1956 FA Cup Final

The 1956 FA Cup Final was the final match of the 1955–56 staging of English football's primary cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup, better known as the FA Cup. The showpiece event was contested between Manchester City and Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday 5 May 1956. Two-time winners Manchester City were appearing in their sixth final, whereas Birmingham City were seeking to win the competition for the first time, having lost their only previous final in 1931.

Each club needed to win five matches to reach the final. Manchester City's victories were close affairs, each settled by the odd goal, and they needed a replay to defeat fifth-round opponents Liverpool. Birmingham City made more comfortable progress: they scored eighteen goals while conceding only two, and won each match at the first attempt despite being drawn to play on their opponents' ground in every round. They became the first team to reach an FA Cup final without playing at home.

Birmingham City entered the match as favourites, in a contest billed as a contrast of styles. Watched by a crowd of 100,000 and a television audience of five million, Manchester City took an early lead through Joe Hayes, but Noel Kinsey equalised midway through the first half. Second half goals from Jack Dyson and Bobby Johnstone gave Manchester City a 3–1 victory. The match is best remembered for the heroics of Manchester City goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, who continued playing despite breaking a bone in his neck in a collision with Birmingham City's Peter Murphy. Due to his heroics, the game is often referred to as "the Trautmann final".[1][2]

1956 FA Cup Final
Old Wembley Stadium (external view)
Event1955–56 FA Cup
Manchester City Birmingham City
3 1
Date5 May 1956
VenueWembley Stadium, London
RefereeAlf Bond (Fulham)

Route to the final

Manchester City

Round Opposition Score
3rd Blackpool (h) 2–1
4th Southend United (a) 1–0
5th Liverpool (h) 0–0
Liverpool (a) 2–1
6th Everton (h) 2–1
Semi-final Tottenham Hotspur (n) 1–0

As both Birmingham City and Manchester City were First Division clubs, they entered the competition in the third round.[3] Manchester City's cup run started with a home tie against Blackpool. The visitors took the lead after only 10 seconds (their fastest goal ever), but midway through the match, fog enveloped Maine Road.[4] The match was abandoned during the second half, immediately after City had scored an equalising goal,[5] and replayed the following Wednesday; City won 2–1. In the fourth round Manchester City faced Southend United at Roots Hall. The Essex club's ground had only opened five months previously, and was suffering from drainage problems. Torrential rainfall meant that in the week before the match a trench was dug across the pitch, and sand added.[5] Though Southend were a Third Division team, their familiarity with the uneven pitch meant the match was closely contested. Southend pressured the Manchester City goal, requiring Bert Trautmann to make several saves, but Joe Hayes scored the only goal of the game on a City counter-attack to earn a fifth-round tie against Liverpool.[6]

In the fifth-round match, the teams saw out a 0–0 draw at Maine Road, and the match was replayed at Anfield. Goals from Jack Dyson and Bobby Johnstone gave Manchester City a 2–1 lead, but the game finished in controversial circumstances when the referee blew his whistle for full time as Liverpool's Billy Liddell was bearing down on goal. Liddell put the ball in the net, but unbeknown to him the goal did not count as the match was already over.[7] In the quarter final Manchester City again played opposition from Liverpool, facing Everton at Maine Road. Trailing 1–0 at half-time after a Jimmy Harris goal, City overcame the deficit in the second half with goals from Hayes and Johnstone.[8] Further controversy followed in the semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, when in the final minutes of the match, with the score at 1–0 to Manchester City, Tottenham were denied a penalty after goalkeeper Trautmann grabbed forward George Robb's leg.[9] No further goalscoring opportunities occurred, and City hung on for the victory.[10]

Birmingham City

Round Opposition Score
3rd Torquay United (a) 7–1
4th Leyton Orient (a) 4–0
5th West Bromwich Albion (a) 1–0
6th Arsenal (a) 3–1
Semi-final Sunderland (n) 3–0

Manager Arthur Turner called on his team to match their Third Division opponents Torquay United for fighting spirit and to produce a "90-minute performance". The players complied; leading 4–0 at half-time, they finished as comfortable 7–1 winners.[11] In the fourth round, Leyton Orient, who had beaten Birmingham at the same stage four years earlier, posed more of a potential problem.[12] In reality the win was equally comfortable: Eddy Brown added two goals to his hat-trick at Torquay.[13] A tight local derby game followed on a snow-covered frozen pitch at The Hawthorns. In the first half, goalkeeper Gil Merrick and his defence did well to keep West Bromwich Albion out; Trevor Smith had to clear a Ronnie Allen header from under the crossbar. In the second half, Birmingham wasted several chances before a one-two with Brown allowed Peter Murphy to score from the edge of the penalty area.[14]

