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, although Manchester United
did not compete in the 1972 event despite apparently having been eligible based on goals scored. Two from each division took part, making eight participants in total. The competition was a straight knockout format, each match was a one-off with no replays; unlike most other competitions, the final took place at the home ground of one of the finalists, rather than a neutral venue.
The competition was so named thanks to a sponsorship
deal with the Watney Mann
The tournament ran four times, from 1970 to 1973, before being discontinued.
The cult band Half Man Half Biscuit
made reference to the tournament in the song "Rod Hull Is Alive, Why?" from the mid-1980s, speculating as to whether the cup would ever be brought back.
The first ever penalty shootout
in England took place in 1970 between Hull City
and Manchester United
during the Watney Cup, and was won by Manchester United. The first footballer to take a kick was George Best
, and the first to miss was Denis Law