Bill Leivers is the last survivor of Manchester City’s 1956 FA Cup triumph and believed to be the longest surviving FA Cup winner, 67 years on from the final made famous by Bert Trautmann.
City goalkeeper Trautmann played for 17 minutes against Birmingham City in agony, nursing what three days later he discovered was a broken bone in his neck.
Leivers, his close friend and room-mate, finished the game in great discomfort, too, because the painkilling injections required for an ankle injury that threatened to rule him out of the big game wore off prematurely.
‘I can remember quite a bit about the day,’ Leivers, 91, tells Sportsmail in his broad Derbyshire accent. ‘I can remember what happened to Bert, all right. I can remember I was determined to make someone take notice of me too. I thought I was as good as anybody. I can remember I punished a few that day.’
Leivers, 24 at the time, remembers how he and Dave Ewing took care of Trautmann as they waited to climb the Wembley steps and receive the trophy and he will never forget his fleeting encounter with Queen Elizabeth II as she handed out the medals.
Manchester City’s sole survivor of their 1956 FA Cup triumph Bill Leivers sat down with Sportsmail
Leivers (left) admitted he looked after City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann who was complaining of a sore neck
Leivers labelled Queen Elizabeth II as ‘absolutely beautiful’ following this encounter with the Royal
‘She were absolutely beautiful,’ he told his wife Shirley, when she enquired later that evening if the Queen had said anything to him, and he remembers that probably wasn’t the answer anticipated.
Leivers laughs along and he chips in to help keep his favourite stories ticking over but, since the onset of dementia, relies on his son Glenn to get the memories moving. Glenn has heard them many times over, including one from a train ride home after he had captained the side to victory at Newcastle.
One of City’s directors stepped into the players’ carriage and summoned Leivers. Congratulating his captain on the result and performance, there was, he explained, something to share with the team by way of reward.
Then, the director discreetly slipped into his hand a packet of Polos. Minted, but in a different fashion to the Manchester City players of the modern era. He laughs again at the prospect of Sheik Mansour handing out Polos to Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland after a good away win.
Leivers was born in the Derbyshire mining town of Bolsover where he went to school with former Labour MP Dennis Skinner and started his career at nearby Chesterfield.
He rejected a move to Newcastle United to join Manchester City for £10,500. ‘Too far away,’ he says, unequivocally, on the idea of a move to Tyneside. City converted him from a centre half to a full back.
He stayed at Maine Road for more than a decade, leaving to become player-manager of Doncaster in 1964. There was managerial success at Cambridge United, where his team won the Southern League twice and secured election to the Football League for the first time before going on and winning promotion into the third tier. He remains as much of a legend at the Abbey Stadium as he is at City.
Leivers almost missed the FA Cup final against Birmingham City. He was told there was no way his ankle would be ready for such a game, until a visit to a blind therapist who manipulated and massaged the joint and the treatment worked.
Trautmann (left) later discovered that he had broken his neck in the FA Cup final
Manchester City lifted the FA Cup in 1956 with Leivers the last survivor of that title-winning team
His ankle improved enough for him to play, albeit in pain when the injections wore off.
Joe Hayes fired Manchester City into an early lead at Wembley, a goal created by Don Revie who was pioneering the deep-lying centre forward’s role, but Noel Kinsey levelled before two goals in two second-half minutes by Jack Dyson and Bobby Johnstone clinched a 3-1 win for a team beaten in the 1955 showpiece by Newcastle United.
Trautmann, a former German paratrooper and prisoner of war, was injured making a save at the feet of Peter Murphy in the 75th minute and, in an era before substitutes, continued making further vital saves.
When he went to St George’s Hospital the following day, he was assured it was nothing serious but, three days later, still in agony, he sought a second opinion at Manchester Royal Infirmary, where X-rays confirmed five dislocated vertebrae, the second of which had been cracked in two.
It will always be Trautmann’s final, although Leivers was told he had been voted man of the match by a group of former Manchester City players at Wembley.
Lievers (right) helped Trautmann off the field at full-time
Leivers has lived in Cornwall for the last 20 years and, these days, shares a home with Glenn, 64.
The Wembley shirt is framed on their wall. They still have the winners’ medal and the original tickets, along with a menu from the victory banquet at the Cafe Royal and flowers from the table, pressed and lovingly preserved by Shirley, who died in 2021.
Together, they still tune in to watch every game. ‘If he could find a game on from Outer Mongolia he would watch it,’ says Glenn.
They still cheer for Manchester City and they will be watching as Pep Guardiola’s team travel to Bristol City in the FA Cup fifth round tonight.
Source of data and images: dailymail
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Bill Leivers is the last survivor of Manchester City’s 1956 FA Cup triumph and believed to be the longest surviving FA Cup winner, 67 years on from the final made famous by Bert Trautmann. City goalkeeper Trautmann played for 17 minutes against Birmingham City in agony, nursing what three days later he discovered was a …
The post Meet Bill Leivers, 91, the longest surviving FA Cup winner who starred for Manchester City in 1956 first appeared on Elrisala. Sports – Elrisala