In the sixth round, Birmingham faced Arsenal on a muddy pitch.[15] In order to relieve the tension on the way to important matches, manager Turner used to encourage the players to sing. Scotsman Alex Govan's contribution, Harry Lauder's rousing "Keep right on to the end of the road", was adopted by his teammates. As the team coach approached Highbury with the windows wound down, the fans joined in, continuing their rendition during the game.[16] After first-half goals from Gordon Astall and Murphy, Birmingham went 3–0 up through Brown with twenty minutes left. Two minutes later, Arsenal scored from 30 yards (27 m), Birmingham were unsettled, and Merrick needed to make a fine save from Vic Groves to prevent a second Arsenal goal.[15] Turner felt the motivation from such a powerful song played a significant part in the day's victory.[16]

Semi-final opponents Sunderland found Birmingham without "hard-man" left-half Roy Warhurst, who had injured a thigh against Arsenal, but in Jack Badham they had an effective replacement.[17][18] The club's official history describes this as "probably the finest team performance against top class opposition ever produced" by a Birmingham team.[19] They attacked from the kick-off and nullified Sunderland's pressure and the threat of Len Shackleton. Noel Kinsey scored early and the second goal came from a passing move down the left side finished by Astall. As Sunderland threw everyone forward, which left them open at the back, Brown picked up a long through ball and lobbed the goalkeeper.[18][19] Astall said afterwards that he was surprised they had not scored five,[20] and Brown wrote in his newspaper column:

Now Sunderland found out how hard it is to score against this terrific defence of ours. Not for nothing have we scored 18 goals against two (both of them freaks) conceded in five ties all away from home. What can I say to do justice to that brilliant goalkeeper Gil Merrick, to wonderful young Trevor Smith and to the matchless Jeff Hall and Ken Green? Once again they mixed the old cement and constructed that brilliant wall of a defence. Sunderland would have needed to call in a firm of demolition contractors to destroy it.[13]

Birmingham City thus reached the final without playing a single tie at home, a feat which had never previously been accomplished.[21]


The 1956 final was the second time that Birmingham had reached the showpiece match, having lost 2–1 to West Bromwich Albion in 1931. Manchester City were appearing in the final for the sixth time, and for the second consecutive year. They had won the cup twice previously (in 1904 and 1934), and had been beaten in the final three times (in 1926, 1933 and 1955). Though Birmingham had less pedigree in the competition, the press viewed them as favourites. The Daily Telegraph contrasted Birmingham's "dazzling Cup run" with the manner in which Manchester City "scraped through", describing the Midlanders as "firm favourites".[22] Interviews with players were typically bullish in tone. Manchester City's Bobby Johnstone opined that "Even an unbiased fan must regard Manchester City with favour",[23] whereas Birmingham's Len Boyd gauged opinion quite differently: "They say Birmingham City are the hottest Cup favourites since Wolves crashed to Portsmouth in 1939".[24]

During the 1950s the FA Cup final was the only football match to be televised nationally, resulting in heightened media attention for the players and clubs involved. The Players' Union successfully requested an additional £5 per man for appearing in a televised match, the first time such appearance money had been paid.[25] Birmingham's players signed an exclusive contract with the BBC committing them to appear only on BBC programmes in the weeks leading up to the final,[26] though their post-match celebration would be covered live by the regional commercial station ATV.[27] The match itself attracted a television audience of five million, a high figure for the period.[28]

Each club received 15,000 tickets for the final from the Football Association. Birmingham distributed their share by ballot among those supporters who had followed the team in the earlier rounds of the competition; 22,000 had attended the semi-final, so many thousands were left disappointed.[29] Of the remaining tickets, 4,640 were allocated to the FA, 40,640 to County Associations, 20,090 to Football League clubs, 2,550 to FA members and 2,080 to the FA Council and stadium authorities.[30] An enquiry into the black market held following the previous year's Cup Final meant ticket touts kept a lower profile than usual.[30] However, in the week leading up to the game, the cheapest standing tickets, originally sold for 3s 6d, were changing hands in Birmingham for twenty times face value, or 35% of a manual worker's weekly earnings.[31][32]

