Little suspecting the impact they were about to have on the national, even global game, the workers in the railway yard at Newton Heath indulged their passion for association football with games against other departments of the LYR and other railway companies.
Indeed, when the Football League was formed in 1888, Newton Heath did not consider themselves good enough to become founder members alongside the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End. Instead, they waited until 1892 to make their entrance.
Financial problems plagued the club and, by the start of the 20th Century, it seemed they were destined for extinction. The team was saved, however, by local brewery owner John Henry Davies. Legend has it that he learned of the club's plight when he found a dog belonging to captain Harry Stafford.