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A Lost St Bernard Is The Reason Manchester United Exists

A Lost St Bernard Is The Reason Manchester United Exists

Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in world football, even if their current team is far from one of their best, but they wouldn't even exist as the club we all know if it wasn't for Major the St Bernard dog.

Whenever anyone mentions a Premier League record or the history of football since there was a breakaway to create the league someone will handily remind you there was football before 1992.

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Fred the Red would never be able to save United. Image: PA Images.
Fred the Red would never be able to save United. Image: PA Images.

Of course there are certain moments in the history of football that we all know about, no commentator in England can ever let us forget about 1966. But how many of us know the story of a lost dog leading to the creation of Manchester United.

These days everyone knows that United's mascot is Fred the Red, a fun loving devil in Manchester United's number 55 shirt but in 1901 the mascot was Major the St Bernard, when mascots were actual animals and not people in silly hot 'suits.'

Back then the club was called Newton Heath and they weren't the financial behemoth that they would become in the Premier League era.

Newton Heath's colours, before Manchester United were Manchester United. Image: PA Images.
Newton Heath's colours, before Manchester United were Manchester United. Image: PA Images.
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In fact at the turn of the 20th century Newton Heath were in some financial difficulty and Major, who was the pet of club captain Harry Stafford, would often be sent into the crowd with a collection box attached to his collar in an attempt to boost club funds.

That obviously didn't work out long term so the club held a fundraising bazar with Major's usual collection methods part of the process. However the club suffered a double blow with the bazar being a failure and the dog going missing.

Stafford went looking for his St Bernard. He had been found by the owner of a pub John Henry Davies who wanted to give the dog to his daughter as a pet. When the Newton Heath captain found this out he agreed to sell the dog to Davies who in turn invested in the football club.

Davies' money saved the club and as chairman he decided in 1902 to change the club's colours from yellow and green to red and black and change the name from Newton Heath to Manchester United.

Check out our video on some of football's greatest moments:

After Major retired in 1905 the club adopted Billy the Goat as their mascot for four years. Billy was owned by 'half-back' Charlie Roberts who had been presented with the animal but Billy tragically died celebrating the 1909 FA Cup final win over Bristol City.

The goat drank too much champagne and died of alcohol poisoning. So who's the real legend here Major or Billy?!

Weird to think Manchester United may have never existed if it wasn't for a St Bernard running off.

Topics: Football News, Dog, Manchester United, Premier League

Ryan Sidle

Ryan is a writer for SPORTbible. He covers all sport from football, formula one, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, mma and wrestling. He obviously hates YOUR football team and has no interest in synchronised swimming.

 

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