Manchester City spent the week preceding the final at a training camp in Eastbourne. Two days before the final Bert Trautmann, who had originally arrived in England as a prisoner of war,[33] was named Footballer of the Year.[34] Eight players who had played in the previous year's final were selected in the starting line-up. Press speculation in the run-up to the match pondered which of Don Revie and Bobby Johnstone would be selected, as Johnstone had been suffering from a calf problem. Bill Leivers was also an injury doubt due to a twisted ankle, and Billy Spurdle had a boil on his left arm lanced on the eve of the final.[35] Consequently, the Manchester City line-up was not named until the morning of the match.[36] Leivers was passed fit after having two pain-killing injections,[34][37] but contrary to press expectations Spurdle missed out. This meant both Revie and Johnstone appeared in the line-up, Johnstone switching to outside right.

Birmingham also had doubts over their selection. Captain Len Boyd had for some time been suffering from a debilitating back problem, and relied on injections to keep him playing.[38] He missed five of the last seven games of the season,[39] but was passed fit on the Wednesday before the game.[40] Fellow wing half Roy Warhurst had injured his thigh in the sixth-round match and played no further part in the season,[17] while Badham, who damaged an ankle three weeks before the final, travelled on the Thursday with the rest of the team to their base in Twyford, Berkshire.[27][41] Jeff Hall was struggling with a virus.[42] When manager Turner announced his team on the eve of the match, Boyd took Warhurst's position at left-half, Badham, who had proved an able deputy in the semi-final, was omitted, and the inexperienced 22-year-old Johnny Newman came in on the right.[27][43]

British Railways laid on 38 special trains to take some 19,000 supporters to London,[44] the first of which arrived at St Pancras station from Manchester Central shortly after 3 a.m.[45] For the first time, the official programmes were on sale from early morning in an attempt to thwart sellers of unofficial versions.[45] The Birmingham Mail set up a temporary press in a Wembley car park to produce a special edition of their Saturday sports paper, the Sports Argus, on blue paper rather than the usual pink.[46] As the teams prepared in the dressing rooms, the crowd was led in communal singing, including songs with resonance for each of the two teams, "She's a lassie from Lancashire"[47][48] and "Keep right on to the end of the road",[16] and the hymn "Abide with Me", traditionally sung before every FA Cup final.[49] As the teams emerged from the tunnel, Manchester City captain Roy Paul seized one last opportunity to stir emotion within the players by stopping, raising his fist and shouting "If we don't fucking win, you'll get some of this".[50]



Both teams employed the formation typical of the era: two full backs, a centre half, two wing halves, two outside forwards, two inside forwards and a centre forward. However, their tactical approaches differed. Birmingham, described by The Times as using "iron determination, powerful tackling and open direct methods",[51] employed the traditional English approach of getting the ball to the outside-forwards as quickly as possible, whereas Manchester City adopted tactics inspired by the Hungarian team which had soundly beaten England at Wembley three years before. The system involved using Don Revie in a deeper position than a traditional centre-forward in order to draw a defender out of position, and was therefore known as the "Revie Plan".[21] As both teams' first-choice colours were blue, each team wore their change strip to prevent confusion.[31] Manchester City therefore wore maroon, and Birmingham City wore white.

Birmingham won the toss and Manchester City kicked off.[52] The Birmingham goal came under pressure almost immediately. Within a minute a far post cross from Roy Clarke narrowly eluded Hayes. Two corners followed, the second resulting in a shot by Roy Paul.[52] The next attack, in the third minute, resulted in the opening goal. Revie began the move, exchanging passes with Clarke, and back-heeling for the unmarked Hayes to sweep the ball past Gil Merrick to put Manchester City ahead.[47] Birmingham's confidence was shaken, resulting in a series of Manchester City corners and a chance for Hayes,[28] but they fought back to equalise in the 15th minute. Astall slipped the ball to Brown, who helped it forward. It rebounded off a Manchester City defender into the path of Welsh international inside‑forward Noel Kinsey, who fired home via Trautmann's far post.[53] For the remainder of the first half Birmingham had most of the play, exerting pressure on Manchester City full-back Leivers, but were unable to make a breakthrough.[54] Though Birmingham put the ball in the net twice, Brown was adjudged to be offside on both occasions.[55] With Warhurst missing and Boyd out of position and not fully fit, Birmingham's strength and balance was disrupted, leaving them particularly vulnerable to Manchester City's unconventional style.[56]

