Manchester City are becoming well versed in making history as last weekend’s unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title attests.

That staggering achievement followed in the formidable boot trails of a host of equally unique feats carved out by the Club in recent seasons, ranging from the Centurions campaign of 2017/18, the Fourmidables feat of 2018/19 through to last year’s historic haul of the Big Five major trophies of Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. 

So, it perhaps should come as no surprise to learn that this weekend’s eagerly-awaited FA Cup final re-match against Manchester United – when Wembley Way will be transformed into the Mancunian Way once more - will see Pep Guardiola’s side help carve out yet another notable slice of footballing history.

For, somewhat remarkably given the FA Cup’s incredible back story – one that stretches all the way back to its inception in the 1871/72 campaign - this latest heavyweight derby encounter will mark the first time two English sides have ever met in back-to-back finals.

To date, the only time the same two teams have faced each other in consecutive finals was all the way back in 1885, when Blackburn Rovers beat Scottish side Queen’s Park 2-0.

The Lancashire side – then one of the true giants of the English game - had beaten the Glaswegians 2-1 a year earlier and followed that up 12 months later by retaining the famous piece of silverware, the game taking place 12 years before Scottish sides were to be barred from entering the competition.

Way back then, Queen Victoria was still monarch of the throne and presiding over a vast British Empire while William Gladstone was coming to the end of his second spell as Prime Minister.

Meanwhile across the pond, the Statue of Liberty – a epoch defining gift from the people of France in honour of the alliance between the Republic and the people of the United States during the battle for American independence – was making its way over to New York City ahead of its installation on the Hudson River in Manchester.

WEMBLEY AWAITS: City and United will renew their FA Cup final rivalry again on Saturday.
WEMBLEY AWAITS: City and United will renew their FA Cup final rivalry again on Saturday.

In short, it was a long, long time ago!

Equally incredible is the fact that having had to wait more than 150 years for the first all-Manchester cup final, the second should then arrive just 12 months later.

Given the storied history of both City and United, not to mention their respective periods of dominance within the game, it shows the magnitude – and rarity - of the occasion.

It’s also the first time that City have reached successive FA Cup finals in 68 years.

We have previously figured in the showpiece event twice in back-to-back campaigns, most latterly in 1954/55 and 1955/56, with our inaugural back-to-back Wembley appearances coming in 1932/33 and 1933/34.

On both those occasions, City lost the first of the two finals before triumphing in the second, the Club beating Portsmouth in 1934 and Birmingham in 1956 after having being edged out by  Everton and Newcastle in 1933 and 1955.

United meanwhile have recorded three previous back-to-back Cup final appearances - in 1956/57 and 1957/58; 1975/76 and 1976/77 and 2003/04 and 2004/05. They also made three consecutive trips to the famous stadium during the 1993/94, 1994/95 and 1995/96 seasons. 

Given the huge and seismic contribution that Manchester - not just in footballing terms but as a city as a whole - has made to the world in terms of innovative firsts along with ground-breaking discoveries and achievements, it also feels somewhat fitting that City and United will become the first English sides to stage an FA Cup final instant repeat.

Amongst the many notable and era defining firsts that Manchester puts its proud name to are the opening of the nation’s first free public library in 1653, using money donated by wealthy Mancunian Humphrey Chetham.

More than a century later in 1761 the Bridgewater Canal opened – the first totally artificial waterway independent of rivers and still one of the most recognisable and admired arteries of the city and wider region today.

Meanwhile, 1824 marked the first bus route which ran through the city from Market Street to Salford while six years later the world’s first true railways started operating from a humble station on Liverpool Road.

Somewhat fittingly the first professional Football League was formerly created at the Royal Hotel, Manchester in 1888 while Trafford Park became home to the world’s first purpose built Industrial Estate in 1896.

Fast forward into the 20th century and we saw Ernest Rutherford unlock the secret to splitting the atom at Manchester University in 1917 while three years after the end of the Second World War, the University also developed the world’s first computer with a stored programme and memory capacity – nicknamed ‘Baby’.

Meanwhile in 1960 the city’s famed Granada Studios also helmed the world’s longest running soap opera through the lens of the now iconic Coronation Street – which remains one of the totems of British television to this day.

EYES ON THE PRIZE: Pep Guardiola and United counterpart Erik ten Hag
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Pep Guardiola and United counterpart Erik ten Hag

That’s just scratching at the surface – and hopefully the series of notable firsts doesn’t end there.

Because City will kick-off on Saturday with another historic landmark firmly within our grasp.

Should Pep Guardiola’s side emulate our success of 2023 it would see City carve our name into the record books once more by becoming the first English side to record back-to-back domestic Doubles.

If we are able to achieve the feat it would surely represent the perfect way to round off what has been another season for the ages and provide another feather in Manchester’s cap – of the blue variety of course!