United beat City after Cup Final loss

Manchester United programme

This match took place just three days after favourites Manchester United had lost the 1976 FA Cup Final to second division Southampton. But it had been a very successful return to the top flight for Tommy Docherty’s young and exciting team after the club’s ignominious relegation two years previously, when former player Denis Law’s back heel at Old Trafford for Manchester City condemned his old club to the drop.

The attacking brand of football throughout the season drew praise from fans and neutrals alike, with the club’s average League attendance being well over 54,000, the best since the European Cup-winning year of 1968. United finished third in the League, gaining more points than Derby County did when they won the Division One title twelve months earlier.

In his programme notes, boss Docherty congratulated his city rivals on their own successful season, which saw them lift the League Cup after knocking United out in an earlier round.

Though there was disappointment at being on the wrong end of an FA Cup shock in the Final, there was some success for the club as the Man Utd Supporters Club won the BBC’s It’s A Knockout Trophy which was televised on the morning of the match and recorded before a crowd of over 30,000 – final score was Man Utd Supporters Club 14 Southampton Supporters Club 12!

In the match itself, United ran out 2-0 winners thanks to spectacular goals from Gordon Hill and Sammy McIllroy, leaving fans to reflect on how the team could have done with one of those just a few days before at Wembley.

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