During the half-time interval, a row erupted between the Birmingham manager and some of his players about their fitness;[57] in the Manchester City dressing room, a heated exchange took place between Barnes and Revie. Barnes had played defensively in the first half to counter the threat of Peter Murphy, but Revie urged him to play further forward.[58] Meanwhile, manager Les McDowall exhorted his players to keep possession and make their opponents chase the ball.[59]

The period immediately after half‑time saw few chances, but then, after just over an hour's play, Manchester City regained their stride and suddenly went two goals ahead. A throw-in to Revie led to interplay on the right wing involving Barnes, Dyson, and Johnstone, resulting in a through-ball which put Dyson clear of the defence to score.[28] Two minutes later, Trautmann collected the ball at the end of a Birmingham attack and kicked the ball long to Dyson, over the heads of the retreating Birmingham players. Dyson flicked the ball on to Bobby Johnstone, who scored Manchester City's third,[60] becoming the first player ever to score in consecutive Wembley finals in the process.[28]

Sculpture of Bert Trautmann
Bert Trautmann played the full match despite suffering a serious injury.

With 17 minutes remaining, a Birmingham chance arose when Murphy outpaced Dave Ewing. Goalkeeper Trautmann dived at the feet of Murphy to win the ball, but in the collision Murphy's right knee hit Trautmann's neck with a forceful blow. Trautmann was knocked unconscious, and the referee stopped play immediately.[60] Trainer Laurie Barnett rushed onto the pitch, and treatment continued for several minutes. No substitutes were permitted, so Manchester City would have to see out the game with ten men if Trautmann was unable to continue. Captain Roy Paul felt certain that Trautmann was not fit to complete the match, and wished to put Roy Little in goal instead.[61] However, Trautmann, dazed and unsteady on his feet, insisted upon keeping his goal. He played out the remaining minutes in great pain, with the Manchester City defenders attempting to clear the ball well upfield or into the stand whenever it came near. Trautmann was called upon to make two further saves to deny Brown and Murphy, the second causing him to recoil in agony due to a collision with Ewing, which required the trainer to revive him.[62]

No further goals were scored, and the referee blew for full time with the final score 3–1 to Manchester City. As the players left the field, the crowd sang a chorus of "For he's a jolly good fellow" in tribute to Trautmann's bravery.[54] Roy Paul led his team up the steps to the royal box to receive Manchester City's third FA Cup. Trautmann's neck continued to cause him pain, and the Duke of Edinburgh commented on its crooked state as he gave Trautmann his winner's medal.[33] Three days later, an examination revealed that Trautmann had broken a bone in his neck.[63]


Manchester City3–1Birmingham City
Hayes Goal 3'
Johnstone Goal 62'
Dyson Goal 64'
[64][65] Kinsey Goal 15'
Manchester City:[65] Birmingham City:[65]
Goalkeeper 01 Bert Trautmann

Goalkeeper 01 Gil Merrick
Full back 02 Bill Leivers Full back 02 Jeff Hall
Full back 03 Roy Little Full back 03 Ken Green
Half back 04 Ken Barnes Half back 04 Johnny Newman
Half back 05 Dave Ewing Half back 05 Trevor Smith
Half back 06 Roy Paul Half back 06 Len Boyd
Forward 07 Bobby Johnstone Forward 07 Gordon Astall
Forward 08 Joe Hayes Match rules: Forward 08 Noel Kinsey
Forward 09 Don Revie 90 minutes normal time. Forward 09 Eddy Brown
Forward 10 Jack Dyson 30 minutes extra-time if scores are level. Forward 10 Peter Murphy
Forward 11 Roy Clarke Replay if scores still level. Forward 11 Alex Govan
No substitutes.
Manager Les McDowall Manager Arthur Turner


Trautmann attended the evening's post-match banquet (where Alma Cogan sang to the players) despite being unable to move his head,[67][68] and went to bed expecting his injury to heal with rest. As the pain did not recede, the following day he went to St George's Hospital, where he was told he merely had a crick in his neck which would go away.[69] Three days later, he got a second opinion from a doctor at Manchester Royal Infirmary. An X-ray revealed he had dislocated five vertebrae in his neck, the second of which was cracked in two.[63][69] The third vertebra had wedged against the second, preventing further damage which could have cost Trautmann his life.[63]

