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FA Cup: The ball that nearly cost Bert his life

HISTORIC: The 1956 FA Cup final ball

HISTORIC: The 1956 FA Cup final ball

It was one of the most famous FA Cup finals ever.

City took on Birmingham at Wembley in a bid to lift the 1956 FA Cup, a game that will forever be remembered as ‘The Trautmann Final’.

The Blues, beaten at the same stage the year before by Newcastle United, returned to face Birmingham who started the game as favourites having beaten City 4-1 earlier in the campaign.

But skipper Roy Paul had made a vow to return to Wembley and win the trophy after the disappointment of the previous year.

It’s a promise he would keep, too, as goals from Bobby Johnstone, Joe Hayes and Jack Dyson had given the Blues a 3-1 lead when the Midlanders produced a late rally that forced Bert Trautmann into several typically brave saves.

One of them, with 76 minutes or so on the clock, saw Trautmann dive at the feet of Peter Murphy whose knee appeared to strike the German keeper’s neck.

With no subs allowed at that time, Trautmann played on, even though he was in considerable pain and City saw the game out to win the FA Cup for the third time.


The following day, Trautmann was discovered to have dislocated five vertebrae in his neck and only by chance, one had split in two preventing more serious damage that would almost certainly have cost Bert his life.

But what became of the ball used on the day?

Far from being preserved for prosperity, it would change hands several times before ending up in a plastic bag in an attic.

The tale of the 1956 ball appears to have begun with former City captain Roy Paul, who was given the ball after the final ended.

Roy became good friends with Owen Edwards, who had moved to the north-west from Anglesey and because of the Welsh connection and a shared love of the game, Paul gave Edwards the ball as a memento.

The ball remained with the Edwards family thereafter, but was largely forgotten about as it sat in a loft in a plastic bag!

When the Edwards family learned City were opening a museum several years back, they contacted the Club to discover if the ball was of interest?

Of course, it was gratefully accepted and remains on loan, courtesy of the Edwards family to this day. Owen has since passed on and his son Glyn has taken ownership of this fascinating piece of Club history.

Glyn and his son Callum are seasoncard holders at the Etihad – sadly, Glyn’s other son James was tragically killed in a road traffic accident earlier this year and City fans marked his passing with a minute’s applause in the game against Liverpool last March.

The Club would like to thank Glyn for allowing others to see what is understandably a precious family heirloom.

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