Season 1956/57
original illustrations of the kits worn during the season

The Season in brief

United, largely because of Busby's persistence, were the first English club to enter the European Cup, and only the mighty Real Madrid prevented them reaching the Final at their first attempt. In spite of the abundant playing riches at Madrid, they resorted to less palatable tactics to beat United at the Bernabeu. The second leg was the first European tie played at Old Trafford.

Busby's belief that he had assembled a squad of players capable of meeting the additional challenge of European football was clearly demonstrated by United's dominance of domestic football. They dropped only two points in an unbeaten twelve game start to the season, and led the table from start to finish (apart from one week when defeat at Bolton dropped them to second). They eventually finished eight points clear of Tottenham, retaining the Championship for the first time in their history.

A horrific tackle on Ray Wood, which left the keeper with concussion, six minutes into the F.A. Cup Final reduced United to ten men and denied them a chance of the double.

For good measure United also won the Charity Shield, beating City 1-0, and the F.A. Youth Cup, for a fifth successive season.

United's kits remained unchanged, although there were a couple of European home variants, both worn with red socks with a single white hoop. The shirts were more reflective than the standrad home kit, specifically designed for games played under floodlights.

For both legs of the semi-final against Real Madrid the side also wore red shorts with a silver stripe. It was possibly their performance in the return leg that influenced Bill Shankly's decision to adopt an all red kit for the first time when Liverpool played Anderlecht in 1964.

The all red kit was first 'tested' under floodlights in the League game against Bolton, who wore all white at Matt Busby's request, on March 25th 1957. Thanks to Athanasios Papathanasiou and Matt Clark for information on the 'floodlight' kit.

A new all white change kit with red trim was introduced late in the season, and worn, we believe, for the first time in the League at Cardiff on April 27th, and in the F.A. Cup Final against Aston Villa. The Cup Final shirt featured the now traditional Manchester coat of arms badge. When Ray Wood returned after treatment as an outfield player, he played in a plain white shirt (with red trim), without both the badge and a shirt number.