At the start of August, the annual FA Community Shield match takes place at Wembley Stadium where the Premier League champions face the FA Cup winners from the season just gone. The showdown is regarded as the first competitive game of the new campaign, mainly by the victors, while the losing managers like to describe the minor trophy as a “glorified friendly.”
Originally named the Charity Shield, a name still used by instinct today, the majority of revenue accumulated from ticket and match day programmes are shared between all 124 clubs who featured from the First Round of the FA Cup in the season prior. These clubs then distribute their income to community-based initiatives and charities all over the country, with the rest sent to the FA’s official partners.
The Community Shield is genuinely one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches of the football calendar because of the fact it marks the end of the close season as the Premier League looms just over the corner. It was first contested in 1908, replacing the Sheriff of London Charity Shield that was introduced a decade before as a Professionals vs Amateurs cup.
The professionals won the honour four times as the amateurs enjoyed success twice, and in 1908 when that match-up was replaced we then had the First Division champions against the Southern champions. The format of the game varied between 1908 and 1930 and was contested between the Football League winners and FA Cup winners for the first time in 1921.
There was the change in format from the Professionals vs Amateurs contest because of a major fallout between the leading amateur clubs in the country and the FA, this led to Professionals v Amateurs only being presented on selected occasions from then on. Tottenham Hotspur became the first team in the 20th century to win the domestic double in the 1960-61 season and were awarded with a one-off Charity Shield match against an FA XI. Going back a few years, the match only actually started to be held at the start of the season in 1959 and has remained that way until the current day. Then FA Secretary Ted Croker implemented the match format of league champions against cup winners in 1974, the format played at Wembley today.
Before Wembley, there were plenty of different grounds that played host to the Charity Shield – Stamford Bridge, Highbury, White Hart Lane, Old Trafford and Maine Road were the main alternatives but there have been more than a dozen temporary venues used over the course of time. The Empire Stadium was used from 1974 to 2000, the Millennium Stadium acted as the home of football 2001 to 2006 while New Wembley was being built, and then the latter took over from 2007 to the present day.
The Charity Shield officially became the Community Shield in 2002 after the Charity Commission discovered the FA’s inability to meet legal obligations under charity law. They breached the law by not specifying what money went where and therefore delayed payments to charities, but proceedings continued like normal and Arsenal were victorious in the inaugural Community Shield match against Liverpool.
Manchester United’s Premier League dominance under Sir Alex Ferguson has helped them become the most successful team in Community Shield history with 21 wins, and are only relatively followed by Arsenal and Liverpool on 15 wins while Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City haven’t even reached to 10-win milestone. But despite owning the largest haul, United also hold an unwanted record by losing in the most consecutive finals by being defeated every year from 1998-2001, however, won on both meetings the two years prior which also earned them the record of most consecutive final appearances.
Everton have had to regularly dust the cobwebs in their trophy cabinet for a long time now but they do hold the record for most consecutive Community Shield wins, lifting the shield four years in a row starting in 1984. The origins of the famous match state that the two teams involved should’ve been the victors in some sort of field the season beforehand, but there have been a few times where the trophy has been won by a club not even eligible to play. The most infamous example was Leicester City taking it home in the 1971 against FA Cup runners-up Liverpool despite not even being in the First Division. This happened because even though Arsenal completed a fine 1970-71 double, pre-season friendlies got in the way of their schedule leading them to miss out.
Brighton & Hove Albion are the only football team never to win the league or cup but have won the Community Shield after they overcame the odds to beat 1909-10 First Division winners Aston Villa 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. The silversmith of the FA, Thomas Lyte, decided to design the original 1908 Charity Shield trophy once again in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup win in 1966 to auction, with funds going to the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research. £40,000 was raised at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington – which truly highlights the spirit of this event.
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