John Maddocks – A Man For All Seasons

This piece was my obituary of the former Manchester City historian John Maddocks, who was born on this day (19th May) in 1938.

John Maddocks was born on 19th May 1938 – the day after the Blues beat Aarhus 11-1 in a tour match – and was taken to his first game by his father Bert in the 1945-6 season.  Naturally, it didn’t take long for him to become fascinated with the club and its history, and by October 1984 – when he was asked by Bernard Halford to become City’s official historian after the death of his predecessor Bill Miles – John had become a leading expert on the Blues.

He was a popular member of the Association of Football Statisticians (AFS) and spent considerable time and effort researching the history of the Blues, but his interest wasn’t confined to the first team, for John was also keen to record details of the reserves and youth team.  In fact, it was this interest that set him apart from most football historians.  He didn’t see just the first team as ‘City’, to John the other sides were equally important and received the same treatment.

In addition to his research, John also wrote a great deal on the history of the club.  He was a regular contributor to the programme with his Memory Matches, Flashback pieces, A-Z of players, and general historical pieces.  He also wrote various articles for fanzines, the AFS, and magazines such as The Footballer; and was a regular contributor to the City handbook.  He wrote The Manchester City Quiz Book (1988), and did much of the work for the Manchester City Official Pictorial History (1997) – during the research for this John spent many hours organising and improving the Manchester Evening News Photo Library.  He also provided vital assistance to Alec Johnson for The Battle for Manchester City (1994).  Over the last few years he has been compiling his A-Z of City players and it is hoped this will still be published in the near future.

John – who bore a slight resemblance to Harold from Neighbours – was always approachable and provided me with assistance from the moment I first contacted him in the mid-80s.  He helped with every one of my books, and it’s clear that John has made life easier for every City historian over the years.  When he and his contemporaries first started compiling records it was near impossible to find accurate information on the club pre-1950.  

Away from City (not that he ever was!), John was Head of the English Department at Brinnington School for 27 years before he moved on to be Head of Year at Avondale School for 4 years.  He suffered a heart attack in 1992 and then retired on the grounds of ill health the following year.  From then on he spent a great deal of time researching the career details of all City’s players, but was still dogged by ill health.  He had a bypass operation in 1994, and endured a number of setbacks over the last few years.  Throughout all of this John tried to remain positive and was lovingly supported by his wife Joyce.  

City’s history owes a great deal to John.  He may not have scored an important goal or managed the club to success, but it’s because of his lifetime commitment to the Blue cause, that so many of us know the names and career details of the men who did.

John was certainly a man for all seasons – even those depressingly poor ones!  He will be missed by many.

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