Season 1902/03
original illustrations of the kits worn during the season

The Season in brief

The financial security guaranteed by J H Davies transformed the new club. Twelve new players were signed, the most notable being John Peddie (from Newcastle and Tommy Read (one of three players to join from Manchester City). Harry Stafford, the club captain, reverted to amateur status, combining playing with his responsibility for signing new players and a role as groundsman.

The new signings attracted large crowds to the two public trial matche in August. There were 15,000 for the second game, on August 23rd, at a resplendent Bank Street. The stand on the reserved side had been roofed and extended and the Bradford End stand refurbished. Capacity was now 50,000 with 8,000 under cover. An underground passage between the dressing rooms and the pitch had been built, probably for the players' protection as Edwardian crowds could be unruly.

Unfortunately the side failed to find any level of consistency and finished fifth. Having negotiated the F.A. Cup qualifying rounds, United were beaten in the second round at Goodison There were also early Cup defeats at Clayton by Bury (in the Manchester Cup) and Liverpool (in the Lancashire Senior Cup).

The first United-City 'derby' was played at Bank Street on Christmas Day. It ended 1-1, but United won 2-0 at Hyde Road on Good Friday. City had the last laugh however, ending the season as Champions.

The new club registered red shirts and white shorts with the Football League for the 1902/03 season. An article sent to us by Kjell Hanssen and David Moor (of Historical Football Kits) and taken from the Manchester Evening News of August 9th 1902 confirmed the shirts were a bright red cashmere with red collar, and the kit was completed by black socks with blue tops. A photograph, probably taken before the final trial match, shows the probable League team in a red shirt with white collars and plain black socks. Both styles of home shirts, and socks, will have been worn throughout the season.

The same photograph shows the reserves wearing a striped shirt with black shorts. We know from the match report of United's game at Bristol City in September that the shirt was green and white stripes, The stripes were far from uniform, either in width or positioning on the shirt. Many thanks to David Moor for helping us identify the probable colours of the change shorts from the black & white photographs.

The new kits were possibly not available for the first public practice match,which was billed as Whites v Stripes. In all likelihood the players would have worn the 1901/02 kits, although we cannot be certain if the shirts were green/gold stripes or red/black. Move your cursor over the kit and shirt number images to reveal the variants.