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Past Matches: 1956 FA Cup Final - Man City v Birmingham City

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The first in a series of posts dedicated to Manchester City’s past great games we take a look at the FA Cup Final on the 5 May 1956 between Manchester City and Birmingham City.

During the 1950’s the FA Cup final was the only match to be televised nationally, resulting in heightened media attention for both club and players. Each player that played in a televised match received £5 – the first time appearance money had been paid.

1956 FA Cup Final Ticket

The 1956 final was Birmingham City’s second time in the final, whilst City were preparing for their sixth FA Cup Final. The press regarded Birmingham as favourites. The Daily Telegraph contrasted Birmingham’s “dazzling Cup run” with Manchester City’s progress to the final as “scrapping through”, placing the Midland club as “firm favourites”. In pre match interviews the attitude of the clubs involved was clear; City’s Bobby Jonestone said: “Even an unbiased fan must regard Manchester City with favour”, whereas Birmingham’s Len Boyd said: “They say Birmingham City are the hottest Cup favourites since Wolves crashed to Portsmouth in 1939”.

Man City started the competition against Blackpool which was abandoned due to fog. City won the replay 2-1. In the forth round City faced third division side Southend. Bert Trautmann was required on several occasions to make great saves to keep City in the competition. On a breakaway counter attack Joe Hayes scored the only goal of the game to put City through to a 5th round tie with Liverpool. A replay with Liverpool was required after the first match ended 0-0. City won the replay 2-1 however Liverpool were aggrieved because Liverpool’s Billy Liddell put the ball in the net as the referee blew his whistle and Liverpool were denied the draw. The other team from Liverpool – Everton faced City in the Quarter Final. 1-0 down at half time to a Jimmy Harris goal City made a come back in the second half with Goals from Hayes and Jonstone. City went on to knock Spurs out of the competition 1-0 in the Semi Final.

Bert Trautmann was named Footballer of the Year two days before the final and was an automatic name on the team sheet. There was speculation leading up to the match which of Don Revie and Bobby Johnstone would be selected, as Johnstone was carrying a calf injury. Bill Leivers was another injury doubt along with Billy Spurdle. Consequently City didn’t reveal their line up until the morning of the match.

Official Programme of the '56 FA Cup Final

Don Revie the centre forward was a surprise inclusion in the squad when it was announced since he had only made one appearance prior to the Final. Thankfully he did play as he set up Man City’s third minute opening goal with a smart back heel.

The Final was watched before a crowd of 100,000 and a television audience of five million.
The following match report is as published on http://www.fa-cupfinals.co.uk/:

Manchester City Team: Trautmann, Meadows, Little, Barnes, Ewing, Paul, Spurdle, Hayes (1), Johnstone (1), Fagan, Revie – Sub: Dyson (1)
Birmingham City Team: Simpson, Cowell, Batty, Scoular, Stokoe, Casey, White, Milburn, Keeble, Hannah, Mitchell – Sub Kinsey (1)
Referee: A Bond
Attendance 100,000

Manchester City FC 1956 Team Photograph

Match Report:
Birmingham were unable to produce the kind of football against Revie inspired Manchester City that had carried them to Wembley, and could only hold their rivals by employing methods which resulted in their tiring visibly in the last half‑hour. Manchester scored twice during this period to win the match.

Revie, a late inclusion for the injured Spurdle, was the key player as Manchester controlled the game with their ‘Hungarian style' play, which involved keeping the ball on the ground and building up attacks in a slow and deliberate way.

Within three minutes of the start Revie began the move near his own penalty‑area which led to the unmarked Hayes sweeping the ball past Merrick to put Manchester ahead. Birmingham's confidence was shaken, but they fought back to equalize in the fifteenth minute through Welsh international inside‑forward Kinsey.

Both teams seemed to lose their touch immediately after half‑time, but then, after an hour's play, Manchester regained their stride and suddenly went two goals ahead. Following a bout of interpassing on the right wing, Dyson was put clean through to score. Three minutes later Johnstone grabbed a third from Dyson's pass.

An unexpected chance for Birmingham occurred when Manchester's German goalkeeper Trautmann was badly injured making a typically heroic save at Murphy's feet. He played out the last fifteen minutes in great pain, and examination later revealed a broken neck.

Watch highlights of the game below:

1956 Cup Final Highlights

Read The Times full match report

first published 7th May 1956.

Click here to see document.

Bert Trautmann had previously played an important role in the season City reached the 1956 final and forth in the First Division. During the FA Cup Final, with twenty minutes remaining the ball fell lose between Trautmann and Peter Murphy, of Birmingham well inside the City area. Typical Trautmann fearlessly dived straight for the ball – head first. He collected the ball but smashed his head on the leg of Murphy as he followed through after the shot. Both players fell to the floor with Trautmann motionless. After a few minutes the crowd were chanting “we want Bert!”

After several minutes Trautmann got back to his feet and carried on playing. City surely would have not won the game had Bert not made some fearless saves in the dying minutes. Any jolt to his head in those moments would have easily killed him. X-rays confirmed several clear cracks in his vertebrae.

Trautmann: Fearless

Trautmann was clearly a man of great character and determination, something which we all hope our players will demonstrate during this year’s campaign to regain some silverware to a club that does have a history and great players. Some fans, players, ex-players and managers of other clubs need to be reminded that football has a long history and Manchester City is a part of it. City, already deserved of their place in the annals of footballing history will be writing new chapters in the very near future.

Bert Trautmann will be the focus of our next Past Player profile that looks back at some of Manchester City’s cult heroes.

Previous Past Player Posts: Uwe Rosler


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