When Manchester City's train from London reached Manchester, the team were greeted by cameras from Granada TV and an open-top bus. They embarked on a journey from London Road station to the town hall in Albert Square, taking a route along some of Manchester's main shopping streets.[70][71] The size and spirit of the crowds led the Manchester Evening Chronicle to make comparisons with VE Day.[72] The boisterousness of the crowds in Albert Square meant the Lord Mayor struggled to make his speech heard above chants of "We want Bert".[72] After the civic reception at the Town Hall and a banquet at a Piccadilly restaurant, the team returned to the open-top bus and headed to Belle Vue Pleasure Gardens, near the club's former home of Hyde Road in east Manchester, where the Chronicle held a function.[73]

An estimated 10,000 people met the Birmingham City party on their return to Snow Hill station. The players, in the first of a convoy of four coaches, waved to the assembled crowds through the open sun-roof as they proceeded to the Council House, where the Lord Mayor welcomed them on behalf of the city. Len Boyd addressed the crowds from the balcony before the coaches continued through the city centre and back to St Andrew's, Birmingham City's home ground.[46] The following Wednesday, a dinner was held to honour the club's achievements. Guests included the 84-year-old Billy Walton, who had joined the club in 1888, six members of Birmingham's 1931 cup final team, and a trade delegation from the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk.[74]

Though the thousands gathered outside the Council House roared "No!" when Boyd said the team felt they had let the supporters down,[46] there were recriminations concerning Birmingham's performance and team selection. The local press suggested that attempts to combat "Wembley nerves" had resulted in an "over-casual approach to the game".[25] The row at half-time had done little for second-half morale,[57] but speaking fifty years later, Gil Merrick placed the blame less on Boyd's questionable fitness than on a failure to discuss how to stop Revie.[75] Alex Govan, convinced that "if Roy Warhurst had been fit then there would only have been one winner",[76] blamed "bad team selection", saying that even without Warhurst he firmly believed "that if Badham had been in we would have won that game. He would never have given Don Revie the room to run the match."[77] Warhurst himself thought the selection of Newman "meant the team had to adapt its style and in the end we used different tactics to those that had been successful all season".[78]


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  73. ^ James, Manchester – A Football History, p. 381.
  74. ^ "'We are proud of you, Blues'". Birmingham Mail. 10 May 1956. p. 11.
  75. ^ "An Evening With Gil Merrick". Blues: The official magazine of Birmingham City FC. Birmingham: Ian Drew & Eric Partridge. May 2004. p. 46. The reason why we lost, in my opinion, was nothing to do with Boydy who some claimed was unfit. Why we didn't perform in the second half was mainly because nothing was said in the dressing room at half time about stopping the damage caused by Don Revie. He was a good player and ran the game but at half time we should have talked about stopping him. Tackles should have been talked about, but they weren't. It was a lack of tackles that caused us to fold in the second half, and that's all I'm going to say. Don't put all the onus on Len Boyd. Len was a good player and a bloody good captain.
  76. ^ "Alex Govan". Birmingham City F.C. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 July 2007.
  77. ^ Lewis (ed.), Keeping right on since 1875, p. 63.
  78. ^ Lewis (ed.), Keeping right on since 1875, p. 61.

External links

2011 Football League Cup Final

The 2011 Football League Cup Final was the final match of the 2010–11 Football League Cup, the 51st season of the Football League Cup, a football competition for the 92 teams in the Premier League and the Football League. The match was contested by Arsenal and Birmingham City, at Wembley Stadium in London, on 27 February 2011. It was broadcast live on Sky Sports. Birmingham City won the game 2–1 and were guaranteed a spot in the third qualifying round of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League. Mike Dean was the referee.

Alex Govan

Alexander "Alex" Govan (16 June 1929 – 10 June 2016) was a Scottish professional footballer who played at outside left. Most of his career was spent with Plymouth Argyle (in two spells) and with Birmingham City during their most successful period in the 1950s, and he also had a short spell with Portsmouth. He is credited with being responsible for Birmingham's fans adopting Harry Lauder's song "Keep right on to the end of the road" as their anthem.

Alf Bond

Alfred Edward Francis James Bond (17 November 1909 – 19 February 1987) was an English football referee who was the referee in the 1956 FA Cup Final.

