Offside’s Premier League A-Z: S is for shield

S is for shield…

Whether it’s played in the name of charity or the community, the annual contest between the winners of the league and the FA Cup has come to be the seen as a traditional, ceremonial curtain raiser for the English football season.

It used to be a pre-season friendly and was shared if drawn but now the game goes to penalties and is counted by some as a genuine trophy, especially if your name happens to be D. Moyes Esq.

Marc Atkins: David Moyes wins the Community Shield.
Marc Atkins: David Moyes wins the Community Shield.

Yet while it may not be regarded with the greatest degree of respect as a competitive spectacle, what we now know today as the FA Community Shield has a far more meaningful history than many would suspect.

Mirrorpix: By 4.45pm, Liverpool have done a lap of honour in 1966 where as now it would take at least 30 mins to build the stage and put the industrial strength party poppers in place.
Mirrorpix: By 4.45pm, Liverpool have done a lap of honour in 1966 where as now it would take at least 30 mins to build the stage and put the industrial strength party poppers in place.

Founded in 1908 as a continuation of the Sheriff of London Charity Shield—in which a team of gentlemen amateurs faced off against another comprised of lower-class players—the new FA Charity Shield pitted the winners of the First Division and Southern League against each other. The first winners of the shield were First Division champions Manchester United who overcame Queens Park Rangers 4-0 in a replay after the initial match ended as a 1-1 draw. Both games were played at Stamford Bridge and the 1908 remains the only one to go to a replay.

The 1997 match is possibly more famous for David Beckham's misspelled shirt than anything.
The 1997 match is possibly more famous for David Beckham’s misspelled shirt than anything.

The new competition’s format wasn’t set in stone however and changed over the following decades, shifting in focus to being a match between amateurs and professionals, various exhibition sides such as England versus an FA XI, and the fixtures between the league and FA Cup winners we know today.

It was confirmed as a permanent part of the game’s pre-season schedule in 1959, but a few kinks remained that needed ironing out. Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal’s double winning teams of 1961 and 1971 caused complications. The former played an FA all-star XI rather than the cup runners up as they would today, while the latter weren’t able to complete the fixture due to their pre-season tour commitments. Instead, Division Two champions Leicester City were invited to play FA Cup runners up Liverpool, and went on to win the shield despite never winning the First Division of FA Cup.

In 1972, league winners Derby County and FA Cup winners Leeds United declined to take part, leading to fourth-placed Manchester City kicking off the football calendar with a 1-0 win over Third Division champions Aston Villa.

Leeds United won a fierce fixture in 1974.
Leeds United won a fierce fixture in 1974.

Not taking the competition seriously is hardly a new phenomenon, and over the years plenty of officials have attempted to pump some prestige into the fixture. FA secretary Ted Croker finalised the current format in 1974, whereby the winners of the country’s two top competitions would play each other on the hallowed turf of Wembley. And his idea seemed to work a treat, as Liverpool and Leeds did battle between the famous stadium’s two towers as they took their 1974 Charity Shield showdown a little too seriously.

More recently, the competition added penalty shoot outs to decide the result in the case of a draw in 1993, which was also the first year in which the FA Cup winners fought the Premier League champions for the  shield.

Phil Thompson leaps as Phil Neal is blocked by the arm of Arnold Muhren in 1983.
Phil Thompson leaps as Phil Neal is blocked by the arm of Arnold Muhren in 1983.

Since then, the fixture has spent some time on the road. While the new Wembley was being built it was transferred to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, and during the 2012 London Olympics, it was contested at Villa Park.

Now know as the FA Community Shield, the 2014 edition of this “glorified friendly” will see Arsenal play Manchester City, with last year’s league champions perhaps wary of going for the win against the Gunners. Every winner of the shield over the last three years has followed up their triumph by failing to become champions in the season proper.

But these sorts of records are only meaningful until someone breaks them, right?

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

Advertisements

Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s