Historical Football Kits


English FA Cup Finalists 1950 - 1959

blackpool 1953 fa cup winnersThe Fifties were a golden age for football with crowds flocking to games at every level. The big city clubs began to dominate the FA Cup, with Newcastle regarding Wembley as their second home, while the Manchester and Birmingham clubs appeared regularly, as did Arsenal. Even so, the provincial teams could still get the better of their big city rivals: Blackpool and Bolton, for example, appeared twice each and played each other in the classic 1953 final. The season was extended and the FA Cup final moved to the first Saturday in May. This decade brought a revolution in kit design, with the heavy shirts and baggy shorts replaced by modern lightweight kits modeled on those worn in Europe.

1949 - 1950

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0

venue Wembley Stadium
date 29 April 1950

In a defensive game, Arsenal overcame Liverpool to equal Bolton's record of three wins at Wembley. Both teams changed for the occasion, Arsenal turning out in smart gold shirts. The attendance was 100,000, a capacity crowd which became the norm for future finals. Both teams had to change and Liverpool originally planned to wear their regular red and white socks but the FA insisted these had to be changed as well.

(Liverpool Echo 22 April 1950 provided by George Chilvers)


1950 -1951

Newcastle United 2 Blackpool 0

venue Wembley Stadium
date 28 April 1951

Both sides were evenly matched and the game started with both teams suffering from a bad case of Wembley nerves. Stanley Matthews was outstanding on the wing for Blackpool but his forwards were unable to capitalise. After 50 minutes, "Wor Jackie" Milburn beat the Seasiders' offside trap and slotted the ball past the goalkeeper. Five minutes later he added Newcastle's second, a fierce drive from 25 yards.


1951 - 1952

Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 0

venue Wembley Stadium
date 3 May 1952

Newcastle returned to Wembley to face an Arsenal side who were reduced to ten men when their full-back, Barnes, was injured in the first half. Newcastle attacked relentlessly but Arsenal held on with a determined defensive display until the 84th minute when Chilean born George Robledo headed the winner home.


1952 - 1953

Blackpool 4 Bolton Wanderers 3

venue Wembley Stadium
date 2 May 1953

This match has passed into FA Cup folklore as the "Matthews Final," one of the finest of all time. In their third appearance at Wembley, Blackpool took the lead after 75 seconds but were trailing 1-3 10 minutes into the second-half and looked beaten. Stanley Matthews, at 38 was making what was likely to be his final appearance in an FA Cup final (in fact he continued to play at the top level until he was 50). The genius winger took control and with 22 minutes left sent over a curling cross that Stan Mortensen headed home to make the score 2-3. Mortensen equalised from a free-kick with three minutes left, making his hat-trick, and extra time seemed inevitable. With seconds left, Matthews beat the Bolton full-back and sprinted for the goal-line before cutting back a diagonal pass, which found Perry who drove the ball home. Incidentally, Bolton wore a kit made from a shiny artificial fabric (rayon) which enjoyed a brief popularity over the next couple of seasons.


1953 - 1954

West Bromwich Albion 3 Preston North End 2

venue Wembley Stadium
date 1 May 1954

Five goals and another spectacular finish illuminated an otherwise defensive match. Albion scored first but Albion equalised almost immediately. Early in the second half Wayman put Preston ahead again despite appearing to be offside. Albion equalised from a penalty (which their goalkeeper could not bear to watch) and with seconds left, Walton snatched the winner.


1954 - 1955

Newcastle United 3 Manchester City 1

venue Wembley Stadium
date 7 May 1955

Newcastle returned to Wembley for the third time since the war confident of victory and took the lead in the first minute. City, captained by Don Revie, played well for the next twenty minutes despite losing their right-back, Meadows, and leveled the score. Newcastle took advantage of having an extra man in the second half and scored twice after the interval.


1955 - 1956

Manchester City 3 Birmingham City 1

venue Wembley Stadium
date 5 May 1956

Don Revie took Manchester City back to Wembley wearing a dramatic new pinstriped kit. Manchester took an early lead but were pegged back by Birmingham's 15th minute equaliser. The Lancashire side scored twice in three minutes during the second half to put the match beyond doubt. In the last quarter of an hour, Manchester City's German goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann was injured making an heroic save at the feet of Murphy. Despite being in considerable pain he played on and mounted the steps to accept his winner's medal. A subsequent examination revealed that he had broken his neck.

(Giovanni Cammareri)


1956 - 1957

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 1

venue Wembley Stadium
date 4 May 1957

Following Manchester City's lead, Aston Villa adopted a candy striped shirt for this match against Manchester United, who were chasing the double after winning the League. The Busby Babes lost their goalkeeper through injury after eight minutes but defended resolutely with Duncan Edwards outstanding. Wood returned to play on the right wing and their prospects looked good until MacParland scored with an fine header in the 68th minute. Five minutes later, Villa added a second. United pulled one back in the 83rd minute but could not find an equaliser.


1957 - 1958

Bolton Wanderers 2 Manchester United 0

venue Wembley Stadium
date 3 May 1958

In February 1958 the airliner carrying the Manchester United home from a European Cup tie in Belgrade crashed at Munich airport, killing most of their first team. Their manager, Matt Busby and the young Bobby Charlton survived. Remarkably, what was essentially their reserve team reached the FA Cup final. The nation was behind the team when they took on Lancashire rivals Bolton but there was no fairy-tale ending. Wanderers took the lead after two minutes. Charlton hit the post in the second half and shortly afterwards, Nat Lofthouse charged the United goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, over the line for a second goal. Lofthouse later observed that Bolton were the least popular FA Cup winners of all time.


1958 - 1959

Nottingham Forest 2 Luton Town 1

venue Wembley Stadium
date 2 May 1959

Forest had almost been eliminated in the third round by non-league Tooting & Mitcham and now found themselves in the final facing Luton, making their first appearance. Forest took a two goal lead after 14 minutes but then lost their centre-forward through injury after half-an-hour's play. In the second half, Luton tried to take advantage and pulled one back after 62 minutes. Nottingham defended desperately, kicking long balls out defence and held out to the final whistle. This was only the second time that Forest had won the cup.

Forest's left winger on the day was Roy Dwight, uncle of Reg who later became more well-known as Elton John.

The 1940s | FA Cup Finals | The 1960s