Watney Cup

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Watney Cup
Number of teams8

The Watney Mann Invitation Cup (normally referred to as simply the Watney Cup) was a short-lived English football tournament held in the early 1970s.

It was held before the start of the season, and was contested by the teams that had scored the most goals in each of the four divisions of the Football League the previous season who had not been promoted or admitted to one of the European competitions.[1] Two teams from each division took part, making eight participants in total.[1]

The competition was a straight knockout format, each match was a one-off with no replays. The final took place at the home ground of one of the finalists, rather than a neutral venue.[2]

The competition was so named thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Watney Mann brewery; the first tournament for English Football League clubs to sell its naming rights.[1][3] The tournament ran four times, from 1970 to 1973, before being discontinued.[1]

From the second season of the competition, the off-side law was applied from the edge of the penalty areas only (instead of the half-way line).[1] This measure was designed to reduce midfield congestion and promote more goals, at a time when defences were becoming much better organised.[4]

The first ever penalty shootout in England took place[1] in a semi-final of the 1970 tournament between Hull City and Manchester United, and was won by Manchester United. The first footballer to take a kick was George Best, and the first to miss was Denis Law, whose attempt was saved by Hull goalkeeper Ian McKechnie. McKechnie became the first player to miss a deciding kick, when he shot wide after taking the fifth kick for Hull in the shoot-out.[5]

List of finals[1][edit]

Year Winner Score Runner-up Venue
1970 Derby County 4–1 Manchester United Baseball Ground
1971 Colchester United 4–4
(4–3 p.)
West Bromwich Albion The Hawthorns
1972 Bristol Rovers 0–0
(7–6 p.)
Sheffield United Eastville Stadium
1973 Stoke City 2–0 Hull City Victoria Ground



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ballard, John; Suff, Paul (1999). World Soccer The Dictionary Of Football. Boxtree Ltd. p. 635. ISBN 0-7522-2434-4.
  2. ^ "Watney Cup 1970 to 1973". English Domestic Football. My Football Facts. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Hey Jim". Daily Record. 2 March 1998. Retrieved 29 March 2014 – via Questia Online Library.
  4. ^ "The Watney Cup". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Quirky Facts". goalkeepersaredifferent.com. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  6. ^ Watney Cup 1970 1st rnd results at Statto
  7. ^ Watney Cup 1971 1st rnd results at Statto
  8. ^ Watney Cup 1972 1st rnd results at Statto
  9. ^ Watney Cup 1973 1st rnd results at Statto