Tom Manley: The man who began an 81-year old stretch at Manchester...

Tom Manley: The man who began an 81-year old stretch at Manchester United


October 30, 1937 may not be the most famous date in Manchester United’s history – but it is certainly one of the most significant.

That day saw the start of a stretch which now has expanded to 81 years in which the club has had at least one academy graduate feature in the first team’s matchday squad.

The last time United entered a clash without an academy graduate was on October 23, 1937 – a game which ended in a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the old Second Division, now known as the Championship.

Now in 2018, the Red Devils have named an academy graduate in their matchday squad for 3937 consecutive games.

That impressive feat was matched by the fact the club had a player from their youth system feature in the starting XI for 73 years – a record which game to an end in 2011 when John O’Shea started among the substitues against Arsenal on May 1.

But the now 3937 game record may not have all have began if Tom Manley had not been included in the squad for the 1-0 loss to Fulham, 81 years ago.

Manley arrived at United as a amateur in September 1930, just a few months short of his 18th birthday and would sign his first professional terms with the club in May 1931.

Despite the impressive record not beginning until 1937, Manley made his debut for the club in a 2-0 victory over Millwall in the FA Cup as Stanley Gilmore and Joe Spence found the back of the net.

Manley’s first appearance for the club would be one of only three he made during his first full professional season.

His best season in a United shirt came during the 1935-36 campaign in which he netted 15 goals from 34 appearances across league and cup competitions.

Throughout his time at the club, Manley was largely viewed as a utility player who could be used in the wings in attack or anywhere across the back four.

Manley joined Brentford in 1939 after departing United

Manley’s time at the club came to an end at the of the 1938-39 season, as he joined Brentford. At the end of his stint with United, Manley held a respectable record of 41 goals in 195 appearances across all competitions.

Upon his arrival at Brenford, Manley was immediately named captain, only for his debut season with the Bees to be cut short due to the outbreak of World War 2.

During the war, the Englishman served with the Royal Air Force meaning he only had 36 appearances and six goals to his name by the end of the 1945-46 season due to his rare appearances for the club.

Once football resumed on a regular basis, Manley became a regular for the Bees making his final first team appearance in September 1950.

He officially retired from the game in May 1952, at the age of 39 after spending the final two years of his career as a reserve team player at Brentford.

His appearance for United in the matchday squad in 1937 against Fulham is one of the most important pieces of United’s history.

This continual trend looks set to continue with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford regular features in the first team squad in modern times.