Sunday, January 18, 2009

Manchester United to wear 1909 tribute kit next season

Manchester United will play in a historic strip next season - in honour of a player who helped them win their first major trophy.

Stars including Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo will wear the shirts, which feature a large white V-shape sash down the front.

The kit is based upon a 100-year-old design supplied by one of the club's own players, Billy Meredith, before the 1909 FA Cup Final.

Meredith, nicknamed the "Welsh Wizard", is regarded as football's first superstar and guided United to victory in the Cup and the league title the next year.

A century on, United's kit makers Nike have been asked to rework Meredith's shirt - using high-tech materials rather than heavyweight cotton and with a white sash on a red shirt instead of 1909's red-on-white.

Meredith, a former Welsh coalminer, earned £4 a week at United - then three times a miner's wage but just £298 a week in today's money. As a sideline he ran a sports shop and became the club's kit supplier. For the Wembley final with Bristol City, both sides had to change from their usual red shirts.

Meredith quickly arranged for a set of white lace-up shirts with a red V to be made, and United went on to win 1-0.

Meredith, who also played for Man City, retired from football in 1924 to open a pub and died in 1958.

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