The 1909–10 season was Manchester United’s 18th season in the Football League and third in the First Division.

 The “Outcasts F.C.”

The club’s participation in the Football League seemed uncertain at the start of the season, the Football Association withdrew its recognition of the Association of Football Players’ and Trainers’ Union when the union’s intentions were made clear to the FA. Footballers throughout the country relinquished their membership of the AFPTU but the Manchester United team stood up to the FA and refused to give up membership. The club’s players, who were dubbed by the press as the “Outcasts FC”, continued to strike against the FA until their demands were met but the FA responded by banning those affiliated with the AFPTU. A compromise was reached between the two parties and the suspension was lifted in time for the first game of the season.

In February 1910, the club moved from their old ground at Bank Street to a new home at Old Trafford. The first game played at the new stadium was a First Division fixture against Liverpool on 19 February 1910; the visitors won the match 4–3.

From the Guardian : “Two middle-aged men sitting on the train to Bolton are discussing Premier League wages. “£100,000 a week,” one of them says slowly, shaking his head. His mate nods: “You’d want to see teams win 9-8 every week for that!” The youth in the Manchester United shirt in the seat opposite doesn’t react. This is the world of football as he has always known it – rich beyond compare and a long way from its origins.

Perhaps those three should get off at Salford Crescent station and walk up to the Working Class Movement Library. A small display there, curated by library manager Lynette Cawthra, shines a light on a forgotten part of Man U’s history.

The first meeting of the Association Football Players Union in 1907 was chaired by United player Billy Meredith – the “Welsh Wizard”, who was one of the first footballing superstars. The union campaigned against FA rules such as the £4 ceiling on wages and the lack of compensation for injured players.

At times, this amazing tale reads like a film script. Charlie Roberts, a local hero and team captain, reputedly heard that they’d all been suspended via a report in the local paper; he and the rest of the team went to the club’s offices to have it out with the management, but found only a hapless office boy in charge.

In Behind the Glory, his splendid book about the history of the Professional Footballers’ Association, John Harding takes up the story quoting a contemporary account. “Well, something will have to be done,” said Sandy Turnbull [ace goalscorer] as he took a picture off the wall and walked off with it under his arm. The rest of the boys followed suit, and looking glasses, hairbrushes and several other things were for sale a few minutes later at a little hostelry at the corner of the ground . . .”

The players, despite being suspended by the club, continued to train locally. One afternoon, a photographer turned up to take a picture. Roberts, never one to miss an opportunity, made a sign that said “The Outcasts FC”.

The team now gaze steadily out at you from that photograph in the front room of the Salford library, as reminders of their struggle that leads in a direct line to the bulging wallets of today’s players and the structure of football as we know it. As Roberts said: “Try to remember that union is strength, and without it you can do nothing.”

But let Meredith have the last, prescient word: “The unfortunate thing is that so many players refuse to take things seriously but are content to live a kind of schoolboy life and to do just what they are told . . . instead of thinking and acting for himself and his class . . . “

First Division

Date Opponents H / A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
1 September 1909 Bradford City H 1–0 Wall 12,000
4 September 1909 Bury H 2–0 J. Turnbull (2) 12,000
6 September 1909 Notts County H 2–1 J. Turnbull, Wall 6,000
11 September 1909 Tottenham Hotspur A 2–2 J. Turnbull, Wall 40,000
18 September 1909 Preston North End H 1–1 Roberts 13,000
25 September 1909 Notts County A 2–3 S. Turnbull (2) 11,000
2 October 1909 Newcastle United H 1–1 Wall 30,000
9 October 1909 Liverpool A 2–3 S. Turnbull (2) 40,000
16 October 1909 Aston Villa H 2–0 Halse, S. Turnbull 20,000
23 October 1909 Sheffield United A 1–0 S. Turnbull 30,000
30 October 1909 Arsenal H 1–0 Wall 20,000
6 November 1909 Bolton Wanderers A 3–2 Homer (2), Halse 20,000
13 November 1909 Chelsea H 2–0 S. Turnbull, Wall 10,000
20 November 1909 Blackburn Rovers A 2–3 Homer (2) 40,000
27 November 1909 Nottingham Forest H 2–6 Halse, Wall 12,000
4 December 1909 Sunderland A 0–3 12,000
18 December 1909 Middlesbrough A 2–1 Homer, S. Turnbull 10,000
25 December 1909 Sheffield Wednesday H 0–3 25,000
27 December 1909 Sheffield Wednesday A 1–4 Wall 37,000
1 January 1910 Bradford City A 2–0 S. Turnbull, Wall 25,000
8 January 1910 Bury A 1–1 Homer 10,000
22 January 1910 Tottenham Hotspur H 5–0 Roberts (2), Connor, Hooper, Meredith 7,000
5 February 1910 Preston North End A 0–1 4,000
12 February 1910 Newcastle United A 4–3 S. Turnbull (2), Blott, Roberts 20,000
19 February 1910 Liverpool H 3–4 Homer, S. Turnbull, Wall 45,000
26 February 1910 Aston Villa A 1–7 Meredith 20,000
5 March 1910 Sheffield United H 1–0 Picken 40,000
12 March 1910 Arsenal A 0–0 4,000
19 March 1910 Bolton Wanderers H 5–0 Halse, Meredith, Picken, J. Turnbull, Wall 20,000
25 March 1910 Bristol City H 2–1 Picken, J. Turnbull 50,000
26 March 1910 Chelsea A 1–1 J. Turnbull 25,000
28 March 1910 Bristol City A 1–2 Meredith 18,000
2 April 1910 Blackburn Rovers H 2–0 Halse (2) 20,000
6 April 1910 Everton H 3–2 J. Turnbull (2), Meredith 5,500
9 April 1910 Nottingham Forest A 0–2 7,000
16 April 1910 Sunderland H 2–0 S. Turnbull, Wall 12,000
23 April 1910 Everton A 3–3 Homer, S. Turnbull, Wall 10,000
30 April 1910 Middlesbrough H 4–1 Picken (4) 10,000
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA Pts
4 Newcastle United 38 19 7 12 70 56 45
5 Manchester United 38 19 7 12 69 61 45
6 Sheffield United 38 16 10 12 62 41 42

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; Pts = Points

FA Cup

Date Round Opponents H / A Result
F–A
Scorers Attendance
15 January 1910 First Round Burnley A 0–2 16,628