Seasons 1939 - 1945
original illustrations of the kits worn during the seasons
Home Kit 2
'Tangeru' Third Kit
United lost most of their playing kits when Old Trafford was bombed in March 1941. Purchasing replacements was made difficult by the introduction of clothes rationing in June, and the club relied on boorowed kits from local sides including neighbours City.
Unfortunately with only limited photographic evidence it is impossible to identify all of the kits worn by United in the regional war games. We have concentrated on United's own kits rather than those lent to them by other clubs.
Organised regional football commenced in late October, United taking part in the Western Region War League. United ended the season in fourth place in the Western Region. Attendances rarely topped 8,000, as a consequence United lost £6,500 during the season, increasing their debts which in 1939 had stood at £47,000. Notable exceptions were the two 'derby' games in the War League Cup, both games attracting crowds in excess of 21,000.
Old Trafford was hit during an overnight air raid on March 11th/12th which left the ground unusable.City offered United the use of Maine Road, receiving a generous rent and a share of the gate receipts. Goal average rather than points determined a club's league position with United finishing 8th with an average of 1.249. They lost in the League Cup first round, 4-3, on aggregate, to Everton nbut won the Lancashire Cup by beating Burnley 1-0 in the Final.
United were fourth in theLeague North First Championship, which ran until Christmas, and finished top of the Second Championship. In the War Cup (North) United beat Blackburn 5-2 on aggregate in the first round, but lost to Wolves 5-4 in the next round. With the aggregate scores tied at 4-4 at the end of the second leg,extra time was played, during which Wolves scored the winner. The club were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Blackburn in the Lancashire War Cup second round, having beaten Oldham in the first round
United won a second Lancashire War Cup in 1942/43. In the first leg they beat Liverpool at Anfield 3-1 with goals from Jack Rowley, Stan Pearson and guest player Alf Bellis of Port Vale. Rowley was again on the score sheet in the return, bagging a brace in a 3-3 draw. Billy Roughton scored the other. United again competed in the Football League North which had a principal Championship which ended on Christmas Day, and a Second Championship in the New Year. United finished 4th and 6th respectively.
United were runners up in the Football League North First Championship, but were unable to replicate this form in the New Year, finishing 9th in the Second Championship. They progressed to the second round of the War Cup (North), losing to Birmingham 4-2 over the two legs. The 32,992 crowd for the home tie easily the biggest of the season. Even the five games against City, failed to attract more than 19,000.
United were 30th in the first League North Championship, and hardly improved after the turn of the year, just scrapping into the War Cup (North) competition proper. They then sailed past Burnley (7-2 on aggregate), Stoke (10-2) and Doncaster (5-2)and Chesterfield (2-1). They lost the first leg of the FInal against Bolton 1-0 at Burnden Park. Despite goals from Billy Wrigglesworth and Bill Bryant, they could only draw the return leg 2-2, but the game attracted a crowd of 57,895.