Football is back and Manchester City take on Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday in the Community Shield, the official curtain raiser of the new top-flight English season.
To many, this glorified friendly will always be known as the Charity Shield, but despite its detractors (and there are many) the game has produced some memorable moments down the years; here’s a selection of them.
Big Pat’s opening day goal – 1967
It wasn’t until 1974 that the Charity/Community Shield was contested at the national stadium and in 1967, when League Champions Manchester United hosted FA Cup Winners Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, the 54,000 packed into the Theatre of Dreams were left gob-smacked when Spurs keeper Pat Jennings, temporarily became the season’s top goalscorer when his goal-kick deceived his opposite number Alex Stepney and sailed into the United net.
Match commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme was almost left speechless in a game that eventually finished 3-3. That resulted in both teams keeping the trophy for six-months each (something a certain section of Liverpool fans campaigned for in the Premier League last term).
Jennings went on to have a distinguished career both at club and international level, but he’ll probably be best remembered for dressing up as an oil filter in a Unipart ad in the mid-70’s.
The Barren Years – 1971-73
In 1971, double-winners Arsenal couldn’t make the August 7 date with FA Cup runners-up Liverpool due to a pre-season tour that clashed. The Football League quickly looked around for a replacement with Second Division champions Leicester City stepping in to help with the fixture that was played at their old Filbert Street ground.
The Foxes ran out 1-0 winners against the Merseysiders, but Arsenal’s no-show set a precedent for the next couple of seasons. In 1972 neither (League Winners) Derby County or (FA Cup winners) Leeds United could be bothered to turn up, probably due to the fact that this fixture had a history of brutality stretching back to the late 1960’s.
Bizarrely, fourth-placed Manchester City travelled to Villa Park to play Third Division champs Aston Villa with the top-flight side running out narrow 1-0 winners. 12 months later, City stepped into the breach once more to play Second Division champions Burnley after neither Liverpool or (surprise FA Cup winners) Sunderland could be arsed to face each other.
KK & BB see red – 1974
In 1974, the FA decided that the Charity Shield should be played at Wembley to give the game a modicum of respect. Division One kings Leeds United took on FA Cup winners Liverpool with the Yorkshire side about to self-destruct under the tutelage of Brian Clough.
Liverpool and England midfielder Kevin Keegan came in for some severe treatment from the brutes who Clough had inherited from his arch rival Don Revie and after an hour, KK finally lost his head after being floored by a right hook from Johnny Giles. After telling referee Bob Matthewson what he thought about it, KK was incredibly sent-off. Not to be outdone, Leeds’s fiery Scot Billy Bremner decided to have his say too and was also given his marching orders in what was the first Charity Shield to be televised.
As both men stripped down to their waist to make the walk of shame back to the dressing-rooms, BBC commentator Barry Davis couldn’t hide his disgust. For the record, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties after the game ended 1-1.
King Eric keeps the match ball – 1992
Eric Cantona was the darling of the Leeds United supporters after helping the West Yorkshire side win the last ever First Division championship.
At the beginning of the Premier League era in 1992-93, Cantona got his season off to a blistering start when he scored three of his sides’ goals in a 4-3 Charity Shield win over cup winners Liverpool.
Within three months, however, Eric had fallen out of favour with Leeds boss Howard (Sergeant Wilko) Wilkinson, who decided that there was no cause for anymore Gallic flair at Elland Road.
Cantona nipped over the Pennines to Manchester United to become one of the club’s greatest ever players and start the Red Devils’ trophy-laden era; Leeds United fell into the abyss and it would be another eight years before anyone took them seriously again.
Shearer’s Newcastle nightmare – 1996
The prodigal son returned home when England striker Alan Shearer joined Newcastle United for a then world record transfer fee of £15m in the summer of 1996. All eyes were on Wembley on August 11 when Shearer made his bow in the Charity Shield against double-winners Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had pipped everyone’s favourite second team to the league title just a few months earlier but Magpies boss Kevin Keegan was certain that the England man’s addition to his squad, would see them finally end a 69-year-wait to lift English football’s greatest prize.
After 90 minutes of totally one-sided action, Shearer must have wondered what the hell he’d got himself involved with as the champions brushed aside their opponents, comprehensively running out 4-0 winners.
A couple of months later, Newcastle and Shearer got their revenge when they pummelled United 5-0 at St James’ Park. Unfortunately, they could only look on in envy once again in May, when the Premier League crown stayed at Old Trafford for another season.