Sport · Trivia

Blue is the colour, five years in a row

Manchester City are the new Premier League Champions. Thanks to West Brom’s win at Manchester United two weekends ago “the blue half of Manchester” can celebrate their team’s third league win in seven seasons. It also means that, for the fifth season in a row, the top team in English football wears blue kit. This has never happened before.

For the record, the last five Premier League champions are:

2018 Manchester City
2017 Chelsea
2016 Leicester City
2015 Chelsea
2014 Manchester City

The 2013 champions were Manchester United, who wear red. If you have followed English football in recent decades, with either a passing interest or as a full-blown fan, you will be aware that teams in red have dominated domestic competitions over the last 40 years. Since the Premier League began, in 1992-93, the winning teams have all worn blue or red, and red more often than blue.

The last time that the top division was won by a team wearing a different-coloured kit was in 1992, on this very date. It was the last season of the old Football League, before the top teams broke away to form the Premier League. Leeds United, the team I follow, were champions, wearing white home kits, and yellow away shirts. I wrote about it on this date two years ago, here, and was pleased to see that today’s episode of “The Chase” commemorated the event, with a question about who managed Leeds that season. The options were George Graham, Howard Wilkinson, David O’Leary. The Chaser, Paul Sinha, got it right (Howard Wilkinson), the contestant got it wrong, and she was caught going for her high offer of £51,000.

My tendency to observe memorable dates and anniversaries has prompted me to spend time working out sequences of League winning teams and the colours they play in, stretching back to 1950. I have even set up a spreadsheet for this, and make no apologies for doing so. There are extracts from it towards the end of this piece, but first a few reflections.

As I noted earlier, this sequence of teams in blue winning five titles in a row has never happened before. There have been sequences of teams who wear the same colour winning five or more consecutive titles, but only when the colour has been red. The longest of these sequences, 9 seasons, ran from 1995-96 through to 2003-04. For simplicity I will refer to seasons from now onwards based on the year that the season finished, so the sequence was 1996-2004. Manchester United won 6 of those 9 titles (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003) and Arsenal won the others (1998, 2002, 2004).

The red domination of English football began in earnest in 1976, when Liverpool began a run of 7 titles in 9 years (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984). Nottingham Forest also play in red, and were champions in 1978, ensuring a run of 5 red teams in a row between 1976 and 1980, the first time that this had happened. Aston Villa (in claret and blue) broke the sequence in 1981.

Before this red domination began there were three League titles in four years for teams in white (Derby County 1972, Leeds United 1974, Derby County again in 1975), and before that run the colours of the winning teams formed a more varied sequence. Between 1967 and 1974 the colours of the champions were different from year to year, in the following order: red, blue, white, blue, red, white, red, white (Manchester United, Manchester City, Leeds United, Everton, Arsenal, Derby County, Liverpool, Leeds United). Although I have spreadsheets with all of this information, I have typed that sequence from memory.

In fact I have got rather carried away with all of this. Having spent time thinking back through League winners I started comparing the colours of teams that won the other major domestic trophies (FA Cup and League Cup) and can confirm that all three have been won by teams wearing the same coloured shirts on several occasions. The first time it happened was 1970, when all three competitions were won by teams in blue: Everton (League), Chelsea (FA Cup), Manchester City (League Cup). If Chelsea beat Manchester United to win the FA Cup on 19 May it will be the second time that teams in blue have won all three trophies. In the intervening decades the three domestic competitions have all been won by teams in red on the following 8 occasions: 1979, 1983, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2004. The details appear in the tables below, first by team and then by kit colour.

Update (June 2018): Chelsea did beat Manchester United on 19 May, so, as in 1970, the three domestic trophies were all won by teams playing in blue. There is further speculation about teams and colours in this piece (“More about teams in blue and teams in red”).