Bond was born in Silvertown, Essex. He was a former right-half for Danes Athletic in the South-West District League — of which he was Vice-President. Bond lost his right arm at the age of 19 when working in a rubber factory. Promotion came via the Corinthian League, the Football Combination and the Southern League.

He was the proprietor of a newsagents business in Fulham. His comment on being selected to officiate at the Cup Final: "It's a grand feeling to know that you have gained this honour."He controlled his first league game in 1948 - a Third Division (South) match. He officiated at the 1954 FA Amateur Cup Final at Wembley between Bishop Auckland and Crook Town and has also refereed four international matches.

He died in 1987 in Bedford, Bedfordshire.

Arthur Turner (footballer, born 1909)

Arthur Owen Turner (1 April 1909 – 12 January 1994) was an English professional association football player and manager. He played as a centre-half for Stoke City, Birmingham City and Southport. Turner was player-manager of Southport, managed Crewe Alexandra and was assistant at Stoke before joining Birmingham City as manager. He won the Second Division championship in 1954–55, led them the following season to the 1956 FA Cup Final and their highest ever top flight finish, and became the first man to manage an English club side in European competition when he took the club to the semi-final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1958. Turner went on to manage the transformation of Southern League club Headington United into Oxford United of the Second Division of the Football League.

Bert Linnecor

Albert Roy Linnecor (30 November 1933 – 25 November 2012) was an English professional footballer who made 281 appearances in the Football League playing for Birmingham City and Lincoln City. He played as a wing half or inside forward.

Bert Trautmann

Bernhard Carl "Bert" Trautmann EK OBE (22 October 1923 – 19 July 2013) was a German professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Manchester City from 1949 to 1964.

Brought up during times of inter-war strife in Germany, Trautmann joined the Luftwaffe early in the Second World War, serving as a paratrooper. He fought on the Eastern Front for three years, earning five medals, including an Iron Cross. Later in the war, he was transferred to the Western Front, where he was captured by the British as the war drew to a close. One of only 90 of his original 1,000-man regiment to survive the war, he was transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire. Trautmann refused an offer of repatriation, and following his release in 1948, settled in Lancashire, combining farm work with playing goalkeeper for a local football team, St Helens Town.

Performances for St Helens gained Trautmann a reputation as an outstanding goalkeeper, resulting in interest from Football League clubs. In October 1949, he signed for Manchester City, a club playing in the country's highest level of football, the First Division. The club's decision to sign a former Axis paratrooper sparked protests and 20,000 people attended a demonstration. Over time, he gained acceptance through his performances in the City goal, playing in all but five of the club's next 250 matches.

Named FWA Footballer of the Year for 1956, Trautmann entered football folklore with his performance in the 1956 FA Cup Final. With 17 minutes of the match remaining, Trautmann suffered a serious injury while diving at the feet of Birmingham City's Peter Murphy. Despite his injury, he continued to play, making crucial saves to preserve his team's 3–1 lead. His neck was noticeably crooked as he collected his winner's medal; three days later an X-ray revealed it to be broken.

Trautmann played for Manchester City until 1964, making 545 appearances. After his playing career, he moved into management, first with lower-division sides in England and Germany, and later as part of a German Football Association development scheme that took him to several countries, including Burma, Tanzania and Pakistan. In 2004, he was appointed an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for promoting Anglo-German understanding through football. Trautmann died at home in Valencia, Spain, on 19 July 2013, aged 89.

Birmingham City F.C.

Birmingham City Football Club is a professional football club in Birmingham, England. Formed in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance, it was renamed Small Heath in 1888, Birmingham in 1905, and Birmingham City in 1943. Since 2011, the first team have competed in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football.

As Small Heath, they played in the Football Alliance before becoming founder members and first champions of the Football League Second Division. The most successful period in their history was in the 1950s and early 1960s. They achieved their highest finishing position of sixth in the First Division in the 1955–56 season and reached the 1956 FA Cup Final. Birmingham played in two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup finals, in 1960, as the first English club side to reach a major European final, and again the following year. They won the League Cup in 1963 and again in 2011. Birmingham have played in the top tier of English football for around half of their history: the longest period spent outside the top division, between 1986 and 2002, included two brief spells in the third tier of English football, during which time they won the Football League Trophy twice.

