1 Truly Red is the name of United's official club magazine.

2 The majority of the club's fans do not live in or anywhere near Manchester.

3 United began when a group of construction workers decided to form a football team.

4 The 'LYR' in the club's original name stands for Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

5 The club was first formed at the end of the 1890s.

6 United's first nickname was the 'Heathens'.

7 During their long history, United have never faced bankruptcy.

8 Ernest Mangnall was the club's first star player.


Facts and Figures: 1. F, 2. T, 3. F, 4. T, 5. F, 6. T, 7. F, 8. F