Winners by team

Year Champions FA Cup League Cup
2018 Manchester City Chelsea Manchester City
2017 Chelsea Arsenal Manchester United
2016 Leicester City Manchester United Manchester City
2015 Chelsea Arsenal Chelsea
2014 Manchester City Arsenal Manchester City
2013 Manchester United Wigan Athletic Swansea City
2012 Manchester City Chelsea Liverpool
2011 Manchester United Manchester City Birmingham City
2010 Chelsea Chelsea Manchester United
2009 Manchester United Chelsea Manchester United
2008 Manchester United Portsmouth Tottenham Hotspur
2007 Manchester United Chelsea Chelsea
2006 Chelsea Liverpool Manchester United
2005 Chelsea Arsenal Chelsea
2004 Arsenal Manchester United Middlesbrough
2003 Manchester United Arsenal Liverpool
2002 Arsenal Arsenal Blackburn Rovers
2001 Manchester United Liverpool Liverpool
2000 Manchester United Chelsea Leicester City
1999 Manchester United Manchester United Tottenham Hotspur
1998 Arsenal Arsenal Chelsea
1997 Manchester United Chelsea Leicester City
1996 Manchester United Manchester United Aston Villa
1995 Blackburn Rovers Everton Liverpool
1994 Manchester United Manchester United Aston Villa
1993 Manchester United Arsenal Arsenal
1992 Leeds United Liverpool Manchester United
1991 Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur Sheffield Wednesday
1990 Liverpool Manchester United Nottingham Forest
1989 Arsenal Liverpool Nottingham Forest
1988 Liverpool Wimbledon Luton Town
1987 Everton Coventry City Arsenal
1986 Liverpool Liverpool Oxford United
1985 Everton Manchester United Norwich City
1984 Liverpool Everton Liverpool
1983 Liverpool Manchester United Liverpool
1982 Liverpool Tottenham Hotspur Liverpool
1981 Aston Villa Tottenham Hotspur Liverpool
1980 Liverpool West Ham United Wolverhampton Wanderers
1979 Liverpool Arsenal Nottingham Forest
1978 Nottingham Forest Ipswich Town Nottingham Forest
1977 Liverpool Manchester United Aston Villa
1976 Liverpool Southampton Manchester City
1975 Derby County West Ham United Aston Villa
1974 Leeds United Liverpool Wolverhampton Wanderers
1973 Liverpool Sunderland Tottenham Hotspur
1972 Derby County Leeds United Stoke City
1971 Arsenal Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur
1970 Everton Chelsea Manchester City
1969 Leeds United Manchester City Swindon Town
1968 Manchester City West Bromwich Albion Leeds United
1967 Manchester United Tottenham Hotspur Queens Park Rangers
1966 Liverpool Everton West Bromwich Albion
1965 Manchester United Liverpool Chelsea
1964 Liverpool West Ham United Leicester City
1963 Everton Manchester United Birmingham City
1962 Ipswich Town Tottenham Hotspur Norwich City
1961 Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham Hotspur Aston Villa
1960 Burnley Wolverhampton Wanderers
1959 Wolverhampton Wanderers Nottingham Forest
1958 Wolverhampton Wanderers Bolton Wanderers
1957 Manchester United Aston Villa
1956 Manchester United Manchester City
1955 Chelsea Newcastle United
1954 Wolverhampton Wanderers West Bromwich Albion
1953 Arsenal Blackpool
1952 Manchester United Newcastle United
1951 Tottenham Hotspur Newcastle United
1950 Portsmouth Arsenal

Winners by kit colour

Year Champions FA Cup League Cup
2018 Blue Blue Blue
2017 Blue Red Red
2016 Blue Red Blue
2015 Blue Red Blue
2014 Blue Red Blue
2013 Red Blue and white White
2012 Blue Blue Red
2011 Red Blue Blue
2010 Blue Blue Red
2009 Red Blue Red
2008 Red Blue White
2007 Red Blue Blue
2006 Blue Red Red
2005 Blue Red Blue
2004 Red Red Red
2003 Red Red Red
2002 Red Red Blue
2001 Red Red Red
2000 Red Blue Blue
1999 Red Red White
1998 Red Red Blue
1997 Red Blue Blue
1996 Red Red Claret and Blue
1995 Blue Blue Red
1994 Red Red Claret and Blue
1993 Red Red Red
1992 White Red Red
1991 Red White Blue and white
1990 Red Red Red
1989 Red Red Red
1988 Red Blue White
1987 Blue Blue Red
1986 Red Red Yellow
1985 Blue Red Yellow
1984 Red Blue Red
1983 Red Red Red
1982 Red White Red
1981 Claret and Blue White Red
1980 Red Claret and Blue Gold
1979 Red Red Red
1978 Red Blue Red
1977 Red Red Claret and Blue
1976 Red Red and white Blue
1975 White Claret and Blue Claret and Blue
1974 White Red Gold
1973 Red Red and white White
1972 White White Red and white
1971 Red Red White
1970 Blue Blue Blue
1969 White Blue Red
1968 Blue Blue and white White
1967 Red White Blue and white
1966 Red Blue Blue and white
1965 Red Red Blue
1964 Red Claret and Blue Blue
1963 Blue Red Blue
1962 Blue White Yellow
1961 White White Claret and Blue
1960 Claret and Blue Gold
1959 Gold Red
1958 Gold White
1957 Red Claret and Blue
1956 Red Blue
1955 Blue Black and White
1954 Gold Blue and white
1953 Red Tangerine
1952 Red Black and White
1951 White Black and White
1950 Blue Red




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