Over the years there has been a lot of discussion on Denis Law and his backheeled goal for Manchester City v Manchester United at Old Trafford in April 1974. If you’re a Blue you tend to say it relegated United; if you’re a Red you tend to say ‘absolutely not! It made no difference.’ So, for this feature I decided to focus on the facts, emotion and mood of the era to paint an accurate picture of that day and the significance or not of that goal. Hopefully, Blues & Reds alike will gain a good understanding of it all. I include quotes from some of the interviews I’ve performed in the past. This article will be free to read until 27th September then it’s available to subscribers only. Here goes…
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Prior to this weekend’s meeting between the men’s teams of Manchester City and United there have been 187 derbies. This weekend’s will be the 188th (people often miss the first derby!) Here’s the breakdown of those games and links to articles:
Played 187 City Won: 57 United Won: 77 Drawn: 53
The first derby was a FA Cup tie in 1891-92. This is often overlooked these days but was a full-bloodied competitive FA Cup tie so always has to be included in records etc. The details of that game can be read here:
My website carries a lot of content about derby games, as well as plenty on City and United, so have a look and see whether there’s anything of interest. This link is a search of Manchester derby content:
On this day (26 September) in 1946 goalkeeper Alec Thurlow signed for Manchester City with the hope that the young ‘keeper would be a permanent replacement for Frank Swift. Sadly, Alec was forced to retire from the game in 1950 through tuberculosis. He went on to have major surgery with seven ribs removed. He also had a collapsed lung. Alec died in a sanatorium at the age of 34 in 1956. You can read more on Thurlow here:
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On this day (25 September) in 2018 Phil Foden was compared to Andres Iniesta after a thrilling performance in the League Cup at Oxford United. Here’s the story of that game:
This is available to subscribers to my website. It costs £20 per year (works out about £1.67 a month) and for that every subscriber gets access to a PDF of both Manchester A Football History and From Maine Men to Banana Citizens (both out of print) plus the hundreds of articles, interviews and videos already posted and a guaranteed 4 new exclusive articles per month (usually a lot more than that!). I am not employed to do any research and so subscribers help fund detailed research into football’s history. Thanks for supporting my work if you do already subscribe or buy my books.
Above photo by Steve Daniels for Oxford United.
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On 17th of this month I posted the first part of a two part feature on the royal family and Manchester City. Now, as promised, here’s the second part focusing on visits to Manchester City by the UK monarchs over the decades plus a few other snippets. Enjoy this free to read article…
Before I start with part two here’s a link to the first part of the feature:
Over the years Manchester City has proved to be a very popular club for visits by significant members of the British Royal family and of other nations’ royalty. Whether this has anything to do with the club’s success, the stadium’s importance, or the role of Manchester in terms of industry and commercial activity is unclear (probably a bit of all of that!). There have been two major royal visits to Maine Road and there has been a significant visit to the club’s former ground at Hyde Road (though some people incorrectly think there have been two!). In addition, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh plus other senior royals visited the City of Manchester Stadium (now Etihad) twice for the Commonwealth Games. Prince Philip was creating history by becoming the first senior member of the Royal family to visit two of City’s venues.
The first Royal visit to Maine Road was on 20 October 1934 when the Duke of York (future King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father) watched City’s 1-0 defeat by Derby County. Prior to the match the Duke was introduced to both sides and then he took his seat at the front of the Directors’ Box. The previous year he had witnessed City’s FA Cup final defeat to Everton at Wembley.
The next major Royal visit came on Thursday 7 May 1964 when Prince Philip witnessed a City-United derby match. The game had been organised by the Variety Club of Great Britain as a charity fund raiser for underprivileged children, and it had been hoped a capacity crowd of over sixty thousand would be present, however appalling weather limited the attendance to approximately 36,000. Philip, as with the Duke of York thirty years earlier, sat in the Directors’ Box, although this time, according to newspaper reports the box had been decked out with flowers and was christened the Royal Box for the evening.
The game ended with Philip presenting the Duke of Edinburgh Cup to United’s captain Denis Law on the pitch in the pouring rain. Thousands of children, according to local reports, swarmed on to the pitch, as the Duke became drenched. Interestingly, Philip’s visit to the Commonwealth Games in 2002 also saw him suffer with the rain. Perhaps he remembered his 1964 visit as he waited for the 2002 Games to end!
City’s current stadium has welcomed a variety of international royal guests, including the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, who attended City v Liverpool in March 2017, while Maine Road saw several visits by middle eastern princes and others over the years.
The most significant Royal visit of all to a City venue has to be the 1920 appearance of King George V at Hyde Road. This was the first visit to a provincial ground by a reigning monarch and as such is of immense importance. A month or so earlier the King had gone to watch a FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Leicester.
Subscribers can read more on that visit here:
It has been suggested that twenty years earlier, however, Queen Victoria’s son, the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII), attended Hyde Road. This is a myth – please don’t believe it! I’m always keen on finding evidence and the author who propagated this story actually mistook City director Joshua Parlby for the future King on a photograph!
