Last year I wrote a couple of pieces about trophy-winning football teams and the colours they play in. The first piece was posted towards the end of the domestic season here in England, and the second was just after the finals of the European competitions. There were two main observations. First, teams in blue were dominating the English game. Secondly, the three most successful teams of the last few decades (Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, who all play in red) had just gone through a whole season without winning a trophy between them. This had not happened since 1975. Here, an hour or two after Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham in the Champions League final, are some further reflections on trophy-winners and the colours they wear.
This year Manchester City (in blue) won all three domestic competitions (Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup), the first time that the same team has won all three. It is also means that teams in blue have won every domestic trophy for two consecutive seasons. This has never happened before. Naturally this also means that, for two consecutive seasons, none of the domestic competitions was won by a team in red. This has only happened once before since the introduction of the League Cup in 1960-61, and it was in that competition’s first two seasons. Tottenham fans will know that in 1960-61 their team (playing in white) won the League and FA Cup double. The winners of the inaugural League Cup were Aston Villa (in claret and blue). The following season, ending in Spring 1962, saw Ipswich (in blue) crowned as English Champions, Tottenham (in white) retaining the FA Cup, and Norwich (in yellow) winning the League Cup. Since then we have never gone through two seasons in a row without a team in red winning at least one domestic competition.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United went for three years (from 1967-68 through to 1969-70) without winning a domestic trophy, but Swindon (in red) won the League Cup in the middle of that run (1968-69). Also, Manchester United won the European Cup in 1968 and Arsenal won the Inter City Fairs Cup in 1970. The last time, before last year, that Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United had failed to win a domestic trophy between them was 1978, but Liverpool won the European Cup that year.
Returning to the season just ended, and more specifically to the last few days, the finals of both European competitions were contested by English teams. Chelsea (in blue) beat Arsenal (in red) last Wednesday to win the Europa League. Earlier this evening Liverpool (in red) beat Tottenham (in white) to win the Champions League. The pattern right now seems to be this: Blue trumps Red and Red trumps White. As a fan of a team that plays in white (Leeds United) it was no surprise to see other teams wearing that colour fall at the last hurdle this week: Derby County in the Championship play-off final and Tottenham in the Champions League. It’s possible that Tottenham will make it to another final in the next few years, but they might have to wait as long as Leeds United: 44 years, and counting, since that solitary appearance in the final of Europe’s premier competition.