St Andrew's has been their home ground since 1906. They have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with Aston Villa, their nearest neighbours, with whom they play the Second City derby. The club's nickname is Blues, after the colour of their kit, and the fans are known as Bluenoses.

Dave Ewing

Dave Ewing (10 May 1929 – July 1999) was a Scottish footballer who played in the centre half position for Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and briefly managed Hibernian.

Dick Neal Jr.

Richard Marshall Neal (1 October 1933 – 21 February 2013) was an English professional footballer who played as a wing half. He made more than 350 appearances in the Football League, played for Birmingham City in the 1960 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, and won four caps for the England under-23 team.

Gordon Astall

Gordon Astall (born 22 September 1927) is an English former professional footballer. He played as an outside right, and represented the Football League, the England B team and the full England side. At club level he made 456 appearances in the Football League and scored 111 goals.

History of Manchester City F.C. (1928–1965)

This page chronicles the history of Manchester City in further detail from 1928 to 1965. See Manchester City F.C. for an overview of the football club.

Jack Dyson

Jack Dyson (8 July 1934 – 22 November 2000) was both an English first-class cricketer and a professional footballer. He was born and died in Oldham, Lancashire.

He started his sporting career as a footballer and spent four seasons with Manchester City during which time he played 62 matches and scored 26 goals. One of those goals came in their 1956 FA Cup Final victory over Birmingham.

After leaving football he concentrated on his cricketing career, which had already begun while he was with Manchester City. A right-handed batsman and handy offspinner, he made his first-class debut in 1954, playing with Lancashire. He earned his Lancashire Cap two years later in 1956, the same year that he had won his FA Cup winner's medal. In that season he scored what would be his only first-class hundred, 118 not out against Scotland. He also played in an unusual victory over Leicestershire as it was achieved without losing a wicket, with two opening partnerships of 166 and 66 between Dyson and Alan Wharton enough to give a victory by 10 wickets.Dyson was a controversial figure throughout his career, he was a free spirit and it ended up costing him his job at Lancashire. In 1960 the Lancashire committee charged him with "a serious breach of discipline and an act of insubordination and insolence to the captain".For the next two years Dyson played with Staffordshire and in league cricket. In September 1962 the Lancashire committee was overthrown and Dyson returned to the county for two more seasons, but was released again at the end of the 1964 season.

Jack Savage (footballer)

John A. "Jack" Savage (14 December 1929 - January 2009) was an English former football goalkeeper who played for Hull City, Halifax Town, Manchester City, Walsall and Wigan Athletic.Savage was signed by Manchester City in November 1953, where he deputised for Bert Trautmann. He was at the club for more than a year before making his debut, a 2–0 defeat to Newcastle United on 27 December 1954. He also played in the next game against Burnley, but once Trautmann recovered from injury Savage returned to the reserves. His next chance came in April 1956, when he again replaced Trautmann for two matches. Trautmann broke his neck in the 1956 FA Cup Final, giving Savage the opportunity of an extended run in the first team during the 1956–57 season.

He was transferred to Walsall in January 1958 for £4,000. In one of his early games for Walsall, an away match at Swindon, he was sent off. He made 51 appearances for Walsall, moving to non-league Wigan in 1959. He spent one season at the club, appearing four times for the club in the Lancashire Combination.

Joe Hayes (footballer)

Joe Hayes (20 January 1936 – 1 February 1999) was an English footballer who played as an inside forward for Manchester City and scored the opening goal in the 1956 FA Cup Final.

Hayes was born in Kearsley, near Bolton, Lancashire in 1936, and worked in a cotton mill and a coal mine prior to becoming a footballer. In August 1953 he had a trial with Manchester City, and made his debut two months later against Tottenham. The teenage Hayes appeared in the 1955 FA Cup Final, but finished on the losing side. 12 months later Manchester City reached the final again, and Hayes scored the first goal in a 3-1 win. Hayes was a regular goalscorer in the late 1950s and early 1960s, until a knee injury occurring in September 1963 had a noticeable effect on his abilities, after which first team opportunities became limited. He was transferred to Barnsley in the 1965 close season, and later went on to play for Wigan Athletic, appearing 32 times and scoring seven goals for the club. In total, Hayes scored 152 goals in 363 appearances for Manchester City, making him the third highest Manchester City goalscorer of all time.

Hayes died in 1999 at the age of 63.