I’ve performed extensive research on this so-called visit and have revealed in earlier books (most notably Farewell To Maine Road in 2003) that the visit did not occur. As with all myths I try to work backwards to understand how these things take hold and why some become convinced (don’t get me started on the myth about Anna Connell!). I find it helps to get to the source because that way it becomes clear why someone who hasn’t performed detailed research becomes convinced. So, here’s the story of how some authors have incorrectly claimed a royal visit in 1900…
Back in 1930 City’s first true history, Manchester City Football Club Souvenir History by Fred Johnson, stated: ‘The Hyde Road ground was honoured with the presence of His Majesty the King on March 27th 1900 when Liverpool were opposed.’ This is clearly a typographical error as the incident it refers to is the visit of King George on 27 March 1920 (Liverpool were the visitors).
This explains the birth of the error but a photograph has also been produced by one author ‘showing’ the King at Hyde Road. It shows nothing of the sort and the photo (below) is clearly a red herring. It is Hyde Road (the stand in the background is the Stone Yard Stand) but the two gentlemen wearing top hats have been claimed to be leading royals with the one closest to the camera supposedly future King Edward. However, he is not. I’ve compared these photos to others in my collection and published in the early 1900s. These images are actually from the visit of future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour in September 1900.
Balfour was the only significant visitor that day and his head actually appears on the image (between the ladies and the top-hatted men). One of the women is described as Balfour’s daughter on another photo from this day. The top-hatted gent at the back is City director W. Richmond (director between 1896 and 1902), while the other top-hatted man looks an awful lot like Joshua Parlby (the club’s former manager and a director in 1900).
Regardless of this myth, it is amazing that three successive monarchs had attended City’s grounds, albeit in George VI’s case he was still Duke of York when he attended Maine Road in 1934.
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Ferguson’s £9m side are destroyed in the most one-sided Manchester derby in years by Machin’s bargain basement Blues. By the 36thminute City race to a remarkable three goal lead and, despite a magnificent goal from Hughes, they are rampant. “Fergie Out” cry the United fans as the fifth enters the net.
On this day (22 September) in 1959 Manchester City’s Cup final hero Bobby Johnstone returned to his former club Hibernian after 50 goals in 137 first team appearances for the Blues. Here are a few details on him and a quote saying he was better than Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney & others. Enjoy…
At the start of that season there had been indications that 29 year old Johnstone was nearing the end of his Maine Road career. He had made only 18 League appearances and scored four goals during the 1958-9 season and, although he was vital in a number of games, City were beginning to look to a future without him. Les McDowall had already started looking at a nineteen year old striker playing for Huddersfield. He appeared to offer a great deal, the only problem was the price. City would have to pay a considerable amount to sign the young, exciting forward. His name? Denis Law. It would take McDowall some time to sign the youngster, but as the close season began he considered City’s strengths and weaknesses. City was in a period of transition. Old campaigners like Johnstone were on their way out. Indeed he left for a fee of £7,000 on this day in 1959.
Later Roy Warhurst, the City half-back signed from Birmingham during the 1957 close season, described the Scotsman as the greatest player he ever saw: ‘Johnstone was the greatest footballer I ever played with or against. I was 29 when I came to City and I’d seen all Britain’s best. But there was nobody to compare with Bobby, when he felt like turning it on. Not even Carter, Doherty, Finney, Billy Steele or Matthews. They couldn’t touch him.
‘My first game for City was a tour game in Holland. Bobby was brilliant. As the locals cheered him off the park I kept thinking “this is some great outfit I’ve joined.” It was the greatest display I’ve seen from any player that night.’
It is widely known about Bobby’s goals in the 1955 & 1956 FA Cup finals but here’s a couple in a thrilling game v Newcastle in 1957. City lost 5-4 but it’s well worth watching for the drama of it all. Look out for the crowd scenes, especially the exaggerated acting by a lad after about 1min 25 seconds who spills his drink!
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In March 1920 King George V – the present King’s great-grandfather – visited Hyde Road to watch City V Liverpool. This was the first time a reigning monarch had attended a match outside of London and as such this was a major honour for the Blues. Here for subscribers is the story of that day….
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On this day (20 September) in 1947 a crowd of approximately 78,000 witnessed the first post-war Manchester derby. A tense match ended goalless before the derby’s record crowd on a club ground. This attendance remained the highest for a Manchester derby until the 2011 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. The return fixture, also played at Maine Road, was watched by 71,690. Subscribers can read the story of the 1947 game (background, match report, statistics etc.) below:
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I was recently asked by Brendan Gahan if I ‘had any details of a Central League derby at Maine Rd that finished 6-5 to City. I think it was either 66/67 or 67/ 68, there was a decent crowd of around 20,000.’ We’ll, I do. The answer is…
The game was played on 15 April 1968 and was watched by 2,503 (not quite the 20,000 remembered). City’s scorers were Mundy, Clay, Jones (2), Cunliffe and Bingham. The City starting 11 included Ricky Hatton’s father Ray: Dowd, Hutton, Woods, Jeffries, Booth, Mundy, Glennon, Clay, Jones, Cunliffe & Bingham.According to the programme (provided by Dave Masey) the half time score had been 5-4 to City and the United scorers were Herd 3 and Gowling 2.
I have statistics for most Manchester City Central League games (and first team of course) into the 2000s. If you’re a subscriber to my site and have a query get in touch and I’ll see if I can answer your query. Thanks.
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