Johnny Newman (footballer)

John Henry George Newman (born 13 December 1933) is an English former football player and manager.

Born in Hereford, Herefordshire, Newman played as a central defender, beginning his career with Birmingham City in 1951 where he won the Second Division and was on the losing side in the 1956 FA Cup Final. He moved on to Leicester City and then to Plymouth Argyle, for whom he made over 300 appearances between 1960 and 1967. In 1966 he played for the Football League representative team which beat the Irish Football League 12–0 at Home Park; the Football League team contained seven of the 1966 World Cup-winning team. He then moved on to Devon rivals Exeter City, where he was made player-manager in 1969, continuing in the manager's role after he retired from playing in 1972. He moved on to Grimsby Town, gaining promotion to the Third Division, and had a largely unsuccessful eleven months in charge at Derby County, before returning to his home town to manage Hereford United.

Ken Green (footballer, born 1924)

Kenneth Green (27 April 1924 – 7 June 2001) was an English footballer who played as a full back. He played for Birmingham City from 1943 to 1959, making 443 appearances in all competitions and scoring 3 goals, and played in the 1956 FA Cup final which Birmingham lost to Manchester City 3–1. He earned two England B caps in 1954, and was subsequently named in the full England squad which travelled to Switzerland for the 1954 FIFA World Cup. However, he never made a senior appearance for England. Green died in Sutton Coldfield in 2001 at the age of 77.

List of Birmingham City F.C. seasons

Birmingham City Football Club, an association football club based in Birmingham, England, was founded in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance. For the first thirteen years of their existence, there was no league football, so matches were arranged on an ad hoc basis, supplemented by cup competitions organised at local and national level. Small Heath first entered the FA Cup in the 1881–82 season, and won their first trophy, the Walsall Cup, the following season. During the 1880s, they played between 20 and 30 matches each season.In 1888, the club became a limited company under the name of Small Heath F.C. Ltd, and joined the Combination, a league set up to provide organised football for those clubs not invited to join the Football League which was to start the same year. However, the Combination was not well organised and folded in April 1889 with many fixtures still outstanding. Small Heath were founder members of the Football Alliance in 1889–90, and three years later were elected to the newly formed Second Division of the Football League. They topped the table in their first season, failing to win promotion via the test match system then in operation, but reached the top flight for the first time in 1894. They were renamed Birmingham in 1905, finally becoming Birmingham City in 1943.The club's official history rated 1955–56 as their best season to date. The newly promoted club achieved their highest ever finishing position of sixth in the First Division, reached the 1956 FA Cup Final, and became the first English club side to participate in European competition when they played their opening game in the group stages of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Their only major trophy is the League Cup, which they won in 1963 and 2011; they reached the FA Cup final twice and the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup twice. During the 1990s, they twice won the Associate Members Cup, a competition open to clubs in the third and fourth tiers of English football.

As at the end of the 2017-18 season, the club's first team had spent 57 seasons in the top division of English football, 54 in the second, and 4 in the third. The table details their achievements in first-team competitions, and records their top goalscorer and average home league attendance, for each completed season since their first appearance in the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1878–79.

Noel Kinsey

Noel Kinsey (24 December 1925 – 20 May 2017) was a Welsh international footballer who played as an inside right. He won seven international caps and scored 111 goals in 444 league games in a 14-year career in the Football League.

He began his career with Norwich City in 1947, helping the "Canaries" to second place in the Third Division South in 1950–51. He transferred to Birmingham City in 1953, helping the club to the Second Division title in 1954–55. He scored in the 1956 FA Cup Final, which ended in a 3–1 defeat to Manchester City. In February 1958 he was signed to Port Vale for a £5,000 fee, and helped the "Valiants" to the Fourth Division title in 1958–59. He became a player-coach at Vale Park in May 1960, before departing in April 1962. He later played for non-league sides King's Lynn and Lowestoft Town, and worked at Norwich Union Insurance. He entered the Norwich City F.C. Hall of Fame in 2003.

Peter Murphy (footballer, born 1922)

Peter Murphy (7 March 1922 – 7 April 1975), often referred to as Spud Murphy, was an English footballer who played as an inside left. He played professionally for three clubs, Coventry City, Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City. He is possibly best remembered for the incident in the 1956 FA Cup Final when Manchester City's goalkeeper Bert Trautmann broke a bone in his neck when diving at Murphy's feet.

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